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Chris Jefferies
St Neots, UK
Find my bio at http://chris.scilla.org.uk
Interests: Anything and everything
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Hi Roger, I'd have to add Alan Hirsch's 'The Forgotten Ways' and the associated 'The Forgotten Ways Handbook'. Good material presenting an interesting and persuasive view of what is necessary for explosive growth. The handbook introduces the material in a form suitable for group discussion.
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Another great post, Roger. This is certainly what we should be doing. And it really makes Jesus' remark about wine very meaningful - that people say 'the old wine is better'. It's aged and matured, we are familiar with it, it has no sharp or rough tones in its flavour. So let's go for the fizzy new wine! And while we're at it, let's put it in stretchy, strong new wineskins.
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Wow! That sounds like something we all need to pay attention to. Alan Hirsch would like it, I think. Have you read anything by him? He is interested in the way church embeds itself in culture. One of his little aphorisms is 'missional-incarnational impulse' by which he means going out (missional) and going deep (incarnational). Music is an important part of culture here in the UK, especially amongst younger people. We need to be totally into that. I love to see the truth expressed in music, films, novels. It's there! But so many of us miss it, we're blind to it.
Thanks for this lovely and helpful post. Here is what came into my mind as I read your words... Silence! It can be barked as a command by a schoolteacher or a sergeant-major. Silence! It can be made a law as in the library. Yet in such silence there may be turmoil, anxiety, frustration, even anguish. But an inner silence, a silence I have chosen and embraced, that is altogether different. It's the difference between loneliness (a bad thing) and solitude (a good thing). Out of nothing the Creator created all things. And out of my chosen and self-embraced silence much that is grace and love and peace and joy may spring. In me, for myself. And from me, for others. Blessed silence. Be still and know that I AM Elohim, Yahweh, Emmanuel. The Spirit of Christ rests on me in my silence, he lives within me. He rests on me like a dove. But when I'm noisy and churned up and selfish and restless inside he flies up into the rafters and waits for a better time. He says, 'I stand at the door and knock. Open it and I'll come in and eat and drink with you.' But he doesn't leave me, ever. He may be outside the door or inside the door, but he's always there. He is there in the rafters of my being, or he is resting upon me and within my heart. My prayer is for peace and silence in my being much more consistently. Rest upon me and within me, Lord. I am quiet now. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Come in, you are so welcome. Praise you. HalleluYah! http://scilla.org.uk/
Excellent stuff here. The western church has barely started to understand the differences between exporting our culture and sharing the Truth. But it's clear enough in the Bible, Paul had to persuade the Jerusalem church that Greeks could be Greeks AND follow Jesus without taking up Judaic customs first. Hello... Yahshua was not a modern or post modern westerner! We have the same problems. It's the message that counts, not the wrapping.
Well said, Roger. Duty and a sense of duty are not bad things, but they're no replacement for actions fuelled by love. But somehow, much of the time we mix duty and love, combine the two in our minds, and then think in wrong and confusing ways. The results of this include - Acting as if loving the Father is all about meeting standards based on 'musts' and 'must nots'. - Feeling that when we have done our duty nothing further is required. - Losing the sheer joy and excitement of following the Spirit's prompting moment by moment. - Thinking we are entitled to private spaces in our hearts and lives. - Not understanding that we are on a wonderful journey and thinking instead that we're in the departure lounge with nothing to do but waiting and drinking coffee. But Jesus came to set us free to love and be loved!
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Perhaps I should have mentioned this post that relates to my previous comment here. ( http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2012/05/church-is-network.html ).
This is not an example, just a comment. But I hope it will be useful. It might possibly count as an alternative, I suppose. I understand the value of making this transition but I'm not yet convinced that it's always the best way forward. We are so inclined to see ourselves as part of 'a church' that we may miss the truth that we are part of 'THE church'. How many of us are involved in more than one form of church? Perhaps there is much advantage to members of traditional churches becoming active as a part of smaller, organic forms of the body - and vice versa. This creates valuable crosslinks between the various parts of the body locally. I meet with Jim and Sean on Thursday evenings. Sean is not part of any other meeting. I also meet with a small group from a New Frontiers church in the town. Jim is involved with a different church in town. We have links with other people from other places and it is just starting to dawn on me that we are providing many useful links. Parts of the local body that previously had little or no connection are now joined through our tiny group of three. Information frequently passes back and forth. This has developed quietly and in the background and is controlled only from the top (thank you Papa!) It has not been noticed by local leaders - nor have we even grasped it ourselves until now. When Paul wrote that 'from Christ the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love' (Eph 4:16) he presumably had in mind the entire church in Ephesus meeting, probably, in several homes around the city. We usually apply it in our minds only to the one gathering of which we consider ourselves to be a part. Perhaps in many places the 'bonds of peace' are already stretching far wider and further than we dare to hope! To me, this idea is new and exciting. If it's happening here in St Neots where I live it's probably happening all over the place! Maybe we should start noticing. HalleluYah!
