Monday, August 31, 2009

Holy Spirit is a woman.

More evidence today that Holy Spirit is a woman - I was struck by the notion that being pregnant is not something that Jesus was able to experience... that thought was quickly replaced by the reality of Holy Spirit's experience in that department... the re-birthing of every Christian as well as the birth of the church and the groaning pains of all creation itself as they wait in 'labour' until the fullness of time. Wow. She really can relate the the experience of pregnancy and all this to say that over the centuries, mostly the early church saints referred to Holy Spirit as a she because of the clearly feminine characteristics in her role... a helper, convicter, mover and a shaker, nuturer, comforter, birther, teacher etc... not to mention the fact that the Trinity is 'complete' and the gender roles independant of each other are not.
Anyway, just struck me today as very obvious in the birthing department - and I can testify the labour of expectant hope and the groaning for the fullness of time. I wonder if she is also fat and tired?! ;-)

Saturday, August 29, 2009


more to come ;-)... this is a great challenging video on our consumer mentality and the realities of God's Kingdom come in us.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The War Cry

A few pictures from the frontlines of Vancouver. The intensity of Faytene (warrior woman) leading The CRY and The War College meeting to pray for the city and nation - to offer a WAR CRY that would be heard in heaven and earth alike. Let the foundations shake and God's kingdom come! It's not too late to consider a year of hard-core mission training in the downtown eastside of Vancouver with The War College. If you can hack it - it will leave you as putty in the hands of the Living God.

Monday, August 24, 2009

compassion and justice

I was privileged to be part of the Compassion child advocates conference at the Goldcoast this weekend. It's exciting to realise that God is speaking similar things to all different parts of the same body. Typically, compassion has emphasized the need to sponsor children from developing world situations - and that sponsorship is primarily a financial one. This is an important thing. Re-distribution of wealth is a major justice issue in the world and an important part of the christian journey as well. Sponsoring a child is the very least we can do. The other things they began to speak about though are the deeper things - or as scripture likes to suggest - the weightier things... legislation to protect our children from being completely sexualized (see Melinda Tankard Reist's new book blogged about earlier!) and how that factors into making children (around the world) a product instead of a dignified life... poverty relief that is also rooted in advocacy at a political level (see Micah Challenge). And justice as a lifestyle - rather than simply adding things to our existing comfortable lives, justice is about changing and shifting our lives to be part of what God wants to do in the world. These are some significant changes in perspective and scope. Pray for Compassion and while you are at it pray that God would work those same deep, weighty truths of scripture into not only your mind but your life. All the way through.

Friday, August 21, 2009

good neigbours

We embark on our first training day for brothel visitors and those interested in getting involved in a team tomorrow. The ones who have already started continue to be amazed at the way God is creating opportunities to really get to know women who have found themselves in this dark industry. The whole thing started with one Jesus following woman who wanted to be a good neighbour to a brothel in her neighbourhood... and actually, if you give it a good think almost all the complex social systems of protection for the poor, the abolition of slavery in the UK and the civil rights movement are rooted in the simple teachings of Jesus regarding the greatest commandments... to love God and to love others (followed by the good Samaritan story... featuring a GOOD neighbour). Good neighbours find themselves having to face things they'd rather not see - hassles, dirt, work and despair but they meet these needs with hope, freedom, relationship and love... and as Scripture tells us the truth of the matter is that love is the most powerful force in the world.. never to be undone or overcome... the Love of God is the ultimate weapon for Good.
Here's a decent question for today - are you a good neighbour?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Open heaven

One of the prayers Jesus taught his disciples involved 'your kingdom come, your will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven.'
It's beautiful prayer - and this picture kind of reminds me of praying it.. an 'open heaven' is not just a spiritual way of being all kooky - but a genuine desire to see heaven spill over into the realities of everyday life. As a matter of fact I was thinking that if heaven is in us (as Jesus also suggested) meaning that His Kingdom is within our bodies (in the form of Holy Spirit) than perhaps our lives should look like an 'open heaven'. Heaven - or rightness, wholeness, peace, justice, freedom etc.. should be spilling out of us... so I'm praying for an open heaven. His Kingdom come.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nightlights in Thailand

Check out the new website by Nightlights in Thailand.
Some great work being done hear offering hope, sustainability and alternative lifestyles in the midst of serious darkness.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2

NightLight is an international organization committed to addressing the complex issues surrounding trafficking and prostitution by catalyzing individual and community transformation. NightLight’s vision is to offer intervention to sexually exploited women and children, to enable them to discover their dignity, and to provide a program of holistic transformation, empowering them to live and work in their community.

