What do I stand for?

I’m struck by a message I just finished listening to by Paul Manwaring. He asked this question – “What do you stand for? What are you willing to pay a price for?”

Honestly, I’m not quite sure yet.

As I look back, I have paid a price for certain convictions, but at the same time I’m not aware of clearly defined life messages in me or people knowing what I stand for. It seems that this is still developing in me – at the tender young age of 53!

At one point in the message I heard, Paul asks people who DO know what they stand for, to stand up and make declarations. Declare what they want to see; what they’re pulling for.

Well, I’m going to start to declare (write):

  • what matters to me
  • what I want to see

By writing it down, it gets it out of me and puts words onto sometimes shifting feelings/experiences. By posting it, I’m just starting to stand – to be public – preparing to pay the price for my convictions.

Here goes (in no particular order):

  • Europe matters to me – both the land and its people.  I wasn’t born here, but I most certainly trace my ancestry here.  It certainly began before I could say it was “God” but I know now that it was God who put it in my heart and brought our family here to live.
  • Reconciliation – ever since being awakened to reconciliation as a “thing” by Nadine Roure and Elvire Dieny, seeing reconciliation happen – at ALL levels – has been deeply satisfying and I increasingly see where it’s vital.  After all Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 5 that we’ve all been given the ministry of reconciliation.
  • Family matters to me – I’m certainly NOT the poster child for how to do family (in ANY of my family roles thus far in life), but the theology of family continues to grow for me on a regular basis.  God’s design for family; God’s government is family; The enemy’s incessant targeting of family; etc.
  • Identity/Son (and daughter) ship – WHO we are is so incredibly important.  When we understand the glory that God put in each one of us and His design for us and how being His son or daughter literally unlocks eternity TODAY for us – Wow!  It’s just the key to everything.  If I can (and increasingly as an older man, I CAN) help someone to find their identity – call out who and what God has made them to be – that is TRULY  satisfying and has eternal value.
  • Marriage matters to me – Why?  Because Jesus is coming for a Bride.  There’s going to be a wedding!  The power of this eternal union is echoed by what we experience right now between a man and a woman who commit before God to each other for their whole lives.  The power of that covenant is amazing and it’s only a shadow of the covenant that Jesus has with His Bride.  The depths of this are amazing.
  • Worship and God’s Presence matter to me – Not simply because I’m a musician, and one who is named David to boot, but I was made to be in His Presence and to focus on Him.  We all were, in fact, but because God has given me this gift and desire, I believe that He’s also given me a mandate to facilitate the experience of His Presence to others.  I also believe that we are changed by His Presence and we are fundamentally designed, as creatures, to become what we behold – to become like what we worship.  Hence if I worship God, I become like God.  If I help others worship God, I help them become like God.  This is my principle tool of discipleship that I have to offer.
  • The Kingdom of God matters to me.  It is so important to me that my citizenship is primarily with Heaven and that my understanding of “progress” in society is linked to the advancing of the Kingdom where Jesus is King and not necessarily a particular earthly government. My love of a country must be motivated by Jesus’ love for that country (and He loves them ALL) and what Jesus wants for that country.  This may or may not be my country of birth or my passport country(s).
  • Erasing Dualism and Living in Tension matter to me – So I’ve just finished stating “where I stand” but actually because of the things I stand for, I refuse (in principle) to let these stances hinder love or put God in a box.  Jesus was “box buster” in so many ways.  Our detachement from the cultural context of His earthly sojourn makes it easy for us to miss just how many boxes He exploded in His time.  We probably will never discover fully how He made people feel and react in in 1st century Palestine, but the willingness to understand that Jesus does do that – not just to 1st century Palestinian residents but to us as well – is the first important step to letting our own boxes disintegrate and letting Jesus out of the box that we so-easily stuff Him into. When we let typical “either/or” thinking dominate our reality, we immediately begin to de-humanize those who think differently.  In so doing we declare where Jesus is not welcome to challenge us to love that which we don’t understand or with which we don’t agree.  If, for example, reconciliation matters to me, then I can’t afford those walls to stand in my reality.  Not easy at all this wall-dismantling-process, but essential as members of God’s family.

