2020 – 2022

A Two year Window

In the past days I have been on a few Zoom calls and some of what I see for the next season has been pulled on. I thought it might be of some value to put it down here, some of which in bits and pieces I have shared before. It needs of course to be weighed and if there is a projection on my part of expectations those will colour what I write. Prayer and revelation is not here to give us what we expect but what we need to enable participate in any forward God movement. Finally any sight has to be supplemented by sight from others.

In the first few days of January it became clear to us that 2020 was not going to be a year that could be planned out. It would be a disrupted year, the important part was that we could not plan as per normal but would have to respond as the disruptions occurred. For many this has been a painful year and I do not write in any way to diminish that experience; we weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. I acknowledge the diversity of experiences but also want to give a focus to push against the hope of those who are simply waiting for things to return to normal. God makes everything beautiful in its time and we have to discover what it is that God is beautifying.

It is fairly self-evident that there is a RESET taking place. The concept of a reboot is vital for many sectors, and the use now of the term ‘essential workers’ has been a redemptive and perceptive phrase. I suspect it will soon disappear from the active vocabulary as a measure of recovery comes. Crisis has value if we change… if not!!

There will be a bouncing back… it is OK to go with it to a measure, but the focus has to remain on the reset. However as the bouncing back is heralded (2021?) we should not get carried away. The reset has to go much deeper that a temporary change (everything online) and then back to a thank God here comes the normal!

For those who are seeking to find what God has in this season, as opposed to waiting for this season to end, it is not so much a reboot but a reset. The vision might need to be tweaked but the vision is the vision. A refocus might be required, but it is essentially about resetting. As in many sports there comes a point that the team needs to be reset in order to achieve the desired outcome. Perhaps the format of the team, or new plays need to be introduced. We are now in a period of reset and even when a measure of recovery comes, even if we might be able to go with it to some extent, the important element remains that the reset needs to be completed.

There is a 2 year window to push through this reset, ideally if it can be done in 18 months the better. In 2022 – I do not suspect at the beginning – I see global elements of crises appearing that will bust open the cracks. COVID-19 is serious but is also a sign of what is to come, and is signalling to us now that there is a period of time in which we can get ready for this.

The reset is to check alignments. There are alignments from the past season that will quickly prove to be energy sapping for the next. An important element to avoid in this season is filling all the space. There are also alignments that have become loose that need tightening up. However, we approach it the issue of ALIGNMENTS is key in this reset.

Also get ready to change direction. There will likely be for a number of people the sudden openness of new outlets that they have skirted around the edges of before. They will come with a fresh angle / approach and then open up.

The favour of God is going to be with those who are not giving themselves to protect the structures / institutions but invest in the people. This might well mean embracing what might seem a smaller influence, but invest small and deep and there will both be longer lasting results and also protection into the phase that opens in 2022.

At the same time God is at work not simply with ‘me / us’. We are not at the centre. We can flow with what God is doing, but the future is not being shaped for us as individuals. So I suggest that there are people now who are being loosened up from their former concepts that only got them thus far. The loosening will mean fresh sight to those people and also fresh space for new connections. There are many hubs being shaped at this time… a hidden few here and a hidden few there.

Coming clean

British Past

Back in the day so much prayer was focused on specifics such as the Berlin conference of the late 19th Century that carved up Africa for the Europeans. Alongside 13 European nations the USA was also involved. Alongside specifics a large amount of effort went into ‘rolling up the Roman road’, seeking to undo the effects of empire. We had some incredible encouraging signs and yet… But now so much seems to connect.

We should not expect that all movements that seek to address the issues are going to do it perfectly. If the body of Christ does not execute her task perfectly why do we have higher standards for the world!!

So much of history is covered over. I have found again and again that history stays hidden until uncovered through prayer. Once it is out the lid cannot be put on the box again. For the Brits among us here is a good article to check up on the British and part of our imperial history:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/16/boris-johnson-lying-history-britain-empire

I am definitely not patriotic. I find that to be in direct conflict with my commitment to Jesus. I cannot give any allegiance that conflicts with my allegiance to Christ. There are of course arguments as to what was achieved through empire, the sending of missionaries etc. It has even been suggested that the ‘fullness of times’ when Jesus came was the Roman Empire, one language, roads and so the gospel could spread! The context of those verses point in a radically different direction.

