Friday, November 30, 2007

Speaking of Christian Fundamentalism...

Some interesting conversations going on at the moment... check out armybarmy blog for more on the 'fundamentalists' description... on another note in that same vein the issue of abortion has come up a lot lately. I say in the 'same vein' because often those of us in support of pro-life are also labelled 'narrow-minded fundamentalists' so I figure while we are on the subject I'd share just how narrow-minded I can be too!
This is an interesting subject really... I guess mostly because I've been extremely passionate about LIFE - and am deeply pro-life (president of the club in one town I lived). Now, I'm in the social justice field AND abortion isn't on the list of issues... someone asked me why. Good question. Not only that, but another person from another territory asked how we can keep 'social justice' from being highjacked by moral issues like abortion - while I understand what they meant this also set me thinking. Add to this an SA periodical (pipeline issue November 07 pg 14)where the General is quoted, "there are situations in which abortion is the lesser evil". Wow. I'm assuming he means in situations of medical emergencies - like when it's a life versus a life decision. I wouldn't call that an 'abortion' by the way. But still, another reminder of what a critical issue pro-life really is. Here are some things I'm thinking about:

1. Either we (meaning the SA) are pro-life or we are not. I'm a little tired of the ambiguity of the SA on this issue. If we believe in the sacredness of life we must believe in basic human rights for all people - including the unborn. Surely this means even when in utero?!

2. The same principles of pro-life apply to every social justice issue:
-basic human rights (the right to live is a key one)
-individual focus verses community responsibility (this is a great driver of a consumer driven mentality of western cultures - our own 'convenience' is more important than the rights of another)
-voiceless people (those who cannot stand up for themselves... surely the poor, marginalized, and the unborn fit this category).
-the sacredness of life (regardless of colour, race, and age!?)

3. Does an issue have to be 'popular' for us to be 'for it'? The Catholics are a great example of this - they have been fiercely pro-life the last 50 years even in the face of great public displeasure... John Paul II had some amazing thoughts on the subject (and is largely responsible for many of my leanings in that respect). And I wondered when people stopped talking about the Jews in public during the pre-war Germany, Nazi regime rise (I know this will label me 'extreme' in my comparisons but really, when thousands of people started to just 'disappear' and bringing it up became unbearable uncomfortable because of popular opinion - who brought it up?).

4. Why is bringing it up so hard? And why is bringing it up labelled as 'off' or 'extreme'?

I've got a hunch that the enemy is happy about killing 50% of the next generation off before they even drew a breath. And I've got a suspicion he's thrilled that the church is scared to bring it up - I suppose more scared of popular opinion than of God. I want to say I'm not - but the truth of the matter is that it's a costly issue to stand up for. It's costly with the organization - because of a need to be compassionate and palpable. It's costly with the public - because of a need to present Jesus as 'for you' and 'not against you' - WHICH HE IS!!! And, I'm not sure how we get so confused as to think that giving permission is like giving love... it's pretty clear that boundaries for children are a loving thing not a condemning thing... It's costly to your social life - try bringing it up at a party! and it's costly to your spirit... to not speak up for those who have no voice. And it's costly to our social justice voice - if we can only find it about issues that are popular or 'sexy'!

So, those are some thoughts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Injustice, kids and slum surviving...

Had the great opportunity to go to a public school today (hat tip JW) and talk about injustice and global poverty. The class was doing 'slum survivor' for the day - which is a great program where you can experience what's it's like to live in a developing world 'slum'.
We talked about root causes of poverty and then began to brainstorm about what WE could do about it... the thing I love about kids is that they get it. One of them suggested that the reason we don't often like to see poverty is that if we were to take a good hard look we'd feel compelled to act. Nice one.
Others made the great suggestion that the way to combat poverty is to give more! Simple - but effective. Speaking of giving... what are you getting for Christmas this year - there are lots of JUSTGifts available at - check 'em out!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Post Connections Wonder...

So I've been wondering about what will come of Connections.

Not that it hasn't already born fruit - but what will be the long-term effects of thousands of Salvationists gathering to critically engage and connect with deep issues, theological truths, God Himself and the community of Australia?