So those are the things that I can say that I stand for and that I want to see – in me, through me, and around me.

Living in a dream world

Hmmm…a bad place to be?

I think our definition of a "dream world" and "living there" needs some serious remedial aid…and I think I just got some!

My eldest, Rachel, just gave a talk recently that has inspired and challenged me to live in a dream world.

Read it and be drawn in!

This is what I shared with some awesome friends at Encounter Indy, Nov 14, 2011.

Tonight, I just want to talk about beauty. If you know me, I always want to talk about beauty. When I talk about beauty, I’m really talking about God.

We hear a lot of what feels to me like disqualifiers about God — when we say He is indescribable, incomparable… that isn’t very satisfying to me. It almost sounds like an excuse not to contemplate God. The other thing that can happen is using biblical words without the vivid experience of what we’re talking about. "Beauty" is a word like that. In my opinion, one of the reasons for that is that beauty has to be qualified. If you were reading a novel with a female character, and she is described as beautiful and nothing else, that is pretty unsatisfying. Because as we know, there are as many different kinds of beautiful as there are people. And God is all of them. His beauty is worth examining in detail. I don’t think He wants to maintain an unknowable glory. He made a world full of His character, His attributes, His great ideas.

Define "world"
"World" is another deceptively small word and we gloss over it. What was birthed out of God includes the idea to create each incredible person you know (think about them individually to get the full effect.) It includes every thought and idea needed to build a cathedral, or an airplane, or an iPhone. Out of God came the desire to tell stories as vividly as possible, and now we are making these immersive films. Fashion came out of God. Cooking came out of God. Vibrating waves came out of God. Some of them vibrate at the speed of light, and we can see them as light. Others vibrate more slowly, and we hear those ones. And when we put sound waves together in certain ways, they mysteriously provoke the most amazing heart responses. God is beautiful!

The Creation is a freaking God-sized playground that He adores, and made us perfectly to love and enjoy ourselves in it also. Don’t you love that God made sound waves, but He didn’t write the music and play it to us? He let us have that fun. He hid diamonds and sapphires in dark, dirty rocks and watched us go sweat to get them out and adorn people with them. This applies to everything, whatever you’re into. Our Dad’s Creation is still unfolding through us. We’re sons of God, inheriting His studio, His practice, His greenhouse, His workshop. It’s epic. If you wrap the entire record of human history, creativity, invention, travel, and experience, the joy and fascination contained therein is too much for us to experience in an 80-year lifespan. We who are reconciled to God don’t have to worry that enjoying life too much is somehow idolatrous. It’s our nature to see our Dad in everything, and our calling to partner with Him to run the family business, which is the universe… both the physical and spiritual realm. God is ready to be experienced in every thing that He made. Embracing God, for us, also means fully embracing His creation. We aren’t going to be separated from it; even when Jesus comes back, we are ruling and reigning with Him over the same systems that He set in place when He made the world.

No more separation
We can feel God’s presence so much more when there’s no more artificial line between what is spiritual and what’s not. That division is pretty huge in a world that’s afraid of God, and sometimes I still feel it brushing against my toe. Like when I say that I’m "high on life," I will wonder for a second if I need to be finding my satisfaction in God more. Not necessarily. I’m high on the good life that He gave to me for that purpose — to be good. That was the criteria for His whole Creation, right?

When I feel like life is distracting me from God, that is usually just because I haven’t been acknowledging Him in it. I’m overlooking the best part of whatever is capturing my gaze a little too exclusively — that this gift is yet another token tying me to the present-tense love of my Dad.

