Category: kingdom and church teaching

Weekly Word

My weekly word is about cities as people, and how God loves and personally shepherds them. I use San Francisco as an example of knowing a city as a person, and relating to her present by seeing her whole story. I use San Francisco as an example, but the principles apply to every city.

First, we come into His Heart and Mind, and speak to the personhood of this city:

“San Francisco, city of edges and dreams, we wait for your full shining, when you are no longer used, but asked what of your thoughts and feelings, love, as you stand there worshiping again before your God.”

We see from your coastlines the beauty of your entrance, the aperture of your heart. But for so long trampled lady, you offer now, only your fully exposed breasts; and I don’t blame you. But, what of you thoughts and inner feelings, your passion for the weak, to offer your bounty freely to the hungry, rather than having it taken by the next speculator.


Hospitality as mission, some first thoughts.

We just got back from a 3-week trip visiting many friends in Europe. It was a long-overdue trip, and sometimes I wish each day was more like a month. (I’m a quality-time person.) I’ve got a number of thoughts stemming from our recent travels but there was one I couldn’t wait to come home and write about (because I left my computer at home–and yes, some days it feels like my brain is attached to my computer–I am just one of those kinds of people). It is about hospitality.

Hospitality, in my mind, is one of the most indispensible gifts of any spiritual community, not only to their visiting friends and neighbors, but to total strangers. I know this because when I have been in the home of someone who has a true gift for hospitality, I feel really and truly loved and taken care of. Whether this has been in the home of someone with wealth or someone with next to nothing doesn’t matter–the feeling I have when I leave a house of hospitality is the same.

Now while scripture urges Christian people to practice hospitality, I don’t think everyone has it innately. You can learn it, but I do think from having been with certain people that it is a spiritual gift–and gifts are given not only to encourage each other they are given so that woven together the church becomes a unified expression of love to others. In my friends I experience many aspects of Christ–thus a pretty dynamic community–but not all of them are gifted in the same areas. I have friends who truly have the gift of hospitality. I personally don’t think it’s one of my native gifts, but I know how huge this gift is from having really practiced it the last two or so years.

I also think there are cities and regions and nations with the gift of hospitality–and other nations that could learn some cues from them. But I’ll get into that later. I guess my heart in writing this was to emphasize to anyone who cares how much work goes into hosting others and practicing hospitality. In my “tribe” and the community of Christians I call friends, there are many pilgrims and people in missions or traveling ministries. Some of these are people who are seeking, and looking for a new frontier in their personal spiritual growth, by traveling and going to meet communities in other countries, or visiting festivals or conferences, etc. Some of these are leaders in Christian ministry or Christian charity or missions. The very nature of their job is not only to connect the global body of Christ, but to discover the frontiers that few other people are willing to travel.


Watch out–tribal unity tour coming to your town!

Yes just wanted to let all the folks back east know, that myself and reverend shoeless will be a doing tribal unity tour late in the summer. Primarily focusing on the theme of letting God build the wall of unity instead of us. the Reverend assures me that we will also be able to take this tour over to eastern europe where we hope to continue on our ten year journey to link houses of peace from many streams in the Body, to form a beautiful tapestry of linked homes and communities in the exact likeness of God’s vision, which Rev Shoeless received years back in the desert someplace.

I wanted to say that we know that the tribes much less our shoelaces are not yet in the exact likeness of His patterns; however, rev shoeless has seen the light of this pattern of linked homes long ago, and is labouring for its incarnation. I too have been a soldier of the gaps over this past ten years, warring for what I see a a lovely laticework of linked homes and centers where His pilgrims can wander (of course at their own risk) to experience something close to a full image of His Lovely Bride, the Church.


the kingdom or the world

The kingdom of heaven has a distinct personality or culture that is vastly different and most of the time completely the opposite of the ‘rules’ and traditions of earthly cultures, systems and nations. In all of the gospels, Jesus was constantly talking about this personality, this realm, and its ways: ‘the kingdom is like’ this, ‘the kingdom is’ this.

