Where to Europe?

The final four days we spent in the UK was with 20 other people from England, Ireland, Wales, Spain, Germany, France and Sweden to consider how to pray into the future of Europe with the ‘Brexit’ somewhat as a background. A very good and trusted prophetic friend had emailed most of those in the above group with a vision that she had very soon after there was an announcement that there would be a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. The summary of that vision was that the UK would be removed and in that time light and colour would drain out of the European continent, but at a later stage there would be a re-connection and a corresponding shift in the continent. An obvious, and possible, interpretation to the former part was that the referendum would be a vote ‘out’. And given that this vision preceded any referendum we have given it a lot of weight. The context though that our friend said was that this next season was more about the future of Europe than of the future of the UK.

Our days were less focused on the Brexit than on where to Europe. However, it was interesting that although the dates were set months ago the context of the debate and total lack of clarity was the context for our gathering.

(Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor)

We met in Ashburnham Place, a most remarkable centre, given the geography of an event that shaped England with the Norman Invasion of 1066. An event that only left the city of London free – and the origins to this day of its status that allows it to be one of the ‘treasure islands’ that can defy taxation laws. Ashburnham Place as a land is also most interesting in that it was originally part of land that was apportioned by William’s conquest but had been given away freely. The sense of the land being free was tangible and gave a real leverage point.

With reference to the loss of light and colour for some time we have considered that this loss is embodied in the rise of xeno- and other phobias, the demonisation of ‘immigrants’, the rise of fascism and the like in almost all European nations. This suggests that there has to be a shift in the UK if there is to any level of re-plugging to bring about a change in Europe. Prior to meeting I would have been very negative about any such change being possible, but having been in England for these past two weeks. But I am convinced that there is a real (and maybe still hidden) shift taking place as I sensed the biggest spiritual change in England in the 10 years we have been in Spain.

Whether the Brexit is abandoned or not is not the key issue. The EU has evolved and has many flaws for sure, though with the vision of being together to avoid the horrors of war, my strong preference would be to see it reformed from the inside. The primary aspect of the future is not reversing the Brexit but for something to rise that is inclusive of the ‘alien, widow and orphan’ so that a new Europe can arise.

Rather than prolonging this post I will post again tomorrow…

Deep and deeper?

[No it is not an image of a wig, not even one underground… but of roots!! Roots that need to become visible… Now that is clear, read on.]

Gayle and I have just travelled door to door 21 hours, from our apartment to Valencia airport to Rome (yes wrong direction but cheapest flights), change of flights to Rio de Janeiro and to the home of Cesar and Nubia. Maybe disorientation, maybe clarity settled but a little revelation for our own situation and perhaps it will also connect to other situations. A background first.

It is amazing to tick off boxes of answered prayer when there is an evident shift. So on two aspects we were deeply encouraged as we have prayed into the ongoing legacy of Franco in the land of Spain. A while back a prominent politician was in trouble for having on her resumé (CV) a master’s degree. There were clearly anomalies with the award and eventually she had to resign when this was in the news and another issue came up that further compromised her. Gayle was adamant that if we could manage to push this one through there would be a knock on effect even to the resignation of the then President over corruption charges – mainly focused on his party. That seemed a little optimistic, or even a lot optimistic. Within a matter of weeks, when even up to the last hour it was not predicted, the President had to resign and there was a change of government. (Just to be clear, though I hope it is clear, no government is perfect, but what we are looking for are signs that what is hidden and should not be get exposed. That was why we were pushing in this way.)

The second aspect was the prayer – some 11 hour drive from our home – at the house where Franco was born and then on the following day the government passed that his body will be removed from the Valley of the Fallen. There are many reasons why it would be important spiritually for this to happen due to the geographic and historic nature of that area.

Two great shifts, that give one enough energy to jump like a big frog for at least a few minutes each day (figurative language there, not literal… though Gayle is able to jump quite well I have to admit. Not sure though she has quite got the frog action.)

