Life

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...

The Gravity Of Wonder

You can’t deny gravity. Well, it’s extremely hard to anyways, and even if you are able to escape its grip, it isn’t at all sustainable for any real length of time and it's not long before you come crashing back to the reality that gravity is tethered to you for life.

I remember when my wife & I went to the theatre to see the movie 'Gravity' for the first time. Sitting practically right in front of the screen, with our 3D glasses on, the grand infinity of space opened up to us during the beginning frames. I always love the beauty in these scenes as they bring a sense of...

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...

A Experimental Narrative to Ephesians 4

Well, here goes... There lives a magnificent artist and like all masters, his palate is an extension of himself. Spreading the colors of life across his palate he took up the one singular narrative of his masterpiece on one single grand canvas. Blank as it was, with each brush stroke life was brought to the canvas and the artists expressions lite up the imaginations of all who saw it.

Starting with an apostolic background the essences of the colors mixed creating variant shades that would later interconnect the dynamic articulation and contexts he would soon add to tell his story. 

With a backdrop set, the artist began adding a prophetic environment of setting and a revealing of place and time. This brought out the hidden and deeper meanings of...

Arrival & Ellen Davis' Five Prophetic Perspectives

With laughter and the sharing of this week's events the tribe settled into our living room last night as we prepared to venture into the imaginative world of a good movie called Arrival. Snacks and drinks in hand, I love how the stories of film, fictional or otherwise, seem to stretch deep into the connective tissues of transcendent truths and the practicalities of today's eminence.

Recently I've begun reading Ellen Davis' book 'Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship, and Ministry'. While for years I thought of the prophet as someone who spoke for God; it was in her first chapter that she opened me...

Listening for the Language of Peace

As-Salaam Aliakum. So often I think we hear these words today and the hairs on the back of our necks rise as images from Paris, Syria, and Iraq flash in our minds. Is this not a Muslim greeting?! Wa-Aliakum Salaam. I hear it shared in response while I sit in the barber's chair at my local neighborhood men’s barber shop. Mo has cut my hair for the last 6 years and we have developed an amazing relationship. We've spoke about his family, his kids and there schooling, his 5-year-old son (now 8 years old) who is dealing with Leukemia. I passed along comfort and gave financially to his family while I told him of my prayers for him when he went through a massive heart attack a little over a year ago. And yes, we have deep discussions about faith...

Rochester Rule of Life: Living Within a Relational Covenant

CovenantIt was a little over a year ago that I was introduced to the practice of keeping a Rule of Life by my fellow cohorts in the MREML Program I enrolled in at Rochester College. To be completely honest, I was hesitant to its practicality at first feeling it was a bit juvenile and institutional with the implications of the word "rule". Over time though, it began to take on a different meaning in my life as I began to recognize it as a practice not so much about rules of institutional authority but rather more about the relational organic practices of covenant that begin to shape who I am and the person I am becoming. In its meaning, a covenant is defined as a binding contract between two parties. It can be both personal and/or economical. I suppose it also can be communal in some contexts too. In any form however, it is always relational and transforming to those who are a part of them. In the context of my covenant with Rochester, I find that transformation in three ways.

As an image bearer of God I find the nature of my covenant being rooted in my relationship with the Trinity. As he is the first mover in defining my nature I must first look to his voice and presence as he speaks to the person I am meant to be. Any transformation that is or going to take place in my life should be rooted in the guidance of His nature and wisdom.

Secondly, the nature of a covenant in identity must also be intertwined into the relational community I am a part of. While this includes the fellow cohort of students I am a part of, it also extends into the locality of my relationships in my neighbourhood and my tribe. Transformation in the academia of Rochester is not just for the stretching context of personally acquired knowledge but rather the exercised practice of learning for the sake of transformed community practices.

Lastly, the embrace of an organic relational covenant brings transformation to the environment we are a part of. While finding new and renewed understandings of who we are through covenant we also see the environment we are a part of in a new and transformed way without ever leaving it. Marcel Proust stated, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." While the nature of our covenant transcends the distance of many states and countries even, each of us finds a shared transformational renewal in our own personal contexts of locality which can become inspirational to one another as we share our stories.

The authors of the book 'Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals' write that, "When we weave together the human and the divine, we are attentive to another story that is not completely our own, a narrative that has the power to transform.” While we begin to embrace the ritual, and tell the story of a Relational Organic Covenant to which we are a part of over the coming months, let us always remember that this covenant is not unto its own self a declaration of who we are personally, but also those who are in covenant with us!

