That Acronym

TULIP... leave it in the field

Never been a TULIP fan (surprise, shock, horror!).

T – total depravity
U – Unconditional Election
L – Limited Atonement
I – Irresistable Grace
P – Perseverence of the saints.

The bottom line why I am not a fan is it focuses in on ‘salvation’ in the sense of ‘me’ in a way that I find hard to find in Scripture. Yes, there is a ‘I am saved by the grace of God’ element in Scripture (thank God for that!) but when we place that emphasis as the focus we move away from the centre of Scripture, that centre being the sweep from Creation to New Creation. There are many Calvinists who hold to the above and are far more advanced than I am in their relationship with the Living God, and thankfully for me (and for them!!) there does not seem to be too much about being judged for our beliefs.

Before I give my Acronym that will universally replace the above, the one that will encapsulate the truth in a pithy word, and the replacement of TULIP by my word all done by lunchtime tomorrow, I will take a moment to pull the above apart – oh my abilities even frighten me sometimes…

The whole acronym of course is based on all the big omni- words, perhaps with omnipotent at the core. God is all powerful (not to be disputed) and nothing is outside of his sovereignty (to be disputed) and so what he wills is accomplished. Apply this to ‘salvation’ and the above begins to flow.

Add to this a penal substitutionary view of the atonement so that if sins are paid for then whose sins are paid for? Answer becomes LIMITED ATONEMENT, for if sins are paid for God is appeased (propitiated) and it is a done deal for those for whom Jesus died. (I do appreciate there are those who are Calvinists who hold to unlimited atonement, and even one PhD that sought to indicate that Calvin himself held to a universal atonement.) Personally if atonement is transnational then the transaction is done – and if there is universal atonement on that basis, it seems to me that such a transaction would indicate universal salvation. Once the limited atonement part is removed it is increasingly difficult to hold to the other four points.

The term UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION is not simply meant that we do not deserve to be chosen (no-one is arguing with that), but it is taken to mean that God also chooses who will receive that election. For me it fails to grasp that there is ultimately only one elect Person, that being Jesus, and by extension of course those who are ‘in him’. (Later Trinitarian Reformed theologians have grasped this… leading all the way in their thinking again to universal salvation.)

Irresistable grace… my absolute proof (!!!) of resistable grace in the previous post should push back on this one.

TOTAL DEPRAVITY… at best this can mean that there is no area of humanity that has not been affected by the fall(s). That is OK, but normally it is taken to mean even any ‘righteousness’ is simply as filthy rags.

PERSEVERENCE of the Saints – maybe.

So there we go… but for me it is a system based on two planks that simply do not bear the weight of Scripture. Those two being the view of God and how this God acts and behaves (the ‘sovereign’ God whose rule is established through power and might); and the focus on ‘salvation’ in the sense of being personally saved from punishment. So even if we adjust the points, nuance them, they just do not hold water for me. The leakage is BIG! (Unlike the truth that I hold to…)

So my acronym?

I wanted to use the word TRUTH, or if that one did not work something like ‘CORRECT’, ‘PROOF’, ‘RIGHT’ or even something a little stronger such as ‘ORDAINED FROM HEAVEN’. But could not get the letters to work. Shame.

Then I came up with ‘WATERED DOWN’, ‘REALLY?’ (with the question mark), ‘NO WAY’, but gave up on those. They just seemed to indicate that I did not have it all sorted… and I can never let that idea circulate.

So being the nice guy I am, and being fairly convinced that all our ideas leak water (and that ‘what we do’ is the criterian by which we will be judged – not very popular idea that one, but seems I have more than one proof text on it), I decided none of this is worth fighting over, so my acronym is TRUCE. Simply stop the fighting, agree with me and we will get along real fine.

Trinitarian dance. Or as the people of old termed it ‘perichoresis’, which we might bring into our language as ‘the eternal dance’ being a term to describe the inner life of the Trinity. (It was probably originally used to try to get a handle on the divine / human relationship within Jesus – I am not so keen on that usage.) I start here as we need a grasp of the movement of God, the interplay, the making space for creation.

Resistable grace. Grace is universal, light enlightens one and all, but that grace can be resisted; the love of God is uncontrolling. Why would someone resist the grace of God? Probably because we have to abandon our pre-set judgements and being boss of our own destiny. The invitation is to come over to the Life side, and although the death side is not something that is chosen – it is a result of choosing what we wrongly consider is life.