Frogs aside, it is wonderful to get shifts, until…

  • The President is replaced but the rhetoric of the one replacing him is that the party needs to go back to its roots, turn the clock back before the last party leader and get back to the days of the transition – a whole area we have tried to get a handle on this year. A shift only for something more Franco-esque to come in.
  • Franco’s remains to be moved, but there is now a strong pull for this to be into Madrid (our focus) in a Cathedral by the royal palace and with full military honours!

Two shifts and then? Why bother when the shifts are so short lived, and it seems if anything the issues become larger afterwards. Ever been there? We have wrestled with this and although determined that we will not stop have been a little perplexed. So maybe just a flight or two later and a little clarity comes, but here it is for us at least:

We have seen something shift, shift does not mean completed but it will often mean that something then gets revealed at a deeper level. These two results are not set-backs, they simply push us to go a deeper level as there is a root being revealed. Or maybe we can put it that what was partially hidden becomes increasingly visible. So the frog-like jumping might take a back seat for a day or two but the sight that feeds perseverance now also has to fuel further sight as to what the deeper root is.

I am not prescribing the above as a recipe for success in every situation but I am sure it will resonate for some situations and if so take it as encouragement. I think also the clarity came in Brazil as it relates to the nation here. There have been wonderful moves forward. Around 20% of the nation would be charismatic/pentecostal evangelical with that increase coming over the past decades. Put that into a European context and we would be shouting ‘revival’ for sure. Yet the level of occult, societal disorder, corruption of power and all that goes along with those issues is ever so visible. Something deeper has to take place. Of course if one’s vision is simply of getting as many people born again as possible, although there is always more to be done, we would be saying ‘job well done’. I suspect that the next phase is that there will be apparent setbacks. We prayed this and this, we believed for transformation and this is the situation… The next phase – something deeper is being revealed. The deeper that is revealed in each place will depend on the context. Here power and the belief of a top down – get the right person in as the boss – will be revealed for the error and danger it is. Elsewhere it will be something different, but in each place it will be a further exposure of the roots that continue to pollute.

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Us, God or what is changed?

‘Prayer is not for God it is for us’ is one explanation that has a lot going for it. Once we get beyond ‘do this for me’ kind of prayers there is a huge truth in the above. If we are serious about situations changing and begin to address them in prayer it is not normally too long before we discover that the same issues are present in us and need addressing – even if the same issues are not present to the same extent. This is the principle I see in Jesus’ teaching that murder is rooted in anger, adultery in lust, or Paul’s words that idolatry is rooted in greed. One of the principles in strategic prayer (and identificational repentance) is the genuine personal identification and personal repentance that comes through in the identification. It is rare for the prayer to be simply I stand here innocent but I stand in the gap, but more of a ‘we and our ancestors have sinned’.

Prayer changes us, for as we interact with God we find that once we are exposed to his presence we are impacted. Prayer then is certainly for our benefit.

I contend it is also for God’s benefit. Not so he can change (though there are many OT references to God changing his mind after human interaction and dialogue) but so as he can act. The key request / command that the will of God be done on earth as in heaven that we find in the pattern prayer surely indicates that at a very real level for the will of God to be done prayer by followers of Christ is essential. Without the request we can only assume there will be whole aspects where the will of God is not, and will not, be done. Something is released when we pray. We see this with Daniel who prayed fervently but there was a delay, the angel indicated that the prayer released him (her?) to move, but en route there was a necessary battle against opposing forces that took time to resolve. We also see how, in Revelation, that the prayers of the saints rise up to heaven and fill a bowl that once full can be released. No prayer and there is no move forward by the angelic in and through territory occupied by forces of darkness; no prayer and there is no bowl being filled that once outpoured can bring about change.

Prayer of course changes us but it has a major part to play in changing the environment where the prayer is focused. We do not need to adopt an extreme position of God’s mind being changed, as if we can move him from being a hard God to a kinder one (OT) but that he is enabled to do what he was unable to do before the prayer was offered up. This to me is in keeping with ‘the earth he has given to humanity’. This is our jurisdiction, and through wrong choices, both past and ongoing, we have given power to the prince of this world – who has been judged at the cross, and we are to press for that judgement to be visible.

