Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Free Download (Reprise)

What is Missional Church: An Introduction to the Missional Church Conversation
A FREE DOWNLOAD
One Man's Journey Into Mission
By Alan Roxburgh

Download Now!


What I failed to tell you is that there three parts to this resource.

There is the (1) introduction (above), then there is a course helping congregations to identify and explore what it is to be missional beyond that of a catchy little buzzword. The down loads include a (2) participants work book and a (3) presenters guide.

This is a useful tool all thanks to allelon

Friday, March 30, 2007

Who Wrote the Bible...

"...if we can find God in the imperfections of our lives, then maybe we can find him in the messiness of the text."

Dr Robert Beckford - academic theologian - intrigues me in the way he constantly deconstructs his Christian faith. Asking questions that take him on a journey of discovery yet he always ends up at a place where his faith is all the stronger and believable.

I've just watched his Channel 4 documentary from 2004 Who Wrote the Bible (you can watch it here). His journey starts with his acknowledgement of the importance of the bible - where he says 'The Bible shaped what I thought, said and did. But that simple belief gave way to the realisation that it's not that simple.' I imagine that there will be those that will have watched this documentary and will have written him off as selling out. I imagine that there will be those who will have watched and who will have spat venom at his questioning and non-acceptance. I imagine that there will be those who will have watched and would have been insulted at his assumptions and incisive insinuation, those who would have felt discomfort with his analysis of the long accepted, and those who would have switched off long before his intriguing concluding statement.

"...if we can find God in the imperfections of our lives, then maybe we can find him in the messiness of the text."

The vulnerability I see in his searching as a Christian is appealing - but not often seen in a Christian Community keen to be seen with the right answer. I guess what I find appealing is that what he deconstructs he builds back and up stronger.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My bad memory...

what issues today will our descendants look back at in 200 years and think 'why did they let that happen?'

I can't remember which one I went to, but twenty years ago I visited one of the coastal slave castles in Ghana. I can't remember the name of the castle but I remember that behind the white washed walls was a history that shocked me.

I looked into the dark dungeons, manacles still attached to the walls, I walked into the rooms and smelled the dampness, almost feeling consumed by the aura desperateness. I looked down the tunnel beneath the castle that led to the beach and where the waiting ships would wait to disperse their human cargo without daylight being seen.

I can't remember quite where on the Cape coast I had been taken to see this point of history among the beauty of the palms, ocean and sand but I can remember being shocked and ashamed.

A bad memory is not an excuse I am comfortable with - but it does make me think as to what issues today will our descendants look back at in 200 years and think 'why did they let that happen?'

Monday, March 26, 2007

He caught my eye...

Soloman turned to leave church and as he did so he caught my eye as I put my guitar gear away. Across the crowded church he shouted out "no hard feelings..!" Then he was gone.

It was several weeks ago that I got my undeserved roasting from Soloman (Soloman's Gift) I was glad that Soloman now has a sense of closure! I'm glad that it seems that Soloman's medication is back on track! I'm glad he still sees me as his friend - until the next time!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Free Download

What is Missional Church: An Introduction to the Missional Church Conversation
A FREE DOWNLOAD
One Man's Journey Into Mission
By Alan Roxburgh

Download Now!

"As a young boy growing up in Liverpool, England, I was known as the "quiet child." I spent hours by a tiny coal-fire reading book after book that chronicled the adventures of the great explorers and how they opened paths to far off places. I was engulfed in perilous, promising adventures that shaped my imagination.

Little did I know that I would participate in my own kind of adventure as my family immigrated to Canada. As a teenager, the Empress of France swept me away from the world I knew, one that I could control and manage, to the unknown world of suburban Toronto. On the other side of the ocean, the rules had changed..."



Just seen this at allelon

Friday, March 23, 2007

Chikankata...

One look at Jonny Smith (with Catherine the Corps Officers at Southwark SA) and you can see that he is the marathon man.