Universal invitation. No one excluded, and the invite goes out to come partner, to enter the dance, to learn the steps not with the head and memory, but by the heart and intuition (they are nor pre-set, but are improvised).

Cosmic healing. The cross limited? No, no and no. The cross is unlimited. It is for the healing of the nations… indeed for the healing of the cosmos. If string theory comes close to explaining the universe then the music of the cross is reverberating throughout the universe. The sun goes dark, the earth responds, graves open, temple curtain torn. The silence of submission was so loud that ‘death / sickness’ could not keep the tomb shut.

Eschatological sight. God has always had this vision… we are learning to see this way. There is ‘new creation’ and we now see what is ‘currently’ unseen. Or at least we are starting to see, and not yet very clearly.

OK… My little summary of why we retire TULIP and from now on the entire body of believers will be using the TRUCE word. Or if there is not a total switch over, at least backing away from dogma to rest in relationship and learn to dance within all of creation. Who knows who might join in, or who might teach us some new steps?

Resistable Grace

Leave the TULIPS growing in the field

Hope you like the title. TULIP has been far too influential for too long, so time for a push back. My one success in my theological studies days was when I pushed a professor (a bit of a Calvin expert) to agree that he was holding to ‘God desired all to be saved, but only chooses some’. An all powerful God who can do what he wishes and chooses to do something he does not desire? Really? All systems leak, and mine simply leaks less than the next person. So I am not in favour of the ‘irresistable’ part of TULIP. [Note to self: have to come up with a new acronym.]

A couple of texts that of course ‘prove’ my perspective (we all love proof texts, all one has to do is to ignore the non-proof texts!).

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain (1 Cor. 15:10).

we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:1).

Not in vain… seems to imply that the grace of God can be received in vain: from the same verb as in Phil. 1:6 regarding the kenosis of Jesus… the self emptying of Jesus, so it seems ‘in vain’ is along the lines of ‘deprived of power’, ‘without achieving the desired results’. The grace of God could be without desired results, and the deciding factor regarding the outcome in these verses was Paul, or the Corinthians. I don’t think it really gives the idea of ‘irresistable’.

Charity. When we see someone who is desperate it is right to be moved and to give without knowing much more something that will at least enable that person to survive. Charity though is not the meaning behind the word ‘grace‘ or ‘gift‘ in the NT. Both charity and gift / grace are given with no strings attached, neither demand a return, neither buy the person’s allegiance. The difference though lies in the consideration given that lies behind the act, the reason for the act. For gift to be truly gift / grace it is given without strings attached, but with the consideration that what is given will enable this person / situation to pull toward their destiny. Without the gift it will be very difficult for them to move onward and upward, indeed, unless something similar comes from another source, the movement toward their destiny will not be possible. That is the purpose of grace. Paul responded in such a way that he moved on to fulfil his destiny, and he is appealing (second verse quoted) that the Corinthians will respond in like manner.

Paul gave the escaped slave Onesimus back to Philemon as a gift. Philemon could receive him back as a slave, but the gift was given to pull Philemon to a new level. He might be a slave owner (in that culture) but he was being given a gift to enable him to pull himself higher and to humanise all people, regardless of economic status. (We might add that Paul gave some fairly strong arguments, and perhaps a bit of emotional weight, to strongly encourage Philemon not to receive the gift ‘in vain’.)

Gifts given are given because they carry an inherent power… if pulled on. In order to be truly a gift we will need to know something of the other person / situation, so that what is not ours (in the sense of ownership) but is ours to steward can be given freely. There will be a relational, but not transactional, element to the gift.

2022 – I have had on my heart for some days ‘a new economy being birthed’. Resistable grace has to be part of it.

[Now to work on that very clever acronym.]


The previous posts have been a surface look at Jesus’ interaction with women, and how those interactions were important milestones for him with regard to his journey toward maturity. Post-resurrection, and as both risen Lord and first-born from the dead, the firstfruits of all creation his interactions transform women. It starts with his realignment for Mary his own mother. No longer is he to be her son, but John is (Jn. 19:26,27). Relationships in this age are important, but cannot define relationships in that age. They are transformed as we will be transformed into his (mature) image. I will be ME, truly me!

He transforms Mary’s relationship, an equality alongside himself ‘My God… your God… My Father… your Father’. Transformation of relationship so with a skip in her step she can follow up the work of the Gardener (second Adam).

