Travel with San Lorenzo


The above map is our main drive that we took leaving the East Coast on August 25th and returning 6th September. We stopped off at some key places en route, and meandered a lot(!) covering in total some 4000 kms (2.5k miles). The last few days we stayed in Vigo, Galicia on the West Coast, stopping one night in Madrid before dropping off some paintings at a gallery in the centre of Madrid (don’t ask how we ended up doing this… but all a part of friendship…), then home. Always good to come home but the time away was just awesome. A little insight first (and an aside in reality) but we had the name of ‘Jose’ to drop the paintings to. Now how many Joses are there in Spain I hear you ask? So just beyond the Prada Museum in morning rush hour we find the approximate address – a back door on one of the main streets. We pull round into the street, security guards and police in evidence. Gayle has window down – ‘Jose?’ she shouts. Then we spot the real Jose 100 metres further up the street waving. ‘Lo siento…’ Gayle says, we drive on, now no option but to cross the bus lane, park in the bike lane and overlap the bus lane. Jump out. ‘Jose?’. ‘Si’… Seven paintings all wrapped up over the rail, into the black back door. Security guards now moving up the street. Jump back in and home!! Maybe an appropriate way to end our time – there is a huge back story behind why we did that, but enough that life is an adventure for now.

We had so many highlights. The north west – Asturias and Galicia – are Celtic lands. We carried with us a Celtic book of prayers and they seemed so powerful each day. Without the Gospel of course the Celtic lands of Europe resort to superstition, religion and the occult. We even encountered a small village called San Lourenzo complete with chapel one day on ‘a how many bends does this road have’ drive.

Perhaps though the two big highlights were getting to the most northerly and the most westerly points of mainland Spain on consecutive days. We have been praying for the past year that Spain will be stretched out so this was amazing places to pray. Spain has been contracting in the sense that everything is pulled to the centre (Madrid) and this is presenting a lock up scenario. When I finally get to recording the couple of videos on the generations and how life flows I will try and explain our journey a little more about the contraction of Spain.

On the West we went to A Coruña. A few years back I had a waking vision of a man lying back down across Spain. His head on Bibao (north and the language area of Euskadi), his right arm on A Coruña (west and language area of Gallego), his left arm on Barcelona (and language area of Catalan), his right ankle over Cádiz where we were living at the time, left ankle over Malaga, with the lower centre of his back over Madrid. We have now been to the north twice to pray for new thinking (the head), and feel we hit that in a big way last year. Barcelona we have been to, but the main place where we felt we needed to get to was A Coruña to free the right arm. This is the arm of blessing, and although it is all figurative, were very keen to get there. We found the city very dominating, imposing, not releasing a freedom. Anyway those are good places to have a bit of a battle. And so we did.

So what about travelling with San Lorenzo? We encountered the history of this saint (martyred 258AD, August 10) when in Madrid around 18 months ago. We felt a deep connection due to how we were led to the church named after him and the obvious connection of his death being on my birthday. Subsequent to that we went one year ago to Huesca where he was born. While there we had a real struggle to break through, but left the city with a vision to be more mobile and to go where the wind blows our ‘coracle’ to pray across Spain and indeed Europe, to connect with those who feel, and maybe are, in Exile. So we subsequently bought a small van (una furgoneta in Spanish)… It is our mobile accommodation, our coracle of the road. So as we travelled we had no plans, we came to the most northerly points and westerly by ‘accident’. We have affectionately named it ‘el furgo de San Lorenzo’ and will probably put it as a logo on the van – a good talking point?

Over the time we have lived in Oliva – way too quiet for us!! – we have gained new strength, there has been an impartation of youthfulness to us both. Although since 2011 we have been headed to Madrid, and will be there again from Friday this week, and wonder how much longer do we wait, we also realised while travelling that we went to Huesca, the birthplace of San Lorenzo, with the belief that it would open up Madrid to us, but left there knowing we had to be more mobile. So maybe, just maybe we have to occupy the mobile space more before we make our Madrid entry.