This year raising money for the hospital in Chikankata. More details here

A nice touch is that if you donate he'll add your name to the back of his shirt. So far Mrs Healthy Investment is the only taker.

You can donate here.

You can check out Charlie Chikankata to see the struggles and the joys of Chikankata Hospital.

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I'm presuming that if you do not want your name associated with Jonny you can still donate but request your name to be withheld.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

5 Streams of the Em Ch.

Scott McKnight makes some interesting observations on emerging church and its fresh expressions here.
  • Prophetic/ provocative rhetoric
  • Postmodernism
  • Praxis-oriented
  • Post-evangelical
  • Political
All streams that contribute to the emerging lake. Things to agree with and disagree with but worth a read.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What a waste of money....!!


Apart from two great goals and Chelsea marching on. The highlight of the game for me was Eryn asking me to explain the offside rule.

Don't you just love those key moments of parenthood!!?

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Incidently, talking about offside - how about Drogba..... offside? hmmmm ...oh well!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

For an hour we talked...

for an hour I steeled myself for the "what would really help would be £50 so I can get to see my poor Mother in Fife...!" but it never came.

The tears rolled down his face as we prayed.

Ben had walked into the reception and needed to talk. I was called and for an hour I heard the story of Ben. For an hour I heard how Ben and his brother had grown up together in the area, how Ben's life had seen him come into faith when he was younger, how now he had walked away from that faith and how yesterday was Ben's brother's funeral. For an hour we talked about grief and loss. For an hour I listened to the twists and turns of Ben's life, the up's and many down's and for an hour I steeled myself for the "what would really help would be £50 so I can get to see my poor Mother in Fife...!" but it never came.

"I need to get to a church but just can't see myself doing it."

"Ben you can always come and see me - perhaps we can help each other on our journey?"

We prayed, he cried and as he left he stopped and asked "did you mean that.... we can talk again...?"

"Of course ... anytime"

My gut feeling is that I wont meet Ben again - but who knows you might, look out for him!??

Sunday, March 11, 2007

NT Wright on Mission's False Dichotomy...

For generations the church has been polarized between those who see the main task being the saving of souls for heaven and the nurturing of those souls through the valley of this dark world, on the one hand, and on the other hand those who see the task of improving the lot of human beings and the world, rescuing the poor from their misery.

It's been a while since I flagged up the false dichotomy debate but following up some of NT Wright's thought I stumbled into this interview that NT Wright did with Christianity Today. The article called Mere Christianity can be found here.

"For generations the church has been polarized between those who see the main task being the saving of souls for heaven and the nurturing of those souls through the valley of this dark world, on the one hand, and on the other hand those who see the task of improving the lot of human beings and the world, rescuing the poor from their misery.

The longer that I've gone on as a New Testament scholar and wrestled with what the early Christians were actually talking about, the more it's been borne in on me that that distinction is one that we modern Westerners bring to the text rather than finding in the text. Because the great emphasis in the New Testament is that the gospel is not how to escape the world; the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world. And that his death and Resurrection transform the world, and that transformation can happen to you.

You, in turn, can be part of the transforming work. That draws together what we traditionally called evangelism, bringing people to the point where they come to know God in Christ for themselves, with working for God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That has always been at the heart of the Lord's Prayer, and how we've managed for years to say the Lord's Prayer without realizing that Jesus really meant it is very curious.

Our Western culture since the 18th century has made a virtue of separating out religion from real life, or faith from politics.When I lecture about this, people will pop up and say, "Surely Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world." And the answer is no, what Jesus said in John 18 is, "My kingdom is not from this world." That's ek tou kosmoutoutou. It's quite clear in the text that Jesus' kingdom doesn't start with this world. It isn't a worldly kingdom, but it is for this world. It's from somewhere else, but it's for this world."

