Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas To You All

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I wonder what Jesus thinks of...

I wonder what Jesus thinks of

Euthanasia
IVF
Alcohol in 21st Century Britain
Homosexuality
Penal Substitution
Caffeine
Modern worship songs
Facebook
Modern Evangelical Christianity
The Media

Saturday, 19 December 2009

More Dreams

I have a lot of vivid dreams and have come to believe that this is one of the ways through which God speaks to me. Maybe it's because he knows that when I am awake I'm not very good at listening, so He has to speak to me when I'm asleep!

I had another really vivid dream last night, but it is not my dream I want to share with you but my bro's dream. He rang me this morning and shared it with me. Thought I would share it with you. It may mean absolutely nothing, or it may have some kind of meaning. Tom is an atheist, but wants to believe that God exists. Perhaps dreams are a means through which God will speak to him.
See what you think of the dream. I'd welcome people's interpretation of it if you think there is one.

Me and you (Joe) were in a hall or large building of some description. We were standing in there serving Holy Communion to Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. The communion wafers were cherry tomatoes and were in the shape of teaspoons.

What do you think?


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Killing In The Name Of

So the campaign to get Rage Against The Machine to Christmas number 1 instead of X-Factor winner Joe is hotting up!

I think this is quite a fascinating story really, and interesting in terms of the song that has been chosen to disrupt the Christmas chart norm (Go here for more info if you've not yet heard about it).

Killing in the Name Of was released in 1992 and now looks pretty set to go to the top of the charts this Christmas. My take on the song is that it is against mindless war and against the establishment and those who seek to tell us how we should behave and what we should be doing. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that's how it comes across to me, especially the final part of the song! Maybe it is a sign of where some of society is right now and how it is feeling about politics, religion, and the media. Maybe people are fed up with being told how to behave and what to do? Maybe people's eyes are being opened to the prospect that they might be slaves to a system and they don't want to be anymore? Maybe people are looking for something else?

Or maybe it is simply that people are sick of X-Factor and want to do something about it.

Whatever the reasons, I like it. I think it shows that when people catch a common goal they'll get together to realise it. And whatever the reasons are for individuals buying Killing In The Name Of, I think it does in some way say to society that people are sick of the norm and don't want to be slaves to the system. Now I know that buying a song won't free us from that system, but we've got to start somewhere.

The thing is, if followers of Jesus where a bit more aware they might latch onto what is happening in our society. They might realise that people are unsatisfied, but that the 'establishment' is not going to provide the answers, that something different is needed, that Jesus' message needs to be spoken about and shown in new and radical ways outside of the establishment. Killing In The Name Of is a song that shouts out against the establishment.

I wonder when the Church will hear this section of societies voice?


Evangelical Spiel


Here you go Tom, some good evangelical spiel to keep us insane!!!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Good Conversations

I really enjoy meeting and talking with people who are honest and straight talking. I think it gives people real integrity.

I don't like it when I'm talking to someone when I know that they are simply saying what they think I want to hear.

I don't like it when I'm with people and I say things I think they want to hear.

I like it when we can simply be honest about who we are with each other.

That's one of the reasons me and my bro Tom get on so well. We had a bite to eat together last night and it was good chatting, being honest with each other. It's always good.

I enjoy his company, and I enjoy listening to what he has to say. He has thought things through. He has read a lot. He knows what's going on in the world. We can have good conversation. We can laugh together.

I like that he will not let you spout off some evangelical spiel. He's heard it all before. And that's good for me. because it makes me think about what I believe. It makes me question the stuff I hear. It helps me believe what I believe because I believe it.

I think Christmas is all about honesty and integrity. I think it is about conventional understandings of God being blown out of the water. I think it is about challenging our notions and understandings of God, love and humanity and turning them upside down, causing us to think differently about them all.

I think that really is a good conversation worth having.

Friday, 11 December 2009

O Holy Night

I absolutely love this song. I think the words are beautiful and moving and sum up so beautifully the wonder, mystery and awe of Christmas. Thank God for Christmas.


O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Two things

I met with someone yesterday who I wanted some advice from in regard to my future.

We were chatting about church and he then told me a story about his uncle.

