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If my people, who are called by my Name, humble themselves and pray (Part One)

The text, for those who have trouble with a rather individual cursive, reads as follows: Scandal after Scandal. No institution safe....

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A Parable written in the desert sands?

This is an amazing story in its own right, but as I read it, I began to wonder if it was a word from God, a parable for our pastors and leaders in the West. In short, did the physical desert have something to tell us about the spiritual desert that is Western Christianity?

I came across it in 'The Telegraph' a UK national newspaper. The first thing worthy of note is that it mentions answers to prayer!  This is all but a miracle in the current socio-political climate.

The article is by a Geoffrey Lean, a journalist specialising in environmental issues. I have no idea what he may or may not believe but his article is fascinating.

An Australian missionary, one Tony Rinaudo, working for World Vision, one day gazed despairingly out on the unforgiving desert, wondering: “How many saplings, how many people, how many millions of dollars would I need for this?” 

Driven to prayer, he says, he “saw for the first time what had been there all along. Seemingly useless small bushes scattered over the dry land, which we had despised as weeds, were actually the outward signs of a vast underground forest.” (quote from Geoffrey Lean's article)

He realised that what was thought to be scrub and weeds were in fact shoots from the buried stumps of long-felled trees.

Anyone who knows the Tenach/Old Testament should, by now, be thinking of Isaiah 11.

Once he realised what was happening, all that was needed was pruning, protection, provision and then trees! Followed by praise, to wit:

Rinaudo – who now works internationally for World Vision – still finds that previously “hopeless” people “dance and sing” when they discover the underground forest, and how they can “change their lives, and the world, with a pruning knife”.

The meaning of this parable.

Pastors, priests, presbyters, prelates, preachers, patriarchs, prophets, popes or whatever you want to call yourselves, this is for you.

In the arid desert of Western Christianity many of the people you serve, note serve, do look like weeds and scrub. As a preacher and a teacher, I know the feeling. We need to see that many of them have been battered by life and by something that looks a lot like the church. They are haphazard Christians with shoots that go all over the place.

Like the forest, can two thousand years of Christianity just disappear? We have a godless younger generation, but there are still many of the older and middle generations who know something of Christ.

Firstly, you pray.  

Let God show you who these people are and what they are really like in His sight.

Secondly, you prune.

John 15:2 Starting with your own heart and then, with divine wisdom, lovingly discipline the disciples. This is the Cross, this is sacrifice, laying down our lives for God and our neighbours. Our pruning hook is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Go carefully here.

Thirdly, you protect. 

Which is to say, protect the Church from false teachers and false prophets. Watch out for the wolves in sheep's clothing, the demons disguised as angels of light. Guard your pulpit. If the Bible says it is sin, it is sin; no matter what the world, the governments and even some senior leaders in the Church may say.

Fourthly, you provide. 

Which is to say, you preach and you pray. May I refer you to Acts 6:4  and also to God's-conditions-for-revival-taken-from.html

Fifthly, by God's Grace and Spirit, you praise.  

So many forget to thank God for what He has done, but if you want to preserve all that has been so hard to win, then praise God and give Him the Glory.

There are 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal. God's-power-and-compassion-our-weakness.html

There's the parable and the sermon outline. It's not exegeting scripture, rather using scripture to exegete Nature. 

So please, prayerfully consider, is this not God's word to us; a parable written in the desert sands?

You can see and learn more about Rinaudo's method below and even more here.

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