Evangelistic Imperative

‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell Him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish His mercy to the world. – William Booth

Life of the Beloved – Henri Nouwen

Life of the Beloved - Henri NouwenToday I started reading Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen for the Worship & Spirituality module at CYM.  I’m half-way through which for me is a record (ok, it’s a short book and fairly big text) and so far I’ve found it really inspiring and challenging.  I’m looking forward to getting my head around it when brain-capacity allows. I don’t have time to write a review just yet but here are a few quotes which struck me:

‘Over the years, I have come to realise that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can, indeed, present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are a part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection.’

‘Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved”. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our experience.’

‘What is required is to become the Beloved in the commonplaces of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life. Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about, and doing from hour to hour.’

‘When our deepest truth is that we are the Beloved and when our greatest joy and peace come from fully claiming that truth, it follows that this has to become visible and tangible in the ways we eat and drink, talk and love, play and work. When the deepest currents of our life no longer have any influence on the waves at the surface, then our vitality will eventually ebb, and we will end up listless and bored even when we are busy.’

‘The movement of God’s Spirit is very gentle, very soft – and hidden. It does not seek attention. But that movement is also very persistent, strong and deep. It changes our hearts radically. The faithful discipline of prayer reveals to you that you are the blessed one and gives you the power to bless others.’

‘There is little or no neutral territory between the land of the blessed and the land of the cursed. You have to choose where it is that you want to live, and that choice is one that you have to keep making from moment to moment. […] I must tell you that claiming your own blessedness always leads to a deep desire to bless others.’

‘As the ‘blessed ones’, we can walk through this world and offer blessings. It doesn’t require much effort. It flows naturally from our hearts. When we hear within ourselves the voice calling us by name and blessing us, the darkness no longer distracts us. The voice that calls us the Beloved will give us words to bless others and reveal to them that they are no less bless than we.’

You can purchase the book from the Youth Ministry Bookshelf, along with all the other booksI have found useful from the reading lists throughout my degree.

Blistered, Ripped and Bled

I’ve just found this video which features a fantastic Easter poem performed by John Goode. It formed the end of the Good Friday service at Buckhead Church in Atlanta.  I know it’s a little late for Easter (although we are still in the season of Easter) but the message of the poem is applicable year-round. The poem starts at 1:24 if you’re too impatient to sit through – and the words are below the video:

picture this:
the sins that we’ve committed
are the direct cause
of the pain that was inflicted upon Jesus
cos He saw
the consequences of our flaws
and actions,
and He decided to take the awful lashes in our stead.

so that night you left the club
so messed up that you ignored your God and the danger
that you invited a stranger
into your body and your bed
your actions were the lashes that stripped the flesh
from Christ’s legs.

and those late night fights
that led you to lift your fist against your wife
as she whispered, whimpered and begged for you to stop
but you would not until you had knocked some sense into her head
got Christ ripped across His back
until the skin blistered, ripped and bled

and when you said congrats to your co-worker on her promotion
but in fact you tore her down behind her back
because you envied what she had
you added the punches, lunges and jabs
that split Christ’s upper lip
the upper cuts from the fists of the soldiers as they kicked
the Saviour in His ribs

He endures the crown of thorns for every time you watch porn
He takes up the cross for your every transgression in the dark
He went to Calvary for the sins of you and me,
the senseless whims that we believe are victimless crimes
but please believe the victim is Christ
and I hope you see
that every time you deceive
your company with your embezzlement schemes
a nail goes through His right hand, right then, and He screams

and every time you plot to meet your mistress
and cheat on the missus
you can hear Him yell as the nail punctures the precious flesh of His feet
as He screams for no more
He implores us to cease
but we ignore His pleas
find ourselves on these streets, searching for more than we need
gluttony, envy and greeed
feed the need and plant the seed
and indeed you can’t see
that man who can’t stand up
with his hand out, looking for a hand up

and the irony is Christ is screaming ‘he is me’
and the nail goes through his left hand
because we ignored and left him to die hungry
on these streets

and on that fateful morning
when the cross finally stands and comes to rest
when His needs quake in its wake
and there’s a pounding in His chest
after everything we just put Chris through
for the sins of me and you
He looks to the heavens and says
‘Father, please forgive them for they know not what they do’

but we do in fact
daily we nail Christ to the cross

now can you picture that?

Twitter Updates…

  • has had some time off this evening with Tracy and glass of red wine – now back to the dissertation for another couple of hours.
  • has had a distracted morning (more on that later) but is now easing into writing his Dissertation :o)
  • is feeling very sleepy, but doesn’t have time for a nap in the next two weeks!

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In Process

We are not yet what we should be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished but it is going on.
This is not the end, but this is the road.
Everything does not yet gleam in glory,
but everything is in process of being purified.
Amen. – Martin Luther

Growth and Potential

Back-Handed Compliment?

The following was said to me recently after I finished leading our Brigade service:

I’m just not sure about you being called to your home Church.  I think you should be seeking somewhere with a much larger Youth Ministry. You’re good; too good for us. – {withheld}

Interesting theology wrapped up in that I think.

Seize the Moment

A Christlike Ministry

Jesus was only ever able to seize the moment because He spent so much time in prayer and in the presence of His Father.  Jesus spent hours every day in personal spiritual preparation.  Then, when He had a relational encounter, He was spiritually aware enough to see straight into the heart of the situation and maximise that moment.  The same is true for all of us involved in Youth Ministry.  The hard work is not taken up in face-to-face contact with young people.  The hard work of Youth Ministry is taken up in the small, quiet hours of daily prayer and Bible study. – Steve Griffiths – A Christlike Ministry: YTC Press