Obviously the YouTube videos of the two presidential candidates on the Saddleback Civil Forum are up and everywhere. I like to listen-on-the-run often so I converted them to MP3s. Here they are in the 11 parts, just like on the YouTube videos. I hope you’ll find it as useful as I did.
As a youth, I was a great fan of Monty Python. The Flying Circus was great and The Holy Grail was…well the Holy Grail!
One of the great expression from Monty Python and the Holy Grail was, “Run Away!”, which was uttered numerous times throughout the film if memory serves, as a replacement for “Retreat!”
Well, I’ve discovered recently that there isn’t a replacement for retreat!
I’m not speaking of natural flight before an overwhelming foe, rather the time-honored tradition of spending a block of time in solitude to re-focus and refresh.
This summer, my head was down in concentration and I was focused on attaining certain milestones in the evolution of the computer network at the private Christian School “Collège-Daniel” where I work in Alsace, France. I was determined to achieve breakthrough and had been working on certain issues for a loooooonnnngggg time. The artificial goal I’d set required that I achieve certain things during the summer break that I simply couldn’t work on effectively during the school year.
Angela had been gone for a month in the States, hoping-against-hope that I’d have wrapped it all up by the time I met her at the airport with flowers in hand (which I did, of course!), and then we could actually relax a bit during the summer break [peanut gallery “snicker” here].
Of course while she was gone, I couldn’t hardly get anything done because I was running the house (and not nearly as efficiently as she does!) So, when I went right back at it at school our “expectation conflict” was beginning to brew.
Eventually it boiled over and soon thereafter I got sick for a week…so, she was right that I was working too much and my priorities were messed up. Additionally, as we reflected together on our “summer of family transition” and our last 8-9 years of cross-cultural adventure and moving from house to house, the accumulated weight of stress in my life became more evident to me.
Run Away! Run Away!
I finally realized just how exhausted I was…spirit, soul and body. It was time for a change of scenery and pace.
I’d heard of a place in Alsace, near Munster, where there was a retreat center run by protestant order of sisters where one could get away for a spiritual retreat. After some checking around, I finally found the Community Center at Hohrodberg (Centre Communautaire du Hohrodberg.) About the same, time a good friend of mine in the States also took a retreat. I knew it was a confirmation. I needed to run away!
So, I took 5 days to spend time resting and talking and listening to God. Of course, I had naively hoped to come back all cleaned up, rested up, filled up and full of clear direction for the year to come (among other things). This was a similar sentiment that I had when I left for our YWAM DTS 9 years ago.
God doesn’t seem to work that way with me…;-)
No, He seems to have a preference for drawing me and coaxing me toward Him via “hedging me in” in ways that are uncomfortable…physically, spiritually, and emotionally. He understands that “perfect bliss” in my natural life doesn’t push me Further Up and Further In!
So Angela drove me about an hour northwest of our home in Soultz to Hohrodberg. The final 10 minutes of drive are a beautiful, winding climb up higher and higher in the Vosges.
The Centre Communautaire du Hohrodberg is a collection of 3 buildings that straddle this winding road as it continues on into the Vosges. I was welcomed by one of the 7 sisters (in the “order” sense of the word) that live at the Center and run it. Their full-time vocation is to pray continually and welcome visitors to the Center. I was shown around and then shown my room. I said good-bye to Angela and settled in for my 4-5 days with the Lord.
My room was named “Horeb” and was situated in the building named “Elim.” It was immaculate! It was small but very thoughtfully appointed – bed, sink, table, night-stand, good lighting, good storage, great view, etc. I really couldn’t have asked for a better situation. I never saw any other rooms but I was very impressed by mine.
