Pauline’s Impressions of Breathing Space

I am trying to get used to using the new handle for the quiet days away at Winbourne. These are something that I have written in my diary for the whole year [in indelible ink!] Other than the birth of a grandchild or death itself my intention is to be there and yes, I can in fact relate to the new title, for they are indeed a breathing space in my busy schedule.

March’s Breathing Space took a slightly different form and one that I found helpful. We are evolving as we are ‘getting used to one another’ I do not really know any of the participants in this community (other than a friend who travels with me) yet we are there with the same intent and this itself brings with it a sense of community, common unity, one mindedness, a oneness in spirit. The focus for this and very special to me is the mid day Eucharist. As we humble ourselves before God together and regard the symbols of bread and wine, body and blood, broken and shed on our account, in fact to clear our account, pay our debt, I find this service a great leveller. We are all equal in blessing before God as we share in this together.

This month, after our morning prayer and period of personal quiet reflection and listening to God we shared in the Eucharist together and then had a more monastic style lunch than we have had in the past. Rather than all chattering and sharing our lives with one another, we sat in silence to eat our simple shared lunch whilst Kerry read to us from a book called The Ladder of Monks. This was a new experience and one that took a little getting used to. For all that I am a chatterbox and love words in all their forms, I found this easy to accommodate and far less disturbing to my whole day than the social lunch we have had before.

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Reasons and Resonance .. Part 1

ImageOver this coming week, I plan to make a number of entries on the Wind Farm as a way of providing my reasons and "resonances" for our Book Reading. You can read the relevant chapters of the antique book I gained permission to reprint here.

As you’re probably aware, for well over a year, I have been reading and researching the wisdom, principles and values of Christian monastics. Interestingly, I have discovered that many who ask to hear what I’ve been up to lately, are extremely interested in the subject and the material … until  I make the "fateful" mistake of mentioning the word monastic in the course of sharing. The moment that happens, it seems as though their eyes glaze over and suddenly I have lost them.

I’ve been asking myself, is it because I’m on a wrong search?  Could it be that the whole idea of monasticism sounds just too Roman Catholic for the Protestants I relate to and am a part of?  Or is it that in our post-modern Western culture, we have forgotten that the key to finding the way forward is more often than not, to look back?

I think we’ve grown so enamoured with the concepts of "bigger and better", "brighter and shinier", "smaller and faster" that we’ve subliminally chosen to discount almost anything historical in favour of "all things new". Now, while God is most certainly the God who is able to make all things new, He is also the Ancient of Days. He is the alpha and omega. He indeed is our end, but we must remember that He has also been there since before the beginning! Let’s face it, He Himself is the the greatest writer of history the world has ever known!  I mean, have you read your Bible lately??

I believe, in our desire to "have everything", we’ve chewed it all up, spat it all out and been left with nothing of any real value .. and, in recent years, the mass exodus from church as we’ve known it is a dead giveaway that people are realising they’re dying from a diet of "processed" Christianity.

My wife, Jo, and I sometimes watch a lifestyle show on TV about property development called The Property Ladder. While it may seem a strange subject, there are remarkable parellels with why I’m sharing this. In the program, a highly experienced and successful property developer helps first-timers with their new developments. Invariably we see the same thing again and again. Sarah, the experienced developer, is brought in by these first-timers so they can glean and learn from her advice .. and when she makes suggestions, they almost always counter her advice with an "I know better" attitude. It annoys me so much, I even end up talking to the TV!! 

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Insights from The OOZE

I received the latest newsletter from The OOZE the other day and, prefacing all of their new info, was a really thoughful and insightful article by Spencer Burke, founder of The OOZE, regarding the dialogue on what many are calling the "emerging church".

For the sake of reprinting it on the Wind Farm, I have edited out some small, irrelevant elements that relate specifically to OOZE events. The omitted pieces have no bearing on the overall import of his thoughts.

Enjoy them .. they ought to give us all pause as we consider how we’re communicating with people, and how we might be interpreting what we hear, during a time of great flux in the church.

