Moving back to blogger!

Posted: January 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

After a quick flirt with wordpress, I’m moving back to blogger. They have made some changes lately which give much more freedom in inidividual blog design which I like. So…come visit me!  All the posts from this blog are on there.  Will delete this one soon enough once everyone has caught up!

http://turasaiche.blogspot.com/

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One of the thing that happens when you become a part of the living body of Christ is that you inherit brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Some of them are even akin to fathers and mothers due to their maturity in the Lord and the way they nuture us, but they remain, in essence, brothers and sisters.  There is a phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’ – I’m not sure if thats a Scottish saying or if is wider than that, but it usually references the fact that those who are united by blood, blood relatives, stick closer than others.  As brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are indeed united through his blood.  There is a unity, a oneness to be had that is beyond any fleshly link.

There is an insipid concept in Christian circles and it goes by the name of ‘fellowship.’  Its often relegated to a cup of watery coffee after a ‘service’ where we’ve sat staring at the back of our brother or sisters head.  We can have intimate knowledge of the rears of our church folks because in some settings its what we see most of.  I’m waiting for the day when I have to say “will you just turn your back to me, to see if I can remember you.”

Friends, this isn’t fellowship.  This is being a audience in an auditorium.  We often respond to our brothers and sisters like they are distant cousins…not even that!   Man, I have natural 2nd cousins twice removed that I have a deeper relationship with that some of the ‘brothers and sisters’ in the Lord that I come across from time to time.  Why does the church have such an aversion to intimacy with one another?

The word ‘allelon’ in the Greek, which means ‘one another’ appears loads and loads of times in the New Testament.  Our existence as brothers and sisters is to ‘one another’ each other.  We enter into a life in Christ which is not alone, because it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in US.  Not us individually, although he is within is, but he is MANIFEST in us as a body together.

Friends, this impinges on so much of our experience and faith.  It affects our discipleship if we aren’t learning in the context of community.  If affects the extent to which we are being pastorally encouraged – this is why I have such an aversion to the ‘pastor-sheep’ set up because no one brother or sister can be the sole ‘cure’ to hundreds of others.  It affects our effectiveness in missional living if we aren’t engaged with one another.  Jesus is revealed more fully and diversely in the context of brothers and sisters together.  Many a Christian has fizzled out – not through sin, letheragy, doubt, fear or persecution, but through lack of a brother.  Loneliness is the curse of humanity. God said ‘it is not good for man to be alone’ not only, I don’t think, in relation to man and wife relationship but as a whole.  It is GOD’S desire to have fellowship with his creation, his people made in his image.  How much more, then, do we need fellowship in Christ with one another?

I want to encourage you to look around you and ask questions of the relationships you have with your brother and sisters in Jesus.  Are there those who you’d trust your life to?  Are there those you are holding out on?  Are there issues in your own life that prevent you from opening up your life to your brothers or sisters? Or maybe this – maybe you just haven’t had the revelation in your life of all Jesus wants to build in you through fellowship with your brothers and sisters through Him, that you might be built up together in Him?

You know, I don’t want friends, acquaintances…I want brothers and sisters – lots of em. To share a common life centred around Jesus Christ, manifesting and sharing his presence. I think that is perhaps one of the best definitions of ‘church’ we can find.  Are we up for it?

 

Books 2010

Posted: January 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

As is my blogging custom at this time of the year, here is a list of books I’ve read during 2010! Here goes….in no particular order….(ahem…some of these should come with a health warning!)  (And in case you are interested, a link to 2009’s books: here)

 

– Brafman, O.  “The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless   Organisations”

– Viola, F  &  Barna, G    “Pagan Christianity:  Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices”

Viola, F & Sweet, L “Jesus Manifesto”

Viola, F, “Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity”

Viola, F.  “The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament”

Viola, F “Finding Organic Church

– Hirsch, A . “The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church”

– Hirsch, A.  “The Forgotten Ways Handbook: A Practical Guide for Developing Missional Churches”

Hirsch, A. “Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship”

Claiborne, S & Perkins, J.  “Follow Me to Freedom: Leading as an Ordinary Radical”

Eastman & Latham, “The Urban Church: A Practitioners Resource Book.”

