Monday, April 23, 2007

The ministry of Jesus

Re-discovering Jesus' ministry

Reflections from the Jesus-Ministry Conference Tacoma June 2005

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good
news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for prisoners and
recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the
year of the Lord's favour. Luke 4:18&19 (NIV)

This paper summarizes my thoughts and impressions from a week spent at the
Jesus-ministry Conference in the Tacoma Convention Centre Washington State
led by Destiny City Church in June 2005.

Over the past six years, Destiny City Church (formerly called Clover Creek Bible Fellowship) has experienced a remarkable fresh move of God described as follows by their Pastor Mike Riches in a magazine article last year.
Sometimes God invades his Church and its leaders, to shake things up, seize our attention, and bring about radical change. That happened to us on January 30th 2000. God commenced an invasion that has radically changed me
personally and our church corporately.
1

In the article, Mike (who has been pastor of the church for nearly twenty
years) describes his church prior to January 2000 as a 'typical
non-denominational evangelical church.' They had vibrant children's and
youth work, contemporary worship and expositional preaching were the norm.
The church had seen significant growth over seven years from 170 to
1500-1700 people. On the face of it, they were successful and experiencing
God's blessing, but Mike felt a growing discontent, an awareness that they
knew the word of God but little of his power. God had new things in store
for the Church.

Within a period of 120 days, several extraordinary things happened which over
the past five and a half years have become the norm for the church. In this
period, hundreds have received physical healing and freedom from emotional or
spiritual captivity, and hundreds have come to faith in Jesus Christ.

The church now has around 1600 members spread between three congregations. There is a morning family congregation, an evening service in a Baptist church in downtown Tacoma consisting of around 800 eighteen to thirty five year olds, and a congregation which has emerged from a church ministry to vulnerable people.

As a result of God's new work in Destiny City Church, other churches have been
asking them to share their experiences and teach on what they believe God
has been doing. This has now become an international conference which this
year had seven hundred delegates from across the world. My wife Kate and I
were privileged to attend this in June.

What has been at the heart of this new awakening at Destiny City Church? In his article, Mike describes it under three headings

ABOUT REFORMATION
God is still reforming his Church. Much has been restored in the Church
since the Scriptures began to be recovered in the late 1300's to the mid
1500's. Luther was used to recover the essence of salvation by grace,
through faith in Jesus Christ in the 16th century. Reformation continued in
different dimensions of the Church over centuries since then, one of the
most notable in the UK being the Wesleyan Revival of the 18th century.
Reformation and renewal is still necessary in the Church today and Mike
Riches believes that what has been happening at Destiny City Church is just another
step in that process that God desires for his Church.

In the early days of this new move of God's Spirit when Mike was struggling
to come to terms with the upheaval, he sensed God speaking to him..
"What is my design for the Church? Are you faithful to the commission I gave
my Church, or had you succumbed to conventional expectations of man?" I then
heard the Lord say, "What is different about what I am doing in your church
than what happened while I ministered on earth? Were there not physical
healings? Did I not hear directly from my Father as to what he was going to
do and what he wanted me to do and say? Were there not demonic
manifestations wherever I ministered, whether in the Synagogue or out in the
streets and fields. Did I not demonstrate authority overall powers of
darkness and powerfully release those who had been captives? Was not all of
this part of people coming into my Kingdom? Was not all of this part of me
training and teaching my disciples how to do my ministry? Were not my
disciples commissioned to carry out the very ministry my Father sent me into
the world to perform? Did I not say that my disciples would do the very
works I have done and greater? Did I not pray for my disciples regarding
this work and not only for them but for all who would ever believe in me
because of their testimony?"
2

God was doing a work of reformation in Destiny City Church (then known as Clover Creek Bible Fellowship) alerting them afresh to truth they knew intellectually but not in practice. Together they were..

WAKING UP TO JESUS' MINISTRY
Mike and the church began to read the scriptures in a fresh way whilst, in
Mike's words, 'having our paradigm and practice of "church" change
dramatically.' During this time God emphasized the heart of Jesus' ministry
that he was calling the church to be engaged in from Christ's words in
Luke 4:18-19.. The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for
prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to
proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.


Luke 19v10 became an important verse in developing what the church now
understands as 'Jesus-ministry.' Jesus stated that as 'the Son of Man' he
had come to 'seek and to save what was lost.' Mike noticed two things as he
read this passage through fresh eyes.

Firstly, Jesus came to save more than 'who' was lost (although personal
salvation is fundamental to Jesus' mission and ministry), but that he came
to save what was lost. There was much lost when Adam first sinned -
humanity's relationship with God, healthy relationships, God's plan for
marriage and the family, physical, mental and emotional heath, and so the
list goes on. In announcing the coming of God's Kingdom, Jesus came to begin
the restoration of what was lost; it was to go beyond salvation of the soul
to a comprehensive restoration of the person.

Secondly, in Luke 19v10 the Greek word for 'save' is sozo. This word has a
range of meanings. Sozo means to save, restore, deliver, heal and make
whole. In the New Testament it is used to describe a person being brought
into a right relationship with God through forgiveness of sins (Romans
10v9), a demon possessed man being delivered from his oppression (Luke 8v36)
and a blind man receiving his sight (Mark 10:52). The Church was discovering
that the ministry of Jesus was much more than simply speaking words of
salvation to others.

NOT JUST WORDS, BUT POWER
Another significant passage of Scripture for the church at this time was 1
Corinthians 4:19-20. Paul made a statement in reference to measuring the
work of church leaders. He was not coming to hear their words but to see
their power, for the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
V20 (NIV) The church at Clover Creek had sound theology but little evidence of the
power of God at work. Mike Riches says.
He [God] asked us if we were willing to devote ourselves to himself in his
power, as well as his Word. It didn't take us long to realize that true
'Jesus-ministry' could only be done in and through His power, not through
understanding the strategies and limitation of this natural world and our
human understanding.
3

This fresh understanding of the need of God's power came as the Church were
reminded (very specifically in the early days through individuals under
demon oppression who visited the church) of the reality of the spiritual
battle. Paul's words in Ephesians 6v12 were brought to mind. For our
struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the forces of
wickedness in the heavenly places

Spiritual authority

In order to carry out Jesus' ministry, we require Jesus' authority and power as we struggle against the 'rulers, powers, the world forces of this darkness, against the forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.'

A distinction is drawn between authority and power. Simply put, authority is
about the right to do a certain thing;
power is the ability to carry it out.
To illustrate this point, the Prime Minister has authority because of his
electoral mandate to lead the country in a certain way but his power to do
so will be hindered if his party MPs rebel and vote against his proposals.

