Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The BORGs!

It seems so often that Im running to try and catch up!
Ever felt like that?
I have a 'to do list' each day and sometimes it just feels as though it gets longer rather than shorter.
I was in fact 'told off' the other day for simply putting too much into my diary.
Both people who said the same thing within 24 hours of each other challenged me as to where was 'my space to breathe'?

Now to be fair I do take 'space to breathe', I love to walk and I love to stand in wonder at creation, the beautiful colours often make me 'feel at home with God and His creation'. A couple of work colleagues always laugh at my pictures on social media of the countryside and Digby.

I've been reflecting on the Pioneer Gathering, Passionate believers, daring dreamers and I'm lost in wonder at the stories of transformation that I kept hearing.
People keep meeting with the reality of Jesus and are experiencing the empowering of the Holy Spirit, transforming lives and communities
A common theme of many of the pioneers was that God had already gone before them.  This statement in and of itself regularly makes me smile.
Of course God has gone before us.
He loves the world!
He loves humanity.
God is in this for the long haul....! For Eternity!

However it does seem that we are always having to catch up with God.
It seems that Im always running after God

God has gone before us....
Our systems so often are catching upto what is needed.
We settle all to quickly into how we do things around here
Yet, we are always behind....
Or so it feels.

Its challenging when we meet with resistance.
If i hear once more that's not how we do things around here, I will........????!!!@@@@
I simply want to say resistance if futile.
God is God!
He can do whatsoever He chooses.
Have we sometimes thought of ourselves more highly than we should?
Have we sometimes forgotten that this is Gods work?
Have we made our God to small?
Resistance is futile

All Star Trek Fans will recognise this statement, Resistance is Futile.   For those who dont here you go "We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."
— The BorgStar Trek: First Contact

That line your culture will adapt to service us, has made me think.
Is what we do and what we are about glorifying God or about serving our own organisation of even self?
So often it feels as if we are tied down, held back by a massive piece of elastic. We can push out and explore but if we go to far it pulls us right back.
There is a healthiness in being rooted in our tradition, but we have to be free to explore.

We need to resist the default drag that pulls us back

We need to allow the wind of the Spirit to blow us where He will
We need to have courage to explore and resist the default drag to our known places.

Resist the default drag.
Resist The Borgs!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Mission Posture

Yesterday was spent grappling with some of the realities of trying to ‘change the culture around here!’
Helpfully it was out team quiet day.
After the craziness of the last few weeks, quiet was appreciated!

I’ve increasingly been thinking through the place of strategy and culture.  Im confident that we would all agree, culture devours strategy.

One of the fundamental challenges that face Gods people is that we are
1. Called to be counter cultural and yet
2. We have so often made culture to be ‘self serving’ and ‘self propagating’ within the church?
3. We have even possibly gone further, and organised ourselves around our own understanding, and emphasis of what faith should be?

As many of you know last week was mostly spent with a group of passionate believers and daring dreamers at the national pioneer gathering.  As one speaker observed, there was something significant and special happening in the Salvation Army.  I smiled and thought I hope so!  

I am convinced that there needs to be a massive change in our mind-set, and even more of a change in the culture of our movement, well in the UK which is what I know.   Or maybe I should say a rediscovery of the culture of our missional movement heritage?

As we discussed together at the quiet day one of our team spoke about posture.  They explained that posture, how we hold ourselves, stand and sit was vital for our bodies to be healthy and work at there most efficient.  As she was explaining this point into my mind jumped the thought!  What’s out Mission Posture?

This seemed to be to be a ‘light bulb’ moment, and not only for myself but for others in the room.  It resonated with something i've heard in a learning cohort Im involved in a couple of times a month. One of the group has helpfully been expressing and grappling with one of the active characteristics of God’s mission that being “sentness.”

So last evening I sat down did some reading and searching out about Mission Posture.  I was surprised to find that there was quite a bit written on this especially in Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer.

The writer says ‘The missional impulse of sentness is found in John 20:21, where John records Jesus saying, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” It may seem on the surface that sentness means going. While sentness certainly implies going, the Johannine mode of mission stresses something far deeper and richer given that it connects the sentness of the disciples to that of the Father sending the Son…. The depth of sentness as a missional impulse of the Church is understood in light of Jesus’ sentness.   The missional mode of “sentness” speaks of the Church (and individuals) having a missional posture.’
Stetzer goes on further to say ‘So as I understand it therefore Jesus’ sentness was that the Father sent him into the world. In Jesus’ name, the Father sent the Spirit as the indwelling presence of God to live among the people so that God may shine Jesus’ glory and bring salvation and healing to people (John 1:4, 14). Broadly, Jesus was sent to take up residence among God’s people so that they could behold God’s glory’.
So if we are the embodiment of Christ, As the Body of Christ, shouldn’t our posture be the same as the Sender and therefore shouldn’t the way we ‘do things around here replicate the reality of who God is?’

