Saturday, November 15, 2008

Still thinking about Crazy Love's

St Augustine “And what was it that I delighted in, but to love, and be loved? but I kept not the measure of love, of mind to mind, friendship's bright boundary: but out of the muddy concupiscence of the flesh, and the bubblings of youth, mists fumed up which beclouded and overcast my heart, that I could not discern the clear brightness of love from the fog of lustfulness. Both did confusedly boil in me, and hurried my unstayed youth over the precipice of unholy desires, and sunk me in a gulf of flagitiousnesses..” The Confessions of a Saint Augustine. Book 2

I think everyone has crazy loves, things which are right and noble which if loved to much make us crazy and sink us into a "gulf of flagitiousnesses".

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Shaping 21st Century Society

”The 21st Century will be the century of the social sector organisation. The more economy, money and information become global, the more community will matter. And only the social sector nonprofit organisation performs in the community, exploits its pportunities,mobilizes its local resources, [and] solves its problems. The leadership, competence, and management of the social sector nonprofit organization will thus largely determine the values, vision, the cohesion and performance of 21st Century Society.” Peter F Drucker, Drucker Foundation 1999


The hope that is articulated here is like the hope that is currently being placed in Obama -it is over realised/ to ambitious and will ultimately fail. But Drucker may be highlighting a window of opportunity for the local church. If he is right it's clearly time to mobilize our resources.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Crazy Love Ministries

Imagine you had some "crazy love". Some kind of ministry you are passionate about but could not work out how to get it off the ground. What kind of ministry would it be? What kind of resources/ sacffolding would you need to enable you to do it-to commit the time and energy?

I would love to hear what your crazy love is. Include if you can what you think you might need to get things of the ground.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Relating to others-Exposure

Recently we had Andrew Cameron visit with us and he began to explore angles on relating to those who do not follow Jesus. Andrew has generously given me permission to explore some of his thoughts on this blog. The exploration is not meant to be exhaustive but identifies four responses.This is part 4 of a 4 part series. Thanks Andrew for your insights!



Exposure.
Although modern Christians often openly challenge and rebuke pagan neighbours, it turns out that this theme is quite rare in the NT:

What in 1 Cor. 5:10-12 suggests that such an approach is not the first choice for the Christian?
But there are hints that such an approach is sometimes appropriate. Perhaps the prophetic ‘watchman’ of Ezek. chs. 3:16-19 & 33:1-9 is an OT ‘precursor’ of this approach.

A clear NT instance of the approach might be Ephesians 5:11-12: ‘exposing the deeds of darkness’.

‘The life of praise’ will sometimes include moments of exposure. Even the moment of exposure will be a ‘gospel-shaped’ word of some sort.

But – what would be examples of ‘exposure’?
Why would you choose ‘exposure’ over ‘détente’ or ‘subversion’?
How can exposure of dark deeds be done in such a way as to remain an expression of the life of praise?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Relating to others-Separation

Recently we had Andrew Cameron visit with us and he began to explore angles on relating to those who do not follow Jesus. Andrew has generously given me permission to explore some of his thoughts on this blog. The exploration is not meant to be exhaustive but identifies four responses.This is part 3 of a 4 part series

Separation
. 2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1 speaks of entirely ‘exiting the game’—Scripture’s ‘monastic’ option. The passage is tricky:
  • Firstly, the referent is unclear (although it is probably false teaching from which the Corinthians are to separate).
  • Secondly, it is metaphorical, so not geographical in the first instance (remembering that 1 Cor. 5:10 & 12 remind us that total separation is impossible and not very desirable).

But geographic forms of this separation might be the best format for the ‘life of praise’ e.g. dark ages monastic communities that operated as islands of the gospel, taught, and lived according to ‘rules’ shaped by the gospel. Such separate Christian communities take the modern form of hospices for the terminally ill, or homes for pregnant women who wish to keep their children.

How should Christians decide when to ‘separate’?
What are other forms of separation?

