Changing clothes

Traditional Filipino dancing

Traditional Filipino dancing

traditional Flippino Dancing

For those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain what we ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from this old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the culture in the Philippines and looking at what God is saying to us through it.

Clothes

The Filipino national dress is very different from my preconceived expectations. It is very noble looking and made of a mixed past inheritance. Everyday clothes are not much different to western countries – t-shirt and shorts. The Philippines wear more modest clothes than some skimpy western clothes. The thing about the clothing in the culture that took me while to understand is that Filipinos will change their clothes around 3times a day. You may spend a morning with a group of people and get to know their names – but by the end of the morning they have changed their tops and I loose track of who is who: for example the lady who I met 10 minutes ago wearing red is now in a yellow top.

In Kingdom culture we get used to people changing. Changing ourselves as individuals  so often that people don’t recognise one another and have to do a double take. We are not to hold snap shots of each other in a good or a bad moment which new stick to the wall of our mind like a family portrait. “Ah yes” we think when we look at our snap shot “I know how that person will react in this given situation – I have them organised in my thoughts”. We are to give each other room to make mistakes, room to learn and room to change.

As far as clothes go we are no longer to wear the rags of slavery. We are slaves no longer. When we live likes salves this looks like us expecting less than the best, putting up with dirt in our lives, being comfortable with less than good – both spiritually and naturally. I always thought it was spiritual to put myself down, humble not to ask for anything and submissive to live for others all the time. I am finding that to love myself and others does not mean I have to come last – we all come first.

Let’s stop wearing the rags of shame and guilt for past wrongs, wearing the filth of habitual rubbish, wearing the shame for thinking we are second rate and worthless. When I was a child I constantly walked with my head down. Why? Because I wore the heavy clothes of shame and I thought that was my identity. I thought that however hard I tried I could never reach the standard set for me. BUT then my Father God came. Picked me up. Washed me down. He told me that I was chosen, royal, a priest and holy. I was his special possession (1 Peter 2:9). The strange thing is there are days when I have listened once again to the lies and I have picked up my stinking rags again and put them on. How crazy! It is time to take off those things and burn them!

We put on our royal clothes. We are to be those who are meeting their lover.

So wash yourself. Pour oil on yourself and wear your best clothes. Ruth 3:3

We are to put on the robes of a loving Father. Bearing his acceptance snuggly around our shoulders

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.” Luke 15:22

We are not to be those who hide our royalty for fear of the responsibility it brings. Being royal means that you will be in the firing line. You will be drawn upon to bring wisdom, you will be called upon to give of yourself and you will be a representative of your Father’s Kingdom. People will expect much from the daughters and sons of heaven – we need to be confident in who we are and bear our responsibility well. See how the King of Israel treated his royal robes…29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. Chronicles 18:29 (NIV)

We are no longer to wear clothes that don’t fit us. We are called to be who we are – not try to fit into other people’s shoes or clothes. They will be cumbersome, trip us up and at their worst they will make us ineffective in the task ahead. David had this dilemma when King Saul wanted him to put on his royal armour. He didn’t bend under the pressure of trying to be like someone else even under the persuasion of the king. He wasn’t tempted to put on posh clothes to show he was special – he just went in his own tunic to face his biggest enemy ever. There was a lightness to his spirit by being true to who he really was.

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.  Samuel 17:38-39(NIV)

Lastly, but by far the least, we are not longer to wear clothes with badges. For a long time now the church has been just like Sainsburys – we all pin badges on ourselves during certain times. These badges may be lies stuck to us. These badges show others our ‘position’ in the church, our sphere of influence and also our limitations.  You are a musician of course I am not expecting you to offer to serve coffee, I am a crèche worker I am not qualified to pray for healing. In the Kingdom we are to wear our ‘ministry positions’ lightly so that they do not become our identity. Why do we presume we will always be in same place? everyone is interchangeable from the youth worker to the senior leader – we are there for a season only. This is the season of changing our clothes regularly.