Timing with God counts for so much. Patience is apparently being able to pray ‘and Lord take as long as you wish on this’. Immediately after being in Huesca we were sent two apartments right opposite San Lorenzo’s church. Not happened before nor since. We know things are ‘rattling’ but the timing?

Here then a few photos:

San Lorenzo Church, Madrid

Although not a fan of buildings, this one in the Lavapies area of Madrid is highly significant for us: dedicated to San Lorenzo.

Home for us… aka known as ‘El furgo de San Lorenzo’, or ‘Our coracle’. Not huge but who would want anything more:

Home, aka El Furgo

Follow the GPS, to the north!!

To the north!

At the north we prayed by this old tree, and deposited there an acorn we picked up a year ago from Guernica.

Old Tree

Beauty and no crowds. The north of Spain and off the beaten track. A place of refreshment:

North Beach“,”post_title”: “Travel with San Lorenzo”,”post_category”: 0,”post_excerpt”: “We left the East Coast on August 25th and returned 6th September, stopping off at some key places en route, covering in total some 4000 kms (2.5k miles). The last few days we stayed in Vigo, Galicia on the West Coast, stopping one night in Madrid before dropping off some paintings at a gallery in the centre of Madrid (don’t ask how we ended up doing this… but all a part of friendship…), then home.


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Which train from here?

Gayle and I were not able to attend the recent Sparks conference at Ashburnham Place. In due course we will get some greater feedback but the little we have heard about it sounds great. We also watched this morning a video from the conference of a workshop that Brad Jersak hosted on ‘A more Christ-like God’. Worth watching…

In the presentation Brad used an illustration of being on a journey to cross (eg) London. His background, and many others of course, was that of the evangelical faith with a bias to seeing God as one who needs to be appeased. This ‘evangelical train’ can get one to the station but not across the city. There are then the options of getting out of the train but wandering in the station. Freedom at first but no onward journey. So the need is to find the next train, and one that maybe has the characteristics of ‘forgiveness’ could be an indicator of an appropriate train.

He described part of his own journey as moving from that evangelical train to seeing the value in a dispersed contemplative approach but then moved away from the dispersed aspect. Maybe similar to what Gayle and I read in Brian Zahnd’s book of Water to Wine.

I wonder if we have a bias that is hugely affected by our experience and personality (type)? I tentitively think our analogy might be more along the lines of, leave the station, take to walking, mix with crowd, learn the geography and amble across town. So we are not looking for the next train and do not think that this approach takes away the possibility of leaving the station.

All analogies are simply analogies and imperfect. Mine certainly leaves the question unanswered about intentionality of Christian community. Laying the analogy on one side we of course can defend ourselves (!!) by referring to the many meaningful and accountable connections we make with people who have been key to us over years – and we think mutually beneficial.

A deeper scenario in the current ‘train terminates here’ is probably over priorities. Does the intentional Christian community come first or is it embededness in the wider community? If we are interested in answering that I think that a whole host of things kick in. Our personality type (I can so make out how much I understand the Enneagram with statements like that!), the stage of faith we identify with, and also the context where we find ourselves. The latter should be fundamentally a gospel / mission question… And maybe God might help us find the context that fits our personality type, bring healing to us in the process and enables us to have some measure of effectiveness.

Even if none of the above is of interest (after all my comments and question is as a result of only a couple of lines in the video) the whole video carries a wonderful richness. Enjoy!!


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Plymouth and Canterbury

I have spent this past week in the UK with a few days in Plymouth and then in Canterbury. I try and be selective where I travel and have valued my time in both of these cities. Some while back we were sent a key dream which indicated that we had to ‘consult with the man of Spain as to which European invites to respond to’. Certainly since being across the north of Spain (yes I still will write a blog or two on our travels…) we feel that by making that trip we have in fact connected, to some greater measure at least, with the ‘man of Spain’. The language sounds more spooky than the reality!

