Time – the elusive element

Land – with her innate gift; place – what is on the land, either exploiting, suppressing, perverting or drawing forth the redemptive gifting; and people who recognise it is not about them but that they are agents for the freedom of the land – and in part being blind with no great knowledge of what they should do.

This brings me to the final element, that of time being aligned. Time has two functions… let me illustrate from sport… the goal is for our team to win the league, in 2024 our team was second bottom (OUCH), 2025 remarkably 2nd (EVER SO CLOSE), 2026 a big drop down to 12th position, but in 2027 we win the league. Question: when was the team in all those years closest to winning? There are two answers:

  • 2026 as they were only one year away (we can term this chronological / clock / calendar time).
  • 2025 as they were the closest in all those years to the top (we could coin a term here and call it ‘kairotic’ or opportune time).

Helpfully we have the two words in Scripture of chronos and kairos. Things happen when chronos does not simply trundle along one minute after another but there are interruptions (kairos) – moments / seasons when the kingdom is at hand and ‘the time has come’.

I have been pondering what elements from previous prophetic activity / protocols come with us into the next season and what elements are to be different. I am considering this as an era is unravelling. Great weight was placed on ‘knowledge’, ‘words of knowledge’, predictions of events in the past. I am not dismissing that but I sense a shift… ‘It will not rain’ said Elijah – impressive… ‘until’ – setting the time. ‘Sons of Isaacchar knew the times and the seasons‘ but did they predict what the season would consist of as in what events would take place?

This is the shift I see. If in the developing world I have been told that prophetic 101 is to ‘control the weather’ I am suggesting that it is now for us to align time so that chronos does not simply trundle on and on. It is to see and state the season and whether the events are rapid in succession and traumatic or over a period of time we might be ignorant about.

Alongside stating the season is recognising the signs of a season, and in prayer holding that in place so that the sign brings about what was being signed. Messianic figures always appear at kairotic moments – Jesus THE Messiah with his ‘the kingdom is at hand’ and false messiahs that he warned about at another kairotic (and time of judgement) time in the context of AD66-70. Those signs currently are around us. The necessity is for a holding in for the sign to produce something that is ultimately redemptive, even when there is clear judgement on what had previously held space.

I am hopeful that with the (previous) understandings of land, cities, redemptive gifts, that we can be those who do not allow time to run away but to bring it forward. That the clock that simply tells us what time it is gets unlocked so that there is true movement forward – or perhaps movement from what is to come breaking in on the present… Time alignment. We might not have predictions about the outcome – too often predictions are tied to our preferences. Time alignment is related to redemptive progress, and in most redemptive progress there is personal pain. ‘Will not rain until…’ was deeply inconvenient when his source of water dried up, nevertheless he held the space, with help from widows and creation. Help is available always – God’s packages are not wrapped in a way that we instantly recognise them.

Another podcast

Gayle and I are on the road (if I added ‘again’ it would not only be true but I could write a song about it and if I recorded it… OK bad idea)… and with limited wifi, so I am seeking to keep up with emails – but see this morning 44 unanswered ones. We have a rental in our apartment till the end of July, so a great time to reflect and check priorities are still our focus. I will (hopefully) get up the post I promised on ‘time’ alignment tomorrow… until then here is a podcast produced by Martin Purnell – this one the first of two with Paul Golf. I have chatted to Paul a few times on Zoom – always great value, so listen and enjoy.

Time… or weather?

Time is my response.

When people work and act in harmony with the gifting of the land so that what is placed on it facilitates a redemptive direction there is a setting where God’s presence begins to dwell and people can find it easier to find their place in the divine scheme of things.

One last element though that I wish to explore, and I will put it up front here, is: the challenge is for believers to align time, for when situations arrive too soon or they arrive too late the result is the same – the fullness of what should happen does not come into reality… and the normal element that manifest to resist the opportune time (kairos) aligning with our time-frame (chronos) is false wisdom – often expressed in religious terms and quoting Scripture. I will try and explore this more fully in the next post, for my thinking is that 101 for the prophetic in this next season is that of ‘time’. I have come to that conclusion slowly over a few years and it is as a result of responding to what is understood by numerous prophetic people in the developing world as to what is 101 prophetic – that of controlling the weather.
Here are numerous stories to illustrate what is meant by that so that in the next post I can use them to suggest what might be the level of aligning time that we can expect.

In Brazil I worked some with ‘the rain man’. My first encounter was at 11:00pm when I had finished speaking (time for bed!!), he stepped to the podium, raised his hands in the air, and for the next 10 minutes stood like that, and instantly and continually for the next 10 minute it was not possible to hear anything other than rain fall on the metal roof! He took his hands down and the rain stopped. He was responsible for a church that was on the edge of the Amazon, a group that met outdoors. In all the years of meeting it could rain before and after, but never during the time they set out the chairs and met. I have other stories from that time. 101 control the weather!!

I have been in Africa in a tent in the mountains with an evangelist and a significant storm was headed that way, with the tent beginning to creak… the evangelist simply stood up and rebuked the winds and there was calm.

