Sketches from tomorrow….

I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea.

I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”

The finale of the entire biblical story, poetically summed up in Revelation 21, is the vision and destiny of all creation. This great “Patmos dream” of the Apostle John is a haunting picture. When people are caught by the scent of a new heaven and earth and fix the pieces of that colourful destiny around the central figure of Jesus, lives are changed. This is nothing less than haunting, for the possibility alone of an un corrupt existence in eternity is beyond the scope of our own efforts. It is God's effort and our imaginations, rooted in Him, help us see to it. Our hearts salivate for this future because it represents the fulfillment of every human desire… if we are honest. The only way it can be described is through sketches inspired from tomorrow about how today may be transformed. Like the author, John, we need poetry for this as we proclaim it.

I often wonder what the world to come will be like and my mind wanders to a different land altogether as if my context doesn't exist there. I think this is an error. I find it more beautiful and helpful to envision the incorruptible tomorrow though the lens of the street I live on today. Properly, the tomorrow we long for does not break in to today unless the economy of tomorrow's constitution is demonstrated in the here and now. Tomorrow's economy is love and its constitution is true justice…with the loving God present in tangible terms. Even though there will be a final, miraculous, event that completely ushers in the future at Jesus' return, the ones haunted by this future – the ones that have thrown their lot in with the Jesus way – are compelled to act as if its happening now. And it is. On your street and mine. God has already begun saving it. We need to see it; we need to sketch it out.

We see only a glimmer, or a sketch of the final destination, but these sketches that we have been given the gift of dreaming will lead us home. In the mean time we should enact tomorrow's economy of love and constitution of justice as we look and listen for how our street will reflect the Patmos dream of a world put right.


Nouwen – Remaining Faithful

“Many people live with the unconscious or conscious expectation that eventually things will get better; wars, hunger, poverty, oppression, and exploitation will vanish; and all people will live in harmony. Their lives and work are motivated by that expectation. When this does not happen in their lifetimes, they are often disillusioned and experience themselves as failures.

But Jesus doesn’t support such an optimistic outlook. He foresees not only the destruction of his beloved city Jerusalem but also a world full of cruelty, violence, and conflict. For Jesus there is no happy ending in this world. The challenge of Jesus is not to solve all the world’s problems before the end of time but to remain faithful at any cost.”

What does remaining faithful at any cost mean? Does it mean that remaining in Christ, in union with Him, throughout the tumultuousness of life is the end of each of us? This seems golden and good. If we believe that remaining in Christ leaves us most open to Him working in us and through us, then it seems natural to consider that our lives will reflect His love outward and allow for the furthering of Christ to this world in tandem with the Spirit. We become conduits in our faithfulness. God’s love moves through us, filtered by the beauty and uniqueness of our personalities.

Even in the world we live in, the church can be the hope of the world with Jesus, regardless of any impending gloom. While I agree with Nouwen that there is no happy ending in this world, when we are faithful to Jesus and His impulse to move through us, there is a happy ending to this world.

Fulfilling a Mission

“When we live our lives as missions, we become aware that there is a home from where we are sent and to where we have to return. We start thinking about ourselves as people who are in a faraway country to bring a message or work on a project, but only for a certain amount of time. When the message has been delivered and the project is finished, we want to return home to give an account of our mission and to rest from our labours.

One of the most important spiritual disciplines is to develop the knowledge that the years of our lives are years “on a mission.”

Can anything more than a resounding “Amen!” be added to the wonderful “Life” perspective Nouwen posits for us? Perhaps not…but let me just add this:

So often we are compelled to view our earthly dwelling as our permanent home. Somehow the paradigm of a “pilgrims journey” eludes us and we revert to storing up treasures here on earth. We permanently settle in and live as though this is as good as it gets. We forget from where we came and we forget where we are going.

It is really about vision. Nouwen suggests that seeing our lives as fulfilling a mission is an important spiritual discipline. We need to train our eyes to see this world from the perspective of our redeeming God who is about the most important task we could ever imagine or be involved in; the task of participating in making all things new, the healing of creation under Jesus. Do we have eyes to see?

