Sunday, October 31, 2004

Tough Questions

For a number of reasons, started off by the John Safran thing a couple of weeks ago (sorry to keep bringing it up, but still not sure about it all) and a whole bunch of other similar issues coming up, have been thinking heaps about the whole interplay between the spiritual and pyschological worlds.

I firmly believe in the spiritual realm, and know quite a few people who do too, but who all sit at very different spots on the spectrum of their understanding about it all. There are those who lean toward explaining stuff in a more scientific manner, eg People pre-empting themselves to think/react in a certain way and to react in a way that is shaped by their understandings, and then people will say theres this massive spiritual war going on, with all good stuff from God and all bad stuff the work of the devil.

I think I stand somewhere in between these two approaches.

I think people do get touched by God in very supernatural and unexplainable ways, and that there is also negative spiritual forces acting against the will of God. I also believe that people suffer from mental illness, and also a lot of what people would automatically brand as spiritual is sometimes just pyscosomatic/psychological.

I am also aware that people will always bring to their situation their worldview of God and the spiritual realm, which will affect how they interpret their experience.

Probably doesn't make a lot of sense, but am just tryinmg to work through it all for myself!


Friday, October 29, 2004

Why did Jesus die?

Was having this discussion with my Vetamorphus kids yesterday. Why did Jesus die exactly? Was it all part of God's plan-and if so, why did God need to effectively kill himself so that we could have a relationship with him?

Was He just killed because he so badly annoyed the religious officials of his day, was it because the world could not handle such a man that was so open to God, and so extraordinarily loving, that they were so confronted by Him they had to kill him?

I've always heard the easy 'To save us from our sins' response, but I'm just trying to flesh out exactly what that means.

There's obviously a whole lot of prophecies about him from the OT, but is it possible that the Gospels were written in such a way to satisfy these prophecies, to make Jesus more believable to the Jews?

How did people view Jesus before that big Nicene (I think it was that one!) creed where they fleshed out the whole fully human, fully God thing?

Again, big questions, and I'm not even gonna try and answe them for the moment. Any thoughts?

Links

Didn't have any luck last time I tried to post a link, so will try again. Will try and link to one of my favourite sites which is here.

Its a great site, lots of quality stuff, can somebody let us know if it works?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Missed it

Unfortunately I missed the Mind Body Spirit thing in Tyabb, turns out it was on yesterday! Those kind of things really interest me, because it shows that people are genuinely searching for spiritual stuff, but unfortunately these people are not looking in churches.

Half the reason for this I reckon is because so many Christians are so tight-arse and unwilling to listen to people who think differently to them. I have no problem with sticking firmly to our beliefs, but it just annoys me that so many people are simply unable to have a conversation with these people because they're so freaking narrow minded.

Sure we could sprout on about how all this alternative spirituality is so self-centred, consumeristic, evil, wrong or whatever else we want to call it, but I think people are genuinely searching for God, and we need to involve ourselves in these conversations. My mate Petes written a good post on this here

I was talking to a mate from cricket last night, and was explaining about a guy I know who goes to those festivals and uses Tarot cards to talk about Jesus. Its just all about going on to people's turf, speaking their language and contextualising the Gospel. Classic Acts 17 stuff.

His reaction was all 'But Tarot cards are evil, you can't use them' etc, but I reckon we need to be always looking for new ways to explain what Jesus was on about. A guy called Darryl has explained this well here.

Hope the links work!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Crazy Spiritual Stuff

Was watching the John Safran vs God from Monday night, and I gotta say, its got me thinking-as well as a little freaked out!

Dunno if any of you guys saw it, but John was over in America, and received an exorcism by an American fundamentalist preacher-it was intense!

He was shrieking, growling and writhing around, and was fighting so hard it took 5 massive blokes to hold him down! It seemed to me there was definetely something going on there, but not exactly sure what, which is what has got me thinking.

Have been thinking a lot lately about spiritual issues, particularly in the more supernatural realm kinda stuff.

Coming from a pretty conservative background this kind of stuff is very much not part of my experience, nor am I quite sure about it all.

