Six words – second reflection

Feels like I am treading on thin ice, any minute now it could break. Vulnerability is not a location with which I am familiar! So many helpful tools out there, I am pretty ignorant of most of them, have a small acquaintance with the ‘enneagram’ which like all those tools does not put one in a box, but helps one to see what box you are already in. Gayle and I have almost completed an online course, so I am now pretty qualified to write about all of her weaknesses… maybe I have got the wrong end of the stick? It has been ever so helpful. We are so alike and so unalike, though thinking to myself, she does have plenty of time to adapt and change… surely?

Anyway one of the early comments was ‘there is one type on the enneagram that is really happy with themselves and don’t really see the need to change’. I thought ‘I hope she reveals that as I would love to know who that would be’. Gayle keeps quiet and at the end of the session out it comes – me!! How true.

I have 7 siblings, my mother 1 of 13 so I reckon between us all we probably hold the entire DNA for the human race, including I am sure the DNA of the Neanderthal race – I am just trying to work out who got what as I know that I know my DNA will come back as pure… of course. Anyway, a little more serious, an elder brother has written an excellent reflection on his life and in early chapters he writes about the Scotts and the Eunsons (parental lines). As I read this I shout to Gayle, ‘You have to read this chapter in Ken’s book. It’s about his parents, it is incredible!’

Although I do realise they were also my parents, there was more to the comment than a little bit of humour. First, we all have different experiences of parents and home life. Mine was independence. A farm has fields, many fields, a boy has a football. Perfect. Eating? Well that can be done in 6 minutes and off again.

#8 on the enneagram is quite happy in their own company. They normally learn to spell relationships / friendship much later in life, as those elements can simply get in the way. Unbelievably I had another birthday this year, and so now I can begin to think occasionaly about reflecting back to an earlier life (I have not read stuff on ‘second half of life’ but probably should get round to that in one of the coming decades). So with deep reflection, that I will think about a few times as I go on my four trains today to get to my destination tonight, here are my six words for today:

Standing strong alone or leaning in?

Six words for today

I am in the UK and tomorrow travel to Amblecote (where is that I hear you ask)… the who is more important than the where, so it is with Adrian and Marion Lowe and then a team on Friday for the day. Adrian introduced me to ‘The Six Word Story’. Here is a good post to read expalining it:

https://churchanew.org/blog/posts/char-rachuy-cox-six-words

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Born in the desert, still thirsty.
  • Followed rules, not dreams. Never again.

The idea they summarise something that helps focus. So me being one who never excelled at the ‘reflect back’ / meditation exercises decided I will give it a go today (who knows about tomorrow and whether I will have a go then!).

Not always right so discovering life.

OK… it is only my first attempt so I will improve (oh no, did that sentence reveal something about me always striving and never coming up to the line? Surely not… hey, it was only an aside so no comments about ‘ever thought of therapy, Martin?’)

I love the right / wrong divides. I have realised the first word out of my mouth when in conversation is the word ‘no’, particularly when I agree. I have come to realise this in Spain more than elsewhere as when one puts the word ‘no…’ followed by something like ‘estoy de acuerdo’ one is actually saying fairly strongly ‘I disagree…’ In my head I am saying ‘I really agree with you whoelheartedly’, and I guess somewhere in there emotionally I am saying – ‘I will tell you I sooooo agree with you, but first I must let you know that I am not about to submit to you, I am independent’. So ‘no’ means I insist on my own autonomy while agreeing, without acknowledging that you came up with the position. Gayle now just let’s me get on with it as she knows she is the one who knows about mutual submission… Dang how did she get to that understanding before me?

Anyway, I am making progress. I am not always right, on many issues and situations I simply don’t have a clue, and have started to realise that if we all were to get it right (translation – line up with Martin’s reality) we could well end up in a big corporate unity of independence (now there’s a concept worth exploring!!!!!!). There is something so much bigger than getting it right, it is of discovering life, kind of ‘train a child up to discover their life and what makes them really come alive and they will love that path, feel good about themselves, and go on to make their contribution to humanity as they develop’ (a very rough translation of the Hebrew, or nowhere near a translation but I think I got the sense).

Celebrating life. Seems that is what God has always done. Not tied to rights and wrongs (and of course there are some rights and wrongs, but they are not best discovered as if they are a set of edicts), but the Author of life, the one who came to bring life, even abundant life. The one who died so that we might live; the cross that does not deal with the issue of justice from a right / wrong aspect, but one that releases life that overcomes death, and if death is overcome, life is embraced and we will then discover that any rights and wrongs were written in invisible ink.

