Zoom evening – change of date

I have been organising an ‘open zoom’ where anyone is invited to, normally on the first Tuesday of the month. February there is a change of date.

It will now be on February 21st, 7:30pm UK time.

We have been broadly looking at ‘where are we?’, ‘what is going on?’, ‘what responses should we be thinking of?’. The normal format is that we have someone who holds the evening with an initial interaction with one person… This provokes discussion. There are no definitive answers, but the evenings are not simply interesting but also inspiring and provocative.

A few months back we had Rosie Benjamin with us and she has agreed to come back I think her perspectives will be very helpful as we navigate our way forward.

Here is the link:

Topic: Open Zoom
Time: Feb 21, 2023 19:30 London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 572 803 9267
Passcode: 5GkMTA

Gayle and I are just about to finish 4 weeks (FOUR!!!) in the UK. Driven from Spain, and complete with vehicle breakdown on the M40… Vehicles have always been a sign for us of our ‘journey’, so we are responding to that. At least the garage who sorted us agreed that it was downhill to Spain so take handbrake off and should get there. Leaving probably on Monday with a weekend in Bath and the Reading.

What do you see?

Where do you live?

I have posted on Revelation 21 and Galatians over previous days and in those chapters we have the phrases ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth’ indicating the renewal of creation in totality, and Paul’s stark statement that ‘new creation’ swallows up all other (old) distinctions. All of this is tied of course to Jesus who is the firstborn of all creation; the one who in his resurrection gives us a hope for the future: our resurrection and the renewal of all things (could be translated as the ‘re-genesis’ of all things, the rebirth, re-start of all things – Matt. 19:28).

A future reality? What is the process to get to that future reality? The second question is not easy to say; my conservative nature means we await the parousia in a fairly classic sense: those who have died in Christ return with him (all the language used is the language of the then current empire and all the activity of the Emperor visiting the city is parallel, where he would come with his own into the city for the imperial visitation). Perhaps like those of the OT era who were waiting expectantly a coming Messiah we will get a lot of surprises. However, the easiest way I have found to tie it all together is that we are supplying the material (every cup of cold water given to big wonderful acts of kindness / creation investment) for the age to come.

John saw the whole of creation renewed; Paul says in Galatians:

For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything, but a new creation is everything! (Gal.6:15).

That last phrase is somewhat abrupt, with it being simply: ‘but new creation‘. In contrast to that basic divide between covenant people and non-covenant people, Paul simply says (I imagine him with a megaphone), BUT NEW CREATION!!! That statement changes everything, every human relationship, every value system. Everything is redefined.

It is the same phraseology in 2 Cor. 5:16, 17:

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we no longer know him in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; look, new things have come into being!

Again ever so succinct – if anyone is in Christ, NEW CREATION, with the next part could equally be translated as ‘everything from a former era has passed away’.

I think the megaphone concept works well. The contrast is so great that there is a dramtic before and after. It is the same shock as we get when we read Rev. 21 about the new heavens and the new earth. Same shock and with John we might be able to simply say ‘future… and until then nothing really is different’, but Paul does not let us make that mistake. It is NOW. The only qualification is that we are ‘in Christ’.

It is that location that affects our sight. How we see ‘everyone’. All are called and invited to live in the new creation where we all make a contribution to the future where there is no more sorrow, tears, indeed no more death.

It does not mean we cover our eyes to what is damaging (there is enough of Paul in the various letters where he confronts all damaging behaviour), but the reason for confronting is that the contribution to the fulfilment and appearing of that new creation is hindered every time we fail to live out our lives humanly (this I think gets to the heart of ‘sin’, to fall short of the glory of God). We are not blind to issues but we see through eyes that, in the words of one who has already made a contribution to the future, ‘I have a dream’.

When teaching on the prophetic I like to describe the seeing aspect as being similar to driving a car where one can see the outside physical world, but if there was a piece of paper on the dashboard and the light comes in a certain way one can also see the distracting piece of paper. If driving best not to look at the piece of paper, or to remove it! If prophesying it is best to focus on the piece of paper. Two realities vying for focus. That is the reality Paul writes about. He is well aware of over-realized eschatology that denies living in a fallen creation, but that awareness is placed in the context of ‘new creation’.

Sight. ‘What do you see?’, is a question God asks, e.g., Amos or Jeremiah; one that Jesus asked of Simon the Pharisee.