The missional perspective helps us realize that our true home is none other than the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21) and that each task we are about – no matter how mundane – in some mysterious way rolls up into the redemptive task God is about and our faithfulness in every regard is also an invitation for others to come and participate.

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Living in the Story – Narrative and the Kingdom

Our two year old daughter Anna loves stories. She often asks me to tell her one. I’ve told her stories about all sorts of adventures, about fish named Nemo and Dory, mermaids named Ariel, and monsters named Sully. I’ve read to her from children’s books that teach her to count and I’ve read her bible stories about Jesus and Noah. But she is most enamored and captivated by the stories I tell that include her as a character. Children believe in stories and love to see themselves in them. When she is a character, she imagines the possibilities of the story…she believes the story and is captured by the plot and she wants to live it out, to be part of it in a real and tangible way.

I made up this one story that included Anna and her two friends Katie and Diego. The story was about their adventure down to the gully by our house and how they met interesting characters along the way. One such character was a possum named Pete, who was looking for some company as he called out to the kids from a tree. The kids acquainted themselves with Pete the Possum and adventured together. As the evening approached, Pete needed some new digs so the kids invited him back to take up residence under the deck in our back yard. To this day, from time to time when Anna wakes up, she looks outside the window and says "Look daddy, Pete the Possum!" She believes the story is real and not something saved for the pages of fiction.

Why do I tell this story? Because I think we miss an important point as adults. As adults we get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget to use our imaginations. We skim obliviously across the surface of life paying little attention to the world around us and the mystery it beholds. We are largely unaware that we are living within a narrative; perhaps even in one that conflicts with how God calls us to believe? The question for us to consider seriously is this: Which story are we living in?

Kids live within stories and relish in the beauty of creative possibilities that transcend the boundaries of our functional and limiting rationalism. They stop and smell the flowers, perhaps even talk to them. Did not Jesus call us to a reckless faith that challenges our own assumptions of what is possible? Did he not invite us to consider the Kingdom of God sprouting up under the thumb of perceptively invincible empires as a reality that possesses demonstrable power through the love it exudes? Was it not a faith that could move mountains if only embraced like a child?

So as we consider which story we are living in, we must ask ourselves if the faith we’ve come to believe – the beautiful healing story of our scriptures – has taken root in our hearts as it was intended to. Are we living in the life giving narrative of the Kingdom that redeems all kingdoms and cultures and stories, or are we meandering through an illusion with God’s holy words lodged in our heads, but failing to penetrate our hearts where they can guide us to live the reality of His Kingdom? If this is the case, I’ll suggest that we are indeed living in a narrative of misunderstood piety that suffocates life rather than gives life. Just ask any Pharisee. Or just ask yourself when you last wept because of injustice in this world.

Are we living in the story of God and his plans for all of creation? Or, are we living in the stories of our culture that teach us to trust in temporal things and overlook the majestic vision required to believe and participate in God’s dream for our world?

So when we wake up tomorrow, perhaps we might peer outside our window and see – as my daughter sees Pete the Possum – that God is at work, mysteriously, yet not imperceptibly, but quite clearly because we are those who receive, enter, and live in the Kingdom Story as children. Might we reconsider what Jesus meant when he said: "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

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Billy Graham Special & some observations about the Gospel on TV and in our culture…

There was a Billy Graham special on NBC tonight that featured highlights from his 1975 crusade message.  Casting Crowns and Third Day gave performances. There were no commercials, just commercial-like slots with people sharing stories about their life changing experience with Jesus.  Stories about overcoming obstacles, addiction, accidents, depression, crisis and social pressures.  They were people of status and no status.  They reflected how terrible and unmanageable their lives were and how happy they are now.  I can relate, I have one of those stories from despair to hope and freedom.

I love Billy.  He has faithfully preached the word of God for 100 150 years and lived a life above reproach.  The Lord has used him to reach many who are now leaders and pastors and teachers to many Christians.  He has been a model for many and inspired many toward hope.  Watching him preach the message of Jesus clearly and simply with Bible in hand unapologetically was cool.  Then something dawned on me.  I started to ask questions.  Here’s why.

