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?

Called out of Egypt

I recently heard on radio 4 that ‘a traveller doesn’t know where they are going and a tourist does not know where they have been’. One journeyer does not appreciate the way ahead, the other does not recognising the importance of the path behind. I do not wish to be like either one; wandering aimlessly in life not knowing how I get to where I am heading or nor having any idea how I came to be here in the first place. I want to be one who looks both ahead and behind and finds strength, solace and direction in understanding.

Culture Change

 ‘You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.’ Exodus 19: 3-6 (MSG)

The Israelites had been slaves for many generations since their ancestor Joseph had died. They had become slaves and been ruthlessly treated. During their time in Egypt the passing generations had gradually adopted the customs of this culturally rich nation. They dressed and put make up like the Egyptians, ate their tastes in food, became used to living in the style of housing, they ate on Egyptian designed plates with Egyptian style cutlery and drank Egyptian speciality tea.  They read the language, spoke the language, understood the traditions and worshipped the same gods. They even walked like an Egyptian ( 🙂 )

God was calling them out of the land and out of a nation of people. They were not Egyptians they were Israelites and they needed to find their own identity again.

Not only did the culture became ingrained in their way of thinking they had become accustomed to the role of slavery. They were told where to go, what to do, given boundaries to live in, ordered to follow certain rules and to obey without question certain people. They had become so used to taking on the mantle and chains of slavery in a foreign land that God had to call them into a wide free space to find out their personal and co-operate identity.

We see God speak to them to start kick-start the truth of their identity in the verse above. He tells them “You are not to be slaves to men, you are a free people. You are not objects to be owned with a number – you are precious children, my special treasure. Far from being nothings and nobodies remember you are a chosen people, a priesthood, holy nation. Not only have you been chosen there are times when I carried you myself to freedom and made a safe place for you. “ This was Father God calling imparting truth into his children

The life in the desert was to be a time of re-adjustment for the people. They had to learn afresh how to be free, loved, powerful, holy, treasured and Gods. This was time to learn a whole new way of being, way of thinking to a new way. God’s way.

Today: Say out loud to yourself ‘I am not to a slave to men, I am a free person. I am not an object to be owned I am a precious child, God’s special treasure. I am not a nothing and a nobody but I am part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Not only have I been chosen there are times when has God carried me himself to freedom and made a safe place for me. “

Freedom and Creativity

English: old craft

English: old craft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,  to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts Exodus 31:2-5

This is first time that we see someone as being described as being filled with the Holy Spirit in the bible.  He was filled with all wisdom, ability and expertise in all kinds of crafts in the Holy Spirit. When was this expressed? After freedom had come. Freedom looked like an individual overflowing with decisions and choices, these choices created something from heaven – a spiritual beauty on earth.

There is something about freedom that causes people to find their core identity from which they can express themselves fully. We were made in the creator’s image and when we express our true selves it is full of creativity. We were beautifully and wonderfully made so what we create in the spirit reflects this like a mirror.

Bezalel was filled with the Holy Spirit for practical skills, gifts and knowledge. It wasn’t for experience but for expression. We find the same explosion of expression and release when we speak in tongues. It wasn’t for abstract intensity but for a supernatural reality. It was for ….

  1. Creating beauty out of the ordinary
  2. Skilled engraving –making a mark, writing lasting words, impacting lives with permanence
  3. Mounting gemstones –taking a rock from the dirt, seeing potential, honing it patiently, bringing out its beauty and then put in the best place to show its glory
  4. Working with gold, silver and bronze -adapting to different metal  resistance and properties and bringing the best out of each material
  5. Carving wood  -working with that which people think as base and plain and make out of it something of beauty

First we need to find our core identity. Until we know what this we cannot express who we really are. Who are you and what are you all about?

Today: Start a discovery to the core of your being. Become filled with wonder as you find out who you really are.

The Golden Calf – possessing 2

Let us explore further the reason why issues of ‘having’ caused the nation of Israel to

English: My Desk

English: My Desk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

backtrack so dramatically on all the vows they had taken before God.

When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Exodus 24: 3

They had  promised to obey him and be His people just a month before and now they are reveling before a golden calf in idolatrous worship. (chapter 32)

We have considered the idea  that emptiness and lack of direction was felt by the nation due to the fact their leader (Moses) was away for 40 days and nights. This meant that the people tried to fill a leader sized hole with ‘doing’ and with ‘having’. The children of God were not used to making their own choices, having been slaves for so long, and the freedom they now experienced in wide open places caused an unease and insecurity. They tried to fill the new culture with the old ways. It is said that some wild animals are kept in cages for so long when they are released in the wild they will stay put in the cage because freedom is too daunting for them. We hear stories of prisoners so overwhelmed with freedom  and choice  they  re-offend in order to stay within the security of bars.

What if the ‘having’ things includes  people over you for feeling of security. They may be bars on your windows and locks on your personal doors of freedom – but they bring positions of security. This having secure positions means wanting labels for people so that we know who is who and what is what. We call people elders, pastors, evangelists, administrators, leaders, stewards, musicians and may give them badges such as lead musician, trustee etc. We are comfortable then with their label, we know we have all areas covered, we have people in the boxes we have put them in, the role they are now allowed to move around in, we  can understand how everything fits together. We have understanding, we have positions, we have control. Our labels link in with ‘doing’ – doing things for identity. I know that I ‘do’ the PA and that is who I am  – it gives us purpose, meaning, usefulness and sense of achievement.

What if church is to be organic, a family of people. If everyone has freedom to do what is on their heart  there are no boxes to contain people in or pedestals to put people on. There are no clear boundaries in which you have to adhere, a flow of heart connections and Spirit leading. What if everyone is free and powerful to do what is on their hearts?

In a culture of honour and serving there is no hierarchy, no patriarchy, no matriarchy and no uniformity. There is place for  clear leadership but this is done without labels at times – eg someone could lead worship from within the congregation without a stage, microphone or label. The shepherding and leading  is done from a foundation of serving and not from a place of control.  There are no power struggles as each family member honours gifting, call and freedom of others. There is no jealousy as each feels fully loved and accepted.

The onus is on people with anointing to lead well. This means that leaders cannot  rest on a label until they retire or lean on their position to feel that they have a right to make decisions or think they understand. In this organic family all have a voice, all are comfortable to express their gifts and those who are anointed for the moment are given room to clearly lead with deference in their serving. Jesus the King of Kings lead by example and serving – he gave people choices without persuasion.

For all of us it is a challenge to stay fresh in the Holy Spirit. To not just do the things we are on a rota for, or asked to do – but to be what we are. There is a difference between doing to gain acceptance and purpose, and knowing what your purpose is and just being who you were made to be. However eccentric, crazy or bazaar our anointing may seem to others we need to let the real us out. Let’s be who we truly are.

Today: Ask the Holy spirit to show you if there is anything you do to gain acceptance through what you do. Start by recognising your anointing and who you were made to be and start to deliberately to rest in who you are.