Sunday Everyday

Monday’s Meditation: Theological Reflection

A practical exercise in theological reflection  by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

‘What does it mean to reflect theologically?  Theological reflection is the act of deliberately slowing down our usual process of interpreting our lives to take a closer look at the experience. … and then view these everyday events of our lives through the lens of the character, activity and heart of God’. 1.

So you have experienced something, it may have been traumatic, it may have been wondrous, it may have been complex and confusing.  Theological reflection means that we slow down enough to reflect on the experience and then apply what we have learned.  Experience – reflection – learning.

We are all acquainted with reflection,  but theological reflection is the act of looking at the experience and reflecting upon it with God in mind.  Through the lenses of scripture, church history, previous experience and also by engaging your mind.   This is called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. ‘Scripture, Church History, Experience and Rational Thinking.

‘We must live in the moment: open, undefended, and immediately present’.  Dr Gerald May

This takes courage.  The next question that we ask is ‘How did I get here and where am I going?’

As we reflect we need to also ask.

  • What is the bigger picture?
  • How is this event seen from Gods perspective?
  • What did I learn from this experience?
  • Can I even reflect on this event or is it too painful and am I avoiding it.
  • If I am avoiding it why?

Avoiding an experience is also known as repressing.

Repression, is ‘the psychological attempt made by an individual to repel one’s own desires  by excluding the desire from one’s consciousness and holding or subduing it in the unconscious.   Repression plays a major role in many mental illnesses, and in the psyche of the average person’ (Dictionary).

The trouble with repression is that it doesn’t stay repressed.  Sure you may be able to avoid it for a decade or two but like the beach ball held under water for a time, it eventually pops up.  The event pops up when you least expect it.  Usually when you are too tired to hold it down anymore.  My advice is that you deal with it, get some professional help if you need to.  Then when you are in a safe place you can work through the event and the reasons why you have gone to such lengths to repress it in the first place.

EXERCISE

A good exercise in reflection is to get three or four colours of post it notes.

You can use a large piece of card or you can use your bedroom wall.

One:  Brainstorm significant people, events and circumstances, (good and bad) in your life.  One post it not per event.

images-1

Two:  Identify which experiences were painful or negative.  (replace with a different post it note)

Three:  Stick onto cardboard in columns left to right

Four:  Group into phases or chapters (not too many) and give each one a title at the top.

Post-its_on_poster-e1383678874742

Five:  On a different post it not, write ‘lessons learned‘ on the appropriate columns/chapters.

The lessons that you have learned from these chapters in your life act as sign posts for the future.

Photo realistic 'healthy lifestyle' sign with space for text ove

Process and reflect on these lessons and write down in your journal the things that you have learned.

Who or what have been the influences in your life?

Can you identify a fork in the road moment when a crisis, a conversation,  a controversy or your own personal spiritual growth caused you to realise that your theology was insufficient.

In other words.  The way that you view God or the doctrine that you believed in did not answer or measure up to the experience.  This process helps us to understand what is wrong theology and what is the true nature of God.

‘The ability to understand, process and evaluate the building blocks of our faith and life, enable us to develop and grow with intentionality and wisdom’.1.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We must allow time in our human experiences to process, reflect and understand.  Not only the experience itself but what it  is that we learned from that experience.  When we do this we begin to see that the past becomes the building blocks of our future.  We learn from our mistakes, our experiences and we grow and move on from this.  In life we have two choices.  We can transmit painful experiences or we can be transformed by them.  It should be our goal through theological reflection to be transformed or to be formed into something more than or other than we were before the experience.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Love Lisa.  Let me know how you go.

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** Notes:

Notes taken from class on Spiritual and Theological Formation at Tabor College 2013.

Characteristics of Pastors who make the Distance: The Call to Ministry

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’.

  • In past posts we have covered Jesus our Model, Spiritual Formation, and Images of Ministry (March 5 2015).
  • Spiritual Disciplines ( March 12 2015)
  • Last week we covered Saints and Pharisees (March 19 2015)

Today we will look at The Call to Ministry.