Take for example this teaching, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been advancing forcefully, and forceful men lay hold of it.’ Some translations even say “violently”. What is this realm, that it requires violent action to access it?

The way that I always picture and feel the kingdom is like this: it is another world, different than ours, with its own personality, its own laws, its own reproductive patterns. And because both John the Baptist and Jesus described it as a “kingdom” and not just a “realm” or a “universe” or an “atmosphere”, it’s easy to conclude that it has things that a kingdom has: rulers and authorities, cities, outposts, warriors, nobles, a distinct culture, a king, servants, systems of ownership and domain.

And Jesus was the first person to be living fully from this kingdom, while showing us earth-dwellers what it means to access it and live from it. For Jesus himself as one of the kingdom personalities to enter the atmosphere of the earth and incarnate in human form meant great suffering. Jesus was not violent but his entry into our atmosphere caused not only his own suffering but the suffering of others who followed him.

Because the systems of our own kingdoms are not always receptive to the heavenly kingdom, and because the ways of the heavenly kingdom are so radically different from ours, there is not only suffering but also radical choices to make about which one we will live in.


why the kingdom advances forcefully

If you read Derek’s blog below, I have a l’il addition. It struck me while reading it, especially the part about us being willing to ‘suffer the downloading of his kingdom’, that that is what Jesus meant when he said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven is violently advancing and violent men lay hold of it”.

I had an image of the kingdom pressing in, and being bruised on its entry. The ‘matrix’ of the world is too tiny, can’t handle the huge reality that the kingdom is. But as it enters our reality, it bruises, catches, and violently shakes on its way in. The “real” reality is actually much more dynamic, powerful and multi-colored than the gritty underworld reality portrayed in The Matrix. It’s our worldly reality that’s the gritty one, even if we are deluded by it. The beautiful kingdom has to bruise on its way through the door our suffering and myopic reality.


The downloading of His Kingdom

After what feels like an endless silence, we return! In truth, we have been hosting and hanging for over two months, and haven’t had the luxury of blog. It seems everyone in our tribe is being stretched in this season in whatever areas need it the most–for us, it has felt mostly with the questions: how many people can you actually hold in your heart, and what price are you willing to pay to experience unity.

Since, Jesus never stops before finished, I am not too worried about His ability to bring unity between one group of people on the earth, however, when i see how difficult it is to let the necessary love and repatterning in to achieve the flow of His Blood between the parts, I am amazed that the whole church will also be made one. Still, the shema read daily, says it–behold God is ONE; He is unified, and is therefore able to unify us–even in ourselves.

It seems like lots of us are going through an integration period of all the parts of self which need to mature or grow up into fullness–whatever is still lingering in old seasons is being grown up–often rapidly; accelerated growth was one of the words we got last year–chia growth (not chi, but chia, the small little sheep plants offered in mid eighties tv commercials). Needless to say, quick growth isn’t always pleasant.

I’ve been reading a book by Abraham Heschel about the hebrew prophets. Not only is it really well written, it also has lots of jewish insight into the life of the prophets, and their willingness to suffer with God for His plans to incarnate on earth; and this from a man who walked with Martin Luther King Jr. on his historic walk in Selma. A man who said that the jews and (i would add the church), never understood the prophetic significance of the life of martin luther king jn.–not just about his role in fighting racism, but about the gospel of the Kingdom which he heralded–which brings me to my point:

i think a lot of what people are touching now, has to do with a deepening preparation for His Kingdom to press into every area of our lives–cultures, nations economics. We are seeing this at the community level repeated over and over, but also I think it is happening the church worldwide, and then to the world as well.

