“It starts with a Wo/Man, it becomes a Movement but ends as a Monument”

“It starts with a Wo/Man, it becomes a Movement, and it ends as a monument” -A phrase I heard at a prayer meeting I heard on Saturday Morning.

I was thinking about this, and it is true, most great moves of God start with someone, a person who prays, who seeks God, who is willing to used by God, someone willing to sacrifice and serve. The Evangelist D.L Moody said ““The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man” Wesley, another great revivalist said “set yourself on fire with passion and people will come for miles to see you burn”.

We often say on the Alpha Course how God is a ‘complete gentleman’ and doesn’t force himself on us, but waits to be invited, when we see the willingness of God’s people matching the heartbeat of God we see a move of God.

Yet so often these moves of God end in stone monuments, Kingswood (where I serve) has lots of empty Churches up its high street, that show where God has moved, yet so all that is left of this wonderful movements is stone monuments, empty Church buildings, marble statues, plaques on the wall. Yet the greatest monument to a work of the Spirit of God is a vibrant worshipping community bringing glory to God.  Monuments not of stone but of human-beings fully alive in their Saviour, Lord and Friend!

Yet I thought what if the work of the Church was about tending the fire of the move of God rather than erecting marble statues to the heroes of the faith?

In the Temple the job of the Priest was to tend the fire on the altar, so that the fire would never go out, yet so often movements and revivals die because we don’t continue to tend the fire, we let the fire gradually burn out and fade away.

So a challenge to us all, will we be willing people who lay hold of the willingness of God?

Will we echo the prayer of John Wimber “Lord, send Revival, start with me!”

Will we be willing to ‘surf’ the movement of God, so often we pray and seek a move of God, but when God actually starts to move we head for the hills, I am passionate about praying for revival but I also think “be careful what you wish for” as I have said before in my blogs “If you ask God to move a mountain, don’t be surprised if he hands you a spade!”.

And if God is moving, are we prepared to tend the fire, often unglamorous and messy work, with lots of soot and cinders, and we might even burn our fingers, as we add fuel to the fire, as we poke the embers?

It is easy (but tiring) to build a fire just using kindling.

In fact it takes faith to build a fire.

We can keep a hearth fire burning fairly easily, but perhaps God doesn’t just want a nice warming hearth fire but rather a great and wonderful bonfire.

To build this kind of fire, requires us to move from small, dry sticks, to great big logs, sometimes these logs look as though they might swamp the fire, and yet the fire will grow and grow the more it is given.

Perhaps we have kept the fire safe and cosy by feeding it exhausting numbers of dry sticks, where God is calling us to put logs and bigger branches onto it, to extend the grate and allow it to become something radically different.

I wonder if too many of us are tending fires a little faithlessly, just feeding them the odd bit of dry kindling, rather than risking it all on burning logs and bigger branches?

Recently I was helping my daughter with her homework of the great fire of London, and a city was set ablaze by one defective oven.

I have also seen fires burn out, because no one has kept the fire alive and fed it anymore wood, in fact controlled fires are the best way killing a wildfire.

As we think of the missionary God, finding his willing people -his kindling if you like- and his wildfire movement begins and the fire burns and grows, and yet the call is not just to see a spectacular burn, or even to see a fire grow, but to see a fire remain, a burn that continues on and on and on.

Job 14, Renewal, Resurrection, Revival, Risk and Change, the Holy Spirit

The Scent of Water… (Job 14)

The phrase Scent of the water ones from Job 14:7-9:

7 “At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.

I heard this image shared at the Fellowship of Parish Evangelists conference, and the image stuck with me, this idea that just the tiniest bit, the smallest morsel, can be enough to cause lasting change and transformation.

From a dead tree, yet new life can sprout from the dead place, not from a flood or a puddle, but rather ‘the scent of water’.

As I thought of the idea of the scent of water my mind wandered to the images of living water within the scriptures:

“ Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn.4.13&14).

Water a picture of the Holy Spirit, able to satisfy that deepest desire at core of our being, that “deep cries out to deep” call towards God which we all crave and are thirsty for. God putting eternity with the hearts of humanity.

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (Jn 7.38).

Just a taste of the real thing is what our heart craves.

Maybe this why scripture urges us not to “despise the day of small things”?

God’s mustard seed can flourish from seemingly nothing to becoming a great tree.

As I thought of the power of light and hope, often it is the smallest glimmer that helps spur us on. I was reminded by the faith of the woman with the issue of blood, who knew she could and would be healed by one touch of the hem of Jesus’ garment.

The tiniest touch of Christ can bring more change in a life than a man made flood of good intentions.

A recent poem had the line : “don’t give me the sky when I ask for the light?” (citation need).

Perhaps sometimes in our evangelistic strategies is “less is more”

Jesus left people to work stuff out rather than give people a neatly packaged “just add water” solution to life, the world and the universe.

Perhaps you are only called to be a small link in a chain of events which sees lives turned around, all God might be-calling you to is to be faithful in your small scene and role rather than the whole production.

Perhaps our keenness to drench people in theological flood had more to do with our desire for instant results and wanting to “give God a hand”.

I wonder whether Spirit Led Evangelism is saying what God wants us to say, no more, and no less.

