Façades… no singing please!!

I had an email today asking me if the dream I had in 2010 has a relevance to the current time and asking if I would post it publicly. I was sure I had… but if so it must have been some time ago as doing a quick search I could not find it. Given that I think it is highly relevant I thought I would just go ahead and post (maybe again!). I have certainly repeated it often enough that many of you will have heard / read of it. If not here it is and I consider again it to be very timely.

The dream occurred as one of two in 2010. The other was of the balanced see-saw that would come about as the year 2020 arrived. The balanced see-saw does not indicate a reversal but something akin to a level playing field. When integrity and honesty will have the impact it should as the ‘field’ will not be stacked against us. It means getting a right result for the godly input… not the end of conflict but where things can be changed. Game on!!

So to the second of the two dreams.

I was in a town square and stood on one side of it. The opposite side consisted of a series of buildings, side by side. I understood that each building represented the institutions that had shaped the ‘public square’. They represented institutions such as politics, judiciary, business and trade, the church, etc. While I was looking at them – and my gaze never switched elsewhere – something occurred to all of them at the same time. The fronts (the façades) of each building opened up as if on hinges that swung them forward and then up. At this stage anyone who wished could look right inside them. The inner working (what Walter Wink might call the interiority of the powers?) were visible.

My immediate concern was that the buildings would be very unstable and they or at least the façades would fall forward and the people on that side of the square would be in real danger. I decided my responsibility was to shout the warning, to get away from the buildings and come to safety.

Within a few seconds, while I am preparing to shout the warning, I realise that – although defying physical laws – the buildings were not about to topple. They remained open but many people did not even seem to notice what was being exposed. As I then pondered what is happening and what kind of warning is needed, I heard someone to my left begin a Christian song. I do not recall what the song was but it was well-known and there were enough people in the public square that knew it and they one by one began to join in. In a short while the song was audible in the public square and when it reached a certain volume in the same way that the façades had opened so they now closed back down again. As I ponder what I have seen I heard an audible voice from behind me say:

It is the familiar that restores the status quo,
that brings things back to where they were.

Now I knew what the warning was. At a time when there was exposure and the possibility of a whole new level of integrity and honesty it would be the return to the familiar that would short-circuit the exposure, the cleansing (and in my language of now) the reset.

I cleared my throat, took a deep breath. Then opened my mouth and got the following words out: ‘It is the familiar’. As soon as I go those four words out a person from my right came and stood immediately in front of me, about 5 centimetres from my face, eye-balling me to intimidate me. I knew I had to get the warning out, moved to my left and the scene repeated. This happened three times in total, the fourth time I again moved left, filled my lungs ready, I got the words out ‘It is the familiar…’ and as I got to the end of that fourth word the person (spirit) did not confront me but stepped in front to finish the words with ‘that brings things back to normal.’

Close, but a total conversion of what the original was. The warning was gone, the exposure of reverting to the familiar as the enemy in this time was nullified, the problem was no longer the exposure (re-set) but the interruption to normal life.

I have told that dream in many places, and have often had the reaction that ‘but worship is good’, effectively rebuking me! I can defend it as ‘it was a dream’, but I also want to defend it more strongly than that.

One of the most comforting places for Christians to head to (particularly those in the charismatic tradition) is to go to the worship area. I do not deny that it can re-focus us on Jesus and away from ourselves, but it can also re-engage memory in the sense of recapturing a ‘feel-good’ sense. (Memory is one of the biggest hindrances to faith!) It was in that context (OT-wise) that God said he hates the activity the people were up to, activity that was prescribed for them in God’s law. In the same way the fast that God hated (Is. 58) was the fast from food and devotion to prayer to God (!) when at that time God was requiring a fast that was expressed in social justice. [An aside… contextually, the ‘all our righteousness is as filthy rags’ is not a comment that devalues genuine doing of good, but it is referring to ‘all our religious [and we can expand this to be, ‘activity that has been prescribed’] righteousness is as filthy rags’.]

I am glad in the dream it was the singing of a Christian song that was the issue. It hits hard at the issue of familiarity, the resorting to ‘not sure what to do let’s sing’. There is a time for all things, and therefore a time not for some things. The dream spoke strongly that this is a time to engage and not short circuit the process. [And maybe if there are songs to be sung they are the protest songs…, such as the resisteré song that we all join in with at 8.00pm each evening here. And there are plenty of those resistance Scriptures to pull on!]

I am also glad it was a Christian presence that cocked it all up. I strongly believe that the biggest influence on society is supposed to be those who follow Jesus, not through legislation (top-down) but through so shifting the spiritual atmosphere that there is an inhibiting of certain expressions and a fostering of all that is good. [That deserves a whole blog or ten!]

Of course there will be a strong pull to ‘let’s get back to normal’ form those who benefit from normal. So we will see a rise of unemployment and those on the margins will suffer in this Covid-19 season, but at the same time the big monsters that live off the lives of people will prosper beyond belief. They do not want any changes, let all things continue as ‘normal’.

