Living the revolution

Engage with the people around us as people of peace

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“What if we read the Bible through the eyes of a revolutionary?” – George Barna

In his book, ‘Revolution’ (2012), George Barna suggests that if Christians want to be more effective, they need to read the Bible in a new way – as revolutionaries. In my own words, here are some of the attributes he ascribes to revolutionary believers.

  1. Live the revolution; it’s a way of life. Read the Bible not just to see what it says, or to memorise it, or to study it. Read it in order to actually do what it says.
  2. Victory through engagement, promoting peace. In other words, if we read the Bible through the eyes of a revolutionary we will do what Jesus did; we will engage with the people around us as people of peace. We will enter their culture, on their terms, to bring them the best news possible – that they are loved by a powerful presence who wants a personal relationship with them.
  3. Motivated by love and obedience. We will not only tell people they are loved, we will show them. A revolutionary follower of Jesus will listen to the lonely, feed the hungry, support the weak, heal the sick, take in the orphan and the homeless. If people engage with revolutionary readers of the Bible they will know they are loved.
  4. Take orders from Papa, accept he’s in charge and listen. To be a revolutionary means paying attention to the Holy Spirit all the time and every day. As he whispers to us, ‘Go there’, ‘Speak to that person’, ‘Invite those people to dinner’ –  the revolutionary believer will just do it.
  5. Leadership. Doing what’s right. Revolutionaries don’t lead by giving orders, they lead by going in front. Set an example by doing what you read in the Bible and inviting others to join you.
  6. Internal politics are absent. A revolutionary has no agenda or goal other than the revolution itself. Jesus’ revolution is about turning the world upside down. If you want to lead, learn to be a servant or even a slave. If you want to be rich, keep giving things away. If you want to be eloquent listen a lot and speak little. If you want to be strong, strive to be weak. If you want to be wise, be willing to appear foolish.
  7. A different dimension. In the end, to be an effective revolutionary you will need to see far beyond everyday things and events. Grapple with the spiritual realities that Jesus invites us to engage with. These have nothing to do with the way the world behaves or speaks or thinks. Find that different dimension.

A fresh Greek New Testament

The parable of the sower may begin a little differently

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The Tyndale Greek New Testament will be published on 15th November 2017, just three days from now. This is a rare event and will provide a new source for Koine Greek scholars and translators of the New Testament.

The new version sticks to the earliest Greek sources and draws on the most up-to-date research and scholarship available. The publishers write:

The Greek New Testament holds a special place in Christian thinking as the mouthpiece for God’s revelation of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ. While there are a few trusted Greek texts currently in print, significant advances have been made in Greek transmission studies of the New Testament since a standard text was last adopted in 1975.

Here’s one example of the way the new version may affect future translations. The parable of the sower may begin a little differently, simply because of the placing of a paragraph mark in the early manuscripts. It will take a long time for changes like this to feed through into the modern language Bibles we can buy and read, and translators may or may not decide to make changes. Watch this space!

Reading 5Q

If it’s wide and deep vision that you are looking for … then read this book

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I don’t often write about books here on JHM. But I just have to tell you about 5Q.

If it’s wide and deep vision that you are looking for, a penetrating gaze into the truth written with passion and humility, then read this book; you will not be disappointed. It’s a book for everyone who is serious in following Jesus. 5Q will challenge you, encourage you, and maybe shock you, but it will also illuminate your thinking and understanding.

5Q is a book by one of my favourite authors, Alan Hirsch. In it, he examines church as commonly understood in the West, and challenges his readers to look at it with fresh and inquisitive eyes. For many years now, Alan has been accumulating knowledge and experience about the way we tend to do church, and sharing his thoughts on what fundamental changes are needed. He has delved deep into both theology and practice, he’s written and taught extensively about the understandings he has developed. And it’s not merely theoretical stuff, much of it is good, practical guidance and advice.

5Q is based on frameworks Alan has described before, namely his ideas around the APEST gifts to the church described by Paul in Ephesians 4. These are the gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. But he has gone much further in the grand synthesis that is 5Q; his excitement and passion shine out on every page.

Don’t miss out, read 5Q for yourself. It’s available both in print and as an e-book.

Paul Young Interviews

Watching ‘The Shack’ was an emotional experience, it had me on the edge of tears a number of times.

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Paul Young’s extraordinary book, The Shack, came out in 2007. I read it at the time and was so impressed that I shared it widely amongst my friends and family.  A film based on the book was released in March in the USA, but here in the UK we had to wait until June.

Donna and I went to see it in Cheltenham on 10th and thought it  was very true to the book. In some ways it’s better than the book! Watching ‘The Shack’ was an emotional experience, it had me on the edge of tears a number of times, and I mentioned the book and the film on Thursday when I met with some friends from Cirencester Baptist Church. One of the people in that meeting, Miriam, told us about an online video she had seen in which the author is interviewed by Nicky Gumbel. This is just one of many interviews out there, my three particular favourites are below, Paul Young has collected others on his own website, and Google will find more with the author, and with the actors in the film,

Forgotten ways renewed

Whatever your views on faith, discipleship, mission, community or the nature of church, this book will encourage you to fresh thinking.

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Ten years ago a significant book was written by a guy called Alan Hirsch. He titled it ‘The Forgotten Ways’ and in it he laid out his thinking about a new paradigm to explain the rapid flourishing of movements such as the early church.

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A few days ago a new edition appeared with significant changes following ten further years of thinking about explosive missional movements. Alan has refined the book by adding new examples, making some changes to the terms he uses, and making even more persuasive arguments.

The new version is a great book; read it! Whatever your views on faith, discipleship, mission, community or the nature of church, this book will encourage you to fresh thinking. It will take you down some rarely travelled roads, through unexplored countryside, and it will open new vistas and opportunities.

There are a few links below, you might explore these if you are new to Alan’s thinking. And if you’re familiar with the first edition you’ll certainly want to read the new one.

In the book, Alan writes

The twenty-first century is turning out to be a highly complex phenomenon where terrorism, disruptive technological innovation, environmental crisis, rampant consumerism, discontinuous change, and perilous ideologies confront us at every point. In the face of this upheaval, even the most confident among us would have to admit, in our more honest moments, that the church as we know it faces a very significant adaptive challenge.

He’s absolutely right! But what can we do about it? A very plausible answer will unfold as you read this book.