Friday, July 31, 2009

More on Pagan Christianity

So the book breaks down the 'sacred cows' of Christianity (protestant... although much of what we do comes from the catholics of course) and it really takes a hard look at the 'scriptural' basis of our 'church expressions'. Here's a big one:
Church buildings: non-existent in the early church of course... meeting in each other's homes for teaching, meals and prayers... open courtyards and marketplaces for evangelism etc...
The breakdown on the amount of money we spend on buildings for 'the church' is crazy.. it's embarassing. I remember a trip to Zambia where I was speaking to some Zambian salvationists who were expanding so fast they couldn't keep up with the buildings necessary to 'house their church'... I told them they shouldn't worry about the building because they are the church - this they understood well... then I told them that we (in the west) had big huge buildings with NO people.. and they couldn't believe it. Neither would the early church... what on earth do we need buildings for????
In Vancouver, we experiemented with a cell based community... we met in homes, bars, coffee shops etc.. and we tried really hard to not just 'do church' but the 'be church'. We thought up t-shirts that said 'I'm a living stone'... and everytime my mother called to ask me if I went to church on sunday I'd say, 'mom, I am the church'. Although we were living in a part of the city where conditions were against us (transient population, excessive drug use, etc..) we grew... much faster than we thought we could... and the growth was organic... because there was no building we had to make room in our places.. because there was no central 'foodbank' we had to make meals in our homes and share them with our friends etc... the lack of building actually forced us to be what we said we wanted to be. It was a much harder experiment than I thought it would be... the reality of being the church is a 24/7 surrender to the Lordship of Christ. But it was worth it. It created a living, breathing, people of God... no fancy building but a great bunch of surrendered lives and people sharing their lives on the journey towards transforming a city... it's incredible what an organic church can do. The early church modelled this well... I'm not sure why it's so hard to let go of structures that seem to limit our potential and suck up all our resources... if every church got rid of their building and started to do church organically - what would we do with all the money??? The early church idea was to give it to the poor... wow. revolutionary thinking.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pagan Christianity

I've been reading PAGAN Christianity - a book by Frank Viola and George Barna - a great read on the origins of most of our western church practices... if you are stuck in normal church structures (the need for a building, a service on sunday, a message by a 'pastor' an ordained clergy etc..) this book is an important read...
read a review at the Ooze:
Basically the authors are making three points:

1) A great deal of what we do in church today does not come from the New Testament.

2) Much of what is practiced originated out of Greco-Roman customs and traditions (paganism, not Judaism), and/or human-made inventions.

3) Many of these practices actually hinder the church from being what God designed her to be.

The over-arching question the authors seem to be asking is: Do the practices of modern institutional churches reflect a God-ordained/inspired development, or are they a departure from it?

For many years I've been confused (not to mention bored) by the practices of 'the church' compared to the New Testament account of how Christianity was practiced and spread... if you are needing a refresher on why those practices are lacking in creating a revolution I'd suggest a read of this book for a start.
I've also been thinking about some changes in the salvation army in the last 50 years... our meetings used to culminate and focus on 'the mercy seat' - the place where we ENCOUNTERED God.. the best means to encourage people towards this was not through a long sermon (read William Booth's How To Preach for details) but through TESTIMONIES of people who had ENCOUNTERED GOD... participation, participation - transaction and the like... don't get me started on the 'special and ordained' priesthood of 'officership' that somehow took the responsibility of the 'church or corps' over from the soldiery... I mean it's crazy... somehow the disappearance of the mercy seat and the emerging of the 'pulpit as the centre' etc.. has transformed us into well a pagan church basically. It's a bit nuts.
Who knows, maybe we'll break it down into bloggable sections for you over the next few days.
Turns out luck isn't the only thing for pagans...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

find out what makes big churches popular...

