Gardens, couples and sight

Always a few aspects that come up in the zoom groups that provoke a little expansion. So here are two related aspects from last night’s zoom.

[BTW I add a few articles from time to time that are drawn from the books and they can be found at: https://3generations.eu/explorations. For example there is one there on Jesus always sinless, but becomes mature. I will also probably expand this post into an article for those pages.]

The resurrection. A cosmic event, that changed the world. Marked by an earthquake and ‘saints’ in the grave coming out (I actually think they came out with resurrected bodies, unlike Lazarus who came back to life with the same body. If I am right then we also have a time warp aspect that took place at the resurrection of Jesus, an event destined to occur at the parousia taking place significantly ahead of time!) The resurrection, that which we bear witness to, is what opens up sight. So…

First starting at the end of the trajectory that I want to touch on. Jesus appears on the road to Emmaus. I put in the books that this was to a married couple (Cleopas and Mary). Mary the wife of Clopas (either a variation of spelling, not uncommon in the ancient world, or the influence of Hebrew / Aramaic coming through) was one of the women who remained at the cross (John 19:25)… more to come, so the two disciples seems to me to be those two, consoling each other, trudging away from the bitterness of disappointment. But before this we have the first sight of Jesus being by Mary Magdalene who identified him as ‘the Gardener’. I put a capital ‘G’ there as her identification is not corrected for I believe there is something very profound going on. Adam, the Gardener leaves the Garden with his wife, with the word ‘death’ ringing in his ears. They leave life behind. Jesus rises in a garden that is full of tombs of death, leaving death behind, so that the word ‘life’ will ring throughout the cosmos. First, visitation is to a woman… the resurrection sets some priorities!

From the woman he visits the couple. For Mary Magdalene he lifted her status (‘my Father’ = ‘your Father’ / ‘my God = your God’ – John 20:17). To them… well their eyes are opened. At evening, just as God used to visit in ‘the cool of the day’, so on the road to Emmaus they come to the close of the day. The original couple had their ‘eyes opened’, opened to see the nakedness of their state (literally and metaphorically) now this couple have their eyes opened also. No longer shame but true sight. True sight as natural sight was kept from them. Sight that dealt with corporate shame, corporate personal disappointment. Looking back on Eden there was fire preventing them returning, now there is fire in their hearts pressing them forward.

The resurrection, ‘it is already the third day’ being on the lips of Cleopas, gave sight. Sight of the future, for ‘there is new creation’; sight on who they are; and sight on who God in Jesus is, that being sight on the past. The resurrection allows sight to go all the way back to Eden. Three left Eden, just as three walked to Emmaus. When there was an exile from Eden, hidden from their sight, was a third companion; humanity never left Eden alone. God travelled with them, the sentence of ‘death’ might have rung in their ears but it was carried for them in the heart of God. Expulsion ends at the cross. The death consequence was truly fulfilled. The resurrection makes that plain.

The resurrection opens eyes to see where God has been all this time. Not locked up in a Temple, nor a ‘holy’ land, but trudging in the dust with the rest of us, even drawing boundaries for the people so that they might find him (!) and not be hidden from them (many implications in that!). The revelation of God is not found in a holy place, nor a holy land – Acts 7 and Stephen’s speech makes that point in a very profound way by selecting the revelations of God that took place outside the land of Israel… oops he should have re-written that speech cos that provokes certain people to pick up stones. (Oh and maybe we should add that the Pauline Gospel is birthed at the gates of Damascus and then nurtured in the desert.)

The resurrection opens sight on all of creation, and all of those who inhabit creation, including the plant life, the animals (even the wild animals, the promise of Old Testament restoration, wonderfully fulfilled in Mark’s account of the temptations of Jesus).

Tonight I am on ‘Witness’ chapter in book 1. Witnesses of the resurrection. If we have seen the resurrection we will see where God has trudged; we will see ‘new creation’ and we will see all others differently. Not according to the flesh, just as the two on the road did not see / recognise Jesus among them, so until we see differently we will not see Jesus among us.