How long should separation be in effect?
Would Christians ever re-enter society after separating, e.g. from systems of private schooling?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Relating to others-Subversion

Recently we had Andrew Cameron visit with us and he began to explore angles on relating to those who do not follow Jesus. Andrew has generously given me permission to explore some of his thoughts on this blog. The exploration is not meant to be exhaustive but identifies four responses.This is part 2 of a 4 part series

‘Subversion’ is usually understood to be a negative force in society. But here, we use the word to describe a way of living that is off-balancing, unexpected, and different, so as either to delight pagan neighbours or leave them uneasy yet curious. ·
  • Consider the salty speech of off-balancing grace (Col. 4:5-6). How does this kind of speech by Christian subversives subtly undermine the graceless presuppositions of pagan neighbours? Have you seen any examples of this? ·
  • Consider the gentle joy of hopefulness (1 Pet. 3:15-16). How does this kind of speech by Christian subversives subtly undermine the graceless presuppositions of pagan neighbours? Have you seen any examples of this? Paul and Peter seem to have been guided by what Jesus said in Matt. 5:1-16. Jesus,
  • Paul and Peter want us to learn how to create doubt in hopeless pagan futility, by lives (and speech) of praise.

A philosopher called Wittgenstein once talked about how ‘hearing what is true won’t help us’ unless we ‘uncover the source of the error.’ ‘We must begin with the mistake and transform it into what is true,’ he said; therefore people ‘must plunge again and again in the water of doubt’ if they are to ‘find the road from error to truth’. ·

  • When Christians are joyful, others begin to doubt their despair ·
  • When Christians are graceful, others begin to doubt their systems of merit
  • When Christians are humble, others begin to doubt vanity and pride.

Think of a pressing social problem in Australia that you can think of. What words of joy and grace might destabilise, unnerve, and offer unanticipated solutions?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Relating to others -Détente

Recently we had Andrew Cameron visit with us and he began to explore angles on relating to those who do not follow Jesus.

I know that some reading this blog might think that is an odd thing to explore but for the Christian it can be a very difficult issue. When or when not to compromise, how to show love, when to say "YES"? How to say I disagree! It's difficult because most of the time, like most people, Christians want to be liked, to get on with people. Christians don't want to be known as kill-joy's or to sound like ignorant fundamentalists.

At the same time however, they know following Jesus means a commitment to living with his values and being shaped by his words. That simply means there is substance to a Christians belief and this substance shapes responses.

Andrew has generously given me permission to explore some of his thoughts on this blog. The exploration is not meant to be exhaustive but identifies four responses.

Christian ethics does not ask “‘What is good and bad or what makes life worthwhile and sustaining?’ but ‘What is the life of praise in a broken world all about?’ [Brock]

Christians have very great latitude for expressing their life of praise. The NT presents a very practical range of responses to the wider non-Christian social environment. These can act as a useful ‘toolkit’ for imagining what ‘the life of praise’ might look like.

Détente.
The Bible’s ‘default’ posture for Christians in relation to pagan neighbours seems to be détente. (The word refers to a relaxed friendliness in relationships that could otherwise be strained.)
  • In the OT, something like détente is what Jeremiah exhorts the Babylonian exiles to (Jeremiah 29:7).
  • The situation between the slave and the master is the most obvious case of détente, where the slave wholeheartedly gives himself to the plans and purposes of the masters, even though he knows that his real Lord is Christ (Eph. 6:5f, Col. 3:22). This new knowledge, that the master is really his brother (or at least his equal), and that he really serves the Lord, vastly ‘empowers’ the slave (and far more than institutional change).
  • In 1 Pet. 2:13, Peter exhorts his readers to submit to (literally) ‘every human creation’: what applies to slave-masters also applies to emperors!
  • Christians are uncontroversially able to engage in détente, even with people above them who have different plans and purposes than those of Christ. Hence Romans 12:17 ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’
Luther once said said: ‘A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.’ Because Christ is lord, sometimes we willingly cooperate.

Why is the Bible so relaxed about this détente? Why is this not a recipe for compromise? …


Monday, September 29, 2008

Social Economy executives like to occupy the moral high ground

There are some humbling insights here for those in church leadership-

Due to the lack of resources, Social Economy executives tended not to benefit from the scope or extent of professional development in general management as their counterparts in the private business sector might. Consequently they have potentially lower general management capability and knowledge. There may be a number of consequences of this situation. Defensive mechanisms can develop to protect their position. Self-interest and ego may lead to an inflated view of that position or individual worth. When self interest as vested self interest takes over, some form of egoism occurs.

For-profit executives who haven’t spent much time in the sector might understate the full complexity of the challenges faced by Social Economy executives and their organisations. This naivety might create a false sense of confidence, exacerbating the gap between the for-profit and Social Economy executive in their communications.