To provide context for the “30 Sermons You’d Never Hear in Church,” we decided to look at 20 sermons you would hear in church – at least if you were at one of the ten largest churches in Canada or the U.S.What is said from the pulpits of these churches that makes them so popular? To find out, the Geez research team chose a random Sunday (April 13) and started downloading sermons from the ten largest churches in the U.S. and the ten largest in Canada (see lists below). Here is some of what we found. Read the whole article (This article, submitted by Geez Magazine, was awarded first place by the Canadian Church Press in the A.C. Forrest Memorial Award category, 2009.) Hattip to Michael Ramsey (read his blog here).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Give my heart, do my part... the world for God.

The world for God! The world for God!
There’s nothing else will meet the hunger of my soul.

The world for God! The world for God!
For this, dear Lord, give to my soul consuming fire.
Give fire that makes men heroes, turns weakness into might,
The fire that gives the courage to suffer for the fight,
The fire that changes fearing to Pentecostal daring,
The fire that makes me willing for Christ to live or die

The world for God! The world for God!
I give my heart! I’ll do my part!
-Evangeline Booth

Thursday, July 23, 2009

MorningStar WW3 - He's Alive - Suzy Yaraei

we've only just begun to worship Him. He's alive.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

International Student Centre in Melbourne

“The Couch” – International Student Centre aims to provide a safe and free space at night time for international students studying in Melbourne to socialise, relax, rest, study, and seek information and assistance. “The Couch” will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5pm-10pm. The project will be specifically tailored to meet the needs of international students, such as language barriers, cultural beliefs, and specific needs.

From July 2009, Melbourne’s international students will have a new place to relax, socialise and access a range of support services, with the opening of The Couch – International Student Centre. Coordinated by the Salvation Army and The Australian Federation of International Students (AFIS) and supported by the City of Melbourne, the project is designed to meet the specific needs of international students in Melbourne. The facility will provide a safe and free space for international students to socialise, relax, study, and access information and assistance in the heart of the CBD.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Salvos stopping traffik

Had two great nights in the Western Victoria division... Geelong and Ballarat were both places where I met people who were willing and open to learning more about Human Trafficking and how they can be part of the solution. Major Winsome Merrett is a legend in her efforts to have justice explained and lived out locally.
Both the events were also fundraisers for The Salvation Army anti-trafficking preventing project in Mexico. Amazing work.
While I"m at it why don't you check out: and see how you can get involved. Or has a whole list of events and campaigns that are designed to get everyone involved in bringing God's kingdom to earth.
One of the major themes of the evening is that the big scary nature and the evil involved in human trafficking doesn't have the last word. There is a power and a love that is greater - there is a life that conquers even death... and we go in the strength of the promise of Jesus' himself that good will triumph over evil. We took a quick look at some other situations that seemed helpless - changing the whole economy of England for example during the transatlantic slavetrade, India looking for independance, and the civil rights movement in america... all of them of course victorious in the end.
Let's add ending human trafficking to the list of seemingly impossible possibilities. Join the fight today.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

International Leaders of The Salvation Army - Statement

you'll most likely read this on many blogs. But it's worth repeating:
A Spiritual Statement to All Salvationists

The recent International Conference of Leaders, held in London, culminated in every member of the conference being invited to consider prayerfully the following Spiritual Statement.

On the final full day of the conference, a Sunday, those present signed the personal recommitment and rededication in the presence of one another, many doing so at the Mercy Seat.

A Spiritual Statement to Salvationists everywhere from the International Conference of Leaders gathered at Heathrow, London, England, 7-13 July 2009

Conference theme: 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever' (Hebrews 13:8, New International Version)
A Spiritual Statement to the Salvationists of the world from the General, the World President of Women’s Ministries, the Chief of the Staff, all officers holding the active rank of commissioner, and the territorial and command leaders of The Salvation Army gathered in the name of Jesus Christ and by the grace of God in conference in London, England, on 7-13 July 2009.