I am glad to read at least of those talking of a ‘new normal’ provided it is not a refreshed view of what we have currently. A new normal has to align more with the kingdom of God (a New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven) than with a Babylon (that rises up from the earth, seeking to make a name for ourselves).

The next two years are critical. Anything that just brings comfort through familiarity has to be put aside. We do not want things closed back down again.

Much more can be said… but at least I now have the dream up, though maybe not for the first time!

Sickness in the forest

Delighted to have this post by Joanna Storie. With her husband, Ian, she lives in Latvia. Living on the edge would be an understatement! Working the land, raising Alpacas (along with other animals) and at the final stages of her PhD studies… A contributor at https://dispatcheseurope.com/ and with her own regular blog at: http://thejourneytosomewhere.blogspot.com/. Read on!


I have really valued Martin’s prophecy regarding the facades coming down. I have done plenty of research over the last seven years of my life towards a PhD looking at rural communities and the challenges they face. It has revealed plenty of facades that need to come down. In these chaotic times with the Covid19 virus showing us how vulnerable our capitalistic system is, yes even in China, it is tempting to sing the songs that would help to take us back to normality. “Jesus we need you”, “Jesus be our healer” types etc. I understand why people would want to sing them, so why are they wrong? Or even are they wrong? If it makes the facades go back up, then they are. There has to be a change, but change can be scary.

So, what should we be singing and what should our focus be? How can we see this in context? Jesus focussed songs are great and there are times for them, but right now we need to be seeing the world through Jesus’ eyes. We need to see the work of the Father in our midst and get on board with that. If it means bringing down those facades, we had better make sure we are behind that and keep them down. I think it is helpful to view these changes in context. The facades are only a part of life, there is a whole world out there beyond the facades, even if like a city they dominate the landscape.

I read a lot of material put out by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (an international research centre on resilience and sustainability science) and in a recent article they suggested we should view life like a forest, where change is ongoing, but it is still a forest. They suggest that viewing things as unchangeable is not helpful as it lacks the dynamic capability to react and change. When a forest is sick, the sick trees need to be removed to give the healthy ones a chance. It is still a forest. Even if the whole forest is cut down or burnt, it is still likely to be a forest as it regenerates and grows again from the seed sown in the ashes. Even in a healthy forest, trees will die and create space for new growth, it is still a forest. The forest is in a continual state of change and yet it is still a forest.

The West’s addiction to capitalism is a sickness in our forest. The love of money, the greed it generates, the need to continually feed it and have ever lasting growth without putting anything back. It is killing life on earth. We have to remove the sickness, but in doing so it gives space for something new to grow. We don’t need one model, the perfect model, that’s a plantation and that is neither diverse nor resilient. We need the eyes of Jesus to see what the gardener is doing in our part of the forest and get alongside him and help. We are the arms, the feet of Jesus. Let us have the eyes to see what we need to do and where we need to go. Let’s bring those facades down or leave them down and let the light in to allow growth. Let your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven. What is the gardener doing in your part of the forest? What is he clearing away and what is he planting? Make sure you are not pulling up new growth that he has planted.

If you are interested in the original article that started my musings, it can be found here

(https://www.stockholmresilience.org/5.55ead82716e7faa929d1987.html)

Toward the vacuum

A number of years ago I had a dream where I was standing in a city square and on the opposite side of the square were buildings. I knew each one represented an institution that had been shaped by, and in turn, shaped the public square. Then at the same moment all the façades of the buildings came forward and then up so that what was inside became visible. Then at a point of time they all shut down again, with everything back to ‘normal’.

Have we entered a season again of the façades opening?

  • The paradise papers… tax evasion / tax avoidance
  • The sexual scandals in Hollywood and now in the British parliament
  • Spain… (more immediately below!!)

Restoring law and order. Really? Proclaimed by the party who have currently just under 900 national or regional delegates in court, on the way to court or suspects of breaking the law! Accusing the Catalan government of rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of money – so proclaims the party that have given no answer to where the 40 billion has disappeared…

Democracy means we can declare independence. Not a small change, but based on a turnout of 43%!

Law, order and democracy – all words that will have to be re-defined if the above continues.

(I think many political situations could be added here: the Brexit also far from going the way promised. I seem to remember wonderful suggestions of so much extra money on the way to support the NHS.)

Have we entered a season again of the façades opening? I think so.

Back to the dream. The reason why the façades all closed up again was that the church began to sing a well-known song. The familiar was the place of safe retreat. I think it is vital that we grasp the role of the church in the public square. If Jesus has, and delegated, all authority it seems what the church does, how it positions herself is very key. The fallback to the familiar was what caused the problem. The closure then was cemented by the statement that:

It is the familiar that brings things back to normal.

So maybe we have a fresh opportunity at responding differently to singing the old familiar songs. Seems to me that the challenge of nor resorting to the familiar is that we have to travel on to ground that we do not know how to navigate – it is unfamiliar.

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