God maximises all possibilities. After all he even used a king in Israel! To find some good that came through something reveals nothing about the ‘thing’ in question.

The uncovering, the reaction is not going to go away. If I can be so bold as to suggest the prayer ensures that. And once we have prayed, we cannot then push it all back in cos what came out was not what we were expecting! Prayer does not unlock what we expect, it unlocks what we need.

We have hit mid-way through this decade a governmental crisis. We have leaders who are comfortable to lie. We have hit the sign of the COVID virus that is the wake up call… behind this comes the economic crisis that will have some back and forths but will come at a new level in 2022, when as yet some unforeseen combination of setbacks will hit.

Our response? Bunker down? Or use this time to allow for some personal readjustment to line up with God’s agenda. Early on in this ‘less than pretty time’ I cottoned on to the Ecclesiastes verses that God makes everything beautiful in its time. God is never inactive, never non-redemptive. There is always activity that he is involved in.

Loads of questions in this time, but I also see it as a major shift.

Finding Our Way Back From Dualism

I have excluded the word secular from my language for many years now. I have found it to be a wholly unhelpful term, which separates church from society. Remembering that if we have the language of separation it is quite likely that we have the practices of separation too.

I have swapped out the word secular for the work ‘mainstream’ as an attempt to try and normalise it in some way, since regardless of the core meaning of secular, it has come to mean somewhere God is not or perhaps worse somewhere that God has removed himself from and should therefore be considered unsafe.

I wanted to illustrate how dualism works in a real life setting and story rather than theoretically, i guess this is my version of drawing in the sand to explain something.

Before I start that – let me tell you about my day… do you think Jesus drew in the sand at times to be sarcastic? Like, ‘you guys are never going to get this, so here is a picture of a cloud? I only ask this because today in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests i posted a map of Africa on my facebook timeline showing how it has been carved up into all of its colonial areas called ‘The Original Looting’ . One of my racist friends (i have a few as it keeps me on my toes) just put the laughing emoji on the post.

Later i found a you tube clip of the Berlin conference where interested European empires fought out their rights to different land areas and implemented ‘make believe’ but long lasting borders – a gathering which did not include a single African.

So i posted this video and wrote, ‘for the uneducated – here is a video with a child explaining the impact of the Berlin conference and drawing it all on a map with crayons’… which was true ! Ok so maybe that’s not what Jesus did but it felt like a small victory.

So – Back to my attempt to illustrate the life and outcomes limitations of Christianity, having inherited dualism.

For 6 years i worked with an international counter child trafficking ngo based out of the US as their European Operations Director (a title I was asked to invent for my business card). On visiting one of the nations in Asia where we were funding projects and contributing a few initiatives, a lovely co worker with took me to meet a guy who was working in the night clubs there. These were essentially gatherings 40% people selling sex and 60% johns going there to buy against a backdrop of a syncopated beat and lights.

My friend thought we would get on as the guy in the clubs was working where Christians refused to go, and as a result he was given the ‘black spot’ of suspicion and exclusion by them.

He would raise funds for a specific girl to exit prostitution, one at a time and gain livelihood skills as a means of sustainability. In the club we talked to a girl, she was so beautiful and seemed like a lost bird, clearly not her normal source of income. She must have been 15 at the most and as we talked she explained that she was responsible for her mother and her own education. She had come to the city for a week of selling her body to expats in the hope of funding another term at school. When we left the club i went back alone, id taken what I could from my bank account, went back in the club and put it in her hands. She looked confused, I bowed to her with clasped in full Namaste humility, and as best i could expressing ‘go home’. As the stranger in a strange land and as naive as anyone could be, it seemed the best i could do. On top of this, I wasn’t meant to be there in the place God wasnt!

