As I write this today I am thinking about my own journey over the last 15 years. Up until 15 years ago my experience was one of being a conservative, moralistic christian. I was not good at contradictions and complexities. Everything was black and white and I was very good at telling people how to live their lives and what they should do. This has been my experience of most of fundamental christianity.
I was raised in a fundamental and moralistic religious group. They practised a doctrine of perfection that was presented as a carrot tied by string to the end of a stick. You could never quite achieve it, the rules kept changing and if you failed they hit you with the stick.
‘No one is ever quite pure enough, moral enough or holy enough or enough of an insider of the proper group’ (Rohr, Immortal Diamond).
We were kept very busy with the process of ‘sin management’ and indiscretions were used against us and to whip us into line. The high water line was obedience and woe betide any one who was found to be disobedient to the word of the elders.
In a moralisticly oriented religious group there are always clear outsiders to be kept clearly out-side. Hiding inside this false moral purity are things like slavery, sexism, the greed of Christian emperors…pedophilia…conquest and oppression’ (Rohr).
But thats another story for another day.
The good thing about following Jesus, spirit-based morality, is that you are not motivated by reward and punishment. You dont need to follow the rules, you do things because they are true, not because you are afraid of punishment.
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.
You follow Jesus because you are in love with him and because He helps you. He gives you the desire and the power to please Him. Its because you want to not because you will be punished by your community if you don’t.
I mention this for Meditation Monday because I am constantly concerned about the way some people still operate out of the ‘you are bad and we are good mentality’. This mind sets actually goes deeper because it alienates and cuts off anyone who does not line up to a moralistic view of Christianity. As Richard says in the above quote ‘there are clear outsiders to be kept clearly out-side’. My experience has been that this also relates to topics that we believe should not be discussed but kept clearly out-side. We are constantly drawing lines in the sand when Jesus asks us not to judge.
I think about the parable of the wheat and the weeds. This is the thought that I will leave you with to think about this week. Remember that the law does not give life, only the Spirit gives life.
Are we aware of the mixture of good and evil in our own lives?
“Jesus uses a number of mixture images that illustrate this tension…this world is a mixture of different things, and unless you learn how to see, you dont know to separate; you get lost in the weeds and can’t see the wheat. (Matt13:24-30).
We are not good at carrying or living with both the good and the bad. It is Jesus job to decided what is weed and what is wheat not ours. Both we and the world are a mixture of wheat and weed. That is the mystery.
“It takes a lot more patience, compassion, forgiveness, and love than aiming for some illusory perfection that is usually blind to its own faults. …it takes uncommon humility to carry the dark side of things and it takes courage to carry the good side too. The crucified one always hangs between these two theives – paying the price within himself just as we must do’( Rohr, p40 Everything Belongs).
Jesus forgives both theives. Do we?
Lets not be blind to the weeds and planks in our own lives and lets not judge what we perceive to be the weeds in others lives. Lets trust Jesus to do that and get on with what He asked us to do which was to love one another the same way that He has loved us. Unconditionally, graciously and with mercy.
We must ask ourselves, is our life an example of an encounter with a loving and caring God and are we growing the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy peace, long-suffering, goodness, meekness temperance, faith? Or is it spent deciding who can and who can’t participate and what is and what isn’t appropriate to do or talk about at Church? The Franciscans have a saying;
“Don’t expect a lot of freedom or permission from most religious people, but thank God, the gospel requires them to give you forgiveness.”
Selah – think on these things this week.
** Photos by Atilla Siah. You can follow Atilla’s amazing work at
The parable of the Wheat and the Weeds Matthew 13
Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr. The Search for our True Self.
Today I am talking with Guitarist Dave Powys from The Paper Kites.
The Paper Kites are an indie rock-folk band from Melbourne, Australia. The band was formed in 2010 and consists of Sam Bentley, Christina Lacy, Dave Powys, Josh Bentley and Sam Rasmussen. They have released two EPs “Woodland” and “Young North”. Their debut album “States” was released in August 2013 and they are currently working their next record set for release in 2015.
The Paper Kites have done incredibly well in Australia with sell out shows and the quintet are now finding international acclaim in America and Canada.
Dave and I met over a coffee in Warrandyte.