His uncle was a committed follower of Jesus who, when he was 18 years old, used to open air preach. He then got his girlfriend pregnant and the church they were both a part of threw them out. This was just before the second World War. He went to war and when he returned his faith had completely gone. The biggest reason for this being the way the church had treated him and his girlfriend.
Today this kind of reaction still happens where people in church speak condemnation and judgement over other Christians rather than speaking out love and grace.

S**t happens. The church needs to accept that.

Rather than tell people they've fallen into sin and bring judgement over them, we should be a community that seeks ways in which we can help bring healing, wholeness and love from the reality of our human experience.

What if the church had said to this uncle 'WOW! You're bringing new life into the world. How beautiful. Let's explore together how we can enable this child to best grow in the love and beauty of God and how as a couple you can discover the very best that God has for you.' I think just maybe the future may have been very different.

Also,

John Colwell, one of my lecturers from college (who is now Pastor of Budleigh Salterton Baptist Church) has written a book called 'Why Have You Forsaken Me?'


I'm looking forward to reading it. Should be out in a week or so.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Russel Brand and culture


I watched Russel Brand 'Skinned' last night on Channel 4.

Found him and it very interesting. He's obviously a clever guy with a good grasp of phraseology and words. He spoke about how he likes to shock people to give them a new thought or angle on a particular subject rather than being a comedian that simply reinforces already held beliefs...

I don't think he actually does that. He is completely a product of his fame culture and the British culture and doesn't actually share new insights into the culture we live but equally reinforces already held beliefs like most other celebrities, politicians and media people. He simply articulates it in a more nuanced and thoughtful way.

I think fame is quite simply the unattainable desire to make love to your own reflection, and Russel Brand is a product of that desire like 99% of all famous people. I think he speaks well and I quite like what I see of him on TV, but he cannot claim that he is approaching culture and topical issues from a new angle.

I think the reality is that I'm not sure I'm really hearing anywhere a new approach to the issues of our culture. Maybe I'm not listening enough. I hear whispers maybe. Can anyone show me the prophets who are digging holes through walls?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Essence of Christianity

Sam tagged me with: "To list an artwork, drama, piece of music, novel, and poem that you think each express something of the essence of Christianity and for each one explain why. Then tag five other people."



Artwork - Hospitality of Abraham by Andrei Rublev.
A painting that explores the very nature of God as triune and his desire to invite us to 'share in the divine nature'.

Drama - The Dark Knight
Dark to light, chaos to order, numbness to grief, despair to hope.


Music - Under Pressure by Queen
It is a song that challenges us to love and our understanding of love. I think this is at the heart of the Gospel.

Novel - The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
A book about mission, pain, redemption, love and grace. Some of it's understanding of God is suspect, but then that is true for every one of us.

Poem - The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
I know this may seem an odd one because their seems to be no redemption. But the more I read it the more I see the reality of the human condition that Scripture is not scared to speak about.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Liberty Trust

I've been looking further into cooperative economics and came across the Liberty Trust. They are a charity that has helped over 200 households get free from the banking system by offering interest free loans and therefore enabling people to become debt free far quicker. Once people are free from the banking system and then debt free, they can use their money to help those who are in need and poverty. They only operate in New Zealand at the moment.

Click here to go to their website and read more on what they do.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

What a load of crap

'The savage text is not the Bible. It is what Christians have made of the Bible when they use its pages to endorse cruelty, hatred, murder, oppression and condemnation, often of other Christians. The savage text is what the Bible, or parts of it, becomes when it enables Christians to convert the good news of God's revealed love in Jesus Christ into the bad news that people are the wrong colour, or race, or gender, or denomination, or orientation, or religion, or class, or empire, just because they differ from the Christians who are preaching the bad news....When the Bible becomes a savage text, the theology that is proclaimed is already faulty. The savage text makes hated holy.' Adrian Thatcher 'The Savage Text' p 4-5

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

I wonder...

I wonder if there is the need for the UK church to consider what the Gospel is really all about?

I wonder if it is not that we need to learn new ways of saying the same thing?

I wonder if we have been saying the wrong thing?

I wonder if people are actually very spiritual?

I wonder if when we peel back all the layers of church movements (emergent, emerging, new frontiers, vineyard, purpose driven, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Free Church, etc etc etc) that all they are really concerned about is whether people go to heaven or hell when they die?