THE CALL TO MINISTRY

Here is some classical Christian wisdom on the subject of vocation:

‘Your motives are mixed. So are mine, for I shall not know this side of death why I became a preacher; and I have no right to assume that all that moved me in the choice was of angel brightness. Sometimes we see how incredibly ravelled are even our best desires.’

(George Buttrick, Sermons Preached in a University Church, Abingdon, 1959, p. 109).

# Traditionally, an ‘inner’ call was dominant when one entered monastic life; but the call to the presbyterate/pastorate needed an ‘inner’ call confirmed by the church. God always calls people to leadership in the community of Jesus Christ through the community. Calvin taught that there is a ‘two-fold’ call to pastoral ministry: God calls, but the church must also call. Wesley distinguished between an ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ call.

Eugine  Peterson, the author of 20 books (all still in print), including The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary Language and a complete translation of the Bible by NavPress, says this of being a pastor:

“I’ve loved being a pastor, almost every minute of it. It’s a difficult life because it’s a demanding life. But the rewards are enormous — the rewards of being on the front line of seeing the gospel worked out in people’s lives.

I remain convinced that if you are called to it, being a pastor is the best life there is. But any life can be the best life if you’re called to it”.

# The call to ‘ministry’ is a subset of the call to be a child of the living God. The New Testament talks about the ‘high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:14); it is a ‘holy calling’ (2 Timothy 1:9); and a ‘heavenly calling’ (Hebrews 3:1).

colored sunglasses, summer concept

# Sometimes people wear rose-coloured spectacles when considering a call to pastoral ministry / full-time evangelism / cross-cultural missionary work. Those people are considered fortunate, because they have lots of time to sit around and meditate, without being bothered by the hassles of ordinary living. A mother-of-nine told the evangelist Gypsy Smith that she believed God was calling her to be an evangelist like him. ‘Isn’t that wonderful!’ he responded. ‘God has not only called you; he’s already provided you with a congregation!’ Jesus said to Peter: ‘Follow me (leave your home)’. To the Gadarene demoniac (Luke 8:26-39): ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’

# An old church paradigm suggests six ‘vocation indicators’ –

  • Faith (words and actions that indicate a deep-down commitment to Christ and his Church);
  • Idealism (often expressed through initiatives which promote peace, justice, and strive for a better world);
  • A Search for Greater Meaning (eg. an authentic questioning of current lifestyle);
  • A ‘People Person’ (either extroverted, or a quieter ‘one-to-one’ personality);
  • Leadership (ability to draw others to oneself, make decisions and take initiatives);
  • Strength of Character (integrity and a sense of responsibility for one’s own actions and decisions).

# God may have to call you more than once before he gets your attention. God had to call Samuel three times before he got the message.

Gazing

# Sometimes a ‘call’ will come when we are really discouraged in our work; sometimes when we are successful. Christian wisdom says that usually a ‘restlessness’ will precede a call to another ministry, but escaping, running away from a tough job to enter pastoral ministry does not augur well for a ministry-future.

(Have you heard of the black cotton-picker in the American South who was very tired one scorching day. He looked up to the heavens and said ‘O Lord, de sun am so hot, de work am so hard, de cotton am so grassy dat I believe you callin’ me to be a preacher!’).

by Rowland Croucher.

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Rowland Croucher (born 1937) is an Australian pastor, counsellor and author.

Brought up in the Open Brethren in Sydney,[1] 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, VancouverCanada. From 1983 to 1991 he worked for World Vision Australia.[2]

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.[3]

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)

Characteristics of Pastors who make the distance: Saints and Pharisees

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’.

  • In past posts we have covered Jesus our Model, Spiritual Formation, and Images of Ministry (March 5 2015).
  • Last week we looked at Spiritual Disciplines ( 12th March 2015)

Today we will look at the difference between the Saint and the Pharisee.

THE SAINT AND THE PHARISEE

In general there are two religious mind-sets – those of the ‘saint’ and the Pharisee. We all have something of each in us, and the potential to be either. Both may be ‘orthodox’ theologically, even ‘evangelical’. Both pursue ‘goodness’ but by different means, for different ends. (Pharisees were ‘good’ people in the worst sense of the word!). Saints (like Jesus) emphasise love and grace, Pharisees law and (their interpretation of) ‘truth’. Saints are comfortable with ‘doctrine’, but for the Pharisee doctrine becomes dogma, law becomes legalism, ritual (the celebration of belonging) becomes ritualism.

