Thursday, December 27, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
This is one of my favourite Christmas pop songs, even if its 20 years old. Hope you have a merry christmas and a great time celebrating with family. Remember those who are less fortunate than you in this time and care for those who are lonely and ask what you can do for them at christmas time. Have a great day.
Friday, December 21, 2007
I found this quote in a interview with Jon Foreman I read today in the Parachute Programme for 2008. I found it extremely intriguing and thought provoking.
""Why are you alive? What happens when I die? What is this aching in my chest?" I feel like we drown these frightening questions with an assortment of modern noise. I cannot answer these questions for anyone else but the biggest things in my life often come like a whisper - the still small voice in the darkness of quiet moments"
(a poem by Amin George Forji)
Where should I go from here?
Even in this desert wilderness,
In the middle of nowhere.
Where no green grass ever grows,
Or water flows,
even during the best season.
I am still pursued
By determined evil.
Men bent on drinking the blood of my race,
To the very last.
Ever since these forces invaded our lives
I have been on the run, constantly.
Seeing each new day by a narrow escape
From the horror of a death
That has consumed millions
Of my Darfur brothers and sisters.
With every day that passes,
The clouds darken here.
Three rainy seasons back
We enjoyed our harvests
The cattle grazed in the fields
And the children danced the bambuuru dance.
Then an epidemic of the highest magnitude
Rained down on the land.
Not of nature, but of man.
These were not alien invaders,
But rather those who should protect us.
And their claws are so so sharp
That even wild vipers have fled from the land.
A heart attack killed Daddy
When he heard that Mommy and my sister
Were raped by two dozen Janjaweed.
Brother died trying to save them
And was butchered like bush meat
For daring to challenge their fun.
Grandma and Grandpa were burned alive.
Bombs fired Uncle’s hutIn the middle of the night.
Today I stand alone in the middle of nowhere.
No longer able to shed tears because
There is no more water in my dry eyes.
I am just waiting for my own turn
To drown under the sword of Janjaweed.’
I cannot even remember the seasons.
The hawks and eagles
That flew past me in the mountains yesterday
Were so surprised and full of pity
That they delayed their journey.
They put their heads together on my behalf,
Wanting to lend me their wings
So I could fly away with them
To a safer world,
But it was not possible.
However, they comforted me by telling me that it’s Christmas.
Without them I was never going to know.
That Christmas still exists.
Santa, I remember you are the Father of Christmas.
I remember Christmas is your season
And you are forever who you are.
And you are going to every child
To give them a deserving smile.
Ever since the epidemic rained down on us in Darfur
I have not heard anything from you.
Have you erased Darfur from your world map?
Do you know I am in Darfur?
Tell me at least that you got my question.
If you want to know anything more about the tradgedy that is the Darfur Genocide check out Save Darfur. This is a humanitarian disaster and must be remembered at this christmas period, hundreds of thousands have been raped and murdered by the Janjaweed Militia who have been employed by the Sudanese government to do thier dirty work. We in the west cannot sit back and watch this disaster occur.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Dear Lord, I thank you that you came into the darkness of the world, the hopelessness that faced humanity as a little baby and showed us hope and truth. I thank you that you keep working in my life, all through my brokenness, all through the times where things seem hopeless and shine your light. Lord I pray that I would bring comfort to those who need comfort, and I would generously give to those in need. I pray that I would light the way to you, the ultimate source of light.
Lord I pray for those suffering this Christmas, from sickness, from the pain of lose, from financial hardship, that you would be there, that you would provide hope and grace to those who need you during this period. So the light of the hope of Christ would shine in and give strength in the darkness.
For thine be the glory, forever and ever, amen.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Niether do people light a lamp under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine about before men, that they may see you good deeds and praise your father in heaven.”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light of the shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it”
“Light of the World You stepped down into the darkness”
- Tim Hughes. Here I am to Worship
Since yesterday the image of light in the story of Christmas has been challenging me – it felt like one of those weird epiphanies – all the things of the Christian message, and the Christmas story finding new meaning in that moment as I meditated on the story of Christmas. Light is a powerful and important image for the Christian faith.
The importance of light to life has been shown to me in the past when I have gone to tramps or camped out in the dark. I remember one of those tramps that I went on we were travelling back to the campsite, we were going down a steep dangerous area at about nine o’clock at night and it was quite dark. I had the only light of the group and a number within the group were relying on the guidance of the light I had to guide them to safety and to the camp site we were going to. Or light to get from your cabin to the bathroom in the middle of night. The use of light is essential for direction and guidance, otherwise we are blind, we stumble and in the dangerous places – such as the New Zealand bush, we put ourselves at danger of falling off a cliff because of our actions.
The light of the nativity story was similar to this, these men from the Orient (the Persian empire?) travelled to after the light to find the Messiah of the whole world, who would save Israel and the whole world from their plight by his coming into the world. They relied on the light to guide them and bring them to the place that Jesus would be born, the small Nazarene town of Bethlehem, so they could worship Jesus and proclaim him as Messiah.
Last night, Phil Crawford, a friend and leader within Mosaic pressed us to be “pregnant” with the message of Christ. To know in some way we carry the image of Christ – no we carry to spirit of Christ with us wherever we go. For me this essentially means to spend more time meditating on the message of the gospels, to continue wrestling with the stunning and powerful truths of the gospel, the meaning of these stories. That God would come into our existence as a vulnerable baby, into the hands of two poor scared teenagers, and come to redeem his people from sin, from the religious systems that we have created that impede a true relationship with the father, from our brokenness and pain. To show us a new way to be human and lead us back to the original plan for humanity – to glorify Gods through all our lives – to use our all – our intellect, creativity, our friendships, etc to the glory of our Lord and saviour, to enjoy him passionately.
As Christians, we are lights, we are to guide people to the LIGHT – Jesus. To me the image of a guide is summed up in the story of The Lord of the Rings in which Gandalf guides the hobbits through the dark of Mordor, and through the scary places, through danger and despair. He guides them and shows them their purpose, to defeat the evil of suron and bring hope back to middle earth.
In our lives we can have the assurance that during our hardship, that the light of Christ – the hope of the light of Christ will be with us, giving us strength and guidance and bringing us through the hard times. I know how it is to be through the hard stuff, I have felt pain personally with massive grief over losing a close family member. The pain and despair was and is deep. I have been unhappy at God, even angry at him for this. Luckily due to the grace of God I had family who could guide me to the loving arms of my saviour of show me the light and hope of Jesus during these hard moments. I love the comfort and the love that is given by my Lord and saviour. This love, comfort, hope and friendship I want to be willing to show to those who are lost and do not know who he is. Personally, I really do not want to hide the light beneath a bushel. I want to share it with all I come across.
