It’s been so long since I wrote anything, things are going well, into my second semester at Uni, been working on some musical compositions so watch this space, I’ll hopefully get them on here soon.
It’s been so long since I wrote anything, things are going well, into my second semester at Uni, been working on some musical compositions so watch this space, I’ll hopefully get them on here soon.
When you have nothing firm to stand on,
When the things you valued highly
Were like Oz behind his curtain.
When taking stock of where you’re at
Reveals more pain than glory.
You find yourself alone and scared
like you stepped out of the story.
But something deep inside my says keep going do not worry.
I’m learning to do things one step at a time,
To enjoy the joy of the journey.
And to be quite frank it’s been tough, at times I wondered if I would ever come through it, but there are signs of hope, signs of life.
Recently I’ve been reaching for my guitar again, music has been so integral to who I am, yet religion has stolen it away, music is probably the one thing I have felt truly robbed of, at times I have felt so much grief it has been almost all consuming.
The message “die to self” had been miss-interpreted and instead of living free in the gifts I’ve been given, even they we’re put to death, my very soul, the who I am in Christ, dead?
But something is starting to emerge, and all it’s like meeting with an old friend, tentatively we are re-connecting, my fingers are coming back to life as if they were in a music free coma.
I’m starting to believe I can play again!
A while ago I wrote these lines.
“It’s never to late to be who you want to be,
never too late to recover the old dreams,
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise”.
It seems that someone will always tell you what cannot be done and there will always be someone willing to tell you what you should do, but to be alive in Christ means doing what you are created to do, no matter how hard it is to embrace that call, just don’t shit on everyone else as you do it.
Dying to self does not mean giving up your dreams, ambition is not wrong, but the kind of ambition that will screw over anyone to get what you want is, and that can manifest itself in so many ugly ways.
There has been a lot of talk about creativity recently…and I’m longing for it to bubble up.
I don’t know where all this will go in my own life, but I’m willing to turn the page and find out and I really hope there will be music, joy and much laughter.
The the more distance I have from it all the less relevant it becomes.
We read of past revivals and pray for new ones…but they never come, leaders come and go with the hope that they will be the one to usher in a new wave of the spirit, but it doesn’t happen, sometimes they break the mould and do something radical only to become obnoxiously self righteous.
We’ve seen all kinds of speakers doing the circuit, like Christian stand up…going from town to town…but what are they really promoting….Jesus or their own ministry?
Then we have the controversial ones…who write a book, do the media circuit, stir up some publicity and blow yet more hot air…just these last few days there has been the Mark Driscoll episode…yawn.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that Jesus doesn’t need to be preached, of course the good news of Christ need to be shared, but all the fluff and nonsense that surrounds it just bemuses me.
It strikes me that all we’re seeing is a battle of who is right and who is wrong, which theological perspective is the better one…but I don’t remember Jesus speaking about any of these things as significant…he simply said by your love for one another people will know you are mine and he warned teachers to be very careful what yoke they place on those who look to them for guidance.
When we’re battling for significance, for status, influence and power everyone else becomes a sparring partner. Sometimes with catastrophic results, the hurt that is caused because of jealousy, bitterness, self righteousness and fear is huge, I know I’ve been in it and on the end of it.
But that will always be the end result of anything other than love.
The systems we build only reflect those same insecurities, they are a wall around us that make those in leadership feel safe and in the process become a noose around the peoples necks, you can only be part of the club if you believe what I believe, think how I think and if you question or make waves you’re asking for trouble. Religion seems to turn into a spiritual protection racket, your safe if you’re in but not when you’re out… the only winners are those who get paid at the end of the day.
But here a problem lies, we are called to be disciples of Christ, we are to allow him to infuse us with the same things that he holds dear, like a cup full of water and he is the teabag within us, his flavour permeating every part of our being.
Jesus asked questions…all the time, as a child people were amazed at his questions, as an adult, threatened by them, we need to keep asking questions, we need to challenge the status quo, because the old ways are just not cutting it any more.
I don’t think revivals are isolated events where God just shows up, there are important other factors to take into account, like what was happening socially, politically, economically…the soil where the preaching of the good news fell and bore fruit, but remember the weeds also grow in the same soil.