The saint lives easily with questions, paradox, antinomy, mystery;

Pharisees try to be ‘wiser than God’ and resolve all mysteries into neat formulas: they want answers, now. The saint listens, in solitude and silence; the Pharisee fills the void with sound.

With Jesus, acceptance preceded repentance, with the Pharisees it was the other way around.

The saint, like Jesus, says first ‘I do not condemn you’. Pharisees find that difficult: they’d prefer ‘go and sin no more’.

Jesus welcomes sinners; sinners get the impression they’re not loved by Pharisees. For the Pharisee, sins of the flesh and ‘heresy’ are worst, and they are experts on the sins of others. For the saint, sins of the spirit – one’s own spirit – are worst. Saints are ‘Creation-centred’; Pharisees ‘Fall-centred’. The saint’s good news begins with ‘You are loved’; the Pharisees begin with ‘You are a sinner’.

For the Pharisee ‘my people’ = ‘people like me’; for the saint ‘my people’ = all God’s people. Pharisees are insecure (needing ‘God-plus’ other things); the saints are secure (needing ‘God only’). The Pharisees’ audience is other people: their kudos provides a measure of security (psychologists call it ‘impression management’; Jesus calls it hypocrisy). The saints’ only audience is God: their inner and outer persons are congruent.

Praying at the Wailing Wall

Pharisees hate prophets (‘noisy saints’) and their call to social justice; saints love justice. (Saints aren’t into writing creeds very much, which is why the two things most important for Jesus – love and justice – don’t appear in them).

So saints remind you of Jesus; the Pharisees of the devil (demons are ‘orthodox’). Saints see Jesus in every person: they haven’t any problem believing we’re all made in the image of God (= Jesus) although they’re realistic about that image being marred by sin. Saints are spread through all the churches: the closer they are to Jesus, the more accepting they are of others. ‘Ambition’ for them means ‘union with Christ’: they call nothing else ‘success’. In their prayer they mostly ‘listen’, ‘wait on the Lord’; the Pharisee needs words, words, words.

Pharisees have a tendency to complain about many things; for the saints life is ‘serendipitous’: they have a well-developed theology of gratitude. Pharisees are static, unteachable, believing they have monopoly on the truth; saints are committed to growing. (Nature, they say, abhors a vacuum; the Spirit abhors fullness – particularly of oneself). Jesus was full of grace and truth; Peter says grow in grace and knowledge: Pharisees aren’t strong on grace, but for saints ‘grace is everywhere’.

la prière de l'ange aux fleurs d'accacias

The religion of the saints is salugenic, growth-and health-producing; that of the Pharisee is pathogenic.

Only one thing is important: to be a saint.

Pastors who have not been cured of their Pharisaism will not last the distance.

Saints appreciate these sentiments (in Rory Noland’s song):

Holy Spirit, take control.

Take my body, mind, and soul.

Put a finger on anything

that doesn’t please you,

Anything that grieves you.

Holy Spirit, take control.

Shalom, Rowland

Rowland Croucher (born 1937) is an Australian pastor, counsellor and author.

Brought up in the Open Brethren in Sydney,[1] 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, VancouverCanada. From 1983 to 1991 he worked for World Vision Australia.[2]

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.[3]

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)

Only the Lonely

Mother Teresa once said:

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.”

Doctors have now measured the effects of the loneliness disease, warning that;

“Lonely people are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer feelings of isolation. Being lonely it seems, is a lot more worrying for your health than obesity”.

“Loneliness is associated with a significantly greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. It suppresses the function of one’s immune system and contributes to a faster onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Loneliness has also been known to interrupt the regulation of cellular process so that it predisposes people to premature aging and can take years off one’s life-span”- Cherese Jackson.

What is Loneliness:

Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt more over a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance e.g. doing a job that requires travel or relocation (lifeline).

We now know that loneliness, a social emotion, can reach into our bodies and rearrange our cells and genes.