He was the barista and I was parked at local cafe ‘Now and Not Yet’ doing some work.
(Incidentally Dave, you make an excellent coffee).
Dave, your bio on The Paper Kites Face book page says:
“Hello, we’re The Paper Kites, we play songs”.
From this I deduce that you are either short on words or very humble.
Maybe you could fill us in a bit on who the band comprises of and what your passions are?
Sam Bentley ‘Sam’ is the primary songwriter and brains behind a lot of what we do. He plays guitar among other things. He grew up in Melbourne, barracks for Richmond, loves films and is getting married this year.
Sam got trapped in a water slide at wet and wild once. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
Josh Bentley ‘J Booncely’ is Sams cousin and plays the drums. He also grew up in Melbourne, barracks for Carlton, loves sport and a good altercation. In fact he is also getting married this year! Josh was attacked by wasps recently and looked like he got punched in the face.
Christina Lacy ‘Stina’ is a founding member of the band along with Sam, she plays guitar, keys and sings. She grew up in Melbourne and barracks for Collingwood. She loves the culinary side of life, and is often dressed better than the rest of us. My favourite quote from her is;
“So what’s the deal with Star Wars?
Is Darth Vader Luke’s dad or something?
Sam Rasmussen ‘Raz’ plays the bass and has a habit of finding beige clothes and belongings. He grew up in Perth and barracks for Fremantle.
A wicked cook, husband and father of two, he also has a magical alter ego ‘The Great Razzini’ who cannot be underestimated. Raz once karate chopped a sauce sachet which exploded all over a ladies hair who was sitting next to us. She wasn’t as impressed as I was.
And I’m Dave ‘Dave’
I play guitar and have the most amount of hair in the band. I grew up in Canberra mostly and don’t really care much for footy. I love good music, coffee and my wife.
I once split my eyebrow open playing totem tennis.
DP: Sam and Christina had been playing together for sometime. We all knew each other through different bands and Josh, Raz and I agreed to play with them for a few shows.
Lisa: Dave, tell us some of the highlights that the band has had over the last two years?
DP: Releasing our debut album ‘States’ in August 2013 was significant. Our first tour in North America during the fall that same year was huge for us. We did the first half of the tour supporting City And Colour and almost drove around the whole continent. A particular highlight though was playing at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne on our ‘States’ tour. It had been a dream of ours to play there for a long time.
Lisa: Do you all contribute to the writing process or is there one person in particular who writes the music/lyrics?”
DP: Sam is responsible for the songs. He is an unreal songwriter and has an eclectic ability. We are all involved in arranging the songs in rehearsal, and sometimes that can significantly change the skeleton of the songs.
Lisa: At what stage in the song writing process do you all come together?
DP: Sam writes the songs in their entirety. When he’s done we start rehearsing.
Lisa: Is there a particular song that resonates with you personally at the moment? If so why?
DP: One of our songs?
Well it’s hard to say as they’re all so new for this album. If you’re asking about any song in general… I’d have to say ‘Shadows’ by Ryan Adams. It’s delicate, beautiful and perfectly restrained with excellent guitar tones as usual.
Lisa: You are in the studio in Seattle at the moment recording. How is it going?
What can you tell us about the new album?
DP: Well I’m sitting in a cafe in Ballard, we only just arrived yesterday. We start tomorrow, so I’ll just be setting up the guitars today and making sure everything’s ready to go.
Lisa: Dave, where and how can people follow the band?
DP: Our Facebook is pretty up to date, although if you open your news feed with the intention of searching our page, you’ll most likely be distracted by useless updates, synapse numbing videos and invitations to play bloody candy crush saga, so check our website.
Lisa: Do you have another tour planned?
DP: Not yet. Although there will most definitely be touring in the second half of this year.
Lisa: When do you think the album will be released?
DP: Not too sure, but I’d hope by July.
Lisa: In 2013 you scored your first ever ARIA chart entry with their debut album, States which was recorded with ARIA Award winning producer, Wayne Connolly. This must have been an incredible experience.
What did you learn out of this? Did this accelerate your kudos?
DP: We learnt heaps during that experience.
We had worked with Wayne on our EP ‘Young North’ so we already felt comfortable. We learnt to track songs live together, and experiment with more sounds and more instruments. As far as our Kudos goes, maybe I’ll leave that to the critics.