WE have gathered in the sacred name of Jesus from every corner of the world. In a spirit of humility we have given time to waiting upon God for his guidance for our own individual and personal lives and also for our sacred responsibilities as Salvation Army leaders under God. We have spent time seeking the will of God in plenary sessions together, in small groups focused upon the Scriptures, and in solitary prayer and meditation. Our subject matter has included the following large themes and topical issues for the whole Army:

– a reaffirmation of the role of the Army, of all Salvationists, and not least of Salvation Army officership, in the building of God’s Kingdom here on earth;
– the building up of God’s Kingdom through an ever-deepening commitment to Christ and personal confidence in the power of the gospel;
– working for Kingdom growth through the Army’s numerical growth and through the establishing of Army work and witness in new lands;
– the Army’s God-given role in working for social relief, social justice and human rights on every continent;
– the challenges of financing the Army’s global mission at a time of global recession;
– the challenge of working in Muslim cultures today;
– understanding current societal trends in relation to postmodernism, issues of gender, the younger generation, and our relations with other Christian bodies;
– the ever-urgent need to win and disciple children and whole families for Christ;
– the constant need to prepare the future leaders of the Army on every continent.

Most importantly of all, we have prayed together with earnest and seeking hearts, asking God to reveal to us with new clarity all he is willing to accomplish through us despite our failings, both personal and organisational. We have pleaded for a renewed spirit of humility, surrender and submission to the divine will for us and for the Army.

We have pondered again before the Lord, who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), a vision of the worldwide Salvation Army kneeling in repentance, prayer and rededication at the Mercy Seat. We have spoken together of all that this might mean for the Army, seeking new grace, new spiritual power, new divine prompting, and asking for and receiving afresh God’s mercy.

As we keep this vision before us, we give heartfelt thanks to God for his blessing upon his Army. We thank and honour him for souls redeemed, lives transformed, and a growing Army of Salvationists offering selfless service across the world. We praise God for the growing number of countries into which he is leading us. We pray for heavenly resources of wisdom and ability in order to meet the many new challenges and opportunities he is giving. We thank him for his constant provision and sustaining grace.

Also we affirm our conviction that, to be truly useful to God, the Army needs to be pure and free from sin, and that senior leaders must, by grace, be effective role models in this. We feel the urging of the Holy Spirit to examine our own hearts afresh to see if there be any wicked way within us. We want to yield again to the demands of divine love, to return to first things, to cast aside distractions unpleasing to God, and to be in a relation of entire obedience to the Father. We acknowledge our constant need of grace.

We renew our sacred vows and covenants as both soldiers and officers of the Army, thanking God from our hearts for the privilege of the calling he has placed upon us. We declare again our availability and our readiness, as senior officers, to go anywhere to do anything at any time under God and within the structures of the Army, seeking only the advancement of his Kingdom.

We acknowledge our humanity and weakness, seeking the unique strength that God provides when we are weak and he is strong. We confess our limitedness, knowing that God is all sufficient. We abandon explicitly any desire that has sprung up in our hearts to place self first.

We ask for the prayers of our fellow Salvationists to help us in this renewal of our covenants as soldiers and as officers, and in so doing we recognise our vulnerability and our personal need of divine help.

In sharing this Spiritual Statement with Salvationists everywhere, it is our hope and prayer that it will be received with humble and understanding hearts, and that by the abundant grace of God it will be used to inspire and prompt others to seek with us repentance, with renewed purity and holiness in Christ.

My Personal Recommitment and Rededication

By adding my signature to this Statement, I wish to identify personally with the spirit of repentance, humility and availability shown by my comrade Salvationist leaders gathered in conference with me in London. With renewed confidence in God, I pledge myself afresh to these shared goals of personal holiness and of seeking to do only his will in all things.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Just Salvos Report

You may be interested in the latest justsalvos report from THQ in Australia Southern Territory.
God has been gracious to us in providing many people who are engaging in social justice as a lifestyle... this is connected of course to a vibrant faith and all about following the example of Jesus.
Read and be inspired.
If you'd like to get more involved - let me know!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Regina Spektor- Laughing With (Official Music Video)

interesting take on people's attitude toward God.
May be worth a read through of Psalm 2.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sweating to the Oldies.