In John’s Gospel Jesus is shaped by his interaction with women, the interactions are a catalyst to provoke an expansion of thinking. The women are key as the world was strongly (is strongly) patriarchal. We too can find in the world of marginalisation the catalysts to enable our thinking to expand (there will always be a limit as to what academia can provide as the ‘experts’ are the ones who inform that world. A limit is not something negative, but it remains a limit!) If we are willing to be touched by the marginal within society, we will find that our interactions with the Ascended Messiah will transform us, and will transform us – not by confirming how right we are, but by showing us a wonderful, even if challenging, journey forward.

Mary and Martha: John 11 – 12

This is such a rich story and we begin with the opening verses:

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

‘Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair’ – an important statement for later!

‘Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus’ – why Martha named and not Mary?

The resuscitation of Lazarus takes place and we then come to the next chapter and a subsequent visit to Lazarus’ home. In John’s account it is Mary, the sister, who anoints Jesus with an extravagant show of love. (We might pull in from Luke’s account that Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet had chosen the ‘better part’.)

She anoints his feet and ‘washes’ them… anoints him for burial. Was her act a catalyst in Jesus’ understanding that his death was both necessary and approaching? Did he meditate on this and that enabled him to reply to the Greeks who wanted to see him (John 12:20-25) that they would one day… but only once a grain of wheat had fallen into the ground and that grain (a Jewish male Messiah) would be raised as a Greek Saviour (and substitute what is necessary for an resurrected but fully incarnated Saviour into all cultures and tribes)?

Did her washing of his feet provoke him to wash the feet of his own disciples? Is there a link between the two for all we have is a chapter division separating the two accounts? (Culturally, it was seriously undignified to wash feet, a woman could be forced to do so, even though it was below what one could expect a Hebrew slave to perform.)

Finger in the dust: John 8

I realise this passage is a disputed one as original to the Gospel of John, but it seems to have stood the test of time as being canonical, so I am more than happy to include it. (And in including it I indicate that the question of authenticity is not simply answered by the problematic test of was it ‘apostolic’.) Here is part of the text:

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her…

Something that is interesting as I read these verses is the movement of Jesus: ‘Jesus straightened up’… ‘once again he bent down’… ‘Jesus straightened up’. Of course a description of his posture, but is more intended to be understood than something physical?

There is a final straightening up when we come to a release for the woman, an exposure of ‘self-established’ righteousness, and an empowerment to live differently. In between there is a finger in the dust, a writing by the finger in the very substance of humanity. Humanity created from the dust of the earth was the point of connection for Jesus. ‘He touched me’ not simply to transform me… but to be transformed / to see clearly by touching me?

What a mess is dust. What did Jesus touch while writing? Male superiority, male excuse (the old question remains where was the man as it takes two to tango?), religion being on ‘my’ side, a woman ‘caught’ and made to stand before them all (shamed for guilt will never be enough for religion). Once he had touched and deeply touched humanity, and touched something at the heart of humanity, that exploitation of the male / female relationship he straightens up for the final time.

Does Jesus grow / develop in this encounter. I think so.

Samaria and a well: John 4

Next up in John’s Gospel is Samaria and the encounter there with a woman. It has to be read in contrast to John 3 and Nicodemus. Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel with ‘the Law, the prophets and the writings’; this woman with a religion that was somewhat syncretistic and had access only to the first five books of Moses; one at the darkest hour, the other at the brightest hour; one unable to see, the other ‘seeing’ at such a level that she enabled others to see that Jesus was the ‘Saviour of the world’.

Now for some speculation as the text does not automatically push us in this direction. The discussion takes place at Jacob’s well. Jacob who became Israel, the third generation patriarch from whom the nation derived its name. The patriarch that meant for Jews that Samaritans were not ‘in’, so much so that any Jew travelling north would take the long route around Samaria so as not to enter there. Was Jesus processing at this time what would have to take place for Samaritans to be included? He understood he was sent ‘only to the lost sheep of Israel’ (Matt. 15:24). Could it be that his understanding of inclusion and how the inclusion would take place was further developed in his interchange with the woman?

Salvation is from the Jews but that salvation had nothing to do with place – this mountain nor Jerusalem. The hour was coming, indeed Jesus in this context pronounces it has already come when inclusion will be based on Spirit and truth.

