Tag Archives: Bible

It’s Crazy Uncle Time

I am convinced that in every family there is that crazy uncle… ok it may not be an uncle but when I say family and crazy you picture someone…

That person you have in your head right now… yep that’s them. The one you hope you never run into in public with your new girlfriend or out for lunch with your boss.

And if you don’t have anyone in mind then… well… like I said every family has at least one… just saying, you do the maths.

Anyway I digress… Every family has one or more crazy uncles. And the church has in my opinion more than our fair share…

I actually had to google this to check that it was not parody and sadly enough all seems legit.

These guys have seriously been having at the communion wine behind the family reunion picnic table!

(HT: Jamie)

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We are Scheming Swindlers

My wife read me this Soren Kierkegaard quote recently from Shane Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution.  It hit a little too close to home for me.

“The matter is quite simple.  The Bible is very easy to understand.  But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers.  We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand it, we are obliged to act accordingly.  Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined.  How would I ever get on in the world?  Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship.  Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.  Oh priceless scholarship, what would we do without you?  Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God.  Yes it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.” (71-72)

Here is my review of The Irresistible Revolution (even now I might want to nuance some of my thoughts in that post a bit more)

Great Stories Have Great Endings 2

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This is part 2 of the series looking at Revelation 21-22

You can read Part One here

2) Evil and Pain will not triumph

Jesus is said in 21v4 to “wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  This is  some not positivistic thinking, that denies the reality of pain.  Or promises “your best life now” when you come to Christ.  John is writing to the church in Rome, a  church that has been persecuted, marginalised, ridiculed, seen martyrdom, had property confiscated, lost family, been alienated from society and business, had their name and reputation slandered, been falsely accused and even exiled from Rome.  In the end there is no denial of pain, the pain is acknowledged, the presence of tears shows the reality of pain, but now, says Jesus it is over.

It is an intimate image of our King Jesus, reaching up his hand and gently wiping away the tears.  “I know my child, I know.”  “I saw.  It is over. I am with you.  I am making everything new.” The context specifically has in mind here those who suffer for following Christ (v7 “he who overcomes”).   What ever it costs you to follow Christ in this world, God has seen and God is seeing right now and He is doing something about it.  There is a day that is coming…

While we may experience pain, marginalisation, ridicule or worse now, for those who overcome there awaits the new heaven and the new earth on that day there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (v4).  For these things belong to the old order and now that is no more.  The curse is gone (22v3).  God is now making everything new and we are given to drink from the water of LIFE (v5-6)!

I love the way G.K. Chesterton describes the life of God, it is the only way I think to describe how life might be like in the new heavens and the new earth:

“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-ups people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

We are so easily bored with life. We are weary with sin-induced futility. But God is never bored with life. He is life. His joy and life are so gigantic that he never tires of sunrises and daisies, of beauty and life and joy. Now we are old and tried and cynical. But then we will be young again, forever young, forever delighting in God. (Porterbrook: Gospel Living Module: p26)

Finally there is a terrible warning.  Not all will know this life (21v8, 27).  Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life may enter.  For those who will not know the Lamb who was slain for us, who disdain his sacrifice and his mercy, they will meet Jesus not as the Lamb but as the terrifying King of Kings, riding on a white horse, with a sword coming from his mouth, coming not in salvation but in judgement.

photo credit:  Olivander

Some Favourite Quotes from Experiential Storytelling

ImageI previously posted this review on Mark Miller’s Experiential Storytelling: [Re]Discovering Narrative to Communicate God’s Message.  While the book left quite a bit to be desired, Miller can be quite quotable, and includes some great quotes from others too.

“Storytelling is powerful because it has the ability to touch human beings at a most personal level. While facts are viewed from the lens of a microscope, stories are viewed from the lens of the soul. Stories address us on every level. They speak to the mind, the body, the emotions, the spirit and the will. In a story a person can identity with situations he or she has never been in. The individual’s imagination is unlocked to dream what was previously unimaginable.” (33)  (While this may be overstating the case and creating a little bit of an unhelpful dichotomy between facts and story, nevertheless it does capture the value of story well.)

“People can argue doctrine and theology.  They can even sit with arms crossed listening to someone’s convincing reasons why they should believe.  But when powerful stories begin to be told, and when a person can identify with another person’s journey, the arms drop, the defensiveness wanes, and a receptive ear is gained.” (37)

“Stories can hold the complexities of conflict and paradox,” Annette Simmons (38)

“A sermon tells people what to think.  A story forces people to do the thinking for themselves.  It can feel dangerous because it allows for interpretation.  But one of the adjectives used to describe the Holy Spirit is “counsellor.”  Do we trust our people and the Holy Spirit enough to allow them to think for themselves?  Can we leave something open-ended, knowing that conclusions might not come until later that day, week, month, or year?  Can we allow people to own the stories?  Or do we do all of the interpretation and leave nothing to the imagination?” (41)

“Regardless of whether one considers this good or bad, for this generation, aesthetics counts more than epistemology.”  William Dyrness (55)

“The imagination is among the chief glories of being human.  When it is healthy and energetic, it ushers us into adoration and wonder, into the mysteries of God.  When it is neurotic and sluggish, it turns people, millions of them, into parasites, copycats and couch potatoes.”  Eugene Peterson (Under the Predictable Planet) (63)

What does it mean to be Bible-centred?

