Archive for June, 2018

Spiritual Gifts: Part One

Posted: June 25, 2018 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

Many members of revive have roots and history in charismatic traditions, and so we are beginning to spend some time digging into charistmatic spirituality, with the intention of engaging with it more deeply and making more space for it in our worship. To start us off, Lidia spoke to us about spiritual gifts. She spent some time asking what God wanted her to say to us, and it’s really important that we hold and remember those words, so below are her notes.

As Christians, our main purpose in life – our raison d’être – is relationship with God; to know God and to know ourselves as He knows us.

If a relationship is to endure, it must have many facets as it goes through different seasons.

John 17:3 – “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God.

Other ways of describing this phenomenon of relationship:

a. Staying connected

b. Abiding

c. Walking in the light = allowing Him access to every part of us: every thought, desire, aspiration and behaviour, whether negative or positive. (The 12-step programme majors on this type of practice.)

d. Practising the Presence of God = implies that physicality and emotion are part of thisPhysically we may feel warmth, glowing, tingling, feel like we’re actually bathed in light, or in a light breeze, a sense of being held … etc. Emotionally we may feel peace, euphoria, reassurance, encouragement, inner strength, inspiration … etc

e. Fellowshipping with the Holy Sprit (but my experience is that you need to be very posh indeed to do this successfully) 

Ps 84:10 says “Better is one day in your house/courts, than a 1000 elsewhere.” Being in God’s house is great. But even being just on the periphery (i.e. in His courts) is still better than being anywhere else.

This relating, in the main, takes place in the mundane.

Thought: There is a difference between knowing about someone because you’ve heard things about them or read about them in a book, and actually knowing that person for yourself.

As we walk in relationship with God, we learn to recognise (or discern), His voice. We start to perceive people and circumstances from His perspective and according to His character and nature.

John 10: 27 – “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:4-5 –  “He (the shepherd) walks ahead of them and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

Hearing his voice becomes our daily bread. It brings life to us.

Matthew 4:4 – “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

We are extraordinary beings!

2 Cor 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation (or a new person). The old life is gone; Look! A new life has begun.”

In life, there are many narratives which compete for our identity. The family in which we grew up gave us an identity. The society we live in has its own narratives (and every culture believes that theirs is the superior one!) Our jobs and current family roles also require things of us.

For all these to take their right place, our identity needs to be first located in Christ. We need to perceive and understand how He sees us (which will blow our minds btw) and as we participate in His divine nature, we start to become what we were always meant to be, who we really are (which as I said before, is mind-blowing!) and, despite walking a narrow path, we are actually surprisingly free.

When 1, 2 and 3 [relationship, discernment and identity] become habitual, THINGS HAPPEN. It’s inevitable.

The points above have been written as pertaining to the individual. But they can equally be applied in the context of the body/group.

A group has characteristics and an identity of its own. For this reason we cannot have a healthy body unless everyone is functioning in it.

So what is a spiritual gift?

A spiritual gift is a prompt or a sudden knowledge which, when acted upon, is accompanied by a release of supernatural power.

It is often small. (Like a grain of mustard seed.)

The person ‘stepping out’ always feels weak (never powerful in themselves), and even silly. The gift itself can seem like it’s not likely to be significant or make any difference. And we never know the impact it’s going to have in advance. Sometimes we even see the impact over a few years.

What’s it for? 

It is primarily to minister God to someone.

To help them in their relationship with God (i.e. to offer insights and unblock unhelpful thoughts … etc.)

To help them discern His voice.

To call out, validate and strengthen the new creation i.e. who they are, what they are good at

It is only secondarily, to receive blessing.

Mat 6:33 – “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [Food, clothes] will be given to you as well.

When we seek Him and His kingdom, we get blessed. This is also inevitable. But our primary focus should not be the blessing but on seeking Him.

Do it.

Simon Hall: “If you do something 1000x, you’ll become good at it.

Be honest. Test yourself. Evaluate what you bring and what others have brought. Even write stuff down so that you can see what happens in the long term.

Spiritual gifts are not rational. You can experience an intense pushback after you’ve moved in one. But ultimately they are rational because if you see them working time and time again and having a positive effect, then ultimately, there’s nothing irrational about that.

Revive is a great place for exercising spiritual gifts. 

Why? We are all tacitly signed up to the Hippocratic Oath and have agreed to, ‘First do no harm’.

