Archive for the ‘Pilgrimage’ Category

Seeking Slowness

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

I’ve posted on the concept of missional being the “slow movement” of Christianity. Give it a quick read and then see where Dan White takes another slant on this topic in “Missional-Marinating.”

I really like this quote:

I’ll tell you up front, my old-high-capacity-leader-self resists this marinating process. My old self can’t rest, it can’t sleep. It needs quick returns, escalating numbers, regional buzz and high excitement. All of those pieces previously helped me not feel like a failure. But here in the laboratory of a Missional-Community, slow is our friend. Seeking slowness is essential in the stew of discipleship. Cultivating a culture saturated in the embodied life of Jesus requires purposeful patience. A new character needs to be developed while leading in this type of atmosphere. Slow is not something to bear with, it’s something to embrace. No longer am I trying to launch an organization that sparkles before its consumers. The call is to shape a way of life; to create a conducive setting for transformation. In this stew we need unhurried time and grace-filled space for:long conversations, unearthing conflicts, detox from consumerism, facing missional fears, relearning how to listen, frustrated prayers and moving beyond suspicion to trust.

You can follow Dan on Twitter @danwhitejr .

Missional is the “Slow Movement” of Christianity

Monday, August 29th, 2011

I’m a big supporter of the “slow movement” which is all about taking time to enjoy the journey of life, as opposed to the desperate need to arrive, meet the goal, accomplish the task, do as much as possible in as little time as possible.

The slow movement is not about doing things slowly, but seeks to connect us more meaningfully with others, with our communities, with family, and with who we are as spiritual beings. A main tenant is that by taking the appropriate amount of time to experience the various activities, people and communities in our lives, we are able to savor, deepen, and invigorate the important things and relationships. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) echoes this need.

Philosopher Guttorm Fløistad summarizes the slow movement, stating: “The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.”

slow movement missional

Missional is the slow movement of Christianity. It’s where “the way of Jesus” informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others, where we seek to connect more meaningfully with others, with our communities, with family, and with Jesus.

Living Life As Beautifully As We Can

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

A catchphrase we would often say in the 60’s was, “Hey man, we are living life as beautifully as we can.”

That saying has been running through my mind a lot lately. Seems like a sentiment we as Jesus followers should do our best to take up, not as we defined it in ’68, but as Jesus defines it.

Wonder what Jesus’ definition of “living life as beautifully as we can” would suggest?

 

God Alone is Enough

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

[Image]

Let nothing trouble you.
Let nothing frighten you.
For everything passes but God will never change.
Patient endurance will obtain everything
Whoever has God, wants for nothing at all.

God alone is enough.(2x)
Whoever has God, wants for nothing at all.
God alone is enough.(2x)
Whoever has God, wants for nothing at all.

Lyrics from God Alone is Enough by John Michael Talbot

Psalms 61:1-2, 5-8

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us.

The Church and Politics Quiz

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Most Jesus followers agree that our faith has an effect on how we approach politics, but we often disagree over the political role we and our faith communities should have. This tension is very noticeable during a presidential election year.

Leadership Journal has produced a quick survey that, in their words, “is intended to be a self-assessment tool for approximating where you stand on issues of church and state. The survey’s goal is to stimulate healthy discussion and deeper thinking.” The survey can be found here and comes in two parts.

Here’s how I scored.

Part 1: My score “indicates that [I] believe the church ought to be Politically Disengaged.”

Part 2: My score “indicates that [I] believe the church should take a prophetic posture toward the government.”

Overall: I’m a “Quiet Critic” as opposed to a Radical Reformer, Thumpin’ Theocrat, or Private Patriot.

Therefore go and make disciples…

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

(This is a revision of a post that had such a short life, for it was posted just days before my December blog meltdown.)

When Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” have you ever given any thought to what he meant? I don’t mean what you have been taught about what he meant, but what he really had in mind?