The following night we went to a gathering of Christians from different groups. They were going to go an do outreach (another word for us to review) to the white males who were spending their pensions on trying to resolve loneliness and feed a predator spirit. I should have been suspicious as soon as the word outreach was used.

We walked off the busy main street where all the action was and into a small side building. We sat in a circle, we sang western worship songs with the aid of a tape player and then we broke into confession groups, males and females to talk about our ‘thought life’ and any brushes with porn so we could be cleansed and worthy for the work ahead of us.

I was feeling increasingly angry, there is no other word for it, in fact i would say, i felt offended by much of what was taking place. I am mindful of this because a fellow once told me with a voice of authority that having offence is a sin. However i tend to feel at times, it is simply being tuned in and feeling exactly what the holy spirit is feeling.

The best was yet to come… strap yourselves in.

It was time to put on the full armour of God. I mean like in full Marcel Marceau mime mode, one item at a time, the belt of truth, the breastplace of righteousness etc

Now this is where i need Jesus to explain to me, why, i am having to do all of this seeming nonsense to go back onto the street i had just walked off?

I bit my tongue and tried not to make eye contact with my team mates. i would hate for them to know i needed rescuing. Finally we split into mix gender groups and off into the world, the real one. I was with two of my co workers from the US and a lady from central America full of learned charismatic behaviour oozing everywhere. We were going to go and pray into the darkest areas of the city. My heart hit the floor when we pulled up outside the same nightclub i had been in the night before. We needed to hide in the van and pray as the lord led. After 10 minutes i thought i would explode, seemingly stretched on the torture rack in between two realities, i just couldn’t cope. A therapist would say i was ‘in feeling’ but i would just say i was just thoroughly pissed off.

However the comedy of errors was not over yet. I found myself explaining to my co prayers that i found it very difficult to be praying outside a club at a distance when i had been in the club the precious night, praying over actual people, responding to what I saw, and engaged meaningfully with at least one beautiful human being.

You get me? right readers? The Central American lady didnt. She assumed

that i was full of shame for what i had seen and had been exposed to and began to pray in tongues over me and cast out the heeby jeebies of lust.

I was just about to break religious protocol and cultural taboos by asking her ‘good lady – please stop what you are doing, there is a misunderstanding ‘ (translated in google from gaz actual speak) when suddenly i was saved by an angel, it was definitely an angel in the form of the biggest mother loving flying bug we had ever seen. The intercession turned immediately into screams of panic and wails of travail… and i was saved.

This was probably one of the most internally vomiting experiences of my Christian life, i could not pull the robes of religious constraint off of me quick enough. I really did and do love my co worker who was supporting and initiating these projects but i just had to say ‘dude wtf’.

Is dualism really that hidden, that subtle and that invasive that once we have become part of separated off from life church culture that we can no longer see the absurdity of it in our practices? Dualism more than informs us that the church as a building is a refuge, a petrol station, an anchor point to where God resides most, to save us from the world, where God is less, or even not at all.

Was it wrong for me to be as offended of the dysfunctional Christian practices as I was the sex abuse that was all around me?

Perhaps I felt it more deeply because we were meant to be their hope and here we were struggling to walk out of the door of the created world back into the creation we lived in where God resides as fully as anywhere.

After years of working with young people who still hemorrhage out of the church construct on mass each year, perhaps this is the subtle indoctrination, which leaves them to feel that they have left God in the building. As my dad might say, ‘if I had a penny for every time I have heard that’… I would have, well, quit a lot.

How far reaching, life limiting and dangerous is this dualistic thinking?

This was not an accident, this separate worlds mentality is rooted in Platonic thinking, sown at the inception of the western church as it came to us through Greece, the creation of the sacred and the secular world. If we can eradicate this idea in our thinking and from our being, I feel our ‘practicing the presence of God’ as ever present, instead of near or far, here or there, will enrich us deeply and help us stand fully as his image bearer, wherever we are. I believe that as an outflow of this will also come much deeper questions for us as individuals about the church as a centralised, high dependency human construct.

Destroying or making history?

