Monday, October 23, 2006

The Rain in Spain...

.... Ok everyone who lives on the Costa del Sol are pleased with the recent rainful that seems to have coincided with our arrival. Seems the Cotterill Drought Breakers have gone international! More a case of Costa del Lluvia at the moment (excuse my Spanish!)

Funny that the family moan at me for disappearing to check out the receptions internet connection while they watch Coronation St!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Junk Faith....

We should be asking "what is to the greater glory of God" rather than "what is the right thing to do" (Hughes 2004)

"It has always been commonly supposed that faith requires some element of humility on the part of the worshipper. Some sense of awe in the smallness of oneself and the vastness of creation! But not anymore! Yours is a generation that sees God as some kind of vague counselor! There to tell you what you want to hear when you want to hear it and to be entirely forgotten about in between
times! You have invented a junk faith and you ask it to justify your junk culture" (Elton 2005:338)
Elton, B.(2005) Dead Famous

Yes that is right .......... Ben Elton!

Gerald Hughes points out that a good antidote to our self-absorbed approach to God in prayer is to wean ourselves away from the urge to pray for the right thing to do. We should be asking "what is to the greater glory of God" rather than "what is the right thing to do" (Hughes 2004)

Hughes, G(2004) God in all Things

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 3/9

"The process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing destructive ideas and images with the images and ideas of Jesus himself."

Transforming the thought life

Willard, D(2002)Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ

Dallas Willard suggests that Spiritual formation must transform ideas, there needs to be rigour to spiritual discipline in order to identify that there needs to be a replacement of ideas that are outside God’s agenda with the ideas that Jesus embodied and taught. This is Christian spiritual formation.

Willard quotes Henri Nouwen who notes:

"Success, popularity and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of a much larger temptation of self-rejection. We have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions ... Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the 'Beloved'. Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence."

Willard continues...

"Taking this idea, this profound truth, to heart is an important step towards reorienting our lives. The gospel of Jesus is the only complete answer to the false and destructive ideas and images that control life without God. The process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing destructive ideas and images with the images and ideas of Jesus himself." pp 72
(An interesting quote for those who like mulling over the process and crisis of holiness debate? Perhaps the crisis is in the recognition that it is possible and the process the outworking of that God given recognition?)

Sometimes I wonder if the destructive ideas are cleverly disguised. A hard look at our self-assurance and the attitudes we maintain in our line of debate may have unintentionally obscured that our thinking and our urgency to be right has put our arguments first and God second. Putting God first in our thinking transforms our entire life – brings a proper perspective within our lives. Chief enemies that Willard suggests we need to watch out for are pride; ignorance; allowing our desires to control our thinking and domination of unhelpful images we admit into our minds. (Willard 2002)

I feel uncomfortable when I reflect whether the arguments/ dialogue however noble I enter are fuelled by pride, often ignorance and often the desire to be right.

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Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 2/9

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Do you think she knows Patrick...?

The girls and I walked down into Camberwell to go to the Post Office..

She was on us in a flash. One minute shouting non-sensical obscenities at passing traffic, then she was in our face.

"You King George Pussy Dog...!"

She was quite scarey. The girls hands tightened on mine. I smiled and nervously said "hello".
She immediately mellowed, smiled and went on her way.

"Do you think she knows Patrick...?" one of the girls asked.

I don't think so but I am sure they would have a lot to talk about!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

In the face of a 40-year-old...!

The last time I saw her was 22 years ago in Nairobi. Now as I collected at Waterloo she walked by. It's funny who you see while collecting for TSA Annual Appeal, funnier still when you see a one time youthful crush and girlfriend.

"Sam...!?"

Sam Watson one time captain of the girls hockey team turned and I looked into the face of a 40 year old woman, unmistakably Sam, but definitely 40!

She recognised me and we spent the few minutes she had catching up the 22 years. As we talked I found myself working out that she was definitely 40! Yep definitely 40. She'd seen us on Songs of Praise when they featured Poplar ... then she needed to catch her train. As she slipped her ruck sack on her final shot made me smile.

"Well we made the milestone then...?"

"huh?"

"We're all 40 now!!!"

Isn't it easy to forget, the reality of who you really are? 40 not a chance! I sometimes wonder if we do the same as church - I can't imagine that a false impression of who we are is all that helpful.

BTW - it's alright being 40!......... honest!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The balancing act of mission...

"Evangelism is only part, but an essential part, of the wider task of God's mission in which the church is called to share."

I was reminded of this quote that kind of connects with the Moltmann's point and the source of a many a mission essay!! "Evangelism is mission but mission is not merely evangelism" (Moltmann 1977)

Whenever the church reduces its way of relating to the world simply to the task of making disciples, something hugely important is lost. We are left with the picture of the church as the Ark of Salvation: all we are called to do is draw people into it to safety from the destruction around them, In this picture, 'the world' is no longer a manifestation of the wisdom and love of the good creator but a hostile environment from which we ourselves must escape, within which we must keep ourselves safe and from which we will eventually be taken into heaven.

However, when the church focuses upon proclaiming the kingdom of God in all its aspects except that of calling people into a new relationship with Christ, again the message is woefully incomplete. To know the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of Christ is the fulfilment of what it means to be human. The Christian gospel is, as Paul writes, the power of God for the salvation, transformation and healing of all those who believe. Without the faithful proclamation of the gospel and the making of disciples, the new community of the church cannot be renewed in every generation. Evangelism is only part, but an essential part, of the wider task of God's mission in which the church is called to share.

Croft, S. (2002: 139) Transforming Communities: Re-imagining the Church for the 21st Century. DLT

Getting the balance right without compromise surely is pretty important. An over balanced church just falls flat on its face!! Not a comfortable place to be.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 2/9

"So for us, it is above all the spirit or will, that must be reached, cared for, and transformed in spiritual formation. The human will is primarily what must be given a godly nature, and this must then expand its governance over the entire personality.”

Transforming the mind

The degree to which we are distracted is critical to acknowledge in that our choices and outlook on life, direction are affected. Dallas Willard points out that :-
“Each aspect or dimension of the person will be a source of weakness or strength to the whole person, depending upon the condition it is in, and the condition it is in will depend, finally, upon the heart. A person who is prepared and capable of responding to the situations of life in ways that is good and right is a person whose soul is in order, under the direction of a well-kept heart, under the direction of God.” (pp38)

Willard, D(. 2002) Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ
This takes Holiness out of the bracket of a legalistic retreat from the world but becomes a highly charged and explosive momentum into the world. A ‘soul in order’ will know what it is called to in the light of God’s mission and will embrace the values of the Kingdom and the attributes of God beyond that of a theology - that NT Wright worries is based on 19th century hymn writers.

How can we think of living out God’s agenda, if our inner being is filled with all the thoughts, feelings and habits that characterize a world which denies God? Willard points out:-
"...if I intend to obey Jesus Christ, I will intend and decide to become the kind of person who would obey and be like Jesus. The means to that end are not all directly under my control, for some are the actions of God toward me and in me. But some are directly under my control..."
Spiritual Formation becomes more than a process or a module to teach or a trendy past time in which to find your identity. It starts with intention and decision that can only come from the spectacular gift of sanctifying recognition - then rolls on as a lifestyle centred on transforming the will through retraining of thinking by study and meditation on Christ.

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Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9