Seven Longings
IHOP KC has a great teaching on seven longings of the human heart. They are:

To be enjoyed • To be fascinated • To possess beauty • To be great • To be intimately known without shame • To be wholehearted and passionate • To make a deep and lasting impact

God gave you these. The blueprint for your life, your design sounds pretty much like the most awesome people you can think of in history. There’s safety and anchoring in dreaming big. It keeps us in touch with our identity and gives our hearts the momentum of hope. God gives desires so that He can meet them forever. You are absolutely free and strongly encouraged to desire things that cannot take place in the next 70 years, because you are immortal. Even if your body dies, you do not, and you’re getting a reboot — virus-free — of your body right away. You’ve conquered death along with Jesus, your new body can’t be touched by it.

Permanent fixture
This blew me away when I first realized it. I’m a permanent fixture in Creation. You’re a permanent fixture. When God designed you, He decided that your spirit, what you carry and reflect and express, needs to be ETERNAL. This is total legitimacy: the fact that you exist. If you didn’t come out of God and make Him amazingly happy, you wouldn’t exist.

God’s a designer. A designer is anyone who is driven to make things as appealing, beneficial, and high-performing as possible. You, along with every part of creation, are appealing, beneficial, and high-performing.

What does this mean? For one, it means your body is a product of the top designer. Who is so awesome that He even made your body come together perfectly in a process of lineage and genetics (which has its own massive value and beauty). This is like designing a Rube-Goldberg machine that paints the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and the Girl with a Pearl Earring in succession. So your body is the very best container for you that there could be. And we won’t always understand that until we see our bodies free from every last effect of sin, but you’re free and strongly encouraged to start thinking that way now.

More of what it means to be well-designed and back in union with God: what you do naturally is right on the money.

Philippians 2:13
for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to act for His good pleasure.

This has been hugely changing me. Most of my life, I’ve been someone who’s really concerned about not making mistakes. I was afraid to do anything if I didn’t think I could do it well.

Once I learned about hearing the voice of God, I got a clue that the Holy Spirit was there to help me always make the right choice and say the right things. But I still had such an external perspective on Him. And I was frustrated a lot of time because it was really hard to get myself into that place where I was hearing the Holy Spirit clearly and was willing to be obedient. I would hear people talk about how often and how easily they heard and followed the promptings of the Lord, and couldn’t figure out why it didn’t seem that easy to me. I was really used to listening to the enemy second-guessing things I wanted to do. There was always an excuse, a reason I heard not to talk to that person, or say this or that thing… even if my intent was loving, I decided that it could possibly be taken the wrong way, and so I wouldn’t take the chance.

I tried to pray and work my out of this fear of initiating with people for years. It was not fun.

But as I’ve been starting to sit back and soak what the verse says, that God is inside me, active, not even fighting back a sin nature for me. The sin nature is dead and gone, and God has all the room. I can therefore have a lot more confidence in being who I am, following "my" instincts. Trusting that ideas I have are from God. Let me give some recent really simple examples.

I’ve noticed that I tend to remember random people’s names — first and last names of people in my classes at school that I don’t even really talk to. But if I said "hey" to them in the hallways, I would never use their name because I was afraid that I maybe didn’t have it right and would embarrass myself.

I know how awesome it feels when a casual acquaintance remembers your name. Now I’ve acknowledged that God gave me a good memory, and I can use that gift confidently to make people feel special by using their names. I try not to second-guess myself anymore with that.

I can rest in God’s total power and authority in me when it comes to time management. I know that I’m a responsible person who is not prone to laziness. That’s how God made me. I no longer worry about how I’m spending my time. Sometimes I’ll have the urge to go play piano for an hour. Or take a nap. Or go exploring in the woods. Or spend an hour deciding what to wear, because its fun. If we were robots, nothing like this would be allowed to come before the activities that have deadlines or put money in the bank. But we’re not robots, or slaves… we are children of God. Time serves us, and while it’s a resource we learn to manage, it’s also infinite and in God’s control. He has no problem adjusting time in our favor. We are also complex, multifaceted creatures. There are infinite areas in which we can grow and be blessed. The value systems of the world are too limited. They don’t always reflect who we are. Realize that God gives peace. God encourages real rest, real fun… if you look at the schedule of work, rest, and fun that he set in place for people in the law, it sounds awesome. The drive to get ahead no longer owns you when you realize you possess everything. Orphans have to earn everything they get. We are sons with favor who inherit. We step into the good works already prepared for us to do!