Back about 12 years ago now, I lived at L’ abri in switzerland, a christian community started by Francis Shaeffer and his wife Edith. One of the big seeds from Francis Shaeffer which was at that place, had to do with Lordship of Jesus over every area of life and reality–so culture, art, history, art therapy, bussiness etc. The seeds he carried went out and bore very much fruit already, but this particular seed of Christ Lordship over every area of reality, also has to do with the gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus said would be preached before the end.

This gospel of the Kingdom begins with seeing Jesus as King over each area of our own lives, then out into every area of our culture, nations, and bussinesses– and it ends with the complete restoration of the earth.

My own area of interest is His Restoration of His symbolic function on the earth as it plays out in the arts–wherein God is able to re-connect His symbols with the things on earth they were meant to be attached to; this is about the healing of the imagination, and has been a life long fascination–under which the arts is a part. When God does fully inhabit the symbolic level of reality, you will not see a woman’s body separated from the rest of her whole identity for instance! The pornographic vision of other, as a dis-integrated collage of parts, will be re-integrated to form a complete image where all parts are centered in Christ Himself and the true identity of that person will be overt!

Similarly, you will see cities expressing from their true identities in image, color and symbol, and thus you will see the whole image of that city (this is what bono was talking about on his last tour when he would pray for the city he was performing in– that it would be the exact projection into the sky of who it was meant to be in Christ!)

We are going to see a global healing of the symbolic! And that will involve many artists coming into His Kingdom through a personal encounter with Jesus–many as they create their art! But this symbolic incarnation is part of a larger restorational preparation for His Kingdom to be on earth as it is in Heaven!! And this will require some suffering as it presses in! Many of us are starting to taste the suffering involved in being Kingdom agents or vessels of His deeper incarnation even on a daily, community level–and this is good news. I think it means the gospel of the Kingdom is starting to be whispered through our lives!

To be a part of His restoration is by nature, to be a part of His Suffering. Martin Luther King Jr. knew this–jailed, stabbed, and eventually shot–he was like a precurser of the true apostles to come. But suffering is part of the Kingdom pressing into areas where the kingdoms of men have been occupying. Borders, the arts, bussiness–all have things over them which HE is pressing into, and this pressing creates a bruising. These are the bruises we receive for being IN and WITH Him. These are the good bruises, which give us a knowing of Him in those places in Himself. Many of us who are part of restorational moves on the earth, will know His suffering–many already have; but in this, we will also get to taste the coming of the Kingdom in a practical tangible concrete way, that many have only dreamed of. That part excites me.

Understanding 20 C church history from a spiritual perspective will help us. When you are seeing current movements, such as emergent, you look and see what seeds got planted to allow this dialogue with philosophy and cultural thinkers to enter. What are they participating in–well, Jesus is Lord over culture is one seed that is growing there. Not that anyone yet knows how to be with Him maturely as He speaks and moves into culture–Bono, seems in the right boat; as was Martin Luther King Jn.

The larger seeds of the gospel of the Kingdom may be the overarching seed of our times or century (is anyone actually preaching the Kingdom right now?). If His Kingdom is coming, then Jesus would have to be established as Ruler in all areas of Life, and there would be none off limits to Him, or blocked to Him–even within ourselves, and our own communities.

Back when i lived in california, one day on haight street, i was wondering out in front of where lots of the hippie movement crystalized (somewhere between golden gate park, and ashbury street, and the Lord spoke to me clearly, and said, a tremendous outpouring of Himself was coming. I felt that we would experience another level of His Kingdom reality here on earth in my lifetime, and that the symbolic expression would include the arts, the physical body, a broader cultural critique through symbolic action or “happenings”, much as happened in haight and ashbury back in the 60’s. That a true movement of God would include all of culture and be expressed through the symbolic–even living as a symbol, much as community life became a symbol of a need for family etc in the 60s. Life itself would become a teaching of how God knits and builds…

…your Kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven.

Shaeffer and King were planting around the same time–mid to late 1960’s. During this period, you also had the Jesus People movement and its distorted echo the hippie movement. These movements were addressing many neglected areas–the physical body, the arts, creative community life. These movements were immature, first seeds- sprout versions- of His Kingdom coming.