Perhaps coming to a well, Jacob’s well, and having a discourse about water and marriage (as per many former stories in the Old Testament) provoked Jesus to not only push for the issue of spiritual water and spiritual thirst but to consider covenant relationship with God, a covenant that would no longer exclude non-Jews, but might indeed exclude Jews who did not worship in Spirit and truth.

The encounter was certainly key for the woman (see for another post on this encounter)… it might also have been a provocation for Jesus. I think so.

It is interesting that the next passages have Jesus returning to Galilee (Galilee of the Gentiles, Jn. 4:43) and that he heals a ‘royal official’s’ son – was this royal official a Gentile? (The jury is out as to whether this is John’s recording of the healing of the Centurion’s servant.) He does it back in Cana, where the first miracle was done. Did Jesus return with an expanded view of inclusion, a view provoked by his discussion in Samaria?

Then immediately following this miracle comes the deliberate healing of the man by the ‘sheep gate’ on the Sabbath, that caused offence to the Jews. John’s flow from Nicodemus to Samaria on to Cana and then back to Jerusalem might just indicate that the encounter in Samaria was important for Jesus’ development.

Jesus’ mother: John 2

I plan to write a few random posts on Jesus’ interaction with women in the New Testament (yes I realised that I have excluded the Old Testament!). They will just involve a few observations, a little bit of ‘probably this is going on’. I am provoked to do this as I am convinced that the Gospel values the small, the small gift that is given. And the provocation was provoked by Gayle returning from walking the dog with a cup of coffee given to her by a woman who lives on the end of our street. A small gift – a cup of coffee; but the context makes it a much bigger gift than a 1000.00€ from someone who can afford it – though if you need our bank account number….

My observations carry a pre-supposition that Jesus was the Great Teacher because he was the Great Learner. He never sinned but became mature and his growth in maturity was before God and humanity, that maturity growing because he was always willing to step outside his previous boundary. That stepping outside being provoked at times through a new experience, and often those new experiences were encounters with women.

Starting off with John’s Gospel, my reading of the text brings us to John 2 and the wedding at Cana. The whole context is set ‘on the third day’ indicating that this is to be read as a ‘new covenant’ reality. That is further backed up by the water jars used for cleansing within Jewish rituals becoming the jars for drinking the ‘new’ wine from. The passage ends with:

After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers and his disciples…

First on the list – his mother.

In the story it seems a pretty clear reading that Jesus and his mother had two different perspectives on the time-line. ‘My hour has not come’ was Jesus’ understanding. And Mary’s? It seems she understood it was ‘the hour’! The writer presents it as ‘on the third day’, indicates it was ‘his hour’.

Mary I am sure knew her son well, and knew that at this stage he needed a gentle nudge with regard to his view of timing. I have no idea if she had not been present what would have taken place. We will never know if he would have moved ahead to shift the time and bring forward ‘the hour’ or not. But it remains that it appears to me in this situation that she was the catalyst for the shift, and as a result, ‘the first of his signs’ and the revelation of ‘his glory’ took place on that day.

And then the ‘end’

But what ended?

Certainly not the end of the world… I consider the resurrection of the physical body is the ultimate evidence of God’s commitment to terra firma. [The only Scriptures that can be pulled out to suggest a great burning up are seriously apocalyptic, where ‘end of the world’ language is used to convey ‘end of world as you knew it’. 2 Peter 3 which does – in some translations! – talk about the destruction of the earth, also says that the world was already destroyed through the flood. So a big final burnup doesn’t get my vote… a new – and the word is not new as in not seen before, but new as in ‘re-newed’, regenerated – heavens and new earth, where in some way heaven is on earth, does get my vote.]

Matthew 24:14 says (NRSV):

And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

This verse has been used to urge a mission-mindedness that the end waits for all the ethnic groups to have heard (all nations: ta ethne)… however. Certainly a great motivation, but is this what Jesus meant? Backing up the prophetic responses of Jesus were provoked by the question the disciples asked when they heard Jesus inform them that a great destruction was coming to the city and the temple:

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3).

I used to think this was probably two questions (R.T. France was an advocate of this): when will these things happen (Temple destroyed), what will be the sign of your parousia (as per Daniel 7, the son of man coming in the clouds, and then what will be the end of the age – that final parousia.

If it was two questions, it still seems contextually that Jesus answered it as one question. He did not say this, but the answer is ‘AD70 guys… not long away’, or to quote Jesus:

Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place (Matt. 24:34).