Sometimes it takes a step of faith to trust the journeys of those we love, pray for, and with who we have sowed seeds, or nurtured green shoots, to the God who makes the seeds bud and the crops grown.

Revival, Spirituality

“Excuse me, could you tell me the way to the Revival?”

Emma Ineson, the principal of Trinity College Bristol, told the story of the Welsh revival where many people were becoming Christians and lives were being transformed, and a young clergyman traveled to visit one of the villages where God was doing amazing things. He arrived at this train station and asked the guard on the platform “excuse me, but where is the revival happening?” To which the guard patted his heart and said (imagine a welsh accent) “under the buttons, ‘ere in my heart”.

It is actually quite a profound story, as I firmly believe that God is more into people than geographical locations.

It worries me how a certain flavour of Christian Ministry will fly halfway around the world to RECEIVE a blessing (Torronto, Pensacola or even Cwmbran) yet will we go half way across a street to BE a blessing.

The heart of revival is actually the human heart.

It was John Wesley’s Heart that was “strangely warmed” that night in Aldergate Street.

It was the heart of Ezekiel that God promised to change from a “heart of stone to a heart of flesh” and it was into this heart that the Lord promised to “put my Spirit in” (Ez.11:19 & Ez.36:26).

I think this was probably going through the mind of John Wimber when he said “Lord, send revival, start with me…”

Wimber’s idea was that unless his heart was changed by the in-filling of the Holy Spirit, he was a hindrance rather than a help to the revival cause, for the Lord to send Revival, he need to be in the right place.

It is a call for us all, if we want to see God move in power in our community and our nation, we need to allow God to move powerful in our hearts and lives too.

This is a scriptural theme, remember that great promise in 2 Chronicles (7:14) “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Challenging passages, but I think it gives an insight into the human condition, the idea we want a move of God, but we don’t always want cost, change and challenge… Often our prayer is really saying: “God can you do it for us, and by the way please let it be nice and not messy at all!”.

Yet, God does not just want to work THROUGH us, he wants to work IN us too… and often this is challenging.

Often when God moves it is often challenging, uncomfortable and sometimes a bit messy, yet despite this, his ways are best, fruitful, the most loving in every circumstance and chooses to involve us in partnership work.

A great quote from Shane Claiborne “If you ask God to move a mountain, don’t be surprised when he gives you a shovel”.

apathy, Church, Evangelism, Ministry, Mission, Revival, Risk and Change

Why I didn’t like Bishops when I was 19!

When I was 19 I did a year out and I worked with this guy Tony Washington, who used to do training in Youth and Children’s Work, and we used to do lots of very long journeys around the North East. I remember having a conversation about why (at that time) I didn’t like Bishops (I like a number of Bishops now!) and for some reason this popped back into my head this week.

I had just come back to God, a friend had died and that had made me re-evaluate what did (and didn’t really matter), and I had realized through her death something of the urgency of the gospel… If you die apparently not knowing Jesus then there is no assurance of salvation, and that is scary.

I had the eyes of a new believe looking at a creaky Church institution and was asking where is the urgency? Why were the people who were meant to be leading us seem so chilled out about people coming to know Jesus?

If this stuff (salvation) really matters why does everyone seem to be faffing around on things that aren’t important? Why when we have a Church full of not-yet-believers do we get a sermon about…I dunno what but it lost me… (and I knew about half of the long words they were using!)

The 19 year old me wanted to see fire, passion, wanted to see a vision to reach out and change the world for Christ and instead it just wasn’t happening.

I wanted to see leaders I could rally around and follow.

We  need “Saints” people who inspire and encourage us in our faith (not advocating putting people on pedestals) but we do need to see faith lived out around us in inspiring ways.

Church and its leadership did (and does) sometimes think that jaded apathy, gloomy defeatism is somehow a sign of greater spiritual maturity and that youthful fire was ‘a bit naïve’ I was (somewhat patronisingly told) -maybe people were trying to save me from disappointments (of which there have been plenty, but I’d rather have disappointments and failures than have flat-lined a faded away).

Fortunately no one told the apostles or the heroes of Hebrews 11 that they were being a bit too enthusiastic (or if they did I’m glad they were ignored!)

Teenagers and young adults are a heroic age, God has placed idealism, enthusiasm and fire within us and we want to make a difference, we want to change the world.

There are plenty of places which will give a compelling vision for world transformation, politics, charity works, self-help guru’s…

Yet why isn’t the Church at the forefront of inspiring people to change the world, because we have the highest and the greatest of commissions “to go into all the world and make them my disciples!”, “May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven!”.

I think actually over the past 20 years Bishops have got better at spearheading vision of mission and justice… but our

Churches are sometimes tired old institutions that sap our energy, quash our enthusiasm, damped our vision and sow seeds of doubt to our calling.

I remember reading Richard Dawkins who said of Christianity in the UK that is was “mostly harmless” -this idea that Christ’s Church isn’t doing anything much, isn’t what Christ wants.

I want a dangerous faith…

I want to be part of something that will last forever.

I want to be part of the greatest move on the planet for human good.

We need a revolution.

We need a return to Acts 2.

Let’s see Church rise from her slumber and once again change the world.

Are you with me in this dream?

If so, let’s turn this dream into a reality?