As I further read, Stetzer unpacks using the John scriptures to illustrate what this posture should be. 
  • ·        Bring glory and honour to the sender (John 5:23; 7:18)
  • ·        Do the sender’s will (4:34; 5:30, 38; 6:38–39) and works (5:36; 9:4)
  • ·        Speak the sender’s words (3:34; 7:16; 12:49; 14:10b, 24)
  • ·        Bear witness to the sender (5:36; 7:28)
  • ·        Represent the sender accurately (12:44–45; 13:20; 15:18–25)
  • ·        Exercise delegated authority from the sender (5:21–22, 27; 13:3; 17:2; 20:23)
  • ·        Know the sender intimately (7:29; cf. 15:21; 17:8, 25)
  • ·        Live in a close relationship with the sender (8:16, 18, 29; 16:32)
  • ·        Follow the sender’s example (13:16)

This feels to me like a really helpful ‘barometer’ of the health and vitality of The Church.
How I approach broken humanity.
How I approach my neighbour.
How I approach those within and without the church should be shaped by Missional Posture.  How I stand and conduct myself.  How I show and shine the reality of the Father through my words, actions etc.

Stetzer concludes ‘Since God is a sending God, sentness simply means we respond to his nature by living sent lives. The missional mode of “sentness” speaks of the Church (and individuals) having a missional posture. Thus, missional effectiveness requires churches to move from being distributors of religious goods and services to equipping a people sent on mission.’

Monday, 11 February 2019

Courageous Groundbreakers

Be bold.
Be courageous groundbreakers

Take hold of the power available to you in Christ!

These are some of the words which were prayed over us by Bishop Rik Thorpe, one of our guest speakers from 'outside' of the Salvation Army at last weeks National Pioneer Gathering.

As any pioneer would acknowledge these words are very much about the Joshua generation.
Picking up the challenge of the time and opportunity, to go boldly forward.  As Rik prayed, and as I have reflected one of my scripture verses keeps coming back to me.....

1 Corinthians 2  (NIV)2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

As we have reflected on the Pioneer Gathering 2019, Passionate Believers, Daring dreamers our minds have been blown apart by the graciousness of God, by the power of the story and peoples stories, and by the real blessing of being connected together with one another in community.

Im still amazed, in fact shocked, that over 200+ people gathered to explore the possibilities of what God can and desires to do within and through this movement called the Salvation Army.  As I looked out on the room in the last session I was quite overwhelmed with the emotion of seeing so many people being healed, reconciled and praying for boldness.  It was brilliant to have our national leaders with us, our head of mission and many others from across the spectrum of SA life and ministry.

There were so many highlights, to many too mention.  I particularly thought upon Andreas 'Seeking God' time on Wednesday morning.  Are we a Moment Capturers  and or a Moment Experiencer?
The one thing I was convinced of before the event, and even more since is that this was a significant event and we stand before God at a significant time.

Am I going to just capture the blessings and stay put or am I going to live out the experience, beyond the here and now?
A bit like Israel we cannot go back to Egypt or even keep looking bank.   Romanticizing about how things used to be!
We are pressing on forwards, we are longing, yearning for the promised land, our inheritance, the Kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven.

We must resist the default drag, the things that will keep pulling us back.
We have to be bold!
Courageous groundbreakers
Remember just 27 pioneers gathered in the same conference centre venue 5 years ago!
Now look!!!

What did you see?
What did you experience?
Momentum is coming...

So what does the Lord require of us, from you.
As Bishop Rik prayed with us
Lord I long you to see you move in power, in mercy, in love and in compassion over our communities and over our nation.
I want to be bolder in what the Lord is calling me to, stirring in my heart

Can we be brave together
Can we be overt risk takers for the Kingdom
Can we do this together, with one another?
Can we intentionally invest in others, raise up leaders and let them fly?

Would you dream with me.......and ask the Lord to give me the grace, boldness and power to respond to the challenge?

Would the new army rising be full of passionate believers, and daring dreamers!

So Im praying that even now you will be thinking of who you are going to bring along, to invest in and rise up.
One picture has stayed with me, when we asked how many first timers were in the room in our last worship and over half the room stood up!!!

Lets be Bold in Christ......Gods got this!
It really is time to push the boundaries of who and what we are.
No turning back!

Emmaus Pioneer Journey

Picture the scene. You arrive, on a day off to spend the day with one of your children. To help him out. You're greeted by about 5 t...