A Threshold

2020… perfect vision… or perhaps to quote a figure from a byegone era:

Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into (Oliver Hardy).

I kind of think there is a bit of both going on as we cross over into the coming year. Vision to be had, and coming to terms with the mess around us and how to navigate our way through it.

In 2010 (repetition coming up here) I had two dreams, one of the facades opening up, so as we could see inside of the institutions that had shaped public live, but being closed again through an alignment to the familiar, casing things to revert back to the status quo. The second dream was of a see-saw and the numbers 20 falling on the left side, then 10 on the right side. The see-saw was weighted and although there were ‘wobbles’ when it might tip the other way it always came back down solidly on the left side. Eventually as the dates came 20 fell on the left and 20 on the right side. The dream ended with the see-saw balanced.

At the time I took it to mean a complete reversal and ‘whoa just wait till 2020’, … BUT… like all prophetic revelation we are not in a place to interpret it when we immediately receive it. Revelation comes from the future, interpretation is sourced in our expectation that is shaped by our experience (past). As the years have gone on I have continually reflected on both dreams and as we are about to cross over into 2020 it has again naturally become a focus.

The dream ended with a level see-saw… not a reversal.

That aspect is key for me. If I change the analogy a little to a sporting one, a level playing field. But the game still has to be played.

And the mess… yes we are in a mess. There are huge danger signs for those of us with faith in Jesus. ‘Our’ faith has been hijacked in many places to serve an agenda that is nationalistic, xenophobic and misogynist. When faith is pulled in to serve a political agenda we really do end up in trouble – it is the sign that there is a fullness of times (the critical moment of Jesus’ birth was into that context, and the outcome was the centralised decision that Jesus had to be sacrificed so that the ‘place’ was preserved). Religion prevailed and Jesus was expendable.

Of course dependent on one’s standpoint will depend on what mess is seen. Climate? OUCH. Economics? Enough said.

The mess is a challenge to interpret. A mess comes before there are breakthroughs. A right old mess also becomes more visible and more vocal at a time when we thought ‘the beast had received a mortal wound’ but lived again.

Some of what follows is personal as I reflect back on 2019. A year of great shifts. Tomorrow marks a one year mark of purchasing this apartment in Madrid – a goal achieved that we first aimed toward in 2011 and continually pushed toward it with many resistances. The year began with a drawn-out major battle to hold our ground with just under 3 months of continual meetings, documents being produced to establish our status in Spain. The year has brought us to a threshold, and I suspect that the end of this year / the beginning of next is indeed a threshold in many situations and for many of us. (And personally Jan 1, 2020 begins our 12th year in Spain.)

At the threshold point there is sight to be had. There is a fresh view to see what level playing field is there for us. There are closures where some fields can be left; there are also new fields that open up. As the threshold is crossed there is no need to hold on to what was. We have to discover what is now for us to hold on to. Battles are strange – we do not always finish all the battles that we believe were ours.

Threshold also marks that we lose grace over certain previous contexts, but there is great grace for what is new. The new though does not come in the same package, nor provision in the same way as before. (As per losing day to day provision of manna, and having to see beyond the giants to experience season to season opportunities.)

I consider that the early months are months in which clarity will come to what is being seen, as opposed to blasting into the year with sight. As the sight is embraced so contexts, and contacts will come into place. There is urgency, hence the need to move at a measured pace.

The level playing field means ‘game on’. Engagement and strategy will have to be hand in hand. Or maybe I should write engagement and new strategies.

In the process there will be an increase in ‘camps’ being formed. A ‘I am of…’ type of response. There is no issue in knowing where we belong, a question that Gayle and I often ask ‘who is our church?’ is appropriate, but this is not a time to narrow down. There are resources and connections from outside our narrow vision. The parting of company has to be with what is shaped religiously, as the pulling of religion into the power structures is the mire that will withstand progress. Religious was is here. The drawing to others is where life is shared.

Truth-telling is a key to open huge doors. Self-disclosure comes from a defenceless position and this will be increasingly necessary. The visible gap between truth and lies will increase. That gap is masked when religion speaks to expose. Religion does not expose reality but covers it, and when religion is brought in to speak it is to pervert what is true.

We anticipate fresh voices, with strange clothing, appearing in unusual places to mark this coming year.