Horeb is mentioned several times in scripture; notably as the sight of Moses’ burning bush (Exodus 3:1-3) and Elijah’s encounter with the Lord (I Kings 19:4-18). Elijah’s experience spoke to me while I was there. Here’s a little comparison between his “Horeb experience” and mine:
Starts out exhausted after a concentrated time of heavy-duty ministry
Starts out exhausted after several years of spread-out ministry
Sleeps…wakened by an angel to eat divinely provided foot…repeat 2x
Sleeps…wakened by alarm clocks to eat food prepared by the sisters at the center…repeat 3x/day
Re-finding his strength, goes on 40 day hike to the mountains
Re-finding his strength, goes on 1 1/2 hour hike in the mountains
Experiences wind, earthquake, fire…but no God
Sees where men have experienced wind, earthquake and fire…but no God in fierce fighting in WWI at the “Lingekopf” near the Center.
Experiences calm…and dialogs with God
Experiences calm, where once was war, and dialogs with God
As I mentioned, my time at Hohrodberg, though valuable and peaceful, wasn’t idyllic. Idyllic is something I’d love to experience, but I know that idyllic doesn’t refine me.
At Hohrodberg, one is expected to enter into the community rhythm while staying there. I took a wonderful 3-day retreat many years ago at Sacred Heart in Colorado., and the integration was a bit more “à la carte” there, if you will. I think I preferred that. At Hohrodberg, office is 3-times-a-day, just before meals. The meals are all taken communally, course-by-course, with the breakfast and evening meals being eating in silence. Everyone participates, in turn, in the wash-up after the meals.
Probably what was hardest for me were the meals. I found it annoying to “eat in rhythm” with the serving of the courses. I also struggled with eating in silence with people on my right and left that I didn’t know. I don’t mind silence at all, but I prefer it in conjunction with solitude/physical separation. A crowded room of silence actually feels a bit oppressive to me. The food wasn’t outstanding either, so I didn’t really look forward to meal times.
I had all the rest of the time to myself and it was more than sufficient. But…the “imposed rhythm” marked me enough that I might think twice before going back…or perhaps I’d go back for a shorter time, in a better all-around state. I was more or less in “critical care” when I went, and really wanted to take a break from any particular rhythm…good or bad. I imagine that going there “healthy” for 2-3 days would probably flow much better for me.
I didn’t take my guitar or a camera. I’m glad I chose not to. The guitar would have been a distraction and the amazing beauty would have endlessly whispered (or screamed), “Capture me! Capture me!” As it is, I captured what I could with camera on my phone and added an album for Hohrodberg on our gallery. Having a “phone cam” however, allowed me to take very quick snapshots without getting sucked into the time-consuming activity of creating photographic works of art (in my dreams!)
The rest, the reading, the prayer, the walking, the offices, the enveloping beauty…all of this combined to communicate a handful of simple messages that have been amplified and confirmed since returning home:
Song of Solomon 2:14 is Jesus’ gracious, loving and merciful call to me right now. In my hike, at several points the path I took led me through the “clefts of the rocks.” The call of my Beloved is clear to me…I’ve only to respond.
While not intended to penetrate my life as anchors of shame, my weaknesses were underlined to me…in much the same way that God spoke to Elijah on mount Horeb to correct his errant thinking and I limp with them as Israel, né Jacob, did after Jabbok (Genesis 32:22-31).
I’ve loved serving God more than I’ve loved God Himself. I’ve been thrilled with the gift of being called into Kingdom service in things that personally I enjoy doing. However, even “enjoyable Kingdom work” does not bring a level of satisfaction and pleasure that greatly surpasses other earthly pleasures, nor does it renew and refresh over the long haul. It drains, perhaps slowly…but surely, and doesn’t provide a “protective pleasure” that makes worldly pleasures “pale in comparison.” Only loving God does that. This is subtle mind you… One can’t focus on loving God directly and somehow leave Kingdom service behind. The two are inextricably bound. It’s an issue rather of motivation and priority…but it is an important issue.
The hour is such that my need to make a distinction between the #1 priority of the “One Thing” (Psalm 27:4) and #2-#n priorities can no longer suffer neglect…neglect must now be reserved for my “urgent matters” that pop-up to take me away from my One Thing. Included in the “not #1 priorities” would be clear direction for all activities. That’s for the Lord to reveal when He wants…my pursuit is Him.
