Don't Squander Your Chance
For many this forced layoff is a chance to reset our priorities and activities. The decks have been cleared for us. So what shall we do with this time? First thought: have a rest! Yessss!!! Watch some movies, read some books, sleep longer…. Maybe get some jobs done, clean up, sort out… But after you’ve caught up, then what?
Well, what do you consider most important after all?
Now is a great chance to start doing what you really deep down want to do.
How about these top five practices for life:
5) Be generous with toilet rolls. If we don't share when we have, who can we ask when we need?
4) Spend quality time with the people in your household. Don't be isolated in your screens, make time to reconnect. Have dinner around the table; ask "what do you thank God for today?"; play a board game; do some craft; a jigsaw… google family fun ideas.
3) Reconnect with extended family and friends via calls or videolink.
2) Re-introduce yourself to God. Actually pray. Get to know him better. Day by day. (We can help with Core Stuff, and the Bookmark of HPOWER).
1) Meet for prayer, care and sharing around the Bible, in groups of 3-6, via videolinks if necessary, to actively grow in the Spirit, and share the love with others. (Cheers can help with this, and get you BOPping!)
This virus, now, is an opportunity for humanity to turn back to God. Let’s take it.
As Ferris Beuler famously said, Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.
Apocalypse. It actually means uncovering, revealing, as in the Biblical book of Revelation. But ironically we have smothered the word with such fearful connotations that we covered over the very thing that was meant to be uncovered! We fear the dangers so much we miss the main point.
Since we apparently live in such apocalyptic times... it’s well worth asking: what was meant to be uncovered? Answer: the Ending to The Big Story.
What Big Story?
The overall narrative from the beginning of time to end. The Biblical Story. The Story within which all our life stories are contained! Which begs the further question, what part will you play in it? Using the Olympic Rings, here’s a graphic summary of that Story:
Just like all great stories, there's an Author, Evil, Salvation, Freedom & Community.
Author - Blue reminds us of Creation and thus its Creator. God creates, creation is good, humans are made in God’s image, very good. But then...
Evil - Black, darkness, selfishness, the sin that damages creation. We try to take over from God, to run our own lives but only ruin our own lives. This sinful fallenness is shown from Adam and Eve to every story in the Bible...
Saviour - Red, blood, the Saviour’s mortal battle to make things right.
The Law and the Prophets (>>) foreshadow and predict the Salvation to come. The Old Testament repeats stories of sin and salvation: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Israelites, Judges, Kings, Writings and Prophets: we ruin life, God saves it, repeat. There are always warnings, and then judgement for the stubborn and salvation for the faithful. The cycles repeat through history even to the present day. But then comes The Saviour...
(X) Christmas reveals the Christ, the Messiah. 'Jesus' means Saviour. He is none other than the Creator become human, Immanuel, God-with-us.
Love summarises his message and his actions, love God first, and people as yourself.
On the cross, Jesus has DONE what we can’t DO for ourselves: he himself bore all our collective sin, guilt, shame, griefs, sorrows etc. for us, on our behalf. Separated from God, he then dies for all of it - in our stead. This means that sin is no longer held against us, we are made right with God! Amazing gift of mercy!
His resurrection overcomes death with life. This proves he has overcome our sin with his purity.
For 40 days he appears, explaining all Scripture to eyewitnesses, offering His salvation to all. Then…
Freedom - Gold, the Spirit of resurrection, in us to set us free from the law of sin & death. Jesus ascends, then 10 days later sends His own Spirit into His people, whoever trusts him, helping us to live like Him. Amazing gift of grace! And this gift is still being given and received today…
Community - Green, Grow in these relationships now and forever. Go share this Big Story. Loving God and people goes on now and forever (>>), in fact The Big Story ends with a divine marriage, Christ receiving his Bride - us! The Big Story turns out to be a Divine Romance.
So for now we are supposed to Grow in those relationships: turn from our sin, trust the Creator-Saviour-Spirit, and live life his way. This trust is what determines our part in the revealed ending: will we receive His amazing gifts and be in the marriage for the faithful? Or will we refuse, ru(i)n our own lives, and face the judgement for the stubborn? Go share this Big Story to anyone who will listen.
So I’m now sharing this Big Story with you. May God give you ears to hear it and pass it on.
I'm convinced this Big Story is actually a True Story, for good reason: it is uniquely coherent, uniquely comprehensive from the beginning of time to the end, and it uniquely accords with all the data we have available to us - including scientific, historical, experiential, relational and spiritual. Therefore it is reasonable to expect that the revealed ending will also come true.
Yes, the Apocalypse (the Revelation) contains frightening warnings and judgements, alarming events to come - wars, calamities, plagues, martyrdoms at the hands of evil economic and political ideologies. The warnings and judgements will cycle some more - exactly what we see in our day - little re-tellings of the Big Story of evil, salvation, freedom and community to come. But then The Big Story will end as revealed, with a final judgement for the stubborn, and a wedding for the Bride and Bridegroom who is the Creator-Saviour-Spirit.
But if we only focus on the calamities, we cover over the main revelation to be uncovered:
the Ending to The Big Story. Don’t miss the main point... What part will you play in The Divine Romance?