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus gave his disciples authority and power to do his
work. He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over
all the demons, and to heal diseases. As Jesus ascended to heaven he
commissioned his disciples to teach those who would follow him to do the
same...All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore
go and make disciples of all nations teaching them to do all that I have
commanded you and surely I will be with you until the end of the age. Matt
28v18-end
Jesus gives his followers the same authority and power today - his authority
is the source of their authority. Paul says in Ephesians 1v3...Blessed be
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

Re-discovering Jesus' ministry involves realizing afresh the authority and
power that is available to the people of God. Although every Christian has
this authority, its outworking can be obstructed in a believer's life. This
can happen because of habitual sin and unbelief, sin suffered by an
individual, sinful behaviour committed by families or communities over
generations or curses said over someone. Our authority as Christians is compromised when there is rebellion in the ranks.

Satan establishes a stronghold in the life of a Christian in every area
where the authority of Jesus is not being realized as it ought to be.
Even though a person belongs to God, Satan has gained a place to operate
because it has been granted to him. Paul warns against this in Ephesians
four. Ephesians 4v26 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while
you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.


The Greek word translated 'foothold' in verse 27 is from the Greek word
topos. Topos literally means ‘place.' Further translations show
that it means 'the place someone takes' so in this context it could be
translated to mean 'a place in which one has gained rights.' Paul is warning
the church at Ephesus not to give Satan a place in their lives where he can
gain the right to hinder the work of God's Spirit. Satan is described by the
apostle Peter as 'a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.' Christians
are encouraged to 'resist him, standing firm in the faith.'

Satan has established strongholds in the lives of many people; the good
news is that Jesus' ministry involves 'proclaiming freedom for prisoners.'
Christians have the authority to dismantle Satan's strongholds in their
lives as we see in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.. 3 For though we live in the
world, we do not wage war as the world does.
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the
contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the
knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to
Christ.

Victory over the enemy

We see the reality of spiritual battle in the devastation and brokenness in many lives and communities in our world. Satan’s handiwork is all around us. Christ came to set the captives free, to heal the sick and to mend the broken-hearted. By the Holy Spirit, he continues to do so today.

Language of warfare

In the desire to be politically correct, the institutional church has largely turned its back on the language of war which fills Scripture. Much of the Old Testament only makes sense if it is read as a story of battle, battle for the land. We need this language of warfare. While we are to turn our cheeks to attacks from physical enemies, the church must take up its mighty weapons against the great spiritual enemies of sin, the flesh and the devil.

To many in secular Britain, the church appears passive, bound and insipid. While we need to take care with our words in the present climate of terrorism, we must be active and not passive, unafraid to use the language of war as we face spiritual battle. This is not a call to ‘muscular’ Christianity but a call to step out in our weakness and humility, trusting in God’s almighty strength. At the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, John the Baptist’s father Zechariah speaks confidently about God’s plan of salvation through his coming son. The Lord has come and has redeemed his people …….. To rescue us from the fear of our enemies and to enable us to serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:74)

The victory is won but we have to appropriate it in every part of our lives, confident that sin cannot rule. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57) is Paul’s faith-filled assertion.

What are the key strategies for living in this victory, for dismantling Satan' s strongholds and enabling Christians to live as God intends them to?
Destiny City Church identify two areas:
1) The importance of repentance, and
2) An active prophetic ministry in the church

1) REPENTANCE

A precious gift to the church
Repentance has always been central to Christian faith and yet the word
somehow sounds outdated, bringing pictures of crackpots with billboards
prophesying doom. In their teaching, Destiny City Church emphasise that Scripture
says that repentance is a precious gift from God to the Church. Speaking
about Jesus to the Sanhedrin, Peter in Acts 5:29 says…

God exalted him [Jesus] to his own right hand as Prince and saviour that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.

Why is it that reactions to the word repentance often conjure up negative and harsh pictures? It is many times neglected, ignored, causes fear and is misunderstood. We need to rediscover this precious gift of repentance.

An unwanted gift

A gift of a lifejacket is greatly appreciated if you know you are drowning
but not so wonderful if you are safe on dry land. To many, repentance
appears as an unwanted solution to an unrecognised problem. Even those who attend church sometimes view their initial act of conversion as sufficient, a form of insurance, a life-jacket kept in hand in case of a flood.

Repentance and confession has always been a central part of Anglican heritage yet can sometimes appear to have little power to change lives. There seem to be two
problems..

We don't recognise the greatness of God‘s saving power

We don't recognise our sin.

So great a salvation


The work in Clover Creek Church began with a recognition that there was more
to the Christian life and salvation than they were experiencing. Many
church leaders would have been more than content with Clover Creek church as
it was 6 years ago: a vibrant evangelical church with an attendance of more
than 1600 people. However, the pastor, Mike Riches, felt a growing
discontentment and began to seek God.

A new expectation

What began to emerge at Clover Creek was an understanding of salvation as the
restoration of God's original design. In the Garden of Eden there was no
death, fear, shame or condemnation. God's purpose in Jesus was to recover
what was lost in Eden. What did God have in mind when I was conceived in my
mother's womb? We were all designed for freedom. Jesus came to restore
what was lost through sin, to make us what he intended us to be. This work
will be finished in heaven but begins when a person repents and turns to
follow Jesus.

Repentance must be ongoing

There is a first step of repentance, that initial step of faith that ushers
us into God's Kingdom and through Christ secures our place as a child of God forever.
Repentance is the threshold by which one enters into the power and joy of a
transformed life; it is the key which unlocks the door to God's treasured
destiny for us. One of the first answers in the Anglican baptismal service
as an adult or child is welcomed into God's family, is 'I repent of my
sins.' As Leanne Payne in her book The Healing Presence says.
In the Judeo-Christian understanding…the soul finds in God the grace to
make a radical decision concerning sin, and so he puts it away. He dies to
sin and then is himself resurrected.
4

In the Christian life, we make a great first step of repentance, but
conversion is only the beginning of a life of repentance. We read in
Hebrews 10:14 that we are perfected forever; through Christ our initial repentance secures our unchanging status as children of God.