When it comes to "ministry," which for me has been a lot of playing on worship teams, I’ve noticed that God works through what He’s anointed me to do, whether I feel it or not, whether I do it "right" or not. The proof of this that I usually get more comments afterwards from people about how anointed the music was on the days when I feel like it sucks. My responsibility is to let out what’s inside, not to critique and control it – because God, the AWESOME God is working through me – being myself is honoring and giving glory to Him.

When I give prophetic words, I used to get nervous about giving a word unless someone gave something similar, and I could piggy-back off of it. It was faith-building to have that confirmation, but then I realized that I didn’t need to fear a word that sounds vastly different from what other people are delivering. Why? Because God gives us so much dignity. He has words for a person, and He gives each person who is ministering to that person a unique message to deliver. Speaking to each of us uniquely is one of the ways that God honors us. Even in preparing for tonight, I had to trust that what I wanted to talk about is the same thing that He wants me to talk about, and that it’s valid, even if I’ve never heard anyone else give a similar message.

Finally, I can find peace in whatever season of growth that I’m in with the Lord. There was a time several years ago when I used to get up early and walk out the vineyards to watch the sun rise. One thing about the early morning sky is that it changes continually, but you don’t notice that unless you look away for a moment. I’ll never forget the parallel Jesus showed me about spiritual growth: like a sunrise, every second is different, but every second is beautiful. Every season brings greater light. We go from glory to glory. Our journey into greater revelation and intimacy with Him is a gorgeous display from start to finish. Oh wait, except that there is no finish. This is the sunrise that just gets more and more mind-blowing every hour!

Let me share with you some of my dreams. This is kind of vulnerable, because you might think I’m really out of touch with reality. But I really believe with all my heart that our reality has NO limits, thanks to Jesus. So this is my prophetic testimony of how good God is, how big He is, and how fully invited into this reality I am.

Let me give you some background first. Some of you maybe don’t know that my parents are missionaries in France. Our family started out living a really "normal" suburban, upper middle-class life in Denver, but then we moved to Europe when I was ten. I’ve lived in Scotland, France, and Germany, and visited Italy, Switzerland, England, Austria, and a few others. There are a lot of things that Europe really fostered in me. One is an love of history and old architecture. Jesus, who designed me, adores me, and knows more about who I am than I do, knew that I would start to feel really deeply about castles, cathedrals, and palaces by frequently visiting them. They’re all over the place in Europe. When I step into architecture that has real grandeur, I feel at home. These buildings concretely put me in touch with my dreams. They were built by people who were not afraid to be expansive. To me, they are tangible expressions of royalty (an intangible).

So my dreams include living in Europe and spending substantial amounts of time in the most beautiful buildings in the world. I would love to share these buildings with other artists of every kind and we’ll all disciple people in music, and design, and languages, and what it means to be married to God. I want to be part of a movement producing art and music that is irresistibly attractive because it’s full of the beauty of God. I want to see secular clubs blasting the most epic dance music the Holy Spirit will give me. I want to play my violin in cathedrals on a regular basis. I want to be in the cathedrals when the Presence of God manifests in them. When they decide to take out the pews and turn the whole thing into a dance floor. I want to see the people that make the news, make the news with the way they give their lives back to Jesus, one after another. I want to see how the European family of nations, each country with it’s own story and personality, grows together in love and gratefulness and awe of God, and their identities sparkle without tarnish of past sin.

Dreaming = Breathing
It’s like going to an oxygen bar when we let our souls expand like this and begin to be in awe of redemptive history, what’s happening now, and the unending adventure that has been stored up for us. We don’t even really have language for the epicness of what we’re living in. If you have lots of impossible dreams, you’re in really good shape, because God gives these dreams to us in order to one-up them. Toss your mind up as high as you can and you won’t be able to get it over God’s head. This is the best. Having someone so much greater than us. We can trust in His bigness. We need bigness. We don’t have to be afraid that life won’t be as cool as we hope it will be. It will most certainly be cooler. You can bet it all on our Beautiful Dad.