I have been on a journey for the last few years.  This journey has included conversations with some pretty neat people who I feel have taught me a lot about the gospel, life, Church, Jesus.  People like our lead pastor Cameron, his father Bob, and uncle Alan Roxburgh.  There have been others like Rodney Clapp, Lesslie Newbigin, David Bosh, Darryl Guder, NT Wright, Henri Nouwen, Walter Brueggemann and a hosts more that I’ve conversed with through their books.  They have all profoundly shaped my understanding of the gospel and these new resolves I’ve encountered led me to make some observations about the show I saw tonight.  Let me cover these observations under the headings below…

Note: This is not a critique of Billy Graham…just wrestling through some thoughts hereRemember, I like Billy…

Television as Medium:

Although I didn’t mention Neil Postman above as one of the heroes of my journey, he did ruin television for me.  In Amusing Ourselves to Death he argues that all serious public discourse (politics, news, education, & religion) delivered through the medium of television is in essence entertainment.  Riding on the saddle of Marshal Mcluhan’s term "The medium is the message", Postman gives a compelling argument for this.  That what I watched tonight was is some form entertainment is where I am landing with all this stuff.  Another thing to note is that the presentation of the gospel was such that it offered a way to improve one’s life by alleviating burdens.  That the gospel improves lives is without question; it improved mine (not in ways I thought, however).  My point is that I think delivering or presenting the gospel through the most pervasive medium for consumptive messaging is dangerously mingling the gospel with the consumptive message of everything else that is spewed through television.  I may be mad…but thinking about this stuff has been a fruitful exercise in understanding cultural formation.


I don’t doubt I heard the gospel tonight…at least part of it.  That Jesus came, died for our sins, paid the penalty for us to justify us before God.  That we will have eternal life with Jesus in heaven and that the Spirit helps us in this life was clearly communicated.  Here’s my dilemma.  When I read scripture, understand the story of Israel, and learn what Jesus was all about in his ministry, I can’t help but ask where the Church fits into all this?  The message (every time Billy said "YOU") was directed to individuals and integration into the Church for the sake of the world to be God’s chosen people, Royal Priesthood (1 Pet 2:9-11) was absent.  It was as if salvation was a separate element to becoming ingrained, adopted, integrated into the family of Church, which Jesus challenged us is thicker relation than blood.  Now some might argue that they are separate.  I would disagree on the grounds that God is not about saving individual souls, but redeeming all of creation and saving a people for his glory.  So does the biblical pattern of salvation emphasize a personal relationship with Jesus as something separate from participation in the Church?  I guess I’m just curious why too often evangelical soteriology only emphasizes the personal aspect and neglects the corporate when the biblical image sees no separation.

Heaven and Values

In my journey I’ve come to realize a thing or two about heaven.  Namely, that it’s God’s desire for this time space continuum to reflect Heaven.  Jesus said it in His prayer…"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven".  I’ve learned that, contrary to much of the message tonight, heaven is not just some place that is out there in some disembodied state, it is breaking in here and now, in Jesus.  Kind of like already, but not yet.  It seems so much of the gospel is focused on this pitch for eternity with Jesus as if it were somewhere other than this earth.  My take on this is that God is renewing the whole earth, that creation is affirmed, and that through the church the values of the Kingdom (Sermon on the Mount) are lived in a way that demonstrates the remarkable vision that John had on Patmos about a new heaven and new earth.  It’s kind of like we are a people living with the end in mind, slowly moving toward the consummation of everything by God as we enact and create the new realities expressed in John’s revelation (ch21). 

I’m coming to learn that the demonstration of heaven happens when the values of heaven are lived.  Jesus embodied those values fully.  Throughout the whole Bible we see God emphasizing his values and longing (commanding) his people to align themselves with his guidance.  It’s so important that the framework for this was covenant.  God covenanting with His people to protect them, be among them, and provide for their every need if only they would abide in him and follow His lead to make them a glorious people that reflect His image for the sake of drawing the world to Himself.  What are those values?  Justice, mercy, compassion, generosity, mission, community, preach the good news, free the captives, care for the oppressed…it’s the Isaiah 61 stuff.  It is every attribute of the Trinity.  This is why the Spirit led Church is the hope of the world now.

