Thursday, June 28, 2007

The death of 'Super-Craig'

' I meet so many people who have superwhatever rattling around in their head. They have this person they are convinced they are supposed to be, and their superwhatever is killling them. They have this image they picked up over the years of how they are supposed to look and act and work and play and talk, and it's like a voice that never stops shouting in their ear. And the only way to not be killed by it is to shoot first.
Yes, that is what I meant to write.
You have to kill superwhatever.
And you have to do it right now.
Because your superwhatever will rob you of today and tomorrow and the next day until you take it out back and end its life.
Go do it.' (Rob Bell)

I just realised that I needed to do that. I hope you do it too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Elvis and Sally

Read this book.

I'm only a third of the way through, and already I'm getting uncomfortable and thirsty for more of YHWH.

The way Rob is talking in this book, its like he's discovered something about discipleship that I've only ever dreamed of. Is it possible to live like that?

I hope so.

I'm also sure he's gone and unintentionally prophecised over the situation of the Sally Army:

'Here's what often happens: Somebody comes along who has a fresh perspective on the Christian faith. People are inspired. A movement starts. Faith that was stale and dying is now alive. But then the pioneer of the movement - the painter - dies and the followers stop exploring. They mistakenly assume that their leader's words were the last ones on the subject, and they freeze their leader's words. They forget that as that innovator was doign his or her part to move things along, that person was merely taking part in the discussion that will go on ofrever. And so in their commitment to what so-and-so said and did, they end up freezing the faith.

What gets lost is the truth that whoever painted that version was just like us, searching for God and experiencing God and trying to get a handle on what the Christian faith looks like. And then a new generation comes along living in a new day and a new world, and they have to keep the tradition going or the previous paintings are going to end up in the basement.

The tradition then is painting, not making copies of the same painting over and over. The challenge of the art is to take wha was great about the previous paintings and incorporate that into new paintings.

And in the process, make something beautiful - for today.' (Rob Bell)

Two things really.

1) I desperately want God to help me reflect his image more, to no longer be sub-Christian but be the person he called me to be. This doesn't just require me do simply 'do stuff', but being transformed which leads to the service and other stuff.

If you feel the same then join me in praying now.

2) Someone told me that The Salvation Army is a sinking ship. My response is, if you think it is, then jump off and save yourself.
If, rather, like me, you think it needs its crew to patch up the holes in the stern and ask the One in charge to help steer it through the icebergs, then lets refer to point 1), get on our knees in prayer and get on our feet and love.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

late night vision

I think God just spoke to me.

I don't believe I've captured it all 'neatly' but below is what I feel compelled to write. A vision for our Corps at Upper Norwood:

"This is not a forum for you to blow your own trumpet, write books, lead on a pedestal or make your name.

A place where biblical teaching is taught to its fullest, is challenging is God breathed, is vibrant, relevant, life-changing, impacting, breaking.

Where discipleship leads us to think it normal to give, to challenge each other, to love one another and serve one another, each using their gifts and seeing God working in new, old, exciting, life-changing ways.

Youth and old joining hands
Youth work based on biblical teaching which stretches out and embraces ALL aspects of life. Not just souls, not just emotions, not just bodies, but HUMAN.

Prayer is crucial, its central, its you speaking to God and him to talking to you. Dialogue, breathing in deeply what God has to give. Filling our lives with all that is good and gracious and loving and fun!

Teaching, praying, giving, working ,serving, dreaming, feeling, loving.

DISCIPLED, MENTORED young people. Which is the basis and then the corporate worship is based after that."

I better get some sleep.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Putting the nightmares of hell to bed.

Forgive me for this, but I will have to doing a bit of name-dropping within this post.

I have been wrestling with the doctrine of hell for a long, long while now and seem to have adopted every one of the interpretations of this doctrine at some point in the past few years. This shakiness is due to my current weakness of simply getting swept along by anyone who has a strong enough conviction to make me think otherwise.

I've gone from exclusivist, to inclusivist, to annihilationist, to universalist, to Brian McLarenist, to inclusivist again and I'm currently persuading myself that I actually need to take myself out of the argument for a while and focus on other things. This is primarily because I see the need to develop a much broader, wider theology than simply have a knowledge of one very small drop in the theological ocean.

The most helpful account of the doctrine of hell that I have come across recently comes from the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright's helpful little book 'Following Jesus'.

In a nutshell he spells out that everyone is invited to partake in worship of the living God, in which faith and baptism are crucial. This results in us reflecting God's image more and more and thus becoming more truly human. The opposite is to persistently refuse to worship him and thus take on the image of other things that we worship, e.g. money, sex, power etc. This results in us eventually losing the image and ceasing to be human. This results in final loss. Now I must state that Bishop Tom also believes that by making the whole subject on hell simply about personal eternal destinations is to miss the larger theme of larger-scale judgment, especially within the consequences of whole nations sinning and seeing disastrious results come about.

We take the fact that Jesus warned the nation of Israel that if she kept on the way she was, she would suffer great loss. AD70, 40 years on after Jesus said this, proved the point. Israel was totally sacked.

Now I sent an email to Bishop Tom today to ask him for some advice for what to do if a young person were to say to me for example 'my cousin died last year and she's not a Christian. I'm afraid she is in hell'. It is pastoral issues like this that I struggle with when discussing the doctrine of hell.

To my pleasant surprise, he graciously replied this evening!:

Thanks for this. I understand the problem! The main thing is to assure
people that God knows everyone's hearts and that his love is all-powerful. I
know this begs the question but in any case the key thing is in any case to
direct peoples' attention to God rather than anyone, however beloved. It's a
tough call. I am certainly not a universalist but I do suspect that some of
our over-clear categories are unhelpful.
That's probably as good as I can do! There is another book coming out in
about 6 months called Surprised by Hope which has a slightly fuller
discussion of the whole question...
Warm greetings and good wishes
Tom Wright

Now thats encouraging on two counts:
1) That it can smash the preconceptions of those who think someone of Bishop Tom's renown would not reply to such an email.
2) That he doesn't skip the question, admits that it is a tricky subject and offers some good, sound advice.

This doctrine is never going to be a comfortable one to discuss, but I think I've currently reached a place where I can comfortably put it to bed for the time being.

Lord help us to realise how ultimately loving, forgiving and gracious you are. I hope we start to take seriously the consquences of our sin, individually and globally and importantly realise that you can transform us, however low we think we've fallen. Amen.