This means I have to be a comfort to those who need comfort during this Christmas time, those who are going through hard times need to be cared for in ways that are responsive to their needs. It means I need to give to the needy. It means I need to be a partner of the journey of the many who are seeking after finding God. It means I need to coffee with those who are lost sharing myself with them in the place that they are, being a friend with no ulterior motive other that to just love them and be Christ in the situation that I am, shining the fragrance of Jesus, sharing Jesus personally through how I live, but also by the words I proclaim into those around me.
I want to be a light during this Christmas time, a light of hope to those around me, a light showing people to Jesus, a light of love to those who need love, a light of comfort to those morning, a light that shines through the darkness that we all face showing the way to the saving arms of a loving and all powerful saviour and God.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I have read alot of books over the last couple of years. These are numerous and have had major influence on my spiritual journey. They have challenged my faith and while I do not agree with everything in them, they are influential and challenging and highly recommended reading.
Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy: This was one of the first books I read when I was introduced to the "Emerging Conversation", this book is an interesting take on the Christian journey. It is a worthwhile read. A disclaimer though is that it should be read with discernment. I do not agree with all his points and I'm worried that Brian may have emerged too closely with culture and "gone native" (I have to talk about this term some time!) in some areas. But it is a good book to read if you want to look at what faith may look like in postmodern terms.
Michael Frost, Exiles: This is one of my favourite books on my shelf when it comes to talking about the posture and shape of a missional christian engaging with a postmodern world. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to engage with a post-christian west. It talks about getting back to the Jesus of the bible, rediscovering true christology, then reforging a missional imputus of both christians and the church. It essentially flows out from the idea that first we have to know Jesus, then we are sent, then we create and form communities of faith - these communities are there to strengthen beleivers (an essential of good community) but also sent to change the world (the other important issue.) Frost says that we should be missional not attractional. Attractional was related to the late modern seeker sensitive services and while they are good tools, they have thier limitations (as do post-modern modes of community I will add!)
Alan Hirsh, The Forgotten Ways: Hirsh is a friend and co-conspirator with Michael frost - he is part of Forge. The book of Hirsh comes from his experience creating missional faith communities and church plants. He reminesces and offers both hard lessons and theory on what that missional church should look like. His work is built on looking both historically at the church (what led to massive church growth in the early church and the in Chinese churches in the last fifty years), he creates a model that he calls "the apostolic genius." In his book he argues that if the church gets back to the "apostolic genius" we will see more people come to know the living God. His work is also rooted in chaos theory and organic models of organisation (something that as a person who has looked at more modern mechanistic heirarchical models of organization is very compelling!)
I enjoyed this book, something though that I find difficult with both Hirsh and Frost is that they seem to write to the educated, middle class. They seem to assume that all thier readers would have a strong understanding of church and church models of leadership. I wonder, is there a way to write thier views in a way that is simpler, so that the ideas can be got from the bottom up, rather than a way that seems to be top down approach (change the opinions of the educated leader, then that leader will change the opinions of the church laity)
John B. Hayes: Submerge: Maybe this was a stage of my thinking where I thought I might be sent in this area and into a point where I would minister to the poor, but this book has been of major influence on me as well. This book is written by a guy similar to Shane Claiborne (though not as young and hippy looking!) John B. Hayes has been sent to live with the poorest of th poor in america and in countries like cambodia, he is the director of Innerchange a mission order which is tasked to serving the poor. You will never look at the world the same way again after reading this book. He challenges us to take the red pill, to realise that the world is not as rosy as we think and to act on the facts he passes out.. It is challenging, hard-hitting reading. It mixes John B. Hayes story of ministry with a call to be actively being christ to the poor, we need to sent people out to the poor, incarnating into that environment, enjoying celebrating, weeping, laughing, being apart of the life and sharing christ with those who are lost. Read this book, it will challenge your worldview of what it means to be a follower of Christ in the world today.
Dan Kimball, The Emerging Church: To tell you the truth I'm only half way through this book. Its worth the read, especially if you are looking at how and why church should engage with post-christian culture. Kimball writes strongly from personal experience. I have found Kimballs work the most graceful work that I've read so far. One of the strengths is that he has allowed the comments of other church leaders, such as Brian McLaren but also Rick Warren from Saddleback. The first half of the book had loads of comments that I wanted to underline and take and put on this blog, plus I just read a really good paragrath on Paul and his engagement with the greeks at Mars Hill, which goes further than my posts on this subject.
One thing about Kimball is he is strongly evangelical in his roots - he engages scripture, puts Christ at centre and explains how we fall short and why we need Jesus! I like Kimball alot for this.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The more and more I look at the image I put on the last post the more I'm challenged by it to think deeply about what it is saying, to look at it with open eyes. The image is called "servant to all." And the truth is that Jesus is a servant to all. Jesus was teaching through the washing of his disciples feet that we are to be servants to all, great and small (sorry for the rhyming).
One qoute under the image was "Jesus-Still to Radical". I think this is accurate, I still struggle with the radical message of the gospel day to day and what it means to live as a Christian - a servant to the lost, the lonely, to the whole world.
Lets look at another image quickly. Jesus gets a message from a roman centurion that one of his servants is sick. Now Jesus goes and serves this man. Who is this man - well as I said hes a roman centurion a leader in the pagan empire who is oppressing Jesus's people. But Jesus sees that he has faith. Jesus serves this man by going and healing his servant. Again this would have challenged the preconceptions of the time!
What do you think?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
How do we read the bible, how do we take the words and transform these into meaning, into thought, into spiritual food? How can we keep from having these words from being slanted to a viewpoint? I have really struggled question. How do we read the bible without putting our slant onto it or viewing it through our own personal lens (if I am left liberal I read the verses about social justice but forget about sin and hell because its too difficult, if I am a conservative evangelical I care about sin and hell but I don't take the fact that the bible asks me to feed the sick, care for the hungry seriously, or any other view that you can put on the bible.)
For me I believe that the bible is more than a set of guidelines for life, its is a means to getting to know GOD, getting to know Jesus and forming a relationship with the divine. The whole story of the bible relates to this idea. We sinned, we fell short, God out of his glorious goodness and grace sent his son Jesus to the world, so that we could come into relationship with him, in this relationship we are transformed, changed, made new. This is a continual process, the end point occurs some time in the future.
I believe the Christians are in relationship with a true personal God, who wants relationship with all his children.
For me, I understand the whole story of the bible through the gospels. The story of Jesus on earth, in Jesus we have a revelation of Gods love for the world, for all people. Jesus's walk on the earth showed us a new way to live - a new way to be human.
I believe that the gospels are the centre to our understanding, but its not just the gospels but the God man at the centre of that story, Jesus Christ. At the moment I have become more used to reading the gospels, I need to, I need to come and read more and more about my Rabbi, my Lord, my saviour, my God, Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate hero, Jesus is the ultimate example of how to live.
