Archive for the 'Faith' Category

Bind Them As A Sign

There’s this passage in Deuteronomy that I love,

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

[Deut 6:4-9]

It’s such a physical thing. Maybe God know’s we’re not so good with abstract concepts; after all, wasn’t that the point of the Incarnation? God with us. Flesh & blood. Physical.

At my old flat, I had scribbled in big, bold, red letters above my bedroom door “LOVE WINS”. Every time I left my room I caught a glimpse of those words. Regular reminders of the world that is to come, the kingdom we are anticipating.

Then I took it to another level. Five months ago, I got inked:

And yep, it’s physical. It hurt. I’m a wimp [No surprise there!]. Bind them as a sign… It’s not on my forehead, but it’s an emblem for sure, and it’s fixed on my ankle.

These past few weeks I’ve realised how important it is for me. It’s been a beautiful & difficult few weeks – I’ve come to expect that paradox now. Broken & beautiful. Grieving for friends I’ve lost. Celebrating with friends embarking on new journeys. Searching for my own answers.

Some days I want to give up. Some days it’s hard to keep going.

And then I catch a glimpse of my ankle. And I’m reminded of the God who leads me on a wild goose chase. Who is making all things new.

And the pain of getting inked was totally worth it.

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An Evening With…

Jonny Baker, which was actually weeks ago now. But hey. Jonny was up in Scotland and held a little Blah/Blether, which my wonderful flatmates where catering for. I’ve been thinking a lot about a couple of things he said…

Jonny talked about “bishops as permission givers”, and I’m intrigued. That perhaps their role is more to give us permission to go and experiment and do stuff, rather than prescribing their own/ their denominational ideas of how ‘it’ (whatever it is) should be done.

And this phrase, which is perhaps the most hopeful thing I have heard in a long time… “The church might appear to be dying, but the Spirit likes resurrection.”

One-Liners From Story

A month later I am still digesting everything that happened over the two days I was at Story Chicago. Here are a few of the things running around in my head…

We’re not tired because we’re doing too much;
we’re tired because we’re doing the wrong things.
[Chris Seay]

These are they who have a story to tell.
[Stacy Spencer]

Beauty is God whispering “I love you”.
[John MacMurray]

We’re censoring our stories when we only talk about our successes.
[Mike Foster]

The enemy tell’s us to be fearful & scared of our pain,
but the Gospel tells us it’s all about our pain.
[Mike Foster]

Speechless

I don’t even know where to start with how this week has played out…

I spent Tuesday at Park Community Church at Cultivate, an experiment in conversations about church communications. Lots of getting to know people & talking about our stories, how we are communicating truth to the world.

Observations?

  • God uses a mac, apparently. Don’t think I saw a single PC all day long.
  • Church comms conferences need lots of juice – power cords hanging from the ceilings & coffee on tap.
  • There’s a hunger for this kind of conversational approach – I loved it.

I’ll share some more about the actual conversations at a later date, but the thing that has stayed with my most since then is a comment from Jon Acuff,

I write because it’s the best way I know to say ‘hallelujah’.

Wednesday and Thursday I was at STORY, calling the church back to the narrative, to the beautiful story of the Gospel. The team pulling this off did a phenomenal job.

Observations?

  • The behind-the-scenes team alone was enough to make me want to be there, never mind the main-stage presenters.
  • The experience of walking into the Paramount Theatre on Wednesday was stunning – human statues, period costumes, puppet masters…
  • I got to meet a few of my blog & twitter heroes, people who inspire me, not least of all Blaine Hogan & Anne Jackson.
  • I’m so glad Ben Arment kept hanging onto this dream – and thankful for the time I got to spend talking & learning from him.
  • Great to be back among friends at The Orchard – thanks for letting me be a part of your community!

I feel like I’ve had about a month here in only one week…

Finding God

“All truth is God’s truth”

I’ve been thinking about that statement a lot lately.

Every circle has it’s in crowd, the cool kids, the hip ones. It’s no different in church/ faith contexts. Depending on what church you attend, who you’re friends are, what your theology is, or any number of other factors, there are in things and out things. Things it’s ok to like and things it’s so not cool to like.

Even things it’s ok to find God in, and things it’s unacceptable to find God in.

I walk a fine line between cynicism and hope most days. But I want to state right here, right now, that all truth is God’s truth. Find God wherever you find him, and celebrate it, whether that’s on the margins or in the mainstream.

Maybe someday we’ll learn that Jesus is found in both, and learn to celebrate them together.

Story Chicago

Blogging has been a crazy journey of the years, but one of the consistent things about it that I love is the connections. I’ve been reading Ben Arment’s blog for years, and more often than not it inspires me, challenges me, to step out of my comfort zone and really pursue the dreams God’s put on my heart.

Story_Poster

Ben has been putting together this unbelievably awesome looking conference, Story, over the last while. It’s all about how we experience and communicate the Gospel, and man… the talent involved behind the scenes alone makes me want to be there, never mind the presenter line-up!

There is such a pull to this idea of story in my life, that I can’t quite understand how/what to do with it yet… but let me say, if I had enough spare cash for a flight to O’Hare, I’d be at Story.

Rob Bell :: In Conversation

I was at a couple of Rob Bell’s events at Greenbelt, ‘Drops Like Stars’ and ‘In Conversation’. Despite the huge queues for Drops Like Stars, it was worth it. I knew roughly what he would say, having read the book, but I like watching how he presents things. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy his books so much: he writes the way he speaks.

The ‘In Conversation’ piece was really interesting… I’m interested in what happens when it’s unscripted, when you’re put on the spot and it’s just a dialogue between people rather than a full-on presentation. A couple of things he said stood out for me.

“The point of the church is to break our bodies and pour ourselves out for the healing of the world.”

I’ve heard him speak about this before, but it gets me every time. I wonder what it would look like if we really started to live that out? In so many churches I fear we’ve turned communion back into this religious ritual, rather than it being an everyday occurrence. Wasn’t that the point initially? It’s bread and wine.. it’s whatever you’ve got to hand, that everyone has access to, and it’s not kept just for the religious people. If the Eucharist truly is the Good Gift, what does it mean for us to be a Good Gift to our communities? We become the body, that was broken, and we become the blood, that was poured out. We break ourselves & we pour ourselves out… on their behalf.

“Every little bit of hope you stumble across is real.”

This phrase just grabbed me. Hope is real. Hope is not a myth.

Anyone else there? What did you think?


Quote

"Ultimately, movement is only as valuable as your commitment to stillness, and vice versa."

Pico Iyer

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