Lisa: I have a video link below to the song St Clarity. Can you tell us a bit about this song?
DP: This is one of my favourite videos we’ve ever done. Please check out the making of this clip as well with the amazing Natasha Pincus.
Dave thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us today on Sunday Everyday.
The Paper Kites:
Pastoral Survival Guide: by Rowland Croucher.
The Characteristics of Pastors who make the Distance.
After listening to hundreds of their stories, I believe that there are the ten characteristics of pastors – women and men – who ‘make the distance’.
- We have looked at Jesus as our Model, Spiritual Formation, Images of Ministry (Posted 5th March)
Todays post will look at a very important foundational principle, Spiritual Disciplines.
1-5 SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES
The spiritual life cannot be nurtured without discipline. So make a chapel or oratory somewhere, perhaps a corner of your bedroom, away from interruptions (put the telephone answering machine on), where you do your prayer and Bible/spiritual reading (not ‘Bible study’ or sermon preparation: that should be done in another place at other times). Daily solitude is not a luxury; it is a necessity for spiritual survival. If we do not have that within us, from beyond us, we yield too much to that around us.
Spiritual wisdom suggests we begin our ‘quiet time’ with a Bible word, phrase or prayer (‘Be still…’, ‘Maranatha’, ‘Lord, have mercy on me a sinner’). ‘Occupy yourself in it without going further. Do like the bees, who never quit a flower so long as they can extract any honey from it’ (Francis de Sales).
‘Lectio divina’ is the slow, reflective reading of the Bible. Scripture is God’s personal word to me – for my ‘formation’ not just information. I read it reverently, ready to be ‘converted’ again and again (conversion begins but never ends), willing to be led where I may be reluctant to go, believing that God has yet more light and truth to reveal to me, and to the church. I try to learn to ‘meditate on the Word day and night’ (Psalm 1:2).
The Daily Office is an excellent structure for daily devotions. Try the Australian Anglican Prayer Book or the Daily Devotions section in the New Zealand Anglican Prayer Book. The Daily Office, says (Baptist) Stephen Winward is absolutely scriptural, God-centred, depends on an ordered use of Scripture (including difficult and challenging passages), is corporate, educative (we’re in touch with prayer traditions centuries old) and ‘obligatory’ (even though the discipline is sometimes hard). Of course, as the Protestant Reformers emphasised, it can be mechanical and formal, but it doesn’t have to be. ‘Few things are needful, or only one’ says Jesus to Martha (Luke 10:42 RSV mg.).
Be still, and know that he is God. Contemplation is the awareness of who (and where) God is. The intellect and lips are still, and one is open to beauty, goodness, wisdom, gentleness and love – in short, to transcendence. It’s the descent of the ‘Word’ from mind to heart. The most important element in the contemplative life is not knowledge, but love. This is a hard discipline for ‘heady’ and busy people.
Christian spirituality issues from, and creates Christian community. We have suffered from too much privatised religion (‘receiving Jesus as your personal Saviour’ is not an expression we got from the Bible).
Pastors, too, need to be accountable spiritually to someone. ‘Self-made Christianity’ is a contradiction. And remember, pastoral ministry is not automatically self- (or spirit-) nurturing. Because you handle holy things doesn’t ensure you’re a holy person.
So we will find a spiritual director, a ‘soul friend’, someone who helps one respond to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, listening together to the Lord.
The key question in direction is not ‘Who am I?’ (that’s counselling) but ‘What happens when I pray?’ Spiritual direction is all about following Jesus who taught his disciples to pray. So did the apostles: read the magnificent prayers in Ephesians 1 and 3 and Colossians 1, where Paul spells out how he prays for his friends – obviously modelling a way to pray he would like them to emulate. However, Spiritual Direction is not, in essence, directive (it’s the Spirit who directs). We come to God, said Augustine, not by navigation, but by love.
The sacraments are the Lord’s specific gifts to his people: the corporate acts par excellence of his church.
Fasting is a good regular or occasional discipline. Fast from food, words, TV, spending money, the telephone, sex, watching sport – whatever will help get ends and means in perspective for a while.