Let me illustrate this point. Prince Charles will always be a prince. He may decide one morning when he wakes up never again to fulfil any royal duties. He would remain a prince but would rightly be known as a lazy Prince. As Duke of Cornwall he might decide to raise the rent on the land he owns by three times its present rate. He
would still be a prince but he would be a greedy prince. If he became this
irresponsible it wouldn't affect his position as a prince but he would not
be living his life to its full potential and would be bringing great
disrepute to the Royal Family. His actions do not affect his status but the integrity of the family into which he was born.
5

We have been perfected forever in terms of our status but as the writer to the Hebrews continues, God is still making us holy. Our initial act of repentance, turning to God brings us all the benefits of heaven and the status of being God’s children but we need ongoing repentance to see God’s saving work in our lives today. Too often church members seem little different to those outside it. Too often we lose expectation that God is in the business of transformation.


When we turn to follow Jesus Christ this is the first great step to a new
life in Christ. But it is only the first step because God wants us to enjoy
the full privileges of being his child on earth, and so that we might
continue Jesus' ministry as his physical body on earth. Like any physical
body, a body that does not respond to the instructions of the head is
disabled and does not fully represent the wishes of the head. An ongoing
process of repentance is necessary for us as individuals and as Christ’s church.
6

A biblical definition of repentance

1) Returning to God
How do we understand repentance? In the Old Testament, repentance is
understood as 'returning'- returning to the Father and his plans for our
lives. Israel often strayed from God's ways into disobedience. God's call for Israel to return to him is typically illustrated in his words to Israel through Isaiah.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30v15). This could also be translated 'In returning and rest is your salvation,' as
Israel had strayed again from God's will.

2) A change of mind
The story of the Prodigal Son in the Luke's Gospel echoes this understanding
of repentance as the son, full of remorse, returns to his Father whom he had
disgraced. This same parable also draws on a further understanding of
repentance in the New Testament. The Greek word translated repentance in the
New Testament is the word metanoia. It literally means "a change of mind."
True repentance has radical implications, for it turns us from something,
toward something different. It is like turning 180 degrees. But repentance
affects more than one's mind, it has life ramifications. It changes one's
life, one's values, one's attitudes, and one's actions. The prodigal left
behind his reckless life in the far country and turned around to come home
not expecting anything, but he received generous mercy.

Destiny City Church underlines that repentance is an ongoing process. It is
not a single act or thought, it is not done once and forever accomplished. It
is not enough to once feel sorrow over sin. True repentance affects the
whole person and alters the entire lifestyle. The repentant person turns
from all that displeases God towards that which pleases God. True repentance will lead to different behaviour. In the New Testament it was natural to Zacchaeus, after he had been touched by the mercy of Jesus and had repented, to repay those whom he had cheated.

Repentance requires humility

The Bible often underlines that humility is essential for those who seek God . ‘He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble’. Humility embraces personal responsibility in a radical challenge to our culture. Brennan Manning writes:

If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth” (1 John 1:8). We live in a society that luxuriates in the therapeutic and exculpatory, condemns judgement as authoritarian, dismisses acknowledgment of sin as an assault on self-worth, and resists discernment of spirits as the imposition of arbitrary standards. The devastating consequence of these societal shortcomings is the perennial gnostic retreat from personal responsibility. 7



Repentance brings freedom


In his allegory The Great Divorce, CS Lewis paints a number of remarkable
pictures of the sinful nature we need to repent of - the 'old man' we need
to die to. The thesis of the book is that Heaven and all that it contains
is of such solid reality that those who refuse repentance (and have by
default chosen self and hell) can never be at home in it - they cannot stand
the utter reality of heaven

In one picture, the 'old man' appears as a seedy old actor. Into the
picture appears a lovely bright spirit, Sarah Smith 'and she lived at Golders
Green.' On earth Sarah had been the wife of this pompous character, Frank. As she
runs over the green fields on the outskirts of Paradise, 'the invitation to
all joy' sings 'out of her whole being like a bird's song on an April
evening.' She is in stark contrast to the shadowy ghost she has been sent
to help. He appears to lead a tiny dwarf ghost, but we realise that the
tall theatrical figure is simply his impression of himself. The tiny dwarf
is all that is left of the man who was her husband and he holds a chain attached to the collar of the tall one.

Sarah addresses the dwarf that was her husband and for a moment the light and love of
Christ shining from her increases his size….

For one moment, while she looked at him in her love and mirth, he saw the absurdity of the Tragedian. For one moment he did not at all misunderstand her laughter….But the light that reached him, reached him against his will. This was not the meeting he had pictured; he would not accept it. 8
Frank chose to refuse the invitation of Christ and with this choice he is gradually consumed into his inflated illusion of himself forever.

In our modern culture where addiction is such an issue more than ever before
we can see that sin binds us and that we need freedom, freedom from habits
of fear, guilt, rejection, inferiority, worldliness, greed, bitterness, the
list goes on. Repentance is about changing our minds to see freedom break
in.

Actions and Attitudes

It is helpful to recognise that we can sin not only in action but also in attitude. Often Christians recognise that they commit sins and omit to do things they should be doing; the focus tends to be on actions rather than attitudes. We may see that an attitude of un-forgiveness is sin but fail to acknowledge that other attitudes can be sinful. It can appear healthy to accept every feeling we have, however negative. The Bible challenges this approach. We need to recognise that where feelings may be an appropriate initial response to a situation, it is wrong to allow such attitudes as anger, fear, rejection, condemnation and wilful unbelief to rule us. In so doing, we deny God’s provision of grace and forgiveness. The result of persistent sinful attitudes is eventually sinful action. We need to address sinful attitudes and ‘change our minds.’


More than the power of positive thinking


When we talk about having a change of mind, it can sound remarkably like the
power of positive thinking. Repentance is far more powerful. The power of positive
thinking says "I will not think that way anymore". The power of Christian
thinking says, "Because Christ is my Lord, the old way of thought cannot
rule me anymore". In this understanding, repentance is not a self-pitying
wallowing in sadness over sin but a triumphant and joyful renunciation of sin
in the power of the risen Christ.

Repentance is the key to entering into salvation. The Catholic theologian Father Raniero Cantalamessa writes of the mystery that God needs our repentance in order to come to us with forgiveness and change:

When the three thousand asked Peter’ “What should we do?”

He answered, “Repent” (Acts 2:38).

It is in repentance that the encounter takes place between grace and freedom. 9



How can we enter into this repentance?

At Destiny City Church they believe prayer is the answer. When we pray with each
other, people are released to be as God always intended, continuing Jesus' ministry on
earth. James writes, Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5v16)

A new model


The church has devised a simple model involving two or three people praying
with one person. The time begins with the pray-ers listening to God in
response to questions like 'How does God see 'Chris' and how does he wish
to use him?' Then, 'what is hindering 'Chris' from embracing this view and
fulfilling his call?' Those who are praying for Peter then submit what they
believe God might be saying to him.

