This is how we grow beans in Calgary.
I’ve not posted here for quite some time, I know, but there’s just a thought / picture I had back in January that I’d like to share.
This is regarding Service. Mark 10 v43-44 may be familiar to you: “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all“. To serve, and become ‘the least of these’, is a familiar concept to Christians. Of course, it is easier to accept this with your mind than get your heart to follow. The latter seems to take a lifetime of schooling, and even then, our own needs and selfishness seems to get in the way far too often.
Which brings me to the picture. How would you feel if, at the heavenly banquet, you found that your place was to serve the other guests? Don’t worry about the theology of that, the question is how would you feel? The answer may tell you something about the state of your own heart. Would you be willing, eager to serve? Or would you feel resentful, ashamed maybe a little angry? That perhaps you had somehow not received what you were ‘owed’? Or maybe you would feel some combination of all of the above.
Would serving at the Banquet for you be a place of honour, or dishonour?
This post is going to be about Anglican matters, and what I see as at least the partial fulfillment of a prophecy given 9 years ago.
Back in June 2004, I received this word:
I saw a mid sized tree (or possibly a large bush) with only bare brown branches. The tree was dead, and represented to me the apostate church. Springing from the same ground, a little to one side, was a strong shoot, green and sprouting. This represented the new church that is being brought forth to life. I saw the potential that this shoot had, to become a strong vibrant tree, full of flowers and fruit.
This acted as a reinforcement of my current feeling that God is dividing the Church – not just letting it be divided, but actively making it happen, indeed using those with a liberal agenda to His purposes. The dead tree is ‘ichabod’ – the Glory has departed. The structure is still there, and indeed may take some time to decay, but the Glory is there no more. I am left with the impression that investing any more time in this structure is futile, a waste of time. Rather, we should be considering the growth of what God is raising up. It has a real potential, but it’s still potential now, we need to be obedient in being grown
Now, much has happened since that original word, and one key thing has been the growth of the new Anglican Church worldwide – not apart from the Anglican Communion, but very much central to it; renewal from within. The old structures are there, but they are increasingly dead, decaying and surviving by consuming themselves.
The future of this Communion can be found in such places as GAFCON. And it was in relation to the second GAFCON conference held in Nairobi recently that I saw this fulfillment.
BabyBlue had this post up, talking about the Jacaranda Tree.
GAFCON 2013 is now over and the participants are preparing to return home. I am listening to Josh Garrels, who wrote Jacaranda Tree. I had posted online an amazing photo of a Jacaranda Tree taken by Andrew Gross in Nairobi this week during the GAFCON gathering. The photo had remained in my mind throughout the week and it just seemed to reflect the best of this historic gathering Kenya – the best of it. We are all branches of a beautiful tree, seeking to bloom – and sometimes in the most unexpected places.
We are indeed seeking to bloom, and will do, as much as God blesses us to do so. Though, I still believe that to produce the fruit that the Lord calls us to, we will have to be brought, repeatedly, to our knees in repentance and prayer. That’s the key to revival. There is nothing we can do, except humble ourselves, and beseech the Lord to have mercy on us. Then perhaps, perhaps, He will give us the best of gifts – Himself. Everything else flows from that.
I have been meaning to post this from Bonhoeffer for a while – it is most insightful.
Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you (Matt. 7:6). The promise of grace is not to be squandered; it needs to be protected from the godless. There are those who are not worthy of the sanctuary. The proclamation of grace has its limits. Grace may not be proclaimed to anyone who does not recognize or distinguish or desire it. Not only does that pollute the sanctuary itself, not only must those who sin still be guilty against the Most Holy, but in addition, the misuse of the Holy must turn against the community itself. The world upon whom grace is thrust as a bargain will grow tired of it, and it will not only trample upon the Holy, but also will tear apart those who force it on them. For its own sake, for the sake of the sinner, and for the sake of the community, the Holy is to be protected from cheap surrender. The Gospel is protected by the preaching of repentance which calls sin sin and declares the sinner guilty. The key to loose is protected by the key to bind. The preaching of grace can only be protected by the preaching of repentance.
Not sure I can add much to that, other than to observe that the preaching of repentance does not seem to be a popular thing these days. Which is why it is very likely to be all the more needed.
I was reading with some interest the recent European Court case involving four Christians. The outcome was all too predictable – Christians 0, Secular Culture 1 (apart from one case, to cover the essential decisions in all the others).
What I found most interesting was the comments that followed. One dominant thread was that of “if you can’t do that job because of your beliefs, tough – go find another job”. Now, what that really is about is the emergent new intolerance, breaking free from its shell for all to see. Really, it was there all the time – all the nonsense about tolerance and diversity were mere platitudes to cover the essential reality of nations descending again into paganism, and one worldview replacing another.