But at the same time, due to the altruistic nature of their work, Social Economy executives like to occupy the moral high ground. As a cohort they also tend to be better educated (higher rate of higher university degrees) than their corporate peers. Thus, “crossed communication” can occur where both parties simultaneously adopt a superior, or “parent”, tone. The communication is not sustainable and breaks down in time. Contrary and Congruent Views of Leadership and Management in the Australian Social Economy. pg 93
So the challenge is a co-operative partnership that values each others contribution and deals with the old enemy pride.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Do you have enough courage?


As a third culture kid this kind of thinking has a deep resonance.

The courage to break his cultural and familial ties and abandon the gods of his ancestors out of allegiance to a God of all families and all cultures was the original Abrahamic revolution. In the same way Christians ‘depart’ from their original culture. Christians can never be first of all Asians or Americans, Russians or Tutsis, and then Christians. Christians take a distance from the gods of their own culture because they give the ultimate allegiance to the God of all cultures and his promised future. But [now in Christ] departure is no longer a spatial category; it takes place within the cultural space one inhabits. It involves neither a modern attempt to build a new heaven out of the world nor a postmodern restlessness that fears to arrive anywhere. When they respond to the call of the gospel they put one foot outside their culture while the other remains firmly planted in it. Christian distance is not flight from one’s original culture, but a new way of living within it because of the new vision of peace and joy in Christ. — Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace
Three observations:
  • For those with no particular "cultural home" the idea of a new way of living within culture(s) (Christs way) is a wonderful source of comfort and a very useful in thinking through issues of identy formation and personhood.
  • The quote links with the thinking I have been doing around our engagment with the world around us.
  • It takes courage to live like this. Prehaps we should talk more about the courage needed. Do you have enough courage? I hope your answer is no.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Leaders Really Do

Summary:
Management is about coping with complexity.

Leadership is about coping with change.

Managers promote stability while leaders press for change, and only organizations that embrace both sides of that contradiction can thrive in turbulent times. LEADERSHIP IS DIFFERENT from management, but not for the reasons most people think. Leadership isn't mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having "charisma" or other exotic personality traits. It is not the province of a chosen few. Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it. Rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action. Each has its own function and characteristic activities.

...Good management brings a degree of order and consistency to key dimensions like the quality and profitability of products. Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change...

...These two different functions-coping with complexity and coping with change-shape the characteristic activities of management and leadership.

Leaders : They don't make plans; they don't solve problems; they don't even organize people. What leaders really do is prepare organizations for change and help them cope as they struggle through it.

By John P. Kotter December 2001 HBR

Ok so that's not all you could say but I like what it does say. Any Comments?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Free- Preaching Christ in a postmodern world


Just found this amazing series on preaching Edmund Clowney and Tim Keller-35 sessions . You have to have iTunes to download but it is free!!

The lectures come from the Reformed Theological Seminary which has many of it's lectures free online!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Christians in society –a more nuanced response needed

We had the privilege of meeting with Andrew Cameron at our recent staff retreat. One of the things I am particularly keen to do is to help us think through our engagement of the world around us-particularly as we launch into Connect 09. My concern is that as evangelicals we seem to have a limited range of responses to the world around us with both an under-realised eschatology and an over-realised eschatology playing significant roles. As we talked Andrew suggested some categories that would be worth exploring (amongst others). Christians are called to (bible references mine):


With these categories in mind I think the responses that we make to our world will be far more nuanced and require thoughtful and wise engagement with the issues at hand. Not all will apply every time.

Three questions-
  1. Can you think of other categories?
  2. What might be examples of each?
  3. How would you put this into a sermon series?

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Complexity of Leading Churches


One of my former lecturers has been involved in writing the following report:

Contrary and Congruent Views of Leadership and Management in the Australian Social Economy.

For those who are overseeing a church it has good insights and is well worth the read even if it is not all relevant. I thought I would post some of the things that stood out-mainly because I agree with them.

Managing an organisation or program in the Social Economy is more difficult than in the for-profit sector because:

1. There are more issues / variables to be managed;
2. Each of the issues has the same or greater uncertainty; and
3. The uncertainty extends over longer timeframes.

Take revenue as an example. For-profit organisations generate cash from the sale of products and services, and the utilisation of debt and equity. Organisations in the Social Economy have these options available to them, but in addition may also utilise grants from philanthropic organisations, donations from the public, government funding as well as fundraising events and activities.

