Monday, February 23, 2009

THOUGHT: A New Understanding

I like to learn. There are sometimes I don't even mind learning that I just did not get it before; which is good, cuz it happens frequently. That has happened to me, again. I learned something. Well maybe it is just a new understanding, but I'm going to call it an enlightenment.

For years I have heard about missionaries, heck, I even like some of them. And as I looked at them there was always this sense of martyrdom. These people are ready and willing to suffer and perhaps even die for their beliefs. I thought that they believed more than I did. My new understanding? My enlightenment? I never thought about the role that God played and plays in their story.

I never thought that God might actually transform them and change them for their call. Looking back now I just feel kind of stupid. It seems so obvious. Of course the Spirit equips and empowers. He will give us whatever we need to do whatever He has called us to do. Just never thought it through though.

Here is the part that really hit me. I looked at missionaries as people with a higher than average tolerance for suffering. Why did I do this? Well, it is obvious isn't it? They left here to go there. And there is never as good as here, right? I used to understand missionary furlough as a break, kind of like a vacation. They get to come back here and leave there. How nice for them. I never ever thought that God worked in them, changing their hearts and bonding them together with the people and country that they ministered in. Why did I never see this? I have worked at multiple churches and I know that God has always brought my heart to love the people where I am. Why did that seem so impossible for missionaries? I don't know. Spiritual blindness? Fear? Selfishness? All of them?

Whatever the reason I have Derek & Bonnie Burnett & family to thank for my recent enlightenment. They actually like living and working in Thailand! Can you believe it? They are eager to go back "home." God works to transform us in ways that we would like and in ways that we need to live in freedom and in joy wherever we are as long as we are within His plan for us. How freeing is that? So even if you are nervous now or repulsed now or whatever you feel...all of those things can change as we simply remain obedient to the One who calls us forward. That is good news because I certainly know that I have made some of my own choices that I did not like. I stayed not liking them. But with God and the submission of our free will to His perfect will those things that deter may very well be wonderfully removed or transformed into things that compel! Who knew?

Oh, all of you? You all knew that? Oh. Well I am slow to catch up, but I am glad I have arrived this far now.

Who knows what tomorrow holds? And now I can be reminded, yet again, that I need not fear it. I can walk in it boldly with my eyes fixed on my transformer.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

THOUGHT: Ain't No Room For Hermits

What would God really like? A good old-fashioned hermit, right? They look religious and full of suffering and asceticism. Fer sure God would be into that right? Living alone in a cave with a nice scratchy, burlap robe that is ripped and too small would certainly bring me closer to God, right? I mean how could it not?

The emphasis that we see in the Bible repeatedly is not on ritual, tradition or asceticism. (yeah go ahead, look it up). The focus is placed on practical, other-centered behaviour. We should be constructive rather than destructive in our words, compassionate in practical ways toward people in distress, counter-cultural in our daily life, refusing to simply follow the accepted norms of the majority (the "world") when those norms do not lead to a loving lifestyle.

God wants us to experience an intimate relationship with Himself and then express that through a holistic lifestyle of compassion for others. Galatians 5:6 helps us here: "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

Jesus does not call us to a privatized spirituality, but to an experience of spiritual family.

"God's purpose is not just to save isolated individuals, and so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build a new society, a new family, even a new human race, that lives a new life and a new lifestyle."
--John Stott

Don't live for the Empire, live for the Kingdom and then IMAGINE what can be, IMAGINE it into existence.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

EXPERIENCE: Mystical Transformation

Here is the mystery. It is mystical. It is magical. It is fantastic.

Sunday generally has a routine that it follows. It is not that each week is not unique, it is just that the variations fall roughly within the same dimensions.

If I go home after the morning service I go through the small struggle to come back. At that moment it is work; work that I like, but work nonetheless. So I get back (about 2:30) and I work, I prep, I look at details, I organize, I go through a checklist routine, I set up. We look at our is 10 minutes to 6...where is everybody? Is anyone coming? Every week I go through this.

5:57 people start rolling in. Soulhouse begins.

Then the mystical, spiritual magic show begins. I am transported, I am taken from where I was and I am transformed. It doesn't matter who speaks. It doesn't matter who sings. It doesn't matter what we sing or what we read. God is there and I sense His presence like nowhere else. When the experience draws to a close I am left feeling that the time flew by. Where did it go? I sense that my spirituality bucket has been topped up. I sense that all of my fruit of the spirit have ripened. I sense that I am more loving, more patient, more concerned, more lovable, more joyful than I was before Soulhouse began.

I have been changed, recharged, reminded. For all of these things and more I say "Thank You Jesus."