"He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant." (Psalm 105:8-11)

With that in mind, here is my Rochester Relational Covenant...

  1. Because we believe God became flesh and dwelt among us in Jesus and continues to make his home with us through the Holy Spirit:

We will care for our own bodies as we await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

We will care for one another as we share our lives, particularly by praying for one another.

We will care for creation

I am committed to alternating workouts throughout the week between the weight gym and wheeling the pathways while the weekends are elective.

I will be attentive to healthier food choice while maintaining a diet which treats food as fuel for purpose and not self gratification.

I will seek to model a holistic and healthy lifestyle both for my wife, my tribe (Expressions), and the community around me through the growth of my mental understanding, physical conditioning, and spiritual awareness.

I will read one chapter of scripture every day for the purpose of meditating in it through the rest of the day.

I will seek to apply my learning within the Rochester cohort and MRE to the growth of my tribe and The Edge.

I will seek to engage in my studies through reading, writing, and practice, to the best of my abilities with the intent of growing closer to God's call upon my life.

I will practice daily morning prayer and throughout the day.

  1. Because we believe that God has reconciled the world to himself through Jesus and reconciles us together to God by the power of the Holy Spirit:

We will create hospitable spaces in our lives to welcome others as Christ has welcomed us.

We will work toward peace and reconciliation within the body of Christ so that our unity might be a testimony to God’s reconciling work.

We will welcome the hospitality of God extended to us by others as they share in peace with us.

I will continue to open my house as a sanctuary to the work of God in all those who enter it through Tribal Gatherings, suppers, leadership gatherings, and social events.

I will seek to meet with all the tribal leaders a part of The Edge at least once a month one on one either by phone, coffee/meal, or online.

I will continue to model and invite others to be a part of the discipling culture our tribe is a part of (I-Living) while continuing to develop a discipling culture within The Edge.

I will attend and be a part of all Edge leadership suppers, gatherings, and retreats while fostering the relationships we have.

I will meet with my ministry partner John every two weeks to learn from his modelling, wisdom, and instruction while dreaming and discerning on the future movement of our tribes.

I will be open to the invitations of my nieghbours to any community gathering point.

I will continue to publish my thoughts and writing in public spaces (blog, Face Book, Email) with the openness of engaging others in conversation around them.

  1. Because we believe God’s love has been revealed to us in the self-giving death of Jesus, and because that love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit:

We will cultivate practices of steadfast love in our own lives.

We will bear each other’s burdens, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice, in order to participate in a trustworthy community.

We will find ways to make our neighborhoods places of God’s trustworthiness through self-giving love.

I will seek to be involved in at least two community or YYC projects per month for the purpose of creating a better neighbourhood.

I will seek to show love to my wife through dating often, meaningful gifts of beauty (yes, it might be sentimental but, the occasional rose goes a long way!! :) ), and making time to listen to her.

I will also seek to be a better husband through reading, council of friends, and podcasts/video.

I will love my tribe through being present in their lives while shaping my discussions with them solely through the language of encouragement and empowerment.

I will seek out every opportunity to engage my neighbours in conversation while being attentive to the opportunities to bless them within the context that they are in.

I will continue engaging the story of the Calgary Centre for Global Community & being involved in its activities.

Unplugged: Tales of the Walking Dead

Book of Eli
Book of Eli

This might completely have you question the legitimacy of my Christian faith but, I am fascinated by apocalyptic films and television shows like 'The Book of Eli' and 'The Walking Dead'. I guess I'm just enthralled by the wonder of how society and humanity would live without all the electronic, web connected, and media driven devices we are so used too and impacted by on a daily bases. As I get drawn into the stories and lives of these characters I recognize a simplicity to their practices and yet they each struggle to find meaning, purpose, community, and direction. They become heroic to me in their synergistic desire just to simply live and thrive as a community in mission; even if it is with flesh eating people all around them! Speaking of eating... I like to say this simple quote while watching these shows that absolutely drives my wife nuts; "Everything's got to eat some time!" I laugh as she squirms and blurts out with sarcasm, "Erik!" But it is true, is it not?! We might like to think differently but the reality is that these worlds of flesh eating zombies and cannibalistic appetites really aren't that different from our own world. We simply give it a different title so that it sounds more economic and humane. The word we use is "Consumerism".