And – again maybe personal – but with the three-fold focus we had this year on ‘students, women and pensioners’ I see all three gaining a clarity in their voices.

Sight to see the mess… but sight to see where we can stand before we lose sight because of the mess. And standing to see the beauty of heaven being expressed in the midst of the mess.

An offer – with a twist

Imperial power is deeply embedded in culture, manifesting in different ways. At times hidden (though always present) and at certain key moments in history manifesting very clearly. Reading the book of Revelation from the point of view of it being an exposure, a ripping back of reality through the world of surreal imagery, I suggest, will give us back a book to critique the world we live in. The Imperial spirit has always been present, but never more clearly than in the times of the NT – the fullness of times. Our own times might just be coming close to that reality.

A simple definition of the Imperial spirit would be something along the lines of:

The Imperial spirit is present when there are a few who sit at the centre shaping the future. They promise benefits to those who comply, but the real benefits flow back to the centre to them, and their connections. There being an implicit (and at times explicit) claim to a divine mandate for the activity.

The divine mandate can be as non-theistic as secularism right through to a monotheistic sovereign God perspective. Probably the non-theistic approach is when there is less threat against the imperial life. If this be so we have to be very careful when there is a seeming advance of certain values. Are they as a genuine shift of powers and the advance of the Gospel, or are they being subtly co-opted, and thus eventually lose the power; maybe in biblical words that the latter stage will be worse than the former, with 1 demon replaced by 7?

The West has manifested this Imperial spirit very clearly with a dominance and exploitation of the rest of the world. There can be claims of how benefits have come to other places, and at a Christian level there can be claims that the Gospel has travelled along the routes that Imperial trade has opened up. Benefits to a level – yes, but the end result is not a shift toward an equalisation and empowerment.

Since the turn of the millennium there has been a great focus on shifting the imperial spirit, of ‘rolling up the Roman road’, and inevitably there was a big kick back into ecclesial structure. Maybe more so on the ones claiming a biblical shape(?), where however much body ministry was emphasised, inevitably teaching on authority bought into the ‘sovereign’ perspective of authority from above.

The shaking (madness) of the current time is very sobering. When the imperial structures shake there will always be a searching for divine approval. What better place to go searching than to some form of the Christian faith? In exchange for a bigger place at the table, a bigger opportunity to influence the future, that injection of life, indeed the very life itself, can help give resurrection to the Imperial spirit – in the words of Revelation, though the head received a mortal wound, the beast lived again.

These are very dangerous times indeed. There are many words spoken of family values, Judaeo-Christian values and the like. When that happens there will always be a compromise if believers somehow believe the kingdom of God arrives through the exercise of power. Inevitably in all situations of imperial power there will be persecution, it will always be against those who disturb the status quo. It would be very sad if in seeing the opportunity of the place at the table the result was a strengthening of the imperial arm to persecute those who are fleeing from real danger in other lands. Currently many are dying, or being sent back to die. Such a response begins rationally but if not opposed it will become ratified by means of legislation… and this would be very sad if this was found to be supported by many traditional Christians.

For those with a touch of Anabaptism or alternative to mainstream ecclesiology about them, we are coming out from under the ‘blessing’ of Constantinianism. The work of years could either take a step back or we could see a whole new landscape appear.

There is a madness

I am very grateful that I was copied in to a video that Steve Watters put out privately to a few on WhatsApp. I have asked permission if I could post a transcript from the video. It is of course not a short but I think an important read. We are living in a season at least of huge shifts and redefinitions, with the West losing its hold on the future, and maybe something even bigger is happening. For the kingdom to come, imperial strength must go. For the multiplical-diverse voice of God to be heard (as in Pentecost where they all spoke or the book of Revelation and the sound of many waters) the voice of the beast has to be silenced. In this current throw the beast has not just been given a voice but is shouting so loud that all voices of the demos are being silenced.

Below then is the transcript from Steve’s video:

Like me, you might have struggled to find hope in the midst of some of the things going on in our politics over the last few years and the way that we’ve not been able to ‘talk to each other’ across different viewpoints.

I was reminded last November of the dream that a king had. King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of a huge tree – the tallest tree in the land. The birds sheltered under it and the animals ate food from it. Then it was chopped down. The king was really worried by this dream and couldn’t find an explanation of what it meant. He eventually got an interpretation – Daniel said “Bad luck king, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re going to go mad and you will be mad for ‘seven times’. You will lose your sanity and you will lose your kingdom – the tree is like your kingdom. You will eat grass like the cattle. But then after ‘seven times’ your sanity will be restored to you and then your kingdom will be restored to you too.”