Managing an organisation’s human resources is also more difficult. Not only do non-profit organisations need to manage all the same technical and psychological issues that forprofit organisations must, but they have to do so while paying up to 30% less in salary. The task of managing volunteers creates added pressure and complexity.Pg 26
This may sound like the social sector blowing it's own trumpet but I do think there is truth in the observation. Do you agree?

Security = Comfort?

I keep coming back to this observation:

The role of a democratic leader is to insure that the "bad" does not inflict the mass population who generally seek only to lead quiet, comfortable and prosperous lives.

John Howard and the Art of Democratic Leadership, Gregory Melleuish-Quadrant July-August 2006

For me it sums up some of my frustration with the Christianity of middle class suburbia. As this observation suggests Australians aspire to live secure lives, lives that are focused on being risk adverse, materially comfortable and contained. As a Christian living in middle class suburbia I regularly feel the tug and embrace of this seduction.

My wresting with this issue is not that I don’t want security or enjoy good things it's that settling for this kind of security is like settling for a mud pie when a pecan pie with vanilla ice cream is on offer (lemon meringue comes close -with apologies to C.S Lewis) .

1 Peter 2:9-12 puts it like this

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, ......10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

That's true security! Take a moment to feel its warm embrace.

The purpose:

9 ..that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

There appears to be two implications of true security.

1. True security leads to the praise of God (Psalm 61 has the same flow) Away from our self focus and into the presence of God. The more security the more praise?

2. If we accept John Dickson’s argument this praise is also an “act of announcing to the world the good news of the Gospel”. True security leads us to take more “risks”. I take it this is what is implied in the next few verses.

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11-12

So if our security is found in God’s mercy it leads to a kind of praise which I think puts us (in the terms of this world) at greater risk. It seems at odds with leading quiet, comfortable and prosperous lives. When I think of it like that I am always amazed that I find mud pies so attractive.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Do you feel trapped? 2 Solutions

Solution 1:

"Only one who is guided by the moral self is truly free. The imperatives of the moral self are given to us not by our conditioning, nor by any outside agency, nor by the state or God or philosophy; they are given to us by our own inner nature. It is thus only by acting according to the lessons of the moral self that we can achieve autonomy...

...Inner freedom, then, means allowing oneself to be guided by the moral self.Clive Hamilton's The Freedom Paradox 2008 pg 219

Solution 2:

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8: 34-36

Jesus says freedom is about belonging to his family-so if you are feeling trapped the answer is to sink deeper into his family-not morality:

Monday, September 08, 2008

Preaching- more conflict is needed

I had the great privilege of spending some time with Peter Jensen last week. Our small group of Senior Ministers talked about many things including sermons. One thing Peter said was that he thought sermons often did not have enough drama in them. He went on to say that one thing essential to drama is conflict. So find the conflict. For example, the texts we deal with often have conflict in them, notice and use this tension in sermons.

When it comes to the implications of the text (he said application was over rated) show how implications conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil. Some of this seems to resonate with what Tullian Tchividjian says about Tim Keller’s preaching.

To be a great preacher, one needs to be tri-perspectival in their exegesis. That is, they need to be committed to the exegesis of the Bible, the exegesis of our culture, and the exegesis of the human heart. Some preachers claim that if you exegete the Bible properly, you don't need to bother yourself with the exegesis of our culture or the human heart. The problem with this view, however, is that the Bible itself exhorts us to apply Biblical norms to both our lives and to our world.

So exegete and show the conflict.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Freedom Paradox

I have just been reading (bits of) Clive Hamilton's The Freedom Paradox 2008 (see the online link for a lecture which is also worth listening to) where he observes that many think freedom is about having the opportunity to "author our own lives", but in fact this has produced devastating results:
The very openness of modern life-the demand for independence that has left us with the freedom and the obligation to ‘author’ our own lives-entails forms of risk to which we were previously immune. For if we must take responsibility for our own lives we are confronted daily with the possibility that we will take the wrong path: what was once in the hands of the gods, the landlord and the boss is now a personal gamble. More choice is accompanied by more stress and making mistakes and ending up a ‘loser’; more money means more anxiety about our wealth; more personal freedom imparts more insecurity in our relationships; and our longer life spans still do not afford enough time to achieve all the goals we set for ourselves. The spectre of personal failure haunts us at every turn.
In contrast, for the Christan, true freedom is found in the humility of letting God be the author of our lives.
29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30
Any comments?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Help me out -a hunch about Romans 8:29

This weekend I am preaching on Romans 8:28-38, it’s context is freedom from condemnation and the reality of suffering.