So today my six words are along those lines. Probably will need to think about them throughout the day, and likely to forget them many times also!

Discover life. Why ‘discover’… cos many times life is hidden, covered over.

Tatuajes

So as not to create any controversy I have used the Spanish word, and thus totally disguise what I could be referring to. There are those who use Scripture to suggest any inking is against the will of heaven. I find that a bit of a stretch, given there is considerable weight also against two kinds of material being worn, or mixed seeds in a field being sown – all under the rubric of ‘holiness’. I don’t like it when I see ‘sleeves’ or people covered in tattoos (DOB has something to do with the ‘I don’t like that’), but an ink here or there seems immaterial.

Here is a tattoo that some smart guy in Madrid slapped on me. Why the little cartoonish bear? Glad you asked.

Some while back I had on my back (no pun intended) ‘True North’ inked with the ‘o’ being a compass. I had it up my spine cos I need to have a straight spine, be upright and know where I am headed. If I get my true north then I can venture in all kinds of directions, not deviating from who I consider I am meant to be.

I am challenged by a few (understatement) of Paul’s statements. The ones I understand and the ones I don’t; the ones I think I take in context and the ones I know are out of context. So to the last category, here is one that I take out of context:

But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

One thing I do. We all probably have 100 things we need to do, to give ourselves to, but I have long considered that I might try the 100 things, the result being I might do okish with 3 or 4 of them but not touch the ‘one thing’ that I must do, or in line with the inking, I might not align to ‘true north’. If I really focus on the ‘one thing’ I might well then end up achieving quite a few more than I expected.

So the friendly bear?

I took a piece of paper that Gayle had been doodling on, that doodle was this bear. I had the result done when we were in Madrid, the symbol of Madrid being the bear. And then… keep with it, all will be revealed as to how significant this was… How do you find ‘true north’, the pole star? Find the bear and follow the trajectory, the bear will lead to true north.

One thing – hope I am not cheating with two things here! If I lose true north I need to allow the bear (drawn by Gayle) to guide me, so I need to find Gayle, be aligned to her and from there I will find my true north; or maybe find Madrid, who is she, what does she symbolise, align to her, her future, the future of Spain, the future of Europe. If I do that I will find myself being aligned to my true north.

Maybe I am not cheating by naming two things, maybe it is not two things, but I need to pick one or the other when I am in danger of missing my way cos I suspect they are intertwined.

I don’t think tattoos are taboo, they are neither here nor there, but a focus on true north and the ‘one thing’ and when we need to the finding of helps that redirect us back to our alignement seems very significant.

Note to self:
Don’t be too concerned about all the things you have not done well… what should be your focus, Martin, that one thing?

Conflicting statements

OK let’s get the two statements out there, and both from the lips of Jesus. And just in case it is only me who sees the conflict I will put that part in bold.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters (Matt. 12:30).

But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.” (Lk. 9:50, also Mark 9:40).

So there we have it. The difference has to be context. Context of the first one is of those who are in the know, who are the ones holding the truth, and as a result quickly discern that Jesus is casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul. The second one is in the context of the disciples encountering someone who was casting out demons in the name of Jesus but who was not one of ‘them’.

I am probably one of those in the ‘know’. That means quite an ‘ouch’ for me. I know so much I can quickly discern where things are way off line. Then who are those who are in the second category? They are the ones who are ‘Not one of us’, who ‘does not follow with us’ (great language – the ‘us’ language)… but using the benefits that Jesus has brought. Dangerous, for sure… or dangerous for people like me?

So makes for some untidy mess, or maybe bringing clarity to how I mess it up by knowing where the lines of clarity are to be drawn.

A change, how much of a change?

How much has changed with the passing of the Queen? The honour that has been forthcoming is more than an expression of sentimentality but seems to come from the awareness of her life of service. For many reasons I am not of a royalist persuasion (and theologically believe God chose David, ‘a man after his own heart’, to end kingship… not prolong it… another post one day), but as we live in a world in which all forms of government and hierarchies are present this is not the most pressing element in my small life!

Something though has changed, beyond that of the death of a monarch. It seems significant that we have moved from male Prime Minister, who was prophesied to carry a Churchill anointing, to a female PM, who at some level is embodying what Maggie Thatcher carried; conversely we move from a female head of state to a male head of state. Signs of the pressing nature of how we respond to issues male and female / maculine and feminine.