(This post is an excerpt of my daughter Rachel’s Facebook post about her participation in the Freedom Walk in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago)
Around 300 years ago, a religious group of people suffered severe persecution in Switzerland. A certain Lord Ribeaupierre invited those people to come and live in Alsace, France and farm the land. Among his conditions were that the people take a ‘vow of silence’ and refrain from any kind of witnessing or proselytizing. They agreed, moved, and withdrew as religious communities from the outside world. Later, many emigrated to the United States.
This story is about the Anabaptists, who are still around and known as Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren. And strange as it may sound, this is the reason I went to Pennsylvania last week.
Sins committed in the past can be confessed, repented of, and forgiven in the present. God leads individuals and groups today to stand humbly in the place of their ancestors and deal with these sins. This work of reconciliation breaks off generational curse of sin and spiritual strongholds that affect and imprison places today.
A team of people from my church in France flew to Pennsylvania to ask forgiveness for having imposed the ‘vow of silence’ and to intercede (pray for) Lancaster by joining a group of various believers to complete a prayer walk around the perimeter of Lancaster county.
I was invited to join by the leaders of the prayer walk (who are good friends), and to help with translating for the French team!
And it was awesome.
Revival is coming to Lancaster.
Revival is coming to the Amish.
We saw some of the beginning signs of this in the 5 Amish families who prayer walked with us! A few years ago, they were given a supernatural healing ministry and were consequently excommunicated from the Amish church. Now they are a community and call their work Light of Hope Ministries. They see themselves as bridging the gap between the Amish and the rest of the Christian community. I LOVED (lovedlovedloved) being with them, spending time with the children, mixing with another culture, and being challenged by their passionate spirituality and vision.
Read more about them here: https://charismamag.com/articles/index.php?id=17482
Because of the French team and their need for translation, I feel like God has also used this week to give me a second chance – (that I really didn’t deserve – to appreciate the French and the French language. For the last few years, I’ve generally resented speaking French and feeling doomed to substandard communication. Despite what people say, I know just how far from fluency I am! Not only that, but my confidence had gone way down after being away at BFA for two years…
So, knowing that He could, I asked God to help me translate beyond my abilities this week. There were MORE than enough opportunities to serve, and of every variety – French to English/English to French, simultaneous/phrase-by-phrase, informal/formal, one-on-one/group situations… and yes, many times it was easier than I anticipated. God was helping me! I learned several things: first, that I may actually be gifted in translating. Second, I learned better to dismiss the fear of being judged for my mistakes. The fact that the people in the French team all know and love me helped. I had to think about others first, and realize when they weren’t understanding… forcing me to be very NOT self-centered. Not always easy.
I’ve been on a total of eight plane trips this summer, and – what are the odds – been given a window seat every time. I know heaven isn’t really a straight up shoot from earth (more of a parallel realm), and yet, there’s something about that “God’s eye view” that takes my mind outside the box… and I smile at the big screaming deal we think we are.
Do you ever wonder what it would look like to fly over the US on July 4th in the evening? I do.
This teaching was given in the context of IHOP’s “Joseph Company” marketplace-ministry. Mike is speaking mostly in a context of business leaders with respect to the Cyrus Anointing, though he does place it in a larger perspective as well. He probably wasn’t primarily thinking, however, about leaders of countries. Well, I was thinking about Samuel Rhein’s call to intercessors to pray for the next president to become like “Cyrus in God’s hands.” Consequently, when one sees what is proposed by the Mediterranean Union, the call for Nicholas Sarkozy to be like Cyrus and listens to this teaching, there are all sorts of interesting possibilities. Most importantly, however, I think that this is a call for intercessors to birth the purposes of God during this hour of history.