The seven last words of the Unarmed

If you don’t get time to watch it right through try 16:00 to the end.

A statue that honoured a slave trader being pulled down in Bristol was commented on very astutely in the Guardian that this was not an act of destroying history but of making history. I note that tonight there is a possibility of action targeted on the statue of Cecil Rhodes – an interesting one as Gayle was born in Zimbabwe and we have inevitably focused prayer into the effects of his life into the ‘soul’ of Africa.

Some days I pinch myself. What era are we living through? Is this simply a pause and all goes back to where it was? Or are we really living in one of the of the greatest resets in all of history? There are some incredible momentous epochs, and for believers in the resurrection of Jesus, we should anticipate that. Time moves forward a day at a time, a tick of the clock, and when that happens little seems to change, but the resurrection distorted the time line (Matt. 27: 51-54).

‘All lives matter’ is a retort at this time. Yes but only once ‘black lives matter’.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…’

(I quote from the USA declaration for two reasons, it is easier to find a good quote there and the USA is the child of Europe, if any schisms become visible there be assured they are present in our soil. I am not quoting it as a criticism of ‘there’. My critiques are of here and of ‘me’.) In the era when that was written ‘all men’ were all ‘men’ of the male variety, and of the white European descent. We can look back to criticise, but the gift of looking back is to slowly help give us present (time and place) sight. There are truths that are so self-evident, but are totally obscured to our sight because of where we stand. The gift of the moment is not simply that voices are being heard that have been silenced but we could possibly have our ears unblocked and our sight unveiled.

I have written that many might never come closer to seeing God than to see someone… really see them. To see humanity. That for me primarily is why this could be one of the greatest moments in history. To see Jesus was (is) to see the Father. To ‘see’ and really see humanity… that is the path for many to see Jesus.

Church of Elsewhere

Much of what I pick up on the soles of my feet is something to be washed off, but at times the dust, the residue of history and kingdom moments I pass through I want to accumulate, I want to bring this with me so that it colours where I go, who I meet and what I do. This is not something you can do with the stuff you need to wash off, it wont be appreciated.

Sometimes we feel a need to visit places, touch the land, meet the people in the hope that pollination takes place. That we become infected with what has infected them and in so doing become transformed, progressed, better enabled to be what we are meant to be, in the service of others.

I had a lovely friend called Zoe who signed up for a discipleship and missions programme where you could make suggestions of where you would want to be for a period of active mission. She wanted to join a dynamic bunch doing education in schools on England’s south coast, instead she woke up to see a cow outside her window in Wales. Amazingly, a place she would stay for more than a decade.

The Jesus followers there were a prayerful prophetically, sensitive bunch called Antioch in Llanelli. At times their prophetic insights were put into video format to be passed around the country like yeast. I liked their symbolism a lot, one of these was the sole of a boot saying ‘dreams with tread on for new terrain.

I think this notion resonated with people, rejected any idea that they had arrived. It suggested that the journey was ongoing and that we needed to prepare for new things.

Perhaps the boots with fresh tread indicated that it was going to be a long walk out, in and through the creation.

I felt I needed to connect with and touch what they were about. I loved it when we got to pray together, I also loved walking down the steps of a local river where hundreds would have queued during the historical revival, to be immersed in the makeshift baptismal. I wanted some of the history to be carried on my feet.

However it was one of the prophetic, poetic videos which would impact me the most and adhere itself to my journey.

The premise was that God had placed Jesus as head of his church, his body, which was the fullness of him in and through the creation. (“And God put all things under [Jesus’] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

It was a visit to that verse which brought out the sense that the body was the mobile, integrated aspect of himself through all things, through the creation and through the life and work spheres. This imagery seemed to be the opposite of the church I knew and the one that dominates the landscape. What I saw all around me, I had for a long time referred to as the church of elsewhere.

Perhaps, I can qualify that statement a little more by saying I had experienced several group settings where I would ask those gathered what they considered to be the spheres of society and each time it would be the same, education, healthcare, business, family and church.

