Sunday, August 29, 2010

12 Baron Schipennick (sic) St...

Some places remain special, not so much because of where they are or what they look like, but because of those the place represents.

A trip to Holland needed a pilgrimage! Lots of happy memories.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Faith House Posse...

"...I looked up to the balcony. The Faith House Posse were there trying to catch my eye. Their waving and thumbs up clearly wouldn't be abated...

My commissioning highlight this year was a solemn moment at Commissioning this year. The cadets, now Lieutenants had received their appointments, the General had spoken and an invitation to respond was made. People from all over Westminster Hall were praying, people responded and came forward to pray.

One of my responsibilities is to help co-ordinate the response to those who come to kneel and pray, we try to do this discreetly. As the prayer meeting was coming to its natural conclusion I looked up to the balcony. The Faith House Posse were there trying to catch my eye. Their waving and thumbs up clearly wouldn't be abated by a discreet and polite acknowledgement, their frenzied 'look ... we are here' would ignore the pray meeting protocol until I waved back.

Then as Commissioner Matear prayed, the 6 foot banner was unfurled over the balcony to help me see that they were there - 'Faith House Posse'. Then for good measure it was waved with vigour to ensure my eye was caught.

Wasn't only my eye that was caught. Knowing the stories of these men - my heart was caught too. What better a place, what better a time to be reminded of what The Salvation Army is...?

That was what I call a prayer of benediction.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Six myths or false models of spiritual formation 6/6

The whole BP Gulf oil spill disaster caused me distress. With each attempt to solve the issue ranging from steel tanks, to golf balls and rubber, to secondary bore holes, I felt more anxious. I knew the secret, I knew what to do and I couldn't think why people had not thought about it before - 'No Nails'. One thing that I have learned is that if No Nails doesn't fix it, it is pretty much unfixable. A good squeeze and application of the magical paste, sit back and wait for it to dry seems to work on most things ... for a while.

The final myth that Wilhoit points out seems to have similar traits. Wilhoit identifies an over confidence of our ability to pinpoint areas where trust and faith are lacking. Seemingly, all that is needed is a handing over to God for him to work on it while-U-wait, for you then to move on. This model, usually facilitated through protracted worship, is given momentum through a simple pondering of where faith is lacked. In other words, what Wilhoit calls the faith model, is shaped by the axiom that all spiritual growth stems from surrender to God.

On the face of it there is not much to argue with here, surely all spiritual growth stems from surrender to God? But Wilhoit is quick to point out the danger. While "submission and growth in faith are important aspects of our ongoing relationship" the danger is that in isolation this submission is directed by feeling. A common phrase I hear is that "God seems so distant...", an observation generated by feeling. Willard is often quoted as saying "grace is opposed to earning not effort", there is little wonder that if we expect spiritual development given to us on a plate that we are quickly left dissatisfied and can not see the irony of an omnipresent God being distant!

The common criticism that is levelled at Spiritual Formation from this point of view is that the role of the Holy Spirit is diluted. Perhaps this says a lot more about a consumerist approach with the Holy Spirit reduced to the level of 'no nails'; people would rather 'sit back and wait', thinking growth is dependent simply on consuming the right thing. There seems to be a failure of recognising the role of the Holy Spirit where "through practicing a variety of spiritual disciplines, we often come to see areas where we need to surrender, issues we might never recognise if we simply focus exclusively on pondering areas where we lack faith". Wilhoit, J.C (2008:51ff)

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

Six myths or false models of spiritual formation 1/6
Six myths or false models of spiritual formation 2/6
Six myths or false models of spiritual formation 3/6
Six myths or false models of spiritual formation 4/6
Six myths or false models of spiritual formation 5/6

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


The two silhouettes in the door were a give away. I approached knowing on the other side would be two Jehovah Witnesses to talk with.

You kind of think that our road would have a big black cross through the JW map of district to cover. All but two houses in our street are Salvation Army owned and we are mostly officers at the William Booth College. No black cross and so with plenty of time I thought I would engage!

"We wondered whether you would like to have a conversation about the bible...?" the first lady said, she was lovey and I was already despising myself as I replied.

"That would be lovely, what bible should we use...."

Second lovely lady said "Ooo well... you could use mine...!"

I feel worse as I feign surprise "ah the NWT translation, I've not come across that one before, is it based on New Testament Greek?"

"oh yes..." comes the reply in unison.

So we go onto discuss the mistranslation of John and their refusal to accept Jesus and the Holy Spirit as God and it was really all lovely.

"So out of interest do you know Thomas..?"

"Oh Yes!"

"What did he say when he saw the resurrected Jesus?"

"My Lord...."



Then the smaller and sweeter of the two women look up, squared her shoulders and said

"....... well if you saw a resurrected person you'd say Oh My God too!!"

Monday, August 09, 2010

Gregory of Nyssa on Perfection...

Reading Michael Glerup's article in the Conversations Journal was interesting. Not least his insight to Gregory of Nyssa and what he called change for good. It is the kind of movement described in 2 Corinthians 3:18 as we are transformed 'from glory to glory'. Glerup points to the mistake of imagining perfection as a state of complete immobility in restored innocence. Gregory suggests:
"Perfection is progress itself: the perfect man is the one who is continually
making progress. This progress does not have a limit because the object of its
desire, the trinity, is limitless."

He continues:
"when we experience God in his infinity, we experience the paradox of the deep satisfaction of God's presence and yet at the same time we experience God's absence because he remains constantly beyond us... in the sphere of the spirit , the soul
can grow perpetually; filled to its capacity, it can always receive more".

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

When Chaos and Order Dance Together...

Listening some time ago to a feature on recruitment for the British army, I found one recruiting officer's comment interesting. 'We're looking for those happy with chaos who can live with confusion but keep a clear head and make good decisions".

Then last night in the Leadership Journal I read:

"In the face of chaos, connective leaders participate in bringing order, and in the face of order, connective leaders participate in bringing chaos. When a faith community knows only order without chaos, they can drift into stasis. When a faith community knows chaos without order, they will struggle to trust their participation in God's narrative. But when chaos and order dance together, dynamic faith rooted in God's story finds hope in the midst of a changing context"

Friesen, D. (2009). Thy Kingdom Connected: What the Church Can Learn from, the Internet, and Other Networks Emergent Village resources for communities of faith). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.