So, whether you listen to this specifically with respect to Sarkozy or just to understand the Cyrus anointing in the end times, I commend to you an excellent resource in these teachings to fuel your intercession.
This year I’ve been reading my Bible a bit differently. Taking a challenge I heard from a Mike Bickle teaching once, I’ve read “10 chapters a day” in the New Testament, which effectively takes you through the New Testament in 1 month. I’ve since re-divided that into “10 pages a day” because not all “10 chapters” are created equally!!! 😀
I’m coming toward the end of this year of reading in this way and I’m anxious to try the same sort of thing on other parts of the Bible. This has been very rewarding to do this for one year. It’s brought me a lot of revelation and new perspectives on things. I recommend it.
Having said that, there are certainly parts that I come up on and am not too anxious to read again. God is faithful though and continues to speak to me even in parts that become tedious for me to read. Sometimes however, we still need a fresh perspective from somewhere else to help us get past our mental blocks in reading certain passages.
For me one of those “certain passages” was different parts of the book of Acts, and in particular from when Paul goes on trial until the end. Well, I’ve found some help in the form of a teaching from NT Wright. During a recent visit to Asbury Seminary, NT Wright gave a number of excellent messages (more posts to come!) of which one was an overview of the book of Acts.
Wright has a way of injecting life into passages with perspectives that one has not really considered and an historical context that sheds an altogether different light on things you’ve read over and over.
I know it’s been a LONG time since the last entry but the blog’s not dead…just on the back-burner with a busy season of life.
Included in this busy season was my participation, along with my daughter Rachel, in the 2nd week of a two-week prayer walk, undertaken by the intercessors of our church (and others) between Saint-Louis, France (in Alsace, just north of the city of Basel, Switzerland), through Switzerland to Geneva, and on out into France…all the way to Lyon, France. The part that Rachel and I walked was from Lausanne, Switzerland to Lyon, France. Here’s my report…sorry for its length! ;c)
You can read about the general purpose of the walk at our church’s web site here. Also a more detailed document of some of the historical reasons for this specific prayer-walk can be found at our church’s web site here. A Google Maps view of the route can be found here.
We drove down from Alsace early on the morning of Friday, July 20th to Lausanne where we met up with others from Switzerland and elsewhere in France to hopefully begin walking around 9am.
Lausanne was where the walkers who did the first week of the prayer walk had ended 2 days prior, and apparently it had been difficult to enter into Lausanne and stay together as a group. We had a bit of the same difficulty in walking out of Lausanne towards Geneva.
At this point, it’s important to understand a bit of the daily logistics of such a walk. To accomplish a walk from Basel to Lyon in two weeks, one needs to cover about 40-50 kilometers a day. If each person had to walk that, it would only be athletes that could participate on such a walk…and we’re far from that! On this walk we had people from their teens to their 70’s participating on this walk, and only a handful were in tip-top shape.
So how is this accomplished? We walk in “relay-style.” In our case we had between 11 and 13 people walking and we had 3 cars traveling with the walkers. We would send out a couple of walkers and a car would travel on about 2 kilometers and stop and send out a few more walkers. In the meantime the other cars would leap-frog the car and walkers and send out other walkers and wait for the walkers that had been sent out behind them to complete their two kilometers. So we had at any one point in time, 2 to 3 sections of 2 kilometers each being walked and prayed for simultaneously. The distance on a map can seem great but this relay-style walking makes it fly by.
As I said, we had a bit of difficulty walking out of Lausanne. There is a sort of “rhythm” that is necessary to walk in together as a team. Without it, this relay style of walking can get confusing. People alternate between driving and walking. Both drivers and walkers need to have some idea of the route if they come to a crossroads. Not every walker can drive. One has to be aware of who is walking where so as to have a driver for every car, etc., etc. Some people are naturally more aware and alert about logistical details. In our international team, not everyone was a native French speaker so language could definitely become an issue.