I was in Italy and was determined to walk from the main city a particular path of maybe 15 kilometres the next day. So I got a drive into the city, the heavens having already opened with major flooding, streets awash… encouraged to bring at least a rain jacket I said no – let’s see if I arrive home wet for if I do I can always return to prophetic school!! Not a drop on my clothes. Maybe the weather report might have explained it, but at least a great experience!

I do believe in the above stories that God intervened and that there are those who are particularly gifted in this area but have never been convinced that this is 101 prophetic, hence my journey as to what is… that of aligning time. This is now becoming increasingly important.

People: God’s idea

People

What a smart ‘idea’ is written about, and written in a way that almost makes one imagine that God – in the counsel of the ‘gods”??? – considers pushing creation to a new level with the phrase ‘let us make humanity’. The power of myth captures theology in a way that scientific statements cannot and the imaginative story of a transcendent Being walking with humanity, and not simply in the cool of the evening but in and through the heat of despair, murder and idolatry unfolds in our holy writings.

People, with the heavens being God’s domain and the earth ‘given to humanity’ sets the scene for the journey to begin. What can be achieved is incredible hence the story of the origins of language so that whatever they imagine will not come to pass – something reversed at Pentecost, thus the Spirit and imagination are closely linked. Humanity inbreathed by the Spirit can respond to that early statement with ‘Let us…’

What can be. God saw and it was good… John saw a new heaven and a new earth (the renewal of all creation) and then he describes all that is good,no longer a couple starting an adventure but a company from all backgrounds that cannot be numbered; God present in fullness permanently; no tears of regret and pain… creation having come to a fullness, perhaps even with the potential of more to come with the description that the gates of the city will never be closed – room for more?

Because God released humanity as the agents to work with creation so much could / can happen… and so much has gone wrong. I don’t think the writers of Genesis saw where all this would lead but God’s commitment to humanity and the authority given to humanity is what produces the Incarnation – humanity still has to sort out the mess, so into first Century Israel appears the one who walks among them – the truly human one. First miracle? Water into wine. Barrels used for purification get transformed into barrels for joy.

Land and place come together to resist the future that could and should be… but with vision (which includes blindness with integrity for we all see in part, hence blind in part) people are uniquely able to pull in a future that resembles – even if like an impressionist painting, rather than a photograph – heaven’s realities.

We have some work ahead of us. I wonder if it begins with painting a picture of a new future and inviting people to change perspective (repentance) and come on board (ekklesia) to push and pull, and more importantly to love all fellow travellers. [Surely the heart of the ‘gospel’?]

I think the next couple of decades will be critical with potential end of world crises… or potential new adventures. I am calling this the great unravelling. We have well and truly ‘ravelled’ everything, but like a balll of string that is totally screwed up one has to start to pull one end and nothing moves… but eventually if one persists an end comes loose and in a quick period of time everything comes loose. Most of the loosing happens by accident, one just happens to pull the key part at the right time. Hence blind integrity is so important. To imagine that we know what to do would be fantasy indeed, but to groan with creation, holding on to hope might bring us a little into line with Romans 8.

People. God’s idea. And God’s dream is not a dashed dream. The adventure continues… Land, place, people… and time (a few thoughts to come on this).

Place: what is located on the land

Land is so foundational, with not simply great physical diversity but great ‘spiritual’ diversity. (The word ‘spiritual’ is not the right word to be used for this and perhaps I should have used something like ‘innate gifting / purpose’, but chose the inadequate term ‘spiritual’ to indicate that material land, physical location relates to the equally real (not more real) world of heaven). There is a connection that Paul affirmed between people, times and specific land when addressing the crowd in Athens, so that God can be found. Scripture indicates that the land can be polluted and can also be cleansed / reset to original intent.

Place… and again what term to use? I am using this term as an overall term to cover what we call city / town / settlement, business, trade, commerce – any institution or corporate construct that is ‘placed’ on the land. I also have to include church within this though I think Paul’s vision for ekklesia was different to that, essentially being a body of people who with a vision of, and from, the future were to be a redemptive catalyst, enabling the land to reset and accommodate whatever would develop a future that was beyond simply creational beginnings but moving toward new creation manifestations. If that be true, once again we can note the phenomenal and crazy Gospel. A Jew suffered the fate that many fellow Jews suffered in the first Century, and the claim was that the entire order of things had changed (way beyond ‘personal salvation’). Hard to believe this could be a made up new religion, and the traction the message gained in the Roman context surely indictes that there was a major endorsemnt of the message from heaven itself.

The challenge is once land is polluted – and I have written about the four elements that seem to repeat as being that of idolatry, blood shed, sexual immorality, and broken covenant – land then subsequently draws to itself that which sits comfortably with the pollution, hence a stronghold is established. Those sins seem also to sit under the (not surprising) umbrella of power to achieve whatever is wanted with the exploitation of fellow-travellers trampled over: a de-humanisation process.