I wonder if this is actually a betrayal of the Gospel?

I wonder if the Gospel has been so misunderstood that we don't know how to understand it properly anymore (now that is a really post-modern statement!)?

I wonder if Jesus saw things so differently?

I wonder...

I believe that God is at work in the UK.

I believe the Gospel is the power for salvation.

I believe God is so loving and so gracious that we always have hope.

I believe the UK church will radically change over the next 20 years. Some will be good and some will be bad.

I believe that Jesus is our bright Morning Star.

I believe...

Monday, 30 November 2009

Affluenza


Affluenza is making people miserable because it impedes 'the meeting of our fundamental needs. Psychologists squabble over what those needs are, but usually agree on four: we need to feel secure, emotionally and materially; we need to feel part of a community, to give and receive from family, neighbours and friends; we need to feel competent, that we're not useless, are effective in chosen tasks; we need to feel autonomous and authentic, masters of our destines to some degree and not living behind masks. Virus values screw us up by conflating what we want with what we truly need, Having with Being.'

'The widespread anxiety and depression caused by the virus are crucial for Selfish Capitalism. To fill the emptiness and loneliness , and to replace our need for authentic, intimate relationships, we resort to the consumption that is essential for economic growth and profits. The more anxious or depressed we are, the more we must consume, and the more we consume, the more disturbed we become.' Oliver James, Afflenza

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Cooperative Economics


I'm just beginning to explore this. I emailed Viv Grigg and asked for some writings and studies on cooperative economics and he has very kindly provided me with his own writings on this and pointed me towards others who have written about it. I'm wondering if this principle may be something that I can pursue in the next ministry that God calls me into.
Viv is just starting to put together a discipleship course in light of his studies into cooperative economics. I'm going to keep reading this whole subject through and see where the Spirit leads.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Bible In Five Lines

Tagged by Banksy with this:

Summarise the Bible in five statements, the first one word long, the second two, the third three, the fourth four and the last five words long. Or possibly you could do this in descending order. Tag five people.

Freedom
Into Exile
God the Deliverer
Our chains fell off
Journeying towards the Promised Land

I tag whoever reads this and hasn't done it yet. If you do, let me know so I can read what you put.

New Job...?

I haven't been blogging much this week because I have been travelling up and down the UK looking at possible job's. I've clocked 1200 miles in the last 4 days and am feeling pretty tired!!

What has been really encouraging is that there are churches out there that are stepping out and doing some really challenging and scary stuff for the Kingdom of God. There are churches that recognise that if we don't start changing how we interact with our communities then we are going to fade away. There are churches that are seeing how difficult it is to 'go' and engage with people who are not interested in church, yet as they go they are seeing amazing things happen and peoples lives transformed. There are churches who are willing to get it wrong, to be messy, to not have all the answers, to accept people where they are at, to be incarnational. There are churches who are tired of the same old same old. There are churches who don't want to meet on a Sunday morning, sing some songs and be talked at. There are churches who recognise that ALL denominations and movements have blown it in some way and there needs to be a change.

So I'm encouraged and challenged and scared.

Where is God calling me next? I know it is something that doesn't fit neatly in a church box. I know it is something that challenges the establishment. I know it is something that needs to be incarnational and connected with people who are not followers of Jesus. I know it is going to be an exciting and challenging time.

Monday, 23 November 2009

I believe Jesus is...

I believe Jesus is...

...the Son of God
...the source of all that is good
...beyond our understanding
...understood as we love
...beyond our understanding of love
...the greatest person in all of history
...the most misunderstood person in all of history
...the one who makes all of history worth it
...the highest point of knowledge
...the perfect sum of beauty
...the One in whom we all have life
...the One through whom we can all can live
...perfect in every way
...the One who redefines how we understand perfect
...full of grace and truth
...full of love and life
...full of justice and mercy
...fills the heavens and the earth
...causes us to change the way we live
...patient with us in that transition
...gives us hope in all circumstances
...walks with us and weeps with us when we cannot see hope
...found in the most surprising places
...calls us to go to those places
...Saviour
...Redeemer
...Prince of Peace
...God
...beyond words
...the Word made flesh
...Lord
...praying for us
...calling us to pray for each other
...passionate about us
...calling us to be passionate about each other
...in love with us
...calling us to be in love with him
...speaking to us
...calling us to speak to him
...inspiring
...challenging
...beautiful
...my friend and my King

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Difficult words from Jesus

Here are some of the things that Jesus said that I find really hard to read. And thinking about it, I have never heard anyone speak or preach from these passages. This might be a good meme...