Boren, M.S. “Missional Small Groups: Becoming a Community that makes a different in the world”

– Cole, N. “Organic Leadership:  Leading Naturally Right Where You Are”

– Cole, N.   “Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church”

– Murray, S.  “The Naked Anabaptist”

– Stibbe, M & Williams, A. “Breakout”

– Freeman, A & Greig, P . “Punk Monk: New Monasticism and the Ancient Art of Breathing”

– Jamison, C  “Finding Sanctuary:  Monastic Steps for Everyday Life”

– McClung, F “You See Bones – I see an Army:  Changing the Way we Do Church”

– Bessenecker, S “The New Frairs: The Emerging Movement Serving the World’s Poor”

– Wilson-Heartgrove, J  “New Monasticism: What it has to say to today’s Church”

Bonnhoeffer, D  “Life Together”

– Bishop, G. “Darkest England and the Way Back In”

– Wilson, M “Eden: Called to the Streets”

– Yancey, P  “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”

(PS….I do read non-Christian stuff too lest you think I’m too boring.  Outstanding one this year was ‘Band of Brothers’ by Stephen Ambrose)

 

2010 blog review

Posted: January 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a  summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads ‘This blog is on fire!’

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 30 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 9 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 10th with 183 views. The most popular post that day was Welcome to Kingdom Conspiracy.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were armyrenewal.blogspot.com, facebook.com, onlywithchrist.blogspot.com, twitter.com, and pillcorps.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for kingdom conspiracy, “frank viola”, shema spirituality, here i am send me revival, and singleness.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Welcome to Kingdom Conspiracy June 2010
5 comments

2

About Andrew Clark June 2010
1 comment

3

Doing it by the Book? November 2010
5 comments

4

About Kingdom Conspiracy June 2010

5

Stepping Down October 2010
3 comments

10.  Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economics.

The first part of this ‘mark’ is, I guess, one that would only be making an appearance in lists like this very recently.  Gradually, more and more Christian communities are discovering the important of stewardship of the earth as a fundametal biblical principle (even if a little bit late).   Yet, over the last decade I’d say there has been a large influence to ‘get out and keep your neigbourhood nice’ often as part of ‘servant evangelism’.  Yet, I think this call goes further.  Its about finding ways to make our footpath as people sustainable and responsible as well as having a response to improve the location we are in.  More an more communities have gardens, projects and redevelopment initiatives going on, especially in the inner city, and this is great.

Support of local economics is crucial for the future of our cities.  Our supermarker cultures and the mass production and wholesale of goods threatens local and small business and affects the sense of community.  There is much to be said in Christians leading the way (and indeed, in challenging) local businesses.  The story is told of Bramwell Booth opening a bread factory to bake bread when the local bakers were charging costs above the reasonable rate for people to pay…because Bramwell could do it for next to nothing, they soon changed their minds!  Now, it couldn’t quite work like that these days, but the principle is the same.  Yes, we support local businesses and enterprise and invest ourselves in the community, but not at the expense of the poor I shouldn’t like to think.

11.  Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.

No-one can fail to notice that we live in a war torn world.  Leaving aside the pacifist/non-pacifist debate, regardless of that, there is a huge role for Christians to be reconcilers.  The first place this needs to be ministered is within the church.  It also needs to be ministered into local families who have no healthy ways to solve differences.  It needs to happen in fractured communities where racial segregation fuels tension.  It needs to happen between peoples and nations.  Whether you are for war or not, and whether ‘just war’ is in your theology,  all of us can and should have a theology of reconcilliation and peace-making.

However, to now enter the pacifist debate, today’s new monastics will travel to places and Bagdad and Kabul and look the locals in the eye and ask for forgiveness for the wrongs done in the name of our nations.  They will sit with the killer and the bereaved mother and broker some resolve.  They will sit with the broken husband and wife and weep for restoration.  They will sit in the roads in front of tanks.  They will refuse to be at war with anyone, because to be at war is to fight your brother.  They will move into broken communities and live peacably with everyone so far as they are able, repairing broken walls and repairing places long devastated by the consequence of sin and poverty.  They will be up front and about the fact that the way to peace is through reconcilliation to God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit wherever and whenever they find a soul who needs the light of God.  They’ll fight and they’ll fight to the very end to see God’s Kingdom transformation to come in whatever form it needs to manifests itself.  I believe these to be the steps of Master Jesus.  I ask that God would give a soft hard and hard feet to go to the places it is vulnerable to go to all for the sake of grace.

And finally:

12.  Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.

This is pure dynamite.  From our position of freedom in Christ, we submit ourselves to him.  We commit to seeing our relationship with him develop through the renovation of our hearts by his Spirit.  We follow the footseps of Master Jesus who would often go into the night to pray or rise to pray alone to maintain close communion with the Father.  We will reject the shallowness of 20th century evangelical-charismania and plumb the depths, widths and heights of the love of God through Jesus.  We will then live out of that place as we engage in mission to a lost world.