The problem for me here is that it was my firm belief that “church” was never to occupy a sphere of its own, but instead have fully embedded itself in all of the actual spheres of life and society. The challenge or should I say challenging question in the video was ‘what does it mean to be the fullness of him in and through education? (cue teachers voice), healthcare? (cue doctors voice), gypsy sites (cue roma) etc

To be honest, because of our occupation and strong orbit around church as a sphere, as church of elsewhere, this is actually a question that still, 2000 years on, we are unable to fully respond to.

I used to be involved in church networks and pastors networks, which I foolishly felt was a gathering of those charged with reaching and transforming our locality.

After the ritual of the male voice choir worship session at one of these, I was allowed to ask a question:

  • Do we believe that our missiology informs our ecclesiology…
  • That those we wish to reach and serve in ‘the mission’, shapes and informs how we ‘do church’?

Almost everyone nodded, in that ‘but of course’ kind of affirming manner.

I asked ‘Who of us has inherited an established ecclesiology which greatly limits or inhibits our missiology’ … cue less enthusiastic nodding.

It is problematic that we are operating out of something, which even to our own thinking I so foundationally conflicted.

The leader of the pastors network, a much respected man once gave me a sound-bite which I have quoted in a multiplicity of settings, ‘If we do what we always did – we get what we always got’ – which isn’t enough. His softly spoken Scottish accent still survives as a formative voice in my head. As someone who was working hard on the impossible task of bringing our institutions closer together, I am not sure he realizes what a critical role he played in my moving away from said restraints.

Once over a cup of tea and some shortbread, we had a philosophical conversation where I was saying that I don’t have any more energy to invest in changing a seemingly immovable object.

My heart had always been to see the church change, but I had seen little of this. Mostly, the church as a whole was pinning its hopes on the next acceptable book to read , which would help them see the changes the previous book had promised but failed to deliver.

I remember saying that I was guessing he had seen the church go through 40 years of incremental, manageable adjustments, instead of significant change to itself, so that it could finally become an agent of change in society.

I said that if this was the case, I’m not going to be sticking around. His answer I felt was deeply honest ‘ yes, I am afraid that I agree with you, the church is likely to opt for another 40 years of minor adjustments’.

Do we have an inherited system that is capable of the kind of change, which can sees its primary function as supporting the saints to come to fullness in all the spheres of society? Has it managed this so far?

When church occupies its own sphere, a physicality and a geography we visit, it can only truly focus energy on perpetuating its own existence, equipping a small percentage of the saints for works ‘in’ the service instead of serving the majority who are unsupported as they stand in and through the creation (perhaps still waiting for a call to the seemingly sacred roles of pastor, youth worker, community worker, house group leader).

The thing that excites me most about a different paradigm is that, if there is no separated off from life ‘church of elsewhere’, then there is no leadership and no ministry gifts of elsewhere.

Instead, we find those abilities helping people come to fullness in all the glorious diversity of where God has placed them to be lovers, servants and agents of change. Suddenly, I feel hope that we can actually find ourselves engaged in systemic change in the world around us, more than topically treating the suffering those broken systems create.

What makes me nervous, is it takes that misplaced sphere of church to take on a John the Baptist mantle and become willing to decrease so that, what is coming can increase. I don’t mean more manageable, incremental, minor adjustments.

It has to be significant mind-blowing paradigm exploding change.

Privilege

The privileged world-view

If you have time this is more than worth a view. Greg Boyd at his best addressing the George Floyd situation. Very powerfully exposing the dominant white-supremacist perspective. And of course that is not a comment on the situation in north America… so many of us (OK so many of me) are part of the elite who see the world so distorted yet think we see it clearly.

What a era in history… I suggest maybe on some of these big issues, a watershed.