My own experience was that there was much encouragement from what was offered. It was immensely important to begin with a reassurance of God‘s good purposes for my life. This is the prize that makes repentance worthwhile; it is the love of God and the promise of change that enables us to face our sin. Brennan Manning again….

To knife through our pretence, cowardice and evasions, to see the truth about ourselves and the true state of our souls before God - this requires enormous courage and ruthless trust in the merciful love of the redeeming God. Put simply, sin must be acknowledged and confessed before there can be forgiveness and real transformation. 10

In dealing with what might hinder Chris from realizing his full potential as
a Christian the pray-ers lead him through a simple model based on James
4:7-8. The verses read...Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil
and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded.

Firstly,
he is encouraged to repent and receive. Out loud with those praying
for him he is encouraged to repent of sins he has committed or wrong
attitudes he has held; of the reactions to sins committed against him and
for sinful patterns passed down over generations or through curses. He is
then encouraged to thank God for the forgiveness that is offered to him
through Jesus.

Secondly, he is encouraged to rebuke and renounce. So, for example Chris might proclaim that fear cannot rule him because Christ is Lord. This is possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ where Christ emerged sinless and triumphant over all the powers of evil. In the authority given to him by God, Chris is encouraged to
renounce any lies believed about himself, God or others (I found there was
great power in speaking out the truth of Scripture for myself in this
process).

Thirdly, he is encouraged to replace and renew. Next Chris is encouraged to
come near to God through washing his hands of sinful behaviour and duplicity
in his devotion to God. He replaces it with devotion to God and obedience.
Then he is encouraged to ask God to renew his whole being through the power
of the Holy Spirit.

Fourthly, he is encouraged to receive and rejoice. Finally Chris receives in
faith the empowering presence of God as he is filled again with the Holy
Spirit. Often the pray-ers will join in this during this stage, thanking
God with Chris for what he has done.

Four things appeal to me about this model:

1) The person being prayed for is actively involved in the ministry process.
They have to take responsibility for their sin and exercise the authority
that is theirs as a Christian. This model is not simply dependent on others doing the praying for them.

2) It has a healthy focus on what Jesus achieved for believers through his
death and resurrection.

3) It follows closely the promises made by candidates in the Anglican baptism service and has echoes of promises made by Christians down the ages.

4) The pray-ers are encouraged to listen to God.

2) THE PROPHETIC
In their teaching a fundamental premise of Destiny City Church has been that a
chief tactic of Satan has been to rob the Church of its capacity to hear
God's voice today. There are so many examples of God speaking to his people
throughout Scripture and the promise of Pentecost was that God would live
within his followers and speak to all who listened to him. On the Day of
Pentecost Peter quotes the prophet Joel. 'In the last days, God says, I will
pour out my Spirit on all people..I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.'
(Acts 2:17)

The theologian Wayne Gruden defines prophecy as, 'telling something God has
brought to mind.'
11 God speaks today and any Christian can hear his voice.
This is qualified by the fact that the Bible and the church community
is always the reference point for anything we believe God is saying. If what
we understand to be from God contradicts the Bible and is not received from
the church as God's word then it is to be disregarded.

What is the purpose of prophetic ministry in the Church?
Mike Riches lists the following:


1) To strengthen, encourage and comfort.

This is God' s greatest intention for this gift.

Often we find ourselves unable to hear God’s good purposes for our own lives. How we need those who will listen to God on our behalf. God is for us; we can be for each other, believing in God’s good purposes for each others lives. Paul says in Romans that God called those things that were not as if they were and so they came into being. Just as Jesus looked at doubting Simon and saw Peter the Rock and spoke this into being, so we can speak God’s good purposes over each other. This is the role of the prophetic as outlined in 1Corinthians 14v3,

But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.

2) To demonstrate God's love for people. God loves to speak specifically of
his love for people.
3) To give direction and courage. God wants to speak to us about the detail
of our lives.
4) To prepare for difficult times. When God speaks to us about difficult
times ahead we will take comfort that he knows and will give us grace to
cope.
5) To reveal Satan's strongholds and enable repentance to happen. God wants
his people to live in freedom as he always intended - he is keen to show us
how Satan hinders that freedom and how by repentance there can be new
beginnings.
6) As a means of evangelism. God longs to reach those who do not know him,
and when he speaks to someone directly about the circumstances of their
lives through a third party the effect is powerful.

How does God speak to the church today? From Clover Creek's experience he
speaks through Scripture, impressions, dreams, visions, angelic revelations
and on occasions by an audible voice.

What are the components of prophetic ministry?

Revelation - knowledge we receive from the Lord in the form of an
impression, vision, inner sense, dream; what we see, hear or receive.
Interpretation - meaning or understanding of revelation we have received.
Application - How and when we implement what we have received.

A number of things impressed me about how prophetic ministry operated in the
church at Destiny City Church.

1) The gift was a key part of prayer ministry as those praying listened
carefully to what they believed God was saying for the individual. They
then offered this sensitively as a way forward for the prayer session. In
my experience the prophetic was not used as a means of controlling other
people in a 'thus says the Lord' fashion but was offered for individuals to
consider and accept, or dismiss. It is clearly essential that prophecy is submitted in this way or there is dangerous potential for manipulation.

I was impressed at how accurate people were on different occasions as they prayed for me, particularly in pinpointing what might be hindering God realising his
purposes for my life.

2) Every member of the church was encouraged that they could hear from God,
prophecy was not for a few celebrity super-saints. Different people prayed
for me ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties and although some
were more experienced than others, on every occasion God spoke to me through
the individuals who were praying.

3) The love and humility with which this gift was used was impressive.
During the week of the conference one hundred teams of three people were
available to pray for the conference delegates. Many of these folk were
working during the day and others gave up a week's holiday to pray for three
to four hours each evening for delegates. Prayer ministry was not just for five
or ten minutes but usually lasted for at least thirty - forty minutes as the
teams listened to God and encouraged the delegates to respond to him. At
all times they prayed with love and humility.

4) Being a member of the church. It was regularly stressed that no-one
could function in isolation and that those who prayed for others and used
the gift of prophecy should be accountable to others. The potential for
abuse of this gift is clear if those who use it are not willing to open
their own lives for regular scrutiny to others.


In summary then, in the teaching of Destiny City Church an active prophetic
ministry is key to enabling Christians to live as God intended because it
underlines the truth about what God says about them and helps them to identify the obstacles to God’s purposes.