That has felt like a fitting analogy to me over the last 9 months or so of where the UK is at. It feels like we have gone mad. Plus it feels like there is something in that madness that is to do with losing some of our kingdom, some of what the UK has been.

I’m not suggesting that to support Brexit is ‘madness’ – I think that’s totally legitimate. For me the madness is about the way that we haven’t been able to talk to each other, haven’t been to have a conversation. It’s about the division that we have seen sown across our communities and across our country.

We’re normally a ‘conservative’ country – agreed? I don’t mean the political party – I mean that we don’t change things very quickly as a country, we don’t like rocking the boat. We’re not like the French – we don’t have revolutions and things like that. We’re very slow to change.

So here we are… A normally ‘conservative’ country, willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater, willing to rock the boat. Even willing to really seriously rock the financial markets – something that we never want to do as a country, especially not under a tory government. Here we are ‘going mad’, with things changing.

So why? Where’s the hope in that? For me, the sense of hope is that there is a new identity to be found for us as a nation. We’ve never really shed our identity as the ruler of the British empire, as a colonial power, as a nation that expects to have a seat at the top table around the world. I think there’s a new, more redemptive identity for us to find as a nation, where perhaps the only way for us to find it, it seems, may be is that we need to be humbled. It certainly seems like we are being humbled – that our sanity is temporarily gone and that maybe our kingdom is going as well. So I see the chaos that goes on at the moment in politics, in communities and in conversations and I feel we need to pray for new identity and for new beginnings. Because we do need the old way to die.

I’ve been looking out for a sign… If you remember back when Greece was in chaos and reeling after the financial crash – yet in the middle of that Greece suddenly win the football and it felt like a sign – a moment in which Greece seemed to be losing everything and yet, really unexpectedly they won the football. So I’ve been watching out.

I thought earlier this year that perhaps England might win the football. We didn’t. But then it came to the weekend of the Cricket World Cup finals and I suddenly was struck – what greater symbol is there of British Empire than cricket! I was convinced that we were going to win the cricket final and I kept telling people watching the cricket final who were all really nervous – “Don’t worry, we’re going to win!”. They didn’t appreciate this, but sure enough, we won the cricket world cup.

To me that felt like the ‘last hurrah’ of the old way. Great to win the cricket, but it’s a symbol of the old identity that the UK has had, that needs to go. It felt like the last hurrah. It chimes for me with the style & personality of our current prime minister – it feels his style & personality is also a bit like a ‘last hurrah’ – it’s like going out with a bang of an old way of doing things that simply won’t serve us in the future, pushing to an extreme.

I also took note of the really big power cut that happened around the UK a few weeks ago. Again, that felt to me like a sign of the need to change and the need for new beginnings – the power being cut from the ‘old ways’. It was reported to be the biggest power cut in the UK since 2008 – the year of the financial crash. So I took note of it being the biggest power cut since 2008 – it’s a moment of disruption for us as a country. I also took note of the fact that the power cut happened on the 8th August. So the 8th of the 8th and the last one since ’08. The number 8 often symbolises new beginnings. After the 7 days, then there was the 8th day – the first day of a new week. So I think there’s an opportunity to pray for ‘new beginnings’ – for that 8th day to come, for that day when things are made new again.

We need a new beginning, a new identity as a nation. And as we know, people up and down this country in different communities need new beginnings & new starts for their situations.

True north and a bear

Lee Ann Thompson highlighted this article that was published in the Gaurdian on August 30th:

Compasses to point true north for first time in 360-years

It begins with:

At some point over the next two weeks, compasses at Greenwich will point true north for the first time in about 360 years.

This will have ‘no impact on daily life’ the article states, though it is certainly ‘a once-in-a-lifetime event’. And ever so interesting and impacting for us. So I embark on a winding story, and I will keep it brief!

In 2018 we were with Lee Ann and numerous other people in Prague, invited by Cathrine Novotna, where there was a strong focus on shifting or aligning time for Europe. Many aspects seemed to come together and alongside immediate and ensuing signs a survey was sent out to EU countries as to what time they wished to be on. Ever so significant.