The Wisdom We ALL Need

I just received Jeff Fountain’s Weekly Word by e-mail today. I confess that often I don’t have time to read them. Today, I’m a bit under the weather so a more measured pace has me perusing some e-mails that otherwise would suffer neglect due to my haste.

This one was a gem! I quote it in its entirety:

The wisdom Europe needs

• European leaders came to an historic agreement in Brussels last week to limit co2 emission levels to help save the environment.
• Just a few days earlier, Christian scientists and philosophers met to discuss the relationship between faith and science at the University of Leiden in Holland.
• Also near Leiden, in 1642, two philosophers met in a castle to discuss this same topic-the interface of science and faith. Europe’s future, including that of her environment, would depend on which of these men’s views prevailed.
• It still does.

French philosopher René Descartes, sometimes called the Father of Modern Philosophy, spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He had been lodging in Endegeest Castle for several months before his visitor arrived for their four-hour discussion. Descartes’ famous statement, Cogito ergo sum, was to mark a fresh beginning in Western thought based on rationalism. His dualism separated the physical from the spiritual, science from religion.

Jan Amos Comenius, although exiled from his homeland at the time, also brought with him a reputation as one of Europe’s leading thinkers. He would earn himself the title Father of Modern Education and is today one of the Czech Republic’s national heroes. Comenius had developed a holistic or integrated philosophy called ‘pansophy‘, meaning ‘all wisdom’, taken from Colossians 1:28: We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

Wisdom for Comenius was more than simply knowledge of things. It involved knowing the relationships between all things. It meant knowing the right decisions to improve conditions and circumstances. It was the ‘fullness of the right knowledge’.

Respect & Reservation
Both men had prepared for their meeting by reading at least some of each other’s works. They approached each other with respect and reservation.

Comenius proposed a philosophy of unity with distinct but not separated fields of science, while Descartes objected to the integration of non-rational knowledge with science.

The two men cordially exchanged arguments without convincing the other. They continued to hold different views on man and his world. The Frenchman, a practising Catholic, saw man as an observer of the world from the outside. The Czech, one of the last bishops in the Ancient Moravian Church, understood man as an inseparable part of something that had been a harmonious whole until disrupted by the Fall.

Comenius continued to criticise a science free of moral values which would result in the fragmentation of the essence and existence of man. He foresaw accurately that separation of faith and natural science would lead men to ask what could be done rather than what ought be done. The Cartesian reductionist approach merely asked for causes, not meaning or destination, he objected.

Ring of gold
He who improves in scientific knowledge and thereby declines in moral knowledge, will end up in decline rather than progress,’ he wrote. Quoting from Proverbs 11:22, he said learnedness without virtue was ‘like a ring of gold in a pig’s nose‘.

How different Western history could have been had Comenius’ pansophy prevailed! Today we find ourselves facing drastic measures to correct problems arising from Cartesian dualism.

The scientists and philosophers who met recently in Leiden believe the answer lies in Comenius-style wisdom, integrating faith and science. Twenty-two Christian scholars complied the book, ‘Geleerd en gelovig‘ (something like, ‘Scholars and believers‘), presented to the Dutch Prime Minister on the occasion of the Veritas Forum.

Jan Peter Balkenende suggested that faith and science today were actually closer than often presumed. Both involved a search for truth that existed but could never be fully known. Faith didn’t make you better a scientist or politician, said the prime minister, but raised different questions. Take the environment debate, for example. We seek all sorts of technical solutions. But the question how to steward God’s creation and pass it on to the next generation, for him personally, had a spiritual dimension.

That doesn’t make me a better politician morally,’ he admitted, ‘but it does shape my way of thinking.’

I, for one, think Europe would be a better place with more of this pansophy.

And I, for one think that the United States would be a better place with more of this pansophy.