Got a 3 week series on the holy spirit at church at the moment, and I think I tend to try and over-analyse it all.

Plus there's this Mind Body Spirit festival happening in Tyabb on Sunday, it all seems to be happening at once, not sure how I'll navigate my way through it all, but we'll see.

I'll keep you posted.

But did anybody else see the episode? What did you think?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Theology and Church Growth

"Yeah but that kind of theology doesn't grow churches" I remember about Christmas last year, going to my cousins church and going up to speak to the preacher to air some differences of opinion I had with his sermon.

Having just completed the most faith-screwing-with year of my life, I was at a stage where I pretty much didn't have any idea at all what I really believed, and was having enough trouble with that as it was, then this. I think I raised some questions that were racing around in my head re the Bible, how we got it, who wrote it etc, questions I still mull over.

And then he said that. Now for me, as someone who is massively passionate about seeing people come into relationship with Jesus (yes I still believe that despite the cliche-ness of it) this totally troubled me.

I have always held that it is God who calls us to him, that if chrches grow, its because of God. So... Would God not grow a church I was leading because I didn't think the right thing? That question massively screwed with my head.

So should I just conform to standard Christian belief and ignore all of my questions? I crtainly hope not.

You look at a guy like Spong, somebody with ome pretty 'different' understandings of God to what you would find in most churches. And in the area over which he presides church attendance has halved int he time he's been there.

Then you look and see the churches that are often pretty conservative, maybe fundamentalist (crappy terms, but I know what I mean by them) in their theology, and they seem to be the ones growing.

I think maybe there are some sociological reasons behind this, in terms of people's need and desire to have answers, and to avoid difficult questions without solid answers and to know that they're right etc, but I still reckon God plays a massive part in churches growing.

And before anybody starts ranting about numbers not being the measure of success or whatever, i am well aware of that. But at the end of the day i think the world would be a better place with 100 switched on disciples rather than 10, and at the moment, churches are the main places producing passionate disciples of Christ.

Sorry about the long post, but its abig one for me.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Thats why I do youth ministry

Had youth group tonight, and had a couple of our younger guys organise the night for the first time, one of whom was just recently baptised and massively raw in terms of Christian experience, but keen as anyway

The night itself was pretty normal for us, a whole bunch of games and running around, some worked some didn't and a bit of food and hanging out. We didn't even have a devo or anything remotely God like explicitly mentioned.

Then we had a bit of a de-brief and one of the younger leaders shared about how much just being in Christian community, being able to come and hang out with friends, and be entrusted with a bit of oppurtunity had really helped her grow lately. This didn't come about because we had a really top quality program or great stuff on every week, it came about through relationships.

And thats what ministry is all about.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Little Aussie Battlers

I'm speaking at a youth service for a friend of mine on Sunday, its like a commissioning sending off ritual kinda service, so should be pretty cool.

I want to talk about how our understanding of faith will change as grow and leave school, it be expand, be challenged and tested, and we will always need to be looking at how exactly we live out our faith wherever we are.

Got chatting to my mum about this, and we got onto the topic of why it churches always seem to celebrate the baptisms, the people who've made new commitments etc (and quite rightly so) yet we often are not so good at validating and honouring the journeys of those who've been around for ever. For some people Christianity has just always been a way of life, there's been no conversion story, no spectacular moment when you first fall in love with God.

So how do we honour those people, how do we honour their lifetime of faith despite struggles and doubts? They've seen friends and ministers come and go, sat through all of the various fads of church life, and still turn up faithfully every Sunday.

I remember hearing a friend say she was almost embarrassed to share her testimony, as she'd been to church all her life and never really strayed from it. I told her not to be so silly, but could understand why she felt that way. Maybe we spend too much time honouring the amazing at the expense of the everyday?

So fight on all you little Aussie battlers of the faith, stick at it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Communion?

Had an interesting service at Funkytown Church of Christ last night, on Awe and Reverence to God, which was all well and good, but the communion talk really got me thinking.