What is Cheers doing during the CV19 lockdown? Meeting in cells of 3-6 in homes, (digital attendance is also ok as long as it is person to person interaction, not anonymous viewing.) In some ways we’ve been doing groups of 3-6 for years whenever we gather around the word. Now we just have to do it at home. You’re welcome to look through our crash course summary on how we provide a balanced diet in the groups with a simple bookmark. We call it the Bookmark Of Power (BOP).
We see the CV19 lock-in as being in solidarity with Christians in China who can’t meet in groups bigger than 5, so when they hit 6 it is time to split, and by then both triplets need to have someone who can lead. Thus it empowers and multiplies - it disciples. I can see why God might want to equip us all in such a way. So let's make the most of this time. Perhaps our BOPs will work for you in your own circles. Here's youtube's Cheers Playlist for the CV19 lock-in.
I'm not panicking because my worldview is not limited to Naturalism. COVID-19, bushfires, climate change, etc. merely remind me of our mortality, and the bigger view of life. But Naturalism, which dominates Western public discourse - news and entertainment media, social media, politics, law - across Australia, NZ, USA, UK and Western Europe, has no bigger perspective. As such it's a worldview that generates the very fear, depression, and hostility we see with every reminder of how fragile we are.
Naturalism in a nutshell:
Naturalism is both shallow and brittle.
It's shallow because it rules out other dimensions, and disregards all non-physical phenomena observed.
In contrast the Biblical meta-narrative is deep and robust.
Don’t be put off by the shallow dismissals on public broadcast. Examine the Bible properly without prejudice against spirituality, and you’ll see why it stands the test of time as uniquely reliable revelation from The Creator to us. Unique because no other volume or corpus of texts has anything close to the following qualities: Reliable because the archeological and manuscript historical evidence is peerless concerning the Bible's preserved transmission from eye-witnesses to us. Revelation from God, because the over-arching Saviour-centred story is uniquely coherent and comprehensive, despite the diversity of 40 contributing authors across at least a 1600 year period. Plus it contains hundreds, even thousands of specific prophecies, many of which were fulfilled in later parts of the Bible, some of which are yet to be fulfilled in the yet to be completed parts of the History. Plus it claims to contain, and be, God’s word around 3000 times. Plus the meta-narrative combines with the readers’ realities to change lives for the better, right up to the present day. (I mean people can relate with the God of the Bible in the present!)
The Biblical meta-narrative is deep in that it accepts other-dimensional realities and interacts meaningfully and substantially with them.
Naturalism is a shallow and brittle worldview that discords with reality, and fragments society.
The Bible gives a deep and robust worldview that accords with reality, and unifies humanity under God.
Our public discourse needs to break out of its shallow, brittle naturalistic worldview. Otherwise it will keep covering up the BIG Story that these apocalyptic events are meant to uncover for us:
- that we are mortal, sin/self/satanic forces are bad, we need a Saviour. Leaving God was not progress.
- and that we need to turn back, trust in, & tune in to the Creator, accept his salvation now and forever. In this true, deep and robust worldview, fear subsides, and we can live in courage & faith.
That’s why with all these fires, viruses, climate change... I'm neither panicking nor in denial. I know what to think when reminded of my mortality. Not only the creation, but we who have the first fruits of the Spirit also groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For we were saved with this hope in mind - Romans 8. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom - Proverbs 9.
Pippa and my nephew Justin were student participants. My sister-in-law Jenny and I were adult observers. Worldview Academy was a camp for teens at Cedarville Ohio comprised of 25 hours of lectures with small groups and activities.
Topics developed from "what do we mean" by worldviews, words, and the West, to "how do we know" a worldview is reliable (apologetics), to "what difference does it make" (ethics, and sharing with others from different worldviews.)
We'd like to see something similar in WA.
If you know of such a thing already here... or if you'd like to help build it, please let me know.
Keep Moving Forward is morphing to Keep Moving Closer.
During the year we continued working to empower our people to follow Jesus in helping others follow Jesus too. The teenagers and young adults seem most able to adapt, develop, and try new things. In third term two pilot groups started.
- A pilot youth group in Ellenbrook proved too difficult to sustain...
- The new "Rookies" group for upper primary schoolers is kicking on into the new year led by three young people.
- A new 18+ group looks ready to commence this term as well, led by a handful of young people. [Update: The Shed has established itself well this year. ]
In both instances they will continue to use simple tools featured in BOOST training.
At Camp in April 2019, Cheers focussed all the more on not just moving forward in mission, but moving closer in relationship. Using games, objects, and clips from the movie Epic, Geoff illustrated the book of Philippians during all-age “Family Times” after breakfast. Teens+adults dug deeper after younger ones’ bedtime. The Way is a Person, His death and resurrection, His Way of discipling, His Spirit, and His Body.
The Pathway is a Person! Human nature makes it too easy to turn love into a task, mission into a method. We want to have our love with Jesus motivating and overflowing into spirit-led action. We want to be led by his Spirit, not merely our conscience.
So Cheers 247 continues to focus on the books of the Bible (using thebibleproject.com), where they fit in the big picture, and what the Spirit is saying to us through them. The repeating themes include the Gospel which is that we are given righteousness, the Goal of which is growing relationships. And our young people are putting themselves in lead situations where they have to rely on God more - they keep moving closer.
And so we remain hopeful that we will eventually (pray soon) multiply outwards to bless and benefit Banksia Grove and beyond.