As we started out, I was definitely confused as to where each car was and was with an older, somewhat fearful French lady who was driving her niece’s car and I was waiting until I could wear my knee brace (left in a different car) before I started to walk. We managed to get out of Lausanne and on a fairly direct route to Geneva, but not without some stress about getting lost, etc.
While waiting for some walkers at one point in Lausanne, I noticed a small flock of sheep in a small field in the middle of an urban neighborhood. They were peacefully eating while nearby traffic and commuter trains zoomed by. As I reflected on the world-renowned wrist-watch industry of Switzerland, I felt God was saying that the Swiss have a gift for the “rhythm of life” that is able to tightly integrate the beauty of creation with the necessities of human life and that He wanted that rhythm to be learned by other nations too. When I did walk later that day, I was beating on my small doumbek drum and walking by myself. God reminded me again about rhythm and about a teaching that I’d recently heard about the redemptive gifts of a territory (Plumbline Ministries…download/listen to teachings here). It was at this point that I realized that in some respects we had started out our walk “out of step” with the land of Switzerland and its “rhythm.” We were ostensibly walking to honor Switzerland, but we were dishonoring it at a fundamental level. Later, one of our team members was filling up their car with gas at a Swiss service station and joked with the cashier in asking if gas was free for foreigners. The cashier said that foreigners in Switzerland were a pest and they should get out! In the first week, the team had heard about how France had historically not kept her promises to Switzerland. We had, indeed, struck a nerve.
We were a team of 2 Americans, 1 German, a bunch of French and 2 people from Switzerland (one of whom was actually a Flemish Belgian and the other born in Colombia and adopted by a couple in Switzerland). So, we were not a very “Swiss” team and our manner of walking had not taken into account a Swiss rhythm of life. We had come in a bit too “French”, I think. Consequently we were walking out of step with the gifting of the land of Switzerland and felt the dissonance and confusion in our team. When we purposed to really honor Switzerland and not try to “push” too hard, a rhythm was found in the relay walking.
The 2nd day we walked into Geneva and were privileged to have some former members of our church, who have since moved away, walk with us. It was a father and a son, and the father works with a ministry that is frequently in Switzerland. In addition to frequently being in Geneva, he was also helpful in helping us better understand the issue of money and the Swiss. While many are aware of the abuses of money in private Swiss bank accounts, this brother pointed out to us that the idea that the Swiss have a big problem with money is really false. He said that the Swiss are among the most generous in the world. Regularly, between a French meeting and a Swiss meeting, his ministry can expect to see an offering that is twice the size in Switzerland than in France. Of course all good gifts and talents can be twisted by the enemy for his devices, but as we walked into this very rich city of Geneva, we were able to bless the gift that Switzerland has of generosity and call forth the riches of this nation to be used for God’s glory. We also desire that the gifting for managing money that Switzerland has be taught to other nations as well.
Due to the difficulty of driving in a large city and our desire to visit and pray in several places in Geneva, we parked the cars at a parking garage and set out on foot. This proved to be physically a problem for me and my knee. If I’d have stopped walking at the point where we entered Geneva then I might have been able to go on the next day. As it was, the extra walking and being on my feet in Geneva pushed my knee too far. The rest of the walk I was a designated driver. More on that later.
In Geneva are several of the major historical points of the Protestant Reformation. We visited the College of John Calvin and prayed there. We felt that there was a touchstone of the Reformation where faith and education came together. Unfortunately that rich spiritual well has been largely stopped up. We prayed there for the releasing of those roots of faith in the training up of the young generations. After that we walked to the “Wall of the Reformers” in one of the city parks. This is an impressive monument to some of the major figures in the Reformation. I say some, because we noticed that there was a distinction of “rank” in where/how certain figures were represented. Notably, you have John Calvin, William Farel, Theodore de Beze, and John Knox in the center and very much larger than life! In my “reformation ignorance”, I’d never heard of Theodore de Beze and I knew that John Knox’s greatest impact was in Scotland, not Switzerland. Of interest was that Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, were not represented on the wall, but with a simple large block of stone off to the left and right.