There is always a validity in travelling anywhere the body of Christ is to be found, and we know that the body of Christ is found in many settings, both formal and informal. As our focus is the body embedded and embracing Babylon most of our connections are with those who are living in ‘exilic’ situations. Plymouth is a gateway (as is the South West) and Canterbury of course has a strong ecclesiastical and Roman foundation. Indeed in the latter city one could consider there would not even be a Canterbury without the church. It is 16 months since last being in Plymouth and some 8 years since I was last in Canterbury.

(Surprisingly) I am getting older, but my first observation is that many of those engaging with the concepts of city transformation are also getting older. That is a great credit to them – still sticking with the idea that the kingdom will manifest in ways beyond the church and is present to affect every sphere of the city. It is a challenge that a younger (20s and 30s) are not engaged in this context, but I am also glad they are not engaged. Let me explain. What I consider is essential is for those in that younger bracket to be embedded deeply in society, embracing Babylon and we (whoever the ‘we’ are) need to engage with them there. The manifestation of church that impacted the likes of me when I was in my 20s and 30s has shifted. The gospel has not changed but the focus for us has – it is not about church renewal but about socieatal transformation. It is about the church being the royal priesthood, of existing so that the world might be the best world possible. It inevitably means that there are more blurred lines, partnerships that are across boundaries. The content of prayer and prophetic understanding is desperately needed across all settings, and needed in the context of where people are now embedded. But I am glad that many are not abandonning ‘there’ to show up in some of the corporate gatherings. The result is that those corporate gatherings are predominantly with an older generation.

What place can those corporate gatherings have? Well maybe they can still be a means to release something that shifts the spiritual climate. That is certainly what we were seeking to do in both cities.

Before getting to a short few paragraphs on each place a comment on this aspect of generations… and I am (or so I keep saying) going to put together two videoblogs on this in due course. All things happen in due course (maybe that is the meaning of ‘mañana’?) A wrong alignment of the older to the younger, in summary when they are viewed to be present with their energy to continue the existence of the house or ministry of the older will:

  • prolong the life literal and figuratively of what needs to give way to something fresh
  • will steal life, literally with illness, and figuratively with stunting of gifting and missing of life-connections from the younger

I would consider that a classic example of this is of Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe. We have African friends who began across Africa decades ago to pray for the shift in the dictators who ruled across African countries. 9 of the 10 were removed and they told us ‘we were unable to remove Mugabe’. I consider he literally survives from the lives of the youth, he takes the future and eats from it today. (Spain as a nation is strongly on this trajectory now and it is into this that we have focused prayer.)

The flip side is that when we rightly align that there is:

  • a release for the next generation and an increase in their wisdom
  • and an impartation of youthfulness to those who rightly align

This latter understanding I received in a dream maybe 18 months ago, and it was in Plymouth that I felt free to share this for the first time… so I am pretty sure we are about to enter a season where this will be a key element. I suspect as well where there has been a wrong alignment that we will see some major disturbances.

Plymouth has been a defensive city, being home to all three elements of the armed forces. However in the Spirit it is called to be the opposite. Gateway cities / regions are normally of course on the edge of territory and were often given the identity and purpose of keeping borders secure. Philadelphia in Revelation was positioned in this way, but it was to that city that Jesus commanded them to have sight of the open door before them. The sight can be stolen, the body can lose sight because of a focus on a lack of resources. So we pushed into this while there. Out of the South West will come hidden treasures for the nation, and a sound rising up from the multiplicity of small that sounds all the way to London and Westminster. Also there are many coming back home to the South West. They left in one way but will return with a wisdom and a settledness but will be re-energised when they reconnect with the land. The next years I believe will see a significant influx.

Canterbury – for the third time (apparently) I have brought the Scripture about the scribe trained for the kingdom who brings things out new and old from the storehouse. The new has to come out first, otherwise any ‘renewal’ of what is old will be simply re-energising it but will soon colonise it. I was glad that my connections here were small this time round – the largest get together being around 20 people. I was also glad that those who pulled me in wanted to run with a Celtic not a Roman rhythm. This is essential for the city.