I am not looking to add to Greg’s material, but if you did not have time to watch, consider the following:

  • The word of the Lord comes to address the privileged. The word is ‘repent’. His word comes first to us.
  • Then the word of the Lord, ‘I am with you, and found among you’, comes to those who have been oppressed.
  • Jesus in the Incarnation has privilege and lays them all down. As a Jew, he refuses to allow Jewish privilege to position him nor others; as a male he treats and responds to women establishing equal status, indeed the Gospels seem to indicate that some key redemptive doors were opened to him through his submission to women; perhaps having some financial resources he chose a path of ‘the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’.
  • Because of the above I now consider that Jesus is no longer a Jew nor a male. Those were the two key elements that were nailed to the cross, and if we include dying as a insurrectionist lawbreaker, dying among thieves and in the place of a thief (Barrabus), we have the three elements of race / religion, class and gender all nailed to the cross. Life post-resurrection is therefore ‘neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor male and female’.

The USA is a mirror for us in Europe and the West. There are some key issues rising to the surface in the West. I need sight, sight related to history, so that genuine fresh sight can come for the future.

Exoduses and Pentecosts

My powers of interpretation

They come round each year and, although I did not grow up with a ‘church calendar’, I always value the focus they bring. I think there were also a few prophetic words surrounding Passover and Pentecost this year. I am pretty convinced, on the basis of Scripture, that whenever a new paradigm is coming that 1) there is prophetic revelation concerning it and 2) we normally MISS the outworking as our interpretation has an algorithm that was put in place based on PAST data. (Not a good way to assess future events… but no big deal as we are in biblical company when we do this… just important that we continue to be open.)

Of course if I make the statement that our interpretation is often awry and I am about to make an interpretation all readers will instantly pick up that I am the one exception. If you picked that up then continue to read…!!!!!

I have already hinted at the content of this post in previous posts but I will try and put it out here in clearer form. There are two Exoduses in Scripture. One that took the people out from the exploitation of Imperial rule to travel to a ‘Promised Land’. The 10 commandments (words) can best be understood as 10 instructions that totally undermine the way of life that they had been subjected to in Egypt, setting them up to be a free people. Off they trot… but not all goes well. A king come along, starts humble, next one with some major faults at least is ‘after God’s own heart’, next one Mr Wisdom who subjects the people to an Egyptian-style regime, kingdom divides, king for the north ‘comes up from Egypt’ establishing two golden calves! Freedom?

Not surprisingly the second Exodus is in Jerusalem (Lk. 9:31… the word ‘Exodus’ is used). There has to be a release from the bondage of Jerusalem to travel to the world that was promised (Rom. 4:13, written by a Jew). Here we are having celebrated the ‘passover’. But which Exodus has it been? My interpretation – and remember you are only reading this cos mine is correct – is that the passover in the midst of the lockdown in 2020 marked an Exodus from Jerusalem.

And Pentecost? Could there be something in the following sequence? Last day of 19th Century and we have the first occurrence of speaking in tongues in our ‘modern’ world (from there the movement goes to the West Coast and Azusa Street). 60 years later Dennis Bennet (of ‘Nine O’Clock in the Morning’ fame) on April 3, 1960 announced from the pulpit that he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit. That marked for many the beginnings of an era when the experience of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian community was felt outside of ‘pentecostal’ settings.

1900… 1960… + 60 years = 2020.

Probably coincidental, but I have a terrible habit of making what is coincidental significant. I like that – I deeply suspect God quite likes it too. If we make it significant probably he gets on board to do something with the coincidence.

Now given that interpretations are far from fallible, and often downright unhelpful, I submit the above.

But I leave with ‘passover’ will be significant and ‘pentecost’ will be unprecedented in 2020 (or words to that effect) all come together to say although the interpretations were very suspect, there was a distinct before and after. Now that is worth pursuing even if we do so with blinkers on.

Have I lost God?

Too easily done

I’ve never (as far as my memory stretches) lost god. Now the former sentence is not a typo with the small ‘g’. I understand what is meant by the question ‘Is Jesus God?’, but at a very real level because of Jesus we can’t ask that question. The problem with the question it presupposes we know who God is then can decide if Jesus matches up. There is God… then there is ‘god’. My god looks a little like God but on the days I lose perspective looks a little less like God than I would like to believe.