We cannot expect the same results in a different time and place and as St Paul said, “I have to become all things to all men”…in order to preach the good news.
So how do we do that when we spend all our time expecting people to become like us?…yet again the spirit of God turns the tables.
It’s great to gather with others, I’m not suggesting otherwise, but we should gather because there is life and to share it with others, not in the hope that the meeting will give us the fix we need to get through the next week.
And to believe that we need to gather en-mass when Jesus said where there are two or more gathered in my name?
Numbers are not about Jesus’ significance but ours.
I’m a firm believer that if people would get on and live life instead of being bound up by the institution of church and consequently being drawn out of the real world then the gospel will be preached, by everyone who carries the spirit of Christ, in the workplace, school, college, home, pub, gym.
To live life to the full and be truly alive in Christ is more attractive than any thing else.
So love Jesus, love your neighbour and get on with your life.
I has been brought to my attention that I have not written much on here for some time, no apologies just been busy…and as I should be writing a personal statement for a Uni application I am, of course distracted by something less taxing…
What with moving house, moving to a new town, spending time with family, making new friends, refitting and decorating and then Christmas I have had little time to give to blogging though I hope that will change soon.
I have however been thinking…a lot.
Our journey has been one of massive transformation, some self initiated, some not so, but never the less change is happening in us and around us, how we cope with these changes will define us / me for the future, some days I’m doing ok, other days no so good, my heart aches over some of the things I hear and see in the news, my heart still bleeds as a result of some of the things that have been said or done to me.
Some days I cry, other days I laugh, sometimes I despair…
I’ve been chewing over issues like justice, integrity, grace and joy. What “church” could look like? I’ve been thinking about the economy, about Gods economy, about provision and need, incarnating Christ and living a different way. About power and the misuse / abuse of it, about religion and faith, about change and how we deal with it. I’ve been thinking about loneliness, friendship, betrayal, family, purpose, significance, motivation, anger, sickness and pain. Thinking about understanding, miss-understanding, assumptions, rejection and disappointment. I’ve been pondering on acceptance, familiarity, grief -because I am processing most of these emotions and experiences in my own life.
To be honest at times it’s pretty exhausting, stepping off the religious treadmill has been far from easy and had brought massive freedom, but with it comes the difficulty of walking an un-familiar path, moving home has been great but again has brought many challenges, but that is simply life right now thank goodness there is grace for the journey.
Singer songwriter Godfrey Birtill recently wrote “we’ve gone too far out that we can’t go back” I couldn’t agree more GB!!
Till next time..
Today I heard about the case of Troy Davis, tomorrow (Thursday 22nd September) at 2am (GMT) he could be executed for a crime he says he did not commit. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, if there is any question whatsoever over the verdict no execution should take place…and there are questions, I personally can’t condone capital punishment, to take the life of another human being is wrong, absolutely wrong, there are alternatives to violence!
Troy has spent over 20 years on death row in the US for a murder he has always said he did not commit. No physical evidence links Troy to the crime. Seven out of nine witnesses on whose evidence he was convicted in 1991 have since changed or retracted their testimony, with some citing police coercion.
How can someone be executed when there are questions and doubt over his conviction?
Why will the U.S. government not listen? Why is violence used to punish violence? An eye for an eye?
Follow this link to find out more about Troys case…I’m sorry I didn’t know about this sooner, it might be to late to help Troy.
You can at least sign amnesty internationals petition for clemency.
If he dies, is his blood on our hands?
While we settle in Derby, I am asking questions of what Holy Spirit is saying, where he is leading, given a new season in our lives with no limitations except our own, with no one else’s expectations and no other agenda than to love and be a blessing to others what will things look like?
We have a unique opportunity to just go with the flow and see what manifests.
I don’t have all the answers now but this video struck a chord with me…so in the mean time, enjoy.
I haven’t blogged for a while, I’ve just been busy with preparing to move house and working, (only 17 days to go). I’ve been hearing the news recently about the crisis in East Africa, and I’m stirred up, the stories are harrowing, parents having to choose which child lives and which dies, walking for days without food or water, malnutrition, disease.
I want do my bit to help, perhaps if we act quickly we could make a difference? We often talk of the Kingdom, we talk of love and generosity, grace and kindness. Theology, smeology…here is an opportunity to demonstrate our faith.