In both these places and across the board in the UK it seems increasingly that we have to obtain eyes to see where the Spirit of God is present, come down to the door and then make the journey from our Joppa to Caesarea to go the path of the ‘not so Lord’ till we have our conversion in Cornelius’ house. If this does not happen… but I think a number are already there, and even those of us who are older will be able to make the journey too with the impartation of youthfulness.

Home tomorrow. Then I have time with a small group from the ‘Black Country’, then interaction, sharing, laughter, discussion and sounding board time with Roger and Sue Mitchell and finally with them off to Madrid before the end of the month.


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God is (definitely!!) where I am

We have just finished the more than excellent read ‘Water to wine’, and deeply impacted by the book. The humility and openness means there are rich pickings on the pages. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I am not about to review the book, but there is a reflective path I am taking, partly provoked by the book, and also (maybe) partly provoked that Brian and Peri are about to start the Camino de Santiago, walking 500 miles, participating along the way in various church services, eucharists etc. In contrast(?) Gayle and I have just completed 2500 miles driving and looking ahead trying to call for a future that has never been – and with a few Celtic prayer reflections too… I don’t really think there is too much of a contrast but it has been interesting to reflect.

Church tradition – yes or no?

My (I will write for me, but most will also be reflective of ‘us’) whole Christian experience has been inside the Protestant, evangelical, then charismatic (and ‘new church’) stream. I have never been exposed to the more contemplative nor creedal forms of Christianity. Anabaptism has shaped my hermeneutical approach to Scripture. The weakness (strength?) of that is conviction that draws lines as to what is right and what is wrong, who is in and who is out. If the word ‘sect’ is defined positively (as in ‘sect’ not ‘cult’) then it fits that approach, if defined negatively (‘sectarian’) then that might also fit.

I have come to respect enormously what I have found in the wider historic traditions, and come to appreciate the various ‘services’ offered to the community by those either state churches or more established local churches. I am far from dismissive of that and seek to honour those who serve in those contexts. I would be disappointed to see them disappear.


I see those institutions (and I am not using the word pejoratively) as pragmatic, as very helpful. Others seem to see those as the result of a sovereign God who works in and through history so that what we now have is more or less the result of the NT foundation. Tradition might have some dangers but the church tradition, the church fathers (and they were mainly male), the church councils etc., are all then extremely valuable.

So there is some sort of divide on how we view the trajectory from the past to the scene we have today. This does not necessitate a divide of a ‘right / wrong’ kind just a divide of perspective and of course therefore of focus and passion.

I am grateful for the creeds, but also read the church councils as having a political element. Constantine (and Eusebius) of course are on the wrong side for me, Christendom, state religion also are indicators of a major wrong turn in the road, monarchy anointed to rule by a bishop, monarchy as ‘head’ of church etc… I guess you get my drift.

Having written on the trajectory from priesthood for the nations, to Temple and how Jesus came to restore the church as priesthood to take responsibility for the world, I can easily take a pragmatic approach. God is in what he even sees as in opposition – seen clearly in the choice of monarchy. Jesus did not destroy the Temple, the Romans did that, and maybe had there been a greater level of repentance that event might have been averted. But Jesus did come to sow seed that eventually manifests as ‘I saw no Temple there’ – a city without a temple.

Thank God for wonderful traditions – they have proved to be pragmatic guidelines. Thank God for institutions that serve daily and weekly. But I too have to be true to my convictions.

There are those who are true to their convictions – serving inside the ‘local’ church, serving within the state church. Some move further toward the Catholic or Orthodox traditions either because of their convictions or a mixture of convictions and pragmatism.

Then there are those who live according to their convictions, not disrespecting those traditions, living pretty naïvely that there is another path that the NT points toward. Yes that is what brought me to find a home inside the ‘new churches’ with the restoration of the fivefold ministry etc. Recently I met someone from that background, a person that I had shared the same new church family with. He asked what am I doing, what my focus was. I replied that I am still the same as I was when I was in my early 20s, still naïvely believing we can change the world!

Maybe I am so far from ready to enter the second half of life, or maybe I have one naïvety that I am not willing to let go of. And maybe the ‘tradition is where God has brought us to’ kind of people just live out their life with another naïvety. What is for sure this is God’s world, he has never given up on it, and maybe somehow in both extremes he is found. At least I think I find God where I am.