I say that its a relationship, because as a person I believe that the truth is "subjective truth" - now people will say that I'm postmodern and wish washy, but I don't think so. I believe that I have not go it all sorted, actually the more I realise it I know very little and I am still learning a lot, I have not got what it means to be a Christ follower, a christian down pact. I can be arrogant, I can be impatient, I can be down right annoying to people, I make myself out to be something I am not and act to make myself look better than I really am. I certainly do not have the fruits of the spirit down pact and I am really really clumsy! I am a blogger (meaning at times I blog for my own self gratification or for people to look at me!). I am learning what it means to worship God, live a Christlike life, give God glory with every second and finding that I can not do it all my own! I need God but I also need friends, my community of faith, my family to help me along. In reality I am just a leper in need of a large self help group some times and I am struggling to understand the depth of my fathers love for me, and for everyone else on earth.
I do not know if this way all meant to come out like this, but it has!
So what was the point of this whole blog?
For me, the centre of the message is found in Christ. At the moment I'm centring my life on understanding, listening and learning about Christ, what hes done for me and what it means to be a servant. I do this by centring my spiritual forays and journeys through the bible on coming back to the gospels constantly (for me this has meant focusing on the synoptics primarily - Mathew, Mark and Luke). I'm trying to go about this in a kind of systematic way. I will read a book from the bible then go back to the gospels and read the gospels, because I want my interpretive lens to be the life and teachings of Jesus!
I believe that we have to build our lives on the life and message of Jesus, the cornerstone. Then the building we create on top will be on solid ground (N.B - we may have to renovate, repaint and redesign from time to time whats on top - this can be really painful - especially if we have to go through a real gutting! - actually as I think of this let God be the one doing the designing on top, usually it leads to more even surfaces, he is the master craftsman and perfecter!)
Sunday, November 25, 2007
"We are strangers here
No home to be found.
We love this land and people which encompass us
but this is not home.
We are here for a purposeM
ay be be focused on this.
Simplicity, humility, contentment,all things for which we pray.
May we be found not wanting
Deference as our motto
Joy in every circumstance - peace reigning true.
Lord God bless and use us,
Favour us for the call for which you brought us here.
Now back to the tasks of the day,
praying like Brother Andrew as we go."
And for my prayer...
Lord I pray that I would be a light to Wellington, I believe you have placed me here for a reason. Lord I ask that you will be my focus, that I would learn to follow you more deeply with all my life. Lord this is a hard road, I ask that you be my strength and my guide, I ask that in this life I may embody the truth of the gospel, being a light to the world. Lord I acknowledge I don't have all the answers and I ask that you bring people around me to strengthen me, to teach me to guide me. Lord I ask that I would be a humble journeyman, sharing the journey with others and sharing the hope that I've found in you - only in you.
To you be the glory, I praise you Lord, my God, my father, my Saviour.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I've done series on posts that I've enjoyed before, but I'm going to start properly labelling these to make it easier for me and you to keep track of these.
My mate Mike Brantley has done a post of Deference - this is an awesome concept to think and pray and think about as we posture as Christians. If you want to study this idea in more depth, I suggest that you read 1 Corinthians 9 and the story of Paul's circumcision of Timothy as starting points (which can be found in Acts 16:1-3). I wrote a piece on this a year ago also you can listen to one of Mark Driscolls sermons which is called Missional Ministry. This is a call for all Christians to accept the mission of God, which is to both practice establishing the kingdom of God and to proclaim the Kingdom. This is centred in my view on proclaiming the saving act of a loving God on the cross, that Jesus died for all of Humanity so that we could come back into relationship with our creator, and that we are called to establish the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven
Related to this is a series of posts by Grace from Kingdom Grace (previously Emerging Grace). Her two last posts are discussions of the idea of the Kingdom of God. Here is a Quote from her that I enjoyed
"One of the first things that comes to mind for me is the idea of “missio dei”. Michael Frost explains that this is more than just something that God does, but in fact is the very nature of who He is.
He is the King who comes near, the King who comes alongside.
The ruler who makes himself a Servant.
The all-powerful God who makes himself vulnerable.
The God who thunders from heaven, yet comes to our rescue."
These ideas are powerful, yet sometimes hard to grasp. I know for me personally coming to grips with the reality of the Kingdom of God, both a a concept and a reality has been challenging. I have pulled away from some of my past assumptions in my journey as I have come to understand this term. I know that my whole life is going to be centred around seeking the Kingdom of God and playing a part in the mission of God.
Scot McKnight has started a series on the book "Consuming Jesus." This book argues basically that the challenge for modern evangelicalism is to take on the classism and racism that has permeated the Christian church, as well as the consumer nature. Scot McKnight as usual does a thoughtful and reasonable critique of the text.
Mike Zook, has started a series called "What Came First the Mission or the Church." He takes on the fact that the Church at times has become a marketing machine rather than a church focused on the mission of God. His posts show the a maturity and give us a call back to the heart of discipleship and the heart of the church. If we lose the focus of the Church on Gods call and Gods mission, we lose the heart of the Church and we lose our essence.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The grunge band Nirvana in the early nineties had a hit single called Come as you Are. When I started going to a community of faith that I’ve been trying out I talked to one of the ladies there and basically did a spew over where I thought church was needing to move to, a conviction that we should be able to come as we are, broken messes, that we should be honest with one another about where we are at, and grow in love and acceptance of our brokenness.
I believe that the death bed of religion in being laid as I speak, that religion has created great harm in what should be the most powerful truth ever, that Jesus saves, no matter where we are at, Jesus saves. That Jesus accepts us no matter what crap we have done, and what mess we have got ourselves in. Religion is at its deathbed because it attempts to conform us to a standard, a human standard, rather than allowing us to be transformed by the power of the Holy spirit and the saving act of Jesus Christ.
The group of Christians I am involved in have all been through similar stuff, we are disoriented, disenchanted and messed up. We do not think that Christianity is living up to what God called us to be. Many of us have dealt with that church culture tries to mold us into an image. This image is a visade, an image that we are to fit into. On Sundays we revolved ourselves around this image, we were told if we did things in certain ways, acted in certain ways and lived in certain ways, we would be Christian. We were made to feel that any sense of doubt was wrong, are we were told that if we sinned that we were not part of the “in group.” Others of us have lived as “sold out christians”, we have given our all to church communties, only to be burned by controlling leaders. Others of us have seen the hurt caused to Christians who have not been accepted because they did not fit into a certain mold, they acted in ways deemed unacceptable, they didn’t believe “orthodoxy” (Which really was the theology/ culture that we were used to, and was not what really Jesus taught), and walked the journey by a different rhythm so they were made to feel like they were wrong, we called them heretics, left them out in the rain, to fend for themselves, then wondered why no one wants in.
I don’t believe that this is the way we are to be, that God calls us to look different to be authentic, to be radical communities of faith that show Christ to those around us, in real authentic ways. The story of the gospels shows this mentality, this way of life. Mathew, the tax collector, gets called by Jesus to follow him, and Mathew immediately gets up and follows. How does Mathew act to show that he is a follower, he organizes a party! Who does he invite, the Pharasees, those who seem so sorted out on the outside and follow the letter of the law? No he invites the sinners, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, those who show that they are messed up, those who are seen as unworthy by the religious authorities and not deserving of salvation. They dine with Jesus, the ultimate source of meaning, of love. They get to dine with the one who will provide salvation to everyone, to all those who are lost.