Often when I hear of disasters across the world I find myself overwhelmed, I don’t know what I can do to help, so this time I’ve donated some money to help those in crisis in East Africa (it seems it’s the least I can do) and I simply want to encourage you to do so too, I’m sure some of you have already done so, but perhaps you could give some more? or if you haven’t would you consider it please? It doesn’t matter how much, it all helps save lives.
Just click on the photo or this link and get giving http://www.dec.org.uk
These are our neighbour’s, these are our brothers and sisters and they are in Crisis.
Once again its probably easier to say what accountability isn’t before you clarify what it is?
Accountability isn’t, knowing every little detail of some one’s life, checking up on their bank balance, their marriage, what books they are reading or what conferences they are attending, it is not about checking on whether or not they tithe, an opportunity to police their thinking, check on who they are spending time with or check up on meeting attendance or whether or not they are observing quiet times.
It is not submitting to someone up the hierarchical ladder so that somehow you become “safe” or “covered” as if they have some superior insight and relationship with God or so that you can now have a public “ministry”.
It is not being told what to do!
Accountability within the construct is a tool to control. Period.
It is just another face of shepherding, as taught by the Fort Lauderdale five back in the 70′s (incidentally most of this group have publicly renounced their teachings) along with tithing, serving (the leaders) and submitting. In this system you are really only ever accountable to someone “above” you. For example a cell leader or group leader and then there is the next group of leaders to whom they are accountable and so on till you reach the mighty “apostle” at the top of the pyramid (ringing any bells? See previous post here)
It creates a dependency mentality, where even the most mature people get stuck and find it difficult to think and make choices for themselves or to act independently or even feel allowed to do things without permission.
Over the years I’ve clashed with those who have demanded that I be accountable (to them?) because I simply don’t agree with their perspective on it.
They want me to submit, I won’t, especially not to someone who feels they have the right to ask me too. No one has that right except Christ and even he doesn’t demand it from me.
Scripture says submit to one another in love, and that is a mutual command, surely that has to include those who are in “leadership”, as we are all equal in Gods eyes anyway, but that’s not going to happen within the construct.
Personally, I have never asked anyone to submit to me, and I never will, I have no right too.
Often accountability is based in fear, how will this person reflect on me, us, our ministry / reputation / church? or it’s some kind of quality control to the question…”is this person safe?”
It is often used as a tool to show how whiter than white we are, yet for all the structures in place it doesn’t protect anyone, I’m sure we all know people who are in accountable groups or whatever, yet they still make cataclysmic choices effecting themselves and those around them.
In fact if it does anything it creates an air of suspicion, mistrust and fear, a place where people feel intimidated and highly unlikely to share their deepest secrets, fears or insecurities, that’s hardly an environment I want to foster.
Lets be real, if you want to be known as safe, be safe, if you want to known as a person with integrity, show integrity, trust, honesty, etc…etc. No matter how much someone verifies you as a person the only way you’ll really know is by meeting the person.
If it is a protection from financial exploitation I would simply say this…keep your money, I don’t want it! The gospel is free.
So lets step outside the construct for a moment, things start to look very different indeed.
There you will find I am responsible for my own actions.
I cannot and will not blame others for my decisions.
I am accountable to God, so are you!
Does this mean I don’t share my life with others? of course not.
My life has a network of loving relationships that keeps me real.
There is very little I enjoy more than spending time with others, sharing life and swapping stories (especially round the dinner table) and learning from each other from our journeys and on the whole there is very little (I am aware of) that I consciously feel I need to hide from anyone.
And when I need help I try to find the right people to guide me, and it’s amazing how often the right person comes along at the right time.
So does this mean I am a loose cannon….well yes I suppose it does, why is that a problem? Because I’m not a member of the collective?
My real friends know me and know my weaknesses.
They encourage me when I need it and challenge me when I’m out of order, but they do it in the context of friendship and mutuality.
It does mean I think for myself.
It does mean I encourage others to do so too.
It does mean I’m un-controllable.
And it does mean if you want to know how / why I live my life the way I do you are welcome to ask.
Christ came to set me free, not bind me up.
But of course I would say all this as I’m un-accountable. lol.