Magandang gabi – language of the kingdom

Tuning fork (Diapason) on resonance box, by Ma...

Tuning fork (Diapason) on resonance box, by Max Kohl, Chemnitz, Germany. CWRU Physics Dept. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain what we ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from this old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the culture in the Philippines and looking at what God is saying to us through it.

Language

In the Philippines there are over 700 dialects. This means that you could be living on a street and one side of the street could speak one language and the other side could speak another. Tagalog is the language of Manila, the capital, although many people with education do speak English (American English). The words ‘magandang gabi’ (seen in the post title) means good evening in tagalog. Most of the street signs are written in English and official documents are in English. This means that to get a job you need to be educated.

In this new kingdom culture that we are looking at, words that used to sound the same to me now mean something completely – just like a new language. Please let me explain:

When I heard the phrase ‘Father God loves me’ I understood it. It made sense and my heart responded in faith and love. But a cosmic shift has occurred in my understanding, over the last 18 months, of what that looks like, feels like and how it expresses itself. It is almost as though I didn’t really understand what it meant at all. The words “My Father loves me” look the same as before but my heart is resounding in revelation to those words differently. It is such a different sound – like learning a new language.

All I can compare it to is a tuning fork. My parents had a few at home that had belonged to my granddad and I loved to play with them. He played in the Halle Orchestra during the war and would use them to tune his cello. They are basically just a stick of metal that branches out into two arms (there is a fancy one in the picture above). If I hit the tuning fork it would vibrate but made so little noise I could barely hear it. This would change, however, when I placed the base of the fork on one of my father’s lovely wooden chests – the sound clear and pure would come ringing out. The vibrations resonating from the fork found a new medium through the hollow wood in which to produce new and clear sound. This is how the words resonate through me. When I say the word ‘loved’ the sound that comes out of my mouth may sound the same, but it is different than before because the word is resonating in my heart vibrations of a different tune. I can actually feel it sometimes almost vibrating with excitement inside my heart. It is a new sound from inside me.

These are a few other words that sound new to me grace, honour, love, respect, authority, relationship, openness, healing, unity, trust……….

It is no longer enough just for me to do bible studies gaining knowledge, and understanding, in my head – it needs to make the ‘18 inch journey’ from my head to my heart. The words need to be understood at the very centre of me with a reality that overwhelms my soul. The words can then rise out from my depths bearing all the truth and understanding I have grasped at my very core.

Heart responses look very different from head logic. Should you have that 3rd scoop of ice-cream, jump from a plane with a parachute, fall in love or scream on a rollercoaster? Heart responses are made with passion and life. They take us out of the boring, safe and mundane onto a different level of living. That is why heart responses can be scary, because they don’t always seem make sense.

The way of understanding this new language cannot be done with the head, it is a case of letting the heart find the truth and then letting the head work it through. No we don’t steer away from biblical truths, but there are far less absolutes than I once thought and much more freedom. We can let our hair down, find some space, relax and respond to the vibrations of heaven’s truths. We can respond to the God who “in the beginning was the word” – in a new language (1John 1:1). We can know God heart to heart, core to core on the same frequency.

Today: Are you responding to Gods love language with you head or your heart? How can you cause your heart to vibrate to the love song of God with a clearer sound?

Food glorious food

English: Philippine Food

English: Philippine Food (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain the things us ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from an old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the Philippine culture and seeing what God is saying to us through it.

Food

Mmmm where shall I begin talking about food from the Philippines? – it is truly delicious. Such different flavours that the ones I am used to. It is a mixed cuisine of Malay, Spanish, Chinese, and American, as well as other Asian and Latin influences adapted to indigenous ingredients and the local palate. There are classic dishes that I have tried (and loved) such as Adobo (chicken and/or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce) which is made differently by different families and in the various regions, kare-kare  (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), longanisa (sausage), paellas , pancit (noodles), and lumpia (fresh or fried spring rolls). One of my favourites is deep fried mini crabs in batter. The fish is fresh and juicy, the fruits are sweet and ripe. They have limes in the Philippines, small like large cherry tomatoes but sweeter than our oranges.

