Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two questions...

John Ortberg in an article on Spiritual Formation in Leadership Journal (Winter 2010), gives a great summary of how we create space for spiritual formation. How you are doing spiritually was often a question to answer with measurable actions usually involving a description of the health of a 'Quiet Time'.

I was struck by an answer Dallas Willard gave Ortberg when he asked how Willard monitored the condition of his soul. Apparently he asks himself 2 questions.
  • Am I growing more or less easily irritated these days?
  • Am I growing more or less discouraged these days?
Seems a good indicator of our well being. I'm not sure I'm doing too well these days - grrrr!

A Father has got to be proud...!

Well done Eryn for passing the Royal Ballet Junior Associates audition...!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Goodbye Powerpoint...?

I can't help but think Prezi looks pretty cool. I'm looking forward to having a play around with it at some point in the future.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Independent -- Osborne's first Budget? It's wrong, wrong, wrong!

I saw this article from The Independent and thought it might be of interest to you

George Osborne will probably not be very bothered that there is a man who thinks he got last week's emergency Budget almost entirely wrong. But he should be. Because that man is a former chief economist at the World Bank who won the Nobel Prize for Economics for his work on why markets do not produce the outcomes which, in theory, they ought to.

© 2009 Independent News and Media

Sent from my iPod

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sharing the Gospel of Salvation...

Following a debate in February 2009, the General Synod asked the House of Bishops to produce a report on “their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multi-faith society [and to include] examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none”. A small group led by the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent; the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler; and the Bishop of Birmingham’s Adviser on Inter Faith Relations, the Revd Dr Toby Howarth, drafted the document, which was subsequently commended by the House of Bishops at its recent meeting. (more here)

Sharing the Gospel of Salvation... report here

Here's a taster...

"Christ’s saving work is not a commodity to be sold but a gift to be shared. If we keep always in mind the central insight that it is not we who bring others to Christ but God working in them, we can avoid colluding with the marketing mindset which would paint every evangelist as a huckster and portray God’s children as ‘targets’ for conversion. When our encounters with our neighbours, of other faiths and none, are distinguished from exercises in salesmanship, we can be confident that we are sharing God’s love rather than marketing another lifestyle choice. "

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Independent -- Don't be shy of evangelising, archbishops tell Anglicans

I saw this article from The Independent 

The Church of England's two most senior bishops have called on fellow Anglicans to embrace the Christian mission and not "fight shy" of converting people from other faiths. In an uncharacteristically evangelical statement from a church that has tended to avoid overt proselytising in recent decades, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu said Christians should not feel "embarrassed or awkward" about bringing others towards Christianity.

© 2009 Independent News and Media

Sent from my iPod

Friday, June 18, 2010

Being content with less than total satisfaction...

I thought of Mrs Ellis when I heard this quote this week

A truly diverse congregation where anybody enjoys more than 75% of what's going on is not thoroughly integrated... So an integrating church is characterised by the need to be content with less than total satisfaction of anything. You have to factor in a willingness to absorb some things that are not dear to you but may be precious to some of those coming in. (Rev James A. Forbes)

I remember asking Mrs Ellis if she was enjoying a International night of worship when we were at Poplar. Above the drumming and distinctive African guitar she shouted, "not really, it isn't my cup of tea but it is important that I come this is my church...!"

There is something very selfless about that kind of approach to church, something very giving, kingdom orientated even sacramental. As an alternative to a consumer mindset to worship, the attraction of integration motivated by 'for you' is compelling.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

God On My Mind...

I've just discovered BBC's God On My Mind on YouTube. I missed the two programmes when they were on radio 4 but pleased to see that someone had the foresight to host them on YouTube.

Matthew Taylor discovers what the latest scientific research can tell us about the human need for religion the first programmes asks whether a belief in supernatural powers gave our ancestors an evolutionary advantage? (here).

The second explores what happens in the brain during religious experiences? If magnetism can produce visions, then what price mysticism and meditation? What's the difference between sainthood and schizophrenia? And why are many believers convinced that God speaks to them in their dreams? (here).

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Six myths or false models of spiritual formation 5/6

"Rather than experiencing the joy of release that is the recognition and the journey from self, there's a joyless acknowledgement of never measuring up to self set high ideals."

Insight model.

"I am totally reflected out.." is something I hear quite often from people that have moved on from college. "We knew the kind of things to write and never gave anything away..." was another interesting comment. "I completely miss the opportunity to reflect in the same way as I used to in college.." another perception. People's reaction and engagement to and with reflection in their spiritual development fascinates me.

For some the whole process is too invasive, for others seemingly totally unnecessary; some engage wholeheartedly with a joy that comes from deep within as the benefit of the process is healthily embraced, others engage wholeheartedly with the joy absent as they seemingly fail to see the significance of the promise of the fullness of life that Christ modelled and offered.

While self reflection and inner analysis is essential in the identification of an inward chaos of self driven agendas, Wilhoit is keen to point out that too much prominence often leads to supporting a diseased introspection. Spiritual formation rather than contributing to our spiritual life through grace becomes burdensome through the weight of allowing our spiritual development to become a means of sin management.

Some classic voices of Spiritual Formation while rich in insight and undeniably helpful in understanding of the spiritual life seem to me sad and heavy. There is always context to be lost in the reading, but a good reading of Julian of Norwich, Thomas a Kempis tends to leave you all the richer but at the same time all the sadder! What is sadder is that you can see and feel the weight of sadness with people's spiritual formation today. Rather than experiencing the joy of release that is the recognition and the journey from self, there's a joyless acknowledgement of never measuring up to self set high ideals.

In the same way that people misread the classic voices without the all important context of the day, people seem to do the same within their reading of holiness. With an over preoccupation of choices and their consequences holiness and its outworking through spiritual formation is shaped by law rather than grace and becomes laced with a deep inner sadness.

When we allow insight and introspection to be reduced to the essence of spiritual life rather than merely a helpful aspect of our formation we entertain a false model of spiritual formation. "I came that you may have life..." should always be the starting point.

Wilhoit, J.C (2008:51ff) Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered. Baker

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Helps to Holiness, Coffee and Jeff...!

I stood in the queue with Jeff, minutes before he'd startled two girls sat opposite me in Nero's by asking them for change. Panicked they apologised and with inevitability said no. He turns in hope to me. Rain soaked with a shiver and a 'please guv' look on his face he said "I'm only after a bit of change.." I stop reading about perfect love and put my book down. Deciding to buy him a drink we queue together.

Jeff still dripping from a downpour outside tells me his story of wrong decisions which saw him addicted to crack. Showing me his arms he told me with pride "I'm clean now". I invited him to Faith House, said our goodbyes and I went back to where I was sat.

I thanked the two girls for looking after my ruck sack, "we should've helped ... we feel awful". I try not to smile inwardly as I think about past debates about demonstrating the kingdom.

"You must be really trying to be holy..." I'm taken back, wow this holiness thing is powerful! I think of past posts and comments, 'see I told you ... holiness only makes sense as an outward social expression...see' I'm writing the blog in my head.

"...maybe we should read the book you're reading". They point to the book - Helps to Holiness - I left on the table, Next thing we're talking about Brengle and what it is to love!!! Maybe I'd had too much caffeine but as they said goodbye, I thought I saw Brengle wink!!