I have many times written that we can never draw a straight line between we prayed this and this happened. To make those claims indicates that we are also claiming to have the full picture. There are so many things we do not know. I had the privilege of praying for a lady who had not walked unaided in 19 years, for 16 of those she had been confined to a wheel chair. The MS had by this stage taken her voice, and her eyesight had also been very badly affected. For whatever reason, I leaned over to the person next to me and said, ‘that woman will walk tonight’. Her story was subsequently written up in one of the national newspapers (sorry to say but it was ‘The Daily Mail’!!).

I visited her later to get the back story. She told me that someone suggested she went to the meeting, but she was very reluctant. She had been prayed for so many times over those many years and had had no improvement so was not looking to expose herself again to any prayer. She inwardly agreed to go only if someone came and directly offered to take her. This subsequently happened.

With regard to all the prayers that went before we might assume they were ineffective, howver in this situation the most likely scenario was that the last prayer was the least effective, but somehow tipped things over.

There are so many things we do not understand and I am certainly not saying that every situation will be resolved if we simply throw more prayer at it. That was the situation for Edith, but we cannot quote one example and make it applicable to every situation. Yet I am suggesting that prayer changes situations that would not change without it. Prayer is not simply for us and our benefit.

I know the frustration of the seeming ineffectiveness of prayer; of being (reluctantly) able to recount where what I have prayed has not received an answer, but in it all I am still pushing to move beyond the passivity of ‘God has everything in control, he knows what is best…’ God has entered our world and is walking with us. His activity might not be totally limited by our response, but it is certainly increased with our partnership. Prayers rise to heaven and one day we will see how it all fitted together.

(Disclaimer: I do not possess the prayer book in the image above the title. (Surprised?) Probably would do me some good to get a prayer book… but that is another story!!)

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Burgos and Ferrol

Gayle and I have just returned from a 2,700km (1,600 mile) drive and camp around northern Spain. Both a great break and also time to reflect on the wider land where we are located. This included sleeping in a car park to cliff headlands, a field and also a few random days in camp sites (it is helpful to have a shower – helps when co-habiting a small space!). In those days away we took in two larger cities – Burgos and Ferrol. So rather than expand on what deodorants we used to compensate for the (few) days without a shower I will focus on these two cities.

We always love to walk around a city, to observe, pray and speak to it – sometimes of course it will speak back, usually at night time. Burgos was our first stop so I will start there. A ‘proper’, well-behaved city, with everything in place. (Photo above title: Burgos cathedral.) A place that does not overtly resist what comes in new but will domesticate it before long. The city is calling for a person / persons / corporate body that will not be owned but come with a generous spirit speaking life to everything that is truly life-giving. So willing to relate to all expressions of the body of Christ but investing into both what is young (as in age of people) and fresh. Such a person has to be able to carry humour in the sense of not being focused on what they are building but on the life they are releasing. If this can rise there will be a time to make a key response when they are offered a place at the table of respectability, and at that time without disrespect to simply to continue to focus on the margins. The city is calling for it now!

Ferrol… we visited here primarily because this is the birth place of Franco (Photo: Franco’s birthplace – where we prayed), and we visited here on a Thursday. The next day the Spanish government passed the edict to exhume Franco’s body from the Valley of the Fallen. This is both historic in seeking to resolve some of the outstanding issues from the Civil War (1936-39) and the period of the dictatorship (1939-75) and for us in our journey into the history of Spain. (Co-incidentally Pablo Iglesias (1850-1925) the founder of the Spanish socialist party was also born in Ferrol.)

It is always challenging to see a city when coming with an agenda, but for us this place carried an affluence and a pride that was just beneath the surface. A place that has to discover the gift of mercy and align to where it is going rather than hold in to a history. To live here as a believer would certainly be a challenge. Think, pray and act long term. Invest in what is at hand, staying hidden, but waiting for the openings when there can be a shift for windows of opportunity will come in this city – it cannot put up defenses that are impregnable.

In praying at the house where Franco was born we simply knew we were there to cut off a root. we have experienced on a number of fronts that we have seen a significant proposed shift only for it not to take place so are also now focused on making sure we finish what we get involved in. Although the government has passed the vote, there could still be an appeal to the courts to reverse the decision to exhume the body. As mentioned in a recent post Valley of the Fallen is located alongside El Escorial – a place that very early on we realised was a power situation where dominating power was anchored, which has greatly affected the church in Spain. We have not yet made a specific visit to El Escorial but are pretty sure the day will come.

Burgos y FerrolGayle y yo acabamos de regresar de un viaje de 2.700 km por el norte de España. Un tiempo de descanso y para reflexionar sobre la tierra en la que nos encontramos. Esto incluyó dormir en: un parking publico, los promontorios de los acantilados, un campo y también algunos días aleatorios en los campings (es útil darse una ducha: ¡ayuda al cohabitar en un espacio pequeño!). Esos días fuimos a dos ciudades más grandes: Burgos y Ferrol. Sin embargo, en lugar de expandirnos sobre los desodorantes que usamos para compensar los (pocos) días sin una ducha, me centraré en estas dos ciudades.

Siempre nos gusta caminar por alguna ciudad, observar, orar y hablarle, a veces, por supuesto, nos responderá, por lo general de noche. Burgos fue nuestra primera parada, así que comenzaré por allí. Una ciudad “adecuada”, de buen comportamiento, con todo en su lugar. Un lugar que no se opone abiertamente a lo que viene nuevo, pero lo domesticará antes que después. La ciudad está pidiendo una persona / personas / cuerpo corporativo que no sea propiedad sino que venga con un espíritu generoso que hable vida a todo lo que es verdaderamente vivificante. Tan dispuestos a relacionarse con todas las expresiones del cuerpo de Cristo, pero invirtiendo en lo que es joven (como en la edad de las personas) y nuevo. Tal persona debe ser capaz de llevar el sentido del humor en el sentido de no centrarse en lo que están construyendo, sino en la vida que están liberando. Si esto pudiera aumentar, habrá un momento para hacer una respuesta clave cuando se les ofrezca un lugar en la mesa de respetabilidad, y en ese momento sin falta de respeto simplemente para continuar centrándose en los márgenes. ¡La ciudad lo está llamando ahora!

Ferrol … Lo visitamos principalmente porque este es el lugar de nacimiento de Franco, y visitamos aquí un jueves. Al día siguiente, el gobierno español aprobó el edicto para exhumar el cuerpo de Franco del Valle de los Caídos. Esto es histórico al tratar de resolver algunos de los temas pendientes de la Guerra Civil (1936-39) y el período de la dictadura (1939-75) y para nosotros en nuestro viaje por la historia de España. (Coincidentemente, también nació en Ferrol Pablo Iglesias (1850-1925), el fundador del partido socialista español).

Siempre es un reto ver una ciudad cuando se viene con una agenda, pero para nosotros este lugar tenía opulencia y orgullo justo debajo de la superficie. Un lugar que tiene que descubrir el don de la misericordia y alinearse a donde va en lugar de aferrarse a la historia. Vivir aquí como creyente sin duda sería un desafío. Piensa, ora y actúa a largo plazo. Invierte en lo que tienes a mano, manténte oculto, pero espera las aperturas cuando pueda haber un cambio de ventanas de oportunidad que llegará a esta ciudad: no se puede poner defensas que son inexpugnables.

Al orar en la casa donde nació Franco simplemente supimos que estábamos allí para cortar una raíz. hemos experimentado en varios frentes que hemos visto un cambio significativo propuesto solo para que no tenga lugar, por lo que ahora también estamos enfocados en asegurarnos en terminar en lo que nos involucramos. Aunque el gobierno ha aprobado la votación, todavía podría haber una apelación a los tribunales para revertir la decisión de exhumar el cuerpo. Como mencioné en un post reciente, el Valle de los Caídos está ubicado junto a El Escorial, un lugar que desde el principio nos dimos cuenta de que era una situación de poder donde el poder dominante estaba anclado, lo que ha afectado enormemente a la iglesia en España. Todavía no hemos hecho una visita específica a El Escorial, pero estamos bastante seguros de que llegará el día.

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Let Justice roll down…

A few years ago we went up to Colon (Columbus) square, Madrid, to pray the day before the so-called Columbus Day. It is certainly a sign of power and from our viewpoint a source of power. We are happy to report that the objections to the annual Columbus day has become more public since then. (Also very happy to report that Margaret Thatcher Square (yes, really) next to this Colon square is now devoid of power!)

Supreme Court

This morning we took a visit back to that area and focused on the Supreme Court (above) and the Audencia Nacional. Our strong sense has been for a few weeks that there is now a phase coming of the judicial powers in Spain being shaken, a cleansing and an exposure of corruption, bribery and lies. So we proclaimed that today in those places. (Well after all you just got to do something, right?)

A few days ago a judge, who said clearly in a major (another major) corruption case involving the government, that he could confirm that a certain M. Rajoy who was in the PP party and had received cash payments was indeed the PM Mariano Rajoy was then removed from the case. Today a judge published a poem that not only insulted the leader of a political party, but in it used mysognist and suggestive language about that party\’s spokesperson (a woman). So we have called time on this. The unravelling of secret (and not so secret) agreements is not how justice was ever designed to flow.

(If you want to read the poem and article about it:

Indignación por un artículo machista de una asociación de jueces sobre Irene Montero.)

So Spain – bumpy ride is a-coming, but it has to and through it all something healthier for one and all.

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How much apology?

I posted yesterday the apology toward the native (north) American nations which prompted a great comment / question from Nigel regarding national repentance and forgiveness. He wrote:

At what point is the issue considered dealt with?
With personal issues,
apology + forgiveness = closure
With nations though, does each successive generation need to re-repent? I’m thinking maybe of Germany and the Jewish people here. My cautious first answer would be no as generational guilt is not a good thing.
Also, within a repentant generation, what proportion need to be truly repentant of the issues? Leadership repentance on behalf of the nation is valuable but if the nation itself doesn’t see the issue…..

I am glad Nigel asked my perspective – I can give that but the definitive answer? I don’t think so. Let me start by acknowledging that the approach to apology / identificational repentance (from now on IR) is diverse among theologians. Indeed the weight of opinion is probably against it as being something valid in the sense of shifting anything spiritually. At best it might be seen as accomplishing something psychologically, rather than actually dealing with anything substantial. A Western individualistic mindset does not lend itself to validating IR. ‘I was not there…, I did not steal the land…’ Biblically quoting verses that suggest God will not hold the children to account for the sins of the fathers also are thrown in, along with the ‘where in the NT do we find this?’ Under that weight the answer is easy – OK do it if you wish but there is no need to answer the questions as there is nothing objective taking place simply something subjective. However, I beg to disagree!!

There are numerous Scriptures along the lines of ‘If you confess your sins and the sins of your antecedents…’ and living examples of, e.g., Daniel or Ezra, making confession of the historic sins of the nation. That seems based on an understanding that each generation is connected to those who have gone before, and that both sin and righteousness are trans-generational, being sown into the land. I find no convincing way to understand the baptism of Jesus in any different light. He confesses sin – otherwise there is no submitting to John’s baptism, and he confessed the sin of the people as if it were his own, thus fulfilling what had been lacking – all righteousness. He does this at the key point – the geographical point of entry to the land, at a key time, when there is the hope of the end of exile (NT Wright et al., linking exile and forgiveness of sins). His repentance there is the carrying of sin, which he carries to the cross. He is crucified for Israel as the ultimate suffering servant, and thus for the sins of the world. So I do not see the cross as bearing the anger of God, but wrath (if you like) in the sense of the consequences of sin. The cross is the point of reconciliation because it is the ultimate point of God’s identification with humanity.

Jesus work is then finished. The work the Father gave him to do. His work is not finished though. The body of Christ carries on the work of Jesus. ‘All that Jesus began to do and to teach…’ ‘I complete what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…’ kind of Scriptures are what I appeal to there, as well as the close identification of Jesus and the body – ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ This shapes my eschatology that the end cannot come until the body has completed her task of providing the materials for the age to come (silver, gold, precious stones of 1 Corinthians and Revelation).

So my convictions are rooted in what is here today is the result of what was sown yesterday. Where that is sin – betrayals, illegal moving of boundaries, bloodshed, tower of Babel pride etc. – it will be dealt with through repentance. If that is accepted, the inevitable questions arise such as ‘how much repentance?’, ‘who is involved?’ and the like.

So my perspectives follow!

1. Body of Christ has the primary responsibility for the health of the world. Change is not from no. 10 etc, but a movement has to be present in the church. That essentially means a different flow of life. These are the huge challenges when living in the world, but not being of it. Those working in the economic world, for example, have a huge task of working out how to truly be Christian. Negatively I suspect that when the believers predominantly live from the same spirit that their contribution to bondage is even greater than that of non-believers.

2. We own not our own sins alone but the sins of the community, or whatever part of it we can identify with. Jesus had the calling and capacity to identify with the sins of the world… in the big scheme of things the body of Christ maybe can and should do the same corporately.

3. Confession is connected to conviction. I have a conviction that the Crusades, the Inquisition, Christendom, conversion of the heathen by any level of force and that whole gamut to be anti-Christian. I appreciate there are others who hold to the view that those who fought to protect ‘the faith’ view it differently. On that we are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. All I can do is follow my convictions… so on Spain and the Reconquista, Gayle and I have to take responsibility for what took place. What was done in the name of Jesus implicates us. The repentance has to begin with us, not in some superior way that we would not have done that. The same sins are in us, and as I have repeatedly written in many posts, the sin of dehumanisation is ultimately a denial at some level of the Incarnation – and that spirit John says is the spirit of antiChrist.

4. God looks for someone to stand in the gap. He can work with a ‘someone’. The ‘someones’ are often not the right people. They are from the ‘not many mighty, not many noble’ kind of people. It seems that is all God needs to get something moving. If it is done from conviction, and that has to go beyond the level of simply doing research then ticking the boxes as each thing is dealt with, then there seems to be a real shift. That shift seems to (often / always?) release a greater level of awareness and others get on board to make apology / repent. Often ending with governmental representatives making apology and reparations put in place.

5. I do not think this has to be repeated generation upon generation. Sin can be dealt with – or maybe better in the context I am writing about, the effects of sin can be dealt with. Hence I do believe without dealing with the root issues of the Reconquista that no wall or foreign policy can keep Spain free from future terrorist attacks. As I wrote a couple of posts ago, my expectation would be this year or next. If we take responsibility, with the full expectation, that many have already done much more before us, we can see a shift here in Spain, and in such manifestations as Dayesh. I have the firm conviction that the roots of a militant Islam lie within Christendom.

6. I do see IR as coming to a place where it does not need to be repeated. Same as at a personal level. My sin is dealt with, but it is at times not unhelpful to soberly revisit the effect of my sin. I consider this to be the situation in Germany. Her sin is forgiven, but a sober revisiting of the Holocaust is necessary to live differently in the light of the forgiveness.

7. The percentage who repent? An unrepentant church would for me be the largest presenting problem. And that raises the tough issue of when is a brother / sister no longer a brother or sister. Jesus makes it plain that when we show hatred we are of our father, the devil, who is murderer from the beginning. I cannot answer easily for those who have a conviction (from Scripture) about the death penalty, or what I would consider excessive military response. I have to live with my convictions, but my concern is that such ‘biblical’ convictions are causing us enormous issues. My priority is not to judge but to respond to God and therefore live with a measure of personal integrity. As Jesus said to Peter concerning a fellow disciple, ‘what has that got to do with you?’

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