Now to a short interlude…

Paul seems to have thought that in his lifetime Matt. 24:14 (‘to all the nations’) was already fulfilled (and of course Jesus said all these things in a generation). Here are four examples of this perspective:

But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world” (Rom. 10:16-18).

At the end of Romans 10 Paul jumps between addressing the Jewish and the Gentile situation; here he is addressing the Gentile situation. The message has (not will eventually) gone throughout the whole earth and to the extremity of the oikoumene. That final word was a very common way the civilised world of Rome was described. The oikoumene was the Roman world, and here he adds the ‘extremities’ of it, suggesting that this was indeed the whole earth.

There is a second text in Romans (16:25-26, though it is not in every manuscript I include it here, for it accords with Paul’s perspective, and even if it was added it represents an early perspective):

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles.

To ‘all the Gentiles’ (ta ethne: same word as in Matthew 24:14). Indeed rather than refer to ethic groups it was the most common way that those who were not Jews were described. The Gentile world was the ‘ta ethne’ world.

Then there are two in Colossians.

You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God (Col. 1:5-6).

The ‘whole world’, and in a book that is fairly ‘cosmic’ the use of the word kosmos is quite fitting here.

[P]rovided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven (Col. 1:23).

Which has been proclaimed to every creature (literally ‘all creation’); same as in the disputed passage of Mark 16:15 where we read on the lips of Jesus:

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.”

So Paul uses ‘the whole earth’, ‘the extremities of the oikoumene‘, ‘all the ethne‘, ‘the whole kosmos‘, ‘all creation’. That is a fairly strong perspective and I don’t think we can really push Jesus’ words in a different direction. We might wish to use them as a missiological imperative, but it does not seem to be what Jesus meant in that context.

[An aside: why the delay in the parousia… I think God wants to give us time to produce the blocks that will give us the best possible new creation.]

End of interlude!

Jesus’ single answer is that something huge would end in AD70. The end, not of the world, but of ‘the age’. We live the other side of that, and in the light of the teachings of Jesus the burden to bring the good news of the kingdom (and here we have to think of the ‘good news of the kingdom of Rome’ that was being proclaimed throughout the whole kosmos, when we try to work out what our good news is) to all ethnic groups is totally valid.

A few reflections on the ‘r’ word

I hope you enjoyed the dialogue with Michele. I always appreciate talking with her as she lives with an integrity that has meant she has not always been able to walk in a straight line pursuing a successful career path in things ecclesiastical, but has turned aside and then followed the path of the Spirit… after all Jesus said that was a hallmark of those who are ‘born again’… theologians have changed the words of Jesus to apply it to the Spirit being like the wind! Such an interpretation can still allow us to live carefully… not I think an option Jesus seemed to want to offer.

I grew up with talk of Duncan Campbell and the Lewis revival of the early 50s; I came to faith through connection to Pentecostals so the stories of Smith Wigglesworth, Stephen and George Jeffries, the healing revivalists of the 50s became great ‘food’, then the extensive works and stories of Charles Finney (and what a middle name – Grandison!!), plus some amazing encounters connected to John Wesley. I wrote a book some 20 years ago ‘Sowing seeds for Revival’ (later republished as Gaining Ground). Someone asked me a couple of days ago would I change anything in that book (and Impacting the City) and I replied with a ‘basically no… even if I might express some things a little differently’.

I might not use the ‘r’ word so regularly, but am still looking for the ‘t’ word – transformation. Indeed for me ekklesia is bound up with transformation of the world, and it was one of the reasons why we moved to Spain, seeking to track where first Century unanswered apostolic prayers were seeded in the land / in the land of Empire.

[An aside: we all have to make some sense of our own journey. I, being optimistic, do not see wrong turns, simply distinct points on the way. I appreciate there are some who look back and view where they have been negatively. I do not. Does not make me right, but makes it a whole lot easier to live freely!]

When I began to travel outside the UK into the USA I soon discovered that the ‘r’ word was being used in a different way to how I had understood it. There it seemed more to be an activity within the congregation – ‘we are having revival’, whereas my background had reserved it for thousands coming to faith and donkeys no longer responding to miners’ commands as they no longer used expletives to command them to move (Wales, 1904)! The difference made me reflect some, then I began to think about the setting for those ‘revivals’ this side of the pond – 1859, 1904, 1951 etc. They were into a community already somewhat religious. Many, many chapels were built in Wales post 1859, those chapels were fairly full when we come to 1904. Filled with sons and daughters of those converted in 1859. With so much of the climate, there and in Lewis, being of a Calvinist nature therefore only God can convert, they were waiting for a move of God (‘I now feel guilty’). That move came, and although I have no doubt we can call it a move, such classic sermons as ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’ also fitted a culture. The wider community was touched deeply, but that wider community was already strongly god-fearing (and we might wish to emphasise ‘fearing’!).

