Emergent

Black Holes, Making Space For The Other, & The Gospel Of A Social Salvation

A few weeks ago I wrote about The Gravity Of Wonder and how we are all tethered to a relationship with it for the rest of our life. This theme had me pondering upon the way gravity works & the deeper question of what just might be the greatest gravitational force in the universe today. Do you know what it is?

The most substantial gravitational force in creation is surprisingly not the sun. Nor is it the largest planet you can find in a solar system. The most powerful gravitational force actually comes from what is known as a black hole. I found this remarkable as I looked deeper into the workings of gravity and how it functions.

First, the easiest way to understand gravity is...

Meeting My Muslim Neighbour

This was not my first time visiting a local mosque here in Calgary. The first time I went was for a Friday Prayer Service and I was very uncomfortable. You can read about here. So with my friend Dan, I was eager for a more positive experience after receiving an invite to visit the Ahmadiyya mosque this past weekend.

Arriving at the entrance to a beautifully silver domed worship centre, I was a little surprised that there was not more people there. It was a public event to meet Muslims while exploring some of the many questions our culture faces in light of a growing...

New Year Wonders & A Reflection Into Two Incarnations

Last week I was listening to one of my favourite podcast, The Deconstructionists, as they interviewed Dr. Alexander Shaia. He was speaking on the connections between Christmas & the winter solstice while drawing the picture of two incarnations taking place; the incarnation of the Christ, the birth of a new humanity, and the incarnation of a renewed cosmos, a new reality in creation. This imagery has remained in my mind as I reflect on the dawning of a new year.

This is the time and season where many are reflecting over that which has occurred over the past 12 months while projecting forward hopes and aspirations for the new year.  While some might be compiling a list of resolutions, others simply cast there visions of expected events and desires they wish to pursue. Yet all of these are a practice most often done...

"What Is A House Church?" ~ Vision Proper For The Tribe of Expressions

"What is a House Church?" This is probably the most common question I get asked when people hear that I am a House Church leader in The Edge. I think one of the common mistakes we make in answering comes when we see House Churches as a model rather then an organic community of people. We say, "We are trying to..."

  • "... be like the 1st century house churches."
  • "... be less organizational."
  • "... just do life with friends and family."
  • "... do church smaller within our homes and living rooms."
  • "... be a simple small group."

When we really look at what being a house church is, our intentions are not to follow a model or even past example, it is really to be a closely knit spiritual family who are...

Islam: A Christian Encounter

Out of the three planned visitations, this was perhaps the one I most looked forward too. I have developed a number of relationships in my community with Muslims and while through conversations I have learned much, this was an opportunity to speak with an Imam and experience a place of worship in their community. Sadly, out of the three, this became rather one of the most disappointing experiences.

I spoke several weeks ago with my barber and friend Mo, who is a Muslim, about visiting a mosque and he was able to get me a phone number to the Islamic school here in Calgary where they have prayer services every Friday between 1 pm and 2 pm. Phoning ahead, I contacted them this past week and arranged to attend...

Jodo Shinshu Buddhism: A Christian Encounter

Driving over to the Calgary Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temple[1] I wasn’t quite sure what I would encounter. I knew that Buddhism has many different expressions and I wasn’t sure whether this community would be a full cultural emersion into eastern practices or if it would be a blend of eastern and western philosophies.

Arriving, I quickly noticed that it had recently been renovated and was very architecturally appealing. Later I would get to speak with one of the elder members of the temple who explained that the house was actually 100 years old and had only recently been renovated into the temple that it now is. There was a ramp that allowed access as I wheeled...

Unconditional Gratitude - An Open Letter to Brian McLaren

LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS 1I tend to like the dark. Truth is, I spend most of my best reading time in the dark; staying up late into the night in bed with my book in front of me and my small little reading light curled over the top of it as I envision the author standing before me speaking the words I'm reading as though we were engaged in a deep conversation. I'm not sure why but I feel like my mind is just more focused that way, more willing to engage in what the text is saying. It was a few nights ago though that after starting Brian McLaren's new book 'Naked Spirituality' that I came across a conversation he expressed having about gratitude that deeply disturbed me. I usually am greatly inspired by his writing which is why it took me back so much when reading it. Try as I might, the discontent would not leave so I thought it best to put pen to paper and express my thoughts in an open letter here. Will McLaren every read it? I do not know but, I hope by verbalizing it we might all grow to find a deeper, more unconditional spirit of gratitude.

Dear Brian McLaren,

I remember the first time I ever picked up one of your books. I was in  a Chapters book store here in SW Calgary looking for something different and came across your writing of 'A New Kind of Christian'. Like most other times in book stores, I began reading it in one of the aisles and found I could not put it down. Most often I like to read apologetics or theology books and it is my wife who reads the narratives and biographies but your thoughts in this book where mesmerizing! Needless to say I was finished it in 3 days and on to find the 2 follow ups after it.

