Tuesday, May 27, 2003

from dallas willard's Renovation of the Heart:

"T. S. Elliot once described the current human endeavour as that of finding a system of order so perfect that we will not have to be good. The Way of Jesus tells us, by contrast, that any number of systems - not all, to be sure, - will work well if we are genuinely good. And we are then free to seek the better and the best."

please tell me we aren't succumbing to the first pursuit (a system of order) when we seek to re-invent Church! i would much rather the second... of striving to become genuinely good people for whom any number of systems will work well.

Friday, May 23, 2003

are we in need of a fresh definition of faith in Jesus? or perhaps trust? i suppose the background to this is my own lifestyle, which has honestly and fairly reflected the beliefs and worldview of the person living them, i.e. me! and i don't think, without trying to be overly critical or falsely positive, that my lifestyle reflects any significant desire to take Jesus and his teachings seriously.

dallas willard discusses the effects of the 'gospels of sin management' in The Divine Conspiracy, and goes on to say that these 'gospels' fail to engender a desire to become a disciple of Jesus in the hearer. and i guess i am musing on the 'faith' these gospels produces and i think i am quoting directly here when i say "a mere mental assent" to the information presented. it's hard to encourage people to have more of this kind of 'faith'! they often clearly mentally assent to Jesus dying for them, they are happy with the transactional approach of them believing this information and Jesus removing their sin and shame (the later only temporarily in the normal circumstances). there isn't much scope for this kind of 'faith' to increase, save of introducing more knowledge and information into the mind, which may or may not result in any change in lifestyle.

what i have been attempting to do in my own life is to change my attitude to the information that i have already heard. i think this is born out of a desire to take the teachings of Jesus seriously.

"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing?" Matthew 6 v 25.

if God really is God, shouldn't i be able to rely on this? ought i not be able to re-order the way in which i live from self-focused protection of my person, possessions, interests and reputation and become the kind of person who is able to use these very same things for the benefit of others?

so what is the 'faith' here? the desire is to have a respectful and serious attitude to these teachings. i want to 'give a damn'. i want to throw everything i am onto these words and have them catch me, and lift me up out of my present confusion (between knowing that there is more but not how to bring into existence). whatever it (this 'faith') is, i believe it can grow, increase, bring change - it is dynamic.

perhaps the transformations it will bring about will change what i believe, or the intensity with which i believe these things. i hope that this is demonstrated in my lifestyle.

"the system you have is perfectly designed to yield the results you are getting"

also, how do you communicate this to others? how do you suggest that 'faith' is more than mental assent? what word do you offer them to release them from the pre-conception of acknowledging certain isolated facts in order that they can step out?

Monday, May 19, 2003

what you know affects what you (can) think about, which in turn affects what your feelings are. such a simple analysis, but very enlightening. i am watching what i know about God - because surely what one knows about God, his nature and character determines that persons entire outlook on life - and hence changing my feelings.

i saw a very stark indication of a wrong outlook and feelings (and hence actions) as i walked into work today. a rather explosive confrontation between a commuter and a parent on a school run including some rather spicey language, fierce gesturing and reckless driving. what is sad is that to that individual, there was no other sensible way of behaving in that situation - who else would take care of him (it was a bloke), his expensive car, make up for his hurt feelings, sympathise with his thoughts? in his mind, absolutely no-one, hence his behaviour.

if he knew that God cares, provides everything he has anyway and can heal the human soul in ways we can barely imagine, perhaps he would behave differently. so that is what i am trying to do - think about God and take his promises seriously. at the moment, it seems slightly surreal or 'wistful thinking', but i am convinced that is because i need to unlearn my 20th century intellectual post enlightenment postmodern cynical outlook on life and relearn the gentle rhythms of the Kingdom here on earth.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

working on templates and stuff and trying to understand html... a bit slow on the uptake unfortunately.

where do you find out what code represents what colour?

think i've arrived at a satisfactory template for the moment...

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

haven't posted for a while. life has changed a bit as i'm working in a new dept and the pace has upped a touch. it's nice to be busy and learning new things. i hope i manage to hold on to that mindset for a while!

i'm now reading dallas's latest book Renovation of the Heart which is a good read. it's the kind of book that demands a response though, so i am slightly cautious in reading it. having thought about my past, i remember reading The Divine Conspiracy and feeling pretty much the same, but sadly have not put into practice what was written. i suppose i have warmed to the idea, but there is so much more i could do, and being 'warmed' to the idea of the disciplines doesn't make me more disciplined! i'm even struggling to make the baby steps to spend a few minutes more in prayer and study each day. i suppose i'd like to be more inventive and flexible about how i weave these into my daily routines, but it is fits and starts at the moment sadly.

had an interesting conversation about the contents of blogs, and how to 'use' blogs. it's the disclosure thing - it feels good to get things off one's chest, but not everyone need know? so you could have very conceptual blogs, talking in abstract terms about struggles and not getting into particulars. but the more particular you blog, the more people can connect with what you say...

so am i ashamed of who i am? am i too ashamed to admit my character flaws to others?

Thursday, May 08, 2003

blimey tom, methinks this may be a little insight into your 'big blue book'. so by doing this, does that mean i gain automatic entry into shouting in the future? or wait, hang on, am i posting onto your blog now??

i get the feeling that this whole blogging thing is taking us into a whole new dimension...

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

well, my cynical old self was humbled that night. good thing too. something that really made me happy was the evidence that the group had its own voice and identity.

it feels good to have left, it's the right thing. i feel more free to get involved now i don't have a 'title' or a certain standard to live up to. i feel the desire to help out in whatever way possible even more, and now i know my motives are not because i am acting out of a certain capacity of leadership it feels much better.

i came to a realisation (or rather the understanding was given to me) that the interpretation that had been offered to me was correct. what a relief. and now the pieces fit together well, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. the dream is encouraging and enlightening. well, i hope so when i inform the relevant parties.

i think my mum is on to something when she recommends reading the bible out loud. it's different.

i feel i have been plunged into a thicker part of the fighting recently, and have been struggling with specific issues more than usual. i wonder if it can make you physically more tired - because i do feel that way. i guess the next step is to put into practice the right disciplines to make the fight easier - to capture some 'spiritual fitness'.

if we do start blogging frequently, and in discussion mode, i wonder what will happen to rambling entries like these? i guess there could be morsels of discussion in here somewhere, but i would prefer to take the view that the group shares the responsibility for providing themes and conversations, and it never falls to just one individual to spark something all the time.