Thursday, 29 January 2009

Ink Me!

I was at college on Tuesday and sitting over lunch a few of us began discussing the nature of Church and how church exists in our nation.

We were talking yet again about the need to try new and radical ways of church to reach the increasingly spiritually hungry people in our nation who are not interested in coming to 'inherited church' or to put it another way, the standard model of church in this country (Meeting on a Sunday, singing songs together, listening to a half hour sermon, meeting mid-week for Bible study etc etc).  

Someone mentioned Alpha and how the format of meeting together and having a meal is a really good way of creating an atmosphere whereby people can relax, get to know each other and discuss issues of spirituality and faith.  There is much about Alpha I have concerns with, but I agree that sitting down and having a meal together is a great biblical model.  What I did say though was the problem with this is that people go through Alpha and then are expected to start coming to Church, but what they then experience from Church is something a million times removed from what they experienced in Alpha.  Gone are the meals together, the times of discussion and fellowship, instead they have to somehow learn to become a part of a very different and alien culture.

One of the group spoke up and said how in their church, after people have gone through Alpha they then invite them to come for a few weeks to a mid-week meeting round someones home where they again eat together and then during the evening will introduce them to worship songs and other things that happen on a Sunday morning.  He said that this way they learn how Church operates and then when they start coming on a Sunday morning it is no longer such a culture shock.

I said to him how this sat really uncomfortably with me.  To me it is like slowly injecting people with 'Church culture' to somehow clone them into what we want them to be.  I don't think that's right.  Yet again it's a way of making people conform t what we think they should be like and getting them to become a part of our culture rather than seeking to go to them and their culture and allowing Jesus to become real to them in their culture.

This affirms yet again to me my calling and desire to GO and seek to ask God to create a Jesus movement within whatever settings I am placed.  

Imagine a bottle with a tiny bit of ink in it. The ink represents the Gospel and the bottle the Church.  Beside it is a bowl of water.  This represents our culture.  You want to see our culture transformed by the Gospel.  The way we currently do it is to try and get the water into the bottle and then it will mix with the ink and be changed.  What I think would be better though is to pour the ink out of the bottle into the bowl of water and let the permeate the water.   This is the model of Church that I want to explore.  Now I know all analogies will ultimately fail, but do you get the picture?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Drive Time

Sarah passed her driving test yesterday! I'm very proud of her. It's so good to watch how she grows in confidence day by day and year by year.

I remember when I first met her when she was 17. She was shy, nervous and struggling in so many ways. She is now an amazing wife and mum, owns her own business and has just passed her driving test.

It's incredible to see how much transformation has happened in her life. She's a real inspiration to me. I love her more than words and admire her more than I can describe.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Here We Go

Sarah and I sat on the sofa and watched Barack Hussain Obama be sworn in as 44th President of the United States.  Felt like one of those historic days.  Sarah, who confesses little interest in politics or anything like it was glued and was even crying as the inauguration was happening.

Must say, I felt emotional too.

I think its because as Obama was speaking you could see the hope and joy in the thousands gathered in Washington.  I know people's expectations are high and that when they are as high as that some might think the only way is down, but I think it's not a bad thing for people to be feeling this way.

I honestly believe that the people of America will want to make a difference and want to do their bit in bringing change because Obama inspires them to do that.  America needs a figure of hope, someone they can look up to.

He is just a man, and he will fail, we all fail, but I think he is the right man for the job at this point in America's history.  Furthermore, it speaks so powerfully of the progress in racial equality and the dream of people living as equals.

If McCain had won the mood would have been completely different.  I heard John Stewart say on the morning of Obama's victory that people were looking each other in the eye and saying morning...this is in New York!  That's what has happened.  McCain would not bring that with him.  

I know it's not just about how someone inspires you, they need to actually be able to the run the country with good policies.  I know this.  But so much of the change that is needed in this world is at a grass roots level, and Obama brings hope that inspires people to make a change. But, he is not the messiah.

Ultimately, from my perspective, Jesus is the hope of all nations.  Obama will fail, governments will fail, Kings and Queens will fail, Religious leaders and atheists will fail, we all will fail, BUT, Jesus will never fail.  He is the Hope the world needs and He will make all things new.  His Shalom will stretch across the heavens and the earth.  

This is the hope I look to.

This is the hope that helps me press on towards the goal.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Dr. King's Prediction

Here is Martin Luther King Jnr's prediction of America getting their first black President.

Fascinating stuff.

Historic day.

Let us continue to pray for Obama's protection, for his family and their protection and for God to give him wisdom and understanding as he takes this monumental task of being President of the USA.

Monday, 19 January 2009

The Christ We Share

Had a great evening at Causeway last night.

First one back after the Christmas break.

We had an evening looking at various images of Jesus from around the world.  We walked around the church looking at them all and then spent time in groups discussing the ones we liked and disliked.

After that we spent time in a large forum discussing openly the images which had stuck out the most.  

The amazing thing about art is that the same picture can provoke in people a variety of reactions.  Some images offended people and some helped them see Jesus in a new way.  Some images were seen in a new light when the background to it was revealed.

As a result of the night we looked at exploring how we might share Christ with our community. Something we didn't do, but may do at the next Causeway, is to explore how our community might see Jesus because of the Church.

It was a great evening and I think challenged us all.

These four above seemed to promote most discussion.  What do you think?

Rocket Master

The Masters Final was last night.

O'Sullivan won it 10-8.  I know some people find snooker really boring, but I love it.  Even Sarah was getting excited watching the last 3 frames at midnight! She hates snooker!  It was such an exciting final though. 

Great snooker!
Great final!
Late night as a result though!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Who Can Be Saved?

'I'm a exclusivist in the sense that it affirms the unique truth of the revelation in Jesus Christ, but it is not exclusivist in the sense of denying the possibility of salvation of the non-Christian. It is inclusivist in the sense that it refuses to limit the saving grace of God to the members of the Christian Church, but it rejects the inclusivism that regards the non-Christian religions as vehicles of salvation. It is pluralist in the sense of acknowledging the gracious work of God in the lives of all human beings, but it rejects a pluralism which denies the uniqueness and decisiveness of what God has done in Jesus Christ.' Lesslie Newbigin The Gospel in a Pluralist Society.

This is more or less exactly where I stand. I think this is a great quote a sums up things beautifully.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, 
       he was crushed for our iniquities; 
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, 
       and by his wounds we are healed.

But it was our sins that did that to him, 
   that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole. 
   Through his bruises we get healed.

But he was pierced for our rebellion,
      crushed for our sins.
   He was beaten so we could be whole.
      He was whipped so we could be healed.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
   and with his stripes we are healed.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Favourites of 2008

Favourite film of 2008: The Dark Knight

Favourite book I read in 2008: The Heavenly Man

Favourite song of 2008: Run - Leona Lewis

Favourite moment of 2008: Holiday in Spain with my beautiful family

Biggest adrenaline rush of 2008: Driving a Ferrari VERY fast around a race track

Main thing I heard God speak to me about in 2008: Mission and the nature of Church

Biggest regret of 2008: Not praying more

Favourite thing said to me in 2008: 'I love you' by Sarah