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Online and Off Road

We are having a wild time, now in the north west of Spain and with internet a few days, before driving back through Madrid and home. Once home I will try to put up some coherent notes, with a map and some photos. Thus far many surprises. We have been across the border into France as we thought that was very important. Then to the most northerly point of mainland Spain and two days later the most westerly point. Our prayer has been to stretch the land. A number of years ago I had a waking vision of a man lying on his back across Spain, with his right wrist over A Coruña (west of Spain). We had a very strong encounter in that city but have a strong witness that the right hand is now free. The hand of blessing for Spain and beyond. Our prayer these days have also been for a new government, not just in the sense of a new government to come through this time of turmoil and non-government (nothing is resolved yet from the second elections and without a shift a third election will be called) but in the sense of a new way of being together. Dreams have shown us that there are ancient pillars that have to crumble.

All in all we are driving happily! We have had the GPS inform us that we are about to enter unpaved tracks, it has thrown up literal question marks as to where we are… leaving the paved road has been very important for us in this trip. Accompanied with a book of Celtic prayers and as we are now in Galicia the resonance with the land is strong, and maybe we are not in a coracle as the Celts of old but we are discovering what it is to go where the current takes us.

For those who know the connection we made with San Lorenzo… as we ‘missed’ a turning in one place and ended up again on a 30 mile stretch of ‘over the hills, cross the bridges, and round the hairpins’ kind of road we came through a tiny village where we encountered a tiny San Lorenzo chapel. Out jumps Gayle to drink water from the spring. I hasten to add that I had pulled over! Our prayer is for Spain to be stretched but in the course of our adventure we are certainly being stretched. So in this brief post I leave you with that: for Europe to be re-juvenated there has to be a stretching out. Pulling back to the ancient will prove worse than fruitless. A broader theme I am working on is to do with a possibility of an impartation of youthfulness or the contrary will take place and what is old and decaying will be preserved beyond its sell by date but end up stealing the life from the youth.

So the now affectionately known ‘El furgo de San Lorenzo’ is resting a couple of days, then we will jump back in to complete the journey home – making for a round trip of something around 3000+ kilometres.


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OffLine and OnRoad

Thursday – tomorrow – we are off… off line pretty much but… much more important off on the road. Not totally sure when we will be back – early September. Hoping to drive north through Zaragoza, on to the north coast, then into France, back across the north coast to the extreme West to Galicia (Pontevedra), then Madrid and home again. The north of Spain holds some keys to new ways of thinking so we hope to pray into that. Immediately after our visit there last year and praying into the constitution we noted a level of discussion around the constitution that we had not observed before. We will visit Pamplona – again – and give the bull running issue another good old kick. After being there last year we noted, either, more coverage on the protests or more protests this year. Could all be coincidental but following convictions seem to be key.

We have been praying into the request of Caleb’s daughter (Judges) for the upper and the lower springs. The lower springs, the place of refreshment and meditation is where we are now, and are literally at sea level and in a place where there is a high water table due to underground rivers. Madrid – the high land – is the place we are requesting. Interesting as well that we have been focusing on one of the higher parts of Madrid in our prayers. And on the road… this time last year we visited Huesca the birth place of San Lorenzo. Had some interesting aspects there as we were met by (Saint – not really) George, but came away with we need to get mobile, sleep in a van and drive wherever we need to drive to. Well tomorrow is the first day we go off with bed in van. So we are expecting to see some shifts.

If not? Just will be good to be on the road and maybe good for us to be pretty much off-line.

We are convinced that Spain holds some undiscovered – and almost certainly some surprising – keys that ultimately will be related in some way to the Pauline Gospel.