Today I am chatting with my husband Philip Wotton.  He has been saying to me for a while now that loneliness is a big problem in society especially with men.  I hadn’t really thought about it a lot, but as I began to research this and talk to people about it, I realised that Phil was right.  It is a big issue, one that is hidden, silent and comes with  a lot of stigma.

Here are some of Phil’s thoughts on the subject:

I feel that loneliness is one of the silent killers of the 21st century and affects many more people than we care to realize. I know from my own personal experience, that it is very easy hide in the crowd and to have many acquaintances, whilst in reality, being totally alone.

Personally, I have found that I can navigate my way through life, having social interactions at work or in the sporting arena, for instance, without having anyone in my life who actually knows me, or gets me or cares for me.  I have also learnt to like my own company, when I am on my own, in order to maintain a level of normality and functionality, but at the same time with the need to connect  and to fill a void, that I can’t actually explain.

I know that man was created, to be in relationship with his fellow human. So whilst we can survive in a bubble of social media and acquaintances, I have found that actually hurts the heart and soul to be separated from a deeper level of relationship and sense of belonging.

“People cannot exist in life without solid relationships. Contrary to what some may believe, no one is an island to themselves. Everyone needs relationships; they are important to humanity” (K.Eisold).

Gazing

There are probably two sides to this topic;

  • firstly those that struggle through life alone and the associated impacts to their health and emotional wellbeing.
  • secondly the community within which we live.
    • Perhaps people not caring or being aware enough of what is happening in the lives of the people around them.

Extreme examples of this are the stories that you hear about people dying in their homes without anyone noticing.  There are even stories about people who have died in their work environment, without people realizing!

One man in Helsinki was reportedly dead for 2 days in an office of 100 people, without being noticed.  Another man, in New York was reportedly dead at his desk for 5 days, before he was noticed by the cleaners on a Saturday, propped up at his computer. He apparently worked in isolation and was the first in and the last out every day, so no one took any notice.

It is a topic that we never really discuss.  Where do you go to say: “Hey, I am lonely, please help”?  Having said that, it is often easier to be alone and something that I often pursue.  People are messy, relationships can be messy and they all require hard work.

If we are being totally selfish, it is a lot easier to just look after our own space and to control what we can control, so I realize that you cannot expect people to invest their time to get to know you, if you are not prepared to invest in them!  It is a two way street.

Do you think it’s harder for men?

Well I think that men are not as good at making the effort to connect socially.  Men often put up walls to protect themselves, either perhaps because of past rejection or pain or to present a certain macho image.  Men don’t like being vulnerable, they prefer to be in control.  So men often make a lot of small talk but don’t like to confront the deeper issues.

There are maybe a few reasons for this:

1:  It’s sometimes harder for men to relate and to put the effort into relationships, particularly in the context of the busy lives we live. It is actually easier not to make the effort than to go the next step to dig deeper and to actually care. As long as their needs are being met the rest is really an effort.

2:  Also, men often aren’t interested in going any deeper than small talk.  They are not so good at noticing and are not interested in hearing the answer to say “How are you really”?

Understandably, people don’t want to take on others peoples pain, life is hard enough as it is. Sometimes it is easier to be alone, to go home and to simply zone out. It takes effort and hard work to involve yourself in other people’s lives. We often couldn’t be bothered but yet we are all constantly longing for someone else to reach out to us and to be connected. It’s a conundrum.

The fact remains that people need to feel loved, listened to and valued by those near to them.

Stephen Fry says it this way:

“In the end, loneliness is the most terrible and contradictory of my problems.  I hate having only myself to come home to…

It’s not that I want a sexual partner, a long-term partner, someone to share a bed and a snuggle on the sofa with – although perhaps I do and in the past I have had and it has been joyful. But the fact is I value my privacy too. It’s a lose-lose matter. I don’t want to be alone, but I want to be left alone (source).

Phil, what made the difference for you personally?

For me, I actually came to the understanding or revelation one day that there is a God and that he actually does love me, care for me and that he has a purpose for my life. Up until that point, I was a closed shop, with a very hard heart, that no one and I mean no –one, was going to get anywhere near.  All of a sudden I had a totally new perspective on life for which I am very grateful and it actually saved me.