Where am I going with this?  The messaging I saw was such that it spoke to the individual, through the medium of consumer marketing and entertainment, and was offered as a life enhancement program to aid in the fulfillment of the North American dream.  Strong words, I know, but hear me out.  Because the the gospel is presented in a fashion that omits what I mentioned about God’s plan for the whole earth (not just for your life), the deep seated values that drive people largely remain unchanged and unchallenged.  What often results is people receiving a gospel that alleviates worry of afterlife despair and limits it’s manifestation in one’s life at surface piety, if that.  People become members of high energy churches that are pressured to constantly offer the best religious goods and services to avoid losing market share.  These Churches become sharp marketers and invest tons into meeting the felt needs of individuals that have little sense of sacrificial community and servant hood for the Kingdom.  The values of consumerism, materialism, individualism, comfort and affluence still steer peoples lives and Jesus is used as means to satisfy those needs.  This post is too long.  Let me summarize:

I watched Billy Graham tonight and I like him and I had some observations about the gospel I wanted to share.

NT Wright on Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern World

JR Woodward has put me onto this great article/interview with NT Wright over at Christianity Today about sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern World.  Have a read, NT Wright is an outstanding scholar and a valuable voice for the deprivatization of faith to embody a holistic, rich, and Biblically sound vision for the Christian life.  In the article he deals well with the Gnostic tenancies of Christianity.  Below is a wonderful excerpt that explains what the gospel is:

“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.”

Read the full article HERE

Spiritual Formation and some convictions…

Today I was invited to give a presentation on my impressions of Spiritual Formation for a course on Piety & Practice through Carey College that is taught by Bob Roxburgh.  There were two of us presenting.  I presented in the morning on some of the theological and philosophical elements of SF that I’ve been wrestling with and a good friend Craig Bosnick presented in the afternoon on earthing missional practices locally.  As I focused on the high level overview of SF, I relied on Craig to earth the dialogue into some practical considerations.  he did that very well.  The Piety and Practice course is an introduction to SF and we were called upon to share because of our involvement in the Center for Spiritual Formation at Carey.  It was a valuable time with some good dialogue and take-aways for all involved. 

I have uploaded my detailed notes HERE.

As a summary, I dealt with some key convictions about the need for SF to happen within community, impressions about our identity and Trinitarian identity, the role of purpose, and the role of eschatalogical vision in crafting the ecclesiologies that will facilitate appropriate Spiritual Formation (practice) as way of life.  There was also an element about the importance of reading our culture (which is a key conviction to me) to understand the ways we are currently formed and how that funds our understanding of the gospel and Spiritual Formation.  It’s all in the notes. 

I’m open to feedback should you care to comment on the content.  There are probably more questions than answers at this point.  Once again, the notes are HERE.


Best of 2006

As a relatively new blogger (since October), I feel it somewhat strange to publish my best of 2006 compilation of posts in my short life as a blogger.  However, I reckon since everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t I?  Nonetheless, these are the top six of 2006 in no particular order:

Eschatology & Missional Spirituality
In a nutshell, this post tries to capture the important connection between eschatology and being missional in theology.

Spirituality, work, and integration
This entry looks at the importance of work and doing away with the common dualism of sacred and secular.  How to live a genuine faith in the workplace is the underlying question.

Centering…a poem
This is a poem I wrote bout the journey away from distraction and into stillness before God.

Thoughts about Vision
This entry deals with the idea of missional vision and formation.  How do we see the world around us in light of the salvation we have in Jesus and our participation in the work God is doing in the world?

Questions about "Mega Church" ecclesiology
This was written as a response to a blog that sparked many concerns about ecclesiology. This series of questions was my attempt to understand better how churches within our Western consumerist culture go about crafting their ecclesiologies.  It sparked some interesting discussion.

Living Prayer Chapter Reflections
This is a favorite book to me and each of the chapters are being reviewed bi-monthly.  Robert Benson’s book has been instrumental in helping me to understand Spiritual Formation and it’s importance to shape the Church.