For the record, whilever we waste our time arguing over the "emerging" v’s "institutional" church, I think we’re missing the point. It is, what I call, the "great leveller" we ought to be discussing .. because it is the emerging Kingdom of God, and not the church, that is ultimately all-important.

To allow the Kingdom of God to fully emerge, all of us in the church, regardless of our theology, ecclesiology, christology or eschatology, must fall in line with the reign of the King. Our King is so secure in who He is as King, that He is more than happy to allow a multitude of expressions of His body in the earth, regardless of what we think or believe.

Remember, so long as Christ is "first and last", whatever we do "in between" is not that important!!  Enjoy Spencer’s insights …..

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What Do I Long For?

If you’ve been waiting patiently, I owe you an apology. I had hoped to write up my insights from our Book Reading before now. However, after a week of being involved in teaching at the first Australian Prophetic School, new contract negotiations with a commercial radio station I work with, helping some friends through a crisis, and newly taking on the role as the afternoon Drivetime host on ultra106five in Hobart, Tasmania (isn’t Internet technology amazing??), I just haven’t been able to get to it. It is never far from my mind or heart, so I promise you I will take the time over the next week to write it up.

In the meantime, Pauline, who regularly attends Breathing Space (our quiet days) each month, has asked that I consider sharing something I was motivated to write during our last time together. On this Good Friday for 2008, may these thoughts stir your heart to consider deeply the freedoms won for us by Christ …

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The Patriots v’s the Giants – UPDATED

ImageA Word for America ..  

On the 3rd February, 2008, the biggest day in American football rolled around for another year. Millions across the United States were again glued to their televisions for the outcome of the NFL SuperBowl .. a televised battle-royale watched this time by more people than in the history of the game.

Within days of the result of the SuperBowl being known, I received some insight from the Lord for the United States; about a season that is coming "soon". Let me set the scene for you so you can understand how I received this insight …

Being in Australia, I did not watch the game and only heard the outcome as a passing news story on the radio. But, according to all those in the know, the outcome of the SuperBowl was going to be no surprise. The New England Patriots had been undefeated in every single game of their season. They were the clear favourites based on their past form. The New York Giants had not seen results quite as good, but their form was sufficient to see them playing in the biggest game of the year. Staggeringly, on the day, a massive upset took place .. the New York Giants, considered the underdogs, convincingly triumphed over the previously undefeated New England Patriots … and it was after hearing the outcome that the Lord gave me some unexpected insight …

Now, before we get into the specifics, allow me to preface this insight by saying a few things:

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A Report on Our Third Quiet Day

Another excellent day was experienced by ten of us at Winbourne in Mulgoa yesterday for what was our third Quiet Day, which we’re now going to be calling "Breathing Space".

As we’ve been doing, we’re using some "ancient words" reworked into a contemporary form of liturgy, corporately declaring some of the great creeds, praying the Lord’s Prayer (or Our Father), the litany of repentance and even parts of Patrick’s Breastplate.

Why are we doing this?  If you remember, the Lord spoke to me through Jeremiah 6:16 about six months ago, in response to my question about why I was being led to explore a reconnection to the ancient nature of our Christian faith:

This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

We’re discovering two things. Firstly, that there is an incredible amount of "oil" on these ancient prayers and practices for the 21st Century, and secondly, in accordance with the Wind Farm vision, the wind of the Spirit seems to be blowing stronger from this direction than any other at this time.

ImageThe practices of using the "monastic prayer book", that is, praying the Book of Psalms; pubicly reading and humbly listening to Old and New Testment Scriptures; and praying some of the great prayers of the church, all coupled with times of intentional silence designed to posture us to listen to Heaven in order to hear the voice of our Great Shepherd; these things are having a profound effect on those who attend.

I am a Protestant. Therefore, there are some ancient church prayers and practices which I have never experienced because they have been outside my tradition. Prayers like the Angelus begin safely then swing widely outside my theology. Therefore, they are prayers I cannot embrace in good conscience.

In that vein, one of the practices I thought I would never bother with was the ancient tradition of the Stations of the Cross. However, over recent weeks, God gave me some insight as to how, through some simple tweaking, this could be a very special experience for all concerned .. and it was.