Three months later we were with a group called ORCAS (Orkney, Caithness and Shetland) who are seeking to take responsibility for the north of Scotland where they are based. It was great to be there – and for me of course having been born there it was unique. During the conference there was input from Bert McKaig who said the purpose of the people gathered was to set true north. That word penetrated our ears and hearts, and we took it on board for our own situation since. True words of that nature (nearly?) always have a sign that follows, the sign pointing to and re-enforcing the reality AND DRAWING THE REALITY TO THE SIGN.

Our prayer for the year since that word for our own situation has been for Madrid to align to true north, so that Spain will be aligned and we know that Spain is to line up in a direction that will enable there to be total right alignment across Europe. Gayle bought me a compass earring as a daily sign; I had my back tattooed with the words ‘true north’, something that goes back to November 2013 and understanding how even the current Catalan situation has to be resolved with a right alignment of Madrid… Then lo and behold the compass earring was lost. OK I lost it, coming clean I cannot blame the earring for that. I do have a birthday once a year and Gayle had ordered me two new earrings. A new compass earring, and a silver bear (the symbol of Madrid is the bear). Interestingly the bear arrived first so in it went with some great prayer from Gayle.

Growing up with clear skies – other than when the rain was present in abundance! – one learned early on to know where north was. Find the bear, follow the two final stars on the right and there is ‘true north’, the pole star. The bear leads you to find true north.

We have been praying for Madrid to find true north. A good prayer, and over the past year – read the last post – Spain has seemed to align in every direction other than true north. Hence extreme personal insult. Now there is a further element… Madrid be the bear you are meant to be. The statue in the middle of Madrid is called ‘el oso y el madroño’ – the bear and the strawberry tree. But the bear is not really el oso (male) but la osa – the female / mother bear. Likewise the the great bear constellation in Latin is the female bear.

There is something BIG happenning at this time. The sign is pushing us:

  • True north aligned at Greenwich (the place of time measurement).
  • True north is shifting eastward – there is a shift from the dominance of the Western mind-set. Intuition not simply academic.
  • The restoration of the feminine is key to enable us to find true north.

I wrote in the last post that it has been a challenging year (understatement!) but that does not make it a bad year. It raises questions of course, and the key questions will always be about whether we have missed something along the way or could have done more. There are many more bumps in the road coming these next months, and as I wrote that this morning in an email response to someone I saw that we (corporate we) have to learn how to ride a ‘hover board’. Follow the terrain but also be elevated above the terrain. We must follow what is happening but not dictated to by all the ups and downs.

Western democracy is creaking. Old institutions are being used to abuse, for the beastliness is coming out in force, that beastliness that dehumanises. The beast receives a voice (Revelation, so that there is only one voice that is heard – think about how the huge wrong alignments are silencing the voices of diversity at this time), but the Spirit gives to one and all so that ‘they all began to speak’.

I have been reflecting on the dream of the shift from 2010 to 2020 with the see-saw eventually balanced. The end of a decade and a level playing field, but I suggest opening the way for a ‘game’ to be played over not one but the next two decades. we were reflecting on this yesterday and noticed today in the Guardian article:

By 2040, all compasses will probably point eastwards of true north.

Signs point… and signs pull… Time and direction.

Living in or on?

Some of us have little choice about where we live, others do have a choice. Some have no choice, and I should really write ‘many’, having no home, fleeing violence, war, persecution, hunger or desperately searching for some work. It is ever so easy to pontificate when one is part of the top 10% (probably more likely top 5%) wealth-wise in the world. There are luxuries we have that others do not have. We turn a tap on and drink the water; we go to the fridge and can put something together to eat. I am aware of our luxuries as I write.

Land has been an important part of my life for as far back as I can remember. Maybe being born on a farm gave that to me? I recall back in 1991 receiving a prophetic word about moving geographically. It impacted me greatly and the seeming imminence of it felt as if it was immediate. At 5.30am the next morning I got up walked the area, and can remember stopping at one of the corners saying to the town – don’t worry someone will come and look after you, considering your interests before their own. One Christmas I was in Paris, and in a dream I was taken to the bottom of the Eiffel tower. There Paris came to me and said, ‘People come here from all over the world. Romantic words are often spoken, engagements take place. But when will someone come here just for me, to love me for who I am?’ A short while later I woke with a tear-filled face, the pain of the land being very real.