"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." Luke 12:49-53

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' Matthew 7:21-23

He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:59-62

What words from Jesus do you struggle with?

I tag Sam, David, Banksy and Tim



Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Dexter


Me and Tom had just started Season 1 of Dexter. It is really good. Raises fascinating questions about morality, justice and humanity.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Vision...

At college today we were discussing that dreaded thing called 'VISION' and how, as church leaders, we can clearly ariculate and achieve the vision for the church.

We were looking at where a vision comes from, how to articulate it, how to achieve it etc etc.

We discussed what makes a good vision, what makes a bad vision and how the church can pursue their vision.

I sat there feeling really confused and anxious.

I just keep thinking that the UK church is really missing the point.

Rather than having a 'vision' for the church, should we not have an 'imagination' for the community in which we find ourselves in?

I believe the UK Church has so missed the point in terms of mission and 'being' church. The big elephant in the room that people don't really want to talk about is church decline. So we have vision casting after strategy talks to stop ourselves from confronting the issue. Yet all our 'vision' discussion revolves around what the church should be, rather than about what the community could become through the church.

A Prophetic Imagination.

But then maybe it's me that's missing the point completely...

Monday, 16 November 2009

Update on 'De-Christian' Meme

A little while ago I began a meme titled '5 Deeply de-Christian Doctrines'. Since then it seems to have spread across the blogging world, so I thought I would draw some of them together and make list of each different one that has been raised. For sake of space I have limited each one to their title only, but have put a link with each 5 so you know where they are from and can read in greater depth the persons personal understanding and description of it. I know there are more lists than this so if you come across this meme somewhere else and can add to the list or want to leave your own list then please feel free to do so in the comment space.

1. That its ok to sing songs expressing 200% devotion to God, even if you are half-hearted and lukewarm.
2. That the gospel can be reduced entirely to Jesus' death on the cross.
3. That mission can be reduced entirely to human activity for justice
4. Red letter bibles, which put all Jesus words in a different colour,
5. That you shouldn't interrupt what's going on at the front because, clearly, these people are more important than you.
5a that to be a really anointed Christian leader/get onto the speaking team at major festivals (which is pretty much the same thing?) you need brown shoes, faded jeans, a pinstripe shirt and a large church. Being a man helps.

1. That the commemoration of national tragedies will do in place of actual Christian lament.

2. That there is an approach to the Christian faith that somehow encompasses the “head” but not the “heart” and that this is deficient.

3. The myth white English-speaking westerners are still the leaders of the church

4. The idea that the Bible is a magic weapon that just transforms people once they encounter it.

5. The idea that there is more than one church.

(Zoomtard)

1. The Holy Spirit is taught about mainly in silences, which is deeply de-Christian.
2. The idea of “once saved always saved”.
3. The notion of a Platonic salvation
4. The doctrine that God accepts us as we are.
5. I think the word “faith” has been, for all intents and purposes, butchered.

(Charismata)

1. The Immaculate Conception.
2. God hates sin.
3. Adjectivizing “Christian”.
4. Social Trinitarianism.
5. Justification by “faith”.

(Clayboy)

1. Creationism.
2. The subordination of the Spirit
4. The idea that filling up every moment of your time with Church activity is in some way a Christian responsibility.
5. Believing that Christianity has a set of morals that can be read off from the Bible.


(1) The cult of nice
(2) The institutional effectiveness of the Church = the health of the Church
(3) the notion that talking about people is a Christian duty, and talking to them fraternising with the enemy. If we get the bishop to do our dirty work for us, it won't be dirty any more.
(4) my local expression of Church is all there is to it
(5) Faith = how I feel about...


1. The longer / louder your prayer the more likely it is that God will hear it.

2. When Jesus said 'make disciples'; he had in mind a teaching series delivered by an expert

3. That holiness is more about what I do than what God does

4.The body of Christ looks like a (our?) church rather than the church (with all her faults, diversity and character)

5. That running a business is less spiritual than running a church / Christian organisation

(Tim)

1. That Worship is more (or less!) important than Mission and justice and, even more dangerous, that by solely worshipping you are being missional by default.