History, the arts, bussiness, therapy, healing, culture, nations are all under the Lordship of The King, and His Kingdom is coming. This means that it will be pressing into these areas more and more through each of us who is willing to suffer the downloading of His Kingdom! To incarnate, for Jesus, meant to suffer–not just on the cross, but just in entering the polluted environment of mankind. He chose that path, that way. The way of bringing life by suffering. His Kingdom come by nail and blood–that was the way of The King, so it would have to be the way of those following Him, and even more so the ones who were actuall “in Him”.

One of the calls of this season is about being more deeply IN Him. As we descend into greater depths of His Life, we will know greater anguishings, and greater joys. Rick Joyner has said that this is a serious season. Yet it is also a joyous season–the joy of the Kingdom birthing into so many areas of reality! His Kingdom is coming more deeply within us first, and as it does, it will begin to permeate more and more of the earth!

So, it is a season of greater incarnation, as many are speaking–but in knowing Jesus as Ruler over more, we are also seeing His the gospel of His Kingdom beginning to be preached through our lives–there is great hope in this; in that Jesus said that this would be a sign of the end of times. Instead of a sudden disappearing act, we see a time of even more bold relief! Instead of us just vanishing in odd abduction; we come to reflect Christ ever more boldly and in crystalized clarity! It is a time of ever increasing stark contrasts! It is not a time of balancing light and dark, but a time when both are clearly seen for what they are! Whatever is not in Christ will be made apparent. And there is great comfort in this–whether He enters to ecclipse new areas of our own life (not I but Christ), or we see Him taking newer areas of culture, arts, therapy, bussiness–we are watching His Kingdom beginning to come in our midst, as it already is in heaven!

A Kingdom theology might be the bass note in this particular moment, or the central truth to enter into in His Spirit. Living from the Kingdom, knowing Jesus as King in that realm and below. Of course, as His Kingdom presses in, the questions of who the church trully is, get more in focus, as well as its relationship to the Jews and their destiny. Interestingly, both of these issues keep coming up in most contemporary christian thought! What is the Body of Christ (the church) and how does that play out on earth in our times; and what is the church’s relationship with the Jews supposed to look like? These are two questions brought forth by the pressing in of His Kingdom!

For as the Kingdom gets downloaded, the refining off of all that is false occurs. The Church will know herself; and we will see The Father’s plans for the Jews and the nations revealed. And we will see what every area of reality was meant to be in HIM! What were the arts meant to do? What was money’s purpose? How were we to tend the environment? What was the church meant to look like? What was the thought life of the 20thC meant to focus on—every knee shall bow at His Answers!

forming Christ in leaders

“The priest did not say, Where is the Lord? And those who handle the law, did not KNOW ME.” Jeremiah 2

Reading lots on an emergence of true apostolic leadership. The focus I keep getting is to see the church as the habitation of God, and leaders as being responsible for helping to make people into this habitation.

There is little talk of new structures or networks, and more of how God forms His Son inside of His People. So much more emphasis on His Ways and talk of who God actually is, and how He is forming His Habitation or Dwelling. So there is this shift in all the prophetic literature from how men make church, to how God is forming Himself within His People. This is a much more creative and spiritually charged discussion, and is more like overhearing heaven, than a board meeting. To overhear these words, is to start talking Ephesians and Revelation–it is to actually get to know God just by overhearing those who have been above and are starting to get parts of how God is forming His church within us.

There is also a much greater emphasis on His Actual Presence than ten years ago, especially among those who are trying to help form leadership. This is exciting to me!

In Jeremiah’s word, the actual Presence of God had moved out away from their religious practices. They no longer knew the true knowledge which flows from His Presence. The priest, or leaders, who were to carry His knowledge, no longer knew His Face.