What’s particularly notable is that the new intolerance is now on public display, and the reality is it will become more entrenched as time goes on and the new worldview cements its hold. Expect to see more restrictions on what Christians may do. Don’t expect the eventual realisation that Christians have been ‘marginalised’, ‘sent to the back of the bus’, ‘unable to get decent employment’ etc. to be a wakeup call. Rather, what you will hear is “your bigoted beliefs, your problem”.
In this new totalitarianism, there is no softening of Christian love or charity; in this new diversity is only uniformity; in this equality, some are less equal than others; in this tolerance festers the most rank form of intolerance. And most will either not care, or celebrate it.
Well, this sounds a bit grim, doesn’t it? Still – all is well, for “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16 v33b. The world will hate you, it is what it does. If you bear the mark of Christ, you will be hated. But He has overcome the world, defeated it and led captives in His train. There will be a wedding feast of the Lamb. And on that day, the spirit of this age will be cast out to the place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Because the Lamb has overcome all. Will you stand with Him, follow Him, even if that means following in His footsteps to the cross?
A storm is coming,
It will rise and cover the ends of the earth.
It will touch all,
Rich and Poor,
Sinner and Saint.
Make your foundations deep,
In Rock, not in sand,
In Who cannot be broken
Wait for the Lord and He will clothe you with strength and grace from on High,
And you will weather the storm, and be mighty in the land.
I feel led to repost the first prophetic vision I had back in 2002. It’s not rocket science, but it needs saying, and it needs hearing.
This vision was given to me when I asked the Lord why I felt like I was starving at our then current church. I was feeling increasingly frustrated that there was something very real and vital missing from us. The vision given was specifically for that church but I feel it has a wider application.
I saw a tree, most particularly the root structure, in profile. The soil was shallow and there was a large boulder, or mass of rock underneath. Most roots spread out widely into shallow soil. While the tree was alive, there was no depth to sustain the tree should there be a drought. Neither was there sufficient depth of soil to feed the tree properly.
At the same time I also saw a tap root, extending down through the heart of the rock. The root had the potential to grow and break up the rock, which was preventing a deep and healthy root system.
This vision is both a warning and a hope. The tree represents the Church, in particular the western Church. The warning is that the Church is reliant on shallow soil, and as a result it cannot grow further and it cannot withstand times of trial. We spread our roots widely through all the avenues of shallow faith and faint spiritual reality.
However, the hope is also with us. The tap root (perhaps representing Jesus) has already drilled through the rock (which represents all that which would prevent the growth of the Church). This Root is like a promise, a potential to us. If we direct our efforts through this Root, we can spread deeply and widely, and can begin to break up the rock. That may appear daunting, and will not be easy, but it is possible, the strength is there. We are all called to go deeper, with all the potential that lies there.
Both the warning and hope are held out to us. It requires a response.
Seek the Lord while He may be found.
Seek the Lord before the gates of mercy shut.
We have plans, purposes. Perhaps they will bear fruit, perhaps not.
The Lord is still the Lord whether or not we choose to acknowledge him.
All our time is in His hands. So redeem it well! And know how limited it is.
It is not morbid to think so, it is wisdom. Better than pretending all will stay the same.
So seek Him. Seek Him while He may be found!
To have a heart that is aligned with Yours. To see what You are doing and do likewise. To care about the things that You care about. That is my desire.
So easy to focus on trinkets, things of no eternal value. But we are finite creatures, with finite time. So quickly it flies away. Take captive every thought for Christ, the Book says, and it is right. For on what you focus, there will your heart be also.
Not to say there is not room for interests, for hobbies, and the suchlike, but the relentless round of entertainment, of the endless procession of worldly things, can distract, confuse, beguile and mislead.
Better to have a heart that is focused on the things of the Lord – on His things, not on our concept of what serving should be. His yoke is easy, and His burden light. Ours, often not so much. How much we miss by refusing Him, even as we think we serve Him.
Lord Jesus, help us care about the things You care about. Help us to be where you are also. Amen.
I had a vivid dream back in February that I’ve been holding on to – not knowing what, if anything, I should do with it. I’m posting it today in the attempt to be obedient, and pass on to you what I saw.
I was in the high Arctic, in a small town. There was a central facility with a team gathered there, who fed and helped us. I left the place, to gather other people to this place, but as we approached it again a large wave crashed into the facility, drowning / freezing those who were there. What we were left with was small hovels, huddling to keep warm. Immediately after, I had the sense of the grief of the Lord – so much raw passion. Then, subsequently, it was as if I saw huge waves crashing onto the coastlines of the earth. So much of what was of value to people was ruined. Many, many deaths.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this one, or try to explain what it might mean. Let the reader discern in His name – and any feedback is welcome.