To Change the World


An interview with James Davison Hunter for his book:  To Change the World has really captured my attention today.

Here is a quote:

“In contrast to these paradigms, the desire for faithful presence in the world calls on the entire laity, in all vocations—ordinary and extraordinary, “common” and rarefied—to enact the shalom of God in the world.  Christians need to abandon talk about “redeeming the culture,” “advancing the kingdom,” and “changing the world.” Such talk carries too much weight, implying conquest and domination. If there is a possibility for human flourishing in our world, it does not begin when we win the culture wars but when God’s word of love becomes flesh in us, reaching every sphere of social life. When faithful presence existed in church history, it manifested itself in the creation of hospitals and the flourishing of art, the best scholarship, the most profound and world-changing kind of service and care—again, not only for the household of faith but for everyone. Faithful presence isn’t new; it’s just something we need to recover.”

 This speaks directly to the kind of reflection and thinking that led me on a path of planting Ordinary Community some 10 years ago now and is continuing to sharpen our mission and presence as a people.  I need to unpack all of this a lot more in my own mind and heart, but it rings so true with my reflections for a decade.  The thirst for new, to be exciting, to be relevant, to be popular, to be politically powerful etc. etc., are not the ideas of the Kingdom of God, they are the dressings of American consumer culture in 2010 A.D. To be a people set apart, to live within our culture but to incarnate the Christ of the Kingdom in that place, that is my pursuit.  We don’t do this perfectly, but it is the intention of our hearts as a people.  Ordinary Community, let’s never stop asking the questions of what it means to be Church in our culture, in our context and in our time.peace,Marshall

Fighting for life


“Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less.  One is always living a little more or dying a little bit.”  – Norman Mailer (American Novelist)

Which of us is immune to life’s waves crashing on our shore?  You choose your metaphor, but life is just sometimes hard . . . really hard.  Being overwhelmed has got to be one of the most de-motivating emotions in our experience here.  It threatens to squeeze the life out of us.  It is a bully that says change is not possible.  That the way things are is what will always be.  These kinds of voices and this kind of bully is the enemy of Hope.  Hope is a rebellion down deep within us that contends with these voices.  Hope is about life, a fight for real life.  A fight for the things you care about.  A fight for the things you want to see changed.  It is never too late to change.  It starts with a decision to fight for life, to get busy living. 


Secret of Time

 I am a contextual thinker, these kinds of studies/talks fascinate me.  I’m not suggesting that all the assumptions and/or findings in this video are neccesarily accurate (haven’t studied it enough to form that opinion), but one thing I do know is that human beings are a lot more controlled by their context than they think.  Self-awareness is an incredible gift and whatever I have learned to this point in my life has come from either study or travel to cultures outside of my own.  It is outside of my culture that I can see my culture and wonder about the ideas and factors that cause us to behave as we do, have the values we do and make the choices we do. I think this video has sweeping implications on the way we do family, education, church, work, politics and society.  At the very least to make us think, we have to be aware of the Macro-trends that largely govern business as usual in all out entities. As a follower of Jesus, one of my greatest days was in a graduate Anthropology course where I had the revelation that I was more American than I was Christian.  That’s a problem.  I’ve spent the next 12 years scrutinizing and reflecting on that revealed assumption.  It is both challenging and freeing.  I’m interested in the Kingdom of God, not the kingdom of men.peace,Marshall

Giving up self


“The principle runs through all life from top to bottom.  Give up yourself, and you will find your real self.  Lose your life and you will save it.  Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end:  submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life.  Keep back nothing.  Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours.  Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.  Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay.  But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”  – C.S. Lewis  Mere Christianity

