Thursday 9 July 2009

"Red Moon Rising is not just a book:it's an invitation"

Red Moon Rising (by Pete Greig and Dave Roberts of Prayer 24/7) is not just a book:it's an invitation
The header comes from the Foreword to Red Moon Rising by Floyd McClung. As does this section:
In 1722 a rag-tag band of several hundred young people gathered on the estate of a wealthy count by the name of Zinzendorf. Five years later, God showed up and they began to pray. They prayed in strange and creative ways, but they prayed. They prayed 24-7. Their prayer led to compassion for the poor and those who had never heard of Jesus. Their prayer meeting went on for 125 years without ceasing – the longest prayer meeting in history.
God has decided to do again what he did among the Moravians almost 300 years ago. A 24-7 prayer meeting has started again, but now it has circled the globe overnight. We should not be surprised God chose an unlikely candidate to lead the 24-7 prayer movement. Pete Greig struggled to hear God's voice and wasn't very good at praying, but he was determined to chase the Spirit wher­ever that took him. The chase led to a blue-haired kid in Dresden, who in turn got him to the home of that first 24-7 prayer meeting started those many years ago. God got through to Pete, and the rest, as they say, is history.Pete Greig reminds us that prayer doesn't belong to the stodgy or the religious. Nor can prayer be controlled by reli­gious types who think they have a corner on the right words to use and the correct way to stand. Red Moon Rising reminds us that prayer is not something to do, but someone to talk to. It stirs faith in us to believe that when we talk to God, He responds.

Pete Greig writes in"Shifting Culture"- Chapter 2
This generation stands at a time of profound social change. With the invention of the Internet, satellite communication and low-cost air travel (not to mention global terrorism and the rise of tribalism), the Western worldview is becoming more complex and possibly less rationalistic.
We are, therefore, a vanguard generation with a responsibility to lead at a time of great opportunity and great danger. We are watching the world change and we don't yet know what it is going to look like. This is what we mean when we talk about an emerging culture.

The challenges for the church at such a time are profound. A generation that finds itself in the crux of such a change has a significant responsibility for shaping the new ways of thinking that will define its own age but also that of the coming era. When Christians get it right at such times, adapting themselves to the changing culture and finding new language for timeless truths, the gospel spreads more easily for years to come because it makes sense to people. However, when the church gets it wrong by resisting change and enshrining nostalgia, we risk apparent irrelevance and an upward struggle.

Will Jesus Christ be famous and favoured in the coming age, or will he be a peripheral choice on the menu of social preference? You can call the culture 'progressive', 'emerging' or 'postmodern ' but the challenge is the same: to reinvent the church without changing the message, to reach this generation for the sake of the age to come.

Some of the stages of getting to grips with what is going on inside ourselves in the Christian walk,
taken from Chapter 3 "Taking Jericho."
1. Numb, dumb heart
The passage of time brings to every disciple the relentless pounding of pleasure, pain and sin. These conditions can imperceptibly harden our hearts, slow the arteries and make muscles once lithe grow inflexible. We are generally unaware of this ageing process, but God sees and cannot look away. He loves us too much and has called us to too much to allow us to settle for less than full spiritual health. The writer of Hebrews says that at such times God 'dis­ciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness' (Hebrews 12:10).

In order to call our independent minds and self-satisfied souls back to a place of spiritual intimacy and dependency, God must make our numb hearts begin to feel again. Through Scripture, circumstance — perhaps even through this book — he may begin to trouble and disturb our soul. Such feelings are not often associated with the Holy Spirit. They may be like the tingling ache in your mouth as the anaes­thetic wears off after dental surgery, or the howling pain of greater loss. But there can be no movement in our lives until we are confronted with the reality of our current state.

This is the first stage, and for me it took the form of sleepless nights troubled by something I couldn't define. This is a lonely time because you are feeling something you can't explain — even to God.
2. Wrestling
Next comes the wrestling, trying to make sense of this inner turmoil, looking for words to describe what you are feeling. You may study Scripture, splurge in your journal, read books, write songs, go for walks and try to pray, wondering why you're weeping or waking or considering taking some crazy, counter-intuitive step. Of course God is watching all this new activity with delight, biding his time.
3. Waiting
When eventually God gives you words for the things that are troubling your heart (and I'll say it again: this may take some time), things become easier. The internal storm calms and you can talk at last with clarity to God and to others. The chaos has a pattern now. There may be no answers yet but at least you have questions and you will throw these at the Almighty again and again. You no longer wrestle with yourself, but like Jacob with God. This is the time of waiting and watching and it can last years or mere minutes.
4. Blessing
Finally God steps in. The one who sowed those atomic seeds in your hard heart in the first place, the one who watched you cracking up and breaking down, the one who gently gave you the questions and waited and watched while you learned to pray, that same God now steps in to bless. A heart that was hard is now bruised and bleeding soft. An independent adult has become needy, humble and poor in spirit.A self-sufficient child has succombed to a hug. You have learned to need and to heed, to wait and to watch once again. ' And He said :" I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" '(Matthew 18:3).

This is all coinciding with our second Prayer 24/7 weekend which is running from this Friday 10 th July until Tuesday 14th in and around Portsdown Community Church Havant. Many many spin-offs resulted from the last session, and the sense was always that that was just the start. One of the spinoffs was the glorious way in which God came totally fresh and new and in simplicity at the May Conference 2009 here.


Sheila Atchley said...

I read these four stages or steps, and saw a near-exact description of my own experience in the past year or so. Thank you, Chris, for choosing to post this particular thing - it blessed me very much!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Sheila, thankyou.
As I wrote to Dan, I went through a big arc which lasted from 1978 to 1987...but then I guess you get other arcs big and small for the rest of your life.(So describe Mark Stibbe and Paul Anderson Walsh in any case) And during the first bit, like Pete says, all you get is this inarticulate groaning, like Romans 8...which is neither helpful to those around you, and often only serves to act as leverage for those with less grace, to further clout you with some reason why you are in the wrong. Job, the archetype, went through nigh on 40 chapters of this.