Two days ago Gayle and I had a very refreshing zoom call to a couple of guys who have made, and are continuing to make, an incredible transition in an institution that could have so easily become irrelevant to today’s world. During the conversation I realised how far away from God I had travelled and how focused I was on god.

There was no financial crisis in 2008. The market soared back and the gap between the incredibly wealthy and the ‘others’ increased dramatically. There was no financial crisis – at least not for a great number of those who were very well off prior to the ‘crisis’. Of course there was a huge crisis for many.

Here we are now at the early stages of the signs that are pointing to a global reality yet to come, and this is the context where I lost God. I was particularly pee’d off by the huge increase of money into the personal and corporate account of Amazon. (Not saying he and they are the most guilty – I just happen to know some of the figures as they are public.) I realised I went through days of internal groaning with little else on my mind, swinging between, ‘how do we pray judgement?’ and ‘if I am responsible what do I need to do?’

However… I now realise that quoting Scripture is great. Luke 3, a kind of pattern in these last 20 years, ‘In the fifteenth year of the Emperor Tiberius… the word of the Lord came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.’

How many times have I said – God does not replace Tiberius with a born again, nor even a ‘Christian friendly’ Caesar, if we look for a ‘Christian friendly person in the White House, Number 10, Moncloa, or wherever we will not be deceived we will simply reveal we have already been deceived…’ A lot of blah, blah, blah there.

So? Well I realised I have been focused on god doing something with Amazon, the big corporations that can hold nations at bay, that can decide how much (much = how little) tax they will pay. So working hard on a current translation of Luke 3 I came up with:

In the years of global crisis that began to be noted in 2020, when the big corporations who had grown to immense levels, many more powerful than nations, when they had developed without shame into huge people-eating machines, Martin looked to god to sort it all out, as he knew that it had gone too far. Meanwhile in those years God was looking to a whole bunch of unimportant people to live differently. In those years it left Martin with a choice. Would he try to align with God or would his own personal god become ever so much bigger? The years that followed would tell a tale.

Shepherding the Field

This is the Field

Here is the first post from Gaz Kishere. I have known Gaz n Vic (Gaz is the rather tall gentleman in the photo… and Vic – come on you can work it out!) for some 20 or so years, back when they lived in Bournemouth, and in recent years have heard bits and pieces about what they are up to in Athens. I asked Gaz if he would stick a few posts up here this month. Enjoy!


By way of an introduction my name is Gaz Kishere, dunked a Baptist at 18, Anglicanised because they let me play drums at 22, then a decade exploring the 90’s phenomenon of youth church in club culture and all things church unity.

Somewhere in there we managed to have 4 children and now have 4 grand children.

What I write below are really glimpses of my journey which I hope will provoke interest and folks will push me to draw down my learning. Till now, in terms of speaking back to the body, I am largely silent.

It was 1993, I was told that I had a face like a slapped arse when Roger and Sue Mitchel prayed a Pastoral anointing over me. To me it seemed that during the secret Santa hand out i’d been given a Mrs Miggins Pie Shop embossed tea towel. Nothing of that title spoke of daring adventure or dynamism.

The last three years of my life in organised Christianity was spent as pastor of our ragamuffin crew of co-workers and people we had helped navigate a way from institutionalism to find, for me, we had only travelled a few feet from such ideas.

It was a beautiful human being from YWAM called Jeff Pratt showing up in town which was the final nail in the coffin. He was one of those troubling empathic Jesus types who asks actual questions, ones where everything in you rushes to your mouth to share the truth. ‘Hows things with you guys’? he asked ‘Awful’ I replied , ‘we are burned out and feel total fakers, do we wait to be found out or just confess that we don’t really do people’.

We had considered stepping back for a few months now, doing it all properly, a smiling face handover masking the trauma. Jeff asked how long do you have left in you… my answer ‘Two Weeks !’

It was unfair of me as an extreme introvert who has learned to engage for the sake of others, to suggest I don’t enjoy being around people. I would not discover for another decade that it was simply the wrong context, the fold. We had overstayed beyond our shelf life and my memory of it is that we left with our hair on fire, running.