What we saw in this was the divisions that were rife in the Reformation and the prevailing sentiment that “our brand” of Christianity was better than “yours.” This oneupmanship of the Reformation led to many cruel persecutions within the Body of Christ, notably with respect to the Anabaptist movement.
While praying at this monument, one of the young ladies in our group asked the question about the role of women in the Reformation. This was an opportunity to repent for the suppression of women in Protestant Reformation (and indeed in the Body of Christ as a whole) and to again pray for a new reformation in the Body of Christ in which “there is neither male nor female.”
After this we walked back to where we’d come into the city and sent new walkers on. Thinking I’d have it easier, I chose to go back to the cars in the parking garage. Well, that garage was a good distance away. All that walking in Geneva really took its toll on my knee. It was visibly swollen that night and as far as walking went, that was it for me for the rest of the week.
This was unfortunate from the standpoint of having a weak and sometimes painful knee, but God has a way of using things in ways we can’t foresee. The leader of our walk had received from the Lord several times that this walk would be done “in weakness.” That is to say that we would notice the need to rely on the Lord because our own capacities would be lacking. Well, he told me that he felt more spiritually weak than he had in a long time. Three of us had knee problems throughout. I felt weak physically after some of the longer car rides at the beginning and ending of certain days.
All this really drove me to keep pounding on the door of heaven and that’s a good place to be. God likes that sort of persistence and recognized need for Him. Additionally, my time as “designated driver” allowed me time to talk to one of our walkers, a German guy whom none of us knew before the walk. I think this was valuable for him, but also for me. He was (is) in the middle of a huge life transition and much about the walk was a challenge to him. His background is not charismatic and much of how the walk was carried out most definitely was with the freedom of expression of the Holy Spirit! He can understand French pretty well, but all-French-all-the-time was certainly a challenge for him. He could do English much better. As I said, he didn’t know anyone on the walk. He’s simply a German guy with a heart for France and a sense that God was asking him to do this walk.
All of this meant that he had a lot of questions and a lot to get off his chest. So, with a wide mixture of English, German and French, we had many a good discussion. I, for one, am thrilled to see more German-French connections out there!
At the end of 2 days, we walked out of Switzerland into France. We had one day that was in fairly rural, and very beautiful country as it is near the French Alps.
Our 4th day was interesting for two reasons. Firstly, we had to leave our first lodging where we’d spent 3 nights because we were walking too far away from it. The last two nights would be spent in Lyon. So, instead of simply taking 3 cars, we had to take 4 cars and all our overnight baggage as well. We had to walk of course too on this day. This was difficult because we didn’t have that many drivers and we had to make sure that we kept moving both walkers and cars in this leap-frog, relay fashion. Logistically, fairly difficult. Additionally, we transitioned from walking in the middle of nature to beginning to walk in the outskirts of Lyon…civilization. I saw the whole day a real day of transition. Kind of like a moving day where one has to really work hard to get the last things packed and moving all the things from one place to another is never easy. God often has us in such transitions as He positions us to work for His Kingdom where He wants us.
After the 4th day we were tired from “moving” and coming to a “sleeping-on-a-church-floor-with-no-showers-either” situation. The break of the 5th day was different, however. The 4th day had been sort of a breakthrough and the 5th day (5, the number of grace) would see the Lord graciously making a way where the way seemed difficult or impossible.
Then when we got to Lyon, our walking/driving connection became difficult because of one-way roads and multi-lane expressways. At one point, I was leading the caravan of 3 cars and had pulled off on an expressway before diving into downtown Lyon. We needed to make it to a certain downtown parking garage underground from a huge central pedestrian plaza. We determined by cell-phone with the walkers that they would need to go from where they were all the way on foot (longer than a normal walking stretch in our prayer walk) and we would need to find our way to this place downtown as there was no practical way to continue the walking relay with the cars. None of us really knew the way and our maps had gaps in them. I was leading the 3 cars. I let the other drivers know that we were simply heading for “Lyon centre” on the signs and once down there, we’d be looking for signs for the plaza. Other than that, we’d all have to be alert to stay together but if separated, we’d all simply try and find our way there.