The encouraging element in the Babel story (same word as ‘Babylon’ which is tracked to a clear exposure in Revelation) is the unfinished nature of it. Evil is not complete, only Jesus is the one who ‘becomes mature’ and as the firstborn of all creation offers hope for us all, and for our world. Everywhere can experience some level of redemption. I am agnostic about the future but I am inspired in the present to look for a new future in every situation, and hopefully not naive to expect this will take place without elements of Babylon coming down (could have written dominant Western culture as that is my context).

Place… changes within institutions so that the Babylonish elements are in part dismantled, and elements that belong to the New Jerusalem (not what rises up but what comes down) manifesting.

These next years are inevitaby going to see a major shift of understanding and activity among followeres of Jesus toward being placed in diverse locations with a view to seeing this provocative Gospel being expressed in a way that works with the innate gifting of the land.

The first parable that Jesus spoke of in the set that are put together is the well known one of the parable of the sower / four soils. Jesus explained that one in some detail and he said if we don’t get that parable how would we get any of the other ‘kingdom’ parables. In that first parable the seed is the ‘word sown’ and the soils represent different responses. Certainly, and necessarily, indicating that a personal response and receptivity.

And the parables move on… the challenge is for us to move on, for the second parable also speaks of seed that is sown, but the seed this time round is no longer the word of God spoken but the word of God incarnated – the seed is ‘the children of God’ and they are sown into the world. Place / location.

In that context two incarnations grow up together (wheat and tares), and they grow up together to the harvest.

The pessimist sees the glass as half-empty; the optimist sees the glass as half-full – so we are told. I suggest that the one gripped by a measure of new creation sight sees the opportunity to help fill the glass fuller than it has ever been, in other words moving beyond pessimism or optimism. A full (or fuller) glass is envisaged.

I am one monnth away from another birthday, and this year will accept that I am now more than half way through my life (that is not an optimistic perspective, just a straightforward stupid one!), but I would love to see the Lord give us (as humanity) another 500 years to help move the land forward. Maybe the Trumpet will sound long before that, maybe even before my birthday… regardless (why does American English use the term ‘irregardless’?) of when the trumpet sounds there must be an apple tree that can be planted (placed) today. Small, ever so small changes, probably not visible above the land, but what and who is planted today determines what will be visible tomorrow.

Placed on the land – organisations, cities, institutions – they can all lock the land up or… they can help bring about a redemption. Redemption does not mean perfection but a better afterwards than before.

And in the 20 year reset (signalled by COVID) there will be displacings of what is on the land and prayerfully and slowly new placings. Perhaps this is why many have felt displaced over the years preceding and running through 2020.

Land, place, people and time

I think we all love to have some measure of understanding: to have a perspective on ‘why?’ Maybe some are happy with ‘random’ as the explanation but I have not been content with that response. Theists and, I guess, scientists want an answer. I cannot comment on the latter set of people and with regard to the former I distance myself from those who resort to something along the lines of ‘God is in control’ in the sense of controlling all things. Maybe better to think of something like a chess game, where the ‘master chess’ player responds to every move that is made… make that into billions years of history and seemingly continual damaging ‘plays’ by human figures and the God that is presented is more than a static ‘unmoved mover’ but so much wiser and innovative than anyone can imagine. I say billions of years as that seems to be where scientists take us, and who am I to argue, and then if I stick an amateur theologian hat on I have to probably go to an eternal creation / eternal creations – otherwise the concept of ‘time’ is difficult to work with and one has to posit in some way a Creator God who was at some time not creating???? OK… early in the morning here but I do have a cup of coffee by my side.

Leaving all the above behind I have been thinking about the four elements in the title for some time. Maybe just in my inadequate search to find meaning… but I think however inadequate it is my search to find some sight on what are we supposed to do to co-operate in the invitation from the ‘chess master’ to be freshly positioned. The invitation always is from love and the invitation is to co-operate… to not be disobedient to the heavenly vision so that the grace of God toward us is not in vain. [A chess game might not be a good analogy as it is too small to illustrate cosmic movements and in a chess game the pieces are inanimate and do not determine the outcome of the game… but if we imagine a major, MAJOR, chess game and some very stupid self-willed pieces that are continually making the completion of the game look totally impossible, we might then have something that looks like our world.]

Land… what is all around and under us. Land that we are related to – from the dust of the ground bizzarely pushes us toward ‘mother earth’ (toward). Land that we are alienated from; land that is brutally affected by our sin, sin being that failure to be human in the sense of calling. It is not surprising that Scripture with its 1200 references to land has a theme of ‘the land being cursed / blessed because of you’, and in a global era there are theological aspects to our global land crises.

Land holds the corporate memory, and if that be true imagine what is remembered, the layers that have built up one on another. Can the land have its memory healed? Imagine that. God ‘imagines’ that and we are invited to as well, to participate with the God who makes all things new (not whose end goal is to make all new things).

More to come… but how about this image of the ‘keynsham clock’ that was put up to reflect the history of the town. The distortion of the hands that took place a few days ago are a mystery and they are going to be fixed… The clock might be fixed, but history and time? Distortions methinks.

Perspectives