NightLight’s mission is to build relationships and provide hope, intervention, rescue and assistance to women and children exploited in the sex industry by offering alternative employment, vocational opportunities, life-skills training and physical, emotional and spiritual development to women seeking freedom. NightLight builds support networks internationally to intervene and assist women, men and children whose lives are negatively impacted by the sex industry.

In Bangkok, Nightlight operates as a business (NightLight Design, Co. Ltd) and a non-profit (NightLight Foundation). In the United States, NightLight operates as a 501c3 with branches in Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Great new site

Helpful and some great articles on missional living etc... at this website: (hat tip EB)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

covenant and holiness

so, I've had the joy of being part of the Brengle institute in Aus. this past week or so.
The subject of holiness is an interesting one. My favourite term is perfect love... I dig it.
Colonel Barr suggested that as Salvationists our first 'holiness' covenant is as Jr. Soldiers when we say that 'by God's grace we promise to be clean in thought, word and deed.' I like it. Then he suggested we made another one as Sr. Soldiers (true 'dat) and then another one as Officers (that's a VERY good one... on making the poor and the outcast my friends, and making the salvation of souls the main goal of my life)... and I suggested that marriage is a holiness covenant as well.. if holiness is about perfect love than a marriage covenant of sacrificial love for one another is merely the extension of a holy life.
that'd be an interesting measure of holiness.
I used to believe a lie that suggested God's power wasn't strong enough to make me clean... then I started to believe another little like that His power wasn't enough to keep me clean... but I've since discovered that the pursuit of holiness is a lot less about me and lot more about what God wants to do in and through me... it's much more about Him. And this I know - He is able to do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine... even in and through me.
perhaps John the Baptist was alluding to it when he said, 'more of Him and less of me'.
I watched an interview on Larry King with Billy Graham. When Graham was asked if he had any regrets (after Larry had mentioned all the amazing things he had done in his life) Billy said he had many. Larry was shocked. 'what could they be?' Billy said everytime he wasn't fully yielded to The Holy Spirit was a missed opportunity for the extension of the gospel in the world. Wow.
Surrender. Perfect Love. Reckless abandon. Sign me up. Oh yeah, that's right - I'm already in. Further and deeper then...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Social Evils The Army has Challenged

Just finished reading a classic book (published in 1946) on the various campaigns around the world where The Salvation Army confronted, challenged and changed social evils. It's amazing.
Honestly, I'm so convicted by it that I'm pursuing how we can re-publish it with some contemporary application.
Funny enough I was reading it while I was also at the Brengle Institute (in Australia every year, officers are selected to attend a holiness retreat) and it was key to what I was presenting... I was speaking about the scriptural and traditional understanding of righteousness and justice (which is a whole picture of holiness). In Psalm 97 it says, 'righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne' and over and over again in Scripture (indeed one of the Hebrew words for righteousness at it's root can be translated righteous or just... ). clearly Jesus commands summed up suggest that personal devotion and purity is intimately connected to social interaction and impact.
Not only do the Hebrews, the Prophets, Jesus, and the early church understand this but clearly many other holiness traditions did as well... ask Wilberforce who was converted in a John Wesley campaign and became a social activists not out of some liberal tradition but right smack dab out of the conviction of the Holy Spirit that to live a pious and holy life meant to commit himself entirely to justice. that's what holiness looks like,
Anyway, prepare yourself for the new edition of social evils the army has challenged... actually, even better why not just get holy and challenge a few in your neck of the woods - those stories can make the next installment of reports on challenging evil.
"Some want to live within the sound of church and chapel bell.
I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell." -c.t. studd

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Pastor

so, perhaps one more post of 'the pastor' and the breakdown of Pagan Christianity
So, obviously the early church featured different functions within the body - but the emphasis (especially in the Pauline epistles which are the essential letters to the early church) were about humility and equality and everyone participating in the body as the church of Jesus in the world. This idea of equality and shared leadership shifted drastically over the years (especially after Constantine's reign):
"To be a Christian under Constantine's reign was no longer a handicap. It was an advantage. It was fashionable to become a part of the empoeror's religion. And to be among the clergy was to receive the greatest of advantages... Clergymen received the same honors as the highest officials of the Roman Empire and even the emperor himself...he also ordered that the clergy receive fixd annual allowances (ministerial pay)... he exempted the Christian clergy from paying taxes... and they were freed from being tried by secular courts and from serving in the army... in all these things the clergy was given special class status." (pg. 121)