So many conquests have been to possess land, to change the civilisation. Even a lot of tourism follows suit. Plant restaurants that cater for our taste buds, our culture, buy a second home… The result is an enjoyment of the land, but a living ‘on’ the land. I could go on and comment on financial investments in countries that profit us but long-term impoverish others. I realise we live in a complex world (though the drop-out culture does appeal at times) and our feet certainly get dirty whatever direction we walk in. I am not knocking those elements per se, but simply relating the above examples to indicate that so often we see it as our right to something, and never connect with the land, other than as an observer. Sometimes that might be all we can do.

But, if at all possible, we need to live in the land. At this moment of time Gayle and I are immigrants in the land of Spain, but we are seeking to be in the land. To be in the land does connect one to the voice of the land, the cry of the land, the history, the pain, disappointments but also hope and destiny. To marry the land does bring about a phase of receiving from the land what is in it. It can affect one’s finances, even one’s health. But the long term issue is for the land to be affected.

We cannot – God does not and we cannot – control outcomes. We cannot override peoples’ choices but we can stand in prayer and stand in attitude and stand in humility and stand in persistence and stand, so that there is an interchange to the land, so that the land begins to gain the benefit of who one is in Jesus. The land begins to change; (bad) fruit that was once fruitful no longer grows; good fruit begins to appear, small at first then in greater measure.

We have had some major setbacks these past weeks. We have stood and drawn a line. The line has been walked over. The very words we have used (they shall not pass here) as we have stood have been literally spoken back on TV news – the ‘conquerors’ saying publicly ‘we have passed’. Even after 2015 and the incredible shifts noted by every newspaper after we prayed at the Valley of the Fallen; after going to Franco’s birth home in 2018 (11 hours away) and the government passing the next day the edict that they will move his remains from the Valley of the Fallen – we are back with the governments edict being stalled and resisted. I could enter a few other such examples, and truth is we are very sore indeed.

I could also outline other positives, some of which have been recorded even in the press beyond Spain.

There will be setbacks. But to live ‘on’ and not ‘in’ the land is something we have to resist. We have to stand but the standing is in the land.

I am not looking to trample on anyone’s convictions, but I consider that we all have to regularly ask if we are simply ‘on’ or are we ‘in’ the land.

And to those in the land. Stand. The day of evil does pass, even if not as soon as we would like.

Owning everything and…

Paul states that he as an apostle was:

poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything (2 Cor 6:10).

Quite an apostolic worldview. He is not Mr. Successful but certainly he cannot be accused of a poverty mind-set. There is an incredible re-valuation taking place. How can one be poor yet make many rich? How can one have nothing yet possess everything? There is not a book on finance that can give that answer, and however it outworked practically it must have begun as a way of seeing.

I have a good friend who is an extraordinary example. He does not have a poverty mindset and so many assume he is wealthy. He has a remarkable gift to see money transferred from one place to another without profiting personally and many times the money never comes via his bank account. The money shifts and there is often an assumption he has great resources (he does but not simply ‘natural’ resources, he knows how to connect with heaven’s resources). He is not rich but makes many rich.

I have been wrestling with these Scriptures over the past 10 years and am probably not much further on today than 10 years ago in understanding them. I am also interested in turning them on their head. I can be critical of the top 1%, but am almost certainly in the top 5% globally in terms of wealth. The top 1% are filthy rich and oppressors, the top 5% are OK!! If Paul owned nothing but possessed everything, what about those like me who owns ‘everything’ (OK not quite…)? I think the challenge for some of us who are ‘rich’ and own ‘everything’ is to do so in a way that we possesses nothing. That of course was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had (Acts 4:32).

How feeble sometimes our attempts to live in a different economy. But I am encouraged that small feeble attempts are where everything begins. We have taken some steps with our friends (neighbours) where they have opportunity to ‘possess’ what we ‘own’. Now whenever the husband sees something of ours he (in good humour) says – ‘this then is for me too?’ And the answer has to be ‘yes’.

A short post as I am pretty ignorant on the outworking of the Scriptures and the turned on their head versions.

The ‘2020’ see-saw

In 2010 I had two dreams in quick succession that have helped give me a perspective on the decade we are in that is fast coming to a close. I am not sure if this decade is from Jan 1, 2011 – Dec 31, 2020 or Jan 1, 2010 – Dec 31, 2019 so don’t want to apply the dreams strictly from this date to that date, but with only just over 6 more months until we hit the beginning of 2020 a rehearsal might be timely.