When I am there I find myself trying anything people give me – just to experience and learn about the different tastes.  Even when I thought I had eaten enough I simply have to make more room in my stomach to enjoy something else being offered.

In the kingdom culture there is a banquet. It is overflowing. We can see it in Psalms 23

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.

Perhaps we have been too polite, perhaps we have gorged on other things that are not healthy and have no room left for heavenly sustenance – have we only picked around the edges? Surely we have only tasted a handful of what is on the banquet table. The flavours, the colours, the juices, the sauces, the fruit – my goodness can you see it, can you smell it? It looks a little like those overflowing tables in Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.

The other exciting thing about this banquet is that we are not left alone to enjoy it. For those who have spent life outside the camp looking in, for those who have felt lonely and watched everyone else feast on the best of life, for those who feel unworthy to approach the king’s table – He approaches us, links arms with us, loves us, and escorts us in to eat. He never leaves us on our own but is excited to explore the experience with us. He hands us new flavours to try, makes suggestions on our choice of foods, advises us on which flavours blend harmoniously.

Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.

Song of Songs 2:4

Make yourself hungry. Create hunger. Find space to taste more of God and his goodness. Taste and see that God is good. Find another truth so sweet to the lips lying on the table. Pull up your chair and take your time.

It is time to find books to devour. Podcasts to chew over. Bible passages that get your juices flowing. Then once you feel full – find some more space and keep eating.

We have been like children for too long. Letting others buy, prepare, cook and serve the food. We turn up on Sundays like baby birds shouting feed me. Feed me so I can cope another week, feed me so I can grow strong, feed me some medicine to make me feel better. In this kingdom culture we learn to grow up. We go out and collect the food, prepare the food and cook the food. We learn to cut our own food up and feed ourselves. We grow up into maturity

Today: What are you feasting on today? If you are not reading, listening to anything right now it is time to go out and collect your food. What are you going to get? Where will you get it from? Don’t wait till Sunday – be hungry now.

Phew what do smell like?

Nose

Nose (Photo credit: World of Oddy)

For those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain the things us ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from an old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the Philippine culture and seeing what God is saying to us through it.

Smells

Every country smells different. The different fauna, food eaten, spices used and manufacturing going on. In the Philippines there are the lovely smells of food and the most beautiful flowers, and then there are the less pleasant smells of rubbish, open sewage and the exhaust fumes from all the traffic. Banana bunches smell quite strong, the chlorine from the swimming pools, the smell of heat in the air, the sweet smell of pineapple and I love the smell of a wood stove with something delicious cooking on it. The fragrance on the air can change quite dramatically in few steps and then change to something else in another few steps.

Philippines has such colourful, large flowers. The national flower is the sampaguita a type of wonderfully scented pure white jasmine. The smell is very strong and is carried on the air quite a long way from where the plant is situated. You can’t help but be arrested by the smell in the air after a thunderstorm when the air is fresh and the frogs have all woken up, swam with the running water to the river below and started their frog chorus. This noise is so loud it sounds like car engines revving.

For too long I have smelt unpleasant smells in ‘churchiness’ :the smell of frustration, the fragrance of sweat and toil, the odour of grease and dirt. Perhaps in the air there has been the whiff of staleness and putrid rottenness. Sometimes their is the artificial smell of an air freshener trying to cover up a smell that shouldn’t be there, something unpleasant. Then there is the smell of sparks flying as people with chips on their shoulders clash in relationships.

Yesterday I listened to a talk on worship by Jenn Johnson and she talks about people not being real in the church. They are trying to be perfect so when they make a mistake they don’t know how to deal with it. “Everybody poops, so everybody needs to flush. It is just in the church there is a lot of poop lying around”. I guess that might smell a lot! You can listen to it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?=3mIOnVpJDnY&list=PL330BDC3EE47414D9A

This new kingdom culture has a fragrance of its own. It comes a beautiful smell of freshness. The air reeks of freedom and excitement, liberty and power, creativity, acceptance and love. There is no smell of striving but of finding fulfilment. There is no air freshener of cover up but of beautiful unity.