Silence is ‘the royal road to spiritual formation’ (Nouwen). It is not just the absence of noise, but an opportunity to listen to the still small voice of the Spirit. ‘Meditation’ is a way for Scripture to be internalised not merely (as in Transcendental Meditation) a technique to ‘calm down’.
Journaling is a useful means of recording the promptings of the Spirit in our lives. A spiritual journal is a written response to reality: a record of one’s inner and outer life (including dreams), a way to inner growth, reflection and healing.
Prayer cannot be divorced from daily living. Baron Friedrich von Hugel’s first suggestion to Evelyn Underhill when he was invited to be her spiritual director: visit the poor in inner-city London two days a week. After all, the Spirit, says an ancient Latin hymn, is pater pauperum, ‘father of the poor’.
A final word from Bonhoeffer: ‘It is not some religious act which makes a Christian what he or she is, but participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world’ (Prisoner for God, SCM, 1953, 166).
Rowland Croucher (born 1937) is an Australian pastor, counsellor and author.
Brought up in the Open Brethren in Sydney, following a five-year career as a high-school teacher, Croucher began training in 1964 for the Baptist ministry in New South Wales. He worked for the InterVarsity Fellowship (1968-1970), now the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES); then pastored churches in Australia: Narwee and Central Baptist Church – both in Sydney – and Blackburn Baptist Church in Melbourne, which became a “megachurch” in the late 1970s, with seven pastors, a salaried staff of 25 and 1,000 attending; plus several interim ministries. He was then, briefly, pastor at First Baptist Church, Vancouver, Canada. From 1983 to 1991 he worked for World Vision Australia.
Since 1991, Croucher has been founding director of John Mark Ministries, serving pastors, ex-pastors, church leaders and their spouses throughout Australia and elsewhere. The John Mark Ministries website, with 20,000 articles, claims to be the most accessed non-denominational religious website in Australia.
Croucher has authored 12 books, including Still Waters Deep Waters (with 35,000 copies in print) and has been a regular participant on Australian radio and TV programs. (Wikipedia)
WHAT IS SURRENDER 15
SURRENDER:15 MAKING THINGS RIGHT
There is a brilliant conference happening in March called Surrender. This is a great opportunity to discover God’s heart for justice; listen to our Indigenous brothers and sisters, encounter Jesus’ call to follow Him to the margins.
The SURRENDER conference is a gathering of Christians from across Australia to share ideas, stories and hope on justice, discipleship and mission.
The SURRENDER conference is for people from all walks of life – with workshops for first-timers, gathering spaces for the tribes, amazing programs for kids and youth, and heaps more!
WHAT’S SURRENDER:15 ALL ABOUT?
In its deepest form poverty and sin comes from our broken relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the earth and is expressed spiritually, socially, mentally, emotionally, economically and in the earth itself. We desperately need to see things made right in all these relationships! Jesus comes to see us reconciled to God, reconciled within ourselves, reconciled to our human family and reconciled to the earth he created.
At SURRENDER:15 we’ll explore together God’s purpose for us as agents of reconciliation in a broken world. How do we as the church and as individuals find our identity as peacemakers and restorers of broken relationships…
The conference has main KEY NOTE sessions and in the afternoons workshops and electives so that you can custom design your experience
BEING MADE RIGHT
Jesus wants us to experience an inner journey of reconciliation where we come to experience a deep connection with Him and a discovery of a deep and whole inner life. Out of this flows a powerful Spirit birthed capacity to love others and walk alongside them as they too take this journey.
AMBASSADORS of RIGHTNESS
As passionate followers of Christ we are commissioned to seek His kingdom coming in all the world and be ambassadors of His reconciliation! As we surrender to His will we can be part of the process of seeing things made right in our streets, our nations, and our earth!
RIGHT IN IT TOGETHER
We don’t engage in seeing things made right all by ourselves but are sustained and empowered together as sisters and brothers united by a shared heart. The greatest times of things being made right always happen when we engage not just as individuals but as communities that bring restoration!
