1 Thessalonians 4v13-5 v11
I woke one day last week to an article on the Today programme on Radio 4 about the Edinburgh fringe festival. They were discussing the one line joke of the year. For once this was not won by Tim Vine but by Ken Cheng. The joke is, “I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change”
As we move into the Autumn it is clear that it is going to be a season of great change for us with Mark moving on, Ben’s curacy inevitably coming to an end and also Sarah’s move to Durham. I guess that there is something in all of us that finds change unsettling. In general I really like change and see it as positive, however over the last few weeks I found myself being unsettled by the changes we are facing. Personally we have even more change as Naomi leaves home at the start of September to start the New Wine Discipleship Year in York.
I’ve been really grateful for the time that we’ve spent at New Wine United and Inspire. It has been helpful to have some time with God away from Kairos. He’s been reminding me just how reliant we are on Him, His Presence, His Spirit to live out our calling to be disciples. To be followers of Jesus, to be those who spend time with Him, who become more like Him and who do what He does.
Towards the end of his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul writes “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
As I’ve reflected on these verses I think there are some important principles for us over the coming weeks. Let’s rejoice in our relationship with Jesus; for the works he has done in our lives and the works he is about to do. Let’s decide not to be anxious but to pray in every situation. Finally, at the start of this season we can decide that in every situation we face we will give thanks to Jesus who is Lord over all.
During the coming weeks there will be gathered opportunities to give thanks, rejoice and pray. Key amongst these are our launch (3 to 6 September) and central gathering on 3 September, the community of practice on 29 and 30 September and the feast on 15 October. The UP on 24 September will be an opportunity to worship and pray together Please prioritise these times as we journey together.
Kairos are hosting another of our discipleship and mission workshops on Saturday 16th and we’d love you to join us.
We’re convinced that all Christians are invited to live as a disciple in every part of their lives, not just on Sundays in a church service. We will explore ideas about how to live as disciples in our neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces, families and communities.
Join us for this workshop where you will hear about some transferable principles and tools as well as stories and examples of discipleship and mission in action. We will think about why size matters and how we might begin to see households of missionary disciples emerge all across our towns, villages and cities. There will be opportunities to discuss together in different workshops, time to worship and pray together and opportunity to connect with other like-minded people.
The day is suitable for church leaders, lay leaders and anyone who wants to live with more than a ‘Sunday-Christian’ mentality. The cost is £25 (concessions available) and includes refreshments and lunch.
More details and bookings at our Eventbrite page.
Have you seen our latest video? Chris and Kathryn tell us about the Links story:
As we’ve talked with some of the new leaders over the summer the question that’s come up a couple of times is “what shall we do together?” The answer is quite simple – when you get together do Up, In and Out. As you get your rhythm going, as you try to live out your kingdom calling, simply make sure that when you get together there are regular rhythms that help you build relationship – UP to God, IN with each other and OUT to the world. You could do all three in one time together (eg. eat together and share stories of your week – In, worship, read the bible and pray together – Up, plan a way each of your community could bless someone around you in the following week – Out). You could also focus on a particular direction in different gatherings (as Chris and Kathryn mention in the Links video above).
Perhaps your community is re-booting after the summer and you are wondering what to do. Perhaps you are thinking about getting a new community going and aren’t sure how to start. Simply make sure you have a good mix of Up, In and Out together.
What do you think? We’d love to hear back from you. Why leave a comment and tell us what your current Up, In and Out pattern is or tell us a story about an Up, an In or an Out activity that worked really well.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-2,5
John 15 might be familiar to you. The picture is of Jesus the gardener who comes to prune off branches – both those that bear fruit and those that do not. Things don’t always grow in God’s Kingdom. We shouldn’t expect that the things of God will just keep on getting bigger and better – it’s not biblical!
In fact Jesus taught the opposite, that there are seasons of growth, and we should also expect that there will be seasons of pruning. This can feel like failure to us – and we don’t like to fail, we don’t like the things we lead to be seen to be shrinking or in decline. It’s tempting to ask the question ‘what’s gone wrong?’ and then try to come up with a reason that takes the blame off us, or try to fix the ‘problem’ in some way, striving and pushing to keep things going when what we’re actually doing is going against what God is wanting to do – it’s exhausting!
