Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Dairy of India 2009 - Day 1


Diary of India 2009 - Day 1

Arrived in Kolkata about 7am India time. A lot of travelling so feel very tired. What impacted me straight away was the smell when we walked out of the airport. It was a smell of vibrancy and poverty. Very hard to describe. There was a sea of colours as people stood outside the airport dressed in beautiful Sari's.

The journey to the BMS guest house was fascinating! Driving in India is chaotic, scary but fun! Horns blowing all the time, no infrastructure, buses, cars, bikes and people all narrowly missing each other. The rain started to pour and pour and pour...

As we neared the guest house I noticed a young woman on the side of the road wearing rags, soaking wet and shaking with cold. She had her hands stretched out with a grimace on her face. People simply ignored her. There seem to people all over the world in every society who have been rejected...

After reaching the guest house we had a rest and then decided to go for a walk and explore a bit of Kolkata. We came out the gust house and walked down the street. A lady came and started to tug on some of the other guy's clothes asking for money. We had to keep walking as we've been told not to give any money to people begging. This was challenging. What would Jesus do?

During this first day I have encountered and tasted a beautiful and challenging new culture. Kolkata seems to be a place of extremes. Beauty and Ugliness. Wealth and Poverty. Chaos and Calmness.

My emotions have been fairly stable today. I'm just trying to take everything in. I'm also intrigued how I will feel about my own Indian roots.



It is going to be a real challenge to understand what the gospel means to the people I meet in and around Kolkata. What is good news to those begging on the streets? How does extreme wealth and extreme poverty affect us spiritually? How will this experience change me? How can I be a better disciple of Jesus?

Sunday, 27 September 2009

India 2009

I'm back from India! It was an amazing time with so much to write about, think about, pray about and reflect on. I was changed through my time there and am continuing to be changed because of my time there. There is so so much to say about my time in India, far too much to write in one blog entry. I think what I may do is write on entry a day about each day I was there. A belated diary you could say.
Words that spring to mind about my time in India are:
Passion for Jesus
Indigenous
Contextual
Incarnational
Wherever there is truth, use it
Challenging
Life changing
Cross carrying

I'll unpack these phrases and more in time...






Friday, 4 September 2009

India, here I come!

So below are the links to some of my older posts that my (or may not) provide room for discussion while I'm in India.
I will be away from Monday 7th Sept - Friday 25th Sept. If you pray, please pray for me while I am there. If you don't pray then keep me in your thoughts. I will be in Kolkata working in the slums and the surrounding villages seeking to bring some kind of help to the people there. I'll blog about it and provide some photo's when I get back.

Here are the links:

Now for something completely...ridiculous is a short video with Mark Driscoll.

The Beast is a post I wrote reflecting on my journey with alcohol and how I became T-Total.

G.A.Y and M.O.N.E.Y is a post about homosexuality, money and church.

The Cross and Hell is what it says on the tin and Humans are Wicked... is a follow on from that

I Took a Cat to Holland is about biblical interpretation and this post on John 3 is a specific passage that we have begun discussing


The Way of the Master? has a thread of interesting comments that aid discussion

The Hit is a personal reflection on self-image.

The Unwritten Rules is about church and finally,

Albi the racist Dragon is just a really funny video by Flight of the Conchords!


God Bless you all. :0)

Innuendo

I'm off to India on Monday for 18 days to work with various groups in Kolkata who seek to help those families and children who are homeless and living on the streets. It is going to be a strange and challenging time I'm sure.

Later this evening I will do my last blog post until I return near the end of September, but on it I will put links to some of my older posts that have created discussion and posts that I think will generate good discussion while I'm away.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Unwritten Rules

A couple of friends came over to us the other day. It was really good catching up with them. As we were chatting we discussed the frustrations of the 'unwritten rules' of church.

The more we talked, the more we realised that so much of church life is ordered around these rules. The thing is, these rules are rarely spoken of, so people somehow subconsciously pick them up the longer they spend within the church community. It gets to a point where they are so ingrained if someone asked you what they were, you wouldn't have a cue what they were on about! (Seriously, try and think of them...)

These unwritten rules are destructive.

Here's a few that I can think of (thanks to David's post prompting me to write this post):

- Don't stand up until your told to do so
- Don't pray out-loud for other denominations
- Don't sit there!
- Don't call out during the service
- Never change the seats around
- Never run over time
- Don't tell me what your REAL struggles are
- Don't get up during the sermon
- No mobile phones ringing during the service
- I don't want to know what's really going on in your life...
- (Please add to the list as with your ideas...)

Now I know this is a little pessimistic because there are beautiful things about church, but I suspect people leave church because so often they don't feel like they can be themselves, which is what the unwritten rules stop us from being.

I was speaking to someone who left a large charismatic church and they told me that the culture of the church was one that you could not tell people how you actually felt about faith and life, so you went each week pretending you were someone you weren't. So when they went through fear and doubt they simply hid it all away from the church community.

Now if a community really loves God and loves each other, I mean REALLY loves each other, then surely this kind of thing will happen less and less? Surely......

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

'Stick close to the Word, and quit looking for loopholes'

A recent post prompted this comment, so I thought I'd post the comment and my reply:


Some people will break the second commandment without even realizing. They may utilize the Bible, but in essence they create a god that doesn't exist. They exchange the truth of God for a lie. Once that happens liberal theology will follow.

God's commands are very specific. We must be careful to except God as he reveals himself in his Word.

Sinners need to be confronted with the law. When they are they like Paul learn to recognize it, making it exceedingly sinful to them. And Ray Comfort is right, only then will they appreciate and appropriate the cure.

While I think the WoM plays a little lose and free with the scripture, the basic premise is correct. The Word of god will not return void, and I think that is what we see.

Stick close to the Word, and quit looking for loopholes.

God Bless,

Robert

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Hi Robert

I agree completely that we must seek to worship and (as far as possible) understand who God is as he has revealed himself through the Scriptures.
What I am seeking to do is share with all who will listen who this God is.
And this God reveals himself fully through Jesus.

The problem I have with WoM is that I don't believe they are being faithful in their understanding of the Scriptures and thus their understanding of who God is. I do not question their love and worship of Jesus, I question their understanding of who Jesus is.

You quote to me Matthew 7:21. What is the will of the Father? To believe in Jesus and to do the work that he has commissioned us to do. And I see this Jesus to be one who is full of grace and truth, who cares for the poor and the oppressed. This Jesus rages at injustice. This Jesus does not condemn. This Jesus drinks and eats at the table of sinners. This Jesus came to reveal love, not hate or wrath. And it is this Jesus who calls us all to himself.

Jesus does not do what WoM does.

Scripture is there to transform us, and through the hearing of Scripture, God by his Spirit brings about transformation. This is what I believe it means when it will not return void.

We are not saved through the recognition of our sin, we are saved by the grace of God. I'm sure many have heard the illustration:
Salvation is like me being in a deep pit with both my arms and legs broken. There is nothing I can do to get out. God then reaches in and pulls me out. I have been able to do nothing to save myself, it is all because of the grace of God. Yet once I am pulled out of the pit I must now, with legs and arms healing, worship God and worship him with my whole being which includes going and feeding the poor and helping the oppressed and bringing heaven to earth, not by bringing condemnation, but by bring grace and love in real and practical ways.

I'm not looking for loopholes in the Scriptures, I'm looking to be faithful to God as he reveals himself through them. We must remember, the Bible is not God and I suspect many break the second commandment because the worship the Bible instead of God.

Bless you.
Joe