SESSIONS Main sessions, bible studies, workshops and conversations on…
- // Living to see things made right in our world and our neighbourhood
// Moving out into our communities and seeing the upside down Kingdom emerge
// Forming deep, healthy and transformational communities
// Biblical reflections on justice and discipleship
// Inviting your church on the missional journey
// Rhythms of Contemplative Spirituality
// Why Jesus cares about Politics
// Using art and beauty to stir up change
// Gender and our journey towards wholeness and discipleship
// Understanding and engaging with and across culture
// Making things right in our relationship with the environment
AN INCREDIBLE LINE-UP OF SPEAKERS
RUTH PADILLA DE BORST
Ruth has been involved in leadership development and theological education for integral mission in her native Latin America for many years. She is a missionary, theologian, teacher, activist and member of the Casa Adobe community.
As a missionary with Christian Reformed World Missions she first served in student ministry with the Comunidad Internacional de Estudiantes Evangélicos (IFES), next with Seeds of New Creation, a ministry that trains for and promotes holistic mission in El Salvador, and later with the Institute ProIntegral Education. She lives in Costa Rica where she shares parenting of their blended, multi-cultural family with her husband, James Padilla DeBorst, and community life with the members of Casa Adobe.
Parish Collective, USA
Paul Sparks is co-founder of the Parish Collective and the Inhabit Conferences. He has done parish tours and trainings in over 500 neighbourhoods across North America and is the co-author of The New Parish. A Community Organizer and Social Entrepreneur, Paul’s place-based expertise and trusted friendships in neighbourhoods across North America make him an indispensable consultant to academic institutions, community organizations, and faith-based groups. He has served as a Pastor and Community Developer for 25 years and often consults groups seeking to understand the transition toward more local forms of everyday ecclesial life. He curates a growing faith community in Tacoma, Washington.
Christian Peacemaker Teams
Sarah is the Executive Director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, a multifaith international organization committed to building partnerships to transform violence and oppression.
She is a border-walking scholar-activist at heart and a biracial Mennonite Christian who goes and comes from the Great Lakes Watershed. She attended Spelman College majoring in Comparative Women’s Studies and International Studies, and received her Masters of Divinity from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.
Her current growing edges are related to her interest in postcolonial theology, menstruation and power analysis, social movement building, and alternatives to robotic warfare and society.
Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship, Australia
The Rev Neville Naden has years of experience in various Indigenous ministries and he is the current chairperson of the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship (AEF). He lives and ministers in Broken Hill, NSW with his wife Kathie at the Living Desert Community Church. Neville and Kathie moved to Broken Hill at the beginning of 2007, where they have developed a number ministries including a booming youth ministry, Sunday Church services, a youth drop-in centre and a community garden. Neville and Kathie are seeing growth in all areas of their ministry with all services, including the youth bible studies put on three times a month and the weekly church services increasing in numbers.
RT REV JUSTIN DUCKWORTH
Bishop of Wellington, NZ
Bishop Justin has been at the cutting edge of mission and ministry in Wellington for 25 years. He was a co-founder and leader of Urban Vision, which runs houses in some of Wellington’s neighbourhoods, in which
young Christians live alongside folk from the margins. Justin and his wife Jenny also pioneered Ngatiawa, a contemporary monastery which provides a welcome to those who are struggling, those seeking prayerful retreat, and those seeking a missional lifestyle.
Collective Shout, Australia
Melinda is best known for her work addressing the objectification of women, sexualisation of girls, global trafficking and violence against women. Melinda is also co-founder of the grassroots campaigning movement, Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation, is an Ambassador for World Vision, Compassion, and the Raise Foundation, and was named in the Who’s Who of Australian Women and the World Who’s Who of Women.
STEVE JAMPIJINPA PATRICK
Steven Wanta Jampijinpa Pawu-Kurlpurlurnu Patrick is a Warlpiri elder from Lajamanu in the Tanami Desert. He is an experienced educator and cross-media artist who has worked on numerous programs for the Northern Territory Department of Education, the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, and most notably, the Warlpiri Youth Development Aboriginal Corporation’s acclaimed Mt Theo Program.
Common Grace, Australia.
“Jarrod is the sort of God-botherer I enjoy being bothered by. His passion, compassion & humour are all things this world needs more of.” –Wil Anderson (Comedian & host of The Gruen Transfer)
Teaching Pastor at Westcity Church. Co-Founder of First Home Project. #LoveMakesAWay enthusiast. National Director of Common Grace. Trainer of Christ-like larrikins. Wants to be more like Jesus, and less like a jerk.