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August 10th. then and now

Today is actually the day – a new rubik’s cube (last one did not survive a fall from the balcony) a book of Celtic prayers and… all very content. Was not planning on blogging but our friend Andrew Brims blogged this morning on San Lorenzo, so need to scribble a few words. To get a feel for this saint (who died Aug. 10, 258 aged 33) here is an extract from Andrew’s blog:

They ordered Lawrence, who was the deacon in charge of church finances, to hand over all the church’s assets or face being killed along with all his colleagues.
He asked for three days to get everything together, which he then spent distributing all the church’s goods amongst the city’s poor.
When the moment came to hand over the assets to the state, he simply presented the the blind, poor, disabled, sick, elderly, widows and orphans with the assertion, “These are the treasures of the church!”
The authorities decided a simple beheading would be too soft an example to set in Lawrence’s case. So they cooked him to death on a grid iron.
It’s alleged at one point during the ordeal he said to his executioners,
“you can turn me over, I’m done on this side.”

Our encounter with San Lorenzo goes back a couple of years. We were with good friends Roger & Sue M in Madrid showing them what we were connecting with when Rog said – we will soon find a sanctuary in this area that will hold some keys. A couple of streets and we came to the church of San Lorenzo. We went inside (not our habit) and read the above story with the connection to Lorenzo. His death date – my birthday. Also it stated there that he was born on Aug. 10th, though research says his dob is unknown.

Last summer Gayle and I took a trip to the city where he was born – Huesca, up toward the Pyrenees. We had an interesting time there praying. The city has this amazing historic source of faith and though there was some evidence of Lorenzo the larger (non-)saint that was was present was that of George!! The so called St. George has always proved problematic and not surprisingly we had quite some conflict there in the Spirit. Glad to have been there and spent the night, not sad to leave.


The above photo? In June this year a flock of more than a 1000 sheep were wandering the streets of Heusca during the night, due to the shepherd having fallen asleep. Maybe coincidental, maybe a sign that we have sheep without a shepherd, maybe a sign that the ‘sheep’ (us lot) are being loosed to be in the streets.

Whatever the sign or non-sign, here’s to you San Lorenzo. How much of the stories are myth surrounding him we might never know, but we are grateful for those who have gone before who have lived out an authentic discipleship.

I do have more on our encounters with Lorenzo and we will probably re-visit Huesca in November en route to the French side of the Pyrenees where a vital group (for us) will meet to pray. With a European focus we will also push into the Knight’s Templar. Those crusaders were one of the foundations of the banking system, so if we do get there through Huesca that will be a good route. God’s treasures always found among the marginalised. A different economy!


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Maturely immature?

I have been ever so reflective now for the past few days. If I carry on I will either need to repent of this trend, accept I am maturing at a rate that could frighten me, or simply take a break so as I do not over-exhaust myself.

I am no expert on the Enneagram, I have belligerently sat through a most-beneficial course, never read a book on it from cover to cover, secretly find enough in there to be very helpful, but can still maneuver enough to keep it at bay. Personality types! Some people benefit from certain contexts, certain expressions of Christianity. It is not simply ‘heaven came’ and the rest is history. We connect with God through who we are, and we connect with ‘our’ God through who we are. Both the real God and the God I believe in comes to us in that way. For the Anabaptist the Gospels are the key hermeneutic to the Scriptures, for Jesus is the image of the invisible God. So that settles things… but those who hold that Jesus will return as ‘the ultimate Slayer’ also maintain that Jesus is the lens through which we know God. For them the Gospels simply reflect a portion of who Jesus is, hence God is love, but he is also wrathful etc., and will return to slaughter all enemies. We have our perspectives because of what we have been taught, what we read and consider for ourselves, and without doubt because of our personalities.

I like to find what I can object to. I value all the material on how conversations can be hosted. Pick up an object to contribute, listen when the person is contributing. Been there. Does not work for me. Surface reason? It is presented as a tool to facilitate conversation. I want them to say ‘we are doing this to control the situation’. Just be honest, I say on the inside. Just say ‘because we have people like Martin here we have to put some levels of control in as he can be a pain in these situations’. Now I am happy as we have set up an oppositional setting. At the surface level I claim it is now operating at an honest level so I affirm I am happy. At a deeper level it is not really revealing the issue with the object to be picked up, but as to what is going on inside. I still have not resolved that kind of situation. Not sure either that I want to. After all maybe it is controlling. Personality types.

