Friday, 4 October 2019

Digital Babylon

The term 'Digital Babylon' offered by Kinnamen and Matlock gives incredibly helpful language for our contemporary context. For a great insight, watch this YouTube video:
The digitally connected experience that we are now immersed in is akin to the people transported to the foreign land of Babylon - a place that is largely Godless and with a number of competing thoughts and experiences.

Yet despite these surroundings true faith is still possible - God can still be known, and He is still active. The sister term 'Resilient Disciples' is equally helpful - people who learn to be faithful and forthright in their faith despite the surroundings.

Remember that Daniel and the other greats from that part of the Old Testament did their faith within the foreign system! They lived different yet did not isolate themselves off. They even had high ranking positions in the regimes that sometimes (but not always) overtly acted against faith in God.

Let us not build fortresses to contain adherents, but let us do our mission out their in the wild of Digital Babylon, seeking to be and to make resilient disciples who can thrive even in such a foreign land. For this is the way of God - who is still working, still transforming, and still drawing forward in His salvation purposes.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Disney Gets it Right

Over the summer I watched the new Disney Lion King: the CGI remake of the original cartoon. In a way I only partly enjoyed it, because some of those great one-liners I remember from the original had been replaced (to my dismay) with new dialogue.

Yet in the new script was one key line where the script-writers get it right. Scar is being taken to task for his despot approach to kingship, and is told:

Being king is not about what you can take, but about what you can give.

This chimes so well with the Christian poem in Philippians 2, describing Jesus not hanging onto his position but giving it up, lowering himself for humankind, indeed the whole of creation. He lives a 'given life', giving himself for the benefit of all around.

That one liner in Disney's Lion King captures the concept, and shows what true kingship and leadership is about. Thank you Disney script-writers!

Too bad many of our national top politicians don't seem to get this concept - pray for them!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Glory Pour Down

There are times when I find myself praying that God would simply open up the heavens and pour down His glory: a kind of Isaiah 64:1 'rend the heavens' thing, or Isaiah 45:8 'you heavens above rain down my righteousness', or Isaiah 40:5 'the glory of the Lord will be revealed'!

Yes please, Lord, let your glory fall.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of passing through Singapore, with time to visit 'The Jewel' at the airport. Truly an extraordinary achievement of man, and a sight to behold - for you get to see this!
A massive circular waterfall, pouring down from the domed roof of this extraordinary 5 story building!

In my mind its hard to beat this sight enjoyed at The Jewel as an illustration of God rending the heavens and pouring down His glory! The domed roof for me is symbolic of that spiritual barrier perceived by many between us in physical creation and the heavenlies. Yet through this barrier God pours in an incredible abundance, which produces life all around it (see the lush green plants/trees around the pool).

On occasion when doing prayer ministry for someone I will get a sense of God pouring down onto/into their life. Sometimes it is a sense of water falling, sometimes like rose petals gentle coming down over the person, just occasionally soothing or anointing oil. Any of these is encouraging for me and the person receiving prayer.

Yet I continue to pray and long for a day when 'the glory of the Lord will be revealed', where it is an unmistakable mass waterfall seeming to come through the 'roof' of the world!

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Life On the Line - Philippians 1:12 - 30

"I want you to know that what has happened to me has served to advance the good news of Jesus!". These were Paul's words in a letter to the Philippian Christians. Paul had devoted himself to travelling city to city, proclaiming Jesus in each place.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

From the mouths of infants ...

A friend of mine told me a wonderful story. He had recently taken his granddaughter (circa 5 yrs old) to a play at a local theatre. With an audience of about 200 the play only had 2 characters - both workmen nearing retirement.

The whole play centred on their dialogue. The pair were out to do a job (repainting a playground), but it was all about their conversation - in which they recounted their life stories spent together right from childhood at school. It was clear that the pair were friends, but the exchange revealed issues and dis-chord that had been present since their school days.

Just when I was thinking 'blimey, that sounds intense, how did your 5 year old cope?' my friend explained how his granddaughter was totally engrossed in the play. One of the characters revealed that the other, Fred, had hurt him when young and that no apology had ever been forthcoming - a revelation that now flummoxed Fred after all this time.

It was at this moment of heightened tension that my friend's granddaughter suddenly stood up in the middle of the audience and called out:
Its okay Fred, its never too late to say sorry!

I'm not sure how the characters recovered and continued the play, nor whether the next line in the dialogue resonated or clashed with this outburst. But to me it demonstrated a wonderful point: that even our young children can boldly inject profound theological truth in the midst of adults.

Psalm 8 verse 2 talks of the power of infants - as adults we really should stop kidding ourselves that we have the monopoly on profound speech and understanding. In fact sometimes we need a young person to say it direct and break through the layers of cruft that adults have accumulated!

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Unity

Psalm 133:1 is well known for the words "How good it is when God's people live together in unity". It is indeed good! Yet the fact is it is also hard work, and effort that must be sustained if there is to be fruitful unity in the long haul.

Unity requires more than us just meeting to worship with one another from time to time (though it is of course good to do that!). Unity requires that we make that extra bit of effort to communicate and include. It requires us to share our thoughts and plans with a genuine openness to 'the other'.

It requires us parking to a significant degree that which would be solely our own agenda, our own 'way of doing things'. It requires us to pursue joint operations even when it might seem to be 'just easier' to go it alone. It requires us to suspend our suspicions.

I'm sure many of us know all this. But what we might also forget is that unity requires us to keep on doing the above ... to keep on making that extra bit of effort to communicate more widely and include, for example. On one level this is simply because our regular 'bumping into occasions' are with those we work with, with those in our own organisation. So naturally we share / bounce off / touch base with these people a lot more than we do with those in other organisations. We therefore have to work harder and network more intentionally to overcome the relative deficit.

Our different organisations probably have different top line visions or directions of travel. There is nothing wrong with that, but again it means that on our joint operations we have to work that little bit harder to rehearse the value and reason for our co-operation - it won't come as naturally as within our own organisation.

All this means that we have to keep working the pump, so to speak. An initial well intentioned gathering will be good but will only get us so far. To pursue unity will need more sustained effort, applied and re-applied over and over.