Mustard Seed (Feat. Skylar Grey)

‘With faith like a mustard seed, you can move mountains’
If I’ve heard that once, then I’ve heard it thousands
and thousands of times, if I had been countin’
each time for a penny, I’d need an accountant
to keep track of the stack of cash that had mounted,
but it’s never been my desire to be surrounded
by money. No, cash doesn’t get my heart pounding
but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to move mountains!
Pennies, pounds, paychecks, profits all leave me cold.
‘All that glitters is not gold’, and gold’s glitter grows old.
‘And what profit it a man to gain the world but lose his soul?’
but that doesn’t mean I’m completely free of the stranglehold
of foolish pride, vain ambition, losing myself in competition–
I’ve wanted to be known as a Cambridge mathematician
or an apostolic leader with Youth With A Mission –
but give me a moment, this is holy contrition

For once, once in your life
For once push your ambitions aside
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
For once, once in your life
For once just stop to open your eyes
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you

So I lift my eyes up, and I look to the hills
and I’m reminded that there’s only one thing that fulfils
the longing of the human heart—it’s not dollar bills,
or sex, drugs, hip hop skills, all those cheap thrills.
No there’s only one thing that can satisfy,
it’s being known as His own by the Lord most High
who loves you so much that he came and died
on a hill, on a cross, he was crucified.
And the mountains of guilt and the mountains of shame,
all the times that we’d murdered, molested and maimed
and then pointed the finger, played the blame game,
and then tried to act like nothing had changed–
he took all those sins on his innocent frame,
and died for our sins, in fact he became
sin so that we could be called by his name,
and through faith be righteous, and be born again.

For once, once in your life
For once push your ambitions aside
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
For once, once in your life
For once just stop to open your eyes
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you

So this is my confession, here’s my sinner’s prayer
for all the times that pride has snapped my ankle in its snare.
Ambition’s my Achilles’ heel, catching me unaware,
ssseducing me into a game of spiritual solitaire:
but if he’s without a legion, then what’s a legionnaire?
And the Christian life’s a team game, cuz this is warfare!
And we need to fight together, and humbly learn to bear
each other’s burdens till the time we meet Christ in the air.
This isn’t an altar call, I’m just preaching to myself,
If I don’t start with me, then why would someone else
have any reason to believe the things that I might tell
them that they should believe. Yeah, what’s a bible belt
when your pants are round your ankles, and you’re stumbling towards hell!
I speak in tongues, but have no love—I’m just a clanging bell.
A mustard seed is all you need to save your soul from hell
but you need to plant that seed, and then water it as well.

For once, once in your life
For once push your ambitions aside
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
For once, once in your life
For once just stop to open your eyes
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you

Serpent or Servant

A simple rhyming revelation that struck me in our time of prayer this afternoon:
There are only two choices–you must take the way of the serpent or the way of the servant.

__________________________

The way of the serpent is pride:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say…”
(Genesis 3:1)

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

(Isaiah 14:12-15)

“Can you draw out Leviathan [the serpent] with a fishhook
or press down his tongue with a cord?…
His sneezings flash forth light,
and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.
Out of his mouth go flaming torches;
sparks of fire leap forth.
Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke,
as from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
His breath kindles coals,
and a flame comes forth from his mouth…
His heart is hard as a stone,
hard as the lower millstone…
On earth there is not his like,
a creature without fear.
He sees everything that is high;
he is king over all the sons of pride.”

(Job 41:1, 18-21, 24, 33-34)

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The way of the servant is humility:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
(Mark 10:45)

Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
(Matthew 20:26-27)

He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
(John 13:12-17)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…
(Philippians 2:5-7)

__________________________

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
(Proverbs 11:2)

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“…the day Isaac was weaned.” (Gen.21:8)

The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned. (Genesis 21:9)

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We had a great time celebrating birthdays (not just Isaac’s but my dad’s as well) with my parents in Petworth, and then when we got back to Cambridge it was almost immediately (bang-smack in the middle of DTS debrief week) Taryn’s birthday, which we celebrated with croquet and a barbeque at Mike & Jane’s lovely Royston house. But I also wanted to throw our own party, and invite some of our Cambridge friends who hadn’t been part of these other celebrations.

The continuing busyness of YWAM Cambridge life and our own admittedly imperfect organizational powers meant that this took some desire to actually became reality–but last night we finally managed to rally a small group of much-loved friends to join us for a proper party complete with musical chairs, pass-the-parcel and a feast of chocolate brownies, ice-cream sorbet, forest berries, and (a-)political cheeses.

Coincidentally the day of the party so happened to be the precise same day that Isaac first went without his mother’s milk–“the day Isaac was weaned”.

There have previously been various strange parallels between my ministry and family life — Taryn having her visa denied and me realizing the longing of Jesus the Bridegroom for His Bride; the thousand pound gift ‘for the baby/project-you’re-starting’, which baby’s nine-month gestation turned out to precisely coincide with our first-ever nine-month Revival & Reformation DTS.