Two questions might be asked at the conclusion of this paper.

1) How can churches that encourage the prophetic and take account of demonic
influences on believers avoid the abuses to which they are vulnerable?

Churches embarking on this ministry need to be candidly aware of the
potential pitfalls - mistakes through a process not adequately thought out
can be costly to a church's reputation.

Destiny City Church have a comprehensive teaching programme which all those who
wish to engage in this ministry are required to complete. Accountability
structures are clear and no-one can operate independently of others. Those
who pray for others must be willing to regularly be prayed for by others.
This includes the leadership team of the church who are fully accountable to
each other and the church which they lead.


2) Is there a danger that this ministry could lead to introversion and shift
the focus of the Church away from mission?

It is conceivable that if this ministry drifted off on a tangent that the
church could become introverted, but the fact that Destiny City Church believes God
has been helping them re-discover Jesus' ministry as outlined in Luke 4
re-assures me. It is also re-assuring to see the priorities they have as a
church and to hear about countless lives changed though the
ministry during this period of reformation. Mission at home and overseas
are high on the agenda of the church - they support people working overseas
and have a growing church and staff at home. Many people are becoming
Christians through the Living Free Course as well as Christians having their
faith renewed. There is a flourishing work among children, youth and young
adults. The church owns a property which houses and supports vulnerable
people including single parents and those with addictions. This ministry is
growing so fast that a congregation ministering to them in particular has
now formed.

One of the texts that God brought to Mike's attention at the time when
change was happening was 1 Peter 3:15, Always be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Before 2000 Mike felt that few people asked him about the hope he had
because there was little evidence of it in his life or the life of the
church. Now people outside the church are asking about their 'hope' because of the manifest presence of Jesus in their corporate life

In concluding I offer some compelling reasons why I believe this is a
genuine work of God:

  • The many stories of transformed lives we encountered whilst we were there
    (not least the transformation Kate and I experienced).
  • The centrality of repentance to Destiny City Church which echoes a similar emphasis in previous revivals.
  • The extraordinary hospitality we received.
  • The humility and integrity of those in leadership.
  • The commitment of the whole church to be engaged in Jesus' ministry.

It was a privilege to attend this conference in Tacoma and to witness a re-discovery of Jesus’ ministry which I believe will have an impact on the wider Church.

The Church website is www.destinycitychurch.org

Trevor Patterson Richmond Summer 2005


Appendix

1 Article from Radiate magazine July/August 2004

2 ibid

3 ibid

4 The Healing Presence p202 Leanne Payne

5 Thanks to David Grant for this illustration

6 The subject of corporate repentance deserves to be the subject of a further paper!

7 Ruthless Trust p170 Brennan Manning

8 The Great Divorce p106 CS Lewis

9 Ruthless Trust p171 Brennan Manning

10 Come, Creator Spirit p125 Raniero Cantamelessa

11 Systematic Theology: an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine Wayne Gruden






Saturday, April 21, 2007

Well done Ma


My ma has just returned from a cultural trip to Iran and yes, you did hear right, I did say Iran. She's quite a plucky woman my mum and as it turns out she had an amazing time exploring the birthplace of civilisation. I thought I would share just one picture and the story that goes with it. This is a picture of a Zorastrian burial site she visited. The hole in the distance was the place that they put the dead bodies for the flesh to be eaten by birds. If your right eye got picked out first it was heaven for you and if it was the left then I'm afraid it was hell. Only once just the bones were left were you put in the hole nearest in the picture. Sounds barbaric and theologically misguided doesn't it? Primitive thinking that us clever modern people would never believe. Well maybe. Just try asking people who they think goes to heaven and why and see if they have any better idea about what happens and on what basis. Without Jesus it is all a birdseye-pulling lottery.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A life in a paragraph

I have been asked to write a short summary of myself for the C of E pending ordination to post on a website. It was supposed to be a short and simple paragraph but I don't really do short but I am simple!

" ‘ If we could but show the world that being committed to Christ is no tame humdrum sheltered monotony, but the most exciting adventure the human spirit could ever know, those who have been standing outside the Church looking with suspicion at Christ, will come crowding in to pay allegiance, and we might well experience the greatest reviving since Pentecost’ so writes James Stuart and if I had to have a hope for the church of my nation and my ministry that might be it. I was born in Salisbury and grew up in England and Scotland and was blessed with a happy childhood. I was educated at Rugby School and, so my teachers told me, was academically unspectacular. During most of my childhood I had been exposed to what I experienced as exceedingly dull and irrelevant religion. This subjected me to boredom, as I experienced it, and apparently required me to be ‘smart’ for Church. This seemed odd considering what I had picked up along the way about Jesus. I vowed to cease attending church voluntarily as soon as possible which I achieved aged about 14. Despite fairly ordinary A-levels, I managed to secure a place at Newcastle University and got a degree in Geography. At university, prompted by my sister’s conversion to Christianity, I decided that Jesus warranted a revisit and some further investigation. Aged 21, the evangelist J John came to preach one morning in a local Anglican church I had started attending and explained the gospel to me and suggested it would be a good idea to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and how that is possible through what he did for me on the cross. I wondered why nobody had explained the Good News to me earlier in all my years of church going. Perhaps I had just failed to hear and understand it? I moved to London and started work as a management trainee in a large blue-chip business, which subsequently led on to a career in international sales and marketing. During the early 1990’s I lived as an ex-pat in Russia for three years and took on various marketing positions and roles with my company. This lengthy season in business taught me much about the world and the complexities of life and was fruitful in many ways, not least the memorable experiences travelling the world and the formation of some life-long friendships. Fours years ago I felt a prompting to pursue something more and started to explore the possibility of ordination. This involved a leap of faith to leave my job and go and work for my church, St Barnabas Kensington, which confirmed my desire to train for Ordination and church leadership. For the past two years I have been studying at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford and will be serving my title at Holy Trinity Church in Richmond. When time allows I love nothing more than a days fly-fishing or a round of golf. All are welcome to come and visit."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

One book

'If you say that you are a man of just one book [the Bible] it is a fairly sure indication that you probably have no idea what's actually in it' Oswald Chambers

As loosely quoted by my friend David Garrett while lunching on a tuna sandwich and apple flavoured 'just juice'.