Since then I have gone on to read a number of your other books including starting most recently your latest work in 'Naked Spirituality'. After hearing so many of your thoughts in your other books though I must admit to being a bit distressed in a story you speak of regarding a spirit of gratitude. You say,

When I was still a teenager, my friend Mary asked me, "How much money would you give to keep your eyesight if you knew you were going blind?"

"A lot," I answered. "Everything."

Then she asked, "What if it was your ability to walk - if you had a disease that would leave you wheelchair-bound unless you could pay for a cure. How much would you spend?"

"Everything," I said. "I'd liquidate everything I own and go as far into debt as I could to save my mobility."

"How about your hearing?"

"The same," I answered.

"How about your sanity - your mental health, your intelligence?"

Finally I asked, "What's your point?"

"I'm just trying to save you from BYTS - the Big Yellow Taxi Syndrome," she said, evoking the newly released Joni Mitchell song. "If you were to loose any one of these abilities, you would pay millions of dollars to recover it, so each one is worth millions of dollars to you. You would rather have the ability to see or hear or move or think then tens of millions of dollars in the bank. Well," she smiled and gave me a little shove, "you have them! Which means you're better off than a multimillionaire! You have to know what you've got before it's gone."

Box FramingI realize that we live in a world that likes to box frame such things as success, richness, blessings, normality, and capability but in honesty I can't help but feel personally towards this story. In open truth, here I am, in a wheelchair, paralyzed as a quadriplegic after a car accident 18 years ago, reading this story, and what I'm hearing is you would rather do anything, including go as far into debt as possible, then become like me!

Why? What is wrong with me? What am I lacking that makes your abilities more valuable then my own? Should I then go and do "everything" to not be this person in a wheelchair?

Let me share a story with you which comes from an experience I had prior to the car accident that has placed me in this wheelchair and is strangely similar to your encounter under the stars. It was about a year before my life would change in such a dramatic way and like most days I was found dribbling a basketball down the street. I was always athletic competing in just about everything and being a 6 foot 210 pound 15 year old I was as invincible as you could be!

Growing up in the church I understood the concept of God but I really didn't take the conversation seriously. Anyways, there I was, dribbling down the street towards the courts and I distinctly remember an inner voice speaking to me. It said, "How would you like to be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life?"

Now my mother had worked with people in the health care industry before who had been in wheelchairs and so it wasn't like I wasn't aware of some of the challenges these people face in life. Still, without really taking notice of who I was talking with and the implications of what I would say, I shot back, "Sure, I could do that! It would make me cool, unique, and I'd be some what revered!"

Let's be honest here; I had no idea what I was talking about. More to the point, I had no idea who I was talking too! Looking back now I can honestly say that I know I was talking with God that day and he was preparing me for what was going to become very shortly, a new projection to the pilgrimage of my life. Still, what was I looking for here? What was the deeper desire? Maybe even, what would make me grateful to be who God created me to be?!

Let's look at it from the perspective of the secret vision of Jesus. (Thought you might like that term ;) ) Jesus' disciples loved asking questions and they were constantly asking him about the "why's" in life. One time they were walking on the streets of Jerusalem and they came across a blind man begging on the side of the street. His followers turned to him and said, "Teacher, why is this man born blind and disabled since birth? Is it because he himself has displeased God or did his parents offend God?" (John 9:2)

Jesus looked at them and answered, "It is neither because God is displeased in this man or offended by his parents. It is so that he can do the incredible works of God through being who he was created to be!" (John 9:3) Blindness was seen by Jesus not as a lacking or deficiency  but rather a personification of God given character and identity. This man was special, unique, and cool because of who God made him to be!

I have been in a wheelchair for many years now and gained much more wisdom and appreciation for the gifts God has placed in my life because of the wheelchair I live in. As such I must admit to recognizing that you probably are writing this false understanding of gratitude without realizing the danger nor damage this sense of false gratitude can create. But, we must see beyond the world's sense of segregationalized and marginalized gratitude. Our eyes must be blinded by the glory of the cross which drives gratitude straight to the hearts of the segregated and marginalized!