In my preparation I always ask; What in the text may be difficult for a non -believer or a new Christian to accept? Then if I was to address this what would I need to acknowledge and what angle would I take to deal with this 'defeater belief''? My aim is to help Christians think through the issue and address the concerns of others.

My hunch with Romans 8:29 is that the more affluent and western you are the more you believe you are in control and the more sceptical you are of ultimate claims/authority. The idea that God is in control and will direct the world to His purposes is extremely confronting and is a 'defeater belief'.

So acknowledge the power that affluence gives you but point out that in regards to ultimate questions of control we are all in the same boat and that it is a delusion to suggest otherwise.

Then consider the other option: What if the God didn’t “horizon beforehand” (foreknow) the people he wanted to call people to himself and it was totally our choice? That would make some people better than others more intelligent more gifted/educated at hearing God ETC (also a temptation of the affluent)–the risk -loss of Grace alone.

I think it comes down to a matter of reasonable trust-is their evidence that God cares for this world and loves it –yes in the death of his son 8:31-37 do we trust God?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Preaching Notes


I am always interested in how people go about their preaching. Check this out - Josh Harris has asked some big name preachers for their preaching notes-the results are are very interesting. In most cases only the preparer would have any chance of preaching from them!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Romans 8 -23

Enjoying the challange of Romans 8-although time is against me! It is interesting to reflect on the following in light of Romans 8:23 :

The drop in wealth has exposed personal problems…Money—which bought jewelry or extravagant vacations—helped smooth over many of the difficulties,” said Kenneth Mueller, a psychotherapist in the East Village who works with many Wall Street bankers and real estate developers. Now, Mueller says, his clients ‘catastrophize’ smaller bonuses or shriveling stock portfolios. “You have to remind them that there is something that has always been there,” he says.“All the money helped mask the anxiety.”
— Christine Haughney in The New York Times,It’s Not So Easy Being Less Rich (June 1, 2008)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Romans 8


I have a great privilege of preaching through Romans 8 over three weeks. Any ideas, suggestions, resources, thoughts, insights welcome.

How do you think "no condemnation" impacts us here and now?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

"Yes" to the World

A quote to reflect on:

"Christian ethics is best understood as a response to the way God's kindness bubbles over into every area of life. As such it is simply an extension of the gospel. Christians may therefore talk about life, and then even live it,in such a mesmerisingly beautiful way that those who see and hear cannot help but want to know more of Christ. It is in this sense that Christians are in the business of saying "yes" to the world."

Andrew Cameron : How to Say YES to the World: Towards a New Way Forward in Evangelical Social Ethics' Reformed Theological Review 66

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Study Chaos

At times I admit it-my study gets out of control –books, paper, strange things that people give me all piled high. A number of things occur to me:
  • It never happens over night it is always gradual over time.
  • I always think- yep next time I will master it.
  • It almost always happens when I am really busy and don’t have the time/energy to deal with it.
Kind of a metaphor for sin really...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

We will never be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again


The last Lambeth ? Archbishop Venables thinks so and he says you will never be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again- I wonder what God has in store? I think time to pray for those I support and those I don't.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

They like Jesus but not the Church


Dan Kimball argues that the people he meets like Jesus but not the church. That is, they have one of a number of objections to the church while Jesus is regarded with respect. The objections are:


  1. The church is an organised religion with a political agenda.
  2. The church is judgmental and negative
  3. The church is dominated by males and oppresses females.
  4. The church is homophobic.
  5. The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong.
  6. The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.

I am not so interested in Dan’s solutions what I am interested in is, has he got his analysis right? What do you think?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama is inspiring - but he promises to much

I have been thinking about our great desire for unity in diversity, it’s a theme I hear often expressed in church life and general conversation. The need for more tolerance, acceptance –there is a yearning to be at peace with one another.

Obama is inspiring and he knows this desire is powerful –listen to his speech
"People of Berlin -- and people of the world -- the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long...Let us build on our common history, and seize our common destiny, and once again engage in that noble struggle to bring justice and peace to our world."
While this is a wonderful vision, it is flawed. It fails to recognise the depth of the problem. Sure we can do things which assist but in the end it is not our within our grasp:

As Tim Keller suggests the problem is, when:
“you build your identity mainly on your class, or race, or culture, or performance you will necessarily vilify and disdain anyone who lacks what you consider the cornerstone of your own significance.”
The Obama vision is dependent on performance and I think in the end it will vilify those without his vision- despite his best intentions.