My Chemical Romance 'I don't love you'

I was listening yesterday to the Jo Wylie show on Radio 1, doffing my hat to contemporary 'yoof' culture and heard what she described as the best song of the moment. Who am I to question Jo Wylie! I must confess I have always enjoyed a good 'sea of guitars rock tune' sung with a bit of attitude and this song certainly hit the spot. This should be played loudly in the car while trying to remember what it is like to be 17.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Torture

I friend commented today that one of the naval officers described his torture as a hostage in Iran as being "having his ipod taken away and the guards saying he looked like Mr Bean". Torture? Tell that to my father who spent three and half years in a Korean prisoner of war camp from the age of 18-21 and who unsurprisingly didn't sell his story to the Sun. No ipod-honestly whatever next....

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My life so far



I returned from Canada after spending the summer there and someone asked if I'd read anything good. I thought for a moment and then said with a caveat that they may be surprised by my answer. When I told them they laughed. Anyway, I persevered with my enthusiasm for this book and gave a copy to my sister. The first thing she said when I saw her this weekend was "What a fantastic book and what an incredible women"

The reason I bought it was because I heard Fonda reading it on Radio 4 and her story was compelling. Why is it good? Well, she has had simply the most extraordinary life. Well ,actually five lives in one to be true. Child of an acting father, film star, peace campaiger, millionaire business woman and billionaires wife.

The book ends with a surprising twist in the tail. The quote she heads up the Epilogue with might give you a clue.

" It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been lved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints andvery shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand" The Velveteen Rabbit

Do you understand what she means? I hope so.

Losing your virginity

In an interesting article in the Sunday Times Cosmo Landesman explores 'Forgotten truths about sex' (just bung this into the Times website and the article should come up) In it, he tells of the 420m pages of porn and its disasterous impact in feeding human kinds insatiable sexual appetite. However, among theses he has found a site of some interest called 'the virginity project' (no link offered so explore of your own volition if you so wish). He praises its honesty, and originality as an outlet for revisiting real emotions about the most precious of things that we have to give away.

He concludes his article by saying:

" Monro's site may seem like an aberation compared with the internet's carnival of explicit eroticism. But it is actually a return to the early vision of the internet by Tim Bernes-Lee, the creator of the world-wide web. For him, 'the dream behind the web is of a common information space in which we can communicate by sharing information.....Maybe our sex-soaked world is ready for a little more communication and a lot less consumption"

In a culture where sex is cheap and accessible and real relationship hard to come by for so many, reflecting on your first sexual encounter may not be such a bad thing thing.

Less consumption and more communication says Landesman. Sounds like a good idea.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pray for Joe

My friend Joe, who I am at Wycliffe with, has just mailed me to say he has a tumour in his stomach. He is having more tests on Tuesday but will probably have to have chemo. Please pray for him and his family and I suppose just simply that be healed.

He says he is really scared.

May Christ be your strength and hope Joe, may he free you from all fear and make you well again.

We will be praying.

Derek Webb One Zero



I have just learnt how to upload clever pictures onto a blog so am feeling rather pleased with myself. This blog stuff has done my IT knowledge no end of good. Anyway, I had a splendid time in Bristol recently and this album was playing in the shop I was in. When I asked who it was, the answer that came back was Derek Webb. The song 'Mockingbird' is a really great tune. If you like your music acoustic and thoughtful then try it out.

Sex God



One of the things I have noticed about having completed my Oxford studies is at the end of countless essays and literally hundreds of books read I seem to have somehow learnt how to read very fast. I have always read alot, but now I can chew threw in half the time I used to- so thank you Oxford.

I have just completed Rob Bell's second book and he is someone I have admired for some time. I love his Nooma films and also greatly enjoyed Velvet Elvis. If you wonder what the expression 'emerging church' or what the term 'post-modernism' is then just look at and listen to Bell. Here he turns his attention to Sex or, to use his owm bye-line 'Exploring the endless connections between sexuality and spirituality'. Do read this and buy one for a friend.

He again a makes lots of references to Jewish culture, tells great stories and approaches traditionally tricky passages os scripture with freshness and clarity. For Bell, sexuality and knowing who you are are connected. He observes:

'You can't be connected with God until you're at peace with who you are. If you're still upset that God gave you this body or this life or this family or these circumstances, you will never be able to connect with God in a healthy, thriving, sustainable sort of way. You'll be at odds with your maker. And if you can't come to terms with who you are and the life you have been given, you'll never be able to accept others and how they were made and the lives they've been given. And until you're at peace with God and those around you, you will continue to struggle with your role on the planet, your part to play in the ongoing creation of the universe. you will continue to stuggle and resist and fail to connect'

Bell, being an incredibly hip,in-touch and intelligent man is always good for a recommendation. Here of some I liked that you might like too.

1. Great chapter on Hell in N T Wright 'Following Jesus'
2. Jean Vanier Becoming Human
3. A great book on modern life and how we spend our time Praise of Slow by Carl Honore
4.He says he can't recommend Ronald Rolheiser's The Holy Longing highly enough.
5. Best book on forgiving is Lewis Smedes Art of Forgiving
6. Erwin McManus Uprising
7. He says every woman should read Return to modesty by Wendy Shalit
8. Every couple thinking of getting married he says should read A severe mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. My friend Kate just got engaged so I recommended it to her and she has bought it so she said she'll let me know if it's any good.

Anyway, happy reading. Bell is a blessing.

Too Late

One of the headmaster's of my old school (where I am returning to preach in May), the poet Matthew Arnold, said that the sadest words in the English language are 'Too late'. I think he's right and it seems to be so true, so often. Too late to sort of the distance between a husband and wife who never got round0 to realising they have stopped talking. Too late for the father earning £000's and doing a 100 hours a week but never there to see his sons grow up or read them a story. Too late to write that book, visit that place, change that job, forgive that person. I think you get the point.

I don't want to be a 'Too late' person.

Whatever it is, deal with it. I for one have things I need to do. Just sort it, forgive , speak, hug, phone, write, visit, leave. Do what it takes but don't let someone else have to say 'Too late'

Friday, April 13, 2007

Witness

A friend is doing a sermon on what it means to be a witness and asked me what I thought. What does it mean to be God's witness and what does that actually look like? Not like me is all I know so far!

Dwight Pryor spoke of a survey of evangelical Christians in the US and the survey noted that being a Christian had made little discernable difference the outworkings of people's material lives. They drove the same cars, watched the same TV programmes, went on the same exotic holidays and hence the witness was hard to discern from the non-Christian neighbour. The same is similarly true of here, so I am not being down on our friends across the water.

Is that the Jesus way?

Is there a difference between witness and evangelism or apologetics. The oft quoted verse is the one from 1 Peter 5 about always being able to give an answer for the hope that we have. I have often seen that interpreted as us being able to give a clever answer on what happens to the muslims or a reasoned explanation of suffering babies in Africa.

