Wednesday, 28 May 2014

You can't second guess a singularity....

When we can't get what we want or need in a particular place or from a particular person, or it doesn't seem humanly possible that what we need can be provided, how tempting and perhaps even natural it is to just move on elsewhere and keep looking. We move onto the next place or person where there is a glimmer of hope, or who offers the merest possibility of meeting or need. 

If you were suffering from a rare disease and your doctor, though trying his best, simply didn't have the skill or experience to deal with it and you hear from a friend that her doctor successfully dealt with this condition you would be unwise not to move on. 

This is entirely natural and not wrong, it may often be the best thing to do - but not always. What is 'often right' in many circumstances is not always right in others.

In astrophysics the centre of a black hole is a place where all known laws and all those things that may be surmised by common sense break down - they don't necessarily hold true, anything could happen! They call this a 'singularity'. (It's not the point of this blog to push this analogy too far nor is it a physics test :-D )

In spiritual terms Jesus is undoubtedly a 'singularity' in every sense. He is certainly unique and there is no way we can approach Him and assume that 'the normal rules apply' or that or 'common sense' will be an adequate guide. With Jesus we are in a place where the 'natural' does not hold sway but where anything could happen. Does that fill you with trepidation or excitement? Horror or hope? Fear or faith?

In Matthew 14 we read a story of an awful lot of people who, having heard Jesus speak and been fed spiritually, then needed to be fed physically.... They needed food.

The natural, common sense course of action was to do exactly what the disciples suggested, 'send the people away so they can go buy themselves food'. You can hardly criticise then for that perfectly sensible suggestion, and Jesus didn't criticise them ....but He did give them an option that flew in the face of the natural way of things, of common sense and good suggestions!

You can't second guess a singularity........ 

Jesus said, ‘They do not need to go away. .... 

OK, if they don't need to go away what should they do? (Thought the disciples)

Not them - you!.........You give them something to eat.’ (Matthew 14:16)

And He taught them a lesson about the possibilities that exist when you are close to a singularity.... All the known laws fell apart, common sense was left in the cold and 4000 people saved their money on supper!

They didn't need to go away!

What about us? There are two challenges (at least ) here. 

When we have needs that appear not to be being met when or as we want them to be, do we too easily turn elsewhere to seek what we need? This 'elsewhere' may be another person, a habit, a substance, a superstition.......

When we are faced with others who are in a situation where the 'known order', or common sense, just doesn't cut it, do we advise them to 'go look in the village' effectively 'to sort themselves out' or do we move closer into the orbit of THE singularity where anything can happen?

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Never lose the wonder

The Psalmist wrote down what his heart was inspired to write...although it's doubtful he could possibly have known the full implications of the words. 

It is easy for us to assume that just because we grasp the truth of what a God has said in our immediate context or circumstance that we have somehow apprehended the fullness of that truth, the bigger picture flowing from the purposes of God's heart - but we rarely do, that is the domain of prophetic gifting. 

As an aside, this is why three things are crucial in the church in this respect:

   >   Seek prophetic gifting and ministry within and among Gods people

   >   Learn to test the spirits

   >   Learn to recognise / perceive prophetic gifting in others

   >   Do not despise prophecy

Anyway, back to the Psalmist.... 

                  'Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.' (Psalm 33:12 )

How could he have grasped that there would be such a head spinning radical 'new covenant' relationship down the line? 

That this relationship,based on the sacrifice of God Himself, would redefine what it is to be a 'nation under God'? 

That the whole concept of the 'holy nation' that God has chosen - and the qualification for entry and residence would be so dramatically changed? 

How could he grasp what it would mean to be part of His inheritance?

But to us, the church, the fullness of these truths have been revealed by His Spirit. 

How tragic then, that those of us who live in the fullness of a truth that the original writer could not in his wildest dreams have imagined, can often take it so much for granted, can be so blasé about such game changing, eternity altering, life affirming, mind renewing, Spirit empowered truth.

In the words of the Matt Redman song 'Mercy'  'may we never lose the wonder' but, Lord, if we do, or are in danger of doing so, please restore to us this wonder.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Loving the verbs.......

He makes us (when we don't know what's best for us.......)
He leads us 
He refreshes us
He guides us
He comforts us
He anoints us

(Psalm 23:1-6)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

How much of self?

Had the words of the this old Theodore Monod hymn quoted at WAVC today.
...........It needs no further comment:

O the bitter shame and sorrow 
that a time could ever be, 
when I let the Savior's pity 
plead in vain, and proudly answered: 
All of self, and none of thee! 

Yet he found me: I beheld him 
bleeding on the accursed tree, 
heard him pray: Forgive them, Father; 
and my wistful heart said faintly: 
Some of self and some of thee! 

Day by day his tender mercy, 
healing, helping, full and free: 
sweet and strong, and ah! so patient, 
brought me lower, while I whispered: 
Less of self and more of thee! 

Higher than the highest heaven, 
deeper than the deepest sea; 
Lord, thy love at last hath conquered; 
grant me now my supplication:
None of self and ALL of Thee

Friday, 2 May 2014

Leaders & Kings

They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval.  (Hosea 8:4 NIV)

Many commentators limit this rebuke to the murderous overthrow of one king after another in the closing year's of the northern Kingdom's (Israel) monarchy; but others believe it goes much deeper than that and that much more is included. 
The very conception of an earthly ruler over God's people was not God's ideal, not what He wanted 
(1 Sam. 8:7ff). There is evidence that the kings were never much other than a snare for people. 

I could go on, however, my question is about the scope of this prophetic word and, particularly, if there are any principles that can be carried forward and applied beyond the direct setting of the original context?

Is it valid to draw a conclusion about the distinction in God's economy between how a leader 'got their' rather than just 'who they are or what they do'? 

It is very easy, very tempting, and equally understandable to take a pragmatic utilitarian view on this and do a 'skills match' in order to get the right person for the role. It is probably even more common to act out of community or personal self interest ( as it appears Isreal did) and adopt an attitude that goes something like this:

'This leader is going to act in a way that is not as beneficial to us personally, whereas that one will compromise and meet our requirements'

 Hey presto, we've got ourselves a good leader in the latter category..... So we create our own leaders after our own image born out of our own self(ish) interests.

Is it saying that leaders must first be anointed before they can be appointed? 

It is saying that perhaps anointing is recognized in people and that becomes the primary criteria for being considered for leadership? 

Is it perhaps that those with the loudest voice and the largest and noisiest following are not necessarily God's first choice? 

Is it that spiritual gifting and a demonstrable sense of having received a calling allied to a humility & grace are the real issues irrespective of if we think this person may be the best one to pander to our particular preferences and requirements?

Are there principles outlined in this prophetic word that give insight into the crisis of  direction and decline that much of the church, particularly in the West, is suffering?  Have we been rather too eager to operate with 'man appointed, but non anointed' leaders who are in place without the consent of God?

Just a thought.