For the Christian there is another approach. Speaking of Christ Jesus, Paul says in Colossians 1
8And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Christ Jesus is the hope of reconciliation for this world. God will reconcile all things to himself through Christ -that's all things!

What’s more those who have been reconciled to God become ambassadors of reconciliation
2 Corinthians 5
7Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God,who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Note: Its Christ's performance not ours that counts and that performance involved dying for enemies at great cost -it is not just warm and wishful thinking or even a genuine striving on our part. I am going to place my yearning for peace and for unity in diversity in the reconciler and just enjoy the oratory of Obama.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bonhoeffer -Quote


God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill all His
promises, i.e. He remains the Lord of the earth...constantly renewing our
faith and not laying on us more than we can bear, gladdening us with His
nearness and help, hearing our prayers, and leading us along the best and
straightest paths to Himself. By His faithfulness in doing this, God creates
in us praise.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Food for the soul:)

Friday, July 18, 2008

I wonder..


“ Most citizens in a democratic society like Australia long only to be left alone and for their leaders to protect them from the evils of the world. They seek to flee the bad, but expect that the democratic state will play a role in enabling them to do so.” John Howard and the Art of Democratic Leadership, Gregory Melleuish-Quadrant July-August 2006, pg 11

My paraphrase:

Most church members long only to be left alone and for their ministers/pastors to protect them from the evils of the world. They seek to flee the bad, but expect that the church will play a role in enabling them to do so.

To harsh I think...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thinking about Ministry


This morning I was reminded again of what the task is in ministry:

2 peter 1:15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

The "these things" are listed in the verses prior and the list is stunning-what a privilage.

P.S I have no plans for departing :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lambeth and GAFCON


Having read, Don’t think like an Elephantduring our brief break I began reading The Political Mind by George Lakoff. Arguing from the American context, Lakoff in both books identifies two general approaches -Progressive and Conservative.
"The progressive has a basic moral value-empathy, together with responsibility and strength to act on that empathy (Pg 47)". Ideas like empowerment, protection of the environment and the marginalised.
"The conservative begins with the notion that morality is obedience to an authority-assumed to be a legitimate authority (Pg 60)". Loyalty and freedom in the context of obedience follow. Conservatives "need to follow rules and obey laws.. it rewards those who acquire such discipline and punishes those who don’t. Pg 61" In particular radical conservatives like originalism- what was the original meaning-we need to get back to it as our authority.
As I was reading this I was also trying to get my head around Lambeth and GAFCON.

If we use Lakoff’s categories Lambeth is about listening and discerning the truth (progressive) and GAFCON is about how to be obedient to the truth (conservative).
What is interesting about this is that Lakoff argues that if you come from either world view you will find it incredibly hard to understand the other world view, your basic moral categories are vastly different. Food for thought...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Critrical Tolerance


I love the tenor of this article and would love to be able to write like this.
I think it is a great example of what Andrew Cameron calls critrical tolerance.

There are those who wish to accept homosexual people without agreeing with them on everything. They may be good at it, or very clumsy. They may be adept at it, or awkward. But the point is that they see themselves as having no reason to fear or despise homosexual people. They simply disagree with some of what they think and do; yet they want to find ways to accept and relate across that difference. Such a position has been called ‘critical tolerance’ (a stance that can apply to ‘disagreement within acceptance’ on any matter at all).


Although I don't like the term
critical tolerance
as it sounds too critical :) any ideas for a new term?

Monday, July 14, 2008

A prayer for Macquarie -Ephesians 3


Father I bow before you, from whom your family in heaven and on earth is named. I ask that out of your glorious riches you would strengthen us with power through your spirit in our inner being so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. I ask that being rooted and grounded in love we may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, length, height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge, that we may be filled with the fullness of God. Father I ask you knowing that you are able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. Father I ask that you would show your glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Interrelationism


I have been grappling with the idea of interrelationism since I first read about it (15 years ago)in Carter, A., On Individualism, Collectivism and Interrelationism Heythrop College Journal, XXXI, 1990. pp 23-38. The table summarises (prehaps over simply) some of the ideas. What has particularly concerned me is that most of our western education and theories of adolescent development have been formed in the womb of individualism. My hunch is that impacts our approach to people and to the study of the bible. Not that I have been always able to articulate this well or can point to lots of examples. I wonder does interrelationism have something to offer? What changes if individualism is not so prominent?