It is one that we also have to respond to. It is that sight that motivates us in our relationships and causes people to work for the renewal of creation. Ecological problems do not exist in the new creation, and if ‘new creation’ is here…

Vulnerability gone crazy

Guess what? Gayle said in a certain situation today that we were both involved in that my vulnerability came through. I was left asking – is she so unobservant on every other occasion. Then came through a link to a blog. This (professional) person had been reading a book by Viktor Frankl and for each Enneagram number she put out a quote for each one.

I will put two of them up here. One was for Gayle and one for me. When I read mine I simply laughed, loved the quote and then thought – and still do think – and why on earth would one want to do that? Of course the whole direction the quote is pushing in is (and even I admit that) correct. But why do it that way? Hey I am but 67 years of age, how could anyone that young ever take time to slow down and reflect – I thought that was something one might begin to attempt in the second half of life. Gayle, meanwhile reads and responds with a little frown on her face and a more ‘yes that’s so true, I had better adjust’. Just a thought when she is as old as me surely she too will simply laugh and go ‘haven’t changed since I was 12 so not going to happen now’.

Here are the quotes… no clues which one for who?

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Ironically enough, in the same way that fear brings to pass what one is afraid of, likewise a forced intention makes impossible what one forcibly wishes… Pleasure is, and must remain, a side-effect or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree to which it is made a goal in itself.

Here’s a link to the article:

Come join us…

Tonight, 19:30UK time, Steve Lowton, Rowena Lavender and I will host a Zoom where through some Q&A and interview we are asking Peter McKinney to help us with some insight into the season we are in. Some months back we had a very insightful evening with Peter. There will be space for feedback, questions and comments. Link below:


Meeting ID: 572 803 9267
Passcode: 5GkMTA

And a second LIVE event on Friday that might / might not be as insightful as the one with Peter (probably not!). Noel Richards, Martin Purnell (off-grid Christianity – I did a podcast interview with Martin some months back) and I are doing a live Christmas special. It will be a bit of fun, but I am sure there will be a number of more than serious contributions.

And finally advance notice!! I will be holding Zoom discussions on the third book in the series ‘Explorations in Theology’ (Third book: A Subversive Movement). I completed with a group last night on ‘Significant Other’. It was very stimulating, and with some new angles, Amy Bell said – ‘you should have put that in your book’!!

I will work on dates in the next few days. If you would like to join you would be very welcome. If you have been through the book before and would like to join in, or even if you missed out on book 2, I think you could join also – I would do a one off on book 2 to bring you up to speed… blah, blah… In short – watch this space.

A new Bible

Last one was great, beginning life for me in 2007. A little worn out, travelled quite a way but always good to have one that references can be found easily… it is ‘on the right side of the page half way down’ kind of finding it. That one was the New Revised Standard Version… the new one, and I have been waiting a little while for this – the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (once the word ‘revised’ has been used in the title I guess a new title is a challenge… imagine if they continue to revise / update this one a few times!). Got it while in the USA so a few funny spelling quirks there – armor, not armour, Savior not Saviour… and what goes with the numbers: one hundred seventy five thousand – where did the ‘and’ disappear?

Translations. Never easy, but I like it as it is not always biased in my direction (NIV, a great translation is biased in an evangelical direction). Still not happy that they add the word ‘though’ in Philippians 2 ‘though he existed in the form of God… emptied himself’. A not unexpected translation but justifiable? Not from the text itself, and only justifiable if that behaviour of self-emptying is unlike God! But what if that behaviour is totally because Jesus is in the form of God? What would God do? (At least in the edition I have it has a wide margin so I can put a big note in there!)

Romans 3:25 – expiation or propitiation? The translators opt for ‘a sacrifice of atonement in his blood’ with a footnote (the one I prefer as the word is the word for the ‘mercy seat’ in the OT) ‘a place of atonement’.

A new version for me to read and get acquainted with – I look forward to that. Choosing a version? Almost as hard as being one of the translators (a job way beyond me). We probably bend the words a bit to suit ourselves, and squeeze texts in to agree with us just too much. Glad to have a Bible, and glad that on my best days I can acknowledge that it does not agree with me at every point. I simply seek to pretend that my theology is almost water-tight and leaks less than other theologies.

Time Frames

I have been meditating of late on two aspects relating to time-frames. Back to my old ground that I can not get away from… that of warfare and focus on (whoever / whatever he / it is) the devil and his (better here the masculine pronoun than the feminine!) works. I maintain what is very helpful is to get a time frame on the specifics of what he is up to.