An Interview

I was interviewed by Stephen Hill (New Zealand) a week ago and I will embed the YouTube below. Stephen wrote an excellent prophetic commentary on John’s Gospel that I read and benefited from during the beginning of the lockdown. I have the highest respect for Stephen, he is honest and transparent, and his insights come from his clear relationship to God – and also to himself. He knows God, and he knows himself. Here is his site:

https://www.ancientfuture.co.nz/

Check out his interview with Andy Glover – I watched that this morning, and I valued greatly his down to earth but profound revelations about 2021:

https://www.ancientfuture.co.nz/post/conversation-with-andy-glover

https://www.ancientfuture.co.nz/post/some-prophetic-thoughts-for-2021

Earthy heavenliness

Adrian Lowe sent me a commentary extract this morning from a Jewish rabbi. I quote it below (simply changing the word ‘man’ for ‘human’ etc., as the original grates just too much).

From a Jewish perspective, humanity’s singularity derives from the fact that they, alone within creation, are fashioned from… the upper and lower spheres of creation. Only humanity is at once a member of the animal kingdom and at the same time a philosopher, poet, artist and sage. A person is a creature in conflict, continuously striving to reconcile heaven and earth, the two realms that define their existence. Sanctity, for the Jew, is to be found in that reconciliation, in the investiture of the physical world with holiness through concrete actions that sanctify God’s name.

Enough to get on with for today!

What words can we use?

Words have meaning. Probably the true meaning is what is attributed to those words rather than the ‘root word means’ (cringe when your favourite preacher does that). Some words, in certain contexts, probably simply become unhelpful as the hearer cannot make the adjustment needed to enable the word to be the bridge that brings across a healthy concept. Gayle and I do not use the word ‘Christian’ in Spain. One could use it, but by the time all the qualifications are put in, perhaps the listener will have switched off. We tend to use ‘follower of Jesus’, acknowledging that phrase also needs explaining. Indeed one might wish to suggest that the ‘God’ word is too loaded with meaning already to be of use! Where does one stop? (I was very struck by Michele Perry’s phrase that ‘our words create worlds’.)

In one of the Zoom groups someone said I am not sure I like the ‘saved’ set of words. Again not without validity. If saved immediately communicates ‘saved from hell / saved from the wrath of God’ we are going to face a difficulty in using it. We have moved so far from ‘saved for…’ when we use the saved set of words. (I have been so blessed in one Zoom group where there is a view shared from a Catholic perspective, and another coming from an Orthodox viewpoint when looking at such concepts.)

[And ever so important and got nothing to do with this post… to accompany the current three books in the series I have been writing some articles relating to those books. Find them at https://3generations.eu/explorations. For the techies – pages are stored in JSON files, and loaded via javascript, with the text in MarkDown format. Thought you might like to know (David in Alsace?). A lot faster than accessing a database.]

Words, can they be redeemed? Some maybe can’t or in certain contexts might not be able to be redeemed. Then we come to the New Testament. That presents another challenge to us. Here are a few words used that could be (could be??) misunderstood:

  • basileia – kingdom (of God) and Empire of Rome.
  • eirene – peace. Peace through the cross; peace by the sword (with the temple to peace built on the hill deicated to war in Rome.
  • ekklesia – ‘church’ or Roman governmental office.
  • king of kings = Caesar or Jesus (as also Saviour, lord, lord of lords).
  • son of god – Caesar or Jesus?

The terms are so obviously parallel, and used without an immediate explanation of ‘Jesus is Lord, but not like Caesar and not like…’

And the painful word ‘despot‘ – well not really, the Greek word despotes is used of Jesus and of God is used some 5 times in the New Testament. We might get the word despot from this but it does not get its meaning from the word despot!

I find it interesting that the New Testament easily used words that were in common use all with an Imperial meaning already stamped on them. They were greatly redefined though as they could only be understood through a Jesus’ lens.

Some words we might not be able to use as they have become too corrupted; some we might have to use with explanations; all words we have to use through the Jesus lens of our lives. As Francis of Assisse said

Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.

Beyond constant change

‘Constant change is here to stay’ was a catchphrase from years back. True… but we are stepping beyond the ‘constant change’ right at this time. I wrote a little yesterday from Pope Francis ‘change of era’ statement, and today I received an email… but a little background first.

