Monday, 28 February 2011
The above link shows Steve McVey's original post which I put on this blog. As a fluke I noticed the "representative video image" for the video in the side column of this blog "Meet the Family: had actually settled on the picture of Shi Weihan.
Here is the Open Doors report of his release. I join with them in praying for him.
Shi Weihan - article taken from here
Christian bookshop owner, Shi, was released from prison on 9 February 2011 and returned home the following day. "Many brothers and sisters from his church welcomed him and celebrated with him when he arrived at his home," stated an Open Doors source.
According to Compass Direct News, Shi was found guilty of 'illegal business activities' in June 2009 by a Beijing court. Sources said Shi's bookshop operated legally and sold only books for which he had obtained government permission, and that his Holy Spirit Trading Company printed Bibles and Christian literature without authorisation but only for free distribution to local house churches.
Shi, 40, is a diabetic and at first was denied medication for his condition, according to Compass.
Shi (Chinese passport number G09812730), father of two, had previously been arrested for publishing Bibles and Christian literature but was released from prison in January 2008 due to 'insufficient evidence'. He was arrested again on 19 March 2008, and detained from then on, but only officially charged in June 2009.
Shi served his three-year sentence which took into account time he spent in detention after his first arrest in November 2007. While in prison Shi lost a lot of weight but reports that his health is currently tolerable.
Praise God for Shi’s release from prison.
Continue to ask our Heavenly Father to sustain and strengthen Shi following his detention and to encourage Shi's wife, Zhang Jing and their daughters Shi Jia and Shi En Mei.
Friday, 25 February 2011
David Garratt vocalises on his website so much of what we now feel about the area of worship.
If you read a little of their life history, you see that they, least of all have been spared incredible moments of pain in their life and family and finance. But you know what, it's the same as a lot of our stories....
In the Darkness we are introduced to the Light. Such a mad Kingdom isn't it, as Rich Novek shares? We see now the ONE THING. The God in allness of the entire thing. We rush away from the "squeezes" only to run smack bang into them anyway, and find that it only kick starts Kingdom birth in us, Kingdom cries, which are answered from heaven.....gloriously answered. Which is what He always intended. The Kingdom is glorious. Priceless. Solid. Running over.Packed through. Heavy with blessing. No man could engineer this.
Some get excited with new birth. Which is exciting. But the same Lord that works the miracle of new birth, moves that same person, or should I say Person now, such is the change, from glory to glory as in a mirror....the Mirror...The Word inside.
I don’t consider it particularly worthwhile criticising what we do in church music because I have always taken the opinion that rather than say something negative it’s better to suggest a positive alternative.
However, in August 2003 a thought came to me, quite unprovoked, in fact it was in my mind as I woke: “The music has become the master instead of the servant”. For some reason I knew this thought related to worship in the church worldwide.
Over the time since I had this impression, I have had many ideas including realising that it is not just the music that has become a master, but anything at all we do in a worship setting that doesn’t have, at its core, a dependence on God with a desire to bring him glory alone.
I have also realised that this was a ‘word’ to me as well as others involved in encouraging worship. I need to constantly challenge myself as well.
I will attempt to list a few points which seem to have contributed to why this statement is relevant in the church today and hopefully provide something from our own experience
that may help challenge us to put the music back to where in belongs.
There are, of course many great songs being sung in worship services these days so all the news is certainly not bad. It’s just that so often I wonder if we have God’s perspective in regard to leading his people in worship.
Some of what I will share comes from what we believed God said to Dale and me when we first began recording albums and producing music books. Some come from observations of what we see happening now.
Scripture in Song
Perhaps I’ll begin with what seemed important to us as we began Scripture in Song (a 25 year ministry of recording songs for praise and worship). These points cover what God seemed to impress on us as we began this ministry:
• We were to ‘lead the people to God’, not to ourselves
• We were to write and gather songs that were easily memorized both by musicians and congregations
• These songs were able to be learned quickly
• The messages contained in the songs were both Biblical and relevant to the church of our time
We didn’t learn all of the above at one time because after releasing Scripture in Song Vol. 1 in 1968 we were encouraged by the piano player who played on this first recording to allow him to help us do something that wasn't just a three chord four line chorus.....
This offer from a skillful but non believing musician really appealed as we were not musicians or singers ourselves and felt we badly needed some expert help. In a subtle way we were putting aside our mandate with a challenge to create some music that would really impress.
However, in following the piano player’s direction several things happened:
• God himself remained unimpressed with our change of direction
• The harmonies the piano player taught us were complicated and people couldn’t
follow or learn the songs easily
• The songs he wrote while musically interesting were too complex. We lost our
• We had given the final decision making to a man who didn’t share our vision
• As a result (thankfully) the recording sunk without a trace
The music (and the musician) had become the master.
Our trust was in a man rather than God and as a result we had forfeited our dependence
I am reminded of a statement in one of the Psalms: “some trust in horses and some in
chariots but we will remember (and trust in) the name of the Lord our God.”
In the days this psalm was written horses and chariots spoke of human effort and power. The question is, how do we know if the music is master or servant? I think part of the answer has to do with dependence. Where our trust lies.
One reason Jesus said that it was hard for a rich man to get into the kingdom is because it’s natural for a rich man to trust in his wealth. It can also be true with skillful musicians and singers. It is easy to put their trust in their own skill and ability.
We often hear about the importance of excellence with the worship music these days,with a reasoning (that seems quite logical) that only the best is good enough for God. To a point this is true.
However, the result too often are songs that are cool, skillful, difficult to follow and hard to remember. The instruments sound great. The voices are perfect as is the sound and lighting. However, a performance element creeps in so that the stage becomes the place for us to make our ‘presentations’. The focus of our worship can shift ever so subtly from God to man.
My feeling is that in many cases the worship leaders themselves are real worshipers but decisions are made around them based largely on how things look and sound. An outward appearance to attract more people maybe?
There is no doubt that what we see and hear has an excellence to it that was never seen or heard 30 years ago. But is this the sort of excellence we should be looking for?
Once the stage becomes the focus of our worship it is likely that what we do will be judged in thesame way that a concert is judged. Scary! We will find attention being drawn to ourselvesrather than to the one we are worshiping. This focus is skewed.
Finally on this subject, I need to say that excellence in what we offer is important and I believe it is possible to make excellent music that truly honors God without the music being master. This is altogether possible provided the right foundation is firmly in place.
What is this foundation?
Direction of the Spirit
Let’s think about being directed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus made an interesting statement about the leading of the Holy Spirit: “the wind blows this way and that, we hear the sound but don't know where it comes from or where it goes to...so is everyone who is born of the Spirit”
In an environment where we are seeking to lead people to worship God, the “wind of the Spirit” in what we are doing is vital. Therefore we must give both the Spirit, and the people, room. If whatever we are doing, doesn't give space for this to happen, and the Spirit of God isn't in control then something else has to be.
To be led by the Spirit is actually to be childlike in our approach. To listen, to change direction, to hear, trust and obey and take steps of faith.
It seems to me that in many cases these days worship leaders are really no more than song leaders hoping the songs will speak for themselves rather than engaging the minds and voices of the people and allowing time and room for the Holy Spirit to intervene. If the Spirit is going to be given room we can expect his involvement.
The message or the music?