I don’t know if you have ever been gathering worshipping before the throne before now and actually smelt heaven. It has happened to me a couple of times. I have wanted to hold my breath to keep the sweetness of the fragrance in my lungs. It smells of heaven, of beauty, of holiness and purity. This kingdom is heaven come to earth –it is the smell of heaven.

You know what else I smell in the air at the moment? – revival coming. There is the whiff of it coming like the strong aftershave announcing the arrival of a man in pursuit of beauty. In our travels What is so exciting about exploring this new kingdom culture is that so many people are talking about it. They may not talk about it in the same terms I am using, that doesn’t matter. Having spent time travelling and talking to people over this last year I have met people from different backgrounds, nations and Christian streams. I get the same impression –something new is happening. Many talk about a near revival, many are seeing healings like never before, many are seeing a new heart connection across different church tribes bringing unity, many are experiencing afresh the Fathers heart, or times spent soaking in the Spirit. From Australia, Philippines, Norway, India, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Rugby, Wolverhampton, USA, Canada, Congo, Italy – I have spoken to people from all these places (and more) and felt something new.

Can I take you back to the Sampaguita flower? It stands for purity, simplicity, humility and strength – how beautiful. Imagine a church full of purity, simplicity, humility and strength and what a beautiful fragrance they would carry in their towns and cities. I feel these are the keys to fill the atmosphere with the fragrance of heaven.

Today: What fragrance are you giving off? What do your relationships smell like?  What smell is filling your atmosphere? Is it beautiful, sweet fragrance of heaven?

Travel in the new culture

Photo i have taken myself, for the "jeepn...

Photo i have taken myself, for the “jeepney” gallery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain the things us ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from an old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the Philippine culture and seeing what God is saying to us through it.

With the heat soaring up to 100°F and humidity around 80% the Filipinos find it uncomfortable to walk. It was amusing trying to explain to our Filipino friends that some Britains enjoy walking for fun – they couldn’t believe it. Because few people walk in Manila there are lots of differing transport to choose from. You may want to travel on a Jeepney, a taxi, a tricycle, a motorbike, car, horse and cart, bicycle or coach. Take your pick. The roads in Manila are full of traffic, swerving, beeping their horns and finding their way from A to B. The road markings are guidelines and marked lanes are not mandatory. Vehicles are joining roads, changing lanes, overtaking and turning from everywhere, it is a real experience to see!

If you did choose to walk along the roadside there are rarely pavements. There may be one for a while and then a few market stalls, or a ditch with rubbish in, or it might just disappear.

The journey in this new culture, we have been exploring together, is different from anything we have experienced before. There is not someone telling us where to go, what to believe and what to do. In my Christian walk I feel that I have always had authorities giving me white lines to travel within, markers that define what I think and how I should behave. There has been temptation to clone thinking and behaviour, to count as dangerous or an alien anyone with differing thoughts and to restrict movement so that it is containable. Now I feel the white lines are optional. I can choose, think and behave according to the real me.

No longer are we travelling on mass. There is still unity, still co-hesion, but there is also a new freedom to explore. Some may wish to take a Jeepney to the market, others a tricycle to the mall, others a taxi to eat out. Different groups of people have the freedom to go where they want without judgement.

Even those that chose to travel together they will not find they walk in single line behind a leader. They will explore different things and come back to share what they have found. One may go to the cloth stall to feel and explore the colours, one may go to the bakery to try the cakes, one may go to the book stall to find some further knowledge – then the individuals will cross paths, share stories and perhaps take each other to the best places. The adventures then meet up with a unity of spirit to share the exciting treasures and truths they have found together.