Once we do that we can also know that there is a time frame of grace for the task in hand, or at least to survive any onslaught. Grace never runs out – even if I make my bed in Sheol I will find that God is my companion there, so said the Psalmist. But grace that covers for a task, a situation does run out, it is time-limited.

Backing up to the first aspect. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days (time frame) and at the end of that period the devil departed:

When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time (Lk. 4:13).

That opportune time came back round at the end of the ministry:

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me (Jn. 14:30).

Time frames can be seen in Paul’s (?) words in Ephesians 6:13

Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

And in Revelation 12 (so much there in this chapter):

But woe to the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath,
because he knows that his time is short!

When we sense a specific attack is coming it is really helpful if we can discern it to get some sight on the length of time we are looking at, for then we can be focused and come under the grace of God for that period. Grace covers so we do not need to fret, and grace empowers so that we act differently during that period. Covers so we do not have to get everything right; we act differently, we go beyond ourselves (or what we might normally do / react). And in that period of time we have some very practical advice from Paul (OK I actually think Paul did write Ephesians). Don’t be too fussed about great advances, just hold what you have:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand… Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore…

Not sure that Paul or his scribe used bold but I have taken a liberty to add that in the text… though he does seem to indicate with his repetition that it might be about standing. It is not about great breakthrough. It is standing during the ‘day of evil’ for the day will give way… and there are days that are as long as our lives, the place that is ours to contend for.

Next to him was Shammah son of Agee, the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils; and the army fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the middle of the plot, defended it, and killed the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory (2 Sam. 23:11,12).

Apparently lentil fields are there to be contended for. Here’s to standing under grace in our lentil field!

Invitation to a Zoom

Over the past months I have held (with Ro Lavender and Steve Lowton) a series of ‘open zooms’, gatherings unrelated to the books I wrote. We have one scheduled now scheduled for Tuesday December 6th, 7.30pm UK time. Here are the login details:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 572 803 9267
Passcode: 5GkMTA

Peter McKinney is the invited guest and this will be the second time that he will have joined us. He will share from his own setting insights that I am sure will resonate, challenge and help clarify sight. Peter will help us tune in to the season we are in and help us navigate the challenging times that we are entering.

There are two more in the pipeline: one with Rosie Benjamin (February 7th) and then one (March 7th) that we will term ‘Kingdom Economics’ (more or less).

Look forward to seeing you at one or more of the above!

Ekklesia or ekklesia?

Paul uses (as did Jesus before him) the term ekklesia (usually translated ‘church’) to refer to those who were bounded together, in relation to Jesus, called to bring about a shift to wider context. It has a history within the Greek translation of the ‘Old Testament’, the Septuagint when used to translate the Hebrew word ‘qahal’, which refers to the people, but the people when they were called to respond actively to God (‘qol’ being the word for voice / speech). Those called for purpose (when there was no direct activity the word ‘edah’ tends to be used for the people of Israel).

Ekklesia also had a background in the Graeco-Roman world with its roots originally in Athens but by the NT times spread throughout each city-state. It was – almost – what we would call the city council. Paul wrote consistently to the ‘ekklesia in…’, and of course each of those places already had an ekklesia, so he wrote to the ekklesia in Jesus Christ. Of course this indicates how transformational was his vision, with a deep underlay of expecting the future destiny of the city not to be decided by the Imperially approved ekklesia but by the ekklesia in / of Jesus.

A huge question is did Paul expect the city ekklesia to disappear? Did he expect there only to remain one ekklesia – that of Jesus? I think that is a very difficult question to answer as a) he does not address that and b) I am not sure he had thought it through! I maintain that Paul had step 1 of the process in mind – get an ekklesia of Jesus in every part of the oikoumene (Empire) – hence his desire to get all the way across to Spain. Once step 1 had been completed what next?

This is the question we are facing. As well as an issue that is huge. I am not convinced we are as far on as Paul was, in other words we are pre-Pauline with ekklesia being shaped sociologically as community not movement, thus reversing the thrust of the New Testament. So at that level we are pre-Pauline, but I think with the end of Christendom in Europe we now need to be on the post-Pauline journey of where to now, hence the question of ‘one’ or ‘two’ ekklesiai becomes relevant.

Let me put that a little more practically. I observed Gayle and Andrew at work with a group from Meta and Google this past week. Urging those Christian believers to see themselves as ekklesia within the respective companies, taking responsibility for the culture, values and future of the company – so just like Paul releasing an ekklesia in the city-state for the city-state.