I came to realise that I was not alone, God has a purpose for me and that there was actually meaning and hope to the crazy world I was living in. It was actually a huge relief. I was about to explode. From there I was able to reset and move forward, although this did not take away the for need for relationship and community.

It did take a crisis in my life to wake me up and as Richard Rohr explains :

“When a person is on a serious inner journey to his or her own powerlessness and is also in immediate contact with the powerless men and women, then community will result”.

Suffering seems to get our attention.  If you don’t have a conflict moment, you don’t stop long enough to explore what happened or to work out what you think and who you are.  I think that’s why there is so much small talk.  Either people have not faced serious conflict and have never learned to go deeper, or they are just not interested.

Thanks Phil so much, this has been a real eye opener for me and I’m sure there are many who identify with what you have said.

If you are feeling lonely and need assistance please talk to someone and tell them how you are feeling.

OR  You can call life line on 131114

Recommended Reading:

Richard Rohr – “Simplicity” The Freedom of Letting Go.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0824521153/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0824521153&linkCode=as2&tag=sundaevery-20&linkId=CAENFC66JQQ2YF4W

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Read more at http://guardianlv.com/2014/02/loneliness-the-silent-serial-killer/#3MpfsdxZyAoMzUTE.99

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/17/loneliness-report-bigger-killer-obesity-lonely-people

Read more at http://guardianlv.com/2014/02/loneliness-the-silent-serial-killer/#3MpfsdxZyAoMzUTE.99

Post published by Ken Eisold Ph.D. on May 24, 2013

https://www.lifeline.org.au/Home

Monday’s Meditation: Weeds and Wheat

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).

5019624803_e6c3f162d2_b

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.

(Phil 2:13)

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.

Going with the Bokeh theme.

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.

Love Lisa.

** Photos by Atilla Siah.  You can follow Atilla’s amazing work at

https://www.flickr.com/photos/77967821@N00/

Recommended Reading:

The parable of the Wheat and the Weeds Matthew 13

Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr. The Search for our True Self.


Richard Rohr “Simplicity” The Freedom of Letting Go

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0824521153/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0824521153&linkCode=as2&tag=sundaevery-20&linkId=CAENFC66JQQ2YF4W

Friday Arts Day: Interview with Dave Powys from The Paper Kites

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?

IMG_2142 2

 
DP: Just incredibly humble, actually we were voted the most humble band in the world! That’s a joke… Maybe just short on words.
Well what can I tell you about the band? There is five of us, kinda like Enid Blytons five, which would probably make me Timmy the dog.

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.

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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.

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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.

Lisa: How did you all meet, what or who was the bomb that bought you all together?

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.

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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.
Lisa.

The Paper Kites:

WEB:  http://www.thepaperkites.com.au

FB: https://www.facebook.com/thepaperkitesband

Characteristics of Pastors who make the distance: Spiritual Disciplines

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.

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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’.

Canoe Tripping

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).

Shalom Rowland.

Rowland Croucher (born 1937) is an Australian pastor, counsellor and author.

Brought up in the Open Brethren in Sydney,[1] 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, VancouverCanada. From 1983 to 1991 he worked for World Vision Australia.[2]

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.[3]

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)

Surrender 15

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

PROGRAM STREAMS

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

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RUTH PADILLA DE BORST

Costa Rica

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.

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PAUL SPARKS 

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.

Keynote-300-1SARAH THOMPSON

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.

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NEVILLE NADEN

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.

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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.

1420689890102 MELINDA TANKARD REIST

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.

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STEVE JAMPIJINPA PATRICK

Lajamanu

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.

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JARROD MCKENNA

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

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BILLY WILLIAMS

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.

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RAY SIMPSON

Lindisfarne UK

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

 DAILY RHYTHM 

Contemplative Prayer

8.30am – 9.00am

Bible Studies

9.30am – 10.30am

Main Session

11.00am – 12.30pm

Eat, Share & Explore

12.30pm – 2.00pm

Workshops & Conversations

2.00pm – 5.30pm

Eat, Share & Explore

5.30pm – 7.00pm

Conference Prices:

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

http://www.surrender.org.au enquiries@surrender.org.au or phone 0403 177 995

phone 0403 177 995

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