What stops this turning into chaos? It is the heart connection. The honouring and respecting of authority that pulls everyone together and sets a direction for the next area of exploration. For the desire of the travellers to honour each other and put each other first. Togetherness is no longer the fact that everyone is in the same room doing the same thing, but a connection of heart in their various stages of advance. It is being real, honest and sharing a common vision and purpose. There is a compass of God’s word, there is a direction to head for, but there are ways of exploring all that Jesus has done for us.

Today: What area of God are you exploring right now? Why is it you are exploring that? Who are you meeting with to share your new found treasures?

Changing the Atmosphere

philippine-eagle_flyFor those of you who have just joined us –welcome. Let me explain the things us ramblers are chatting about. We are looking at the way God is bringing us from an old culture into a kingdom culture. To help us do this we are looking at the Philippine culture and seeing what God is saying to us through it.

Atmosphere  

When you enter Manila you notice the dust filling the air. It lands everywhere. You also notice the business in the city of Manila from 4am until early the next morning. There are stalls selling goods, people transporting things, cooking, mending and sweeping etc.

God has been showing us the kingdom culture has to do with resting and waiting on him. We imbibe the business of our society, especially in the UK– feel we need to be busy to be valued.

“Doing is where I have found solace sometimes. I can find or hide myself in doing. I can find on days when I am angry, upset or confused that I just want to clean and tidy – or do something to distract myself. I must ask myself do I measure my self-worth by what I achieve, by being busy? I have notice that when people greet each other they ask “What have you been doing?” The underlying message is “How have you demonstrated your usefulness? What have you achieved? Are you worthwhile? We give labels we give ourselves as doers as this adds meaning to our life – I am a gardener, a cleaner, a children’s worker, a steward etc. Business is not godliness.” from May 17th blog post

Let’s take a look at the eagle

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

The eagle doesn’t flap it soars. (There is a fantastic sermon on this by Ern Baxter. He is a man whose sermons forged my early Christian life. The friends I babysat for leant me a tape per week. His sermon Eagle Life on Wings speaks about living like eagles. You can hear it here: http://www.brokenbreadteaching.org/Ernbaxterpage_files/Teaching%20List/Ern%20Baxter%20List%20BY%20SERIES.htm) .

The Philippines national bird is the Philippine Eagle. I saw a couple last year chained up in yards as pets. They did not look grand, they were not soaring, they were not rising above the clouds they were scrabbling along the ground and sheltering away from the relentless rain. They they were born to be Eagles but they were living as slaves. I was so moved by their plight.

We were born to be grand eagles. Yet too often we are chained up or scrabbling on the ground like chickens for scraps. We shelter ourselves from rain rather than rising above the clouds. It is time to be soarers not flappers. Eagles do not flap, they do not create their own momentum, but instead they use thermal currants to lift them up. They just need to position themselves well, open their wing and ride the ascending air. Those who live in peace live positioned with the wind of the spirit under their wings. Finding the currents of heaven and rising upwards on them. They do not scrabble on the ground, they fly high over other birds a get an overall view of the landscape. They are not shocked by what is coming around the corner and they rise about restricting avenues. Let’s be like the eagle.

This culture also causes people to be thirsty, it is hot and dusty. The grit and heat of the day gets stuck in our throat, makes us feel tired and weary. It can sap our energy, our will and our desires. It can cause us to lose the taste for things Do we plod on thinking that we have to live constantly on the edge of dreary or does it drive us to long for the cool waters of the Spirit. In this culture the Spirit flows freely and the presence of God is tangible. It is up to us to drink, up to us to meet with him, up to us to stand under the cool refreshing waters.

Those full of the Holy Spirit have a great power inside. He who is greater in you is greater than he who is in the world. This inside communion causes a change of atmosphere inside us. In this atmosphere is heaven’s joy, peace, hope, life and it bubbles till it leaks out of us wherever we go. When we are full of heaven’s atmosphere within and we then open our mouths the force of the atmosphere we are creating within us causes a change to happen outside us. We are no longer affected by the atmosphere around us as the internal atmosphere is a greater pressure than the pressure on the outside. Try crushing a coke can when it is upright –you can’t because of the pressure inside.