Martin Scott – Generational Anointings, Stewardship, Partnership

This last weekend, I went to a conference in Germany with some others from our church here in France. In order to get my German ear stimulated again (one of the teachings was actually in Spanish, translated into German…fun to see how much I understood!), I revisited the fabulous site online-predigt.de where one can find a huge deposit of downloadable teachings in MP3 format. Most are all in German but a fairly large percentage are from English-language speakers translated into German. Some of my favorite teachers can be found there so I get a good teaching and it’s translated into German as well. Highly recommended!

Anyway, I listened to this teaching by Martin Scott from the Gideon’s Army/Target Europe conference in Hanover in 2001. Very timely for what we experienced this weekend in our conference in Germany. His primary topic was intergenerational anointings and before he spoke about that he also had a preamble about partnership and how we, who are rooted in a given locality can partner with those who have been called and sent from somewhere else and how this partnership accelerates God’s purposes in a given geographic location. The two topics are related as well…an excellent and strategic teaching that is not stale seven years later.

Here’s the link from that site for the teaching.

MP3 file download link from online-predigt.de (18Mb)

Trier, Germany

Ok Geography Scouts…Quick! Where’s Trier, Germany!?

Yeah…I didn’t know either.

In fact, before May (2007), I’d never even heard of it. That’s when our friends Rusty and Janet Richards from PRAY BIG in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (read more about some of their ministry focus here: https://anabaptistreconciliation.org/index.html) were in Guebwiller, France to participate in a weekend with Martin Scott at our church. During this weekend, they told us about a worship initiative that they had a heart to undertake in Trier, Germany the 5-13 September.

Trier is the little red dot!It seems that Trier, a city of 100,000 near the border of Luxembourg in western Germany (now you know!) is having a celebration this year to mark a very significant anniversary.

Ok History Wonks…Quick! What happened in 307AD!?

Yeah…I didn’t know that either.

Constantine307AD, a year after Constantine was declared by his troops Emperor of the Roman Empire in York, England, he began his reign…in Rome, right? No…apparently, he was declared “Augustus” in Trier, Germany, where his father had ruled and he set up his residence there for 10 years. Who was actually in charge of the Roman Empire at that time was apparently somewhat in question!

Ok, so much for moldy history and small cities in Germany…so why are we worshiping there anyway?

Well, this same Constantine, while living and ruling in Trier, was engaged in an internal power struggle in the Roman Empire with Caesar Maxentius. In 312AD, before the battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine saw a vision of a cross in the sky (in the sun, depending upon the account of the story) and heard a voice that said “in this sign you will conquer.” The rest is, as we know and say, history…Constantine painted crosses on his soldier’s shields and won the battle; attributed the victory to God’s blessing on his enterprise, and perhaps most significantly, subsequently turned the tables of the relationship between the State and this young movement called Christianity. Up until this time, Christians had been horribly persecuted, but Constantine’s change of fortunes put an end to that. Christianity became the favored religious practice of the State and Christians went from being persecuted outcasts to favored citizens with influence. Most of history has credited Constantine with the spread of Christianity in Europe and, of course after that, the world.

Recently however, in the Nightwatch For Europe, Roger Mitchell had this to say about the vision of Constantine:

The famous story of Constantine’s conversion is very significant because it exposes the heart of the difference between the kingdom of God and empire. Constantine saw a cross in the sky and heard a voice telling him “In this sign you shall conquer”. But he did not understand it in Christian terms. Jesus said “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The way of life in the kingdom of God is to give yourself in love for others like Jesus did. What a difference it might have made to the history of the world if Constantine had received his vision in those terms! But instead he took it to mean that faith in the Christian God and the support of the Christian church would make him a successful emperor in military and economic terms. His subsequent success and his protection of the church were interpreted as the blessing of God. As a result imperial sovereignty was increasingly seen to be God’s way of rulership, and the appropriate shape for authority both within church and society.