I believe that Jesus wants us to come as we are, come as we are to the foot of the cross, in all our brokenness and he wants us to come to know him.
Philip Yancey in his book What’s so Amazing about Grace argues that Alcoholics Anonymous may provide the best model of the church that we have ever known or seen. The model of AA is simple, you come as you are, a broken person, and are offered the encouragement and help of other people. In the programme there are twelve steps for recovery, the last step is that during your will you will commit to providing help and encouragement for other people in their place of need. The Twelfth step is the most important. It has been found that all those people who commit to the twelfth step end up being the ones who come out of their alcohol addictions and become whole people.
As a Christian, I know that I’m a broken individual, I still suffer from pain at my brokenness, from sin that and addiction that I still live in. But I offer my life to the service of others around me, living to help those, living a life of self-sacrifice. I realise that as a person I still need help, I need community because no man is an Island. I need community to help guide me and I need to be part of something bigger than myself. The church is the only place I know that can provide true community can provide redemption, this is because God is there, because broken people are there who have seen the work of God in their life and they have changed.
Tom Duncan spoke at KBC a couple of weeks back. Tom shared his story of his journey through his life. Tom and his wife Kat work with Urban Vision, a group of Christians committed to serving the poor on their own turf. He shared his story of frustration with the Christian church here in New Zealand when he arrived back in from the Philippines. The Church he saw in New Zealand was not the group of radical Christ followers he expected, but people who lived in comfort, who were not willing to become uncomfortable for the mission of God. He asked why the church was like this to a pastor, who said that the reason was that the church needed to be sensitive to the needs of those within the church. The problem is when he looked at the church, he saw a church that was basically white and middle class, with no diversity. Urban Vision is thoroughly different from traditional church, its mission is to the poor, the outcast. Kat recently told the story of how her and a group of prostitutes went out together and had dinner at the James Cook – in my heart this is what the mission of the church is about – for me this resembles the image of Mathews Party in Luke 5: 27-31, being on the same turf as the lost, the lonely, the poor, both celebrating and commiserating with them. Living out the reality of Christ’s love to all those who need him. Rather than being judgemental in our actions to those around us.
I have a deep feeling that this is important, I do not think that by hiding away and being separate from the world helps us at all. In fact, if we do not challenge ourselves to be Christ-like and reach out to the lost we can become exactly the same as the world, just more judgemental and more prideful. If we do not learn to be in relationship with God and follow Gods calling we are very likely to just fall into the same habits as the world. We become slaves to consumerism, we become selfish, we become angry, we become gossipers (“Oh that person is doing this, how sinful is that” – which is also judgemental! – but of course its done out of love!), We shape people in our own image rather than encouraging them to be shaped in the image of Christ.
At this point in time in my life I am posturing myself differently than I did in the past. I believe that I am called to the community of faith to be a source of hope for those around me. I want to live out a christlike life and I believe that this community will challenge me to do just that. I want to be a salt and light to urban twenty and thirty year olds, being relevant to the culture that I live in, sharing the gospel in a language and posture that those urbanites understand. I believe for this to happen, we have to model authentic community, authentic life together. We have to be willing to get past the shallow, inauthentic community that has been so programmed into us. We have to model Christ in this community and live it out in the deepest possible way. This is the challenge for all of us, no matter where we are.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
This is my favourite story of the whole bible, and I am going to enjoy retelling this story immensely, as we will see, it is pretty awesome and all young boys love this story and wish they were David!
The story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) starts with the Philistines gathering their forces and camping at Socoh in Judah, while the Israelites camped in the Valley of Elah. Now the Philistines brought up what they thought was their trump card, Goliath. Now Goliath was a Giant, he was over nine feet tall, even Jonah Lomu would not attempt to tackle this guy! He was heavily armoured and he came out and taunted and took the micky out of the Isrealites day after day after day. He challenged the Israelites to send out their best fighter to take him on, but no one was brave enough (or maybe stupid enough) to face the giant.
Now David was sent to bring a packed lunch to his brothers, who were by this age old enough to fight. He stumbled onto the field when the Giant was giving his challenge. He watched and wondered, “why do the people wait, why do they face this injustice, we are Gods people!” Feeling a sense of righteous anger he asks a soldier, “why isn’t anyone doing anything about this?!” I love this first bit, David asks the question, why hasn’t anyone challenged the giant? “Come on, you are Gods people, don’t you have in God to take on this uncircumcised Philistine?”
Feeling anger at the injustice, David says “If no one else will slay this uncircumcised philistine, I will”
This is the thing I love about David, he is bold, he is ready to do what no one else is willing to and face the adversity head on, even though he is still a young boy and the least likely choice to take on the Giant.
This is the first place we will take out from the story and I will do some explaining. In the story of the exodus, the Israelites send out a group of spies to the land of Canan. When they come back, most of the spies are scared; they say tThere are giants in the land!” While the younger generation, represented by Joshua and Caleb say “no problem, we can take the land, it is a land fill of milk and honey that God has promised us, we should have faith in God that he will allow us to take it.” (for the whole story read Numbers 13-14.) Faced with Giants in both these cases, the bulk of the people run. But the leaders stand, ready to face the Giants and take what God has promised them. In both these stories, the leaders are the young men, not the old men. Bold and ready to take what has been promised by God, for their people.
So in his boldness, David goes to King Saul and says that he wants to take on the Giant. Saul replies, “but you are only a boy!” David does not get taken aback and explains that he has the skills to face the Giant. He replies “I have tended my father’s sheep and when a lion or bear has attacked the flock I went after it struck it and killed it.” He then explains that “the lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!”
Seeing that the boy would not be wavered, Saul replies “Go, and the Lord be with you”
Saul then says he can take some of his armour for the fight. David tries it on, but finds that it weighs him down.
David at this point realises something that many people do not, he did not try to put on the clothes and armour of someone else. How many times have we seen people try to step up and fill the shoes of some other leader in the same way. It does not work! They weigh us down, impede our vision and make us a sitting target for attack. Instead David picked up the tools that he knew would be successful with, five stones to put in his sling. David realised that God had enabled him for the task at hand with the skills that he had already. All he needed to do was put his trust in God, not in the armour which would cause much more harm than good!