Jarrod is speaking at SURRENDER Youth Night
Jisas Wantaim, Australia
Billy is originally from the Kamilaroi people of North-western NSW. Billy is a pastor for dhiiyaan Northside Church and co-ordinates Jisas wantaim, an organisation that seeks to equip, empower and enable the emerging generation of Indigenous Christian leaders.
Ray Simpson is the Founding Guardian of the Community of Aidan and Hilda. He is an ordained Anglican Priest and has held a number of ministry positions including a neighbourhood church plant, sponsored by six church denominations in Norwich, England. Ray has lived on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in England for nearly 20 years where he runs retreats for pilgrims and consults on church renewal strategies. He is the author of a number of best-selling books on Celtic spirituality, new monasticism and patterns of prayer and he lectures around the globe on Celtic Christian Studies.
Thursday 19 March:
10am – 4pm
Youth Leaders Training Day pre-conference
Friday 20 March:
9am – 11pm
Including SURRENDER Youth Night
Saturday 21 March:
9am – 11pm
Including SURRENDER Indigenous Night
Sunday 22 March:
9am – 2pm
8.30am – 9.00am
9.30am – 10.30am
11.00am – 12.30pm
Eat, Share & Explore
12.30pm – 2.00pm
Workshops & Conversations
2.00pm – 5.30pm
Eat, Share & Explore
5.30pm – 7.00pm
Full Conference $165
Concession Full Conference $115
Day Pass $80
Concession Day Pass $50
SURRENDER Kid $45
AT: Belgrave Heights Convention Centre 3 Convention Ave, Belgrave Heights, VICTORIA.
For more info & to register
phone 0403 177 995
These are Beautiful paintings from Russian Artist Olga. Enjoy some weekend gazing at Art. As we are moving into autumn! Russia is thawing out for Spring.
Jiri Dvorsky is a brilliant graphic artist that I found down a rabbit hole. I was looking for amazing pictures whilst creating Sunday Everyday. I found one of Jiri’s pieces on Google Images, I then had to track down the artist so that I could please please please get permission to use his work and not infringe on copyright. I finally found Jiri on Deviant Art where we met and started a conversation which led to his permission for me to use his work and then to this interview. *Insert Happy Dance here.
Let me remind you that English is not Jiri’s first language and it has taken some effort for Jiri to write for us today, for which I am very grateful. Jiri is a professional graphic artist from the Czech Republic. You can view Jiris amazing work here at Deviant Art
Every Artist loves feedback so if you pop in to have a look at his work, please leave a comment for him and also let him know that you found his work through Sunday Everyday. He would really appreciate it.
Jiri tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, where you work, about your family?
It‘s a bit like saying which child you love most. 🙂 Mostly I like my last painting, but in the long term I very like pictures “The Circle” and “In my Hands”.
“In My Hands”
I’m happy if they would find in my paintings something that touches their hearts. And it does not matter if someone understands my painting differently than I had thought. On the contrary, in this it’s the magic, that each can find in my paintings their own ideas and feelings.
Pastoral Survival Guide: by Rowland Croucher.
The Characteristics of Pastors who make the Distance.
After listening to hundreds of their stories, I believe that there are the ten characteristics of pastors – women and men – who ‘make the distance’. Here are three of them.
1.. RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
1-1 JESUS OUR MODEL
Christian ministry – of any kind – is simply doing in our world what Jesus did in his. Jesus is our pattern for ministry – to God and for the world. Close communion with the Father was at the heart of all he was and did. As his disciples saw this reality they wanted to be part of it (why don’t more people ask us to teach them to pray?). His prayer-life was disciplined and ordered, although he too, was busy. It began with a contemplation of God – ‘Our Father’ – before moving to human need.
He prayed hard before important decisions, like choosing the twelve. His meditation on Scripture gave strength in times of testing, particularly when the devil wanted him to do ministry another way. Time was found for prayer – 40 days, a whole night, very early in the morning. Hurry is the death of prayer. (When did you last take a retreat?) Nowhere did Jesus pray ‘to feel good’: for him, and for us, the key imperative is obedience.