[At one level I am troubled by prophetic words that proclaim (e.g.) ‘this new leader will carry the anointing xxx of and restore Britain to her glory…’ Troubled because they seem to be based in a belief that the future is all down to who is present in No. 10 (or the equivalent). Seems so opposite to Scripture – Luke 3, the entire thrust of Revelation (esp. ch. 5), Jesus’ words that it was the Father’s good pleasure to give the kingdom to a bunch of nobodies… etc. At another level I think there is often some revelation in the words, but the expectation that is added is skewed. I do think we had a ‘Churchill’ in No 10. Great news is he did not last very long! The expectation of restoration of ‘Great’ into ‘Britain’ was not fulfilled… and now we have a season of female strength. I believe in leadership, the issue is not leadership it is the style, and maybe a style is appropriate at one time (war – Churchill… maybe!) that is not appropriate at another. And when the season changes what has been and is desired, and desired by believers in particular, has to manifest to be finally emptied out.]

In a time of significant change there is an old ‘covering’ that is removed. Hence I do anticipate these next 7 months will open up the land to confusion, chaos and a number of backlashes.

An aside: Defender of the faith? Or…

The history of the term was that it was given to Henry VIII by the then pope (Leo X), before he abandoned the Catholic expression of faith. A tad ironic as Henry took the title with him and was no longer there to defend the Catholic faith, his marital status influencing which expression of faith he would defend. However, my objection goes a little deeper than that. The only defence for a monarch having the title can be rooted in a ‘I vote for Christendom’ perspective. So count me out on that one. I have no doubt the Queen had personal faith, and in line with Paul we should ‘wish that all (royalty and rulers) present were as he was’ (i.e. with faith in Jesus), but their task is not to ‘defend the faith’! We are to give a defence, an explanation, a witness to faith, but any legislation or force that defends the faith? No, not in my books.

If there is a title, defender of faiths, would be something I would be more comfortable with; but probably defender of freedom, of justice, of human kindness – all of that would sit better. So without disparaging the title-giving former pope, I hope there will be some shift on these issues.

Royalists (I hear there are some Christians who are in favour) and non-royalists alike, we simply need to be ready to be re-focused. Some titles might go, some will stay, but all of it is not nearly as central to how I live. I can raise my placard (what placard and in Spain!!!) and if I feel strongly enough there is public space for that, but if my objection to royalty is an objection to hierarchy, elitism and the like I should not raise any placard, not until I have dealt with the issues of the heart. If it is a time for something fresh to come forth regarding male and female, that has direct implications for me in my household.

The Gospel – all about changing the world, how can it not be when the claim is that the Imperial powers had stolen the very word? The Gospel – all about the micro of my responses.

There are some ‘tough’ election results being counted in Sweden and whatever the outcome the far-right xenophobic party with neo-nazi roots will have made major gains. Painful. And very painful to Maria and Bjorn who have stood with, created jobs for, challenged the powers, with regard to those driven from their nations and ended in Sweden (the sentence does not begin to tell the journey). What does it mean for those that they love, those that they have taken into their household / family? That is a very real issue. If the woman who threw in her two coins brought down a most luxurious Temple (a Temple that occupied around 25% of Jerusalem, that was spoken of in Rome as a building that just has to be seen), then I know that Bjorn and Maria have continually put 2 coins into the system that ‘robs widows of their houses’. The election is painful. Faithfulness is what catches the eye of God. (Even the disciples were focused on the incredible building – has nothing changed? Jesus meanwhile saw the widow.)

There are huge changes I believe that are here. They will unfold.

Interview on OGC

My interview with Off Grid Christianity is up and loaded. The blurb says:

Martin discusses what it was like as a Christian when his first wife, Sue, passed away. He also shares his thoughts on the house church movement and what a prophetic theologian is.

https://www.podash.com/podcast/5594148

Now… the masculine and feminine

Imperial –> Colonialism

In the early 2000’s in the European context the whole understanding of Imperial power and the need to do something about the historic Roman expression of it became clear. This understanding seemed to come to a number of people independently in the same season. A significant response to this was when Steve Lowton (one of my heroes) put literal legs to this with a team and they walked from Whitby (England), the place where in 664 the Synod brought the Celtic expression of church under the Roman authority, to Rome. Steve and team arrived in Rome on December 21st, 2005. Arriving on the shortest day of the year to prophetically state that across Europe the spiritual days would then begin to grow, the dark hours receding. This was the legs to what many of us had heard, ‘It is time to roll up the Roman road’. (Since then I have understood how reversals were signposted that day.)