2. Judgementalism - seems we are trained to be experts!

3. Consumerism - this claim that the church teaches consumerism should not be a surprise!

4. Sentimentality

5. Discrimination

(Banksy)

1. Sola Scriptura: not just meaningless but, in so far as it eclipses the truth that a human being was the incarnate Word of God, anti-Christian.
2. Papal Infallibility: ultimately it is the
consensus fidelium which is infallible, but even there, there are some things which we cannot stand just yet.
3. Private Judgement:
4. Penal Substitution
5. "Family Values": source of much of our present distress, and not something that Jesus was particularly supportive of.

(Sam)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Crash

Had a great evening last night. I have begun something called 'Crash'. The concept is that I invite a few people around my home for a meal. The people will come from a variety of beliefs, world-views and backgrounds. One person (who has already been asked) then shares for 10 minutes on a particular subject which then leads us into the evenings chat and discussion. So over good food, good wine (or orange juice!) and good company we chat and discuss the issue that has been raised and see how the conversations evolve.

The idea is that people from different belief systems can come together over a meal and through talking and discussion can find some common ground. So often two opposing views come crashing together and we seek answers from among the wreckage. 'Crash' seeks to find those answers before we collide. Rules are that we respect each others views even if we don't agree and don't hog the evening with the sound of one persons voice!

Last night was the very first time I have tried it and I believe it went really well. Carl spoke about the Incarnation and what was the point of Christ at Christmas. We looked at issues of love and freedom, church and culture, faith and atheism, and discussed and chatted these things though. It is something I am going to continue to do and hope it becomes something that enriches people and helps people experience new views and opinions.

I want to invite people to come and share. I can't afford to pay people, but I can offer good food, wine and company! If you would be interested in speaking for 10 minutes at one of these evenings and then stay to eat, drink and answer questions, then please get in touch. It can be about anything, as long as it provokes discussion and interest. It can about about atheism, homosexuality, fundamentalism, the environment, poverty or whatever. I want people who can speak with real clarity for 10 minutes on a subject they are passionate about that can then be chatted over and discussed for the rest of the evening. If you're interested then get in touch and we'll see.
Thanks to everyone who was involved (Tim, Cas, Carl, Sarah, Tom, Adam and my beautiful wife!)

'I think we miss touch so much that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.'

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Red Tiger

My mate runs his own branding and web design company. He has just re-branded his own company and asked a few of us to get involved in helping him do it.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Incarnational Mission

As always I have been pondering mission and the church's calling to be a missional community. Here and here are discussions and posts I have done previously on this subject. Something I have been thinking about a lot since I returned from India is 'incarnational mission'. Briefly I'll share where I am at with this.

Incarnational mission as future fulfilment:

The Incarnation, the Word made flesh, reveals to us who God is. We see in Jesus the fullness of God. Not only that, but we see the goal of humanity. In other words (as I have explained elsewhere) Adam was created in the image of the resurrected Christ. Humanity therefore is created in Christ's image, and because of that we see the goal of humanity. We see in Christ what God wants us to become like. God does not want us to become like 'good' Adam, but that we journey to become like Christ. Adam (all humanity) had a goal to become like Christ but the fall disorientated our journey and we became 'sinsick'. Jesus is the cure. Indeed, all of creation has a goal to become something it has never been before, something better. And it will find its fulfilment in Jesus.
Incarnational mission embodies this concept. We seek to enable people and communities to become something they have never been before, something better. People and communities have a goal, a destination in Christ, and the Church is called to help people discover that hope and to join with them in the journey towards that hope.

Incarnational mission as identification:

The Incarnation reveals to us a God who fully identifies himself with us. Not as a King wearing a beggars cloak and pretending, but as a King who becomes fully one of us. He experienced and embraced the fullness of humanity sharing in all its limitations, struggles, temptations and sorrows.
Incarnational mission therefore calls the church to fully identify itself with the communities it is in. Not merely wearing a beggars cloak for a day, but walking fully with our community, loving them, being with them and experiencing what they experience. In that identification we can then seek to bring hope through the One who fully identifies and can fully heal all our pain.