Millions of people spending hours a day wanting, desiring, craving, and some times even obsessing over the self perceived drive for MORE!! And it doesn't seem to matter how we get it either, whether through sweat factories, cheap labour, political bullying, even war; we want more and even after we get it, we might be subdued for a brief moment but ultimately we fall back to that same drive for more tech gadgets, more money, more clothes, or more vacations. Our lists for more can be never ending! What is it that quenches the scales of guilt towards greed in Dante's Inferno? A pound of flesh!!

A few days ago I took some time to simply unplug from the grid. No TV. No internet. Ok, I did listen to a little music but who can escape the melodic guitar solos of the likes of Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Paige, and Stevie Ray Voughn?! It was a day of simplicity as I cleaned house, did some reading, and hit the weights in my basement. I felt great, rejuvenated, and even a little nostalgic to the days when I lived without all the electronic gadgets my wife and I use today (yes, it is a reality that I'm beginning to get that old!).

Jesus would often retreat to the mountains or go off on his own to unplug from the demanding world around him (Luke 5:15; Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12). Perhaps it was in the same way that he found rejuvenation, a time of refocus, and reconnection with his Father and the mission he came to complete. A mission not so much to take and consume but one to give and submit too. Of course, to complete that mission he couldn't stay in the mountains; he had to return to that demanding world. Yet, even in the midst of those demands, he was not distracted from the very real purpose and work he came to complete.

My time in retreat reminds me that I have this same need for refocus in my own walk of faith. I must be willing to unplug from the demands of a consumer driven world if I am to become the person that God really wants me to be. I cannot allow my passion and desire for knowledge and understanding of God's Word to become self consuming and absent of the actual practice of its calling and purpose. To do otherwise might place me into the same realization that one of my favourite characters, Eli, tragically comes to see in himself saying, "I spent so long trying to protect the book; I forgot to do what it says!" If I am not walking in submissive nature to faith and service, I am only one of the walking dead consuming anything and all in the name of more.

Rochester Rule of Life: Finding a Rhythm

Rule of Life

1. We acknowledge that God is our Father Who desires intimacy with His children and is the source of life and desires to impart life.

AND

We vow to welcome and receive intimacy with God by the practices of silence, solitude, simplicity, prayer, and scripture.

  •  I will practice the openness to recognizing whatever scripture I am in daily, that it will speak into the experiences, events, and life practices I partake in.
  • I will seek the invitation of God and His story in all people I meet while inviting them to be a part of my story.

2. We acknowledge that God's Trinitarian nature reveals a mutual submission among His Persons.

AND

We vow to practice mutual submission as we live in the context of community.

  •  I will give myself in service to the needs of my wife, my tribe (church), and my community as they have need or desire for the work of the Kingdom.
  • I will pursue the understanding of my community's needs by developing and fostering a relationship with community leaders and civil servants.

3. We acknowledge that God is a welcoming, gracious, merciful, lover of all people Who stands in solidarity with us and desires to be with us.*

AND

We vow to practice both giving and receiving hospitality and neighborliness.

  •  I will seize every opportunity to pursue a relationship with my neighbours while creating environments of connection by being personally visible on the street as much as possible.
  • We (Bonnie & I) continue to have an open house as we welcome any and all to out table over visiting and tribal gatherings.
  • I continue fostering relationships with the other amidst diversity in beliefs, understandings, and cultures.

4. We acknowledge that the God who raised Jesus from the dead is a redeeming God Who is in the process of restoring all things.

AND

We vow to participate in practices that actively restore shalom.

  •  I will continue serving at the Calgary Mustard Seed while developing friendships and relationships with the many homeless on Calgary's streets.
  • I will seek every opportunity to speak out against injustice, prejudice, and worldly labels particularly in the issues of euthanasia, mental illness, and those considered "disabled".

5. We acknowledge that God is the creator of this world and all things belong to Him and are for Him AND We vow to live as faithful stewards of God’s creation including our bodies and resources

  • I will seek to live a healthy life by educating and developing a greater understanding of the workings to a holistic life.
  • I will seek to train my body through exercise every week by weight training, wheeling, and healthy eating habits.
  • I will submit to the continued understanding that I am not my own person, I am a temple to the Holy Spirit, and therefore under the possessive communal dwelling of his continued eternal presence amidst my own.