I have written about the dream where there was the raising of the institutional façades, the exposure of the inner workings, and the failure of the body of Christ to effectively engage with the shifts that could and should take place at that time. That dream indicated that the season we are in is to respond to the call to be engaged, not to revert to the familiar and by so doing simply strengthen the status quo of power and inequality.

The dream that partnered with that one was very simple but put the understanding of the former dream in a time setting. It involved me going out of a back door of a house that had a garden in it. It was a spacious garden and in it there was a see-saw central to that garden. I looked up to the sunny blue sky that had only a few small clouds in it. The number 20 and the number 10 appeared, and began to fall slowly down. The 20 dropped on the left side of the see-saw, the 10 on the right. 20 being ‘heavier’ than 10 meant that the left side of the see-saw was down to the ground. I looked up and the number 20 and the number 11 appeared. The process repeated, with 20 and 12, 20 and 13 etc. Each time a number came down the see-saw would move, there would be a jolt, but would always settle with the left side down. I watched the process unfold until the final scene was when 20 and 20 appeared. When they landed the see-saw moved from the left side down to being level. The ‘weights’ were even.

When I had the dream back in 2010 I thought the decade would unfold to the place where everything was going to be reversed, but as the years have unfolded I have realised the obvious. The dream did not end with a reversal but a level ‘playing field’.

When the field is not level obtaining a change is not easy, it is like pushing something up hill. The momentum needed to get it going, the difficulty to take a rest, the default of it rolling back down again… You get the picture.

I am not suggesting that Jan 1, 2020 everything changes, but as 2020 unfolds we should be expecting an increasing number of situations where through engagement we can see a shift. The two dreams do seem to be related as they came within a few nights of each other, and so I anticipate an increase in the next months of the exposure of what lies behind the public face of the institutions that have shaped the public space.

Greater exposure by itself will not achieve too much, but eyes to see what is being exposed and an understanding of what is being seen will be necessary. Those two aspects will need to increase to make an engagement, either directly or enabling those gifted to engage, effective. A level playing field, a balanced see-saw will make change so much easier and within reach.

These next months can be months of getting ready, being re-positioned not simply to enter a new decade but to be aligned for a the fresh opportunities and possibilities.

I have been reminding myself of this dream as it seems very timely right now… so I hope it also resonates beyond my personal setting.

Who will I vote for?

April 28th fresh elections in Spain for the national government. I do not have to make a choice as to who I vote for as I am not a Spanish citizen, but when it comes to elections choosing where to place one’s ‘x’ is a challenge. If the circus of the Brexit gridlock is anything to go by we are again, in some measure, seeing the façade being raised and the weakness of democracy as we have it being exposed. As I have on numerous occasions written what functions in part is simply the democratic system, a system that falls well short of democracy. Democracy is often in name only as it is so difficult to put in place. For example, Gayle is a member of a political party in Spain who seek to work democratically. If a post comes up to be filled résumées of the various possible candidates are sent to the members. I applaud the process, but who can read through dozens of such résumées, sift through them and make a fully intelligent response? The alternative is a decision made from the centre and down.

I have had some Skypes of late where the response has been so positive about what has taken place politically in their nation, but the elected candidate’s policies, for me, would be substantially in such a different direction to how I would understand an outworking of the Gospel in society. In Spain we have the rise of a party that has pulled in some level of Christian support, probably because of their stance on abortion. The same party has publicly said the greatest achievement for women is motherhood. I am not decrying parenthood nor motherhood but that is in direct conflict with the values of Jesus.

(For a link to an excellent article on the state of politics in Spain, the reason why an anti-Catalan stance pulls in votes, the situation with the new party (VOX) that I mention above, the situation in the current post-Franco era, etc., the Observer / Guardian carried an excellent article yesterday:

Franco’s shadow: reburial battle sees Spain confront its darkest days

A great revelation is about to follow: there is no perfect party! The answers are not held in the ‘right’ nor in the ‘left’. We might lean one way or the other, and of course we are ultimately looking to see a change of heart so that society is marked by healthy relationships. Yet there is something more that we have to push for. If the church carries responsibility for the society where it is placed it becomes our responsibility to hold a shape in which certain values can grow and others are restricted. Societal change is the barometer to measure the extent to which spiritual change has taken place. If the church lives with making a name for itself we should not be surprised if society cannot step beyond that level.