I did OK in the charismatic context. Increasingly though I found there were some things that worked for me but I became less convinced they were working. Prophesying over individuals while we were together, picking people out who were under the anointing. A huge blessing to many, but I all-but stopped doing that as it became in danger of people more desiring another word than hearing God speak, of certain people receiving and others not. Is there a place for personal prophecy? A huge place. But how it is done can have a down-side.

Travelling to conferences, bringing in a ‘moving on word’ – worked for me. Eventually I found that I had choices. Be commodified or be true to oneself. The incompatibilities came when there were ‘green rooms’ and undue preferential treatment. Message – the release of the body, all are servants, there is no centre. Yet the symbolism was not always consistent with the message. There are always practical issues that surround conferences and the like, but there comes a line that we have to know is a line for us. My message meant I had to move away from the majority of conference scenes. Not because they are bad they simply became a not for me scenario. Exile is only exile if one has a promised land perspective.

I am incompatible with a number of church situations. They are too healthy for me and my presence will make them unhealthy. My agenda is not for them, so why should I try and make it important for them? For this reason I do not look for invites. God has connections for all of us, and we have to discover who we are to be the connection to in order that those people truly benefit from what God has placed in our lives.

I think as another number will quickly be attached to my age I will leave all this self-reflection on one side.


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The second context

I posted yesterday about one reflection in two contexts. But before I go on to the second context – HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JUDITH.

The first was that of education – I did OK, for others it was probably a prison that did not train them in the way they should go but by default put limitations on their self-worth and value. The second I am more tentative about reflecting on, as my reflections are more recent (and many of the reflections come as I wake in the morning, not while I am in control during the day!).

The context is that of the charismatic, new church, progressive, call-it-what-you-want expression of the Christian faith. Wow did I benefit from my experience within that kind of movement. Enormously. It has shaped me like nothing else has. Yes I love to claim to be Anabaptist, even to be influenced a bit by the Eastern strand of the historic faith, but the reality is gifts of the Spirit, prophesying, slapping on of hands, prophetic vision – all of that is inside me to this day. I love the rhetoric. I met a while back with a Brit pastor who was out here and he asked me about the EU and any thoughts I had about it and ‘end-times’. After pontificating that it had nothing to do with the end-times went on to proclaim and if it did, and the antiChrist was about to manifest in and through the EU that would be the very reason why I would vote to stay in. I love all of that. I love it when Gayle and I get to Madrid. Walk the streets of the city, the capital, the big one, praying. Even if it is fantasy I love it, it is somewhere in my bloodstream.

Strong leadership, definite direction, God has spoken and we are the ones who know what he has said. I did OK in all that and I am not about to rubbish it. I have witnessed too many incredible changes in health – many instantaneous, prayed into situations and read newspaper headlines that are verbatim what was prayed into, to rubbish it. I am very grateful for the background. I am not about to rubbish it either for I am an unashamed charismatic when I read the NT. Paul in Galatians does not appeal to a date when they believed but to an experience they had, with a continual working of miracles in their midst as his appeal that they do not abandon their direction and come under legalism. Charismatic experience is central to me, and I don’t think I just read it there – I actually think it is there to be read.

Yet I have learnt (yes I think I have learnt something) over the years that some people prosper in certain situations and others do not. Some people prosper for a time and then later find the situation to be not so prosperous, indeed the situation might become a negative context for them.

So this is my second context. I wish I had not fitted in so well. I wish I had challenged us (and this was an ‘us’ not a ‘them’) to give people more space, more room not to fit in. More room not to be committed so intensely, to explore other avenues, other expressions of the wonderful faith.

Maybe I really am maturing. I am more appreciative now of difference than ever before. I appreciate the liturgical – so much so I did it for 5 whole days! I also have to be true to my roots, believing it is the way God led me, and it is how the Scriptures resonate with me. Being true to my roots is to try and live outside the box, with more respect than before for those who are being true to where they find life. I want to be a more objectionable voice to the self-assured structures that promise life, rather than release people to their destiny. When I do hit 61 at least I will have a focus.