We see all this beautifully played out in the story of Jesus in the storm. Jesus is asleep in the boat whilst a horrendous storm raged outside. His internal atmosphere was one of peace and security. When the disciples woke him in a panic he walked up onto the deck and said “Peace, be still.” What was Jesus doing? He was opening His mouth to let the atmosphere inside rush out to bring peace and security to the atmosphere outside him. He was overflowing peace in a tangible way.  This is how we share the gospel. We overflow the atmosphere of our hearts into people’s lives.

I see this most praying for non-Christians. By laying on of hands and speaking the friend will often burst into tears being impacted by the overflow in your own heart. We are called to live everyday lives filling the atmosphere with the presence of God.

Today: think what atmosphere are you cultivating in your heart? When you speak out at home and at work what change happens to the atmosphere? What overflow are you bringing? Does this need altering? How are you going to change it?

Let’s chat about the weather

untitledOK my friend, to you who reads this blog, I would like to explain to you where my thoughts are wandering off next. I would like to share with you how my recent trip to the Philippines has spoken to me about the new times we are in and the new culture we are to explore. This culture is kingdom culture and we are re-aligning ourselves up with heaven. I hope this is alright with you.

It may take quite a few days as it covers so much, but you have the capacity to take it I am sure 😊

I will take one topic at a time from the Philippines about the culture and then expand it to show you what God has shown me through it.

Weather

The first thing that hits you when you come off the plane in Manila is the heat. Last year we landed in the middle of the July monsoon in Hong Kong. The flight was so rough many of the team were being sick, Hong Kong airport was packed with people having had their flights cancelled. Rain fell out of the sky with such force and in such large drops water was gushing everywhere. The monsoon had rooted up trees and brought down buildings. Whilst we were in Manila we experienced many storms of lightening in the clouds becoming a light show above but with no rain. Pinky told us how her district floods every year. How the rubbish is picked up and floats into people’s houses. She spoke of kids swimming in all the filth for fun-just like a swimming pool – just like the picture above.

God has spoken specifically to our local church about storms. He spoke at a members meeting a year ago, spoke through a lady who had a dream in which she was holding onto a rock in a storm .God laughed at her and said “what are you doing?” “I am scared as there is a huge storm raging and I am going to fall off my rock” he replied. God told her to “stand up” and as she did her feet grew roots than ran like an anchor into the rock and she reached up in worship. As she worshipped and the rain fell and her arms waved in the violent wind she found her worship became part of the storm. It is a beautiful picture. I have painted a version of this I will share with you tomorrow.

I have had prophecies for me in two separate towns from strangers about storms. The church was e-mailed a dream that a friend in Singapore had about standing on  tall pillar in the face of a storm.

This is a season for storms. Storms that stir up and bring freshness. Storms that change the landscape and that break down barriers. Storm that bring floods and bring the rubbish to the surface. The sewage and garbage cannot stay hidden under rocks in these storms. The storm will not become something to fight against  but something to stand up in and use as part of our worship and devotion. It will cause us to put our roots down deep and stand tall, not crouch down.

In this new culture the heat is turned up. Things are moving faster and with more intensity. I don’t know if you remember your science lessons but heat brings energy and causes molecules to move faster. Heat brings change and substances transform into something new.

This is a culture where spring comes and brings new life. (this is a song about this new spring http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV_ERWrL_Rc). Where winter is chased away and we brush away the dead leaves in order to let the new shoots flourish.

Today: Think about whether there are situational storms, storms of thinking, storms of frustrations and dreams, storms of confusion etc. raging in your life right now. Perhaps it isn’t the time to fight it or stand against it but time to allow the buffering to loose your heart to let your tears fall like rain and to release yourself into new expressions and level of worship and intimacy with God.