Deuteronomy 4 is the language of all of life. The Word of God is to be something that “dwells among us richly” (Colossians 3:16) not simply when we gather on Sundays or for Bible study on Wednesday. But when we walk the dog, do the shopping, watch the rugby, eat dinner, play football… We are to speak the gospel Word to each other daily in the ordinary events of ordinary life.

We are to let the Word dwell among us richly both when we gather as Christians and when unbelievers are among us. Of course we do this in a manner that is gentle and respectful (1 Peter 3:15). If we are theologically convinced that the Bible is a Word that speaks to all of life then we must bring it out of the special and into the ordinary, everyday, on the road life of the people of God.

It would be naive though to simply expect this to happen in some spontaneous, natural, organic movement. It would also betray an inadequate doctrine of man and sin. We are sinners, easily swayed from “what we know we ought to do”, easily distracted from the mission of the gospel, easily consumed with chasing careers, relationships, comfort or family as our satisfaction. We are easily seduced by the lure of comfort, entertainment and pleasure to serve our “needs” rather than giving ourselves away in service to others.

It is therefore crucial that we gather regularly, at least weekly, to eat together, share stories, study the Word, pray and share life. This is not church, it is a gathering of the church. This meeting must always be seen as both an outflow of our identity as God’s people and in the context of our wider life together as God’s people. Our regular, structured meeting together must never replace the Word dwelling among us in our day-to-day life together as God’s people. The meeting must lead to the Word dwelling among us in all of life more richly, deeply and consistently. Our life together on mission, must compel the need to meet together, pray together and be together to encourage and challenge one another in the gospel. Gathering leads to scattering as scattering leads to gathering.

Who lives on bread alone?

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Bread alone?  Who lives on bread alone?

Bread sure…

And cheese, wine, coffee, some fruit, a bit of chocolate perhaps, eggs, chicken, meat, milk,  honey, peanut butter, pasta, a bit of cereal and pizza of course.

Oh, Jesus was not so much talking about food as dependence on God

Trusting God

Faith

I trust God

I said the prayer

I read my Bible

sometimes

I go to church, Pay my taxes

And my car insurance, medical aid, pension and life insurance

I work hard, Provide for my family, food on the table, good schools, quiet neighbourhood, good job, nice promotion, earned some respect

Of course I trust God not bread!

Every word!

Every word?

Except those bits about war, giving up wealth, suffering, death, giving stuff away, women’s rights, not loving money, not envying, hell and homosexuality.

I trust God not bread and I read his word constantly…

mostly, often, sometimes, when there is nothing on TV…

ok I read it once but I am not legalistic about these things

Ordinary Life: Gathered around the Word

Yesterday I wrote that “planting a church without planting a church” would require a “missionary band” of ordinary people living ordinary life with gospel intentionality.  I also said that may or may not look like something we would commonly call church today.  So what could that look like?

1. Gathered Around the Word:  God rules his people through his Word.  It is in his word that we hear, are challenged and encouraged by the gospel.  We must be a people of the Word if we are to be God’s new community in the world.  Without the Word we will lose our gospel intentionality.  And without a gospel intentionality we simply become ordinary people living ordinary lives… and everybody does that.

Most of the talk that goes around being a Bible-centred church normally means being a pulpit-centred church.  Now, once again I have nothing against pulpits (except perhaps those hideous glass ones!) or preaching but to equate this with being Bible-centred is too narrow an understanding.  Deuteronomy 6:7-9, which comes right after the Shema, (6:4-5) a text central to the Hebrew self-understanding, instructs Israel that “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

This is the language of all of life, the Word of God is to be something that “dwells among us richly” (Colossians 3:16) not simply when we gather on Sundays or for Bible study on Wednesday.  But when we walk the dog, do the shopping, watch the rugby, eat dinner, play football… We are to speak the gospel Word to each other daily in the ordinary events of ordinary life.  We are to do that when we gather as Christians and when unbelievers are among us too.  Of course we do this in a manner that is gentle and respectful (1 Peter 3:15).  If we are theologically convinced that the Bible is a Word that speaks to all of life then we must bring it out of the special and into the ordinary, everyday, on the road life of the people of God.

It would be naive though to simply expect this to happen in some spontaneous, natural, organic movement.  It would also betray an inadequate doctrine of man and sin.  We are sinners, easily swayed from “what we know we ought to do”, easily distracted from the mission of the gospel, easily consumed with chasing careers, relationships, comfort or family as our satisfaction.  We are easily seduced by the lure of comfort, entertainment and pleasure to serve our “needs” rather than giving ourselves away in service to others.

It is therefore crucial that we gather regularly, at least weekly, to eat together, share stories, study the Word, pray and share life.  This is not church, it is a gathering of the church.  This meeting must always be seen as both an outflow of our identity as God’s people and in the context of our wider life together as God’s people.  Our regular, structured meeting together must never replace the Word dwelling among us in our day-to-day life together as God’s people.  The meeting must lead to the Word dwelling among us in all of life more richly, deeply and consistently.  Our life together on mission, must compel the need to meet together, pray together and be together to encourage and challenge one  another in the gospel.  Gathering leads to scattering as scattering leads to gathering.

Seem like the blog post took on a life of its own.  I will continue this post with a few more thoughts tomorrow.