Someone told me today that some of the best advice they'd received was from older women - like:
"As soon as you realize that 80% of life is boring you'll be happier."
"Marriage is work." and things of that nature.
We were chatting about how little we mix up the age groups in the way we do life these days and the costs of that to our generation and those coming behind us.. it was a great conversation. Although I never really had the reality of grand-parents in my life I did greatly benefit from godly older people who prayed for me and journeyed with me as they could. It was a great example of people who could spur the next generation on. I'm indebted to them and hungry for even more input and example... I've found the trouble with doing new styles of corps planting is that it attracts mostly a younger demographic from the church... we miss out on the wisdom, experience and advice of the older generation... I'm thinking there must be some older Christians who want to invest their lives into new corps expressions?? Just thinking really but I'd like to start sweating to the oldies... not to mention praying with, fighting with, learning with, journeying with.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

powerful testimony from a powerful woman!

My name is Trisha Baptie and I was a prostitute for 15 years; I think one of the most sex positive things you can do is make sure people cannot buy sex.
The buying of sex is violence against women and is a direct deterrent to women’s equality.
Long has the conversation gone on that pitted current prostitute against former prostitute, indoor vs. outdoor, drug addicted vs. Gucci addicted, of which I fell into all those categories. By having that discourse it has long allowed the real question to avoid being asked “Do we as a society think men should be able to pay to sexually access women’s bodies?”
Do we think that a sign of an egalitarian society?
If we know silence and consent can be bought for a price (I remember how much mine cost) and that 92% (Farley et al.) of women in prostitution want out NOW. Should we allow a small minority of prostitutes who argue “choice” further their individualistic agenda on the backs of those who have no choice, on those who are there out of a perfect storm of oppression, neglect, abuse and human trafficking and instead of offering them a hand up to heal and reach their full potential we off them up to feed the demand for paid sex.
Prostitution is the dehumanizing of women by commodifying the female body to perform sexual services for men, which is sexual and social subordination. This thinking actually creates an environment in which all women are seen as a sub-class of human beings with little purpose outside of men’s sexual pleasure.
Allowing or tolerating prostitution affects every woman because the inherent inequality in prostitution becomes a reference point for sexual and social relations between the genders that is not at all rooted in equality, fairness or mutual respect.
I want to make it clear that it is not the prostituted women we must blame but rather the demand. For it is the oldest form of patriarchal and misogynistic oppression, which is why we must men paying for sex stand accountable.
I remember working indoors and men calling in and ordering a woman,
I want brunette, small boobs; will do ____ or Asian, round face, petite. You get the idea. How is it equality if women can be reduced to what amounts to ordering a pizza and picking the toppings? How are those men respecting, honouring and valuing women?
What I remember about my years as a prostituted women was how much I tried to find something empowering in what I found myself doing.
That by choosing who raped me, based on their ability to pay I was empowered.
That by consenting to the abuse, I was free from it.
That by caving into the demands of patriarchy, by working hard to look like what they wanted, talk like they wanted and when submitting to sex on their terms, for which I got money, that I had somehow bested them and was now in control of them.
But I was not, for I remember how much I flinched when they moved to quickly, how I would lay under them and would try to be anywhere else in my mind. How they always seemed to have a sob story for why they needed to buy me, but my sob story of not wanting to be under them, not wanting to have them in my mouth, was never as urgent a need as theirs.
Saying prostitution will always be with us is capitulation.
Sweden, which is a global beacon of hope, criminalized the buying; pimping, procuring and decriminalized the women in 1999.They have since seen a drastic drop in prostitution and Sweden in no longer a destination country for human traffickers. To me that is a country that says we value our women and Norway, Iceland and Bulgaria have all followed Sweden’s lead.
They also implemented exiting strategies, adequate welfare and a huge awareness campaign when the laws were implemented. I am based in reality and know it would be a hard transition period and a long one but what I find great hope in is that fact that there are 10 year olds in Sweden who have grown up in a country where that does not happen.
To me it is not about ones individual “choice” to be prostituted but rather about legacy. NO prostituted women I know, myself included, wants their daughter to be a prostitute for we all know firsthand how it devastates the mind, body and spirit so with every breath in me I will work towards creating a world rooted in fairness, and equality that values humanity and that is done by stamping out the world’s oldest oppression.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