I had a great opportunity to address the nation along with The Salvation Army Southern Territory Salvationists (estimates are about 4000 folks were there) on the issue of human trafficking.

I'm wondering out-loud if that is enough pressure to create some action on behalf of the government to release Federal funding and change the VISA specifics to protect human trafficked survivors in Aus? I'm praying it will.

Not only that - but I'm also praying that it wouldn't just be once every 10 or 15 years we march for social justice... I say we pick up the pace...

just wondering if those who felt God call them to officership will go home and sell off their stuff and come?

just wondering if those who picked up Fairtrade start up kits will visit the cafes and retailers in their local communities and ask them to stock fairtrade?

just wondering if those who heard Jesus' voice calling them to salvation will run the race with perseverance?

just wondering if those who were inspired to stand up for social justice will go home and infect their Corps with the same spirit?

just wondering... I'm not doubting - I'm dreaming that this gathering would bear fruit - and fruit that will last!
God speed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A message for Australia

We had a great time at connections this past weekend. Some really, good opportunities for Christ - including a time at Melbourne Federation Square with around 3000 Salvationists and some Media gathered to hear what we had to say.
Among other things we had a chance to tell Australia as a nation that it was time to END HUMAN TRAFFICKING NOW!
In 2001 Australia was one of 100 countries that signed the UN Trafficking Protocol (Palermo Protocol). In that was a promise that they would:
1. provide for survivors of trafficking
2. protect victims and potential victims from trafficking
3. prosecute those responsible for trafficking

Although in 2003 Australia released an anti-trafficking package - it has done VERY little to make good it's promise to the world.

We resolved as The Salvation Army to help Australia keep her promise and were able to remind the nation of how they could start to END TRAFFICKING NOW!
We suggested two immediate steps:
1. immediate federal funding for safe houses (protection for survivors of trafficking)
2. immediate VISA classification for trafficking survivors - this is in desperate need of revision...

needless to say it was quite a vision - I've a feeling Booth would be proud.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on the fruit of the declaration... God willing it will help to create change and make a way for those caught in the clutches of trafficking to get free and stay that way! God grant it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Saved to Save

Saved2Save training school is based on Jesus command “Freely you have received; freely give!” (Matt 10:8)

S2S is not so much a traditional bible school as a place for personal experience of biblical truth. We can only give to others what we have received personally and experienced for ourselves.

S2S aims to equip and train young and old to serve the Lord on a voluntary basis.
S2S can be viewed as a training resource for the front-line people, the pioneers in God’s Kingdom. We are looking for those who, beside their ordinary work, want to give their time towards building God’s Kingdom. Sweden, Scandinavia and Europe, the most secularized part of the world, are in desperate need for Gods truth and the Gospel of Jesus. Therefore;

The vision of S2S is to:
Recruit people passionate to live incarnational christianity in Europe.
Help them experience deep and full salvation.
Train them to save others.
Send them out to serve, especially to plant outposts.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Buy Nothing Day...

Stand up against the mindless consumerism of the Holiday season, if only for one day. The day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year (at least in the US of A), BUY NOTHING unless you absolutely have to (i.e. food). Instead, take some time to think about why you buy the things you do and how your money and attenction can be used elsewhere in your life.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Steve and I have been preparing for our Connections session on covenant and commitment - it's a fascinating topic really: here's a sample of Wesley's Covenant:

Wesley's Covenant, 1780, 1/3
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Commit yourselves to Christ as his servants. Give yourselves to him, that you may belong to him. Christ has many services to be done. Some are more easy and honorable, others are more difficult and disgraceful. Some are suitable to our inclinations and interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves. But then there are other works where we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.

"It is necessary, therefore, that we consider what it means to be a servant of Christ. Let us, therefore, go to Christ, and pray: "Let me be your servant, under your command. I will no longer be mine own. I will give up myself to your will in all things. "Be satisfied that Christ shall give you your place and work.