1-2 SPIRITUAL FORMATION is the process whereby the Word of God is applied by the Spirit of God to the heart and mind of the child of God so that she or he becomes more and more like the Son of God. It’s ‘growing firm in power with regard to your inner self’ (Ephesians 3:16). It’s the maturing of the Christian towards union with Christ.
Assumptions of spirituality include
* God is doing something before I know it
* Love and prayer are gifts
* The aim of spiritual formation is not happiness, but love, joy, peace – and courage and hope
* Prayer is friendship with God, a response to his love
* Prayer is subversive: it’s an act of defiance against the ultimacy of anything other than God
* We are always beginners in the life of prayer: pray as you can, not as you can’t (‘to seek to pray is to pray’).
1-3 IMAGES OF MINISTRY
The minister – whether pastor or other – serves by introducing persons to Jesus, our only antidote for alienation. Alienation (sin) is the severing of self from self, self from others, self from God; and all these are connected (if I’m alienated from self I won’t be OK with others). The opposite of alienation is belonging: the process is called metanoia (‘turning’ from blaming to owning one’s alienation and being ‘converted’). Truly ‘converted’ people are eucharistic, thankful, grateful.
# Wounded Healer: The minister of Christ expects trouble (as Jesus promised) in a world tempting us with clean sorrow and clean joy. The Lord is closer when we are vulnerable, when we stop pretending to be powerful, and admit how wounded we are. Personal spiritual renewal comes only through brokenness, dying (Psalm 51:10-12,17, John 12:20-28). The Christian life begins and continues as a via crucis.
We recognise Judas and Peter in ourselves – we’re both wicked and weak. And yet, in our despair, when resurrection seems unlikely we hear him in the garden or on the sea-shore, alive, calling us by name. Because we are identified with a dying/risen Christ, our ministry is a ‘living reminder’ of this oneness. So we will avoid crucifixion-only spiritual masochism or resurrection-only triumphalism. And our pastoral task is to prevent others suffering for the wrong reasons.
# Servant Leader: Ministry is the translation of the Good News into human relationships. It’s having authority to empower others to live in the Kingdom.
‘Authority’ = a firm basis for knowing and acting; ‘authorities’ maintain their position after knowing/acting have finished, and ‘lord’ it over others (which is why people who climb institutions often have difficulty maintaining a spiritual life).
Jesus, in contrast to the authorities, was a servant, identifying with us in our ordinariness (the Suffering Servant wasn’t good-looking, Isaiah 52:13). So ministry has to do with ‘the quiet homely joys of humdrum days’ (Sangster), the sheer Mondayness of things. Such servanthood is indiscriminate (if I cannot embrace someone, it is because he or she reminds me of some fear in myself). But let us remember: if we live to please people, we become slaves of those people. Instead of one master (Jesus, whose yoke is easy), we end up with numerous Pharaohs who are never satisfied with our performance no matter how much we do.
Our servant role is well expressed in Colossians 1:24-29 and Acts 20:28 (‘Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.’). As we are called to be servants of the church, we also affirm that the church is not our master – Christ is.
During the installation of a pastor, the congregation is asked two questions phrased something like this: ‘And you, people of God, will you receive this messenger of Jesus Christ, sent by God to serve God’s people with the Gospel of hope and salvation? Will you regard him/her as a servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God?’
# The Scholar Teacher (Latin schola = free time): Henri Nouwen (Creative Ministry) contrasts violent and redemptive teaching models. ‘Violent’ teaching is competitive (knowledge is property to be defended rather than a gift to be shared), unilateral (the teacher is strong/competent, the pupil weak/ ignorant), and alienating (students and teachers belong to different worlds). ‘Redemptive’ teaching is evocative (drawing out potentials), bilateral (teachers are free to learn from students), actualising (offering alternative life-styles in a violent world).
# Coach/Empowerer. The Protestant Reformation put the Bible into the hands of ordinary people, and just about everybody agrees we now need a new Reformation to put ministry into the hands of the laos – but many/most clergy will resist it. (Why do we persist in using the word ‘minister’ in the singular?) The clergy are part of the laity, equipping us all towards spiritual growth and maturity (Colossians 1, Ephesians 4).
Pastors are the churches’ resident spiritual directors (see Eugene Peterson’s excellent writings on that subject), theologians (see Elton Trueblood), and prophets (Walter Brueggemann).