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A Book Reading .. Chapter 7

ImageToday will see the reprinting of the last relevant chapter of the antique book I bought a few months ago. By now I’m sure you would have seen a pattern and a theme emerging in what the author has written. In about a week I will reveal who the author is, the actual name of the book, and I will also provide a link to a downloadable PDF of the entire book which you can read at your leisure.

In the meantime, enjoy Chapter 7 …

VII  The High Vocation Neglected

It is impossible to deny a historical fact, especially when it is explained and emphasized by our Saviour’s own solemn words: “This kind (of devil) is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.”

Do not generous souls at the present time need to be reminded that in prayer and fasting are to be found the most divine self-sacrifice and the beginning of all apostolic work? The needs of the Church are boundless, and this vocation is too much neglected because it is overlooked, and its being thus overlooked is due to a want of practical belief in its apostolic efficacy. Men have lost sight of this aspect of the contemplative life and have grown accustomed to regard it as a somewhat selfish pursuit of one’s own personal salvation. What is really its dominating idea is obscured, and for this reason generous souls no longer feel attracted towards it. It is neglected and forgotten at a time when it is more needed than ever.

The general tendency of those who wish to do good is to be active, and although activity is in itself most edifying, it becomes fraught with danger when it alone occupies men’s minds. They can form an idea of self-sacrifice manifested outwardly, and they know and appreciate those who practise it; but they are no longer capable of perceiving inward self-sacrifice, the divine virtue of secret self-renunciation.

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Quiet Day & the APRT Prophetic School

Tomorrow, Saturday 23rd February, is our first Quiet Day for 2008. These are now scheduled once a month across this year and we would love it if you joined us. You can check the dates here.

We’re expecting around 20 people to be with us and there are some very special things planned, including a "Protestant reworking" of the Stations of the Cross featuring thought-provoking meditations and spectacular drawings of each of the station scenes; all to be used as a tool to focus our hearts on the astonishing sacrifice of Christ and for the upcoming Easter weekend toward the end of March.

On Monday afternoon, I will be travelling to South Nowra, NSW, to participate and teach in the first of four Australian Prophetic Round Table schools to be held across Australia throughout 2008.

With that in mind, sometime tomorrow, Chapter 7 of our book reading will be published here on the Wind Farm and then, when I get back from the Australian Prophetic School run by the APRT, I will begin to sum up why I believe this antique book has so much prophetic resonance for the Church today and the hour we find ourselves in.

I trust it will be worth the wait.


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A Book Reading .. Chapter 4

ImageWe continue our reading from a 100-year-old book I felt motivated to buy some months ago. Soon, I will reveal its author and the reasons why it has touched such a chord with me … and I would love the sharing of those reasons to be a source for discussion and dialogue here on the Wind Farm. In the meantime, enjoy Chapter 4 …

IV.  Useless Lives

We have seen how the necessity, advantages and duties of the two ministries, active and contemplative may be deduced from our Lord’s own words. The world in its feverish activity now understands but half of God’s design. It appreciates action, but not contemplation. Men know and perceive and acknowledge the need of action, and they esteem highly whatever acts and agitates, and nothing else. In so doing they are only being consistent with human nature, but they are mistaken.

Activity is indeed necessary, and cannot be too highly esteemed, but it alone is not enough, or rather if it suffices in the bustle of everyday life, it does not suffice for that of a Christian, which is a union of divine and human elements. In our present century, when faith is departing, as soon as a generous soul flees from the world and seeks refuge in the solitude of the cloister, men speak of it as a cowardly act, not in keeping with the age in which we live. They assume that this outwardly inactive existence was a beautiful outgrowth, a luxury produced by faith in the days when faith reigned supreme.

But now that we have to defend every foot of our stronghold, and are losing ground day by day, we need active combatants, and have not too many or even enough of them. Under such circumstances, how can we view with approval those souls which are filled with faith and yet quit the field of battle? This is what people say, though they do not know what they are saying. They talk of battle, with out seeing what sort of battle it is; and they speak of a battle field, and do not perceive where the contest rages most fiercely. They accuse the most generous souls of abandoning the fray, when they are really engaging in the hottest part of the struggle.

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