The new monastic will take a spiritual leaf out of a variety of people’s books throughout Christian history to seek appropriate help and responses to our current day problems.  We’ll pray with the apostles, the church fathers, the reformers, the anabaptists, the Wesleyans, the pentecostals, the charismatics, the Salvos, the new monastices, the eastern orthodox because we’re all birthed from the same branch which is Christ and we will recognise the value of the whole Christian tradition, lest we become arrogant and think we have the monopoly on holiness rooted in the trenches of the daily establishing and advancing of the Kingdom.

From the place of close communion, the new monastic engages in close connection with the people around, pouring out their lives and investing in the lives of those who need themselves to reignite the spark of the Divine and reconnect with their Creator.  As they do this, they will pray, talk, drink coffee, mow lawns, sweep yards, preach, worship, work, pray again and on and on for as long as Jesus tarries in his coming again, seeing more and more the answer to ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done!’

Conclusion

Thanks for taking this brief wander through the 12 Marks of New Monasticism with me.  I hope, certainly, that you Salvo’s out there will have heard something of the call to primitive Salvationism which was an order of preaching friars as much as any people were.  For those tired of routinism in church, I pray that there might be something which will cause you to ask ‘yes, there is more to it in this.’  And for all of us, I’d ask ‘how might my world see Jesus if I started to live out my Christian faith with others in this way?’  Good question….the answer demands some sort of response from us before God for such a time as this.

The next three:

7.  Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.

Community happens either intentionally or unintentionally where people are.  We’re relational beings, so community is gonna happen.  However, you can have static community (read OAPs in a rest home) or an active community (an Army, a football team etc).  What happens in active community is best described as communitas, as opposed to community.  Communitas is community gathered round a common task.  It is, therefore, always an intentional community.  This is the kind of community Jesus created amongst his discipleship, with mission as the organising principle.  Common life comes with Jesus at the centre.  Although the church in Acts 2:42 – 47 is a very young embryonic church, its a great picture:

“42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Some people look at this stuff and say the church has moved on from this and this shouldn’t be used as a pattern.  No, maybe not detail for detail…the sort of ‘if its not exactly like this then its wrong.’  I don’t believe the bible necessarily has that sort of blueprint mentality when it comes to the church.    But, my question is why should 21st C church be any less wonderful, transformative and powerful?   I really can’t imagine why not.  Sincerely.  It is only our western individualism that can get in the way of this. There are transferrable principles that can be discrened in the NT writings about the function of Christian community which can only help to inform our function as a body.

8.  Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.

There are, I think, two issues here.  Firstly, there is discovering the value of singleness.  I know many single people who serve God with abandonment that I’m not able to as a family man.  There is often an unwritten expectation that its ‘normal’ to get married and have a family.  Lots of people do, but there is something to note in people who commit to celibate singleness for life as a calling as well as those who remain single through circumstance.  We need to find ways to honour the single among us.  In the days when SA officers were required, many officers gave whole lives with single hearted devotion and many still do.  Its about recognising the strength and validity of the ‘single warrior.’

On the flip side, its also recognising the place of the family in the war.  Now, monastics of old would hardly have been married.  But in communities of covenant (like new monastic communities or communities like The Salvation Army) there must be a recognised place for the ministry of the family.  I don’t just mean having activities or programmes for all the family.  I’m talking about the commitment to discipling the whole family, and that done together as a unit.  Quite truly, the best times in our ministry have been when we’ve gathered in our home as a family with others around the word, to worship and pray for one another in small group gatherings.  Special times.  Lets not underestimate the capacity of all to live missional lives….even the children.

9.  Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.

Commuter church is a strange concept.  It is driven by a church consumerism…the kind that makes people drive to the best Jesus show in town.  Too harsh?  No…the consumerist church is often the antidote to missional living.  It means that people can work in one place, live in a completely different place and worship in an entirely different place.    So, there is something about local geographical presence here.

There is also something about being salt and light in a particular community and living out an alternative way of life visibly with others.  Take Pill for example…one of our corps appointments.  We figured that at the time we lived there, 1% of the population were Salvationist – thats fairly high!  As a result, the Army had a high profile in the community not just through the public life of its officers, but through the visible witness of its soldiers and local officers.  Another example of this are both the 614 communities and the Eden communities here in the UK.  Christians commiting themsleves geographically to an area and joining in the mission of God there.   There is something in banding together to minister to a neighbourhood that is very powerful.

