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)