Two days ago as I was walking the dog, and I know exactly where I was, I was thinking about Bob Mumford. Truth be out, I have not thought of, nor prayed for him in decades. I do not know the last time I heard his name. Bob was well known in many circles connected to the New Church Movement, and was one of the writers in the influential New Wine magazine of the 1970s / 80s. He moved away from the ‘heavy shepherding’ tendency and as far as I know was always seeking to be on the cutting edge. So into my heart comes his name… I hesitated to pray for him as I was not sure if he would still be alive or not (I now know he is 90 and still focused!!) but one aspect of his deposit spoke into my situation. Anyway… today comes an email from Chris Larkin and in a line that said ‘One of these friends in the US yesterday [the day Bob’s name came to me] sent me a booklet by Bob Mumford…’

[Here is a link to the booklet
https://lifechangers.org/teachings/stepping-across-the-threshold/]

I find it interesting that I come across Pope Francis 2015 speech a few days ago (yesterday’s post) and then Bob and his article a few days later. Both are coming from a more conservative end of things than I do but both are saying in their contexts ‘change of era’. Here is an extract from the article I give the link to above:

I am deeply convicted that this present threshold is the transition out of a 500-year season in Church history. Much of what has been embraced as “the Scriptural norm” within the Church is being challenged and modified. In 1994 I locked myself up with sixteen books on Church History with the determination to understand the pattern of its progress from Pentecost to our present day. I discovered that since its birth the Church has gone through a major and often convulsive transition approximately every 500 years. Somewhat surprisingly, I discovered that much of society was often sharing in the same spasms of transition.

It so resonates. I still hold that we will see some tangible relief this year to the current pandemic, with a sigh of relief and proclamations of ‘back to normal’. Next year though will show us clearly that there is no going back, as difficulties bite at a deeper societal level. The era change will become even more visible. As I wrote yesterday I have no idea if into the crises we will witness the (always) soon return of the Lord, or we have thousands of more years. If the latter it becomes clear that it cannot be a thousand more years of exploitation, ‘for in the time you eat from that tree you / we will surely die’. The unsustainability of life-styles that has developed over the past centuries cannot be projected into the future.

Let’s come back to how all this might affect those who have been touched by the Spirit of God (‘they received the Spirit just as we did’ being a major continual criterion) and seek to follow the path of their Saviour (a political term related to the inhabited world). Pope Francis is not suggesting the end of the Roman Catholic church, but for something very different to come out and through it; Mumford is not suggesting the end of charismatic church, but suggesting something very different come out and through it. I do not have any issue with either institution, though am not identified with either. I have no issue because I have no spare energy to work out if I should have an issue – my energies are focused on what I should be involved in, what I should be doing (maybe a little bit of ‘what has that to do with you’ as Jesus said to Peter concerning his colleague John?).

For some years I have been saying that the future is connected to

The multiplicity of the small, and
the richness of diversity.

One size does not fit all. I am very exercised by Paul’s work in the Imperial world, what I consider he thought was filling up what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ. He understood his global world, the one-world government situation, the engagement of the ekklesia as the means of keeping everything aligned to Rome, so was very busy in seeking to see in every polis another ekklesia, this one being the ekklesia of Jesus Christ. Deeply political, with no alignment to the right nor the left, but to heaven’s values, with a work to be done. A challenging work, without any coercion or top-down legislation, seeking to align each polis to heaven. I consider what we have focused on – church (ekklesia) is not lining up too favourably with Paul’s work, and our focus on individual salvation falls short of the strongly political message of Paul (imagine for a moment what was the content of the daily lectures that lasted two years in Ephesus). So in that sense, uncritically, I suggest we are so pre-Pauline.

The situation has shifted. One might say we are in a global scenario, heading toward a one-world government. But that would be to miss some huge elements. The Bible teaches there has always been since the Garden a one-world government system. It simply calls it the ‘world’, controlled by ‘the devil’. No need, and hugely blinding, to shout about the ‘deep state’. It is also to miss the point that we are not only being globalised but also tribalised at the same time. This means we cannot do what Paul did (where is the ekklesia and polis today? things have changed since the first century) but we must work for the same apostolic vision, and with the same apostolic element of ‘with great patience’.

Diversity. It is here. The stranglehold of Reformed theology is coming to an end. The use of the Bible to limit us within fictional boundaries is coming to an end. The mess of reducing the clarity of in / out based on belief systems is here. The growing importance of ortho-praxy as being an element in the Gospel being Pauline or just ‘another gospel’ is here. New monastic movements that develop rhythms, some with common purses, connecting into the oppressed situations that they find in their contexts, many with wonderful testimonies of healing will arise (reminds of numerous times I prophesied this during the ‘Sowing seeds’ era!). Believers who are more connected to those without faith than those with faith will arise, yet deeply connected to a few believers… moving away from the weekly synagogue rhythm (an exilic development to protect faith) and more to the three-times a year connection is here. And if it is going to move us forward and not simply side-ways a deep feminisation, for as I suggest in one of the books (go on you will have to buy it now!!) ‘if anyone is in Christ there is a [feminised] new creation. This we really have to discover what that will entail, and some of the keys will be discovered in hearing what is rising in the town square, for that is where wisdom is crying out.

