Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Unfortunately I had to go a bit early as it was a goodbye dinner for my friends that I have been meeting with regularly reading through the gospel of John. They are going back home to America, and I will miss them a lot. It was a miraculous meeting, as my wife and I had taken in their cousin years ago when he had no where to live. And then I wind up becoming friends with them through my jiu jitsu training, only to find out almost a year later that we had lived with their cousin. I missed Ash's speach, but felt it was right to be with my friends that night.
Saturday morning I heard Allan Hirsch give the foundational talks for the FORGE intensive. I always love hearing Allan teach as he builds a theology, and a history for the things I have learned by trial and error over the years. This time I really keyed in on one word.
The idea that most of the time when people come to faith we not only invite them into our world, and culture, but in so doing we extract them from their own culture. This essentially takes them away from the people they are most naturally able to connect with, and share their new found faith with. Most studies show that at about the three year mark, most Christians have no more non Christian friends.
This reminds me of my own story. I needed to leave the culture I was a part of. I was part of the punk rock culture in my city, I was also a part of a group of bullfighters, that was like a second family to me. The problem was I could not continue in my walk with Jesus amidst this subversive culture. It was actually good and right for me to be extracted.
But only because there was no one open minded enough to join me, and support me within it. This was why I made it such a point to join those that I was discipling in their own context. To give them the strength to walk away from things like drugs and sexual temptation, but still be among their friends that also needed help walking out of a lifestyle that was very destructive.
It was a very good session for me, and judging by some questions, was pretty influential with our new interns as well.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Was an amazing intensive these last seven days. So much good stuff. I will try and give you as much of a run down as possible over the next few days, but I will say I got a lot out of it.
Highlights to me:
Mike highlighting accountability groups for missional practice rather than the naughty list.
A re emphasizing of the kingdom of God as the gospel
The need for social justice as mission along side personal salvation.
The problem with extractional outreach
FORGE makes me want to be a better man
I mean, is this the radical message of Jesus? Believe these ten things, and don't be naughty and you are over the line? What happened to love your neighbor as yourself? What happened to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God? What happened to God's will being done on earth, like it is in heaven?
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
The Parable of the Good Samaritan25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Now, the reason I have thought about this story a bit more deeply, is I was reminded of the social context in which this story is told. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews. They had sold out their faith. They were traitors to Jerusalem. They had intermarried with non Jews and were half caste. They were despised.
But beyond this they were heretics, they had not only compromised the faith, but had distorted it. We must remember that to a Jewish person, there is only One. And in the midst of a culture that worshiped all manners of gods, they were told of the one, true God. This God revealed Himself to the Jewish people, as the ONE. The one God over all of life. And through their history, revealed Himself in the temple, or the tabernacle. Though they were called to serve God, to live righteously, to do justice, and have mercy. There is only one place that worship, and sacrifice can be done! the temple. Infact all Jews would come to Jerusalem to worship three times a year. They would have discussion in the synagogues, and read, and sing, but only one place could worship happen, the abode of the Almighty, the temple.
These Samaritans, in an age of spiritism said that God could be worshipped in the high places. The same places pagans worshipped demons. These were truly the lowest of the low.
And when we see this, if we can grasp it, we see that Jesus meant not only to tell us to help others. But we must see that Jesus stood in the face of all social convention, and loudly proclaimed that those that see the spirituality of service, and sacrifice, are closer to the kingdom of God, than those with correct doctrine, correct church, and correct lineage. Jesus, this radical revolutionary servant leader, calls us to a greater thing than religion. He calls us to love til it hurts.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
It is easy enough to give my best sermons, practiced already, tried and true, but shouldn't it be more than just giving a decent talk? I was gonna tell my story, of faith, bullfighting, cage fighting, reposesing cars, and being a pastor to punk rockers, artists and gang members. Was gonna probably do my What Would Jesus really Do sermon. But what would you say to a group of teenagers?
The one thing I would like them to hear is what Jesus was like. The one thing I want them to know is how much Jesus loves them. The one thing I want to convey, is how pursuing Christ, is worth leaving everything else for.
But I think back when I was a teenager, hanging out with punks, chasing girls, doing some drugs (sorry mom), and what would I have needed to hear? Well, the truth is I needed someone to really embrace me, allow me to be part of their life, and show me Jesus everyday. I can't do that with 150 kids, I pray that the youth leaders and the families of these kids can.
Sometimes we need Jesus with skin on.
On Saturday we will have workshops all day long, being lead by Mark Sayers, Alan Hirsch, and I think Deb Hirsh, and the night time will be Kim Hammond.
On Sunday we will join St. Martins for worship, John Smith is speaking, and then more seminars. I will be leading one talking about my journey from youth pastor to church planter, and will be talking about culture and how the church can interact with it. Sunday night Mike Frost will be sharing.
We also will have Brian McClaren leading a Postcards from the Edge at the Retro Cafe on Brunswick St. in Fitzroy, on Thursday. This will probably sell out, we have limited seating, so please register in advance through firstname.lastname@example.org
Will be a great weekend, please join us if you can.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
But I noticed a young lady that was very busy cleaning up, getting coffees, making herself as helpful as possible. This young lady, is also a mum, and the pastor of a church. Infact that cafe was the building her church owns, and runs their service out of. This incredible woman wanting to make their church more accessible to the people of her neighborhood, she lead her willing congregation to sell their building, and buy one that would be used all week long. That would be a blessing to the neighborhood. And call their church to a greater interaction with the community.
And this amazing leader was their cleaning up plates and cups, making coffee, helping us at every turn. She traded in her pulpit for a dishtowel. And in so doing she increased her pulpit.
Why? I actually love the bible. I feel better when I read, and pray. I know it makes a difference, why is it so hard?
I mean its like there is some spiritual battle going on.