Featured Images by Attila Shia:
You can view his work on https://www.flickr.com/photos/77967821@N00/sets/
New Shoes Here I Come The link between depression and creativity is debated in many arenas. I do wonder how many Artists and those who operate mostly from the right side of the brain struggle with this and to what level. I truly believe that depression is more common than we think. Artists feel deeply and that is what makes their art so profound and moving. I’ve posted an article about the link between depression and creativity written by Shelley Carson.
Depression, Creativity, and a New Pair of Shoes
By Shelley H. Carson, Ph.D. on July 30, 2008 – 2:05pm in Life as Art.
“Well, I guess now all I have to do is get depressed and my work will improve.”
Since the time of Aristotle, creativity and the arts has been linked to melancholia…but depression itself doesn’t necessarily enhance creativity. Quite the opposite: most poets, artists, and composers have reported over the years that they are decidedly unable to work during episodes of severe depression. In fact, many have found their inability to create while depressed to be an impetus for ending it all. Virginia Woolf, for example, unable to write during the onset of a depressive episode, filled her pockets with stones and submerged herself in the River Ouse.
So if depression inhibits creativity, why the long-standing recognition of a connection between the two?
Here are four suggested theories: First, some artists and writers admit to engaging in their craft as a kind of auto-therapy for depression (a more healthy coping mechanism than booze but lots of artists and writers use that, too!). So depression (or the effort to avoid depression) may provide an incentive to do creative work that wards off melancholia.
A second theory is that the experience of depression may provide subject matter for artistic creations: Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream and Emily Dickinson’s “There’s a Certain Slant of Light” are just a couple of examples. A third theory, one held by many Romantic-era luminaries, is that one cannot truly comprehend the human condition (or convey it meaningfully in creative work) unless he or she has experienced the highest emotional highs and the lowest lows. Thus, depression provides the existential angst from which great art arises.
Finally, recent research on mood disorders and patterns of creativity suggests that it may not depression itself but recovery from depression that inspires creative work. Kay Redfield Jamison found that periods of creative productivity occur when individuals are either transitioning out of a depressive episode or are transitioning from normal mood into a manic or hypomanic episode.
In other words, creative productivity is linked to upward changes in mood. This dovetails nicely with work done by Alice Isen’s group at Cornell which found that people scored higher on creativity measures after a positive mood induction in the lab. Positive mood was induced by giving study participants a small, unexpected gift.
Okay, so maybe my artist friend doesn’t need to get depressed to improve her work; maybe all she needs is an unexpected gift (a manicure? a new pair of shoes? an unexpected snuggle from her four-year-old?). The point is, perhaps an upward change in mood can mimic recovery from depression and increase creative thinking.
If you’re currently suffering from creative block, try the “unexpected gift” strategy. You could either arrange for someone to surprise you with a small unexpected gift…or you could find a small, unexpected gift on your own (a flower growing in a crack in the sidewalk, a full moon rising over the trees, or the taste of a ripe strawberry – anything that inspires unexpected joy.) By keeping your senses open to unexpected pleasures, you may be able to get your creative juices flowing.
As an artist who suffers from depression I can relate to a few things in this article.
Firstly if my depression is especially deep I find it hard to get out of bed let alone do any creative work so in that regard depression does not help my creativity.
However, mild depression along with my introverted personality mean that I enjoy great periods of time in silence and solitude. When I am in this space, then I am the most active creatively. I am able to go into a cocoon where time has no value and am able to focus exclusively on what I am working on. I find intrusion or interruptions extremely annoying. This could include eating or answering the phone. In this regard I wonder if my depression or introverted nature help the intensity of the creative process. When I am in this space I find great joy in observation and not speaking. I will wander the streets taking in the sights or observe people in cafe’s or busy places. I like to drive into the inner city and look at historic architecture or to walk along secluded beaches. This refuels me and inspires me.
I am really interested to hear your thoughts on this topic and how this relates to you. Love Lisa
References: Ashby, F.G., Isen, A.M., & Turken, U. (1999). A neuropsychological theory of positive affect and its influence on cognition. Psychological Review, 106(3), 529-550. Jamison, K. (1989). Mood disorders and patterns of creativity in British writers and artists. Psychiatry, 52: 125-134.