Monday, July 30, 2007

Reflections on a Passionate church

I have completed the four day conference and it was amongst the most helpful things I have ever done. I am an enthusiast so am aware that whatever I am doing right now is usually amongst the best thing. But this comment is true for a few simple reasons. The revelation that has come to Destiny City came as a direct result of the invasion of God into their midst. They, by their own admission, pretty much had God sorted out and in a neat Calvinsitic conservative, easy to manage box. In much the same way as most of my theological study seemed to. What has resulted from this divine intrevention is what I can best describe as radical prophetic santification. Put simply this is all about getting seroius about SIN.

They question that plagued about 12 years of my Christian life is: "Why can't I make this following Jesus business work?". This week gave me a framework for the conclusion I came to during 4 weeks in Chile reading Romans- a story I have told many times. I have finished the week with a very helpful feeling of a similar discovery in accessible form and have been profoundly equipped.

The truth is sin stops us being who Jesus would have us be. The free, loving, powerful, joyous, nation changing people spoken about in the gospels. People with power and authority to fulfil the call of Christ and GO into the world to make him known. The more we embark on the process of repentance the more we are able to walk in the freedom Jesus died for us to receive. The reason that most of us see so little of God's power is that our lives are so crammed with sin, guilt, shame, wrong-thinking, hurt, regret, lies and untruths that have been spoken over us, generational patterns of behaviour and unforgiveness. As we tackle this stuff in a place of grace and love and through prohetic revelation of others helping us to see things we have failed to see ourselves we unleash our capacity to hear God's voice and be obedient to it That is surely what it means to be a 'follower' of the way.

The oft quoted scriptures during the week were: 2 Cor 10:3-6 (strongholds), my sheep hear my voice, Luke 4:18-19, greater things than me will you do, 1 Cor 13 and the Lord's prayer.

The four days cover such topics as the role of the church, the centrality of love, hearing God's voice and biblical authority. These sessions were wonderfully taught and an address from the the New Song pastor Brian Brendt summarised all my questions in one wallop in one sermon ( I have a copy for those who want to borrow it). What is all the more remarkable are the lived lives of the members of the congregation. The welcome, love, generosity, hospitality, prayer, grace and passion. I have never witnessed this across ages, classes, backgounds to such a unifying extent. The have a faith in the possibilities of living out Christ in us and through us that is inspring and offers extreme hope. What is also refreshing is they make no claims to having got everything sorted out. They are sinners on a transformation journey collectively real but also desperate for more of God. The final session of the week was the 'slam-dunk' for me as people shared their stories. One woman's story caused us all to weep and celebrate at the same time. These were not the usual and sometimes trite testimonies of getting a pay rise or a new job but tales of recovery from rape, addiction, physical and emotional healing and amazing relational reconcilation.

Personally, I received wonderful blessing. My times of prayer were very powerful and I got down and dirty with the reality of my strongholds, sin and mess. There is plenty of it. It seemed silly to fly 3000 miles and then muck about and not do the bisso on all my many issues. My heart position was I guess to all God to bring it on and get it sorted. My final prayer time was with two amazing girls from New song and think we did some divine transaction in the heavenly realms.

Of course there are questions. I have listed them in the journal and intend to work them through over the coming months. I have already embarked on some reading they recommended and these include 'The Calvary Road' by Roy Hession which I read on the plane, Submission and authority by Watchman Nee and Clinton Arnold's 'Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare'. I also commend Mike Riches books on Hearing God, Strongholds and Two realms. I also am reflecting in the context of Simon Walker's Leadeship process that so impacted me while I was at Wycliffe. What I would observe is that this is accessible to all and is less academically and psycologically rooted than the leadership process but seems to be bearing powerful fruit in the local church and therefore is deserving of all our attentions.

What next? Well, Mike and Cindy Riches, the former Pastors of Destiny City are moving to England for 6 months and will be working with various church including HT Richmond. Why not take a leap and book on the Conference to be held in Fulham in October? Or if you want a mighty blessing and resources permit hop on a plane to Seattle and attend next years conference (29th July-2nd Aug) and you will know first hand what I am talking about, I am confident you will not be disappointed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Jesus Ministry Conference

I have arrived in Tacoma, Seattle for the conference. Nothing like a 14 hour flight to test the resilence. I attended a service on my first day at New Song and it was great. They meet on a Saturday evening and about 400 people mainly between the ages of 16 and 35 worship, pray and hang out. It is what passionate church should be and made me realise there is MORE to go for. Most striking was the fire of the Pastor Brian Brendt and his exposed heart as he prayed. They definately have a thing going on here.

I am staying with a wonderful couple Thom and Valerie and they have been amazing hosts. I arrived at midnight and hired my car from Alamo. There was an extraordinarily long queue and it seemed to take an unreasonably long time to get people their cars. I admot to been a little less than my usual merry self having been dleayed for 5 hours anot not slept for 24! Anyway, eventually I got to my car to discover it was a convertible chevvy! I had requested the cheapest they had going but the good Lord had me upgraded. Prosperity is alive and well....

Anyone wanting to attend a 'Living Free' conference can do so without having to travel 2000 miles by coming to Christchurch Fulham in October. I will be there so hopefully will see you if the urge prompts you to come.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What have I done today?

George MacDonald said the key question in life is: "What have I done today simply because the Lord asked?"