If I am really honest, I can't remember the last time anybody asked me about the hope that I have. That's probably because I don't look very hopeful. If I was, they would ask wouldn't they? Oh that more may ask.

When did anyone last time anyone asked you what the source of your hope is?

Isn't being a witness so exuding the aroma and grace and love of Christ that people want what I have got? That't the sort of hope I want to give away.

Eugene Peterson comments:

'I am often put on the spot of being God's defender. I am expected to explain God to his disapointed clients. I am thrust into the ole of clerk of a complaints department of humanity, asked to trace down bad service, listen sympathetically to aggrieved patrons, try to put right any mistakes I can and apologise for the rudeness of the management.

But if I accept the assignment I misunderstand my proper work, for God doesn't need me to defend him.......The proper work for the Christian is witness, not apology'

My friend asked me for an good illustration for his sermon and the only thing that came to mind was, rather appropiately, the film 'Witness'. In it, Harrison Ford goes undercover with an Amish Communinity, who certainly cannot be accused of not looking discernably different from others as they live out their discipleship. In one scene, they drive into town and one of the Amish is intimidated by a bunch of youths who bate him by splatting his face with an ice cream

Why?

Because they know he is different and they know how he will respond. Sure enough he does not retaliate. When they try the same with Ford, they recieve a most unexpected response - a thump in the face.

Isn't our Christian witness sometimes a bit like this scene? On the one hand, because we look and seem like everyone else people rarely do come looking, but if they do, we hit them over the head with what J John so wonderfully calls 'sledge-hammer evangelism' that puts them further back in their search for God than before they met us.

Our witness equivalent for most people is a bit like meeting Harrison Ford and perhaps, just maybe, the Amish and their radically different lives have a thing or two to teach us about what witnessing might actually look like.

So, wide-brimmed hats, short trousers and a horse and cart all round then.

Radical lives and a saved planet to boot.

Now there's a plan.

Just a thought.

Hope this is a help my friend.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Top God-type Films

The Church Times had an article on the top 50 God-type films and I am not going to share them all but here are the one's I think are good or that I haven't seen and want to explore. Hope some may be of interest in a 'What DVD shall we get out tonight" moment.

The Bishops Wife Koster (1947)
Into Great Silence Groning (2005)
Wise Blood Huston (1979)
The Sacrifice Tarkovsky (1986)
The Prodigal Collier (1983)
Brother Son Sister Moon Zeffirelli (1972)
Whistle Down the Wind Forbes (1961)
Ikuru Kurosawa (1952)
Afterlife Koreeda (1998)
Field of Dreams Robinson (1989)
The Greatest Story Ever Told Stevens (1965)
The Inn of Sixth Happiness (1958)
Signs Shylamalan (2002)
The Name of the Rose Annaund (1986)
Witness Weir (1986)
The Cross and the Switchblade (1970)
Jesus of Montreal (1989)
Chariots of Fire Hudson (1981)
Priest Bird (1994)
A Man for All Seasons Zinnerman (1966)
The Apostle Duvall (1997)
On the Waterfront Kazan (1954)
Babettes Feast Axel (1987)
The Gospel according to St Matthew Pasolini (1964)
The Mission Joffe (1986)

Happy viewing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dakota


In the place of which you say,"It is a waste....there shall be heard again the voice of mirth
and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices
of those who sing

Jeremiah 33:10-11


I am now back from my Easter break in Cornwall and am happy to report that I feel refreshed, rested and full of spiritual vigour. I was staying with friends in the most spectacular holiday cottage in Polzeath and spent the week golfing, boating, walking and reading. We were blessed with glorious weather that seemed to be more August than an Easter bank holiday weekend.

One of our debates was where to go to church and we settled upon St Enedoc at 9.15. This is a truly beautiful church set on the seashore and was the burial place of John Betjeman and the subjest of one of his poems. We walked to church along the cliff tops and it warmed my heart to see streams of people coming from all directions to gather for Easter worship. We had to queue to get in and even then many were unable to find a seat. I would guess we must have numbered 250 in this tiniest of worship spaces and it had the feel of the early church. The service was wonderfully led and the sermon stirring and we ended with a rousing chorus of 'Thine be the glory'. This was Anglican worship at it finest.

Something I believe is rising in this land. I have sensed it for some time and the praises from St Enedoc only served to strengthen my convictions on this. There seems to be unmet hunger for God and the church is being prepared to welcome in the harvest. The word that came to me was 'spring rains'. As Hosea writes:

'Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth' (6:3)

The land always needs more rain.

I had less chance to read than I had expected. The golf, mackeral fishing and board games gladly took up much of my time ( my friend's neice Georgie caught caught a pollock which was a first). The book I did read was a joy and combined three things for me. First, my love of geography which many moons ago I remarkably was awarded a degree in, second my love of America and finally my recent experiences of the Benedictine tradition and the ways of the monastic at Burford Priory. It is called Dakota by Kathleen Norris and was one of those books you savour and put crosses next to numerous paragraphs because you know you will return to them.

She has a term she calls 'spiritual geography'. At its Greek root, geography means "writing about a place" and so spiritual geography describes the way a place shapes peoples attitudes, beliefs and myths. When asked how city people can make connections to spiritual geography she helpfully comments " Any place has a spiritual geography. People can love London or Oxford ( she uses U.S cities) as passionately as a Dakota rancher loves the land, and there is much in literature that attests to this. People tend to create small towns whereever they are. We don't live in big cities so much as communities of friends, colleagues and relatives". How true.

There are many crosses next to things in Dakota but one cross seems to fit my Easter memory of St Enedoc. What she does best is to tell the stories of her home and the people who inhabit her world and surrounding. Mary Pellauner remarks, 'If there is anthing worth calling theology, it is listening to people's stories, listening to them and cherishing them'. In Dakota this story-telling and observing is done very well. Midway through the book Norris tells of her reluctant return to church having been scarred by her childhood experiences. She returns through both pain and confusion and so she writes:

" When some ten years later I began going to church again because I felt I need to, I wasn't prepared for the pain. The services felt like word bombardment-agony for a poet-and often exhausted me so much I'd sleep for three or more hours afterward. Doctrinal language slammed many a door in my face, and I became frustrated when I couldn't glimpse the Word behind the words. Ironically, it was the language of Jesus Christ meant to be most inviting, that made me feel most left out. This elicited an interesting comment from a pastor friend who said, "I don't know too many people who are so serious about religion they can't even go to church.