I have longed believed the secret of the mystery of Christ to be this principle, fundamentally a death to self.  This is the call to follow, its the call of true discipleship.  It is a call to leave the false self, the impostor.  It is a call to put on the true self, the one we were designed to be from the beginning.  This doesn’t happen overnight, this is a daily call and free choice to give up self and then find in it a journey of spiritual transformation and discovery.  When it’s not about me, then it can be about Him, the One who authors my path.  To deny myself and be lost in Him is the place where my heart finds a home.  That I live in harmony with His creation and in line with His purposes on this side of the veil. This is life, real life.  Don’t accept counterfeits. peace,Marshall

Pick a fight


“I’m going to pick a fight”  – from the movie Braveheart

Steven:  Fine speech. Now what do we do?William Wallace: Just be yourselves.Hamish: Where are you going?William Wallace: I’m going to pick a fight.Hamish: Well, we didn’t get dressed up for nothing.

 Tonight’s topic for class is in direct contrast to last week’s topic on suffering and the problem of evil.  Tonight’s topic is, “now what”?  So the world is full of pain, suffering and hate.   The waves crashing on our shore are both systemic and personified evil.  So what, what is our response?  Should we give up?  Should we shut the windows and lock the doors?  Should we lie on the canvas and wait to be counted out?  Perhaps we should do what the Christian bookstore new release titles tell us, hunker down and wait for Jesus to come back.  Dream of escapism and waith for glory in the by and by.  I mean its all just too hard, right?  Sit in fear and tremble in a dark corner?   . . . this is rubbish

John 20:1, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdelene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”

What do we do?  We frickin’ get up.  We get up off the canvas.  We rise to the darkness of the early morning.  If our enemy is riding out to meet us, then we give him the pleasure of our company.  Why?  Not because of us, but because of the One we follow is the Resurrection.  When things are hard, when times are dark, we have a nasty habit of RISING again! I encourage you to pick a fight.  Pick a fight with the cause that is written on your soul.  Whatever it is, whoever you are, for the sake of Christ, pick a fight.  Love and Hope is our rebellion.  Scream it into the places that seem lost, rage against the systems that are dehumanizing, resist the tyranny of inequality.   I’m choosing to get up today, I’m choosing to pick a fight.peace,marshall

Poustinia vs. Media multi-tasking


Internet and TV mulit-tasking   This article states what many of us do, “The folks at Yahoo and Nielsen have come out with a new study on media multitasking: They say three-fourths of American Internet users surf the Internet while they’re watching TV. That’s up 20% from a year ago.”

Here’s a quote from my cousin’s facebook page that struck me, I’m not typically a “Piper”-guy but this rings true.  “Television reflects American culture at its most trivial. A steady diet of triviality shrinks the soul. You get used to it. It starts to feel normal. Silly becomes funny. And funny becomes pleasing. And pleasing becomes soul-satisfaction. And in the end the soul that is made for God has shrunk to fit snugly around trit…eness”. -John Piper

I am a mult-tasker at heart.  I am pretty much undiagnosed adult ADD.  I love the instant gratification of information gathering online, I find it much more satisfying than most television shows.  Outside of sports, I don’t have a show I regularly wach, just doesn’t intrigue me.  When I do, when my laptop was actually working, I often multi-tasked online alongside the watching.  What I’m reflecting on today is not that multi-tasking and media is a regular part of our life, but that we can tend to use it for comfort and satsifaction that it is not designed to fill.  It certainly sells itself that it will, but ulitmately we realize that is just folly. What does satisfy?  Well, over the years, this ADD extrovert has learned that quiet and solitude does the trick.  It’s like petting the dog against its fur.  It doesn’t feel right at first but the stark contrast to a manic-media life screams wholeness and a sense of center.  In Russian, this kind of reflection is called “Poustinia”, which is a silent place for prayer.  This is what my heart longs for that my external flesh cannot appetize.  We are designed for cosmic connection to the One who made us, there are no satisfying counterfeits.  Let’s live critically aware of our media consumption and seek for quiet and solitude as we live amongst noise. 

From today’s Aidan reading in Celtic Daily Prayer:  “Come, occupy my silent place, and make Thy dwelling there.  More grace is wrought in quietness than any is aware.”  – John Oxenham