This can be seen with Church today and in the past. I know, I know it always comes back to this, but since no one comments on my blog and I still get readership I will continue flogging the horse constantly. Many churches have put their trust in models/designs for church that have been developed in different cultural contexts and places and try to apply them to the area where they are in. Some cases it works and the church ends up being successful and reaching heaps of people but in other cases it implodes. The problem can be that we put all our trust in a model (a model that can actually impede our latent potential, weight us down, blind us and make us inflexible and luggards when faced with change) instead of putting our trust in God and the people he has given us. I will go a step further, the problem with church models and changing a church model is that it is cosmetic surgery rather than change to the heart, the ethos within a community of faith. If a community is selfish, judgemental, lacking in vision and changes model the likelihood is the community will to still be selfish and judgemental and will not be attractive to those who are not yet Christians, the change in model will do nothing for the heart of the church.
Back to the story, we get to the heart of the matter, which is the heart of David, David has faith that God will use his skills and potential to rescue Isreal from the oppression of the Giant Goliath. He sees that the God who he serves is much larger, more powerful and more amazing than anything that stands in front of him and he will take on Goliath despite the fact that his chances seem slim because of his stature.
So that next day David waits for the challenge. When Goliath calls his challenge, David steps up. Goliath surveys his challenger, surpised he says “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?,” “Come here and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.”
David, undeterred, replies with boldness “You come against me with sword and speak and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty and the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut of your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that the is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or speak that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all you into our hands.”
The Giant then runs at him, David picks up a stone and quickly slung it and it struck the Giant in the forehead, who fell facedown on the ground. Then David went and cut off the giants head and then the Israelites went and chased down the philistines, who ran from the field.
David remembered to give all glory to God, he knew that it was only through the LORD that he would be successful. He remembered to give glory to God. I think this is an essential part of being a Christian. Through both the hard times and the good times we should give glory to God. God wants to be both part of our celebrations of success in life and also in our times of grief or hardship God wants to be there grieving with us, comforting us and listening to us.
Also by having faith in the skills, in the character God has given us and trusting that God can use us for good works, we are actually giving him praise. God created us for a purpose, and he delights in seeing us fulfilling our purpose. One thing that God grieves is that many times we take the comfortable easy way, we take second best for our lives, sin, fall short of his glorious standard. But God delights in seeing his children fulfilling their potential, putting their trust in him and following his way for their life.
I love the story of David, his boldness to step up and do what God calls him to do. He sees that God does not like seeing his people and his name being dishonoured. David faces injustice with boldness and faith in God’s goodness and power.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I read Alan Hirsch's blog on this a few days ago. This has been an issue that I've been thinking through for the last while and trying to come up with a solution. Is it all about right theology (orthodoxy), is it all about right practice (orthopraxy) or is there something more.
Here I'm going to go on a few seconds of thinking. You can have orthodox thought, but you can be a mean nasty person and your faith can be dead in the sand. You have pride in the fact that you have right thought and that you know that anyone else who says something that is different than this is a heretic and they should be judged.
The flip side of this, you care for the poor, you feed the hungry, care for the sick, you are downright saintly, but you have no idea if you are saved. You judge people for not feeding the sick, for caring for the hungry and you have issues with eternal hell, jesus being the only way to heaven and anything else that is orthodox teaching, (becuase it seems if you are orthodox you may be judging.)
Ok these are caracatures, but it shows the faults of both ways of thinking and the tensions of this dichotomy, what Alan Hirsh offers in his blog is a Triunity, based on Hebraic thought and epistimology.
If you just got really confused with all the big words I fitted into one sentence, check out
this link hopefully Alan Hirsh can clear it up and explain the full monty of discipleship in a much simpler way than the muddle of complex thoughts in my head!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The story of David one of the favourites for young boys, it tells the story of how a Shepard boy gets anointed king, slays a giant, plays the harp for his king, gets chased by his king in an attempt to get rid of him, develops a group of followers behind him, becomes king, then sees his family try to kill him. It’s the story of one of the greatest men of the bible, it tells of his strengths, faults, failings and how he honours God through his life. This series looks at David from my standing point, what I’ve learned from this man of faith, from the story of the bible that talks about him and how he related to those around him and to God.
We first meet David in Samuel 16 and this is the focus of this study.
Samuel has been called by God to go and anoint a new king to take leadership in Israel. This is because the king who he had anointed, Saul, had turned his back on God. Saul had started off strong, God had shown that he was his chosen in a series of signs (Read 1 Samuel 9 for the whole of this story), all he needed to do was follow God and honour him, but he had failed to follow Gods commands. But Saul fails to do so, Instead of waiting for Samuel at the battlefield, he made a burned offering up to God. Rather than waiting and following the command of Gods prophet and the desires of God, he gave up an offering to God out of his own will. The punishment was that he would lose control of Israel and his kingdom would not be established for all time.
So this and other actions would seal Saul’s fate, Saul’s faith in God was weak, he never trusted in God, he cared more about what others thought about him, than the fact that God had chosen him for the task of leading Israel, Gods people.
So Saul is rejected and Samuel goes on a search for a new leader, he is sent to the town of Bethlehem to Jesse by God. So Samuel goes to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse. Now Jesse lays out seven of his sons in front of Samuel and Samuel goes from oldest to youngest. The oldest Eliab is a strong strapping handsome lad and Samuel thinks to himself “surely this is Gods choice”, God, always the being of bluntness returns a reply “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”
The same thing happens for the six other sons, Samuel is confused, a little bit disenchanted and wondering whether God is playing a game. He then clicks and thinks outside the box, he asks “are these all of your sons?
No there is one other, the youngest, David.
Samuel asks for him to be brought. David comes, he is only a boy, the youngest of the family, not the pick for King?
Then the LORD says “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”
So God chooses the underdog, the youngest of a large family, David, who was not even invited to the first inspection.
This is something that God seems to be into doing, choosing someone to do his work who seems to be the least choice or the most undesirable choice the one who is too young (David and Timothy), exiled slaves (Daniel), a prostitute (Rahab), a fugitive (Moses) a concubine of a king (Esther), a Murderer of Christs followers (Saul) – Gods choices for those who he uses to do his will on earth are earth shattering, they destroy our preconceptions of who is chosen and why they are chosen, he uses those who are broken damaged vessels. He uses the underdog to do his will, shaping them, changing them and using them for just the right time.
This goes back to an idea earlier in the passage, where God says to Samuel:, “do not consider his appearance or his height… …. The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” This will be a point that we come back to further in this series on David. As we go through this journey on David we find that the name he is given by God is the “man after Gods own heart.” God early on sees the potential for greatness in this young boy, a scrawny boy who is that last one picked, but will turn into a great leader and man of God. Why is he a man after Gods own heart. Well in Hebrews 11 it describes that it was by faith that David would become all that he was. David had faith, unlike Saul, in God to shape him into a leader of a nation. David trusted in God, and trusted in the promises of God, he prayed to him and gave God the praise that he deserved. He had a sincere relationship with the God of the heavens, we can see this in the psalms that he wrote to God, he had a depth and understanding of God that I am jealous of. He realised that he was chosen, called to be a man of God, he was Chosen to change the world, chosen to administer justice and rule uprightly over his people, being both a military ruler but a spiritual example for his people.