Rusty and Janet with DavidAnd in the words of Rusty Richards:

So when I read that Trier was planning this big celebration, I realized that it was in reality a season dedicated to worshiping the empire spirit. I asked the Lord to let me go there during this time to establish an altar of worship to the True God. It is not my intention to engage enemy spirits. I simply want to come to this place in the spirit of worship to Jesus. This in itself is probably very confrontational. There is an enormous shift happening in the world right now. It is a critical time in history. There are clashes of kingdoms and empires in the natural and in the spiritual. I want to take my place in advancing the Kingdom of God.

So the team’s desire in this trip was simply to establish an altar of worship in Trier. Using the principle that worship establishes the authority and rulership of that which is worshiped, we simply want to re-establish God as the authority in Trier by worshiping Him (See Psalm 22:3 for a Godly example and many ungodly examples among the nations elsewhere in the Old Testament). Many more things are to come, but this was s trip for re-laying foundations…in a place where many of the foundations of Western culture as we know it today were layed nearly 2000 years ago. (For more history of Trier, including some references dating to over 2000 years ago, see this link: https://www.tricon.homepage.t-online.de/5080.htm)

While it is possible to drop down in a parachute and worship God anywhere, God has usually already established people in different geographical locations. Working with the local Body of Christ is really crucial so that what is deposited by a visiting team is nurtured and so that the visiting team better understands the realities of the locality. In truth, “the team” is always those who are visiting and those who are already established there working hand-in-hand to hear what God is saying and to do it. I’d venture to say that any other model of ministry probably lacks a fullness that God intends.

The church in Trier - in the basement!Pastor Mike and ClaudiaWe were exceedingly blessed by the connection with a church in Trier called “Gemeinde des Lebendigen Gottes“, which means Church of the Living God. They are an example of a God who is alive and active in Trier. Their church is very multi-cultural, led by a multi-cultural pastoral couple, Mike and Claudia Williams, an anglophone African from Ghana and a German, respectively. They have a heart to serve the outcasts of the city and consequently the outcasts have come in, drawn by concrete demonstrations of Jesus’ love. In accepting them just as they are, for example those who are weighed down with sickness, mental illness, demon possession, or those who are recent immigrants from other countries that may not even speak German yet (17 nations are represented in this church), this church of a couple hundred really has their hands full and must lean daily on the Lord for provision and wisdom. The Lord made this connection and the church, rather than simply letting us use a room and leaving us to “do our thing” has wanted to be deeply involved and serve the visiting team all the time we were there. The majority of the team was housed in host families from the church and they provided us 3 meals a day, prepared by a wonderful team of Chinese that are part of the fellowship. The worship times were often conducted by groups composed of church members and the visiting team…playing together for the first time, of course, and having a wonderful time in the Lord singing in German, French and English.

The BLACK GATE in TrierIn the last couple of years, intercession and worship ministry trips have largely been something that I’ve done alone or done with my daughter Rachel. Recently, Angela and I have purposed to make ministry trips occasions, where as much as possible, we engage together as a couple. Not having done that in a while, we are definitely a bit rusty at it and there are challenges in how we approach and see such events differently, but these are great catalysts for discussion and prayer. There are also financial and logistical challenges involved.

It was a step of faith to go…for Angela because of concerns with how she might be feeling physically…for me because of the logistics of caring for our children while we were gone were not as “neat and tidy” as I would have liked. But God rewarded that step with a time that was rich in worship and relationship…between us and with others…and lots of little special blessings from our loving Heavenly Father (sweet fellowship as a couple, a wonderful bed to sleep in, increased facility in speaking German, deep worship times, easy travel, kids were fine at home, etc.) to let us know that we were firmly in His hands and walking in His ways.

The crowded market place in TrierWhile we went by ourselves as a couple, there were 7 others from our church in Guebwiller, 12 in all from France, 3 from Belgium and 9 from the US during our time there and some more to come after we left. It was a joy to work together in worshiping the living God in the Church of the Living God, to get to know new people, to see more connections for the future that cross the Atlantic and the French-German borders (my two big desires!).