The last car of the three was driven by someone who is some what “nervous/fearful” and it didn’t have much pickup either. The traffic was crazy and I only saw openings that could support about 2 cars that could really “get up and go”. So, I picked a gap and the first two cars “got up and went!” I prayed hard for the ladies in the last car but lamented that they would be on their own. Lo and behold, however, after 5 minutes of following “Lyon centre” signs, there they were! They had prayed and God made a supernatural gap for them! In our car was a recently graduated geography major. So, as soon as we were in “Lyon centre” I simply handed her my one-page photocopied map and she guided us (all three cars!) directly to where we needed to go! The walkers made it soon thereafter with lots of strength. Even in leaving Lyon to go back to the church in the suburbs, all three cars stayed together!
That night at the church, a gathering of intercessors in Lyon had been planned and it was “our service.” I’d not really known about this ahead of time, and the worship leading fell on my shoulders. I didn’t have a guitar with me so I asked about borrowing one but it was too late to get an acoustic/electric borrowed. At the church there happened to be an electric guitar (I’ve never really played electric guitar), but no strap and I didn’t have any music with me either (I’m usually glued to my lead sheets!). So, I sat down with the electric guitar and went through their overheads to see what songs I knew that they knew also. God provided a good set and I proceeded to make sure I remembered the chords for the songs. There was drumset at the church and some keyboards and a djembe. No one played keys so we had an electric guitar, drums, djembe and another girl singing…actually all ladies except me on the makeshift worship team!
Back to our German friend, and his traditional background… This meeting would be with a bunch of crazy intercessors and for music would be electric guitar and drums. He is a classically trained organ player and told me that in general, he found that modern worship music gave him the sense of “artificial joy.” This evening would probably be a challenge for him!
What was a great joy was to see him at the end of the evening, swaying, singing and waving a banner with gusto! He was able to put aside some pre-conceived notions of “form” and “structure” and simply worship God honestly in the form/structure that presented itself. What a blessing to see!
(I think I’m ready to go out and buy an electric guitar too…that was fun!)
The next day, we went and prayed with a Lyon intercessor at a Roman amphitheater in Lyon where in 177 AD the first martyrs in France were killed. In this same amphitheater (which seated 20,000) was the site of annual governmental meetings of the Gaul nations. So this was a place of shedding of innocent blood and of human power wielded. Indeed it shows some of the foundations of the city that need to be dealt with. This was the last thing we did for the walk before heading home.
The Lord was good and faithful throughout the walk. While walking, one lady saw some tiny ducklings swimming in a lake. They were small and insignificant but the wake that they created was huge behind them. We feel the same…
It’s been a while since my last entry (typical amateur blogging ‘blah blah’). I’m blessed that in this entry I don’t have to do the work, because it would be still even longer between entries if I didn’t have this great fodder for reflection! I’m still busy!
At any rate…
I participate in a weekly “watch” of prayer an intercession whereby the participants, using a guided set of notes sent out each week by email, spend an hour of prayer a week sometime between 9pm and 6am. It’s called the Nightwatch. If you want more information, you can find it here. The notes are prepared by a team in the UK led by Roger Mitchell.
For the Christmas week, the Nightwatch contained a meditation by Roger and his wife Sue about the advent of Jesus that I found to resonate deeply. Because of that I asked their permission to share it more widely. Obviously it’s a bit late (early?) for Christmas but I believe that the depth of Jesus’ Advent, as also the depth of His Cross or Resurrection, has no limits…other than what we put on it. I’m leaving it in its “prayer-guideline” format and encourage you to perhaps read it/meditate on it using those guidelines. Enjoy…;c)
WELCOME TO THIS CHRISTMAS NIGHT WATCH FOR EUROPE
Last week Sue and I had the opportunity to speak at a Christmas event on the shepherds encounter with the angel.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.'” (Luke 2:10-12)
We were hugely impacted by the last sentence and the nature of the sign. This week we will reflect and pray over the angels words and the implications of the sign the shepherds were given.