Celtic monks here in Northumbria often went out on mission in bands of brothers, travelling out in small groups and establishing churches and outposts everywhere then leaving some staying on as permanant witnesses in some of those places.  The Army have similar planting stories.   You may or may not have heard of The Seige of London….this was an SA campaign to hold an open air on every street corner in London back in the late 1800s then leaving behind a couple to continue build community with the converts made.  We have much to learn from this stuff.

Straight into ‘mark’ number 4:-

4.  Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.

These set of 12 marks have their context in the US, that melting pot of nationalities and races.  I don’t claim to be up on the scene over there, but there are still clear racial divisions.  Both in the states and here, especially in the cities here, there are many ethnically divided churches.  Black churches, chinese churches etc etc.  A lot of this was a part of the church growth movement that thought you had to get everyone who was the same together in order to win them.  We are reminded in scripture that we, united in Christ, are a new nation, a new people, a royal nation in fact.

One day we will stand before the throne, every tribe and every nation under God and sing the song of the Lamb.  It strikes me that in a divided world, outrageous unity is one of the most significant prophetic acts we can perform.  In Aberdeen, we never would speak a word against our Eastern European neighbours and, actually, we had to take a family in and provide a few days sanctuary for them against some rampant racism against them.  We’re especially proud of Ben, who happily and intentionally befriended the E European lads in his class.  Bramwell Booth, writing about the context of the World War commented that ‘every land is my father land, because every land belongs to my Heavenly Father’ – this against the backdrop of trying to keep a unified International Salvation Army amidst world wide conflict.

Again, however, it starts at home.  Actively advocating for justice, reconcilliation between peoples whereever or whatever the context….even if its just one neighbour who doesn’t speak to another.  We have this ministry of reconcilliation, says Paul.

5.  Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church

Paul exhorts the Ephesians to ‘Submit to one another our of reverence for Christ.’  This is a recognition of the fact that the whole body manifests and ‘makes up’ the Body of Christ.  The inclusion of ‘allelon’ (Greek – ‘one another’) here and quoted several other places just emphasises the unity of the body.  We are to do a whole lot of ‘one another-ing’.

I’m not sure where I got this from, I think it might be from the Chinese language, but I remember someone telling me about how in a particular culture, a common Christian greeting is ‘I submit to the Christ in you’.  Profound, absolutely profound.  It is a submission that we see modelled in the Trinity, mutual submission.  But just the wonder of the discipling of seeing Christ in our brother/sister and submitting to Him in them.  This doesn’t preclude leadership, but it certainly adds to the picture of leadership scripture calls us to.  I think this statement is the one key to the abuse of power in church – for everyone to submit to the Christ in each other.  There is transformation in that!

6) Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate.

This is huge, especially potentially so for The Salvation Army.  One of the troublesome things about Christianity these days is that the term ‘Christian’ means everything and nothing.  Because we’ve typically had the bar high on our standards of church and low on standards of discipleship, the disciple can be difficult to find in some areas.

Now, my testimony is that whilst in the Salvation Army I still witnessed ‘nominalism’, the one thing that was a potential counter to that was Articles of War.  In the Army, discipleship is partially defined by a rule of community, a soldiers covenant.   You serve your time as a recruit, you see if you can cut the mustard, you enrol and you embrace the covenant with the community.

It has to be said, that this sort of thing is secondary to conversion….being a member of the body of Christ, getting saved, requires no rule, covenant or promise.  However, that is why monasteries were often called ‘Schools of Conversion’ and monastic life as a ‘second conversion.’   When you confuse membership of the Body of Christ with membership of an order, you get into sticky ground.  The Army is the prime example of this.  I believe it is wrong to see soldiership as church membership for those reasons.  Soldiership is a commitment to a community and a way of life as outlined in the Articles of War and the Orders & Regulations.

Leaving that aside, I believe the day has come where many churches need to articulate in clear terms what they mean when they speak of  ‘discipleship.’  This is not about creating a second tier of Christian, this is about calling up those who’ve lost the discipleship vision to live as a radical follower of Jesus.  I believe every community should have  a community discerned ‘rule’ or ‘covenant’ where those within it can be supported, guided and kept accountable in their spiritual and missional pratices.  Before we left Torry, we had started to explore common practices which, alongside our soldiers covenants (which, admitedly can be a bit less than striking). to help us flesh out our discipleship.  I’ll post them in the next post before going on to steps 7-9.

Bottom line:  “Lower the bar of how we do church, raise the bar on discipleship’ (paraphrasing Neil Cole!)