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Fullness of Life...shalom and salvation
Sham Compassion...Absurd Activism...Trendy Past Time
Evangelism Gone Entrepreneurial... a disappointing read!
Newbigin on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Kraybill on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Murray on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Wallis on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Guder on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Morisy on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Brueggemann on the False Dichotomy of mission...
GS Railton on Missions False Dichotomy

Saturday, March 10, 2007

NT Wright @ Act Justly... 2/2

One of the most exciting developments in Christian thinking today is the way in which people from many backgrounds are rejecting the old 'either/or' of a spiritual' or a 'social' gospel.

Having struggled to keep up with my notes - I read the forward to a Christian Aid resource written by NT Wright. A handful of paragraphs sum up his presentation.

You can down load the material here
"God has given us a beautiful world to live in, but it's massively overgrown with the thorns "and thistles of human injustice. The problems are too big for us to tackle. But God has promised that one day he will remake the world. Paul's greatest letter reaches one of its highest points (Romans 8:18-30) with the news that God will heal the world and fill it with, his love and beauty. The final scene in

The Bible is not of Christians escaping from this world and going to 'heaven', but of the new Jerusalem renewing both heaven and earth and joining them together in a great act of healing. One day God will put the whole garden to rights'.

But we don't have to wait passively until that day. God has already begun the project. When Jesus died on the cross he defeated the powers of evil that keep the world enslaved to injustice and oppression. His resurrection launched the new creation. We live in the time between the beginning 1 of that work of putting the world to rights and its glorious completion. God wants us to share in the task here and now.

This is the framework within. which our work for justice, joy and peace in the world today makes fully Christian, fully biblical sense. As we read scripture and pray for wisdom, the Holy Spirit is urging us to bring more of God's future plans into the present. When we take a stand on behalf of the poor and against oppress ive systems locally, nationally and globally, we are not simply doing random acts. We are putting the victory of Jesus into operation, and anticipating the day when God will put the whole world to rights once and for all.

One of the most exciting developments in Christian thinking today is the way in which people from many backgrounds are rejecting the old 'either/or' of a spiritual' or a 'social' gospel. There is one God, and he is the creator and redeemer of the whole world. What God did for Jesus at Easter he will do for the whole world. Those who love God, whose hearts are renewed by his Spirit, are called to work in the present time so that the powers who think they run the planet will be confronted with the joyful, exuberant, justice-bringing news that Jesus Christ is Lord. God is at work in the garden. It's time to join in." (NT Wight Act Justly. Christian Aid)

Friday, March 09, 2007

NT Wright @ Act Justly... 1/2

There is so much I want to remember about Tuesday's conference with NT Wright. His clarity of thought and incisive communication is something that left me breathless with anticipation for each new sentence. Every word word measured and significant. Every phrase constructed with precision, enough to leave me scrambling to keep up with my note taking not wanting to lose anything.

Too much was lost :o(

Here are my highlights...
  • We must be God's people for God's world ....
  • Any perceived split between social and sacred engagement with the world is deeply unbiblical ....
  • A post-enlightenment cosmology has pulled apart that which should never have been divided ....
  • It's time to put the record straight and bring restoration, healing and love into the world ...
  • danger of making the mistake that the world is for our benefit, rather than we are for the benefit of the world ....
  • Micah 6:8 ....
  • Judgement in the sense of putting to rights ....
  • Jubilee Israel's model for restoration ....
  • Miracles were not magic tricks to point to Jesus' divinity but signs of a new creation ...
  • Matthew's miracles sandwich the meal with a tax collector which was as much a miracle as it was a sign of the new creation ...
  • Disembodied heaven ...
  • We're to be signposts of hope, an anticipation of God's future beyond that of an escapist soteriology ...
  • Heaven is important but it is not the end of the world ...
  • People are ripe to hear the gospels in a new way, a gospel that refuses any kind of dichotomy...
  • Need to get our theology right so that it is a theology that is non-dualistic
  • Resurrection a sign of new creation and that we have work to do
  • A soul that doesn't bother about justice and social action is disembodied
I came away feeling affirmed but pretty thick!!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hannah my Angel...?