Thoughts about Vision

Warning: longer post ahead…

I’ll say upfront that this post is not about a vision statement; It’s not about the type of vision that defines a particular church; that says this is who we are and this is where we’re going, so why don’t you join us.  Although this has its place, here I want to talk about a different kind of vision.

Bono, one of my musical and prophetic inspirations, wrote a song titled: “When I look at the world”.  The first line of the song is a question.  When you look at the world, what is it that you see?  I’ll state that this question is one of the most important ones the church needs to consider for ministry and formation.  And it’s a question that is about vision; the kind I’d like to talk about.

I’ll suggest that the way we perceive the world around us is a result of how we’re scripted.  Walter Brueggemann has some good things to say about scripts HERE.  It’s impossible to get outside of narratives and the reality that we are constantly scripted, implicitly, explicitly, consciously and subconsciously needs considerable reflection, especially as Christians.  As inhabitants in a fallen world we share with everyone the tendency to exert ourselves over others, to use people as means to self-aggrandizement, to establish ourselves as some type of self-centered god in our own right.   Sadly, even our churches are riddled with these compulsions.  Yet our noblest motives are impure against the backdrop of our sin stained world.  We are sinners with a glimmer of God’s image and our vision is skewed as a result.  I state this because even our economies and systems of power are in place to feed and nurture this condition and our vision.  It’s important to mention because this is the substance that shapes how we perceive the world and others, what we believe about ourselves and what it means to be being human.

As Christians we are (should be) scripted by a different story while embedded within a plethora of other destructive narratives for the sake of redeeming them.  Not a story of self-exertion, but one of restoration and sacrificial, cruciform love.  One of trust in God and the dreams he has for the entire world.  We are to be scripted by the life and story of God in this world and the momentous event of the resurrection and its significance.  The problem I think we’re confronted with is our vision, or lack thereof.  When we look at Mother Teresa, much of what motivated her to act was how she saw the world around her.  Her actions were a response to God’s love and vision of the resurrection planted in her heart; the eschatalogical vision.  Her vision was informed by God.  The lens she peered through was one that illuminated the possibilities of the great Patmos dream (Rev 21) in the moment. 

When you look at others, do you see Christ?  Do you catch a glimpse of the resurrection life and see the best God has in store?  I’d like to think I do.  The reality is that meandering through life in a daily grind, moving from impulse to impulse, bombarded by consumerist messaging, often creates indifference.  We see the world with eyes that are memorized by the myth of the North American dream and often miss out on the joy of self-abandonment for the sake of the Kingdom.  We wrongly try to cram Christianity into this mold as well and end up with plenty options of finest church programming, with little or no missional engagement. 

Part of the problem is that we have come to realize a thin understanding of the Christian faith that suggests Heaven is somewhere we go after we die in some disembodied state.  I’ve said more about Eschatology and Missional Spirituality HERE.  Because we are sold a Christian bill of goods that equates salvation with fire insurance, we comfortably rest in our personal relationship with Jesus until we get to heavenly bliss.  I think this kills our imaginations in the here and now for justice, mercy and compassion, because under this premise, it’s really about us.  You see, with the thin approach described above, personal surface morality is sought after and the more important elements of the Gospel (justice, mercy, compassion) are largely left out.  Our vision is fixated on things other than the call of the gospel, especially in the West.

So how might we look at this world with correct vision?  We can start by realizing the reality of the Kingdom of God daily and choosing to see this world through His eyes.  This is a long obedience in the same direction for us personally and corporately.  Practices (liturgy and worship) must be formed corporately and personally to draw us into the redeeming narrative and its realities.  The values of the Kingdom (Sermon on the Mount) need to penetrate our core as God’s people and ferret out the destructive values of other narratives that lay claim on our lives.  Kind of like how yeast works its way through bread.  Perhaps a healthy heart and mind to dream the dreams that God has in our immediate contexts is the prescription for genuine transformation?  The first step is choosing how we want to see the world around us.  Then we can pray confidently “…your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

Pray that the Lord would give us the eyes of the Holy Spirit, the heart of the Father, and the hands of Jesus as we journey through this world for the very sake of it.

When you look at the world, what is it that you see?

Left Behind: when will it finally end???