Prayer… intercession in the fuller sense of not simply prayer but in becoming that intersection between heaven and earth. Planted for the society and shaped by heaven’s values of love, justice and freedom. If the church is just a waiting room to keep people clean for the exit we will be guilty of denying the incarnation, the very means by which God’s glory came to earth. If the glory of God does not enter our society we might still have great gatherings… but to what purpose?

We cannot vote on April 28th. And for those who can vote who to vote for is indeed problematic. (Indeed a calculated non-vote can also be a vote if it is a considered choice.) We can however stand, and in reading the Guardian article I hope you understand our measure of distress. We alone cannot change things, people always have choice… but on our watch? We would be happier with seeing something change here for the sake of Europe than having to dig out an apology for what has grown up and is threatening the space of freedom, dignity and love.

However we are taught when there are shakings that it is a marker of time that something can enter our world that cannot be shaken. I despair some days when I watch the Brexit proceedings, the rise of Fascism in Spain and Europe, the shutting of borders and the rise of nationalism to unhealthy levels. But I must daily rise above despair and participate in the maintaining of a shape that will change the articles that are written in our newspapers.

Quirky Theology

OK if someone else had said that about my theology I would really take exception to it as it is ever so hard for me to think when I have been in any way quirky… and to imagine that I have ever got something wrong? But as I have put the title up there myself I must find a way of being happy with it and justifying that quirky does not mean wrong! OK one meaningless paragraph is probably enough per post so moving on quickly…

There are some quirks of practice in Scripture that really stretches theological understanding. Such as Jacob and his streaky wood seemingly determining the outcome of the DNA of the animals born. Just strange, yet that action provoked me to do something (a little more sensible) and it opened up some new relationships almost immediately. So my suggestion for today is that:

  • often in strategic prayer there will be a manifestation of what we are praying for in our personal circumstances.
  • The benefit of which is it gives us a leverage point to shift things both personally and strategically.
  • We can get a breakthrough personally but miss the bigger issue – and vice-versa.
  • Or by the grace of God get both issues to shift.
  • (The downside is it can be a real pain in the proverbials.)

I could give many examples of this but will restrict myself to one. Before that a couple of biblical backdrops. Jesus entering the wilderness for 40 days is essentially a re-visiting of the 40 years of the people in the desert. His meditations are from the Scriptures related to that period of time. This illustrates the immense leverage effect: 40 days to undo 40 years. Ezekiel is both instructed to build a model and then to lie down a day for each year of corporate sin:

Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side.I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel.

After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year (Ezek. 4:4-7).

It is not unusual for prophetic intercession to involve symbolism. In Scripture symbolism accomplishes two things:

  • It points to the reality, and (more importantly)
  • it draws the reality (or the solution to the problem) to itself.

OK the example. Toward the end of 2013 I ruptured a disc in my back, resulting in a significant loss of mobility and pain, the most focused and extreme of which was in my right ankle. We tackled the issue in prayer and before long began to sense that the physical issue was in part a reflection of what needed re-alignment in Spain. We also then began to pray for a re-alignment of the spine of Spain. This went on in this way for the next 2 months, without too much of a shift in my lower back issue. Then in the following month I woke with a waking vision (these seem very important and are easy to miss) of a man lying on his back across Spain. I printed off a map from google maps and drew the man on the map where I saw him lying. I was shocked – his right ankle was exactly over where we were living, the problem disc was exactly over Madrid. There were many other key aspects such as where his head was (the place where new thinking was to come from), where his right and left arms were placed. We have acted on the vision and travelled to those places.

The vision gave insight beyond straightening the spine of the nation. The source of pain was from the centre, the pain might be found in the extremities but the change had to take place in the centre. This has further fuelled our move to Madrid and prayers for the judiciary and politics (in particular).

We then could notice the parallels between my physical experience and the shape of the land. For example, the moment (and I mean moment) that the Madrid central government announced that the referendum in Cataluña was illegal my back went out once again – I was not moving but simply sitting upright in a chair at the time. Freaky… quirky theology!