The questions we are now facing are: does the ekklesia that is necessary for transformation consist of only believers (after all I started the post with ‘in relation to Jesus’)? There is also an ekklesia, in the sense of governing boards within companies. Do they have any part to play in the outworking of the future?

Here then is where I am currently (spelt ‘tentatively’). We need believers to step up and as they do something is shaped in the heavens, for all authority in ‘heaven’ and on ‘earth’ is given to Jesus; as they do that space is created for others to align themselves with that. At that stage the blurring begins, the expansion takes place, the ‘Asiarchs’ are engaged… a path is set toward the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of our Lord and Christ.

Nothing perfect. But nothing static, and no ghetto please! Steps forward, and maybe steps back, maybe the pronouncement that you cannot buy and sell… but until then.

Changing Season and the Space Between

A post from Gaz Kishere:

I woke up today in a reflective mood and wondering if anyone else has a similar experience of space and change. Its taken probably around 18 months to think in terms of what others may experience, because at the time it feels like a deeply personal dive into self, accompanied buy an outrageous amount of self talk and internal sifting, along with those feelings to be found at our core, around our stomach area where the knots of guilt, imposter syndrome and shame make camp.

I include imposter syndrome because whilst this is normally experienced when in the context of a role, function and doing which comes as an accusation that ‘you should not be there – you fraud’, when you are trying to ‘hold space’, recognise and draw down that it was God who took you into the last season of purpose and he will do it again, the imposter voice is “mate, your just kidding yourself ”. Holding space becomes avoidance, resting becomes selfish indulgence, waiting for significance becomes rejecting normalcy and so on. Who would have thought that ‘not doing’ could bear some of the painful feelings of ‘over doing’ and burn out.

I took a friend to task a few years back who shared a post advocating that leaders should not retreat, they should press in and not give up, especially during the onset of the Covid years, where they are needed more than ever. I felt the need to highlight what I considered it to have loaded language, that stepping down or stepping back could be seen as failure, negative, giving up instead of strategic withdrawal or necessary recovery. Perhaps Christianity both attracts and creates people who’s primary measure of worth is in constant engagement and nothing is to be learned, gained or created in the space between.

An added process layer in these days where deconstruction is the life and faith process of some, is that a new season of role, position, task may not emerge at all, since one of the elements of said journey is that life, living, breathing and simple work must find their own sacred significance above and beyond the roles where this has been said to reside. Ask, Seek, Knock is certainly a methodology which can be utilised in the space along with active intrigue, the sniffing out of things which could resonate. Its somewhat like digging for gold I guess and I am mindful of not rejecting silver or casting aside opals of meaning as I reduce my options and limit my possible futures of hope with a shine. This, I feel, would be a terrible life limiting way of processing.

Its not that I am ass scratching, which is my father in-laws favourite phrase destined for those ‘not doing’. In fact I have been trying to grow a counselling service over the last three years, which is coming alongside those who are burning out in their support of the refugee community. I have even done some online diplomas to deepen my tool kit of therapist and even some writing courses, though it may not come to the fore in my ramblings here. Yet I still find myself, amidst this, practicing the principle of ‘holding space’ and attempting, as best I can, to partner with possibility, to align with opportunity and to be available to the as yet unknown. My fear and in part my experience is that this desired next thing, means that I do not give the attention and value to the things I am actually doing, attention and appreciation which they deserve. In truth, I find it difficult to feel content in that place where some good things are happening, whilst perhaps having been conditioned to keep reaching for that thing where I place significance and so all else becomes insufficient. To be honest, all of this just causes me to feel more than a little shitty. For sure, I am not at peace with myself and perhaps there is need of another layer of healing, re alignment and shifting paradigm which has yet to do its work. I hope so, though even that is in itself more that a little wearing as I experience the wave of divine release, tears and snot flowing… as I await the sunshine and warmth of his presence purging my entire being. I know that this is part of space for me, and yet when that wave comes it is not joy that accompanies it, but a few swear words of frustration as my inner voice says ‘oh bloody hell, not more old shit ‘. I guess such things are done, when they are done and finished.