I am completely trapped, Hannah has me well and truly pinned. For the next three minutes while the band play a benediction I feel her sobs, I feel her tears on my cheek..

Hannah's small hand shook mine. She was pleased to see me and oozed full hearted love. Hannah is a member at Maidstone Salvation Army and she is welcoming me to the service. Hannah in her thirties has Downs Syndrome.

The service has been great, creative and meaningful and people have responded positively to the challenge to think through what it is to 'come to Jesus', what it is to allow God to minister to us, to identify 'our angels' Matthew 4:11.

As the time of reflection comes to a close we sing 'I surrender all' and I start thinking through the ongoing coincidence of the words we are singing with the words I read in today in two reflections independent to each other, one by Henri Nouwen the other Thomas Merton about the fist. We sing through the verses and I think through concepts of attachment and detachment that Merton speaks of in describing the 'art of gaining ground through dying a little'. The song comes to a close and a small hand on my shoulder gets me to turn around. It is Hannah, she is crying, she stands and hugs me while I sit. I'm not big on hugging but it seems that Hannah is!

OK - I am feeling embarrassed - I can't even turn my head to see who is looking in on our cameo. I am completely trapped, Hannah has me well and truly pinned. For the next three minutes while the band play a benediction I feel her sobs, I feel her tears on my cheek. For the next three minutes I work through my discomfort and realise that for reasons I have yet to process Hannah is ministering to me. For the next three minutes I slowly recognise that this is a deeply spiritual moment for me, I identify that Hannah is my angel. I gained ground today and in those three minutes something died!

In those three minutes anything within me anything like a fist became an open hand of surrender.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Act Justly...

I'm looking forward to this conference on Tuesday...

"The Act Justly Church Leaders Conference 2007 is organised by Christian Aid and Faithworks. Bishop Tom Wright will be the keynote speaker at the event which will examine the theology of social justice, explore how it is being worked out in the local community and in international projects and offer resources to help churches connect and engage."

More details here

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 6/9

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for thee.

Frances Ridley Havergal

Transforming the body…

Willard looks at the transformation of body through both it’s capacity to act and also its physicality, both essential to spiritual formation and often over looked. Interestingly he suggests that:
"The body lies right at the centre of the spiritual life?"
Willard, D(. 2002) Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ
In other words the body, Willard suggests, remains the primary barrier to conformity to Christ. Strong words - as one quickly learning the gentle (so far) reality of middle aged spread, is he saying that being prone to putting on weight is a detriment to spiritual development? Certainly not! What he is saying is that any attitude to the body that fails to recognise the context that we honour God through our body and puts emphasis on sensual gratification represents an issue if we are to take consecration seriously. If that is eating the wrong food, or not enough food, whether that be an idolic approach to weight loss and fitness, whether that be an addiction to appearence - it represents a focus on self.

The transfromation of the body is a refocusing away from self, a denial of the body to govern life, a refusal to be pre-occupied with the body. So that we can embrace a life of consecration in the terms of Frances Ridley Havergal's beautiful Hymn (here.)

Willard outlines these steps to explore in the spiritual formation of our body:
  • We must actually release our bodies to God as a definite action,
  • No longer idolize your body as an object of your ultimate concern.
  • You do not misuse your body - through avoiding excess; through dominating or manipulating others through the intimidation of gossip, sarcasm, knowing looks and remarks, even unsuitable jokes; through avoiding overwork often associated with competitiveness.
  • The need to honour and care - through nourishment, exercise and rest - for the body recognising that the body is to be regarded as holy.
“Human ruin comes from placing oneself at the centre of one’s universe in place of God” (2002:160)
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Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 2/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 3/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 4/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 5/9

Movie Theme Index...

Kate found this forgotten but useful site.

Movie Theme Index