In a nutshell Imperial power can be summed up as being present,

where there are a few who are at the top who decide the future, they offer to all who will comply benefits, but the real benefits flow back to the centre and to the top. (We could add as it develops that a claim to divine empowerment is often added.)

The critique of Revelation is clear on this modus operandi of Imperialism. 28 times the Lamb is mentioned, slain from the foundation of the world, with the 28 being a four times factor of that repetitve number in Revelation, the number 7. Slain for the world / creation (4) and the fullness (7) of life poured out. Everything given for universal benefit. A flow for the world, not a pulling of the world to a compressed centre. In contrast John watches the ships from his viewpoint on Patmos on the way to Rome (the centre) with all the cargoes headed that way, taken from the edges of the empire to the centre; and as he lists the cargoes he mentions 28 different items, including human lives. The contrast is explicit. A human life for the world. Life outpoured. Life to the edges so that there is no temple any more… Or, lives taken and brought captive to the centre. One throne of power that controls; the other from which, through self-sacrifice comes the unlocking of human destiny.

That Imperial spirit has run amok down the centuries, continues today at the macro level (with each manifestation eating the previous one, hence China had to move to a form of capitalism in order to eat the current order… that meal is continuing), and at the micro level with the power plays that enter human relationships.

Indigineous peoples

The restoration of indigineous first nations’ people is part of what has and is taking place, and there can be no rest in the land until there is some measure of movement in that. Colonialism has to be reversed.

In a call yesterday, I suggested that if colonialism and the big brother, Imperialism, is to be reversed that it will provoke and lead to a journey behind that. Nations, divisions and hence conquest and changing of boundaries stem from Genesis 10 / 11 so we have to go earlier in that first book and come to origins, the corporate element of humanity in the image of God – male and female. Masculinity and femininity (not simply the same as male and female), how men and women relate together, is a journey that is becoming centre-focus.

A few asides…

The push for the restoration of men can be understood as a move in the right direction, but if it is to bring them to express themselves in a macho fashion we are only compounding the issue. The restoration of women also is needed… indeed what we need is the restoration of humanity. I do not see defined, prescribed roles for male / female, and in the mammoth book ‘Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’ apart from the (listen, dear reader, these posts are ‘perspectives’… although tempted to put a sub heading there ‘also known as the truth’!!!!!!) bizarre comments such as a man driving a bus and a woman will do it differently, one exercising leadership… really!! Yes, unconvicing, but what was really unconvincing was that I could not find one reference or discussion to new humanity in Christ where there is no ‘male and female’. Humanity in creation was ‘male and female’ – which can also be understood as a merism, a spectrum; but in new creation that is not how we are defined. Not surprising if we no longer categorise people according to the flesh. (Sexual attraction and appropriateness continues, wisdom is to be exercised, but NOT male is this and female is that!)

A focus, as is present in many places (and I understand the ‘biblical’ concerns) over same-sex and / or transgender issues I cannot see as central. That is a level so far different to the fundamental one that I see coming central stage – that of masculinity and femininity. When there is a shaking we can leap on to something that we think is the issue and miss the deeper issue.

Perhaps Paul in 1 Cor. 11 is writing at diverse levels which seems his way, particularly when he is quoting others. (I am referring to the Scripture on ‘headcovering’.) It is difficult to wade through with the ancient style of quoting an opponent and then refuting it. Are the statements reflections of what he believes, or are they statements that he is refuting. I consider that perhaps (probably) Paul is making a bit of a feminist comment regarding new humanity when he says:

For just as woman [Eve] came from man [Adam: creation], so man [Jesus] comes through woman [new humanity]; but all things come from God.

(My additions in brackets, suggesting Paul playing with another level of understanding).

I think he is probably humorously throwing out… ‘be careful for if you push this along the lines you want to I will push for a feminised new humanity! You want to argue that maleness defines us and roles, well Jesus was born through a woman without the aid of a man so I suggest you back down with your argument.’

A growing focus

If we are seeing a reversal of Imperialism, if colonialism is being repented off (and that starts with a ‘re-thinking’) we now should expect a huge focus to come in to the frame.

Many weeks ago just as the game began to see who would replace Boris as PM in the UK as I got set in the morning I heard ‘it will be a woman’. Within hours we were on a Zoom call to Singapore. A pastor there said ‘it will be the person running third and a woman.’ As the contenders were subsequently whittled down, Liz Truss was in third position. She is now the PM. (I do have my biases, I try not to be left or right in my public statements but of course am biased) Boris was prophesied as being a new Churchill, Liz Truss who might be wonderful person, and certainly will have qualities that I don’t have, is a new Maggie. Those expressions of the masculine and the feminine have to be brought to the surface. They are part of history, but not part of the future. And, for me on the pulling down of statues (woke), it is not so much about destroying history as declaring what future do we want. (OK a bias crept out there.)