This is a really, really quick summery of what I have been thinking. I will do a much longer post (3000 words or so) on this sometime soon.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Church in Conflict

'What causes a conflict in the Church? We are told...it arises because in the Church there emerge people with the best intentions and Christian zeal who no longer understand aright the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in its unique redeeming power, who even fear and hate it and who extol and demand in its place or alongside it (as if anything could stand alongside it!) fulfilment of the Law as the condition for the salvation of man...we may well say that all conflict in the Church arises because people in the Church fight against grace. When free grace is preached, there the Church is alive for there God Himself is at work.' Barth, The German Church Conflict p 13

Friday, 6 November 2009

5 Beautiful Doctrines

5 Christian doctrines that I believe to be beautiful:

1. Trinity

2. Grace

3. Jesus brings the new-Exodus

4. missio Dei

5. Spiritual gifts

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Jesus The Transsexual

A new play has come out in Glasgow called 'Jesus - Queen of Heaven' (see here) where Jesus is portrayed as a transsexual. The artist wrote it to describe his own personal journey as a transgendered person.

As you might expect, 300 Christians held a protest outside the theatre to show their concern over the play...I wish Christians would stop doing this.

Gregory of Nazianzus wrote, 'That which he (Christ) has not assumed he has not healed.' In other words, on the cross Christ represents all people everywhere. He died for all people everywhere.

I think that it is a bold statement to portray Christ in this way.

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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Audi for sale


So I'm selling my Audi....

I had one of those moments when God spoke SO clearly that I knew I couldn't ignore him.

Since I returned from India I knew that my soul had been deeply touched by all that I saw, heard and experienced while I was there. I knew that I was a slave to consumerism and materialism and needed to change. I knew that I had to live a simpler life. I knew that my attitude to the poor, to my community and to the planet needed to change. My soul was touched deeply. Yet my mind and my heart were falling to catch up!

On Sunday night I shared about my time in India at church and as a result of that time I knew my mind, heart and actions needed to catch up with my soul. So yesterday, I was driving to college having a pray and felt God clearly say to me to sell my Audi. When I brought it I knew I was just feeding my greed. I didn't need a car as big and powerful and expensive as that, yet I still got it. I rang Sarah and told her what I felt God was saying and she told me that all morning she had felt the same way. So that confirmed it.

I need to live a simpler life and need to model that in whatever community I find myself in. Driving around in a plush Audi is not modelling that. Things need to change for me!

So if you're interested in an Audi...! ;0)


Thursday, 29 October 2009

A Challenge to Churchy

I met up with my twin bro yesterday. We had a good chat. He used to be a Christian but would now describe himself has an atheist who wants to believe God exists. He's an atheist because he can't come to any other conclusion based on everything he sees and has experienced. But he would love it if God existed.

We were chatting about church when he said something that really impacted me. It was along the lines of:
'Christians do these events, big and little, so they can be deliberately 'churchy' and have a rest from being 'missional'. It makes me think that anything missional that churches do is just and act or facade. Church in these scenarios seems to be fake. It makes me wonder if the expressions of love in these situations is actually genuine.'

A real challenge. Do we love for loves sake? Or are people just a target to convert?
Also, can church communities be a place where we are always being real about who we are and therefore allow others who we meet be real about who they are? Can we ever drop the 'show' and be who we are called to be?

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

5 Deeply De-Christian Doctrines Meme

Thanks to David for prompting me to do this as a meme:

List 5 doctrines that are taught within the Christian church that you believe to be deeply de-Christian.

I tag David, Sam, Tim A, Banksy and Tim

Those that I listed were:

1. The doctrine of penal substitution

2. The belief that Genesis is a literal account of creation (i.e that the world was created in 6 literal 24 hour days)

3. The doctrine that believes woman should not be in church eldership/bishops

4. Calvin's doctrine of divine election/retribution

5. The doctrine that 'salvation' is about going to heaven

Monday, 26 October 2009

Random Beliefs

Banksy tagged me with this. 10 things I believe to ethical, philosophical or theological:

1. I believe marriage is one of the greatest gifts given to humanity, yet has been so abused we have lost sight of its beauty.