1. TAKE 15 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE ANGEL’S FIRST WORDS TO THE SHEPHERDS
Declare these words over your family, street, workplace, town, city, region, nation and expression of church you are part of:
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people”
Notice that the first words of the angel to the shepherds were ‘do not be afraid’. Repent of and repudiate any fear or anxiety that is disturbing you at this time. Note too that the good news is of great joy for all people. Take time to thank God that the good news really is for all, without exception. Specifically thank God that it is for the ethnic minorities, immigrant groups and social, religious or political opponents of our Christian viewpoint being careful to bless each group by name before the Lord and his holy angels. Finally declare the angel’s words over your neighbouring nations as well as Romania and Bulgaria that will be joining the EU in the New Year.
2. TAKE 15 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE SECOND PART OF THE ANGEL’S WORD TO THE SHEPHERDS
Declare these words over your family, street, workplace, town, city, region, nation and expression of church you are part of:
“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”
Think about the significance of ‘the city of David.’ Some people think immediately of Jerusalem as the city of David: the centre of political power, religious worship and promised blessing. But the Lord was not born there, but instead in the place where David had himself encountered God on the margins as a shepherd boy, forgotten by his father. Reflect and pray over the implications of this for the neglected, the marginalised, and the youth today. Consider the implications that although Bethlehem was their home town, there was not even room in the inn for them, let alone with relatives. Pray for the poor, the rejected and the forgotten this Christmas time. Finally reflect over the situation in Bethlehem today, with divisions there between Jews and Palestinians. Pray about this in the light of these words of the angel to the shepherds, setting aside all bigotry and preconceived ideas about the situation.
3. TAKE 10 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE FIRST STATEMENT OF THE SIGN THE ANGEL GAVE
“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby…”
I can think of three particular things about babies. They are very human, very vulnerable and very new. All true of this baby, but he was also God. Reflect and pray over what this sign means for humanity. There is humanity in God right now in heaven for ever! Don’t ever regard lightly your humanity or anyone else’s – it is glorious to be human! Reflect and pray over what this sign means about the importance of being vulnerable, subject to risk, to pain to dirt, to rejection and about our attitude to all those things in ourselves and others. Finally consider the implications that even God became new, had to do things he’d never done before. Pray for the body of Christ in Europe to be ready for this new day for the kingdom of God.
4. TAKE 10 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE SECOND STATEMENT OF THE SIGN THE ANGEL GAVE
“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths…”
Reflect and pray over the awesome reality that God was bound, wrapped up tightly, powerless in our hands. Remember that this was true again at the cross and in the grave. Now that he is alive and the Lord of all, consider the way that his power is still the opposite of human power, that he does not force himself on us, that he is still a gift, even in his resurrection glory with his grave cloths discarded, still wrapped and in our hands for us to unwrap for our world. How did Mary, the Shepherds, the wise men do that? How did Mary and the apostles do it after the resurrection?
5. TAKE 10 MINUTES TO DECLARE AND PRAY OVER THE THIRD STATEMENT OF THE SIGN THE ANGEL GAVE
“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
What does the sign of the manger mean to you? It’s an animal feeding trough. Consider the way it speaks of the creation, the environment, the workplace, the lowest place. Reflect and pray over the significance of this being the context for the revelation of God, the kingdom of God, the appropriate location of the church and whatever more the Lord shows you. Finally ask the Lord that the fullness of this sign be expressed by the body of Christ in Europe in the coming year. Try and put this into words that describe the church being the steward of the kingdom of God in practical terms. ‘This will a sign for you: you will find the body of Christ…’