Monthly Archives: February 2007

Connecting the dots

Consider this: JOLLYBLOGGER: Treating Prostitutes with Dignity.

There was an old preacher in Wales in 1735 which none of us have probably heard of because his messages were in Welsch.  His name was Daniel Rolands.  He was an Episcopal minister who was spiritually dead.  No one liked his messages; his church was dying.  He thought Christianity meant being a moral person.

He went to hear a man preach who was visiting, who said, “The determining factor in your relationship with God is not what you have done, but what Christ has done for you.  It is grace alone, through faith alone because of Christ alone.”  Daniel went back and thought about this for a month, until one night he was taking communion and this truth exploded in his heart.  He realized what Christ had done for him and it became a power to him.

The first thing that happened to him was a revolution in his identity.  This is always what happens first in someone’s life as the Gospel becomes objectively and subjectively true.  You see yourself and a child of God first and everything else second.

Secondly, the things that once controlled his life and scared him, like failure, simply lost its hold on him.  He no longer was ashamed of the Gospel.

This truth exploded in his church and it began to experience revival.  This revival flooded out of the church into the streets of Wales to the degree that the prostitutes began to attend prayer meetings and morning services.

Notice, the way he was affected by God, notice the impact that had on his ministry. Now go and read these stories:

Also consider reading these blogs:

As is often the case Pam has wise words relating to some of the issues in Perspective.

Now I want to write about revival and I will later in the post. But I cannot jump straight to there. If you have not read those posts and blogs then I urge you to go and do so before continuing.

This is about so much more than revival, this is about individuals, created and loved by God. Individuals for whom Christ died, to bring healing, resurrection, new hope and new life. From story after story, not just these but in a wide variety of research over the years, not only that but from the lives of people I have known it is clear that there has been terrible abuse within the Church family and wider society and the Church has failed huge numbers of people.

When I hear people defending the structures and teaching that has allowed this to happen in the name of holiness I want to scream. Is this like Nero fiddling while Rome burns? Is this like Pharisees destroying people through the application of the law? Too many have suffered (one would have been too many, but we are talking big numbers here), we have to change, we have to turn back to a focus on grace.

And one more thing before continuing, I want to express my indebtedness to those people who having endured so much have through their courage, honesty, vulnerability, faith and wisdom taught me so much. I only wish it could have been less costly, as I have read their stories and written this through my own tears I have been praying for healing, comfort, strength and peace for them.

But why all this, how are these terrible stories connected to Daniel Rolands and to revival? Well I desire transformation and revival. East Northants needs transformation and revival. To me these threads connect up in how we are to be Christians and how we are to be Church if revival is to come. So while I can write 42: Shock horror! I agree with Adrian on revival I for one need to see our preparation in terms of repentance, grace and inclusion.

Sadly much of what I read about the desire for revival focuses on a need for a specific understanding of holiness. A need to do actions that "put us right with God" in some way. I am uncomfortable with this, it is theologically wrong, surely we believe that our actions cannot bring us to God.

Often this search for holiness seems a coded message for heavy shepherding, for male headship and strict criteria for who is in and out. Adrian illustrates some of these tendencies in his latest post Pierced for Our Transgressions – The Atonement Revisited. You can see this in comments on my post by DH here and here. I figure Tim has it spot on when he says:

I like Jesus’ definition of holiness myself: ‘Love the Lord your God
with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbour
as yourself’.

Revival came when Daniel Rolands moving on from strict moral teaching to a real experience of God’s grace. If we want revival then we need to be praying for such real experiences. It seems to me that God’s grace is absolutely where we have to start when hearing stories such as those from Suzanne, Wayne and Psalmist.

As male minister:

  • If I preach morality like Daniel Rolands
  • if I teach male headship
  • if I believe I have all the answers about faith
  • if I believe I can earn and teach holiness through strict doctrine

then I have nothing to say and no way of walking alongside women who have suffered abuse from their husbands. I have nothing to say and no way to be a minister to anyone who has been abused. There will be no revival.

But if I give up my self-righteousness, if I take on board Ephesians 2:1-7 for me, if what happened to Daniel Rolands happpens to me so that I can own "He realized what Christ had done for him and it became a power to him." Well then I can walk alongside anyone, not because I know the way, but because I realise that I am no better and that I cannot be holy myself, that we all need to be

  • Alive in Christ
  • Raised with Christ
  • Seated with Christ

"in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches
of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." then God’s power may be freed to work here to bring the transformation this place needs so badly.

These stories leave me repeating "Come Lord Jesus, Come", for there is no other hope.

Why Silence?

So I have been silent for a while on 42. Why?

Well firstly, family life has been busy. We had a half-term holiday a week ago but stayed at home doing jobs around the house. Made some progress at making it seem like we have fully moved in and unpacked (and even put things away) which is about time given we have been here for 18 months.

Secondly, work too has been pretty busy. Got all the paperwork completed for the probationers committee, now preparing for lent groups starting this week (four different groups with different courses). Not all sweetness and light though with a funeral last week and this.

But really none of that is a reason for my going quiet. Instead I have found the work that I have been doing as part of my probationer studies which has required a lot of reading and writing has rather silenced my public voice.

Still maybe I’ll now be able to get back to writing. I have already written a few posts on my cycling blog  Cycle Life so see What type of cyclists? and Cycling around Cambridge (UK).