And the prophets, alongside them were delivering messages from lesser sources than The One Most High. Both were still functioning–priest carrying knowledge, and prophets carrying messages from the heavens, but both had lost contact and intimacy with His Actual Presence!

Why have your fathers traveled FAR FROM Me? God asked through Jeremiah. At first, they “went after Me”, but gradually, they drifted far away from actual intimacy with Me, and in doing so, actually made idols of their own leadership abilities!

If we are to see true leadership emerge, it will be preceeded by intimacy. You cannot lead by strategy or information–but only by re-formation (actually growing Christ in people), but by having Christ more fully formed in yourself, and then helping form HIM inside of people. The building is people. Until formation of Christ becomes prioritized over doctrine, strategy, methods of church growth etc, we will not see the fullness of what God wants to bring in our day.

Where we are headed is a place where all leadership has the priority of being a habitation for Christ firstly, then being part of Him being formed in people. This will have very little to do with outer structures or frames, though many unique ones will be birthed; it will have to do with the focus being The Head. It will be much less about our ideas of church structure, and much more about speaking from Him Himself and out from that intimate position. Many who have been called leaders but who do not have this spiritual focus, will be seen to not be walking in His Authority. Many who knew the law, will be brought back to WHERE He IS!

For “those who handled the law, did not KNOW ME”. We must come to know Him first, and then lead from that place. If that is not our primary focus, we won’t be able to move forward with our own plans. If He does allow us to do so, it will not bear true fruit! The garden of intimacy must actually be the place we lead out from. Many great leaders who have the ears of man, will topple until low enough to enter His Gates, and come to KNOW Him.

A key in the earlier part of this word Jeremiah got, was that in her youth, Israel, “WENT AFTER” God. There is a time for going after Him which I believe is coming for many who have been in church leadership in this past season. Many will be asked to step down from positions in the institutional church, and pursue God alone, so that they might be made ready to serve Him in the times to come. This is less a demotion and more and re-motioning into His Actual Life!

We MUST know WHERE He is, and be seated with Him, growing up into Him in order to wear His Authority in the days to come! If many are not being protected in their current positions, it may be for the same reason that God lifted His protection from His Children in this passage fo scripture–when Israel was holiness to God, disaster came upon all those who offended her. When this is not happening, it can become clear that we are not in that position of holiness with God–that place where we are “going after Him”. I’m not saying that all lack of protection comes from this, but many will suddenly feel unprotected in the days to come, until they come more fully under His Canopy of Intimacy and Grace.

Many of our seminaries no longer have this focus of forming Christ in people. If they did, many of the structures would loosen to allow The Spirit to make deeper relationships required for Christ formation among and within His People. We will see many of these training centers become nearly spiritually dead, so that they might fall into the ground and be a seed for true training centers of the Spirit, for the formation of Christ within His People. This will be less about man made frames, and more about God formed relationships and creative structures flowing out from these authentic relationships.

God is able to form His Son in His People, but He is much more creative than we are! And we will see many sorts of frames used to birth Himself within us! But first, leadership must actually return to prioritizing knowing God and being formed IN CHRIST, so that they can receive designs and patterns from Him Himself–this is especialyl true of those now called apostolic leaders. Leadership is about to get much more “spiritual” in this sense. Much more time in heaven, and a bit less on earth for a season. Paul was lifted up for an indefinate period of time (including his time in the wilderness) that Christ could be formed in Him–this is leadership training–allowing God to form His Son in us, so that it is His Actual Son who is leading!

The primary concern for coming leaders will be that Jesus have His place to dwell FULLY in His People, starting with ourselves!

reading the symbol of the Jordan

reading the symbol of the Jordan River…

The Jordan river represented the death and work on the cross of Christ–recall the waters were turned back to the city of adam. This is a different river than the Red Sea which was about deliverance from our Egypts. This is about receiving the land!

The priest had to be fully dead to stand in its center. As we approach the land promised to Christ, we must be fully IN Him–all must die that is not in Him, and be placed on His cross.