I have been around some incredible people who face incredible physical and mental challenges in life and one thing that has been greatly impressed upon me is the real spirit of being able to accomplish all things through Christ's inspiration and guidance. (Phil. 4:13) Perhaps something I am most grateful for is the encountering of Christ's presence through such relationships and events!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUJpSfARd2wt_HmVC7HMk23g&feature=player_embedded&v=E_xfx0nzT0k]

We have met one time before a few years back when you came to Calgary to speak with Bob Goudzwaard on your book 'Everything Must Change'. After your talk I came up and shook your hand while you signed my copy of 'A Generous Orthodoxy'. Perhaps this is something else that must become more generous in recognition and must change in our society's understanding of appreciation. A real spirit of gratitude is not an appreciation for what we quantify as the justifiable right in our life; but rather the physical, mental, and spiritual diversity and beauty God has placed in each one of our lives both individually and communally. Sharing those things together as equals and sharing full equity between each other despite differences; those moments are truly miraculous and filled with the glorious spirit of eternal gratitude!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QAm44xMvhhI]

Inception - God at the Movies

inception.jpg

In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job to date: Inception. DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a specialized spy or corporate espionage thief. His work consists of secretly extracting valuable commercial information from the unconscious mind of his targets while they are asleep and dreaming. Unable to visit his children, Cobb is offered a chance to regain his old life in exchange for an almost impossible task: "inception", the planting of an idea into a target's subconscious.

Inception – an act, process or instance of beginning which is often shaped by our encounters with a dream and vision to our future hopes and desires in our lives. Dreams are powerful in nature and we would be wrong to ignore their significance and meanings. In some cases our dreams may very well be God’s spoken guidance into the fabric of our being and purpose here in the world. Elihu, Job’s friend and wisdom imparter reminds him saying, “For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.” (Job 33:13-18)

Yet there is a danger also in the conceptualization of our dreams; if we choose to box their meaning in, stifle their implications, and bring our own singular interpretations to them, then to often these dreams can become ideological and lead us head long into the paralysis of idolatry. The writer of Ecclesiastes warns us, “For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity, but God is the one you must fear.” (Ecc. 5:7)

Join the Expressions Community this Saturday for God at the Movies when we will watch the film ‘Inception’ and explore the themes of Dreams & Ideologies. We will have snacks and drinks available as we look forward to seeing you here. If you and a friend are able to join us please email erik@expressionscommunity.org to ensure seating availability.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66TuSJo4dZM]

Living for Potential (Audio) - My Message at CCCF

potentiality.jpg

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship on Sunday January 2nd, 2011 about Living for Potential while focusing on Matthew 5:48. Although feeling a little rusty, here is what I shared...

[audio=http://justwondering.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/living-for-potential.mp3]

[slideshare id=6510883&doc=livingforpotential-110110164658-phpapp01]

Expressions Statement of Faith - Any Thoughts?

statement-of-faith.jpg

This is a first draft to Expressions Statement of Faith. I would love to hear any constructive feed back from my tribe and readers! Purpose/Mission

The Purpose and Mission for all of our members is Seeking Expressions of Jesus as Lord in Life and Community (Matt. 16:13-20). This mission is accomplished as we take the gospel message of Jesus into the relevant and daily life experiences we encounter both individually and as a community (Matt. 28:16-20).

Beliefs and Statement of Faith

  • We believe in one God in three persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Eph. 4:4-6; John 4:24; John 10:30)
  • We believe God is the creator of all that there is seen and not seen, understood and mysterious, questioned and answered. (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 42:5; John 1:3; Acts 17:24;26)
  • We believe in one Lordship over all things, places, contexts, and people through Jesus Christ as the son of God. (Matt. 16:16; John 1:14; 10:30; 14:6-7; Col. 1:18)
  • We believe Jesus suffered and died for our sins as he was crucified on the cross, that three days afterwards he was resurrected in body, that he ascended into heaven, and that he lives eternally at God’s right side. (Mark 16:19; John 20:17; Acts 1:9; Rom. 4:24b-25)
  • We believe that all people can find redemption, forgiveness, and righteousness through holistically enacted faith in Jesus Christ. (John 3:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9-10; James 2:18)
  • We believe that the Bible is the whole and complete Word of God meant to equip, teach, and inspire all followers of its reading. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  • We believe in the unity of one church under Christ Jesus through Biblical Christian practices. (John 17:20-21)
  • We believe that all followers of Jesus are blessed and gifted according to the good works Christ calls them too through his Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:4; Gal. 5:22-24)
  • We believe in the full immersion baptism of all who hold these beliefs to be true as a physical commitment and representation of God’s grace before all his followers. (Acts 2:38; 41; 16: 31-33; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21)

Values

We each acknowledge ourselves being within our own unique contexts, experiences, history, and relationships but are united by Expressions Mission and Five Interlocking Values. As such we seek community by balancing a holistic practice of all said values within our faith and in everything we do.

Passionate SpiritualitySpiritual Reading (Scripture); Spiritual Speaking; Spiritual Breathing; and Spiritual Acting

Radical DiscipleshipInvitational Living; Incarnational Living; Infusional Living; Inspirational Living (Please See (i)Living Covenant)

Authentic CommunityHospitality; Unconditional Acceptance; Intentionality; Relevant

Transformational MissionRecognize a Need; Collaborate; Acknowledge a Kingdom Relevance; Take Action

Holistic StewardshipPeople; Wealth/Materials; the Environment