And this also felt like it was some sort of ministry milestone, as that morning our YWAM Cambridge meeting had had our final leadership meeting before we scatter in different directions over the summer. And during that meeting we had agreed that the School of Biblical Studies which we had hoped would be running this September, will have to be delayed a year until September 2016. What this means is that this coming year (2015-16) will be the first year since we started running schools two years ago that YWAM Cambridge won’t be pioneering any new schools. Instead we will focus on improving our systems, deepening our roots, and strengthening our foundations, even as we continue to run our three ongoing programmes: the 9-month September R&R DTS, the 5-month April Revival DTS, and the Year For God.

It’s as if YWAM Cambridge as a ministry is moving on from its infancy and being weaned into a more established mode of being.

On that note, Hannah gave me a word of encouragement a few days about how the mustard seed that I had begun sowing all those years ago had now grown into something to which the birds of the air could come and take refuge under its shade. And it so happens that on this same day that Isaac was weaned, our friend Norman finished making a (hand-crafted!) bird-table for us — which is now sitting in the corner of our back garden, offering refuge to red-breasted robins and chirping house-sparrows. And on the roof of the bird-table, as if it were some miniature chapel, Norman has carved two crosses. “I thought you’d like those, given that you’re so into all of that,” was his wry comment.

So–here’s to entering a new season of maturity!

Jenny, Jenny & Gen.E.

jenny

Our retreat to Devon was bracketed by the visits to Cambridge of two Jennys, both of whom have been serving with YWAM having done the DTS with us at Harpenden.

Jenny Wendt came to visit us just before we went on retreat. She did the Wilberforce DTS with us in September 2011, having also trained as a teacher, and then staffed another DTS (as we did too) in Harpenden. And she has just spent the last year and a half with YWAM Samoa, setting up a primary school which now has seventy students who would otherwise be left without access to formal eduation — and therefore without the opportunity to learn to read or write. She is sharp, bright-eyed, vivacious and confident; she is energetically servant-hearted while simultaneously discerningly strategic; she is a naturally-gifted entrepreneurial pioneer, and she knows it doesn’t profit anyone to suffer foolishness unnecessarily.

Then while we were on retreat in Devon, Jenny Stevens came and had her own little retreat staying in our house in Cambridge, before we saw her at the YWAM Gathering. She was on the DTS in Harpenden which Taryn and I staffed, and she was part of the outreach team we led to India. She is now serving with YWAM in Ireland, overseeing the Hospitality for YWAM Rostrevor. She is self-effacingly warm, unfailingly polite, easily embarrassed, delightful company; she is sometimes timid, but there’s something about her which compels complete strangers to pour out their hearts to her; she is an accidental evangelist of the highest calibre.

I don’t know all that many people named Jenny, and so my attention was caught by the visits of these two Jennys either side of a retreat in which I was attempting to deliberately slow down and tune in to the still small voice of the Spirit of God. ‘God — what are you trying to say to me? What is it about these two Jennys?’

They are both intelligent and capable people who have chosen to surrender to the missionary call of God; both YWAM Harpenden DTSers who have chosen to continue with YWAM in a way uniquely suited to their specific and unique set of strengths. ‘Jenny…Jenny…’ — I think it struck me as I was doing the dishes one evening after dinner: ‘…Gen.E!’

I had already had the sense that God was speaking to me about ‘this generation’:
If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.
O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation!
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face.

But what could ‘E’ stand for?

And I thought to myself : ‘E for Evangelism!’

I believe God is raising up a generation who will embrace the great calling of Jesus to preach the gospel to every creature! A generation who won’t be worried about emulating Billy Graham or Reinhard Bonnke, because they have grasped the simple mathematical fact (and profound theological truth) that easily-imitated multiplication of the kingdom of God is exponentially more powerful than apparently-anointed addition to the kingdom of God. A generation in which each person will embrace their unique set of strengths and so-called weaknesses and discover where in the world — and it could be anywhere in the world! — they will be most effective as ambassadors of Christ and carriers of the presence of God.

And I believe God was reminding me of the privilege I have of helping to raise up this Evangelism Generation.

And they will be Enthusiastic, Entrepreneurial, Empowered-by-the-Spirit, Extravagantly-Generous. They will be an Ephesian Generation, strengthened with might by the Spirit and filled with all the fulness of God; they will be an Ezekiel Generation, courageously declaring whatever word the Lord gives them to speak. They will be an Exodus Generation, liberating the downtrodden and poor and oppressed, and leading them into the glorious freedom of God’s promise.

This will not be an ‘Exclusive’ Generation, in which only the influential, the well-educated, the disciplined and reliable are allowed to be involved.

No, this will be an ‘Everybody’ Generation — in which Everybody is invited, Everybody is commissioned, Everybody is needed to bring in the abundant harvest. Whoever is thirsty for meaning in their day-to-day life; whoever is hungry for justice to be established on this earth; whoever is willing to do what little they can.

And if you know people like that who aren’t sure what they’re doing come September, then please encourage them to apply for our Revival & Reformation DTS. We’re processing applications now.