One of the ways God deals with me are in holding me to account in the things my mouth speaks in the help of others. One such situation was with a client who had been in a prolonged period of recovery from burn out in a toxic work environment. The person had their own experience of stepping into space and away from function along with all the void of validation that no role and self sacrificing can give. After several months said person is having their own aversion to space and the need to push out in one direction or another has increasingly come to the for as perhaps we cannot fully remove worth and meaning from doing and actually should not seek such. We all need the dopamine reward and satisfaction of some form of accomplishment. The language we used in processing this was that of exploring, experiencing and perhaps a little risk. We did this by using the illustration of a figure of 8, somewhat on its side like the symbol for eternity to indicate a flow of life. In therapeutic work we recognise the one part on the left as being a place of withdrawal, safety, nurture, mother and womb. The other half of the 8 is viewed as experience, exploration and being in and through the world. In reality there is a need of both and an over extended period in life and experience can necessitate some time spent in mother, nurture, safety till we find flow and value in both. At times, the safe space circle becomes much bigger than the other, depending on the self-work, which is needed and the recovery time we need. In truth the safe space is something we always have a need to flow through as we find our balance and so our time in experience and world can be explored more deeply. The sacrificial nature of those working with refugees and those who have a doctrine of life laying down loving or faith, can frequently lead to a neglect of withdrawal, space and nurture as we place perhaps sacred significance on works.

This was a helpful frame as the person recognised that the place of recovery and nurture was doing its work, and so there was a capacity to allow imagination, hope and dreaming to re emerge around task and function, something which plays its part in how we view and enact purpose. On the other side of that coin, is the deep deep work of finding worth, self love and the acceptance of God aside from purpose… but man, its tough and so you find me, in part, between seasons, neither summer nor winter, spring time or harvest as the song goes. I am, in reality, in a place of tension with the paradigm that my past stories and works came as a result of Gods hand and I am indeed expressing that gratitude, but what if that was it, what if there is not to be another season like those I have experienced over the last 40 years again. What if challenging where I place meaning and worth in function ‘is’ the season and I will have to view life through very different and yet still Jesus tinted glasses moving forwards. I have in most respects felt that I am standing on the Axis of the 8 (great title for a book) where I am between on-going wellness and new life rhythm’s and perhaps instead of the great known, the venture out and towards, is, at this time, into the great and somewhat scary unknown.

Finally, back in the 90’s when we were doing night-club style church gatherings and trying to be culturally relevant, we had an outside speaker come to ‘rally’ the troops. We found ourselves in the basement of a theatre having outgrown other venues and feeling pretty good about where things were at. Said speaker talked about pioneering and new things and with great hilarity stated that we needed to put on an “apostolic condom”, because the last thing we needed was more dreams, visions and ideas to have to grow to adulthood. On the other side of the narrative was “you have indeed pioneered, but who said you could stop? Who said you could get off the bus”. It felt like a slap around the chops to some degree but what resonated with me as my inner voice pushed back was that pioneering was no longer a glamorous idea, the need to innovate and entrepreneur. We had pioneered, birthed, we had sought the new or wild with all our hearts but now, we know its cost and that makes it a very different animal.

To balance my own search for the significant, I also feel it is important to affirm anyone who wants to undo that way of thinking and as with my client who had been in the place of nurture, womb, recovery, moving towards exploring ‘out there in life’ again. Part of the power of the space, is also the power of the right to choose what is next and perhaps for our previously absent or more silent ‘no’ to find more volume. And lets not forget that whatever normalcy is for us, we are in a place of recovering just how wonderful that can be and that it is indeed sacred, unless you are still in a cult which says and models counter to this beautiful truth.

Advance notice… (way ahead of time!)

Over the past months I have held (with Ro Lavender and Steve Lowton) a series of ‘open zooms’, zooms unrelated to the books I wrote. The next of the ‘open zoom’ evenings is now scheduled for Tuesday December 6th, 7.30pm UK time. (See ‘way ahead of time’.)

We have three planned, all with the idea that they will throw light on where we are at, and so we could call them (more or less) ‘Kingdom Economics’ (we might also call them, ‘some thoughts on how we respond in this season’, but that is far too long! We will follow on in February 7th. with Rosie helping us respond and then try to tie some of it up on March 7th.

In a Zoom like this a few months back Peter McKinney joined us and shared from his own setting insights that resonated, challenged and helped clarify sight. In the light of that we have asked him if he would come back and so he has agreed.

I am sure Peter will help us tune in to the season we are in and help us navigate the challenging times that we are entering. I think all three should be enlightening, challenging, creative and fun! Now that is a lot of enticing adjectives, so you really will need to be there!

And not to worry I will follow this up from time to time with little reminders – a kind of ‘ahead of time’ to a final one of ‘you really missed out and I have no idea now you will ever be able to catch up cos those webinars revealed everything about the here and now and the here and then and the then and here, and I have lost my train of thought’… Yes those kind of helpful posts.

See you in December!