Even as I exemplified the pain and the anger of a feminist looking warily at a religion that has so often used a male savior to keep women in place, I was drawn to the strong old women in the congregation. Their well-worn Bibles said to me, "there is more here than you know," and made me take more seriously the religion that had caused my granmother Totten's bible to be so well used that it's spine broke. I also began, slowly, to make sense of our gathering together on a Sunday morning, recognizing, however dimly, that church is to be participated in and not consumed. The point is not what one gets out of it, but the worship of God;the service takes place both because of and despite the needs of the frailties of the people present. How else could it be? Now, on the occassions when I am able actually to worship in church I am deeply grateful." (p 94-95)

Returning is hard and I know what she means in that lovely phrase 'the Word behind the words', so often lost, but she got there in the end. As Flannery O'Connor remarked 'most of us come to the church by a means the church does not allow'. As I witnessed the young and old of St Enedoc gather and sing, I heard the faintest whisper of Jeremiah's promise that mirth and gladness is coming and that people are being prepared for a return.

I hope it comes soon.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Have an Easter reflection by listening carefully to Eugene's advice for Ministry and Life

I have recently completely listening to all the teaching of Eugene Peterson that is in the Wycliffe library. This is an un-mined and seemingly unnoticed treasure that most don't know is there. It includes all the courses he has taught at Regent Vancouver over the last decade.

Some people dismiss Peterson because they don't like 'The Message' and assume it's author must be flakey and un-sound. They really don't know what they are talking about. I have had a tape in my car everywhere I have driven over the past two years, so in lots of different ways my constant and most consistent teacher at theological college has been Eugene. While doing this I have worked my way through most of his books which are worth seeking out (see sidebar). This is a man who lives 3000 miles away and who I will probably never meet,but he has so enriched my life and thinking that my second-hand words can't possibly do him justice.

Here are his concluding remarks in his course 'Ministry and Spirituality' and these are specifically directed at Pastors but they form a pretty reasonable rule of life for all who are trying to follow the way of Jesus. These are timely truths and I share them in the hope they may be a blessing to some and that there may be some things for you to dwell on and pray about as we all walk towards the cross this Holy Week.

How do we protect things that are worthwhile?

1. Ministry and spirituality are dialectical

Spirituality begins in weakness, ministry begins in strength. How do we keep them in touch with each other because that's the task?

2. Nobody cares whether you do ministry or not

It is a calling. You must protect and guard it. Nobody cares if you do ministry- all they care about is whether you do jobs and fulfill functions. Never forget this. The world's primary concern is function and productivity so be careful. God economy works differently.

3. We begin with affirmations

We have a gospel to proclaim so always begin with it. You cannot construct an ascesis with negatives. Our vocation is ministry and so our default stance is 'yes' and 'amen'. There are negatives but work out of the positives.

4. Ascesis

This is about intentionality. This is the way we maintain spirituality. Decide how you are going to do this.

5. The Lord's prayer

This is your prayer. Thy name, thy will, thy kingdom. Clear a space.

6. The ministry of saying no.

No is a freedom word. Become practiced in saying no.

7. Ascetical goals

Goal one: Watchfulness (perception and awareness)

Goal two: Reticence (staying out of the way of what God is doing or wants to do)

Key question:

"What can I not do that will keep me from getting in the way of what God is already doing".

The presuppostiion of ascesis is that God is already at work

8. Asetical dangers

(i) Pride
(ii) Technological power and control. i.e Competence
(iii) Denegration of the material or the bodily

9. Three tests to set against your ascetical premise

(i) Is this developing contempt or compassion for others?
(ii) Is this creating love or scorn for things?
(iii)Is this creating isolation or community in you?

10. Asceticism cultivates inadequacy

We are not in control. We don't know what to say. The context is the Trinity. Always be making room for the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

A medieval saying. "God rides the lame horse and writes straight with a crooked stick"

Eugene sums it all up with six more final things for ministry. Keep listening carefully.

1) We need help

The world is in a mess and you are part of the mess. You must feel a need for help of you are in trouble. We are sinners. Empirically, this can be tested. Just look around.

2) God helps you

He gave you his son. He helps you by serving you. We learn ministry by watching what God does. He works from the inside-out. He enters our condition as a child. God helps and the way he helps is as important to know as that he helps.

3) You help

Enter into what God is doing in Jesus

John 13

It's about feet washing

This is honoured work you do.

You do priviledged work

You, who need help and have been helped, are now put to work helping others.

You should do this calmly

You must transform this from a job into a vocation

4) You who help continue to need help

Evangelist’s need and evangelist. Teacher’s a teacher. Parents a parent.

Pray-ers need prayer

Seek out help

All is done in the context of worship in order to be renewed.

Worship is a deliberate re-entry into receptiveness

Worship is a sense of needy-ness

We are always beginning all over again.

No act of ministry becomes a skill that we carry out on our own.

Must never sees ourselves as competent

5) Most of the harm that is done in the world is done by helpers

Good intentions out of a context of God intentions turn us in to God’s or Goddesses

Two instances in past: Marx and Hilter

Marx was a prophet with a prophet’s mind

95% of what he wrote was true

Look what a mess he made of the world

Hitler had a passionate concern he was right

Third Reich would last 1000 years and would make the world better

They did not have evil intentions at the outset but then look at the harm

Rarely does anyone start out with evil intent.

It's worth remembering that we can do the same

6) Marks of an autheniticity in a Spirituality infused ministry

(i) You must be 'Unhurried yet urgent'

Time is holy. Hurry is a violation of the sanctity of time. We worry about those who violate the land but do we feel the same about time. Time is a part of the created order. Those who hurry and get us to hurry violate God’s gift. Does not however mean it is not urgent.

(ii) You must be 'Un-ambitious yet determined'

Must not impose our wills on God’s plan. It won’t help people.


(iii) You must be 'Unself-serving yet committed'

We’re holy. I am holy. I must honour the holiness in which I am consecrated. I can’t do with my life anything I want to. It’s God’s life he gave it to you.


The context is the Trinity.

Bless you all and have a very Happy Easter.

Beware the policeman

I was having a coffee with Simon Ponsonby and we were discussing matters Tacoma which as ever was stimulating and enjoyable. This lead on a wider discussion about moves of God through history and Simon quoted John Henry Newman who said,

'They always begin with a prophet and end with a policeman'

It seemed to be word of caution for these exciting times and we must all beware of the policman whilst still listening to the prophet. Discerning who is who is always the challenge for which we must continue to call prayerfully for God's help.