So as we go through this journey we will try to look at the aspects of what faith is, what it really means have faith in God, what this means, why it changes us, how it changes us and what it means for the meaning of life , our identity, our destiny and our spirituality. We will continue on this journey in a couple of days, within the context of David the Giant killer.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle (This should not be mistaken for Rob Bells Mars Hill) is one of those controversial figures within the church, known for his edgy trendy church, his sound doctrine but also at times his fowl mouth! I was amazed and very happy to read this transcript that I found on Makeesha's Blog. Let it be a lesson for all Christians, whether we are leaders in church or servants in communities of faith, that we need to learn to be humble, funnily enough, this lesson many times is learned the hard way, through Gods humbling of us! This is a transcript from one of Marks latest sermons, "The Rebels Guide to Joy in Humility":
"I believe that humility is the great omission and failure in my eleven years of preaching. I believe that this is my greatest oversight both in my example and in my instruction.
I therefore do not claim to be humble. I do not claim to have been humble. I am convicted of my pride, and I am a man who is by God’s grace pursuing humility. …
But I truly believe that were there one thing I could do over in the history of Mars Hill it would be in my attitude and in my actions and in my words to not only emphasize sound doctrine, encourage in strength and commitment and conviction but, to add in addition to that, humility as a virtue.
And so I’ll start by asking your forgiveness and sincerely acknowledging that this has been a great failure.
And I believe that it is showing up in our churchin the lives of men and women who have sound doctrine but not sound attitude. They may contend for good things but their motives are bad and their methods are bad and their tone is bad and their tactics are bad and their actions are bad because their attitudes are bad even though their objective is sometimes good. I see this in particular with the men. I see this with men young and old, men who have known Jesus for a long time and should know better, and men who are new to Jesus and are learning sometimes the hard way.
I will take some responsibility for this. Luke 6:40 says that when fully trained, disciples are like their teacher, and I am primary teaching pastor of this church and I can’t simply look at the pride in some of our people and say that I am in no way responsible or complicit.
I’m a guy who is pretty busted up over this personally and it really came to my attention last December just in time for Christmas. The critics really brought me a lot of kind gifts of opposition and hatred and animosity. Merry Christmas. And some of those most vocal and nasty critics were Christians – some of them prominent Christians. So I was getting ready to fire back (my usual tactics). They hit you, you hit them twice and then blog about your victory. Which I don’t have any verses for and don’t say it was a good idea. But it had been a pattern in my life until a man named C.J. Mahaney called.
I’d always considered humility to be cowardice and a compromise. In the name of
humility you give up biblical conviction and passion and the willingness to contend for the faith (Jude 3) and to fight false teaching. What he was describing was orthodoxy in belief and humility in attitude and that those two together are really what God desires. And so it got me thinking and studying and praying through pride and humility and repenting and learning and growing. So I would start by saying that I thank my dear friend C.J. Mahaney for his ongoing friendship and the kindness he has extended to me and the things I’ve been able to learn through his instruction.
Furthermore, I apologize and repent publicly to you, the church for whom I am responsible, for much pride in the history of my ministry that some of you have poorly imitated and for that I am deeply sorry. And thirdly, to say that I’m not a humble man but as result of study I’m a man who is acknowledging his pride and pursuing humility by God’s grace." –
Mark Driscoll, sermon on Philippians 2:1-11 (November 4, 2007), part 5 in The
Rebel's Guide to Joy in Humility (3:16-8:40)
Lord I pray that we would be humble, that we would follow the way of the Master. I pray that we would learn to be servants, giving glory to you always. Lord I pray that as we would read the scriptures we would be transformed, and that we would grow to know you more deeply. Lord let the words of Philippians 2:5-11 be a call on own our lives, that we would have the attitude of Christ Jesus, one of true humility, becoming servants to all that need you.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Church Rater : This site was originally started to take the micky out of the consumer nature of christians today. It rates some of the most influential christian churches today - This also led to the now popular book by the Barna Group (a christian research company run by the controversial figure George Barna). This page leads to interesting thoughts on how the church should posture, our consumer nature and where the heck we are going.
Swinging from the Vine: Makeesha is a member of an emerging community of faith, her thoughts are creative, fun, engaging and gracious. I enjoyed her recent series on the misrepresentations of postmoderns, christians engaging with postmodern culture and those of us engaged in post-modern ideas (even when we resist the conclusions of postmodernism and swim against its tides when we see the dangers, just like we had to swim against the dangers of modernism in the past!)
Emerging Grace: Emerging grace must be my favourite blog at the moment, she lives up to her name, is always thought provoking and engaging, and honest about her struggles with church culture being an authentic christian in the 21st century.
Monday, November 05, 2007
This is kind of a fun post with some serious meaning to it. Since I have a rather long (and to some people unpronouncable) name, I have a series of nicknames that have been given to me over the years, most people will have nicknames given to them to explain something of their character, this is similar to me as well.So here are some of them:
Shaggy: This should be pretty easy to guess, it was given to me by my mate Richard because of the long locks of hair that I usually have and the shaggy look I have (especially when I have a beard particularly.
Ted: This nickname is another of Richards, this nickname has gone through numerous evolutions and change, it came from when me and tom and him were younger, I was a small shy boy, Richard was a chubbier boy than he is now and Tom was mischievous and was likely to get banned from youth group for his crimes or hung up upside down by one of the youth leader. My nickname started off as teddy bear as I was cute and cuddly (and as hard as I tried I was probably the one who got the worst out of the pillow fights at youth group)
Naughty... There is no comment on this nickname, the pain it could cause to individuals is too immense, lets just say it came from one of the Team America camps and was a joke that has lived on in the mythology of TYG and TnT much longer than originally planned (or much longer than I originally liked!)
Italian Stallion: I am an Italian stallion! (or in my dreams) another one of Richards nicknames for me - why have these all come from Richard?
Donkey: This comes from the Character donkey from Shrek, it was an affectionate name given to me by a close friend
These Nicknames are part of my history, part of my life experience, some of them I own, I hold to because they have strength and meaning, but others I don't hold onto strongly, but God has also given me lasting names, calls to follow him, names that express how he sees me. This is very similar to the bible. Jacob wrestles with God and gets renamed Israel, Saul from Tarsus has a meeting with God meets with God and he changes his name to Paul, Abram meets God and has his name changed to Abraham.