This is really helpful to me. Booth revolutionized the world with the release of a BODY of people who were all enlisted to serve and lead and win the world for Jesus. The 'officers' were simply considered soldiers with more time to commit to the fight... I remember as an officer in my first appointment coming across a telegram from William lamenting that officers were doing all the preaching at meetings themselves - william was furious... the soldiers are equipped for this... and if they aren't it's the duty of good officers to equip them. That changed my whole view on preaching but it also helped to inform my view of the practical reality of priesthood of all believers. In the early church when they gathered it was expected that EVERYONE had something to contribute. What we mean by that now is that some people are called to stack the chairs, sit in the chairs and one person is called to speak. It's crazy. The professionalisation of the 'priesthood' is the collapse of the church as Jesus unleashed her at Pentecost... I think it's a very valid point. From both perspectives. Hiring and having a 'professional priest' to be the leader of a people often makes the people lazy and indifferent to how Jesus wants to use them and equip them on the other hand it makes it virtually impossible to be an effective leader when all the body's health and future and the impact it's supposed to make in the world is your job... it's no wonder it can't be done.

Why are we so infactuated with someone being 'the pastor'? our infactuation is evidenced by our hunger for education and qualifications and an endless sea of training the professional elite to 'lead the body' - I can't even tell you the amount of messages I've heard on 'authority' and the need to 'submit' to authority which in a hierarchical model of leadership can only line up with the Romans not with the early Christians. Just food for thought... but I'm into the church being the church... equality and giftings and release for EVERYONE to use all gifts for God and His glory.
Imagine what your church might look like if the 'pastoral' model changed?? who would lead? who would speak? who would set direction? who would visit your neighbour? I know... you could?!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Sermon

This section of PAGAN Christianity was interesting to me (it goes with the Pastor and the Hierarchy stuff as well not to mention the seminary - but we will get to that).

I'm particularly interested in the sermon because I'm a speaker... now, I've always wrestled with 'the word' being the central part of our gatherings... I don't mean that I think Scripture isn't central - I just always wondered why one person telling us what the 'word' was is the central part of our meetings. Not to mention that the sermon is often the most boring part of the meeting - the hardest to pay attention to and the biggest waste of time in a local leader's life in preparation, delivery and impact. Athough I often meet frustrated local 'pastors' who spend a significant amount of time in their week on the 'sermon' I rarely meet people who have been converted through 'the word'. It's almost always the impact a person makes in their real life.... not a half-hour to hourly time of exegesis... actually, if I'm honest I rarely meet people who can remember 'the word' a few days later. For those salvationists out there you may want to get ahold of William Booth's How To Preach and give it a quick read - it's likely to blow you away!! ;-)

Apparently the practice of a 'speech' or 'sermon' was borrowed from the Greek sophists who were masters at oratory and rhetoric. These were also intimately connected to entertainment... It was when Constantine brought in the church buildings enmasse and connected with the establishing of the 'clergy' or professional christian leader the sermon began to take on a much bigger and more important role. Up until that time of course Christianity was something lived out in the everyday... it wasn't a 'theory' or an abstract principle it was about how one lived their whole lives (think Judaism).

Actually a friend and I were just discussing how in the Hebrew culture everything is much more rooted in community and experience - for example all the feasts and sacrifices etc.. were all hard to do - every family having to make a journey and slaughter their own animals and the feasts like passover and even the feast of tabernacles (where you build a make shift house to remind them of the time in the wilderness etc...) it's all very hands on. I remember getting ready for passover one year and inviting a few cell groups over to our house to rid it of 'yeast'. It was incredible. First, who knew how many things have yeast in them??? and second, what an unforgettable experience about the reality of sin and how to get it out of our lives and the cost involved in it etc... it was incredible. Better than any meeting on passover I'd ever been too. Way better than any sermon I've ever heard.

Anyway, I'm not sure how we managed to turn a community focused, equality driven, everyday life living movement into a professionalized, sermonizing ritual that makes both halves of your body go to sleep... but we did. Now, can speaking be useful? yes of course. have I been impacted by sermons. Yes of course. Do I give them? Yes. Are they central to my faith? No, absolutely not.

This post is a little long... I'll follow it up in a bit... needless to say in order to grow up in Christ I need more than already been chewed food (the sermon) and a mind numbing weekly ritual... I need Christ in me the hope of glory - I need the reality of the everyday being infused with living water and hope and light and peace... I need Jesus to show up in everything, all the time - revealing the great adventure he's set me on...