Having spent most of my formative spiritual years in a fine Southern Baptist community of faith, when this verse was read I’d immediately think of evangelism and not much beyond that. We were taught that what this “Great Commission” meant was to go and evangelize the world. This was all well and good, but it focused all our efforts on a transaction, on getting the conversion, on getting someone baptized. But isn’t there more to this charge than a transaction?

What is embodied in making disciples? Here are some thoughts that I’ve been journaling as I’ve meditated on this passage. I share them only to get you started on your own meditative work, for there are deep riches here yet to be mined and understood.

  • It will be necessary for us to leave what is comfortable, familiar and known to go, to become exiles and strangers in the world. Going implies journey and making disciples is about calling others to this journey.
  • As Luke communicated in his account, we have a story to tell, that the Christ lived and suffered and died and on the third day he rose from the dead and that repentance and forgiveness of sins are in his name (this is not a transactional message, but a transformational one). We also have our own transformational story, which is interwoven with the story of Jesus and becomes part of the whole.
  • There was no bounds put on who could be a follower of Jesus. It was for all nations and therefore transcends ethnic, religious, gender, national, economic and sociological boundaries. The bringing of people together from all nations as disciples on the same journey creates a unique community where there is no division into “Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.” We are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ and with each other.
  • There is intentionality in ones decision to become a Jesus follower which is first represented in the act of baptism. This baptism is also the act by which the disciple identifies with the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and indicates a union with God and his Body.
  • Teaching involve one Jesus follower becoming intimately involved with other Jesus followers in all stages of their lives. This involvement is embodied in community and the interdependence among the disciples within a faith community.
  • Obedience is an easy concept to understand and such a hard one to accept in our society that honors the rugged independent and self-sufficient individualist. But only in laying down “self” do we truly enter in to the fullness of relationship with Christ. I’m reminded of John’s admonition, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”
  • Teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded puts the emphasis on the teachings of Jesus as communicated to us by the Apostles. Our focus should always start with Jesus and his direct teachings. I know that all scripture is good for us and useful, but I do believe far to many Jesus followers dwell on the Old Testament law to excess and not enough on the direct teachings of Jesus and his Apostles.

What is embodied in making disciples. We should move beyond the traditional models we all learned in our faith communities and follow the method Jesus did. Briefly, this would entail:

  • Teaching and building spiritual understanding. Good theology drives good praxis. And by theology I don’t mean stuff like eschatology or predestination.
  • Modeling the praxis and life that the spiritual understanding should produce.
  • Going with them into situations that required the disciple to be out on the spiritual edge, in the deep water, where only God can produce a spiritual result — it is a place just beyond where they can rely on natural talent and skill.

The God Traveled Roads

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
    I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
—Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

I was reminded of these lines from Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” when reading Matthew 7:13-14.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

At some point in time our journey brought us to a place where two roads diverged. We had a choice to make. One path was wide and looked easy. Many were taking that wide path. The other was narrow and less traveled and through Gods grace we took this path, not knowing that it was also the harder road.

Many American Christians, once they discovered that the narrow road is also the harder road, begin to turn it into a wide easy path by conforming to the twin cultural values of consumerism and individualism. They want the big home, SUV, best private schools, status, vacations home, fishing boat, high paying job — you name it. If it is of the world, they live it and have it. They attempt to remove all hardship and discomfort. They transform their faith community to this consumerism focused on the individual and their needs. Some even wonder why they live such unfruitful lives with no passion for the things of God, never hearing or experiencing his touch.

But for those who embrace life as pilgrimage down a challenging and narrow path, they understand the deep insight reflected in Eugene Peterson’s wonderful translation of Psalm 84:5-7.

And how blessed all those in whom you [God] live,
    whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
    discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
    at the last turn — Zion! God in full view! (Psalm 84:5-7, The Message)

Life as pilgrimage and journey down roads he travels, embracing hardship and transformational experiences found along those narrow, lonesome, God-traveled roads until, at last turning the final corner, we see God in full view. We can then truly say, I took the one less traveled by, that has made all the difference.