The book of Joshua gives us a map, not just of where we are at locationally in history, but also what we must go through in order to enter our “lands”. Every area of our lives must go through a death and resurrection in order to cross the Jordan.

The priest, levites and judahites crossed over first. So they had to go through this death to self first. Christ of course experienced death before all of us–He alone could roll back the waters of the Jordan all the way to Adam, so that we might be able to die also, and begin to recieve His inheritance.

Any and every area of our lives which has not experienced the baptism of the Jordan will, if we are going to go into the lands He has promised.

Many of those being asked to enter their “lands” are also having to go through many deaths currently. This is a good sign that we are entering the baptism of the Jordan. The more He brings up in us areas not yet dead, the better. It is a privilege to die first. it is, in fact, like Christ–who is the only one who could really die first. We join Him in His death, so that we may be in and with Him as He receives His lands through us!

Remember also that the general body or other tribes were 2000ft back. Just as we are about 2000 years back from Christ death. He went first as we are being asked to do. We must not turn and ask those not yet near the banks to die. They will see the glory and follow! The general Body of Christ is being asked to prepare to approach the Jordan, but others are at its edge. It is good to be exactly where He has each of us!

The Head

“…grow up into Him who is The Head.” Ephesians 4:15

Something is head, when it is in charge. The spirit is the Head of the soul, as the soul is the head of the body. Jesus is The Head of all! When the head is in place, the rest of the body is in order.

The head of the body is the spirit. Individually, we are to be growing until the head is in charge–until the spirit is in its proper place! On a collective level, we are then to be growing until The Body of Christ is actually led by its Head who is Christ. His Headship means that the whole Body or the church will be led and directed by Christ Himself–not programs, not ideas about Christ, not good service, not homeless programs, not social activism–but Christ Himself who is Our Head.

Just as on an individual level we can do many “good” things, but not from being led by the spirit; on the collective level we can do many good services but not out of His leadership. God is not always asking us to heal or even encounter every person we pass. Our work is to be led from our spirits by His Spirit. Here is the importance of being able to discern our spirits from our souls. For to be led by His Spirit is often to not do what we perceive as good in the moment. Our good is often the worst enemy of His best. Jesus did only what he saw (with His spiritual eyes) His Father doing. Much of our service is soul led, not led by The Head on both an individual and collective level. This must change, and it will as Jesus Himself is established as The Head!

Many have been led by the “good”–even scriptural–ideas of serving others. But Jesus only healed when He saw the Father healing. It is good to do good, but it is best to be led to do the particular good God is having you do that day. The word divides spirit motivations from the souls; and allows us to discern the inner motivations of our hearts (Hebrew 4:13). It is essential for us to allow His living word to do just that–separate the percieved “good deeds” that the soul is leading us to do, from the things which His Spirit is leading us to do!

The church has often suffered from powerless deeds of kindness! It may be trying to do good, but if not led by His Spirit, these very actions bear witness to a powerless spiritual life. So that we participate in separating His Words from His Power. This bears false testimony about Jesus, and can only be overcome by letting Him be Head within us! Our task in this life is to be led by The Head who is Jesus, through His Spirit which dwells within us and lead us through our spirits. When we are led by His Spirit, we are becoming the sons and daughters of God! When we are led by the needs of others, by our bright ideas, or by our desires to do good, we falter repeatedly and misrepresent The Head!

But as we grow up into The Head who is Christ, we will find ourselves led to “do” the exact things He has for us each day. As the church learns to be led by His Spirit, we will immediately see the dynamism of God! God is dynamic and creative, so we will see a much more exciting and thorough work occuring through our lives as He is established as Head within us individually and collectively! As we lay down our own “good works”, and take up His, we will experience the dynamism of God and bear witness to the true life of His Son which He desires to live through us!

Jesus wants to live His Life through us. To do so, He must become Our Head!