I hold onto the name my parents gave me - Nathanael - because of its significant, gift of God - It shows that I have ultimate worth, both in the eyes of my parents but also in the eyes of God, for me it is a call as well to be a gift to the world, a tool of redemption in the hands of God to show Christ to the world
There is another name that God has always put over me -David - a man after Gods own heart. My desire is to follow the heart of God, to share the message of salvation - of Gods love for this broken and desperate world and the hope that we find in the saving act of Jesus Christ on the cross, I want this to be my centre, a heart for this world showing the Goodness and righteousness and glory of God to all those who are lost - to all those who are desperate and in need of Gods saving love.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I woke up early on Saturday to get a bit of study done and was then picked up at 9.30 and worked to 1.30 at the loft to get stuff set up for the Karel Van Helden concert that was being held there on the evening, I then went back to reading over notes on weber and NPM and other stuff to do with what is called “the bureaucratic paradox” (If everything in the last part of the sentence went over your head, that’s alright, its just theory, and theory never adds up to reality :->)
I then went back into town to enjoy the sounds of Karel Van Helden and the Waitings over a cold one. It was a brilliant concert and I had a good time listening to his acoustic rock. The concert was being recorded live so hopefully people who get it will get to hear me screaming out Yeah! And whatever else I said that I can’t remember now. Karel Van Helden is an excellent musician and a real perfectionist. His backing vocals were awesome, the percussion was strong and the double bass player did an excellent job. For someone who didn’t know any of the songs I really enjoyed myself and connected with the songs on personal levels. The journey through the evening was a challenge for me in a number of ways. Throughout the concert I was chilling out and just listening to the music praying and listening to Gods heart and where to go next. I’m still figuring out the logistics, the ground that I’m standing on. Its scary, but I know I have to push through, let God reveal his dreams, let God reveal my dreams to me so that I can glorify him fully. I then helped pack up the Karel Van Helden, I was a tired mess by the end of it, but I felt refreshed, renewed in my spirit – moving forward is hard work sometimes, but breaking through the envelope is the greatest moment
Sunday was another great day. I didn’t get much sleep on Saturday night, I was hyped up on pure adrenaline over a great day and ended up waking up early and actually getting to vineyard that morning. I was pretty dazed for the singing and spent it thinking and singing and kind of taking it in, knowing God was there in the presence moving through the room, shaping, changing, revealing himself. I ended up having a continued long conversation with Matt Mansell about Sanctuary Vineyard, what Gods doing in their group, and exciting me again and again to follow my passions.
I went home to lax out, I ended up playing a game of UPWORDS with my family. I ended up beating them by a pretty good margin and it was pretty fun.
I ended up meeting going out for a bbq that evening with the Capital Mosaic Crew. Wellington was just beautiful on Sunday evening, it reminded of how lucky I am to live in Wellington, it’s a place full of culture, politics, and humanity. My heart cry’s out for this city where I have been placed, a town that has shaped me, but also a town that I want to give back my talent, to shape this city in a way that will make it better, to see people passionate for the city, for the people of Wellington, to redeem the city, just as shown in the bible.
Back on track, I had an awesome evening out, the bbq was just awesome, the food was great, I havn’t tantalised by taste buds in this way for so long, conversation was great, I think I had another one of those glimpses of heaven I’ve talked about before. We then played Wii. Wii is so much fun, it takes a lot of energy to do but it is so involving, it doesn’t make you feel guilty for playing computer games because it’s a full workout, you just have to be careful that you don’t break anything.
So, the journey continues, discovering who I am, who God is, his dreams for humanity, his dreams for the whole of creation, what it means to live out the gospel in the here and now. I am excited, I am scared, I have seen the promised land, it is abundant, it is real, it is better than anything we have ever seen, will you join me, will you join us in finding meaning, finding intimacy, finding destiny? Will you fulfil the quest of the human heart, the quest for…
Monday, October 29, 2007
I'm too busy at the moment to write anything substantial or deep, so I'll let the theologian and writer and missionary st Paul speak for me instead. This is my prayer for myself, for you and the church in general, and that from that prayer we will show people a life that is different, a life that is changed, as we follow the example of the master, our rabbi, the Lord Jesus Christ
"Let the Message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father"
Monday, October 22, 2007
We were up at the Maslins Farm for the weekend, it was a really fun and relaxing period. Here are a few of the photos I took. I will put up some more when I have some time. But take them in. Do you not just love that wonderful rainbow?
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I have put a link up for the Karori Vineyard Plant - Santuary Vineyard. There isn't anything on this at the moment but I thought I would let you know about this. Please pray for these guys as they are an awesome team with an awesome heart for Karori, the Church and spreading the gospel in Karori. I have had the pleasure of spending time listening to thier heart and playing a small tiny part in this plant and really want to see it grow into what God intends it to be.
These Quotes were part of a presentation by Paul Vink on being a christian "social entrepreneur"
"The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness meets the worlds deep hunger" - Frederick Buechner
This first quote gets me thinking as I'm still finding my calling, what gets me up in the morning, what gets me passionate, what makes me angry, excited, and fired up. I don't want to be scared and not use the talents that God has given me. I want to plant and sow into the lives of those around me in ways that are unique, creative and exciting.
"Though many of us are well intentioned we have invested our lives in consumerism. We have a love affair with "more" and we will never have enough. Consumerism is not simply a marketing strategy. It has become a demonic spiritual force among us, and the theological question facing us is whether the Gospel has the power to help withstand it" - Walter Brueggerman
I have to write a little more on consumerism sometime, but I'll let you take in this quote for the moment.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
For Honours that is.
This year has been extremely busy, I cannot totally recount everything that I've done, everything I've learned and everything that I've experienced. It has probrably been the most stressful stretching and revealing experience that I've ever gone through.
Things I've learned about myself so far this year!
- I get stressed when I don't need to, I can cope!
- I have a pretty good sense of time management.
- I have a passion for the church that I never knew I had before - this is seen in the fact that I get angry, upset, but then I get passionate excited and motivated all at the different moments.
- I have a passion to see people reach their potential
- I want to live the life less ordinary, stretch change and grow.
- That there is a love and passion for Christ and the church that permeates my conversations and experiences with people.
- I really enjoy spending time with non-Christians sharing my faith and my story with them in small ways.
-Christ is my centre.
- I'm really excited for the conversations emerging in Wellington around christian faith in the 21st century. Its awesome to see the growth, challenge, planting and reaping that is going on@
Things I've done this year.
-I have written approximately 35,000 words.
-I have learned a hell of a lot about Female suicide bombers, Chinese energy security, Bureaucratic power and the WTO and global civil society interactions with it.
-Been part of a church planting conversation.
-Been part of a community of faiths experiences in moving forward.
-Spewed out complaints I've had with where I'm at where I've been going, why I'm there and how the hell I'm supposed to move forward.
-Spent a whole lot of time talking, detoxing, and spreading the love. (sometimes all at the same time!)
Things I need prayer for!
-That I would be focused on my study in the next few weeks and that I would finish the race that has been this year strong.
-That I would find a job.
-That I would find that the tribe (aka faith community/church) that I'm hanging out with is the right thing or not (I'm pretty much convinced that it is but I want to be "certain")
-That God would not allow me become complacent in the place that I am.
-That my passion for Christ and his kingdom and the Gospel would become deeper and be expressed through the way I live speak and act.
