Monday, 25 January 2010

The emerging church and revival or vs revival?.

I am wondering if the emerging church is the new wine skin and questioning where is the new wine and could it be that the emerging church is just a rearranging of the deck chairs? Is the emerging church and revival the same thing or are they in competition for time resources and attention?
For years we talked of, dreamed of, believed even, prophecies about the Wild fire rising from Wales, being released across the nation and into Europe and now where there appears to be something of the wild being experienced we wonder if it is what we were looking for. Maybe as John the Baptist had his moment in prison, we too think it looks so different from what we had in mind can it really be God? The raw love of Jesus let loose, maybe like a wild goose? So much joy and love, stories of healing and deliverance, the lost being impacted by songs of the revolution, can it be the Wild fire is rising?
Having read some articles and books about the emerging church it seems to be the latest shape for those who no longer want to be subject to the ways of Empire, who want to return to social justice and impact their locality, improving the society they live in, social transformation rather than cosy clubs, prepared to pay the price for the lost, true believers in the absolute need for justice. We look to verses about feeding the poor, looking after the widow, the story of the sheep and the goats. To infiltrate and influence society, look to slowly but surely influence our friends and society to a better way of life and hope that one day some will say the ‘the prayer’.
What of revival, is this now something we no longer believe in. It is something of the past or for different nations, perhaps 100,000 folk being saved in India recently is just for them but could not happen here. Perhaps as our generation has not experienced it we now change the words and look to transformation instead and give reasons why revivals are not really the plan anymore and don’t have any value? Have we given up on God and decided to sort out society for ourselves.
History tells us that no revivals have ever happened without prayer, people calling out for God to come, to turn the nation, to save them. Stories tell us of regions completely transformed by the power of God, men kneeling in fields sobbing and crawling into churches asking for help. Pubs closing, sporting events cancelled, a renewed sense of community and churches packed. These stories are from our own set of islands not too long ago. The story of the three years of ministry could be seen as a revival, thousands coming to listen to a man on a mountainside, if we saw that today would we say it was a revival? The kingdom of heaven is at hand he said, he healed the sick, he delivered, he taught, he walked on water, he didn’t have many civil words for the establishment or the religious and he set the scene for what was possible. He loved the unloved and accepted those that the religious had rejected. He ate with the despised and taught about a kingdom of forgiveness and love and prayed that we would be fully united with him. He told us that we would only be fruitful if we abided in him. We talk of the great commission which has at its core discipleship to make followers of Jesus, to live as Jesus lived, to be like Jesus and I wonder if we have taken a well meaning detour and decided to disciple but not so much like Jesus. He was a bit intense after all!
I wouldn’t want to think revival was off the cards and social transformation now the reason for the church. I think there must be a way through for both but fear when we focus only on social transformation we are leaving God out of the world he loves so much. I believe he still wants to ravish this world with his love and wants to use us to do it and so I think we need the new wine which maybe brings revival or we will have a very tiring wineskin.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Years Honours list

As the New Year honours list has been issued and the queen has set out those she considers worthy of honour, I thought I would take a moment to honour some folk who I believe are worthy of honourable note in the last year.
Firstly the Dyke family. All year they have walked a journey that has expressed the true meaning of family. They have constantly supported each other emotionally, spiritually and physically. Despite the distance in miles between them they have shown that love knows no distance and will not be contained by any barrier. Their testimony to the power of God to comfort and strengthen and their determined hope to trust Him ‘come what may’ has and will continue to have a life changing impact on all who know them.
I have a few friends who struggle with depression. They have this year continued to battle despite the crushing desire to give up. They have pushed through to continue to engage with the world around them, looking for ways to encourage others and been determined not to sink. They are all to be honoured for their strength and their hope.
One friend has persevered through incredibly tough times at work. She has turned up every day despite the overwhelming stress and lack of support, determined to do her best for her clients and to honour her employers. She has refused to lose herself to the pressure and I hope she has been able to end the year with a sense of success.
Another couple are walking a path so close to her own painful story that I am amazed that they are getting out of bed and continuing to believe the best of God.
Honour to those I know who choose to walk the narrow path facing uncertainty, misunderstanding and isolation. They are to be honoured for daring to dream and doing something about it. Dreams can only become reality if we make choices in line with the seemingly impossible.
Most of my friends struggle with sickness in one form or another. Courageously they deal with their allergies, their aches and pains, their lack of diagnosis, their limitations and their difficulties. I am praying this year for breakthrough for them and I honour them for their courage and determination to get the best of life and trust in the one who loves them the most.
The majority of the people I know are pursuing an extraordinary life, looking for opportunities to make a positive contribution to their community and endeavouring to be good people to their friends and family. They are to be honoured for continuing to run the race even when sometimes it feels like they are alone on the track.

Honour to those who the world does not know, the unsung, unknown heroes of my life.