"Lord, make me what you will. I put myself fully into your hands: put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and with a willing heart give it all to your pleasure and disposal."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

10 plagues and a new knowledge

A great twist on the deliverance story of the Israelites from the Egyptians (more from Peterson). He suggests that the 10 plagues were not so much about judgment on Egypt but an exposing of the lie of Egypt's sovereignty for the Israelites.
They had only known captivity - and the best thing they could ever imagine was the best of Egypt... God had to rip the facade off and expose Egypt as a fraud - empty, lacking and powerless in order to allow them to dream of another kind of world.
It led me to think about what Gunilla Eckberg (Swede who helped form Sweden's laws around gender and trafficking) says are the keys to changing a nation:
The First? to imagine a different world.

This is what God is having to do again, and again for His people. Sometimes the only dreams we can image are the droning screen flickers of a godless world (a new kind of power)... so we say, "imagine having a flat screen TV or a lot of money - or a great job (which means a lot of money) and a nice house and two cars (really, nice new ones)" AND we lack Divine imagination... sometimes the only way to be free from them (fake dreams) is to expose them for the sham that they are... those lives are empty and lack imagination... I'm asking God to keep lifting my eyes to a new world - a better world... I want to be able to imagine a world where women don't have to sell their bodies for bread, children have enough to eat - and evil men are stopped in their tracks by just laws and nations who uphold them. I'm dreaming, with my eyes open- and pray that God would continue to expose the enemies fake world so that God can invite us to journey into a new, promise land... it's a deliverance that includes a wrenching of all that is of Egypt in me... do it Lord.

Monday, November 12, 2007

More from Peterson...

So Peterson is talking about how we recognize the resurrected Christ at work in the world... and mentions that the poor (those on the edges of society) recognized Christ - they got it, right away (in contrast to the elite and religious who clearly didn't get it). He says this:
"Given the importance that we, in our society, give to celebrity endorsements, this means that we need to pay serious attention to other voices. The men and women who are going to be most valuable to us in cultivating fear-of-the-Lord wonder are most likely going to be people on the edge of respectability: the poor, minorities, the suffering and rejected, poets and children."

I'm not sure about you - but I want to make sure my friend list is full of the likes of those that will help me capture the ressurected wonder of Christ! I'm praying for friends in 'low' places.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places

The book I'm currently reading, subtitled 'a conversation in spiritual theology' by Eugene Peterson is a fantastic challenge. Here are a few quotes so far:
"The end of all Christian belief and obedience, witness and teaching, marriage and family, leisure and work life, preaching and pastoral work is the living of everything we know about God: life, life, and more life."

"It is the task of the Christian community to give witness and guidance in the living of life in a culture that is relentless in reducing, constricting, and enervating this life."

On spiritual theology (in explaining the use of the terms):
"'Spiritual' keeps 'theology' from degenerating into merely thinking and talking and writing about God at a distance. 'Theology' keeps 'spiritual' from becoming merely thinking and talking and writing about the feelings and thoughts one has about God The two words need each other, for we know how easy it is for us to let our study of God (theology) get separated from the way we live; we also know how easy it is to let our desires to live whole and satisfying lives (spiritual lives) get disconnected from who God actually is and the ways he works among us."

Needless to say... I've been challenged. Wonderfully challenged.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Rob Bell on social action...

Are we doing too much social action and forgotten about evangelism?

I think that sort of question comes from a person who is in exile. It's the kind of questions you are left with when you have missed Gods purposes in the world. Bill Gates is giving millions and millions of dollars aid in Africa, and billions of dollars to great causes around the world, because the church didn?t beat him to it.

We are always telling people about Jesus. We are telling people about Jesus with our actions and we are telling people about Jesus with our inaction. So we are always evangelising. We are always announcing who Jesus is. We are always communicating with everything we do whether we believe that the tomb is empty or not.

Resurrection is a whole way of life and the term evangelism can be very destructive, because it gives people the idea that we are supposed to be doing this "thing" over here. If you are a grandma and I meet you in the street, it won't be long and you would have whipped out the latest photos of the grand kids. This is because you naturally and instinctively tell people what you love. If you love golf, I will know. If you are trusting in Jesus more and more each day, then your relationship with Jesus, you walk with Christ, what you see Jesus doing in the world, you will naturally witness to this, how could you stay silent.