Ad_01_pictureb When will the hyper-cataclysmic-dispensational-militaristic debacle called Left Behind finally end?  Apparently not yet.  Where’s the rile of Ratzinger when we need him to set straight the inaccuracies of such twisted eschatology? 

The new game Left Behind: Eternal Forces has been released and it comes with it’s fair share of controversy…who’d uh thunk it? 

Images_2"The game is set in New York City after millions of Christians have been transported to heaven. Players are charged with recruiting, and converting, an army that will engage in physical and spiritual warfare with the Antichrist and his evil followers." 

180pxjohn_nelson_darby_1 It’s sure to make a splash considering the north American obsession with this type of off base eschatology made popular initially in the 1800’s by John Nelson Darby.  I posted a short NT Wright article a while back that bids farewell to such bad theology and it’s worth a glance to learn the general problems with the LB line of thinking. 

Another link to sadden lovers of good theology…

To borrow Andrew Jones’ question this morning…

Some say the Left Behind video game encourages prayer.others say it promotes violence and intolerance.  What do you think?

Anticipating the Vision – Henri nouwen

"The marvelous vision of the peaceable Kingdom, in which all violence has been overcome and all men, women, and children live in loving unity with nature, calls for its realisation in our day-to-day lives. Instead of being an escapist dream, it challenges us to anticipate what it promises. Every time we forgive our neighbor, every time we make a child smile, every time we show compassion to a suffering person, every time we arrange a bouquet of flowers, offer care to tame or wild animals, prevent pollution, create beauty in our homes and gardens, and work for peace and justice among peoples and nations we are making the vision come true.

We must remind one another constantly of the vision. Whenever it comes alive in us we will find new energy to live it out, right where we are. Instead of making us escape real life, this beautiful vision gets us involved."

~Henri Nouwen

Nouwen continues to engage us with a gospel vision in the above quote.  The beauty of his words simplify and inspire us towards the gospel vision.  How important it is to see the world through God’s restorative lenz….

The Peaceable Kingdom – Henri Nouwen

"All of creation belongs together in the arms of its Creator. The final vision is that not only will all men and women recognize that they are brothers and sisters called to live in unity but all members of God’s creation will come together in complete harmony. Jesus the Christ came to realize that vision. Long before he was born, the prophet Isaiah saw it:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the panther lie down with the kid,
calf, lion and fat-stock beast together,
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear will graze,
their young will lie down together.
The lion will eat hay like the ox.
The infant will play over the den of the adder;
the baby will put his hand into the viper’s lair.
No hurt, no harm will be done
on all my holy mountain,
for the country will be full of knowledge of Yahweh
as the waters cover the sea.
(Isaiah 11:6-9)

We must keep this vision alive."

~Henri Nouwen

One of the realizations I’m arriving at is that much of Spiritual/Missional Formation is about vision.  Vision to see this world with the hope and dreams of God in our eyes.  A vision powerful enough to transform our actions from selfish taking to instrumental giving that leads to the fulfillment of the above.  As Nouwen said above that Jesus came (was sent) to realize that vision; so too are we the Church sent with God’s dream in our hearts and eyes to do likewise….

On this second Sunday of Advent, may God’s presence and love fill you until the only thing you see is the possibility of His dreams for this world. 

When Living Missionally is no Fun

John Lunt over at In The Way has some great encouraging words for those seeking to live missionally.  I was put on this post by Rick at Blind Begger who continually stirs great conversation with his insightful posts about Missional Living. The reality is that living missionally is not the easy way, but the blessed way that may take a lifetime to bear fruit.  Here are some of the key points that I found entirely encouraging…