2. I believe that identical twins share a deeper bond than science could ever reveal

3. I believe films can touch our souls, both positively and negatively

4. I believe the church in the West is in 'Babylon' but are largely unaware of this.

5. I believe that the church must understand how vastly different tomorrow looks from today to engage meaningfully with our culture with the Gospel. It's failure to do this is one of the reasons it is in exile.

6. I believe God is far more loving and gracious than we could ever begin to imagine.

7. I believe fundamentalism is evil

8. I believe children to be a precious gift to our world and we therefore have a huge responsibility to love and care for them properly.

9. I believe wherever there is truth there is God and wherever there is love, there is God.

10. I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I tag Tim A, David and Tim

Friday, 23 October 2009

5 Deeply De-Christian Doctrines

5 Doctrines that I believe to be deeply de-Christian:

1. The doctrine of penal substitution

2. The belief that Genesis is a literal account of creation (i.e that the world was created in 6 literal 24 hour days)

3. The doctrine that believes woman should not be in church eldership/bishops

4. Calvin's doctrine of divine election/retribution

5. The doctrine that 'salvation' is about going to heaven


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Vivid Dream - Strong Building

I had a very vivid dream on Monday night...

Sarah and I were in a field surrounded by hills in the middle of nowhere. It was a very dull and overcast day. We were looking at an old building that was falling down and in need of serious renovation.

Two of our friends were there who were instrumental in my obedience to God in pursuing the calling to ministry that he has given me. They had a photo album on them and were showing us photo's of our past. Some of the photo's were of really happy times since we were called to ministry. Others were of the difficult times. Others were of sin in our lives that we need deal with.

Sarah and I then collect some materials to try and restore this building. The materials we are using don't seem to be good enough, yet suddenly another man joins us and begins to show us how to use these materials. He tells us they are good enough if we use them properly. We discover he is a master builder. He shows us how to build properly.

He then warns us. He says that we need to listen to him and build properly because a mighty wind is coming that night and will blow so powerfully. The wind will be so strong that it will show up everything that is lacking about the building. It will expose the weaknesses in it. We need to build properly.

Sarah and I listen and keep building. We then crawl into the building. It seems so small and low now. And we wait.


I believe this was a dream from God. I shared it with some of my mates from college and one of my tutors. They are going to pray and let me know if they have an idea about what it may mean. My tutor said he was sensing ruach/pneuma type imagery in it.

Anyone else got any thoughts?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Missional Worship

'As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.' Mark 1:16-20

It seems to me that this is a significant 'missional worship' text. Here we have Jesus calling Simon, Andrew, James and John to follow Jesus and be fishers of people. It is a calling to worship Jesus and be fishers of people. 'Come follow me and I will make you fishers of people'. Worship and mission are interlocked with each other here. It is not that worship and mission are a seperate issue in the calling of Christ on their lives, but that a part of the calling to follow Jesus is the calling to be agents of mission.
And this continues for the Church today.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

A cry against the 'king'

'The economics of affluence and the politics of oppression are the most characteristic marks of the Solomonic achievement...So the third foundational element I suggest is the establishment of a controlled, static religion in which God and his temple have become part of the royal landscape, in which the sovereignty of God is fully subordinated to the purpose of the king...Now there is no notion that God is free...Now God is totally and unquestionably accessible to the king and those to whom the king grants access...it gives the king a monopoly so that no marginal person may approach God except on this king's terms. There will be no disturbing cry against the king here.'
Brueggeman, The Prophetic Imagination p 28-29

Now this can easily be seen in terms of oppressive governments and regimes in history. But it can also be seen in the church in the West today. Every denomination and movement and stream old and new. None escape this worrying charge. I would want to say that the church is the 'king'...

Moving On

It struck me today that I am leaving Mersea in around 9 months time! Exciting!

I'll be taking up a new ministry in a new place somewhere in the UK. I'm looking forward to the change and the fresh challenges this will bring. College is an amazing place and I'm going to miss being there and the depth of learning I experience there, but I'm ready to spread my wings and fly. I'm going to miss Mersea, but because all my family is here I will back on a regular basis.

Hopefully I'll be ordained in June and graduate in June and then move sometime in July. I just need to try and hear and know where God is calling us to next. Sarah is really excited and has been looking at prospective places online and trying to get a 'feel' for them. The next 9 months are going to disappear quickly and the reality is that it is not long to settle into a new ministry. But I know God has got it all under control! If you pray then I would value your prayers about this whole journey we are now on.