I have travelled numerous African countries and also in South America. The impact of the gospel has been incredible. Some cities in Brazil might be as high as 40% born again! But…

OK these are reflections.

Europe is post-Christian. Or maybe better put post-Christendom. I give a big ‘oh yes, now that is a description that will help us get out of bed each day with a spring in our step and a shout in our mouth’. Has God used Christendom? The answer is of course ‘yes’ but the question is irrelevant. God, after all, anointed a monarchy in Israel, a move that was birthed in ‘rejecting God’. God anoints what rejects the direction s/he is moving in!

Post-Christian, not having a voice that is listened to above others; pushed to the margins etc… That is where our faith was born, so surely it gives us hope. So many people have been praying for a revival of first Century Christianity, and then want to hold on to a context different to where it flourished. Seems to me like trying to grow grapes in the Arctic Circle. Plant all you want… but the context just is not the right one to produce wine!

I deeply suspect that north America, followed by South America and Africa will follow where the train is headed. Into the world of post-Christendom. At this stage seems we (in Europe) are well aware the train has left the track, while those in the other carriages can still happily swing from the proverbial chandeliers. I also like to swing in that way but perhaps for a slightly different reason.

I am not simply optimistic when I look ahead. I am up beat about now! I consider that we are right in an incredible outpouring; some put it this way that the last century saw three outpourings – Azusa Street and Pentecostalism; charismatic renewal, and ‘Toronto’ and the many parallel movements. Three outpourings, granting us a fullness.

I consider that Pentecost (Acts 2) gives a paradigm of three stages: for you; your children (generational); those afar off. We are at the afar off stage and how we respond depends on what stage we are at. Afar off means movement. Movement out. This is not a season of ‘bring them in’ but ‘abandon safety (safety is overrated anyway!) and make the journey to where the Spirit is moving’. If we don’t make the journey, and that journey will involve listening for there is a conversion to take place in ‘us’ that is greater than the conversion to take place in ‘the others’. If we don’t make the journey how can there be an embrace of Jesus?

I have come to believe that we really have to squeeze Scriptures to make it all about ‘in / out’ but if we let them speak to us we will hear very loudly ‘the earth is the Lord’s’, in other words ekklesia is not about getting people in but about a people being planted in the world so that there will indeed be transformation. (Moving from the first parable, the only one fully explained, with the seed being the word of God and falling on the soil of response… to the next parable where the seed is no longer the word of God, but the incarnated word, hence integrity being ever so important, with less mouth and more vulnerability and transparency, and the soil being the ‘world’. The first one fully explained so that we get it… and in getting it embrace the second and subsequent parables.)

Words do not primarily carry meaning at an intrinsic level – the old idea of etymology (the root word means) will not get us too far – but words are carriers of meaning, that meaning depending on what the communicator intended and the meaning the hearer injects into them. ‘The ‘r’ word, revival. I might or might not still use it, but my expectation is so far beyond what I had in mind when I began to travel with ‘sowing seeds for revival’ teams. The ‘t’, transformation word, is perhaps closer to where I am at.

But maybe it is the ‘r’ word I like. Responsibility. Taking responsibility for this world. Being sourced from heaven, being shaped by heaven’s values. I am happy to review almost anything, but the cross was the roadblock to destruction, so it opened the path to transformation. Maybe with the climate crisis we are running out of time. Maybe… but what is more certain is I am here in my generation, regardless of how many are yet to come. And finally to encourage me I meditate on the widow who put two small coins in the Temple treasury, that act prompting Jesus to speak to those who were so impressed with its magnificence to say – all will be changed! Being impressed or intimidated, I simply want as many as possible to throw a couple of coins in the right direction and then we might indeed see something in ‘this generation’.

More on the ‘r’ word

This is the second chat with Michele on ‘revival’. Enjoy!!

If I get time I will try and put a post up in the next few days reflecting on the ‘r’ word from these videos. If I get time? We have just moved back to Madrid… after almost a year and half not being here. Time pressure is not a time pressure. Love to walk the city and to pray so that for the next few weeks is the time focus.