Want to think about pruning a bit more? To read an excellent blog article on embracing pruning click here.
I find it helpful to write things down that I am hearing from God – I will often put them in places where I can’t miss them. I want what God is saying to be written on my heart, in my mind, and influence my actions – this is how I ‘feed’ on God’s word – I want to live “…by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. At present above my desk, and hanging up in the Kairos Room where we pray daily are the following words:
Wait for Him Empty Me Fill Us
So often we don’t wait for God. If he doesn’t come with his power when we want we go and work in our own power. And then we wonder why things are hard work or we get exhausted or nothing
happens. If we wait we will be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). Without waiting we are like engines that aren’t being lubricated – eventually they seize up. When we wait we find out who God is; the one who sends the Spirit to empower us.
D.L. Moody used to say “Before we pray that God would fill us, I believe we ought to pray for him to empty us.” So often we pray to be filled when we are full of other things – often full of ourselves and our own needs. I find that emptying myself before God means I discover once more the truth of Jesus’s words “For apart from me you can do nothing.” I am brought to humility and God can do something with a person who is humble before him.
Fill US – not fill ME. That’s the problem. We so often think that it’s all about my little world and God helping me to live well within it. The power that compels us to witness to the good news of Jesus comes from the Spirit who indwells us. To pray ‘fill us’ is to welcome a filling of the Spirit that means we get dunamis (power) and exousia (authority) – we get to be witnesses because we get filled.
As we wait we find out who He is
As we are emptied we find out who we are
As we are filled we are commissioned and sent
Last week I watched The Railway Children twice. The classic movie followed by the stage show in a matinee performance at Harrogate Theatre. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes to see Bobby’s father appear through a cloud of engine steam and to hear her response “Daddy, my Daddy”. During the theatre performance I sensed the Lord nudging me.
During the week my attention was also nudged by a reference to a phrase used in some of the research with adopted and fostered children: ‘Genealogical Bewilderment’. This has to do with the desire of human beings to know who they truly are. Then came the newspaper revelation about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s discovery, disclosed to him by some clever and insistent journalism, that his father was not in fact the man he had been led to believe. Putting aside the disturbing thoughts that such deep and delicate things have to be played out in this high profile way, it was extraordinary how Justin Welby handled it. He set this profoundly bewildering experience in the context of the knowledge that his true identity is found in Jesus Christ.
Three ‘nudges’ that got my attention.
I have sensed the Lord highlighting that the time we are in is one of bewilderment and uncertainty. The Railway Children lived out their story against a backdrop of confusion, uncertainty and lack of knowledge of what was truly happening. One of the songs in the stage show had a refrain that went something like “when you are dreaming there is someone working to make your dream come true”. The Lord is working on our behalf. He is busy for us – we can be certain of this.
I don’t think any of us likes to be bewildered. We like clarity. As I have read the Resurrection Narratives in the Bible I have been struck by the way in which Jesus enabled journeys of revelation, gradually revealing himself, allowing people to be truly discipled by encounters with him. In Mary’s case it was through tears, on the road to Emmaus it was a walk through disappointment and bewilderment, In Peter’s case it was through failing at fishing. For the disciples it was through a locked door and for Thomas the challenge to place his doubting hands in the wounds of crucifixion.
God is working on our behalf. Trust him. Be prepared to wait and Jesus will reveal himself. But this is not passive waiting: The Railway Children got on with life, they helped others, loved one another, supported each other and saved people (remember the landslide and the young man in the railway tunnel?)
Be clear: God is your Daddy who emerges solid and sure from the fogs of confusion and bewilderment.
I’ve had a sense that this Pentecost will be a time of the giving of power and authority. Our Archbishop’s are right to call for a Pentecost wave of prayer for evangelism. Archbishop Sentamu has undertaken a prophetic pilgrimage of prayer, Justin Welby has stated clearly that our core identity is in Christ alone. We stand and pray with them in our identity as the children of God and look to the power from on high to fill us and send us.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13)
Leaders say what they see. Their not afraid to speak the word, they point out the awkward facts and they state the obvious. In the video below Ben explains more. Watch to the end for an update on our plans for Alpha.