It's been great to be a part of what God is doing here on Mersea. Plenty of ups and downs. So much to be thankful for. Learnt more about God, church, people and myself than I could ever have imagined. And there is a long way to go yet!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

missio Dei

'A trinitarian ecclesiology would take its basic clue from the fact that the most fundamental Christian affirmation about the God who has been revealed in Jesus Christ through the continuing activity of the Holy Spirit is that God is extravagant, outreaching love. The triune God is a missionary God, and the mission of the church is rooted in the trinitarian missions. Furthermore, according to trinitarian doctrine, the very nature of God is communal, and the end for which God created and reconciled the world is depth of communion between God and creatures. The church is the community called into being, built up, and sent into the world to serve in the name and power of the triune God. When the church is true to its own being and mission, it offers an earthly correspondence to God's own unity and diversity, to the inclusive and welcoming love of the other that characterizes the communion of the triune God.' Migliore, D., Faith Seeking Understanding 200-201

In other words, the church exists within this movement of God, the missio Dei, to such a depth that mission is not seen as an added activity, but as the defining essence of the church.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Mission and Worship

Over the last couple of years I have been on a significant journey in terms of my understanding of what the church is and what the church does. I've been studying these questions at college and sought to do much reading on it (still nowhere near enough mind you) and tried to observe churches in their various streams. I have spoken to many different people from many different theological and cultural backgrounds and tried to come to a place where I feel I can stand. Now I'm not sure I'm really in a place where I can stand, more in a place where I'm kneeling, but then maybe that is actually the best place to be.

One of the things I have been trying to understand is how the church exists week to week within the UK. Church in the UK continues to decline and in a small way I've been trying to figure out why that might be. I don't think there is one answer. I don't think there are simple answers. One thing I would say however is that maybe one of the reasons is because of where our understanding of worship is.

So often the church in the West organises itself around what happens on a Sunday. So everything is geared up around this time when everyone meets together to worship God together. Now meeting together is a good thing and something Scripture tells us we must continue in. But I wonder whether our understanding of what that worship consists of is one of the issues.

I do not believe worship is something that purely happens on Sunday morning, but that it is a way of life. Worship is what we should do with our whole being at all times in all situations.

I believe that mission is a means through which we worship God. It is not merely a fruit of worship, but a means through which we worship. It is an expression of our love for God and our love for others. Mission is a continuation in the ministry of Christ. 'As the Father sent me so I send you'. Mission is worship.

The church should be committed to preaching the Gospel as a way thorough which it declares its love for God. So when we meet together, our worship needs to reflect God's heart to see that 'none should perish.'

And surely Communion is at its very heart a meal of mission? 'For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.' As we share in this meal we are worshipping God and participating in Christ. And surely, if we are participating in Christ we are participating with him in his ministry to reconcile all things?

So much of the church in the West is more concerned with what happens in the four walls of our buildings rather than being concerned about the people outside of it. The Incarnation reveals to us a God who is deeply concerned about all that he has created and therefore became a part of that creation in order to redeem it. We therefore should have equal concern (if that were possible). As soon as mission comes of our radar and is merely something that we hope will happen as a result of worship then we're in trouble. But when mission is realised to be a part of our worship then I believe the church will be in a better place before God.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

India, Mission and Persecution

I've decided to pick out my key moments from India rather than share from every day in my diary. There are some things which came out of my time there that I think are significant for the church in this nation. One of the key points is in regard to mission that I want to blog about once I've processed it a bit more.

A recent thread on Sam's blog (here) has prompted me to think about it a bit more and then blog about mission and the church's calling to be missional. I don't entirely agree with Sam about worship and want to speak about my understanding of mission over the next few days.

Below is a video that we were shown while in India by a mission and church planting group called National Fellowship. The reason these guys showed us this video is because they went to Orissa and witnessed something of what happened and spoke to many people about what they had been through. What they shared with us, something of which is explained on this video, radically challenges and transforms your understanding of mission and church.

*WARNING* Footage is graphic:


Monday, 5 October 2009

Shopping for CCTV


Thanks to Sam for drawing my attention to these guys.