The spiritual barrier that is paramount for me, personally, is that every follower of Jesus has received the Spirit and can hear the Father's will and guidance moment by moment. (Just like Jesus did.) As with the role of women, we have been conditioned to think that only a special subset of believers can REALLY hear. When there is a breakthrough and enough 'ordinary' people realise 'I can do this', everyone will discover how normal it is. That will transform everything! Clear revelation in the moment will become normal.
I love this, Felicity. It is itself a fine story and one we can all emulate. Some of us are better than others at telling stories. Typically, I can't think of anything to say so mumble some things that don't really come close to being useful. It's a great way of missing opportunities. That's why your advice to invest time in developing the skill is such a help. I intend to spend some time thinking these things through, I'd like to come up with three or four stories ready to draw upon when needed. And I also love the three part format drawn from Paul, that is helpful too. Thanks so much.
I have a question, Felicity. 'Building our own houses' might mean several different things. It might mean that my personal life elbows aside my spiritual life (seed among the thorns). It might imply that a particular instance of church has ignored the rest of the local body. It might mean we have put more effort into denominations and streams than we have into oneness. It certainly means that we have put more emphasis on 'our stuff' and less on 'Papa's stuff'; and we can do so individually, on a local group basis, or on a large organisation basis (or all three). We have put more emphasis on the place where we live than on the place where we worship in spirit and in truth. As you and Tony have worked through Haggai and beyond, have you had the sense that one of these aspects is more relevant than the others today? Do they apply equally, or does it vary from person to person, group to group, place to place? Interested to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for this, Felicity. Your openness in sharing a niggling failure prompted me to reply, but then it morphed into something different and much longer and I posted on my blog instead. http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2012/03/like-big-chicken.html As I mentioned, it morphed a bit. Please don't take it as a criticism of intentionally sharing our faith. You are right, we are called to do just that. In passing (but not relevant) many years ago my aunt had a dog just like Winston and she used to keep all the hair that was clipped off during grooming. Eventually she had enough that she was able to wash it and sent it off to be spun into yarn. She knitted herself a fine jumper from it! And Joe, if you're reading this, it sounds as if you're right on track with Jesus. Keep on keeping on.
Yay! Wonderful :-) Felicity, you know how close this topic is to my heart. Listening and obeying is fundamental, we cannot delight the Father's heart without seeing and hearing and following.
Yes, this really IS happening. It's exciting, clearly wholesome, and exactly what Jesus wants (he prayed that we would be one as he and the Father are one). Perhaps we might all ask ourselves the question, 'Where next?' Where else can we work for oneness? Are there other ways we can encourage one another and build one another up? What about other parts of the church? Other streams. The denominations. Is it enough to call them 'abominations' (as some have done in the past) or can we begin to forge active, thriving links? How can I best stop judging my brother? How might I best reach my brother in love?
What a great list, and how thought-provoking it is. Here are a few quick comments. 1. Some people are learning to listen and obey, but there's plenty of room for us all to grow in this regard. 6, 7, 8. Isn't this great news! I see some strong evidence of this in the UK - but it's far from universal. Very, very welcome changes. 9. It still seems, here in Britain, that people of faith are being marginalised and legislated against. I hope we'll see a Jesus-like response. We need to bless those around us, not criticise and certainly not complain about being marginalised. Thanks for pulling this list together and sharing it, Felicity. I hope anyone who can add to it will comment with suggestions. Seems pretty complete to me though.
I really like the ideas you're sharing here, Felicity. Do you have any examples of applying this in modern Western cultures? Seems to me there's a great need for deep insights that will provide specific 'keys' that can unlock particular concepts for particular groups of people. Once you start thinking along these lines it becomes obvious that Jesus did the same thing in his parables. He alluded to fishing, farming, cooking, storing wine, repairing clothes and much more. Great stuff!
Apologies, Paul Byerly is wondering, not Tony Dale. But perhaps Tony is wondering too!