This is my response to that question.
Simply put, Yes. There is a place for leadership outside of the empire, clearly scripture speaks of leadership, but before you can define what it should be you kinda have to define what it is not, that is not to say I’m negative or destructive, but I do think they are polar opposites and we have to understand the difference.
Lets start with the empire / hierarchy that I will from now on call “the construct”.
Essentially it is a man made pyramid (this is the same in all human power bases) those with power at the top, drawing power / resources from those beneath.
Those at the bottom of the pyramid are pretty much cogs in the wheels of those calling the shots.
The pyramid cannot exist without those at the bottom.
And those at the top will do pretty much anything to keep them there.
Essentially what we are talking about here is power and control.
You’ve heard the expression all roads lead to Rome, well this is exactly what I’m talking about.
Why did the Romans build roads?
Because by building roads it makes the transportation of goods (food and wealth) and people easy. The roads all lead back to Rome, they were built for Roman purposes not anyone else’s. They made life easier for the Romans, Rome was hell bent on conquering the world, why? Because there were resources and riches and food in the world that Rome wanted for itself, and it would conquer and control (primarily by violence / force) anyone that stood before it.
Rome was supposed to be Heaven on Earth, a peace brought about by violence.
All man made power systems work along these models, though it is becoming clear that violence is not tolerated within many of these systems (think business) it is abundantly clear that violence is still the driving force of many power bases (consider the recent Iraqi ,Libyan, Afghan wars) control is the driving force here and the need for resources is the motivation, and as we all know this kind of power is completely curropting (dictatorships.)
(I’m not commenting on the justification of these wars, just that they are recent events that speak of violence and conflict over power.)
Therefore leadership within this construct is developed, hierarchies, tools, skills, to coerce, manipulate and ultimately force those to think the way those in power want them to think, because what we think (believe) we do.
(As a side note once this kind of thinking is understood it brings a whole new level of understanding to the power structures around the world, who is in power, who is calling the shots, who is simply a puppet? (and what are we going to do about it?))
So the alternative is the Kingdom of God right?
The Kingdom works on completely different principles.
Sadly though much of the “church” has not grasped the difference, and goes on to do things in the very same way, the reason, the desire for power, it will always lead to the same ends.
So what does kingdom leadership look like?
Let me give you another analogy, the humble family.
As a father, my intention towards my children is to see them, grow, develop and succeed, I want the absolute best for them. Period.
I do not expect them to pay for their food, clothes, home or education, that is my responsibility until they are old enough to take that responsibility for themselves and reproduce what I have taught them, then I allow them do so.
An abusive parent would turn this around and makes / forces the child provide for them or meet their selfish needs.
So when we think of God as Father we start to see things from a new perspective.
God is the father, he wants the very best for his kids, he does not want them to fight each other, or compete (unhealthily) or to go without any thing that is necessary to their development and fulfilment. Violence / force is not one of the tools used by our heavenly father.
Discipline and punishment are two very different tools, God disciplines (teaches) those he loves (disciples) he does not punish.
He wants them to share, value one another equally and care for one another.
So when we look at leadership through that lens we see a completely different leadership model appear.
It is one which empowers, gives, serves, and ultimately pays for it too.
When this is contrasted with the types of leadership we see within the construct it is clear that it is a very different animal.
Sadly though, while many try to serve within the construct (even though the concept of servant leadership has been grasped) all they are actually doing is serving the construct, and the leader(s) keeping the wheels turning.
So to summarise.
Kingdom leadership is serving, empowering, and lead by example, everything flows out of the leader not towards him / her.
When you look at the five fold ministry gifts they have a different flow also.
Apostle…like a father (consider st Paul) puts his hand in his pocket, teaches, empowers, accepting his responsibility, not expecting his disciples (learners) to pay, but freely giving as the gospel was freely given to him.
Teachers, Pastors, Evangelists, Prophets, likewise.
It is also the leaders responsibility not to exploit the vulnerable nature of those who are learning from him – just as a healthy father /mother would do.
We can see models of this kind of leadership at work everywhere though they are often hidden, underground and invisible.
The Pyramid if flipped over.
Power wants to be seen.
Servants are happy to be invisible.
This is revolutionary.