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

THOUGHT: Does God Cause Evil?

Just because God works incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean He orchestrates the tragedies. Don't ever assume that God using something means He caused it or that He needs it to accomplish His purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about God. Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colours.


Monday, February 9, 2009

EVENT: Wake Up Retreat With MCBC

Special thanks to Pastor Freddy Lam for bringing this into reality. I had a great weekend away hanging with the awesome peeps from MCBC & the KNA. Thanks for welcoming me and letting me see you guys in action. I enjoyed your energy, your enthusiasm, your candlelight sharing, your joy, your smiles, your photo session and Pastor Freddy's snoring. (It is not nearly as bad as you guys all said that it was.)

May this be the start of a great and growing relationship between us and our churches.

WAKE UP! There is more than what you see to life. Engage it and make a differnce.


ANNOUNCEMENT: Pre-Valentine's Munching

Get it on it. RSVP to ensure we have enough spots. From the way it is sounding now we will have to increase our booking. Respond quickly so that we can make the required adjustments.

Thanks so much.

It is going to be awesome.

Remember to dress formal/semi-formal or valentine's themed. I think we need someone to dress up as a nice big heart. Wouldn't that be special?


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

THOUGHT: Breaking News: Jesus Christ Is Not A Christian!

So to live in an open, growing relationship with that what it means to be a Christian?

Who said anything about being a Christian? Jesus is not a Christian.

Nope. Couldn't be. Christians follow Christ. What does that make Jesus? What brand is He? From which system does He arise?

Those who love Jesus come from every system that exists. They were Buddists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Green Party Members and many who don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. Jesus has followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some are bankers and bookies, Canadians, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. He has no desire to make them Christian, but He does want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of the Father, into His brothers and sisters, into His Beloved.

So then, do all roads lead to Jesus?

Not at all. Most roads don't lead anywhere.

It means that Jesus will travel any road to find you.

with thanks and respect to
Wm Paul Young &
'The Shack'


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

THOUGHT: Religion: Have You Had Enough Of It?

Boy oh boy, would I ever like to understand it all. How do religion and God work together? Or do they? Do they work in spite of the other?

How can Jesus be so different from all of the "well-intentioned" religious stuff that I have come into contact with? As "well-intentioned" as it might be, you know that religious machinery can, and does chew up people. An awful (consider the meaning of that word) lot of what is done in the name of Jesus has nothing to do with Him and is often, even if unintentionally, very contrary to His purposes. I don't think that Jesus is overly fond of religion or institutions.

Jesus did not create institutions--never has, never will.

What about the 'institution' of marriage?

Our language, not His. Marriage is not an institution. It's a relationship. Jesus doesn't create institutions; that's an occupation for those who like to play God. No, He is not big on religion. Probably not overly fond of politics or economics either. Why should He be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth damaging and deceiving those who He cares about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three?

with thanks and respect to
Wm Paul Young &
'The Shack'


Monday, February 2, 2009

THOUGHT: Jesus & His Love Interest

Can you picture Jesus and the woman He is in love with? Ever thought of that? Ever thought of that in a non-Da Vinci Code gnostic paradise?

Jesus has a bride, He is still waiting to come and claim her but she waits; sometimes better than others. His bride is the Church: individuals who together form a spiritual city with a living river flowing through the middle, and on both shores trees growing with fruit that will heal the hurt and sorrows of the nations. And this city is always open, and each gate into it is made of a single pearl...Jesus. The only precious stone made by pain, suffering and--finally--death.

He is the only way in. So if Jesus is thinking about this woman that He is in love with, well I'm pretty sure that I have not met her. She's not the place I go on Sundays.

Well that's because almost all we know of Church is the institution, the man-made system. That's not what Jesus came to build. What He sees are people and their lives, a living breathing community of all those who love Him, not buildings, programs, traditions, rituals, ancient secrets or new esoterics.

How do you become a member of that church?

It's simple. It's all about relationships and simply sharing life; being open and available to others around us. The church of Jesus is all about people and life is all about relationships. You can't build it. That is the job of Jesus and He is actually pretty good at it.

Is that not a breath of fresh air? Simple. Not a bunch of exhausting work and long list of demands, and not the sitting in endless meetings staring at the backs of people's heads, people you really don't even know. Just sharing life.

You don't need to have it all figured out. Just BE with Jesus. Live in the light. Choose to need Him, deflect your selfish thirst for independence. Choose to love Him, deny your desire to think first of yourself.

Freedom. Life. Abundance regardless of the situation.

With thanks & respect to
Wm Paul Young
& 'The Shack'