More on the journey in a while, I'll try to write a story of whats been going on, where Gods leading me. Warning, it may take some time as I'm supposed to be studying for exams and doing other things!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I've come to a point of wrestling with how I have seen worship, how I view Gods reality, I feel like it I'm shortchanging myself, or shortchanging God in how I've viewed what worship is.
Ok, so what do I essentially believe worship is, I believe it is honouring God with my life, acknowledging that he is that centre. I honour him and put God in the highest place in my life and in how I live. I want people to come into the throne room and see the whole train of his robe filling the room with Glory. I want people to know of the goodness of God, his righteousness and how he is just so amazing that I can not really describe him.
I also believe that Gods glory fills this present reality, but many times we cannot see it, that we fail to see his hand on creation, we fail to see his hand over our relationships with people, over life in general. We kind of steer away from this. Why?
I think its essentially that we have become very dualistic in our thinking, we separate the fact that God is in this present, the reality we inhabit right now, working and moving and challenging and changing us.
This comes from not having a wholistic view of Christianity. Many a times we limit "worship" to our Sunday morning songs at church. Do not get me wrong, I think songs are a form of communicating our relationship with God and thinking and mulling over what God has done for us, but we have to move from the worship session at church being about this. More problematic is that we can see the Sunday morning service as our spiritual "fix". A experiential drug, that frees us from the realities of the rest of the week. We live in the world, but feel like we become dirty by being in the world, the only way we can become clean is through our spiritual fix on Sunday morning. Our drug that gets us through the week. (This is a caricature I know, but it has some real impacts when you think about it.)
But worship is essentially our whole life, seeing the way we relate to people as being a spiritual activity, our work is a spiritual activity, me writing this is a spiritual activity. Many times we ignore that God is in our ordinary,day to day moments.
So why have I written this, why am I thinking this, where am I going with this.
I went along to a community of faith in the weekend where singing is not part of their worship, it might never be. But they want to see people come to know God and his reality. They have a heart for Wellington city and want to see it changed. This is really strange for a vineyard boy, a guy who has been brought up in a church that has led to loads and loads of new songs to the Lord. I know that we preach worship is all life but getting hold of this reality is really difficult sometimes and I've been struggling with it. I have essentially come to see singing as worship rather than seeing life as worship.
I am wrestling with this because it has again created a crisis in my thinking, what does worship look like, do I worship God in spirit and in truth, why has singing become so important to me, is it part of my cultural outlook rather than the reality I should live in?
What does it mean to say Jesus is Lord? What does it mean to see my whole life as worship, how does this look like moving forward? How do I become more wholistic in my faith experience?
More on this as time goes on!
Friday, October 05, 2007
These are the edited lyrics to Switchfoots American Dream, I just needed to continue expressing how I'm feeling, about life, about moving forward into the dreams of the God, out of the lies, the lies of Disney Jesus, which hollows out the message of the gospel and replaces Jesus with a domesticated image, rather than the radical Lord I follow and serve and worship.
Jesus does not want us yoked to the idea that success, security and money will bring us happiness. The only thing that can bring us salvation is Jesus' saving love - shown by his death of the cross. I want to live and die for bigger things! I want to show people to Jesus, by the way I live, act, and engage with them. This is a continuing process, something that costs, but man is it the only way to live!
When success is equated with excess
The ambition for excess wrecks us
As top of the mind becomes the bottom line
When success is equated with excess
If you're time ain't be nothing for money
I start to feel really bad for you honey
Maybe honey put you're money where your mouth's been running
If you're time ain't be nothing but money
I want out of this machine
It doesn't feel like freedom
This ain't my dream
I want to live and die for bigger things
I'm tired of fighting for just me
This ain't my dream
When success is equated with excess
When we're fighting for the beamer, the lexus
As the heart and soul breathing the company goals
Where success is equated with excess
I want out of this machine
It doesn't feel like freedom
Cause baby's always talkin 'bout a ring
And talk has always been the cheapest thing
Is it true would you do what I want you to
If I show up with the right amount of bling?
Like a puppet on a monetary string
Maybe we've been caught singing....
.... That ain't my dream
If you are wondering where this is all going, stay tuned, wrestle with the words, as I too wrestle with them, and try to follow the ways of the Master.
This has been such a spiritually challenging, stretching, and revealing week!
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Ok, I thought I would attempt to lighten the mood a little with the help of a couple of cartoons from the adventures of ASBO Jesus. ASBO stands for Antisocial Behavioural Order and is given to misbehaving teens in the U.K.
H.T Dan Kimball
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Ages ago my friend Mike Brantley wrote a blog entitled "why do we run back to Egypt and whine so much". We leave the slavery of our society, or sin, of life and run towards Gods arms, then we feel like we are alone, we see that living a life following the will of God is a struggle. We want the comfort back in Egypt where we were fed, clothed and we seemed to be happy.
The problem with going back is what we lose, we lose our freedom to the shackles of consumerism, to the shackles of the worries of a life that is ordinary. Egypt is not really that good, its a place full of slavery!
But we continue looking back, we whine, and thirst for that which can only quench us temporarily.
Oh man I struggle as I write these words.
Look at the world we want so badly, we seem to continue wanting to go back to comfort, but what does the comfort provide for us. No comfort!
Look at what this longing for more has brought us!
High divorce rates
High Suicide rates
Large numbers of beatings and homicides around what is meant to be the best times of the year, Christmas
A Breakdown of community
selfishness, loneliness, and spiritual poverty.
High levels of consumer debt
The thing is I talk about these in reference to the world, but whats occurring in our church bodies us probably similar
- People struggling with long hours at work because of the level of debt they have. Not having time for families
- a longing for consumer goods to keep up with the Jones.
- credit debt
- High divorce rates among christian families
- Not enough parenting due to the fact that we have become obsessed with work and providing consumer goods to our kids, rather than spending time caring for them, giving them teaching and showing them who Christ is through relationships with neighbours, with fellow Christians and with them
- and when asked to change we say its too hard, too difficult, we can't change and we go forward, as broken individuals, not realising our need, that there is a way we can change. God holds the freedom to break free of our shackles, we have to be willing to trust him and push forward.
Being uncomfortable means making hard choices, means that we are going to give up that which we feel we hold dear, and taking hold of the only one that can give us freedom, Jesus Christ
We have to move past the idea of success being about what we have, the treasures we have built up, the kingdoms we create and move into the presence of God and asks what he treasures, what he wants us to put our efforts into.
For some it will be fine, they have their priorities sorted, but others are going to have to take costly decisions, refocusing their priorities on God, a God of freedom and love!
Freedom is not found in things, in material wealth or goods. The stuff we have can actually lead us further into spiritual poverty and hold us back from the plans that God has for us. The resources that God has given are Gods, not ours! We need to keep on coming back, critiquing ourselves, looking forward to where God wants us to be, rather than looking back at what seemed so good, but actually enslaved us. Moving forward is going to be costly, and its something that I wrestling through with fear and trembling!