What will arise in the Catholic world? What will arise in the Charismatic institutional world? What will come through from the Orthodox or Coptic traditions? I don’t know.

Change of era

I really keep up with things… always on the cutting edge of every trend… so just picked up on Pope Francis speech of 2015 (did you notice how cutting edge I am?).

He spoke to a gathering of Italian Catholics in Florence that the Church must be open to change while rejecting a “controlling, hard, and prescriptive” style. Here are a few extracts:

It is not useful to search for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism. We are not living an era of change, but a change of era.

Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts, queries, but it’s alive, and able to unsettle, animate. Doctrine has a face that isn’t rigid, a body that moves and develops, it has tender flesh: that of Jesus Christ.

He called in the same speech for the Catholic church to be ‘a free Church that is open to the challenges of the present, never on the defensive for fear of losing something.’

It was the phrase:

We are not living an era of change, but a change of era.

that caught my attention. A clever turn of phrase but something that captured the wider scenario. I recently wrote in a newsletter using the analogies of the current time as being either, we have entered a storm, winter or the beginnings of an ice-age (analogies not original to me). The first two are simply a variation on the ‘era of change’ phrase. The difference simply being of time duration; the third analogy of course would mean a before and after of immense proportions. An after that is not visible to current sight.

Looking wider than changes being encouraged within the Catholic church, or the church that is essentially shaped from the ‘gathering’ the changes are visible within our world. Elections being stolen… or democracy not being respected… are serious accusations, but perhaps we are witnessing the end of an era, for after all elections have been pretty much settled for decades not by democracy but by money and the power that money can exercise. Now with an emphasis on ‘the seven mountains of influence’ we are in danger of adding to the erosion of genuinely hearing the diverse voice from the public square (see the Michele Perry’s critique that I referenced in a previous post: https://dmperry.com/2021/01/19/why-the-7-mountain-mandate-is-toxic-theology/).

This week Jeff Fountain (YWAM and the Schumann centre) interstingly pikced up on the ‘Seven Mountains’ in his weekly word newsletter:

I was actually present the first time Loren spoke on what he called ‘mind moulders’ in August 1975. He talked of these spheres as ‘classrooms’ through which nations could be discipled. Given his pentecostal background, it was an epiphany for him about the implications of the gospel for all areas of life. Those from Reformed backgrounds would have recognised echoes of Calvin’s understanding of society, especially as taught by Abraham Kuyper. Others however embellished the idea, creating the Seven-Mountain teaching that God wanted Christians to infiltrate all these areas to dominate and rule non-Christians with ‘Christian principles’. This was not Loren’s emphasis. I am allergic to this power-based concept which unfortunately has been widely embraced. 

The change of era scenario means that we can be looking for quick answers, and the ‘Seven Mountains’ comes into give us a quick pathway. The question we have to ask of all such pathways is whether it is the pathway of ‘those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes’.

The comment of Paul that not only signs and wonders accredited his work but that they were accompanied with ‘great patience’. A long term vision. In writing the four foundational books (by foundational I mean they are pretty much foundational to me – probably not sufficient to erect a tower block on!!) I have suggested, non-critically, that we are pre-Pauline, that we do not really know what he was up to with his ‘got to get an ekklesia in every city-state, province of that blasphemous empire’… In that sense all our best work is probably a prelude to catching up to what he was about, and then a challenge awaits us! I do not think Paul would be doing today what he did then. But he would have the same vision, captivated as he was by the Gospel. So, if that be true, we have to somehow find a way of going from pre-Pauline to post-Pauline (yet being faithful to Paul!). Change of era.

Change of era and a long term vision.

But Jesus will come back soon. Yes… we can spell the word soon but the calendar does not help us.

Paul probably anticipated a very soon coming, maybe in his life-time. We might well think Jesus will come back way soon… maybe, maybe not. We might even go through a crisis that seems to set the whole world back decades / even centuries and have to find a way of moving forward. Maybe. Loads of maybies cos I think we are somewhere between the winter and ice-age scenarios.

Either way change of era; great patience. Uncertainty… if we can hold in we come to place of openness.

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