We are gentle and respectful.

We are autonomous.

Please therefore, would Revive folk be kind enough to offer feedback when someone has said or done something that resonates with you. That in itself will help us to move in the gifts.

When spiritual gifts are negative

People (that’s all people) do not carry power (that’s any power) very well, be that political power or spiritual power … etc.

So when we move in spiritual gifts, our negative foibles can start to leak out as well. Examples of this can be judgementalism (folk start to feel superior), control (folk start trying to get things their own way, even think they should be in leadership), feel that they’ve ‘arrived’ and now know everything, lust for more power … in fact a whole host of very human tendencies.

What is the remedy for this?

Whenever you move in a spiritual gift you need to have put on the heart of a servant: You’re washing someone’s feet.

Remember: The person is God’s. The power is God’s. The work is God’s. You have no rights to control or dictate. All you are doing is joining Him in His work.

Spiritual gifts can be particularly astonishing in a group where each person has just a snippet of something. And as we share our snippets, a picture emerges (like putting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together) which ends up a ministry of God to both the group and a whole and to each individual.

My most powerful times moving in gifts have nearly always been when I’ve had no agenda at all. When God has come to me (whilst in everyday relationship.) When I’ve asked God, ‘What do you want of me?’ and He’s responded by leading me somewhere or to someone.

Last night Simon shared a little more about spiritual gifts, so watch out for part two coming soon…

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Responding to hate crime

Posted: June 7, 2018 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

On Tuesday night, the Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira Mosque and the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara, both in Beeston in Leeds, were subject to arson attacks within minutes of one another. This followed a march by right wing supporters of EDL founder Tommy Robinson through Leeds city centre last Friday.

In the light of these events, we have sent the following message to the mosque and the gudwara. We also hope to have a presence at the vigil in Beeston Cross Flatts Park on Sunday. It is so hard to know what to do in such circumstances, but prayer and presence seem a good place to start.

 

To all who worship at the Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira Mosque and the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara,

It was with deep sadness that we read the news of the attacks on your places of worship on Tuesday. The kind of hate and ignorance shown by these actions is against everything we believe, and against everything we pray for our city.

Words will not easily dismiss the fear and confusion you must feel in the wake of these events, but it does nothing to stay silent and we want you to hear messages of love and friendship that we hope will speak louder and truer.

Please know that we are praying for your peace and protection and for the softening of the hearts of those who seek to cause harm and unrest, and would like to be involved in any events or activities where we can stand with you in solidarity.

With love and blessing from members of Revive Baptist Church, North Leeds

A Heavenly Picnic

Posted: June 6, 2018 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

Last Sunday, revive decamped to Meanwood Park for a picnic and games, including a rather impressive human pyramid. We have talked before about the ways in which our shared meals are a form of communion, but before we ate together, Ed encouraged us that our times of play are also a reminder of God’s promise and a foretaste of all that is to come. It struck me as a really important word for us, and so I wanted to give a little more thought to it here.

I believe the verse Ed referred to was Zechariah 8:5, when God speaks through the prophet Zechariah of the restoration of Jerusalem, saying that “the city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there”. It’s a wonderful image, and just to emphasise the joy of it all, the basic meaning of the Hebrew word translated here as ‘playing’ is ‘laughter’. It sounds like the best summer holiday of my childhood.

And the picture just gets better. The verse before says that “old men and old women will again sit along the streets of Jerusalem, each with a staff in hand because of great age”. This image of streets filled with old people at rest and children at play gives the impression of a city in which everyone shares the same space, in which even the most vulnerable feel safe and happy, and in which efficiency is not the order of the day. It is an image which fills me with a deep yearning to live in that kind of city.

For the people Zechariah was speaking to, this was a promise of the restoration of Jerusalem, but as we inevitably read it in the light of the New Jerusalem imagined as part of the New Heaven and New Earth described in Revelation, we are more likely to see it as a promise of what the kingdom of heaven will be like when it comes in all its fullness. It’s amazing to think that this is what we have to look forward to, but that does not mean that my yearning must go wholly unsatisifed until I reach eternity.

Zechariah continues to speak the word of God when he tells the people “speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely…love truth and peace.” These commands are tied up with this vision because these actions start to build this city. We create a little piece of heaven when we treat one another with respect and love, and we experience a foretaste of eternity when we eat and play and sit together.

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