Mountain to the Valley

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Mountain to the Valley

 

Growing up, I definitely inherited a good dose of that uplifting and encouraging British cynicism we all know and love – maybe a touch of British sarcasm too. When I say inherited, I mean crafted into an art form. It’s been one of the deepest traits I’ve tried to unlearn over the years, confronted with just how opposed it really is to a faith rooted in an eternal hope.

It’s around this time of the year the inner cynic would creep out. I dubiously watched countless friends adventure off up the mountain of various Christian festivals for their transfiguration experiences. Yet now that I’m a little older, waging war against my cynicism, a little more battle worn and with a few more scars – the mountaintop is something I crave and embrace; a time of retreat, rest, realignment and encounter (couldn’t think of any more R’s).

“A moment that can in an instant re-direct your life… from cynicism to hope, anxiety to peace, unbelief to faith.”


These mountaintop moments have become a potent reminder of the transformative power of an encounter with the living God. A moment that can in an instant re-direct your life away from your own selfish desires to the path he has prepared for you.

From cynicism to hope, anxiety to peace, unbelief to faith.

God longs to meet with us and come crashing into our lives, often in disruptive ways. But while transformation often takes place atop the mountain, it is in the valley in which it is sustained. It’s in the ordinary and the mundane that it becomes a beacon of hope to a lost and lonely world.

As we come down the mountain with faces glowing (and not just because the factor 15 wasn’t strong enough), here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years about sustaining transformation in the everyday…

-       Faith requires an activity.

i.e. faith without deeds is dead (James 2:14-26). It’s only genuine faith when you actually step out of the boat. There is nothing quite so formative as stepping out onto the water to find your feet aren’t sinking. Whatever God has spoken to you about, wherever he is a leading you – allow it to look like something now, today. Prayer is a good place to start!
Before faith is acted upon, it’s just an idea.
When we step out, it becomes lived.
Share your ideas with friends. Let them encourage and spur you on.
Don’t let inactivity weaken your resolve.
Trust that He is with you.
You have His boldness so be strong and courageous. Seeing God move as you step out will give you the courage to do so again.

Ask yourself – how does this revelation become a step of faith today?

-       The battle is not against flesh and blood.

The truth is there is an enemy who is known as the father of lies, who resents the glowing faces of those reflecting the Fathers’ glory.
Guard your minds.
Be aware of thought patterns that do not belong with the truths God has just whispered to your heart. Take them captive.
Do not be surprised if you immediately find yourself facing opposition in the exact arena in which God has just transformed your life.
Put on the new self. Take up your armour (Ephesians 6).
Stand with brothers and sisters.
Don’t allow seeds of faith to be snatched away before they’ve taken root.
Walk in the supernatural power of a transformed mind.

Ask yourself – is there anything I’m already thinking and partnering with that isn’t aligned with the truth of what God has just done in my life?

-       Transformation that happens on the mountain is sustained in the valley.

It’s hard to imagine that the clarity of the mountaintop won’t impress itself on your heart in the valley, but we humans are forgetful beings.
Transformation is sustained in those who allow God to orientate the habits and patterns of their life around His word and around His presence.
Whatever transformation God has brought about in your life, develop vision for how that should shape the mundane moments of your day;
your quiet time,
your lunch break,
your commute,
your relationships,
that cuppa with a friend.
It might not feel like the mountaintop, but it will carry the same power.

Ask yourself – yes this revelation has influenced the things I’d declare from a platform, but how has it influenced the disciplines I’m pursuing in private?

-       Grace abounds.

We generally come down the mountain feeling invincible, yet one of the realities of being this side of heaven is that it’s often just a matter of time before we stumble.
What’s most important is not whether we do, but how we respond.
Too often people slumber in their stumbling, allowing guilt and shame to quickly rob them of the transformation that has just taken place.
When you stumble – know that you did nothing to earn the love of your Father in heaven, it was given freely.
You can also do nothing to sustain his love – it’s given freely.
So pick yourself up.
Brush yourself off.
Dare to believe that the grace of God is as scandalous as it truly is.
That there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
That it is for freedom you’ve been set free.
Don’t allow your stumbling to shape your reality.
Grace abounds, so crack on as you were.

Ask yourself – have I already allowed my stumbling to rob me of the powerful truth God has just led me into?

Thankfully the presence of God no longer exists just in temples and on mountaintops, but in the depths of our very being. Let’s pursue Him wholeheartedly with unveiled faces as he continues to transform us into his image with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

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Consumed or Captivated?

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Consumed or Captivated?

 

It was Tuesday evening at about 9pm. I had my laptop open searching for a new house in London (to rent, obviously), in the other hand was my smartphone as I trawled through the usual cycle of endless apps. I’d also just started another episode of a hearty and uplifting Netflix series called Black Summer, a delightfully original show about a virus that turns half the world into zombies. If I was employed at the time, I’m pretty sure I’d have been checking emails too.

“I was insecure at the sight of how much more enthralling my friends’ lives seemed than my own” .


Needless to say, as the hours went by, I couldn’t find a house in our price range or anywhere near it (classic London), I was insecure at the sight of how much more enthralling my friends’ lives seemed than my own, and you’ll be surprised to know that the character development in Black Summer was quite poor and the plot one-dimensional. Somewhere in the midst of it all I somehow bought a new pair of trainers I probably don’t need. I had a headache. 