Much more I could say about the significance of Trier and our time there, but I’ve droned on enough here. If you’re in the neighborhood, sometime, Trier is worth a visit, but while there think about what God wants to do there and run to your Heavenly Father to pull it from the heavenly realm into the earthly reality so that “His glory covers the earth as the waters cover the seas!

The meaning in the angel’s message…

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)


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.


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.


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.


“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.


“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?


“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…’



Europe – Wanted: Dead or Alive…

As American missionaries in the geographical heart of Western Europe, our American friends and family often forward on to us links for articles that they’ve just read about the current “spiritual state” of France (where we live) or Europe in general. We see these articles ourselves from time to time as well. These articles give them a window on a world that largely doesn’t enter into their consciousness and connects them with us to a greater degree.

This has happened over the last several years many times and, of course during that time, we’ve actually lived, experienced and are actively “working on” the spiritual state of Europe.

What I’ve noticed is that though these articles are focusing on the “same thing”, their conclusions are widely divergent.

Why is that?

Well I think there could be a number of factors which play into this range of perceptions including probably a few pre-conceived notions of the authors that they are setting out to prove or some goals that the authors perhaps need to support with their articles…all of which can even be more sub-conscious than subversive. I’m really not trying to accuse anyone of anything.

However, my conclusion…about all these conclusions…is a little different…

I happen to think that, regardless of any less-than-neutral motivations that might exist, and could skew the conclusions of various observers, it is completely “normal”/”logical” that there be such a wide range of conclusions about the spiritual state of Europe right now.

I believe that the Bible speaks directly about this in Matthew 13:24-30 in the parable of “the Wheat and the Tares” where Jesus says that as the Kingdom of God is increasingly manifested on the earth (the Wheat), non-Kingdom growth (the Tares) will also become more apparent. Later in Matthew 24:12-14 Jesus indicates that at the same time that the Gospel of the Kingdom’s proclamation will increase at the same time that lawlessness increases. In Psalm 2, David writes of himself but at the same time prophetically of the time of Jesus and of the end times. In this scene that David describes, he sees that nations and leaders are not simply ignorant, apathetic or even amoral, they are enraged against Jesus. In contrast to this, God the Father indicates that Jesus is already declared and installed as King and that God mocks their fury.

With the scene in Psalm 2, we see the crux of the issue…there are two kingdoms in conflict here. That’s pretty much “old news”, as Satan’s opposition to God is well-documented since the Garden of Eden. What perhaps is not so clear in this conflict is the two basic stances that Satan takes in this conflict.

  1. Satan is very content to be subversive or behind-the-scenes in the promulgation of his kingdom on earth…so long as he’s not opposed
  2. When God’s Kingdom begins to manifest in some sphere of earthly life, Satan begins to fight a very overt battle. He rages against the anointed of God.

In Psalm 2, we also have an indication of how the Kingdom of God is breaking out…exactly what it is that is making Satan so enraged. I like the way the King James Version states it in verses 10-12:

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.

David is admonishing those he sees in the vision…those who are enraged against God’s Son. He’s telling them that they are caught up in a War of Worship. This is serious business. This is no longer, “I really don’t want any more of that religious stuff.” This is, “Get off the fence and choose whom you will worship!”

Ok, I’m getting a bit carried away here from my first topic…

But…it is relevant.

I chose the topic title: Europe – Wanted: Dead or Alive

The reality of the situation is that Europe is wanted…by both sides. Satan wants it dead and God wants it alive. A better picture of the reality that we will be living until the full manifestation of God’s Kingdom is: Europe – Wanted: Dead AND Alive. Until the time when Jesus’ Kingdom is fully established, the more Life that is stirred up by the Spirit of God, the more death that will be stirred up by Satan in enraged retaliation. It’s inevitable. One will be able to prove increasingly that Europe is a spiritual wasteland and that Europe is a hotbed of the activity of the Spirit of God, because both will become increasingly true. Middle-ground apathy will, however, become more difficult to find.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry…