Shacking Up…With Papa

Ever noticed how God seems to weave our lives in a complex tapestry? Something happens that dovetails with another event that finally makes the penny drop with something else that happened a month ago, etc., etc… Makes me want to fly way up high and see how the tapestry’s coming along! 😉

A particularly bright thread in the last two weeks has been reading The Shack. Just to get it out of the way as to where I stand on this book (unfortunately, anything that is wildly popular/successful in the Christian world brings out the heresy hunters en masse), go read this book! (After you read the book, take a look at the author’s personal profile here.)

Ok, there, I said it.

If you’ve not heard of the book, it’s a wonderfully written and engrossing novel that reveals, in fresh and incredibly creative ways, who God is, the relationship of the Trinity and His love for us and His Creation.

All I can say to those who don’t like the theology, I wish you the best and deepest relationship you can have with your Heavenly Papa.

What, for me, is so wonderful, is not the book by itself but how the Lord has weaved it into what He’s already been saying to me the last 3 months and how He prepared my heart before I read it.

The book actually was lent to us from a South African friend of ours (it’s huge in South Africa apparently…can’t wait for the French translation!) and Angela read it a while back. The premise of the story scared me away at first simply because, as a parent, I thought it would be too hard to read. It will open up your heart with difficult situations, but it’s not brutal. It’s hard at times to read (many tears possible…be warned), but in my opinion, it’s safe. No nightmares.

Anyway, in the mean time, God was working on my heart:

  • This summer, as you can read here, I went on a 1-week personal retreat to break through my fatigue and re-center my heart.
  • Then at the beginning of the school year, I purposed to change my weekly schedule to make the use of my time more effective, to carve out more time with the Lord most every day, and to work at keeping a real weekly sabbath (no, Sunday doesn’t work for me…too much work to be done then!).
  • Then I heard an aside in an audio teaching by NT Wright that plunged me back into one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, Romans 8. As I dug in there, I began to have some gradual revelation about the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15), among other things.
  • Finally, I went with a few others from our church to a conference in Germany recently where the Lord broke through to me about my real freedom in Him via a time of meditation on Romans 8:2 and some of the teaching in the conference.

This is the context in which I finally picked up The Shack. My heart was already prepared and actively enjoying my “sonship” with my Abba Father. This makes for very fertile “heart ground” into which God can plant all sorts of wonderful seeds!

So, while I do recommend this book, I realize that a prepared heart will go a long way to making this book a real window into the heart of God and not simply an occasion to painfully sprain your theology…I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to ruin the story!

Martin Scott – Generational Anointings, Stewardship, Partnership

This last weekend, I went to a conference in Germany with some others from our church here in France. In order to get my German ear stimulated again (one of the teachings was actually in Spanish, translated into German…fun to see how much I understood!), I revisited the fabulous site online-predigt.de where one can find a huge deposit of downloadable teachings in MP3 format. Most are all in German but a fairly large percentage are from English-language speakers translated into German. Some of my favorite teachers can be found there so I get a good teaching and it’s translated into German as well. Highly recommended!

Anyway, I listened to this teaching by Martin Scott from the Gideon’s Army/Target Europe conference in Hanover in 2001. Very timely for what we experienced this weekend in our conference in Germany. His primary topic was intergenerational anointings and before he spoke about that he also had a preamble about partnership and how we, who are rooted in a given locality can partner with those who have been called and sent from somewhere else and how this partnership accelerates God’s purposes in a given geographic location. The two topics are related as well…an excellent and strategic teaching that is not stale seven years later.

Here’s the link from that site for the teaching.

MP3 file download link from online-predigt.de (18Mb)

This just in: Nature loss ‘dwarfs bank crisis’

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Nature loss ‘dwarfs bank crisis’

 

The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.

 

It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.

 

The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.

 

Seems to me that the two are linked; that is to say, greed and consumption at the individual as well as corporate/institutional level would be behind both crises.  Just read an interesting passage this morning in Isaiah 9:10 where Israel, in arrogant and ignorant rebellion says about the judgment/chastisement that has befallen them:

The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with smooth stones;
The sycamores have been cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.

It says in subsequent verses that the Lord arms their enemies and spurs them on and yet they do not turn back to Him.  This is a picture, in my opinion, of what judgment looks like (and what our ignorant response usually is).  A crises arises.  An enemy attacks.  We don’t say, “Hmm…what is God saying?” or, “This must be the Lord.”  No, we say, “(darn), this fell down.  I’ll have to prop it up differently.”

As to this bit of news about deforestation…I wonder if it will make the headlines?  I wonder if we’ll seek how to steward this planet differently?  I wonder what the Church’s response will be?

Surprised by Hope

Surprised by Hope is the name of NT Wright’s latest book. He’s been on a speaking tour about the book and there are several very good audio teachings from this tour linked out there on https://www.ntwrightpage.com/ which cover more or less the same ground (but don’t let me stop you from listening to them all!) I chose these two (though one is not specifically from his book tour) because they are both only about 30 minutes long and they both give some very concise and succinct theology. I think this is what is so important about this book (which, I confess, I’ve not read yet…but I feel like I have after listening to all his talks on it!). It sheds light on popular mis-conceptions about the foundations of the Christian faith that, frankly, most of us in the Western world have simply not gotten right. Additionally, they are fundamental truths that, if skewed, really cripple the impact of the Body of Christ on the world…which, unfortunately, is what has happened in the last 200 years or so…to the point where we no longer realize we’re limping.

Enjoy and be challenged!

Interview on radio station KZUM https://www.saintpaulumc.org/includes/downloads/ntwrightsurprisedbyhope.mp3 (13Mb)

At St. Aldates church in Oxford, England The Roots, Basis And Fruits Of Christian Hope (8Mb – mp3)

A new political “litmus test”?

Today’s guest lecturer on leadership is the prolific author Henri J.M. Nouwen who will be quoting from his book The Wounded Healer .

Mr. Nouwen…(polite applause)

Compassion must become the core and even the nature of authority.

The compassionate man stands in the midst of his people but does not get caught in the conformist forces of the peer group, because through his compassion he is able to avoid the distance of pity as well as the exclusiveness of sympathy.

Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that men feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty that the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends’ eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate man nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.

This compassion is authority because it does not tolerate the pressures of the in-group, but breaks through the boundaries between languages and countries, rich and poor, educated and illiterate. This compassion pulls people away from the fearful clique into the large world where they can see that every human face is the face of a neighbor. Thus the authority of compassion is the possibility of man to forgive his brother, because forgiveness is only real for him who has discovered the weakness of his friends and the sins of his enemy in his own heart and is willing to call every human being his brother.

…Thank you Mr. Nouwen!

And if we were to choose our leaders this way…?

(Hey…one can always hope! 😉 )

Why you have hope

Have you ever pondered the future, what tomorrow will bring, or perhaps 5 years from now, or the spouses and careers of your kids (or a spouse and kids for you!)? “Sure”, you say, “what’s the big deal about that?” Apparently, this sort of thinking has not always been around, and perhaps is not the way other streams of culture view life.

You have perhaps heard of Thomas Cahill, or his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization . It was fairly popular among different circles in the last 10 years or so. What you may not know is that that book is only one of several books he’s written in a series Cahill calls Hinges of History. This is a series of history books that study various slices of history and the way they have shaped the Western world as we know it. It’s quite interesting to discover that the way you think or things you observe and don’t give a second thought to…thinking that’s just the way things are and have always been…have not always been that way. Additionally, with the series’s specific focus on the Western world, you realize anew that other cultural streams in the world today have some vastly different roots and therefore what’s “normal” to them may seem quite abnormal to us!

I just finished the 2nd book in the Hinges of History series, entitled The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels. This was a fabulous book, not the least because of the premise:

  • time as a continuum
  • the idea of destiny
  • the concept of a future
  • progress
  • hope

All these were handed down to us via the Jews.

Without giving too much away, it seems that time simply traveled in circles for many ancient peoples and the Jews were the first to break out of that. What that has unleashed in the annals of history is fairly mind-blowing!

If you’re among those who have read a fair amount of the Bible, this book is also quite interesting in the way it looks historically at the Jews through the lens of the Bible and other historical sources. It’s amazing how much insight this brings to familiar Bible stories.

If you’ve never cracked a Bible in your life, not to worry. This book neither requires a theological degree, nor offers to give one. It does, as the title says, offer an explanation of why we think the way we do.

Thomas Cahill’s writing style is also not “historically dry.” In fact it’s a bit raw and racy at times, but then, as a historian, Cahill doesn’t put anyone on a pedestal. Human greed and lust respect no cultural boundaries, and skeletons rattle in everyone’s closet. It could be regarded as a “thinking man’s” book. Though, if one likes to ponder…as I do…it can be good sometimes to know why one ponders what one does. I commend this book to you as one possible source for an answer to that question.

Hello!!?? What is wrong with this picture?

My web browsing “home page” is the BBC’s international news page. Just opened it up this morning and, among other things, there was this incredible juxtaposition of articles/images. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

What_is_wrong_with_this_picture_BBC_NEWS_News_Front_Page_2008_09_20.jpg