As a CoC one of our big things is to do communion everytime we meet as a church (which makes me wonder, if the church is the people, shouln't we by definition take communion every time we hang out together-why do we only think its necessary on a Sunday night...?)

But what does communion really mean? Is it more than just an invitation to share a meal at Jesus' table? What does it mean to 'remember' Jesus-is it more than just a cognitive recall thing? Who should take communion? Who shouldn't? Do we have the right to tell people they can't take it? Do we need to tell people in as many words, that the meal we're sharing is communion?

And more specifically related to my yet to exist footy-church: Could the meal we have after training be seen as communion? If we're all sharing a meal at a home after training, do us 'Christians' have to tell the 'Non-Christians' that for us this meal is communion?

Just thinking through all those questions has tired me out, so i may try and answer some of them later-but I don't think I'll have too many answers!!

Woo-hoo!

I so feel like a little kid in a candy shop! This blogging is so much fun! It full gives ya such a buzz to see that other people have bothered to comment on your site!

Rock on!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Calling

One of the big things I'm really trying to get my head around at the moment is what it means to be called to a particular ministry?

How do we know when we're called to something, how do we know its God and not just ourselves calling us somewhere?

Is the fact that we're passionate, gifted in, 'good at' or are told by everybody else that we should; good indicators of a sense of calling?

Does God call us to places we hate? I used to think not, but then you look at that story of Abraham in the Old School Testament (Gen 22) who is asked by God till kill his son Isaac (which he doesn't end up having to do). Now Abraham was clearly not passionate or excited about the prospect of killing his own son-I daresay he was downright opposed to it! But it seems that God was merely testing his faith.

I guess for me, the issue comes down to whether or not your own passions and desires are a useful tool in hearing your call-I have always thought so, but am now beginning to doubt that.

Maybe some things are a case of "If you are faithful with a little, you will be trusted with a lot" (Mt 25:21)

(I never thought my blog would be one where I'd end up quoting a whole bunch of Bible verses, but those two are quite relevant to my thinking about this)

One helpful quote I've heard is "Your call is when the world's deepest needs meet your hearts deepest gladness" Another is "Do not simply ask what the world needs, but find what makes you come fully alive-because if nothing else the world needs more people fully alive" I may have slightly misquoted those, but I hope you get the gist.

Those of you who know me well will know what all this relates to, so I won't bother explaining it all, but the wider concept of what it means to be called is more what I'm interested in.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Footy Club as 'church'

Had my footy club presentation last night, and don't even ask how I went-it was absolutely heinous!

There was the usual Best and Fairest, so congratulations to Matty Julz and Ash (Word up Flacky-awesome speech bro!) and then onto the thanking of numerous people who help out around the club, and its just amazing how much time and effort so many people put in to get us blokes out on the track.

Two of our club stalwarts were honoured with Life Membership for all the effort they've put into the club-well done Bretty and Val. I was sitting back and reflecting on how the footy club is, for so many people, their 'church'. I mean this in terms of the club gives us a form of identity and purpose, it helps give meaning to our lives and the social group of mates there really helps us shape how we live. As you can see, I totally see myself in this category sometimes.

One of the guys at the club once said, yeah thats because people worship football, not God, which I think I agree with to an extent, but don't completely.

So many people are so much more committed to that club than a lot of people are to their churches-which I think says something both ways, and the community there can be a very helpful place. There are of course a lot of negative, life-diminishing aspects to the whole footy club scene, but its not all bad as i think a lot of people would like to portray it.

Dunno what any of this means practically, just some thoughts running around my head last night!





Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Losing my Bloginity

Hey dudes!! I just recently stumbled upon how easy it actually is to do this whole blogging thing-so here I go!

I must admit I am a little ashamed that my first official words in cyberspace are 'Hey dudes' but I couldn't think of anything cooler to say, except maybe purplemonkeydishwasher, but thats been used already...

I'm gonna use this as a bit of an online journaly type thing to chuck down whatever questions or thoughts seem to be runing around in my head. Usually this revolves around theology, church, mission, football and music. So if any of these topics interest you at all, or even if they don't-check out my site. If nothing else it will make me feel loved :)

Stay tuned...