So when people say, "what are you doing for evangelism training"? We are introducing people to Jesus. What has happened is that churches have given people actions. There are the three questions you have to ask or there's four points on this pamphlet, to do something that is supposed to be the most natural, free-flowing, I can't not tell you my story. I also think that this isn't a pendulum. The Kingdom of God is not a left or a right. The Kingdom of God is not liberal or conservative. We are conditioned to think in dualities. Is that liberal or conservative? Is that Post-Modern or Modern? Is that emerging or non-emerging? We are conditioned to think in this way.

The Kingdom of God is truth and life. So the Kingdom of God plunders anyone's agenda for good and true. So some people say that sounds like a such and such cause. If it is true it belongs to God. So when people say you are taking care of the poor, what about Jesus. If you start studying the bible you may neglect the injustices of the world. The Kingdom of God is anywhere that the rule and reign of God is expanding on earth.

At Mars Hill we are not reacting we are embracing the fullness of the Kingdom. We are saying that word and deed are all expressions. So whether you are having coffee with someone telling them that on the cross you believe that God was reconciling all things on heaven and earth and you look across the table and you say "I believe that means you too" or you are somewhere with you sleeves rolled up caring for people across the spectrum to build this house or to bring water to these folks it is all what it means to live in the fullness of the Kingdom.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Speeches that shaped the modern world

I was reading this book (Speeches That Shaped the Modern World by Alan J Whiticker) on the plane last night - and it was surprisingly captivating.
I say this because I've come to play-down the art of rhetoric. Leading a 'cell-based' Corps I started to see the powerful form of questions and conversation over the popular typical Christian form of a 'sermon' which is a monologue-lecture that seeks to teach but in a style that isn't the most transforming or even useful. After conversing with some Cadets and new officers who were spending large amounts of their week preparing for a 30 minute monologue to people whose lives weren't changed much by it - I realized the massive waste of time we commit to a deed that has proven less then best... (someone could remind you of the definition of insanity here...)

"Socrates said (as quoted in Plato's Gorgias), "rhetoric... is the artificer of a persuasion which creates belief about the just and unjust, but gives no instruction about them..."
Aristotle (philosopher and mathematician) studied the use of language as a tool of persuasion. In The Rhetoric, he argues that rhetoric is neither good nor bad, but an art form. Plato claimed that 'the rhetorician need not know the truth about things; he only has to discover some way of persuading the ignorant that he has more knowledge than those who know...'"

Although ancient, these 'wise guys' were already understanding the limits of rhetoric. I'm realizing them by experience... Jesus had a wonderful mixture of rhetoric, questions, stories and life - the author of this book quotes the sermon on the mount (Matt. 5) as the most revolutionary speech of all time. I agree.

Stay tuned for some great quotes of some famous speeches that shaped the world. But even more impressive are lives that have touched the world and people who share their whole lives with the world and see transformation. God grant the mixture of Jesus to us.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Not For Sale

I'm currently reading the book Not For Sale by David Batstone (also a documentary well worth watching). I'd recommend you check out the website - it's got some great ideas for local advocacy (some stuff is American but some of it is global).
He offers a realistic yet hopeful look at the global slave trade and how we can fight it.
"That, in fact, was the unexpected surprise of my journey to monitor the rise of modern global slavery. I had steeled myself emotionally to end up in the depths of depression and despair. To be honest, I made some unpleasant stops in my journey. The day I went undercover to investigate a brothel in Phnom Pehn, for instance, broke my heart... but my journey did not end at the station of despair. The prime reason: I met a heroic ensemble of abolitionists who simply refuse to relent. I felt like I had gone back in time and had the great privilege of sharing a meal with a Harriet Tubman or a William Wilberforce or a Frederick Douglass. Like the abolitionists of old, these modern heroes do not expend their energy handicapping the odds stacked against the antislavery movement. They simply refuse to accept a world where one individual can be held as the property of another."

I'm praying to Be A Hero... want to join me?