[Just after I finished writing this post the news came through of the Queen’s passing… I am not a royalist, but honour her life of dedicated service. We have a changing of the guards, and a shift in monarchy of female to male, with one of the last tasks she performed was to verify the shift at government level from male to female with the appointment of Liz Truss. We also have just entered a phase where some kind of covering has been removed from the UK. Visible confusion and conflict will be part of this next phase.]

Many moons ago, mid 80s, I declared in Stockholm that ‘Communism was over and that the Lord was now showing us that Islam was to be the next field’. I have come to understand that something being over does not mean it has disappeared without a trace… in the same way Imperialism and colonialism have not disappeared without trace, but they are over. The next field is the male / female the masculine / feminine.

I don’t know what that means, but for sure when the heavens shake, the prophets hear, but normally the first words spoken are childish words. Don’t listen too closely, let the speech develop. The prophets might shout ‘wrecking ball’ over someone… but the sentence is incomplete. Wrecking what and where will take time to understand. Thus we also need to wait and see what the developed sentences have to say.

Interview on prophecy / the prophetic

Mark Gamblin interviewed me a few weeks back to comment on, give perspectives on and generally reflect on the prophetic. A very generous interview and is about 45 minutes long. Yes I am sitting on the bed. No I am not asleep… I was not coming out of a siesta nor about to go into one… the internet enters by the side of the bed – hey that’s my excuse!

A little extra

For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever Amen.

A little bit that some scribe seems to have added at the end as it is not present in what are considered the best manuscripts. Does it belong here? Probably not, but maybe!

Probably not given the MSS evidence; but maybe – this scribe added a good little finale, and I think we can add bits here and there that work for us, and focus us. Prayer is a lifestyle; prayer is relational; prayer is multi-faceted – so add a bit here and there seems well good to me. The Psalms are a great resource, but I would be pretty selective in what of that I used to pray! Too much smash the enemy (people) and their children in there to fuel prayer. Maybe read to avoid!

All prayer / stances that flow from ‘Father’… ‘our’… should determine what we add. I guess we will all add something unique. I have a zoom group coming up ere long and I will ask people to think ‘what do you that is your stance that you want to pass on / pray on to those who are present’. We all have something unique and this will affect how we pray. Variety, diversity, uniqueness.

And there will be parts we do not add to our praying. We will avoid them cos our view of God. Others might include. Revelation and conviction is what fuels us.

So the little bit extra, that seems to me to have been written in is really OK, and on the more important picture gives us permission to add as well!!

Lead not… deliver us…

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one
.

Historically this prayer made a lot of sense, it is the prayer for the disciples of Jesus in their context… yet though Scripture is not written to us it written for us. The time of trial was coming increasingly in their context and would reach a climax in the decades that were to follow their context, but for us?

Many Bibles translate the word as ‘temptation’ and that is probably included under this wider term of ‘trial’. (Likewise ‘the evil one’ is a broad term and can mean ‘evil one’ or ‘evil hour’ or even simply ‘evil’.) Trials come, life is not a straight line, but if we are proud of heart to think that whatever comes we will make it through – the Peter attitude of ‘even if all the others don’t make it you can count on me’ – we are likely to find that we are experiencing battles we really did not need to fight.

I love the practicality of Scripture. Don’t pray for difficulties… pray for peace… each day has enough trouble in it… And here comes a humble request in this prayer, indicating a positioning of ‘I am not so smart as to make it through regardless, so make the path for me one I can really handle’, and we know that if we pray in that way we will discover that ‘there is no temptation that we cannot bear’. (Imagine if Judas had prayed that prayer… no money bag given to him, no deal with the Jewish leaders for money…)

A profound prayer… a kind of summary of ‘all kinds of praying’. Some parts will appeal more than others. If we think about how we pray we will probably find that we resonate with some lines more than others. I am not great at intimacy, nor at the need to focus on today, and with an unhealthy element of arrogance am somewhat vulnerable to the cock crowing twice.

And if prayer is as much to do with life positioning as it has to do with what comes out of our mouths, there is a lot I need to give attention to. ‘With all kinds of prayers pray’. My way is OK and part of the ‘all kinds’… but I have to acknowledge it does not say ‘with one kind of prayer pray’. Ah well, just one more reminder that I have a way to go!

Perspectives