  1. If you live a missional lifestyle it will cost your time and energy. It will probably cost you money. Very few will have people at the beginning ready to jump in and pay the tab. Christ never promised an easy journey. We are commanded to pick up our cross and follow him.
  2. If you live a missional lifestyle, Jesus will show up in unusual ways to show you he is at work, but you have to understand this is a long term process, it’s not going to happen overnight. You may never see the results of your labor, but you have to walk it out in faith. Remember Love never fails.
  3. There will be times that the people you serve will seem ungrateful, selfish, or uncaring. Before letting that get the best of you, remember that Jesus had the same issues, actually he still does, everyday. Ever wonder if Jesus has ever thought, you know, the time I spend on the cross, just wasn’t worth it. How much lighter is our burden? Yes, the ones you serve will often be selfish, ungrateful, and uncaring, but we have been too.
  4. We’re not living missionally for us. We aren’t even doing what we do for the people we are serving. We are doing it unto the Lord. Jesus said, “not my will, but yours be done.” It’s about doing the will of our heavenly Father. Let’s be clear, it is not about doing stuff to be saved. We can’t do anything to add to what Jesus already did. He paid the price, we receive it and walk in it. It’s not about getting God to love us. He already does. That’s what the cross was all about in the first place. He loves you with a love that no human can match. However, Jesus says “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.” We live missionally to honor God and delight him. That’s what it is about first and foremost.
  5. You must persevere. Satan tries to short circuit our works by throwing monkey wrenches into the work or at least our emotional state. We must understand that this too will pass and press on. When he brings temptations, when he starts accusing, persevere. “Resist the devil and he must flee.”
  6. Understand this, no matter how hard it seems to live missionally. If you actively seek to hear God and let him direct your steps, he will be pleased. It brings pleasure to him. That has rewards in itself, even if nothing else seems to change externally.

The whole article can be found here.

Jesus Camp

Jesus_camp It appears that the recent release of the documentary, Jesus Camp, is causing quite the stir, not only for the apparent fundamentalism mixed with dangerous black and white militaristic politics it seems to convey at first glance.  It is based on a kids camp in Devil’s Lake in North Dakota that is militantly devoted to raising an army of youth to reclaim America for Christ.  The timing of the release coinciding with the Ted Haggard incident – who has a role in the movie which is itself surrounded with controversy as Haggard retracts his support for the film – couldn’t be worse.  As a result of negative reaction to the film (rightly so, perhaps?), Becky Fischer, founder of Kids In Ministry International (KIMI), will be shutting the camp down for a few years. 

Some have remarked on a controversial scene in the movie that has Becky Fischer bringing a life size cardboard cut-out of George Bush to the front of well over 100 children.  The crowd is asked to raise their hands towards the president and begin to pray that he would elect righteous, conservative judges to the supreme court.  That being said, the movie is brought to us by the medium of documentary, which although comes across as being unbiased, is still biased with an agenda to one degree or another .  Therefore, one should consider this and view this documentary (as well as any other) with a critical eye.

As I have not yet seen the movie (official website), but have only read some reviews and seen some clips, I want to refrain from too much comment until I can post a first hand review.  What I would like to do here instead, is suggest how we – being those engaged in questions of missional spirituality and the gospel – might view such a movie.  What questions might we ask that will elucidate for us the current ethos of Christian (or non) behaviour in the West?  What type of questions might we ask about the means deployed for spreading the gospel?  What types of ecclesial and soteriological questions might arise when watching the movie?  Eshatalogical?  And lastly, what is the dominant world view portrayed?  These will be on my mind as I watch.

What kinds of questions will you have on your mind as you watch?

One thing is for sure.  The movie will in some way serve to solidify anti-Christian sentiment and mistrust in the minds of of a suspicious world, if not only for the single reason (but I’m guessing there will be more) of the controversy surrounding the Ted Haggard connection.

Oh, what a feeling….

Well, I’ve managed to scrape together the pennies given to me for my birthday a few days back and just pulled the trigger on the purchase of some new books from Chapters.  Oh, what a feeling it is to click the "submit order" button with my mouse and seal the deal on a virtual transaction that will occupy me well into the new year with some good, theological fat to chew.  A better feeling only, is the elation I will experience when the anticipated parcel arrives….my wife thinks I’m insane for feeling this way about books, but, oh well…

Below is a list of the books I ordered. 

Ec Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community In Postmodern Cultures

Pm_2 Prophetic Imagination-2nd Edit, Walter Brueggemann

ExilesExiles: Living Missionaly in a Post Christian Culture, Michael Frost

Ir Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne

Fctp Finally Comes the Poet, Brueggemann

I’m curious to know who out there in the blogsphere has read them and what your thoughts might be.

Eagerly waiting,