I was quite happy the other day. I had to visit the bank. In discussion with the person behind the desk, eventually letting them know that money is not what motivates us, she let out a good strong Spanish swear word at quite a volume, calling on me loudly ‘just do something’. A small success, frustration that I would not do something that indicated that we could fit in. All structures, gifts and ministries are here to serve the people not the other way round. That is my voice that if true will be objectionable.


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August – how many have there been?

August is a fun month. A month that supposedly honours Augustus Caesar – so that in itself is enough to make one either laugh or respond with a good healthy ‘no way’. I’ve always enjoyed August and have had a few of them now in my life. Somewhere in this month is a date when I mark one more year on the planet – yes a birthday comes round. I’ve said before that when I was 39 Sue asked me what I wanted to do when I was 40 – ‘I don’t want to mark that as 40 is almost nothing. What can one do by the time one is 40? Maybe ask again when I am 55,’ was my response. Of course once I did get to 55 I didn’t feel a lot different!

Anyway I thought maybe I would not blog during the month of August – time out, but here I am 6.00am with keyboard being bashed away. This post might not connect with many, and probably will not connect with those who have made the shift from immaturity to maturity by the time they reached 40, or even earlier. Richard Rohr writes about the two halfs of one’s life (or is that halves?). By now I apparently should have entered the second half. Not having read the book – like why would I want to do that? – but my guess is I am not yet too close to making the transition. I think transitions are better made if there is a measure of reflection. Learn from the past, make some adjustments and the future direction is on a better course.

I have many memories (and I think some are probably bad and some are probably good). I just don’t remember them. No that is not meant to be funny. I simply do not remember them – I don’t think about them, I don’t recall them, if they seek to rise up I move on. I don’t have time for that… maybe then the second half of life is still a long way off? In the midst of all this immaturity, first half of life orientation, I have had two reflections, or maybe better one reflection into two phases of my life. One reflection and I am about to hit 61… well one reflection is better than none.

I appreciate the reflectors. They have a gift that I do not have. Last week Gayle and I did a week (we managed 5 days so almost a week) of following a liturgical pattern of prayer – creeds, book of common prayer, and a good one in there from St. Francis. Beneficial, but tough. That way of doing things requires reflection, contemplation. Contemplating concerning God also ties with self-reflection. After 5 days maybe we (I) need to move on. ‘Move on.’ Now that is a good mantra. Give your energies to that, to the days you have never yet had. Apparently the downside is that we are meant to learn from the past, and again apparently, that requires self-reflection.

So what is the one reflection on life I have now that I have completed part of the first half of my life? It is I did pretty well in the contexts where I found myself but was not enough of an objectionable voice to the status quo on behalf of those who did not benefit from the system. My first reflective context is the educational system. Learning (now there is a euphemism) Spanish has been good for me. Not making the grade, not connecting… everything I did not experience within education, but probably that is exactly what a number of others did experience, as they found that for them education was anything but an enjoyable experience. If we could go back in time with what we know now, I would love to go back and be an objectionable voice on behalf of those that the system did not bring life to but imprisoned.

Rabbie Burns wrote:

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

I think I would write (with adjustment to the language):

And would some Power (God) give us the gift
To convert the system to seeing others!

(Almost had another reflection there, but quickly moved on… Almost thought that maybe I see the systems as being the problem, that they need changing, and of course through a good well aimed kick in the Spirit, rather than I need to change and see others. Glad it was only a momentary thought.)

Anyway less than a week to go to the birthday and I think I must be getting ever-so-close to the second half of my life – after all I have had a reflection. So maybe the second half of my life will be about being an objectionable voice and not fitting in. Or maybe that refection marks I am about to enter the first half of my life? Either way, the reality is once the reflection is over, life is there to be lived and off we go again, though I do hope that over the past 7 years a greater level of not fitting in, of kicking against the self-assured structures have marked whatever half of life I am in.


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