a great thought provoking video - check it out.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Burning bright and monasticism

Bonhoeffer wrote in a letter to his brother in 1935: "The restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ. I think it is time to gather people together to do this."
Commenting on Bonhoeffer's letter, the theologian Walter Rauschenbusch wrote: "Christian ascetism called the world evil and abandoned it. Humanity is waiting for a Christian revolution which will call the world evil and change it."

Last night was the first community healing prayer service at St. Martins with the Collingwood Salvos. It was a gathering of like-minded christians who long for God's kingdom to invade the here and the now. We pressed in to God's heart for each other (from different backgrounds and traditions) and for the community of Collingwood. We are adding a 24 hour prayer that will culminate in the healing service in order to create a rhythm of prayer and spiritual discipline in our community and in our own lives.
We are hungry for God's best. I can't wait for the day where it can be 24/7... the hot fires of spiritual passion need to burn bright. Bring it on.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Global Recession and dateline.

The effects of the global recession is felt by almost everyone. All of them in varying degrees. Check out this dateline video coverage of a few people struggling through the realities of joblessness and despair - featuring the hopeful Cory Harrison who runs the 614 Corps in town and one of the people belonging to their community. The catholics get a great debut in the happy ending!
I enjoy watching the church respond to despair with great hope. Hope is a weapon for believers to wage war against the enemy of life. Let Hope Arise.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

nationalism and denominationalism...

I've been away for a few days and out of internet reach (dealing of course with the withdrawal that comes with that). And over those days have been some stand outs. Canada day and Founders Day for a start.
Canada day marks the celebration of Canada obviously - Canadians aren't known for their super nationalism... although we do sing our national anthem a lot more than Australians I've noticed! ;-) If you haven't read Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne it's a solid read that really takes a look at the early church and it's deliberate shrug of nationalism (particularly the cult worship of Rome and Caesar) - refusing to participate in anything that was seeped in nationalism instead of the gospel. Very interesting switch of approach after the conversion of Constantine.. anyway, I was thinking about how grateful I am to have been born in the lottery of geography (as Tim Costello calls it) in Canada - by far one of the richest and free nations on the earth. What a joy that some of the founding members of Canada thought to pray and establish in fact that Canada was meant to be God's dominion from sea to shining sea. God grant it. I was just telling my son that as Christians we are not simply Canadians... the whole world is the Lord's and everything in it. We are citizens of heaven. He didn't buy it. ;-)
And then founders day. Again a nod to my son as he was asked who founded the salvation army - the first instinct was to say william and catherine booth but then he stopped and said 'wait a minute - wasn't it God who founded the salvation army?' Solid question and good thought. Was it God who started the salvation army? Perhaps the two are related issues. If heaven is my true home then surely the Kingdom is my true denomination. The Salvation Army, like Canada is a blessed people who have been in turn sharing the blessings to the whole world. And my dream and desire (and work and life for that matter) is devoted to seeing God's Kingdom come through every effort of The salvation Army - living up to what early salvationists have already attained.
But that said, the salvation army isn't my true home any more than Canada is. My true home, my identify, my love is all wrapped up in the arms of a King - Jesus is the place where I truly belong. And in the words of advice from one Salvationist I esteem, 'I'm sticking close to HIm'.