Individualism

Interrelationism

Collectivism

The individual is autonomous and self directed.

Individuals are self directed, though influenced by others.

The individual is subject to the totality of social forces: he or she is directed by the collective.

The individual can and ought to experience self development and can do so alone.

Individuals can and ought to develop together and not at each others expense.

The collective ought to experience self development irrespective of individual members.

The individual is responsible for his or her own destiny.

Individuals are responsible for both their own and others destinies.

The collective is responsible for everyone’s destiny.

Only individuals really exist.

Individuals exist in relations with others. (you can not exist out side of relationship)

Only collectives really exist.

The individual should produce in order to satisfy his or her desires in his or her way without regard for others.

The individual should produce in a way which takes into consideration not only his or her own desires but also those of others.

The individual should produce in order to satisfy the collective and in accordance with a plan which has been dictated by the collective.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One approach to a difficult issue-Part 3

... For those who have embraced this freedom there is still a struggle ahead. On one hand while being set free means no longer being a slave to your own desires, putting to death those desires is a lifelong process. In our church those who have embraced the freedom offered in Christ have also embarked on this journey, they will walk alongside those who are exploring whether this is a journey they wish to take.

Each of us will be faced with desires that lead us away from freedom found in Jesus and articulated in his word –the bible. Same sex attraction is a complex issue and there is no room for moralistic views on any side. Ultimately what I think is at stake in this issue is the question, do we trust Jesus and his word or do our own desires determine what freedom is and how we should behave?

I invite you to pray for all those who are involved-that they may know the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One approach to a difficult issue-Part 2


...The bible’s response to issues involving human behaviour starts in a very different place. At the heart of the bible’s understanding of the human predicament is that we are enslaved to our own desires and that these desires lead us away from God to worship anything but the one true God. So gripped are we by this slavery it is impossible to release ourselves from it. It is only by God’s gift of grace though faith that we can be released from the slavery of our desires.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:8-10

For the moralist this is shocking and frightening news:
• Since we are all slaves to our own corrupted desires the implication is that our determination of good or bad behaviour will be flawed. In fact so flawed that the bible tells us that God is the determiner of good and bad. There is no moral high ground to look down at others from and no invitation to self hatred merely an invitation, with good reason, to trust God’s judgment.
• Identity is not to be found in being better than others because we are not better than others. Once again there is no moral high ground from which to look down at others or invitation to self hatred just a recognition that we are all profoundly flawed.
• It means that God can ask anything he wants of us and still be in the right...(to be continued)

Monday, June 09, 2008

One approach to a difficult issue-Part 1


Christians are often seen to be moralistic in their response to issues involving human behaviour. Meaning that they often respond in a way that makes them sound as if somehow because of their own ability or power or good living they are better than those around them. This attitude, often real, is expressed by the demeaning of others’ opinions, treating others badly and in appealing to overstated and unsubstantiated claims. Rightly it has been pointed out that this is unchristian behaviour. Certainly Jesus Christ regularly challenged the religious leaders of his day regarding their moralistic responses.

Moralistic responses are not only limited to Christians and David Marr’s article in the Good Weekend “The Archbishop says No” , appears to set out to take the moral high ground. David Marr raises questions of Archbishop Peter Jensen and the Sydney Dioceses use of power, money and intellect, with the desire to advocate a more tolerant approach to those who are attracted to the same sex. With little tolerance shown for the Sydney Dioceses approach to the issues involved, I think we are meant to conclude that Archbishop Peter Jensen and the Sydney Diocese, unlike other Episcopalian Bishops in Canada and the USA, are repressive and less morally enlightened. The article could have just as easily been entitled “David Marr says Yes”

The difficulty with any kind of moralism is that it leads to self inflation or alternatively self hatred both of which destroy the soul and make it difficult to see clearly the issues involved...

Prayer for Church Leaders- last Sunday


Father I kneel before you from whom your whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. Father I pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen the leaders of your church through the power of your Spirit in their inner beings, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. And I pray that they, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. In the name of Jesus. Amen Ephesians 3:14-19