After 6 years working in community development and counter human trafficking (sex exploited children), my wife and I felt compelled to work in Athens where we have been engaged in the refugee crisis for the last 4 years.

I would like to suggest that this dislodging from the known and the inherited was prophetic and at no point was born out of a desire to leave church, but to pursue it. It was and continues to be a revelation to me what constraints I have had to cast off along the way. I would though have to confess that as one who organised the body to gather in prayer and seek prophetic pathways, I could no longer pray for God to make a space for us, the saints, and for nobody to walk in and occupy it. This was a conflicted time for me trying to live more holistically, move forwards and at the same time not wanting to cause more wounds in the land or to the body.

My first formal meeting in Athens to discuss Child Protection from exploitation would set the scene for most of our time here. I met a young lady in a coffee shop to discuss doing a workshop with unaccompanied Iranian and Afghan minors.

15 minutes into conversation she broke down in tears, talking about burn out and dysfunctions in team and the project.

Have you ever felt made for a moment? I felt like the accumulation of everything I had done, every season I had walked through, my dislodging from inherited thinking and structures was for now.

I simply said ‘I can help with that, I can help with all of that if you let me’.

Since that moment I have been working with grass roots projects, workers, leaders, founders in what I can only refer to as helping them come to fullness.

I invest in them, and I work with them to challenge and uproot ‘life and outcomes limiting structures and organisational cultures’.

I view all of these people, none of them Christian, to be about the work of the Kingdom. All of whom fight for justice, stand between the oppressor and the oppressed, people who break themselves at the feet of the least and the disinherited.

It is in this field, I can finally accept the words ‘shepherd’, and I have.

Everything that is both right and wrong about organised Christianity has prepared me to arrive here and be useful. Having said this, it is my current opinion that very little of organised Christianity can help me stand here. It is not the well that I drink from, nor the context of my learning.

I have deeply imbedded myself amongst those who have not needed to re enter the land nor come from no such alternative universe as the church. They have only, always dwelled fully in the creation, responding to its groans.

I have undergone an immersion, a re baptism back into culture, back into society alongside Kingdom people. The reality of those I see, and what they do, it screams to me that these were their works, prepared in advance for them to do at their conception. I know there is no kingless kingdom, but I cannot ever say they do not flow from the same king as I.

I stand with ordinary extraordinary people who are getting on with it.

This is the field.

Systemic sin

personal or systemic

I do read a number of posts each morning, one of which is by Scot McKnight or a contributor on his site. This morning, Patrick Mitchel, from Ireland wrote a very powerful piece, writing humbly from Ireland looking in on the current street scenes in the USA. Here is the article link:
https://www.christianitytoday.com/scot-mcknight/2020/june/americas-original-sin-irish-perspective.html

There are so many great points in it but I simply want to pull out two here. Writing that sin is a virus that God will eradicate (our eschatological hope) he says that sin is deep in the structures, and then this very astute observation:

And those who don’t have this everyday experience (generally those with White privilege) tend to resist systemic analysis of sin – they tend to limit sin to the individual sphere.

And in particular responding from his own experience and observation from Ireland he writes:

The primary calling for brothers and sisters in America is to embody a different story to the story of racial division, hatred, violence, suspicion and fear that is tearing the country apart. The church is to be a ‘window’ into God’s new creation, not a mirror reflecting back the sins of the world.


Worth a read!! And the good news I too will have a guest author this month. I have read the first contribution, and hopefully tomorrow you can read it.


And finally, being clear. I am very cautious about writing about what is very visible globally regarding the streets of the USA. I used to travel fairly extensively there and have many good friends who are pioneering in so many healthy ways. There came a point though where the Lord said clearly that ‘you are not responsible for what takes place there… find and focus on your places of responsibility.’ We have our work cut out here, and some days it is pretty painful to see how little impact we are making. Currently there is what looks like a huge movement inside the Guardia Civil (militarised police) to get the current government out. By huge movement I am not talking numbers, but drawing on the sources deep in its roots. So we have our focus. It is not a ‘I don’t have time for something else’, but there is a task to be accomplished.

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