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This sounds like a great start, Roger. I'm looking forward to the unfolding of the book. There is so much evidence of the awakening that you mention, it's everywhere in the church. I've been keeping track of some of it in an area of my blog that I'm calling 'Organic Wine'. You might find some material there that you can use. - http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/p/organic-wine.html Look under the 'Topics' heading, you'll find several of your own blog articles listed there :-) One recent addition intrigues me, Tony Dale is wondering whether there may be a role for those who are awakening to go back in to what they once felt they should leave. I love the idea that we're being awakened for freedom. 'If Christ has set you free...'
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I like what you have written here, Ed. Both parts 1 and 2. We so quickly formalise everything, make lists, develop methods, and measure the results. But you are saying that spontaneity, fun, and taking risks is more fundamental and effective and is for everyone. You are right! And not only in terms of sharing the good news about Jesus but in every aspect of church life. Jesus says that he came to give us life, more abundant life. All we have to do is live that life he gave us! So everyone - just go for it :-) Just as I wrote that last sentence I was given a picture of a little child waiting to get on a roller coaster, there were two seats left but he was afraid to climb in. And then his Dad took him by the hand and said, 'Don't worry, I'm coming on the ride too.' So whether you are six or ninety-six it's time to go. Don't waste another minute through anxiety. Step into your seat and let the adventure begin. Dad's coming with you.
What a great, wonderful, heartwarming, encouraging story! But what I like most is its simplicity. Sometimes I think we all need to learn to be more straightforward and simple in our approach to church life. This story reminds us of that.
Roger, I think this is a great idea. I hope you will go ahead and do it. On the matter of circulating self-published books, could those of us with blogs and websites, Google+ and Facebook and Twitter accounts etc 'advertise' them for you, provide download links and so forth? Maybe you have already asked people to do this for you and I missed it? I'm going to check out your last book. And then I may be in touch to see if and how I can help spread the word.
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My top choice would be an inability to listen properly to the Father. Jesus said only what he heard the Father say and he did only what he saw the Father do. What about us? Many of us don't even know HOW to listen. We've lost the art of paying attention. We're full of our own ideas and projects and methods and traditions and (fill in the blanks... ) We're blinded by this noisy place we inhabit, so we miss the still, small voice whispering to us, 'This is way, walk in it.' So most often we head off in the wrong direction. See this post on listening - http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2011/07/response-are-you-listening.html
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I want to add one more observation. Elohim is nothing if not an original thinker - always making things new. The most important thing is not whether we agree about what church is or should be, or about how new groups of disciples are planted, how we worship, or any of that practical stuff. Instead it's whether we are living the way Jesus lived. He always listened to the Father and watched what he did. He said only what he heard his Father say, he only did what he saw the Father do. We will do well if we follow the Master's example in this. Watch, listen, and obey. Isn't that why the Spirit of Christ has come to live in our hearts? There will be many different expressions of church/ekklesia as he leads and guides. We should not be afraid of the differences, we should be afraid of our propensity to each say our way is right and the others somehow not quite right. Not only should we expect variety in obedience, we are called to be one body despite the variety. Let's celebrate the differences! (This might be of interest - http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2011/11/valley-of-dry-bones-index.html )
Whoopsie - my last comment was supposed to go on the previous blog post - the one about 9 reasons not to plant a church. I can copy it there, but I'll have to ask you, Andrew, to remove it from this post. I do apologise!
Toggle Commented Jan 5, 2012 on Prophets of the New Order at TallSkinnyKiwi
I want to add one more observation. Elohim is nothing if not an original thinker - always making things new. The most important thing is not whether we agree about what church is or should be, or about how new groups of disciples are planted, how we worship, or any of that practical stuff. Instead it's whether we are living the way Jesus lived. He always listened to the Father and watched what he did. He said only what he heard his Father say, he only did what he saw the Father do. We will do well if we follow the Master's example in this. Watch, listen, and obey. Isn't that why the Spirit of Christ has come to live in our hearts? There will be many different expressions of church/ekklesia as he leads and guides. We should not be afraid of the differences, we should be afraid of our propensity to each say our way is right and the others somehow not quite right. Not only should we expect variety in obedience, we are called to be one body despite the variety. Let's celebrate the differences! (This might be of interest - http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2011/11/valley-of-dry-bones-index.html )
Toggle Commented Jan 5, 2012 on Prophets of the New Order at TallSkinnyKiwi