In listening to contemporary worship songs, I find in so many cases the message of the song is its weakest part and in fact often enough we would find it difficult to see a Biblical basis for what we are singing. Either that or we are just repeating many of the same ‘feel good’ lyrics that challenge our thinking very little at all.
One reason for this is that on many occasions gifted musicians are making decisions on what we should sing and often these people look for music with good hooks and melodies regardless of whether or not the lyrics are strong and true.
The truth of the message should always be the key to the song with the music providing memorability and support.
In writing and selecting songs, consideration must be given to putting words into the mouths of people that are worth remembering. Words quickened by the Spirit can be real spiritual food and revelation. Song memorization is such an important key as is clearly shown from God's instruction to Moses. Here is God’s directive to Israel’s leader: ''now write for yourselves this song and teach it... have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. For when I bring them into the land... this song will testify against them because it will not be forgotten by their descendants”
Good words accompanied by memorable music will remain in the minds of people far longer than words alone. We can hardly overestimate the importance of singing the truths of Scripture or of singing songs of worship that genuinely place God at the highest place.
So, in a church setting where the objective is to worship God with songs, how do we know if the music has become our master rather than our servant?
1. Look objectively at the upfront stage, does it look like a musical performance?
2. Do all the people on stage understand clearly that their primary role is to lead the
people to the one who is to be worshiped?
3. What about the sound guy? Does he know how to use levels to enable the
congregation to hear themselves rather than just what goes on up front?
4. Are the songs easy to play, sing and remember?
5. Is there room, in the music set for the Holy Spirit to arrive, interject, minister?
6. Are there any circumstances where what is pre planned changes during the service
because of a prompting of the Spirit?
7. Do you ever call for a spontaneous praise response from the people in the room?
8. Can the leader or any of the team give a ‘word from God’ (prophecy) during the
time of worship? If your answer ‘yes’ for question one and ‘no’ for the majority or all of the others, I suggest you go through the points I am making here and ask yourself if some changes may be in order.
Since this extract was written thousands more former worship leaders have left the world's church frameworks. You can learn more of one here, talking to Darin Hufford
There IS another way! There is a place where ALL the things the Spirit has been incrementally teaching the whole Body of Christ particularly since the last Century's 1906 Outpouring cease to be isolated strands
but all part of a fully functional beautiful Body of Christ, made up of those who really know on their insides that their IDENTITY is Jesus, that Galations 2:20 is 100% accurate.
Thursday, 24 February 2011
David Garratt as in David and Dale Garratt Scripture in song sent some information through by email on New Zealand friend and artist Graham Braddock, so I thought I would do a twin post on Graham and our local artist Helen Hiles.(see David and Goliath)
But first, a relevant excerpt from The Glorious Church a prophecy given by Maurice Smith
Now, because of all I have allowed to work upon your lives,you have a deepening relationship with me. Now you really begin to relate to one another. Not as a people who have in mind some grand successful church movement, but as a peopie captivated by my love and grace toward you; as a people thankful to be included at all in what I have set my heart upon. Now you are prepared to go at my pace, you do not despise the time it takes to form a relationship.You begin to understand that I really was unhurried as I made my friendship with sinners, that I was fully prepared for the disappointments and the rewards of friendship, and so it shall be with you more and more. As the barriers between one and one go down, as friendships are formed,and commitments made, you became more vulnerable to being hurt, and yet also on the verge of great discoveries. The riches that I have placed within every single one of you,becomes the available treasure of each other, and the poverty that has marked my people for so long shall be swallowed up in an abundance of supply.
One of the effects of 3rd Level Christianity is entirely positive.
1 Corinthians 12:17-21 MOVES OUT OF THE MEETINGS
17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
18But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
19If they were all one member, where would the body be?
20But now there are many members, but one body.
21And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
The riches that I have placed within every single one of you,becomes the available treasure of each other.
One of the effects of the Christianity 3.0 revolution is to cause a greater reformation than did Martin Luther's discovery of individual worth in the principle that salvation is by faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
As the rediscovery of baptism in the Spirit swept through denominational Christians and new converts in the 70s we thought that a new reformation was on its way. What we got was better meetings. Much better meetings. So good, many like Peter on the Mountain of Transfiguration, wanted to build their tabernacles right then and there. However God was far more interested in engineering processes in our lives which would increase our hunger for more of God, and also lead to great failures personally, as we had to come to rock bottom to learn that
WE DONT LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE - Christ does....in us.
As individuals gradually crash into this realisation, in the ever so narrow way, the other side of the Cross, we start meeting up again and this time the ground is broadening out under our very feet.
As the barriers between one and one go down, as friendships are formed,and commitments made,Now after all the disappointment and fiasco of the aftermath of Ern Baxter's Capel Bible Week address in 1976 on the subject of Covenant Love in the Body ,using David and Jonathan as illustration......
then everyone watching agog as all the unified streams of Spirit- baptised Christendom were literally torn asunder before our very eyes.
Now, in this new dimension of relating in Christianity 3.0
we look not to our own abilities to do anything, least of all to hold the Body of Christ together,
instead, as Cindi Estep is always saying....
WE LEARN WE ARE ONE.....
We are Jorge Pradas's vision of UNA SOLA COSA
Rich Novek sees the dividing wall of hostility is broken down!!!!
Now it works. Because it is not us of ourselves. WE all KNOW, we really KNOW it is Christ as us in us......and He really knows all about unity
FOR HE it is who is the ONLY ONE REAL LIFE in the UNIVERSE.
So expect a huge reformation in every aspect of life. Financially the 15th and 16th century one was driven by aristocratic princes pouring money into skilfull artists and artisans.
Hmmmmm. Who will drive the new one? Again we see that we are more than flesh and blood.
More than a Darwinian animal.
More than a secular cog in a secular state.
We can have art, design and music again that isn't just driven by Kesha's hormones.
We can have bold statements coming out of "Day to day pours forth speech" in Psalm 19.
The new reformation can come from your and my finance. Or at least begin there.
- If you like Helen and Graham's work here are some things to think about.
You can order some. It's original. They are on your side! They are in the family.
- Be aware though they are artists. They have a hotline to communicating the Psalm 19 wavelength as it bubbles through their consciousness. They have not necessarily a covenant with the past, to produce a pastiche of what you consider art to be. What you consider art to be is probably long past its sell by date!
- Give them TIME. They are humans. It's not like visiting a card shop. These guys may do runs of their work, but they almost certainly do one offs....and the only way to do these takes time and money. Realistic money!
- With these things in mind here are some thoughts
- Think ahead to that birthday
- that retirement
- that house or church that is to be built or currently is being built......think about that alcove, or blank wall
- think of that new business that is being launched, or office suite that needs a bold statement in the foyer
- Group together as a family, as a church, as a bunch of 3.0 Christians, as a business team and order something larger......something incredible.......something unique
- Have any of you had visions that you know are in some way a blueprint for your future.Get these guys to paint them. Have you a scripture, a passage like Graham's Ephesians 6 armour example......get them to paint it.
- Still too costly......well collect up money regularly over weeks and months and maybe supply these guys in say 3 payments as they undertake the order.
- Think creatively about how you (singular and plural) are going to drive the next reformation, built around you!!!!!
The riches that I have placed within every single one of you,becomes the available treasure of each other.
from her site
Helen's art has had an international impact, gaining her a fast growing reputation as a versatile, innovative, thought provoking, imaginative and prophetic artist.
Helen is currently resident artist at Graylingwell Chapel, a new Church, Community & Creative Arts Centre in Chichester, West Sussex. The Chapel, closed for more than 12 years, has been re-opened and is fast becoming a new centre for the community. You can see many of Helen's paintings on display in the Chapel and she often paints 'live' in the context of church worship.
She is also available for Workshops, Exhibitions, Prophetic Painting and Commissions. If you would like to buy any of her prints, you can do so from our online Shop - just click the link
Helen's new site is up and running. I asked her for permission to use her work. I particularly wanted to highlight Breakthrough and David and Goliath which Peter Stott preached from in his amazing conference message
Helen, like many in the church , processes information differently as an artist. She finds an inability to simply sit and listen to words being preached. Sometimes her only means of processing the information is to paint while she is listening. You will see on her site something that appears like a repeated image, perhaps birdlike, almost like a figure for a wallpaper. If you look closer you will see figures embracing. This is the church. This is the Father Son and Holy Spirit. This is fellowship in its basic form....agape relationship. This figure I believe came in the last Havant Conference 2010.Helen is from Chichester, but she is often at these main key of David conferences.
much much more on Helen's actual site....take a look
I would like to introduce you to Graham Braddock, a good friend of ours who has been a ﬁne artist for many years.
Beginning January this year Graham began producing a monthly newsletter showing a piece of his art together with notes on how the particular work was created plus any relevant comments as to its importance.
I thought you may be interested in having a look at the February issue of his letter and subscribing to it. No cost is involved.
Here is a link for you to click on to.
From Graham's School of Prophetic Painting WebpageWelcome to this exciting prophetic art site. We have endeavoured to bring together several exceptional artists in order to offer you what amounts to several life times of painting experience. We believe this school will catapult you into a new level of skill and creativity and in your ability to not only hear from God but to visualise and render the images He gives you into powerful prophetic paintings, that will bring glory and honour to Him.
We have tons of new and exciting developments in store for the 2011 school. We are continually looking for better ways to give our students a vital and creative experience, so plan to be there for the 2011 Prophetic Painting School.
Dates for the 2011 School
Module One Drawing * 4 April - 29 April
Module Two Watercolour / illustration * 3 October - 28 October
Module Three Oil and Acrylic painting * 7 November - 2 December
"We will soon see artists creating paintings that will come straight from the throne room of God. By looking at them people will receive an impartation of deep prophetic vision and heavenly perspective. Holy Spirit anointed art is going to have the power to set people free. There are artists being raised up whose gifts of healing and deliverence will be projected through their art. People will just look at it and get healed or set free. There is art that will soon be released that will powerfully impart vision and purpose to people, even calling some to their ministry and releasing spiritual gifts."
- Rick Joyner
Much much more on Graham's website
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
The new book 'Imagine...' is finally available!
What people are saying about it:
"Imagine" takes you on an illuminating journey from God's original thought and intent before time began, right into man's conflicting experience within himself and with his God, and breaks through with the beautiful understanding of the Treasure that is in each one of us, redeemed and revealed in the Light that lights up every man - Christ. Read it, digest it, be nourished with the Bread of Heaven; and go awaken the sleeping with loud shouts of joy; tell the World that Hope is here, and He lives in YOU.
To imagine that God imagined me before time began is the most liberating thought! It immediately gives substance to faith and relevance to the gospel.I matter to my Maker! He is mindful of me! Andre’s writing beautifully frames the picture that God painted and exhibits it in the grand gallery of our own reflections.
Francois Du Toit
The revelation of the Logos, the Word of God, appeals to more than our human intellect. It is the call of His Spirit to our spirit. Jesus said: “the Words which I speak to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63) Natural words can captivate your mind, but Spirit and Life go beyond your mind and grasp your spirit man, your inner being. The book Imagine… is such a call. The words contain more than intellectual stimulation, they are ‘spirit and life’ for your spirit and for your life.
Jozsef Palavics M.D.
The book should be available from most bookstores and online stores - the ISBN is: 978-0956334633.
Here is the direct link for all my books in the UK: http://astore.amazon.com/hearhimnet-20
...and for the USA: http://astore.amazon.com/hearhimnet-20
All these books are now also available in Kindle format.
Please feel free to join the discussions on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/BookImagine
Imagine ... on Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0956334636/
For more information and extracts see my post
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
So the first point I want to make about Selwyn is he represents a generation , once introduced to the rediscovery of the baptism of the Spirit and the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, wanting to explore how this extends to the whole of our lives.
Had he only known it, other very intellectual people who had experienced a deep spiritual invasion had already carved out the path for our modern generation. They were firmly a representation of the fact that if we will die with Christ, every part of our being can be received back in resurrection....including our intellect. The people that probably went the furthest around the middle of last century were Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Richard Wurmbrand, Mother Basilea Schlink, Mother Teresa, Ed Miller, Jorge Pradas, and perhaps most relevant to the subject of this blog , Norman Grubb.
The second point is a point about parachurch operations. While a new principle is opening up in the church at large, an individual or dedicated parachurch group will often be raised up by the Spirit to model it. Graham Pulkingham and the Fisherfolk were modelling a whole new way of living in the Body of Christ.
Related to this matter, is how the Holy Spirit will indicate something that is available in secular society that will provide insight, or a side-stepping point into what He is really after among his people. Selwyn, Larry Crabb, The Sanfords with their "Healing of the memories" were entering into territory formerly inhabited only by the "new science" of psychology.
If we stay too long in one of these areas we often miss the teaching point. Instead it becomes its own skewed reference point sucking everything around it into its orbit.
The Holy Spirit encompasses all these areas , using some of the principles involved , but the confusion amongst Christians hovers around this verse:
Henceforth we see no man after the flesh.
The fact is that most Christians see everyone very much after the flesh. And not perceiving Spirit, the best they can ever believe for is "improving the self". So we adopt Selwyn Hughes style teaching seminars without remembering that the whole key to the Christian life is
that we ALL really have died with Christ. It's Not a pious saying. At spirit level it is 100% accurate. Therefore there is no question of improving what is there with another programme or seminar plan, or 7 steps to this, ten steps to that.
This is the main difference with the generation that is emerging, and nowhere more so than online.
Yet once this foundation has been laid in the Spirit, at our soul level, our thinking level, our physiological level there are very real things to be learned from those in the know.
The first two points are about how Selwyn and his generation have moved the church forward from just flinging Bible verses at each other, and praying the odd prayer over folk, to genuinely beginning to unwrap what it means to be human, yet Christians now in relationship with a Saviour.
Looking back, we could say that Selwyn,Eric and Vic, were two steps out. They were beyond the Abraham faith revelation of salvation by faith. They had moved on through the "wells "revelation of Isaac, of baptism in the Spirit and empowering by faith, of breakthroughs of power, all themselves valid. Perhaps they weren't particularly big on "the "Word of faith" movement of Jacob "believing in "/ faithing into himself his desired quota of speckled and striped sheep. Perhaps Vic and Eric were bigger into this side of things.
But not one of them would be really at home with the fact that a thirdlevel of Christianity exists,
one like unto the last stage of Jacob's life.....the understanding of the Name change at Peniel. The understanding that there really is ONLY ONE LIFE in the universe. How we come into what Jesus describes as seeing with a "single eye".
So although a lot of Selwyn's discoveries and pioneering seminars have certain validity, they are so much the "spokes" of Life in Christ, that don't need adding manually and artificially once a community is properly birthed with a central hub of Christ.
Not just Christ that forgives
Not just the Christ that gives external empowerment and that brings deliverance.
But the Christ that HAS REPLACED each and every one of us at the Cross.
Such a corporate expression of the Body of Christ doesn't need these extra add-on seminars,or at the end of the book, the Anglican and Catholic patch-on idea of spiritual direction, these constructs to patch up something that never really existed.....the experience of living in a real version of the Body of Christ....not a partially still-born one.
The third main point in which Selwyn was a bridging link was in his relationship to this mysterious Melchizedek order church, that takes its direction from the Living Lord Jesus. And this at precisely the time when Bishop John Robinson was declaring the death of God in Britain.
The real surprise of the book was in his connection to Vic Ramsey, friend of Eric and to how crucially Selwyn was used as a bit of a secret kingpin or turnkey in the move of the Spirit in the UK. It was Selwyn who brought AC Valdez into this country for evangelistic healing crusades. He also arranged the first ever Morris Cerullo meeting in London in a huge marquee on bomb land in Elephant and Castle area. It was Selwyn who believed for and organised Crusade for London meetings at this time at Dennison House. So many trace their baptism in the Holy Spirit back to these very meetings which were something of a precursor for what would later become the Fountain Trust with Michael Harper, sweeping the charismatic movement through the denominations for the first time since the Pentecostal outpouring of the 1900s. Now, had I not read this book I would never have known all this. He really was one of God's main men at this time performing a function that opened great doors of the Spirit in our land.
My own testimony is that I went to a Saturday CWR seminar with Selwyn in Westminster Central Hall about 10 years later, (73 or so), and rather than follow his notes in the evening, he was led expressly by the Spirit to minister from the parable of Talents on fear. He then addressed the spirit of fear in the place, and after about 3 days I noticed that this rather unsightly wart on my hand that had been growing for some months just simply evaporated into nothing.
Related to this third point I want to highlight the section of his book immediately prior to this amazing release of the Spirit into the UK in the early 60s. Why? Well this will relate to many who are at this same stage right now in Christianity 3.0. Selwyn had spent an entire three months experiencing great anointing as he ministered in the States. A church was all set to establish him as pastor, provide a house and get him to send for his family. But God said no.
Selwyn returned home in obedience. But the obedience did not appear to lead to anything.....outwardly. Hmmmmm. This is very interesting.
Selwyn Hughes - My Story
MY TIME IN THE WILDERNESS- extract
Within a few weeks of signing the lease on the property in East Molesey I had moved my family into the flat and begun to pray earnestly about what the Lord had for me to do in London. I had not committed myself to many preaching engagements during 1961 as I had not been sure whether my trip to the USA might mean us moving there as a family. My bank balance was getting low so I had to arrange an overdraft. But with little security it meant I could only rely on a moderate sum.
With no clear leading about ministry in London and only a few preaching engagements, there was just one thing to do — find a job. I saw an advertisement in the local papers for operators at the Hampton Telephone Exchange, so I took a six-week course and was taken on to work on the night shift, from 10pm to Gam. This enabled me to sleep in the mornings and look after John in the afternoons while Enid worked part-time in the local chemist. The money we earned kept us afloat financially.
After a couple of months of working at the Telephone Exchange and receiving no clear leading from God, I began to wonder whether I had missed my way spiritually. Many times I asked myself questions: have I got to this place through God's leading or just wishful thinking? Am I so spiritually insensitive that I can't tell the difference between what I want and what God wants for my life? What troubled me most was that I had begun to lose my desire for prayer and my appetite for the Scriptures. I still read my Bible, but it didn't seem to speak to me any more. read a book by C.S. Lewis one morning in which he said that there was an occasion in his life when it seemed that, as he tried to approach God in prayer, the Almighty not only shut the door of heaven in his face but he could almost hear the bolts being put in place. I knew how he felt.
Week by week my spiritual resources seemed to be depleted. I wondered whether I should give up all thoughts of pursuing the ministry and go for a career in teaching. At times it felt like being in a spiritual wrestling match without knowing who was wrestling against me — God or the devil. I had several weekend preaching engagements to fulfil, wrote a few articles for magazines, and when I was not away preaching I took my family to a local church. But it was as if the fire was going out in my soul.
One day, while reading the account of Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew's Gospel, I wondered whether 1, too, was going through a divinely arranged wilderness experience. It is much clearer to me now as I write than it was at the time, but I distinctly remember thinking that perhaps God was taking me through this experience because it was what I needed as further preparation for whatever work He had for me to do in the future. I felt somewhat comforted by that realisation.
I studied and read a lot about what Christians refer to as the `wilderness experience', and the conclusion I came to was that it is a prolonged or deeply intense period of trial and testing in which a particular providential purpose is being worked out. It is something we are led into by the Lord. God either arranges it, or allows us to enter into it, not because He wants to punish us but because He wants to prune us. He does this because it is the only way He can bring his purposes to pass in our lives.
My time in the wilderness lasted almost a year and taught me what Bible college or pastoral life could never have taught me —that there is nothing safe about life. It was in the wilderness that I had to prove to myself that I could believe in a God who sometimes leads us in ways that are baffling, but always can be trusted to do what is good.
I can almost pinpoint the day, even the moment, when I came out of the 'wilderness'. It happened late in the summer of 1962. I had begun to wonder whether there would ever be an end to this spiritual impasse I found myself in, or whether I would find myself in this mood for the rest of my life. On the day it happened I opened my Bible at the Song of Solomon 2:12-13 and read, `Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig-tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise ...' That was all, but it was enough.
Suddenly my spirit revived. I felt my old spiritual self again. It was as if I had been asleep and a hand brushed across my cheek, a voice called my name, and my eyes opened to a new world. The conviction entered my soul, deposited there by the Spirit, I am sure, that from now on things would be different, that out of it would come the message of my life, or at least the beginnings of it. For a while, spiritual exercises had been dutiful; now they were delightful. Prayer and the reading of God's Word was a joy once again.
Bible College prepared me to use my gifts; the wilderness prepared me to live my life. How could I know the feelings of the desperate if I had not been desperate myself? How could I know the feelings of the poor if I had not been poor myself? How could I know the feelings of the confused if I had not been confused myself? The wilderness is a place of pain, isolation, humiliation, uncertainty, loneliness, depression and desperation. I was convinced all were necessary for me to experience if I were to move into a higher level of ministry.
From my time in the wilderness I learned at least two things. Firstly, I needed to be there, and secondly, my dependency on God was deepened. Is it possible to thank God for a wilderness experience? By His grace I can say that I do.
During the last few months of my time in that spiritual state I hardly wrote a decent paragraph, let alone a page. I could write a sentence, several sentences in fact, but when strung together they didn't seem to make much sense. Now, however, as I focused on writing my thoughts on to an empty page, the sentences began to flow more easily.END of EXTRACT.....(and his life blossomed in publications, and his spoken gifts in key meetings from this time onward....)
Ministries often refer to individual wildernesses. Spirit churches like Los Rios de Vida can testify to corporate "wildernesses" as God prepares for the next stage of corporate growth, and birthing whole new churches. I am firmly convinced that what we experienced in the Casa Biblicas of Emsworth Barcelona and Quilmes, Bible Houses....(see my index below for more information) were just first fruits of Body life that will be increasingly replicated as we see the growth of Christianity 3.0
Sunday, 20 February 2011
by Chris Welch referring also to Spoken Beats
Facebook Note on Saturday, 19 February 2011 at 11:33.
What is the Temple? Jesus said if you destroy this Temple, (speaking of his body) I will rebuild it again in 3 days. The Temple he was after was not a rebuilt version of one body...it was Him in a load of bodies. How is it built? In quarries where it is pre-cut off site, then in different waves and manifestations it is constructed briefly as people gather in the Name of Jesus, then dismantled, then appears again in greater glory, until one day we see the finished version with all the stones drawn from all time.
Who organises the manifestation? Who coordinates the gathering of materials? Who makes sure that each new manifestation is fitly joined? No man.
Like an ever renewing jigsaw, only the Holy Spirit knows which part goes where.
Each component taken from a new contemporary age probably did not even exist before, so there is no possible way for a man to design ahead of time the convergence of each new manifestation of the Temple.
The Holy Spirit communicates with each person in the manner of Steven Spielberg’s science fiction story “Close Encounters of the Third kind”. Who told each person of the mountain where they must meet? Somehow they all sensed it.
How does this communication take place? It is a mystery.
The same mystery reflected in the carrion circling dead carcases?
As Jesus said “Where the dead Body is , there the eagles gather”.
Where the death process of a seed, going into the ground alone, dying,
then reforming, rising as a fruit bearing plant again, this time with innumerable seed....
where this mystery takes place, in that kind of carcass, the Eagle Life of the Spirit can soar and begin the next cycle of harvest, of ingathering.
Who can plan a type of music that is spoken word to a beat ,
that has the urgency of spirit,
the arrow to the heart conviction,
that is the only fit Eminem – carriage
for the new gospel that cuts through
all man-made steps that illegally approach the Temple of God
with a bottom line
a groundlevel foundation
Who can plan this type of convergence?
Christian musicians have tried to make the Christian gospel relevant by using contemporary licks, band-like sound,
but this is almost a bastard Ishmael.
The music vehicle that develops naturally among the God given talent of musicians, even while they are at their most distant from God, is still the legitimate son.
If only the prodigal that must return....
to be on time
for the next manifestation of the Spirit Temple.
The message hardwired into the musical form is the same message
that will dovetail with the Spirit Word at the right time....when as Jesus
says...”the time is fully come”.
The new form does not need to be apologised for to other religious still-births, or half-lives, denominational encrustacions of what was once vibrant,
IT IS THE FORM planned from the beginning, for this age.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not bigging up this link as some final ultimate version,
but I’m eulogising some form of direction arrow I’m sensing.
You can read more about “direction arrows “in my post
Saturday, 19 February 2011
band nameby DJ Secret Weapon & Paul Anderson-Walsh
Immediate download of 9-track album in your choice of 320k mp3, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire.
Buy Now ₤5 GBP Listen and Buy from Here
1. 01. Spoken Intro 00:18
6. 06. Let There Be 04:36
7. 07. Where You Are (Skit) 01:45
8. 08. Armour 04:42
Friday, 18 February 2011
Anybody following the current Sunday night drama about a girl retracing her grandfather's history in Israel as a part of the British army , played out against the contemporary frictions of suicide bombers, the Israeli militia, and peace strugglers in Israel will begin to get a feel for the complexities.
The Bible promises are clear concerning Israel, but as Daniel Yordy has pointed out....which Israel? And this current Israel which has been so facilitated by the house of Rothschild, probably for the express purpose of rebuilding the Third Temple, complete with sacrificial system, and yet a political entity that even the Orthodox Jews in Israel don't recognise. Somewhere in between all the lines God's Word is being worked out, but we have to listen hard for God's Spirit, and not let ourselves be duped by what we see with our eyes.
I was explaining to Daniel Yordy that the exact words of our New testament scriptures are as follows:
Romans 11:25For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
26and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
"(AQ)THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION,
HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB."
27"(AR)THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM,
(AS)WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."
28From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;
29for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
30For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience,
31so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy.
32For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.
33Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
34For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?
35Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?
36For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
To hear Christians speak, you would think that a total eclipse of all God's Spirit had occurred in Israel. This very arrogant spirit is the same one that got the Jews into bother in the first place with Jesus.
Here saints is the KEY to all history being worked out:
For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.
This is not Jews.This is flesh life. Yes Jews were in the picture.
But so were the Lutherans, when the Calvinists broke off from them.
And the Anabaptists when they broke off from the others.
Then later the "non-conformists" breaking away from their mother country to go to America to a life of religious freedom.....
The Huguenots being effectively pushed out of France, many of whom came to England,
And so on and so on down through every inflexibility to the present day.
What is the present day? Well, in my locality it is the current church leadership preventing me from speaking publicly.
All this has continued through all the centuries, beginning with the Jews.
There are no people anywhere that are immune. We all act from this arrogant spirit of human tradition. Of taking the moral high ground, when the truth is we are the LOW GROUND.
God shuts everyone everywhere up in disobedience.
So in a more humble spirit listen for the Spirit of God in these two posts of Rachel Barenblatt.
Please understand that I am fully aware that she is caught up in ritual and law....actually she sounds if anything incredibly "high church" like Christian Orthodox churches and Catholic churches....only ofcourse she represents the "traditional" rock from which we Christians were all hewn. This indeed says more about how Christian churches have dragged the Old Covenant Law practices and rituals right into church life and stuck a great neon sign over it, Las Vegas style, with the Words "New Covenant worship" flashing over the buildings.....as if the words themselves suddenly "Transubstantiate" our worship Catholic style into some new era.
I DON'T THINK SO!
No, in Rachel's writing on Holiness and This is spiritual Life there's a whole lot more passion and love for God going on. I'd be interested in your feedback.
As God is holy by Velveteen Rabbi
In a comment on this post, I told Mis-nagid that I see no disjunction between the idea that the Torah as we know it was written by (multiple) human hands, and the idea that there's holiness encapsulated in Torah and that studying it can lead us to holiness. He emailed me afterwards and asked, reasonably enough, what I meant by holiness. My first thought was that, like art (or porn), I know it when I see it. But that seems glib, and his question got me wondering whether I have a better answer.
Predictably, I started my exploration by looking at what other people mean by holiness. The incredibly cool Online Etymology dictionary has a lot to say about the English word "holy." At its heart, it may once have meant "that which must be kept whole" or "that which is inviolate." My first sense that holiness relates to wholeness came from Wendell Berry, who writes (in The Art of the Commonplace), "The word health belongs to a family of words, a listing of which will suggest how far the consideration of health must carry us: heal, whole, wholesome, hale, hallow, holy." He's talking about the deeper meanings of health, but I think his list has bearing on the deeper meanings of holiness, too. And indeed, Webster's Dictionary tells me, among other things, that "holy," applied to a person, means "spiritually whole or sound."
In Hebrew, the root kadosh (or qadosh, as some transliterations would have it) means "sanctified." Though it bears no etymological relation to the root of l'havdil, "to separate," some heavy hitters have argued that the two concepts are linked. This page holds a relevant section of Leviticus, followed by commentary from Rashi and Nachmanides which addresses the relationship of holiness and separateness. (The Wikipedia entry on holiness begins with "Holiness means the state of being holy, that is, set apart for the worship or service of [God]...") I have to admit, that's a connotation I'm not crazy about. The religion major in me understands the power of setting apart; the egalitarian ecumenicist in me wants holiness to connect, rather than separating.
For another perspective, check out this essay by Avi Lazerson, which drashes the etymological relationship between holy (kadusha) and harlot (kadasha) in order to argue that God's holiness resides in God's un-bounded-ness. God exists beyond boundaries, as harlots exist beyond social conventions.
Okay, enough about what the tradition means by holiness; what do I mean by it?
For the last ten years we've belonged to a local community-supported farm. A couple of summers ago I ran into a minister friend there, who like me was picking his week's share of cherry tomatoes. "This is some of the holiest ground I know," he said. I agreed wholeheartedly. What makes the ground of Caretaker Farm holy? Not its tremendous spiritual/edible abundance, but the precursor to that abundance: the kavvanah (intention) with which it is farmed. I wouldn't rule out that some places may be innately holy, but on the whole I think we make holy places together.
Holiness is something we both make and find. True in our dwelling-places; true in text study. Is Torah inherently holy? Depends on who you ask. I'd say there's some holiness in Torah, and that further holiness accrues through our study. Holiness is that which aligns us with God. (Here, as always, I'm using "God" as shorthand. I'll try to explain what I mean by "God" another day; "holiness" is proving slippery enough!) As it is written in Etz Hayim, "The Torah is holy not only because it comes from God but because it leads to God."
We're instructed to be holy as our God is holy. So how is God holy? God is fundamentally whole; God is aligned with righteousness; God balances this and that, yin and yang, mercy and judgement, with perfect equanimity. Are we capable of that? Maybe not, but it seems worth trying. To me, that's at the heart of the instruction to be a holy community unto God. As this commentary argues, holiness is an essentially communal phenomenon. We're supposed to work together at creating and embodying wholeness. The goal may be impossible, but the journey is worth the work.
The people I know who strike me as holy are engaged in that. Though some of them happen to be rabbis or ministers, senseis or roshis, what makes them holy in my eyes is not their rank or ordination but how fully present they are in every interaction. They know who they are and where they're going. They're deliberate, focused, and awake. They're doing the important work of improving creation.
And that's part of why I have no trouble believing simultaneously that Torah was written down by people, and that there's holiness to be found in studying it. Working righteously with kavvanah, mindful of our Source and our ideals for ourselves, makes holiness: in people, in places, in texts. Holiness may be one of God's essential qualities, but through the choices we make in our lives, we can also make it our own.
This is spiritual life by Velveteen Rabbi
On the first day of the hashpa'ah (spiritual direction) training program which I began in early 2009, my spiritual director described what her spiritual practices had been like before she had children, and then she talked about how her spiritual life inevitably changed once her kids came on the scene. She was clear that spiritual life does continue; but she noted that it may need to take different forms than it did before. (She said other things too, but that was what really struck me. I was newly-pregnant then, and did not know that I would miscarry a few days later, so I was hyperconscious of everything having to do with prospecive parenthood.)
I remember hearing similar stories from Reb Marcia, the dean of the ALEPH rabbinic program. At one point during DLTI, she reminisced to us about davening while making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for her kids to take to school and about singing along with a recording of the morning liturgy in the car. She told us those stories by way of encouraging us to get Hazzan Jack's Learn to Daven! cd and to listen to it often -- and she's right; it's a great way to become comfortable with the full text of the classical morning service -- but I think of her exhortation often now when I daven along with Reb Shawn Zevit's Morning I Will Seek You in the car on the way to daycare.
It's easy to think of spiritual practice as something we do when we can dedicate space and time away from our "regular lives." If I could just get on top of my to-do list, then I could make time to pray. If I didn't have dishes to wash, laundry to fold, thankyou notes to write, a desk to tidy, bills to pay, emails to return, blog comments to moderate.
But all of life can be spiritual life. I can begin my day with modah ani; I can say the blessing sanctifying the body as I moisturize my skin in the morning, or as I use the bathroom, or as I change diapers; when I see my son beginning to walk, I can follow the morning liturgy in thanking God Who makes firm our steps.
There's no necessary dichotomy between real life and spiritual life. Spiritual life isn't just something that happens when we can make time for it, or when we can dedicate ourselves to it wholly -- as delicious as that is! Those of us who've had the luxury of occasionally going on retreat know that the real challenge can be integrating the peak experience of the retreat into ordinary life once one has come home again. The question isn't "who am I when I can spend my morning in yoga and meditation and prayer" -- it's "who am I when I wake up to the baby and the bills and the tasks on my plate?"
There's never enough time to get wholly on top of the to-do list. (If nothing else, cooking/dishes and laundry are self-generating tasks: cook one meal and eat it, and the next day you're still going to be hungry again.) The time to study a little Torah, or to pray, or to meditate, can't be "when everything else is done" -- because everything else is never done. Besides: Torah, prayer, self-care are important. More important, maybe, than the other things on our to-do lists a lot of the time...though most of us don't inhabit a paradigm where that perspective is commonly shared.
The real challenge of spiritual life -- for me right now, anyway -- is remembering that all of life is spiritual life. As I drive wherever I'm going, God is all around me. God is manifest in the people standing in the grocery check-out line or on the airplane jetway. Every step I take is an opportunity to be mindful of one foot, and then the next; every breath I take is an opportunity to inhale God in, and exhale God out. Spiritual practice doesn't just have to mean meditation, or yoga, or enfolding myself in tefillin and tallit and spending quality time with the siddur. Washing dishes can be a spiritual practice. Babyminding can be a spiritual practice. Self-care can be a spiritual practice.
There's a Hasidic idea of avodah b'gashmiut, service or worship through corporeality, which I love (and which I've blogged about before.) That idea goes like this: physicality, the mundane world in which we all operate, isn't an obstacle to connecting with God -- it's the very vehicle through which we can have that connection. Tending our bodies, tending our children, eating food and clearing the table: all of these are opportunities for spiritual connection. In Hasidic language, the task is one of "elevating the sparks" -- finding the holiness latent in each of these things, and lifting it up to heaven.
Every day is full of sparks waiting to be lifted up. Whatever you're doing right now can be part of your spiritual life too.
This a cheeky title, because Bob is actually saying a lot more than the use of the internet.....a whole dynamic commitment to what Elaine Waterfield and myself have been calling locally The Kingdom without Walls.
We have both shared independent direction on our local area Leigh Park near Portsmouth UK.....but Bob Jones is sharing the principles here. The difference is people will listen to Bob Jones!!!!!
It's Time to Inter-Net
In a vision I saw a fishing net and it was completely full of large fish. The net had a hole in it and the fish escaped. Then I was shown a tool that would be used to mend the net. It was a special type of tool that the Lord was giving to some of His approved leaders of the Church. This tool was for networking!
If you're going to be part of the harvest, several churches will need to come together; laying down their private agenda and surrender to God's eternal purpose. One church will not be able to hold all the fish. It will take several that network together who allow the Holy Spirit to lead them into one of the greatest harvests we have ever seen.
I believe this vision is Peter's net. The 153 fish in Peter's net represent the nations of the world and the Lord had Israel on the spit. There were 154 nations in the world at that time.
Ask the Lord for the Nations!
John 21:8-11, But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.
Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.
This net is for the nations. It's time we ask the Lord to give us the nations!
Psalm 2:8, Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.
We will need to be joined together in spirit, not in mind or soul. We will need to become servants to the Holy Spirit to pull this net in.
Bob and Bonnie Jones
Like Mike, many have asked and many more wondered about the teachings I’m doing these days. I believe my teachings now are simply a greater and more finely tuned expression of the grace I’ve taught for the past twenty years. I'd hope that anybody who teaches will have seen their views and content evolve over two decades. I will always teach grace and hope that, like my personal life, my teachings show a growth in grace over time. The Apostle Peter admonished us to, “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Growth equals change. If we never change, we never grow. There’s no arguing that fact. Here’ my response to Mike’s question:
Thank you for the question, Mike. I realize that many people are wondering about some of the things I’m teaching these days. I’m happy to clarify here what I am and am not attempting to say through my teaching.
First, it is important for me to state that I can’t attempt here to speak as a representative of Trinitarians as a whole. Truthfully, I’m among those who aren’t wild about labels for the reason that seldom can anybody’s viewpoints be adequately defined by a label. I don’t call myself a “Trinitarian” but rather have said that these days I find myself more closely related to that position labeled “Trinitarian” than other positions that label themselves by name within the Christian community. I have learned much from Trinitarian writers like Thomas Torrance and his brother, James Torrance, Baxter Kruger, Karl Barth, C.S. Lewis, Elmer Coyler, Robert Capon, NT Wright, Brad Jersak, Robert Sherman, and others who don’t come to mind right now. I’ve also benefited greatly from some of the early church writers like Saint Athanasius and the Cappadocian Fathers. I’ve particularly appreciated many of the guests on Mike Feazell’s program “You’re Included” on Grace Communion International’s web site. While I find that I don’t agree with some things said or written by some Trinitarians, it’s the group I “feel most at home with” these days.
Over six years ago, I was introduced to Baxter Kruger’s book, The Dancing God. I was intrigued by his writings and found them to challenge my thinking. His book began a journey that led me to read everything I could get my hands on by both Trinitarian and Christian Universalist writers. (Not to be confused with “Unitarian Universalists” who don’t believe in the necessity of Jesus and His finished work.) I have probably read more books by Christian Universalist authors than some who identify themselves as Universalists. While I am not a Universalist, I have found many good things with which I agree among Universalists writers. In my opinion, Tom Talbott’s book, The Inescapable Love of God, is probably the best book on universalism that has ever been written. I read George MacDonald, Phillip Gulley, Gregory MacDonald, Martin Zender, Clyde Pilkington, Jr., Gary Amirault, Gerry Beauchemin, F.W. Farrar, and others. (In my opinion, one of the great causes of stagnation in growth in the church world today is our unwillingness to read those with whom we may think we will disagree or have been told by our peers that they are “wrong.” Have we become so insecure in our beliefs that we are afraid to be exposed to other views? It seems so.)
Comparing the writings of Universalist authors with the position of Triniatrian authors, searching out the Scriptures for myself, praying earnestly to “see the light,” and seriously grappling to know the truth (staying up all night many times, as my wife can attest), I came to see that, at the least, my understanding thus far had been incomplete. I knew that the Spirit was pulling me forward in my understanding of grace but didn’t know where I would find myself when the dust settled. To be honest, I was afraid because I knew that some wouldn’t like it when I shared with others the pathway down which the Spirit was leading me, but the reality is that when He leads us, we simply go. We don’t ask where we’re going and then decide whether or not we want to go forward. Nobody will ever progress that way. We just “forsake all and follow Him.” I simply want to understand God’s truth as He reveals it to me. To do that always requires an open mind and willingness for Him to change us.
Mike, you asked about the differences between Universalism and Trinitarianism. I’m not one who could do the best job answering that, since I’m still a neophyte when it comes to Trinitarianism. I will answer your question by giving you the reasons I am not a Universalist.
First, and foremost, I am not a Universalist because I have a difference with them concerning the matter of reconciliation. Many of the Universalists I have read suggest the idea of “ultimate reconciliation,” means that ultimately everybody will be reconciled to God the Father. Contrary to that viewpoint, my position, and that of Trinitarianism, is that everybody has already been reconciled to the Father through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. I understand the biblical teaching to be one, not of an ultimate reconciliation of humanity, but rather one of historical reconciliation - one that happened already. Paul wrote, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” When and where did this happen? The fact is that it really happened “before the foundation of the world” but it found its expression in time 2000 years ago at the cross. It isn’t something yet to happen. It is something that has happened. See Romans 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18; 2 Cor. 5:20; Col. 1:22. The reconciliation isn’t an ultimate reality. It’s a done deal or, to put it another way, “It is finished.”
Mankind’s problem isn’t that we aren’t reconciled to the Father. It’s that they don’t know. That’s why Paul said that God has “committed to us the word (message) of reconciliation. "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ be reconciled to God.” In other words we proclaim, not a potential gospel but a pure gospel that “It is finished!” It isn’t being finished when you believe. You can believe it because it is already finished! You have been reconciled! Now be reconciled! In other words, "believe it!" (Like telling a guy, “You are a man. Now, be a man!")
The gospel isn’t some sort of existential news that becomes true because somebody believes. We believe it because it is already true. A blind man may not see what’s around him but it’s there whether he sees it or not. His subjective experience of blindness doesn’t negate the objective reality around him. A lost man had to be home to begin with or else there would be no reference point to give the word “lost” its meaning. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see!”
A second thing about Universalists (generally speaking) that doesn’t resonate with me is their continuous focus on heaven and hell, to the exclusion of every other aspect of our faith. I readily admit that I may be wrong, but it seems to me that there is more talk about our ultimate destination than about our here-and-now destiny in Christ.
I understand the Universalist passion for inclusion and share 100% in their enthusiasm for that reality, but that inclusion is much greater than simply what happens when we die. Being joined together in the communal Life of our Triune God has staggering implications for all aspects of life in this space-time dimension in which we now live, however temporary it may be. I like how Trinitarianism focuses on the supreme importance of our sharing in the perichoresis(interpersonal dance) of the Father, Son and Spirit here-and-now.
A third thing about Universalists is that I don’t see the place for the kind of absolutism they, generally speaking, hold in their viewpoint about who ends up in heaven. I was a hardcore, nonnegotiable Calvinist for almost 30 years and I see the same kind of resolute insistence on the position of most Universalists that I saw and held as a Calvinist.
I understand that we all passionately believe what we believe, but many biblical topics aren’t as clear-cut as those who hold various viewpoints would have us believe. Immaturity causes a person to argue that he “just believes what the Bible says.” We all could say that, but the more pertinent question is, “What does the Bible mean by what it says?” That question is not as easily answered as rabid proponents of any position would have us believe. Maturity recognizes that Bible believers who show a high level of intellectual honesty, who skillfully use exegetical tools of interpretation and who trust the Holy Spirit to guide them still come to different conclusions.
I was a Calvinist because I could “prove it” from the Bible. I have seen the “Biblical proof” for Universalism and will say that both viewpoints are very compelling purely from an exegetical standpoint. (I am sure Arminianism has an equally strong biblical argument, but that’s one I haven’t studied in depth as I have the two I’m discussing in this article.) What are we to do when the Bible seems to clearly present more than one way to understand a matter? Do we go to war with each other in an attempt to see who can pile up the highest stack of verses? Do we argue that my verse has greater weight than your verse?
It seems that the better way would be for us all to hold our views with humility. There are indeed nonnegotiables in the Christian faith, but much of what we argue about doesn’t fall in that category. As Brad Jersak pointed out in one of his books, it’s not that the Bible tells us too little about some topics to form an opinion. To the contrary, it seems to tell us too much. We all tend to zero in with a hard focus on the verses that support our underlying position while the verses that would contradict our views seem to become a part of the fuzzy background of Scripture. It’s not that we ignore them, it’s that we honestly don’t see the verses that contradict our existing views.
I hope the Universalists are right that everybody ends up in heaven. Wouldn’t every Christian want that? “God is not willing for any to perish but that all should come to repentance.” Is it wrong for me to want the same thing that my Father wants? Does that make me a Universalist? Hardly. I suggest that perhaps a greater problem than the Universalists adamant insistence that everybody will go to heaven is the angry reaction from many Christians over the very idea.
There are texts that appear to stand in tension on this subject. In my opinion, that leaves us at the place where we may hope but would be presumptuous to insist that we know with certainty what happens with anybody after they breathe their last breath. Who knows what happens in that transient moment as one passes through the veil from this life to the next? There is no time with God, so how can we say what takes place in that moment when the spirit is separating from the body?
Who am I to think that I have such perfect understanding of Scripture, of the mind of God, of the heart of a man, or of how the eternal plan of the Almighty will unfold to brashly state how it will be – end of discussion.
I remember struggling with the Scripture and the Spirit very, very early one morning when I first began to examine the possibilities on this topic. I prayed in frustration, “Lord, why didn’t you make this easier to understand???” I sensed a gentle word that literally came into my mind answering, “I am not a puzzle to be solved. I am a Mystery to be explored.”
Therein, lies the answer. The flesh insists on definitive answers. The Western World thrives on them. But our God transcends our rational minds and refuses to be perfectly understood and rejects our insistence that we have indisputable answers to every question.
What are we to do then? The answer is to love. We are not to be known by our theology. We are not to be known by our answers to questions of soteriology, eschatology or any other biblical topics. And we certainly are not to be known by labels. They will know we are Christians by our love.
So that’s what I want to do. I want to love. I am not a Universalist but nobody would be happier if they’re right. While my views many not perfectly align with every Trinitarian, I love their proclamation of all of mankind’s inclusion in the finished work of the cross, a teaching I believe is completely biblical. They don’t, however, push further than Scripture warrants by insisting they infallibly know the eternal outcome of that reality for humanity.
All mankind is included in the finished work of the cross. That I believe. Beyond that, dogma becomes presumptious and not warranted. Love hopes all things. However, when any topic is riddled with biblical ambiguity, as I believe this topic is, humility must be the Siamese twin of hope. If that approach is wrong, just say I'm nuts. End of post.
Pertinent Bible quote and comment to this piece from Andre Rabe
Steve, love your attitude and what you said about labels. Have a look at this translation: We don’t label people like we used to, with our handy pre-printed tags. We even tried doing this with Jesus, but He blew our definitions apart. (2 Cor 5:16 Word on the street)
To label ourselves or others is normally just an excuse not to pursue relationship. To say 'that person is an Universalist' or 'I am not a whatever' misses the point.
All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. Col 3:9 MSG
So lets' translate this into today's context:
All these factions are now obsolete: Words like Universalist, Trinitarian, Charismatic, Catholic, believer or unbeliever, grace-person or law-person ... all these mean nothing in the light of Christ! From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
Don't look for excuses to disagree - see what motivated God to give Himself to every man (even before they had a perfect doctrine)
Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with (Rom 14:1 MSG)
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Paul Anderson WalshJesus proclaimed the good news yet his message was rejected by the institution, not because it was good, but because it was NEW...! We much prefer the old to the new because the new invariably means - Change and worse still coming to the place where we might just have to face the fact that we were wrong!
.Yesterday ·LikeUnlike ·
Cathy Rheeder, Jonathan Wong, Tove Synnøve Tveit and 24 others like this..
Chris Welch "How many of us have become impervious to Behold I make all things new, and Behold I do a New thing....do you not perceive it?" because we are tossing it over our head to some charismatic set of circumstances. These verses are saying...forget all that for a game of soldiers ....I am saying new,new ,new...inside out new....incarnational new....what you've never quite heard before new.....
Yesterday at 08:17 · LikeUnlike.Kerrie Lee Anderson ..and "unfamiliar pathways.."
Yesterday at 08:46 · LikeUnlike.Paul Anderson Walsh Oh yes very much so!
23 hours ago · LikeUnlike.Stephanie McEntire Every time I read the passage where Jesus is in the temple and he is going to speak...and everyone is in there place...just waiting. He gets up...picks up the old dusty scroll that has been argued over...whined over...discussed until it's lifeless...and speaks out of Isaiah to a text concerning him...
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his CUSTOM. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in "YOUR HEARING.”
And then he handed the scroll back to the attendant...and sat down..he just ...sat down.
Now most would take all that and begin to once again try to "decipher" what Isaiah was saying...while the truth in fact is sitting in the midst of them...and isn't that how it goes really?
That day in the old dusty room of theology and debate...of who God is..and what he wants....has been brought down to the level of intimacy...The reason that he was "rejected" for the most part by the religious..and so many times that is "you and I"...is because we don't know how to "hand the scroll back to the attendant"...and begin looking into our own heart for the truth ...that will set US free..recover our sight...open our blind eyes...we don't know basically how to be still...and hand the scroll...back to the attendant...; )
I began to change when my line of questioning changed..
I used to say like Pilate..."What is truth?"
he got the question wrong...it's
"WHO is truth?" it is only then that you can back away from "self" long enough to see it...God is love..and in the realm of the religious debate..."he loves me...he loves me not" that just changed everything...
The reality that God is love..and he was walking among men in an earth suit...shook the very foundation of everyone...Religious and Gentile alike...and not much has changed today...
This new thing ...this new question that is sweeping through our hearts and minds...
"Do you KNOW...how much I love you?"
This NEW line of questioning brings the man/woman into the depths of their own heart...yet even still...because it is such uncharted territory even though the simplicity of it ..is just well...so simple...it's much easier to keep your hands firmly around the scroll and keep searching...for that something...that is living and walking among your heart...and rejection of it changes nothing..not one thing..the final authority is love...A new thing indeed...always new....every day..all the time..yesterday, today and forever...
Wrong...yes indeed..."SEE how have loved you..."
You see in all the things I know..that I think I know..that I might know..there is a place in my heart where "it is written"...
good news to the poor.
freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
I don't have time to be "right" anymore...
The discovery of this "new thing"...is all consuming..
Pamela Donnan good word Stephanie! preach it!
20 hours ago · LikeUnlike.Luis Leiva So very true!
16 hours ago · LikeUnlike.Zach Dixon BINGO
15 hours ago · LikeUnlike.
Chris Welch stunningly....good...well words fail me Stephanie
Wednesday at 09:54 · LikeUnlike.Paul Anderson-Walsh Wow! You sure batted that one out of the park Stephanie. Brilliant.
Wednesday at 11:21 · LikeUnlike.Sheila Vertoli Beautiful word Paul and Stephanie.
Wednesday at 13:10 · LikeUnlike