This battle continued until… I hesitate to write this as ‘solutions’ often become laws rather than ‘we heard God and did this in response’. This is one of our challenges with Scripture. Do we walk 7 times round an area because we heard God or because we know the Jericho story? Anyway hesitation over. We understood there was now a time for a change. My back no longer to mirror Spain, but Spain my back. That is the leverage point in these symbolic (signorific) scenarios. How do you change the alignment in something larger? God will give a leverage point close to home.

I also did one more thing. I had a compass tattooed on my back over the disc that was the problem (Madrid) and an arrow on my spine saying ‘true north’. (To lose one’s way in Spanish is ‘perdir el norte’ – to lose north.) Does that make a difference? Well if Jacob can use wood artistically I am up for a little quirk here and there.

My encouragement then is not to try to see everything as a sign, but to be open to that possibility. If it is a sign seek to go for both issues – the personal and the corporate that you are connected to. And if you get neither breakthrough all alignment to heaven has value, not simply when we get the outcome we are looking for. And in those kind of alignments the leverage effect shifts more than we realise.

A healthy spine?

When in the UK in December I was carrying this sense that there was an increase of apostolic authority to bring a new level of alignment. This was in particular related to England, and coming to Leicester (midlands) it seemed very appropriate for that geography but applicable wider. I was aware that King Richard’s body had been found there but do not think I knew that the confirmation that it was his skeleton was in part because he had a crooked spine.

Prior to coming across I had a dream just after setting the various dates and places. In it I was present in a Christian gathering and there were some great things taking place. People touched by God, healings etc. There was a very clear voice and the people present were focused and in harmony. A person then explained to me that these great things were taking place because of the unity of purpose. I had already observed two things: 1) that the clarity of voice was coming from one person and there was a great agreement with that voice, and 2) that when I looked out the people were of similar ethnic and class background. There was a uniformity to them.

These two elements disturbed me so I took time to respond to what I was being told saying that the voice of God is as the sound of many waters. It does not come through one language or one culture. If God can speak through a donkey he can certainly speak through a white middle class male. But the fullness of his voice has to come through the diversity, and such diversity will mean that we might not even be able to hear clearly!

Miracles do not attest a person’s authenticity. Paul does say the signs of an apostle were with him and he included miracles as part of the evidence. But by themselves they are not enough. After all Jesus made it clear that there would be those claiming to have done miracles in his name but that they were unknown to him.

The spine and the dream?

A healthy spine is not simply straight but also flexible. It is aligned but allows for movement; it facilitates multi-directional communication.

An apostolic gift must have patience as its context (2 Cor. 12:12) as it seeks to be aligned with the Gospel. Paul exhibited this as he described himself as one called to be an apostle and eschewed the title ‘apostle’. (A title would have given him authority over, the calling a mission to be accountable to.) He was not disobedient to the calling and made himself accountable to heaven for his work. He was aligned personally – he had his ‘true north’ set. If there is to be an increase of apostolic authority then it has to start with right alignment. If those with apostolic gift are not rightly aligned how can they help align the body of Christ. I am not professing to know what this might be but surely at the centre is the commitment to the spiritual and social transformation of the world (let your kingdom come). If there is that alignment in the apostolic then there can be a legitimate voice coming to the body of Christ to align in this way.

True North

A focus on other aspects will be a deviation from true north. All other directions have to flow from that. A straight spine! But a flexible spine that allows and facilitates movement in such a diversity of directions. This is where the multi- and diverse-language voices have to be heard. It is not the voice of the donkey, nor of the white middle class male, but of the multitude who are finding their direction in the light of the true north setting.

If there is to be an increase of apostolic authority that manifest in the UK / England great patience will be needed. A settling for the one voice speaks for all will not be sufficient, and even if miracles manifest there will be a falling short. The diversity might even be somewhat confusing, but the greater fullness can only come that way.

The Brexit

The above thoughts too I believe are totally relevant to a new Europe. The new Europe has to be made up of all of us who are now arriving. We all – those of us who have been established for some time in this context – and those who are more recent on the scene, all have to see ourselves as arriving to shape something new. The Brexit is to do with the reshaping of Europe. The UK (England?) has a huge contribution to make into this context. The gift has to be that of diversity. If a nation can only go where the body of Christ goes then I consider the apostolic increase is needed right now. If not then we are in for a very traumatic future. If it does there is also great trauma ahead, but a pathway through.

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