I’d love to say this was a one off; It was just an evening of bad choices; I didn’t set myself up to win; three screens is too much for anyone even if you have excelled several levels in Castle Crush; I should have lit more candles. The reality is, I spent hours enviously looking at multi-million-pound mansions just for the lols, I’m embarrassed to share the screen-time statistics my iPhone keeps volunteering, and I’m now on Episode 7 and concerned by how long I’ll have to wait for Season 2. I was consumed.

“If someone was to evaluate my life… what would they suggest I’ve been truly captivated by?”


As I sat there disheartened and fairly exhausted, having actually done very little with my evening (the paradox of infinite stimulation), it all got me thinking; if someone was to evaluate my life, the ups and downs, I wonder what they would assume is most important to me? What would they suggest I’ve been truly captivated by?

I sometimes wonder if the conclusions they might draw could be somewhat startling, and yet I also have a slight suspicion that plenty of you might be able to relate to my Tuesday night experience. Addicted to the constant cycles of stimulation; our millennial right to never be bored. Silently struggling through the comparison fuelled discontent driving much of our social media usage. Exhausted in an age of consumerism in which brand after brand fuel and feed on our growing dissatisfaction, promising to satisfy eternal longings they have no answer for.

And yet, we’re called to be a people whose existence is rooted in eternity; citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20), content through all circumstances (Phil 4:11-13), our minds set not on earthly things but things above (Col 3:2), our eyes fixed on that which is eternal and unseen rather than succumbing to the assault of the seen and temporal (2 Cor. 4:18). A people not of exhaustion but a people of rest, not consumed but captivated. Captivated by the One who gave his life to save us, not just from our sin but from the hamster wheel of striving, status, and success as the foundation for identity. The only One who offers the rest and freedom that our souls desperately long for.

 “…not an intimacy that transports you to a distant and ethereal world, but more firmly plants your feet in the present world; the world of flesh and blood, bruises and scars, bread and wine.”

God is calling us to be a people utterly captivated by Him. Those who have tasted what it’s like to walk in such intimacy are spoilt for anything less. Contrary to what one might think, it’s not an intimacy that transports you to a distant and ethereal world, but more firmly plants your feet in the present world; the world of flesh and blood, bruises and scars, bread and wine. Such intimacy draws us toward our families, neighbours, co-workers and strangers. Salt and light to all those who desperately need to discover they are image-bearers of God; called to something more.

As we long to live lives orientated around His presence and to take that transformative presence to a broken and hurting world, the Shift Weekend is an opportunity to step back. To retreat. To be with family and allow Jesus to speak; positioning our hearts to hear His whisper. To meet with Him and orientate our lives in response to his call. To once more lose our lives that we might find Him and watch our world change as we do so.

“Join us in rebellion against the consuming patterns of the cultural moment we find ourselves, come and root your life in the slow rhythms of grace.


A weekend devoted to meeting beautiful like-minded people, standing with each other in the depths, yet calling one another to greater heights. Worshipping, praying, resting, eating, playing, partying. We invite you to come and be part of the family. Come and be captivated by Jesus. Enamoured with Him. Join us in rebellion against the consuming patterns of the cultural moment we find ourselves, come and root your life in the slow rhythms of grace. Come and rediscover the rest from which we’re intended to live. The answer isn’t actually another weekend away, the answer is Jesus. But sometimes it can be hard to hear when you can’t drown out the noise (of zombies).

 

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Exciting News - The Shift Family is Growing!

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Exciting News - The Shift Family is Growing!

 

Friends, it is with great joy that I make this announcement.

For many of you who have followed the journey of Shift, from university days to now, you would know that as we’ve grown, so has our hunger to see our vision come to life - the vision “to see our generation captivated by God and impacting culture”.

“We gather to pray and contend for our nation and the nations, that we’d see a cultural renewal with multitudes coming to know Jesus; this is our heartbeat.”


Each Shift Weekend we gather, share stories, hopes and fears as we’re inspired and challenged by leaders who are championing the vision we long to see come to fruition. At New Year’s we gather to pray and contend for our nation and the nations, that we’d see a cultural renewal with multitudes coming to know Jesus; this is our heartbeat.

These events have been very significant for us in cultivating a community of people who long to see a move of God in our time. But for a while we’ve been desperate to do more than just these two events in pursuit of this cause. This is why I’m so excited about the following announcement.

It is with great joy that I share the appointment of Jordan Prance, our brand-new Strategic Director. Jordan will take on a full-time role and, with the support of the board and a team of committed volunteers, will drive Shift forwards into this exciting new chapter.

Jordan is someone who carries great leadership and vision, partnered with a deep relational and pastoral heart. He’s married to the wonderful Rebeka Prance, a powerhouse in her own right. Jordan and I will be working closely to explore how Shift can further serve the city, nation and nations in bringing the vision of Shift to life! It’s an exciting time to get involved!

We are so excited about the next chapter Shift is stepping into. With this new appointment, two more members are also joining the Board of Trustees; Heather McCormick, a communications guru working for Google, and Rowan Smith, a chartered accountant at PwC, both of whom have been actively involved in Shift over the years. We’re thrilled they’re coming on board (excuse the pun).

“As we now step up our activities, resources and initiatives, we invite you to continue to journey with us into this next season.”


Thank you to all who’ve been involved so far. It’s because of the generous giving of this community that we are able to employ Jordan. As we now step up our activities, resources and initiatives, we invite you to continue to journey with us into this next season. We’d love for you to pray for us as we seek God, asking how he wants to use Shift going forward.

Stay tuned for more info and resources coming soon, not least the beginning of this blog!

Lots of love,

Caleb Meakins

 

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