Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A.W. Tozer and Christian Spiritual Formation

Now, how does this sit with you? What are your initial and processed reflections?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

'When the Well Runs Dry' Insights

"John of the Cross says:

In matters pertaining to the soul, it is best for you, so as to be on the safe side, to have attachment to nothing and desire for nothing, and to have true and complete attachment for him who is your proper guide, for to do otherwise would be not to desire a guide. And when one guide suffices, and you have one who suits you, all others are either superfluous or harmful.

When John wrote this, he had in mind the spiritual director; books were still a relative rarity and few possessed the art of reading.

In our day, when we are bombarded by books and articles on every aspect of spirituality, his advice applies equally well to the guidance we seek in spiritual reading. Too much and too scattered reading, like too many directors, will be either 'superfluous or harmful' for spiritual growth. The abundance of spiritual resources available to us today is indeed a blessing, provided only that we can select wisely those which help us to know the Lord. It is good to sample the riches in the early years of our prayer life; but once we discover what nourishes us, we must learn to sacrifice breadth for depth. Otherwise we will merely suffer from spiritual indigestion, and perhaps die of malnutrition!"

-Thomas H. Green, S.J.; 'When the Well Runs Dry - Prayer Beyond the Beginnings'; pgs. 23-24

Get a Toot-tone

Okay, not a 'normal' post, but I was sent this by a good friend who said he thought of me when he saw it (what am I confessing to here?!) and no . . I have not installed the product!

Friday, April 13, 2007

11 Common Factors in Church Growth

What follows are some notes I took from a conference I attended hosted by an Anglican organisation last September. I was hoping for some fresh, challenging, paradigm-shifting realities to be offered up. What I got were some (arguably good/okay/dead) suggestions for how to grow my church (which I don't have by the way) growing right out of the modernist framework for life and faith. It felt a little like being back at Willow Creek again - no offense to my WCCC friends (which was somewhat pleasant). The speaker was an Englishman who was serving at a church in Geneva.

11 Common Factors in Church Growth
- Ian Coffey; Saturday, Sept. 16th '06

Is there such a thing as a theological profile for a growing church?

- Strong, high quality
- Personal living faith & strong spirituality
- all w/ different gifts / abilities
- energy (passion)
- men of integrity
- people around them who share their faith & vision

- a clear missiological shape to their work
- mission / vision needs to permeate through to every(one) level of the organization
- a high level of involvement from skilled 'lay' workers (gift discovery, development, deployment

- existence of effective community links
- search out needs in community and seek to meet those needs

- centred on people and their needs
- through friendship & hospitality

- willingness to embrace change and manage it skillfully (at the right speed)

- well-planned, attractive, accessible services

Small Groups
- good deployment of small groups throughout church
- providing relational interaction, spiritual development, encouragement & challenge

- excellent standard of children & youthwork
- most of the churches invested in this work almost disproportionately to current situ
- NOT a babysitting service, but an intentional investment

- a lack of complacency amoung the majority of members
- 2 highest responses to survey is the desire to reach out more effectively

- members enjoy coming together (for church)
- "there's nothing like a satisfied customer" (& the opposite is just as true!)

God's Work
- a conviction that God is responsible for the growth
- a real sense of humility

What can we learn?
Remember, every situation is unique.

Listening to God's voice is key.

Faith is spelled R-I-S-K (Wimber).

What does our church look like?

Where are we weak?
- (ask, seek, knock)

Where are we strong?
- (thank God)

Okay, so tell me your first impressions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Unknown Potential

I'll let this post speak for itself. Click on the image for a larger view. Any immanent impressions or thoughts after reading it?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Eternal Echoes

This is a poem I wrote while I was on retreat in Glendalough last November. I was inspired (God-breathed) while walking alone in the late-night darkness by the light of the moon. The silhouettes of the ancient buildings and the calming babble of the river were soothing. Here's the first time 'Eternal Echoes' has been made public:

Water's placid face,
Wind's restless breath,

Moonlight's silver

on grey and black.

Clear night's heaven

beaming light specks,
bright autumn day's bliss -
Still and quiet I reminisce . . .

Ancient stones tell tales
of Passion's pure flame
lingering still in pilgrim paths:

His name, echoing in these hills,

. . echoing around these walls,

. . echoing in my soul

in the valley of two lakes.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dublin U2charist

Last Sunday (Palm Sunday in the Christian calendar) a friend and colleague from the Dublin area named Greg helped organise a service at a church that contained elements of a now internationally recognized format called the U2charist. In short, the U2charist was devised back in the summer of 2005 by an Episcopalian minister in the US which is now being used in various Christian churches around the globe. The service (as the title presupposes) makes use of songs (sometimes video and images) from the band U2 (who are Irish for all of you who hadn't figured that one out) in many of the main elements of the service. This was the first time (as far as we can tell) that this service format has made it's way back to the homeland of the band members. All this past week the service was everywhere in the media: newspapers, web, TV - you name it. I'm actually amazed that the media found this so interesting! Here's one write up.

Anyway, here are my questions: have any of you ever been to a U2charist service? Which aspects were most meaningful? What elements of the service 'married' well the eternal truths or spiritual realities and the band's music? Here's an image from the Dublin scene . . .

Friday, April 06, 2007

Famous (almost)

Hey! I'm famous! I made it into an advert for Budda Bags shot in Dublin. I was literally walking past and they asked me to come in and jump on the bag. Fun and not a lot of drama skills required! You can watch my 1 (that's right one) second of fame in this video below. Catch my jump at the 58 second mark. Ready . . steady . . go!