Monday, November 11

Canadian Youth Worker Conference - Session Five with Chap Clark


We Are the Samaritan Woman

In a world of perfromance, conformity and image, where teens learn that they are loved, embraced and praised only when or if they fit into our agenda and able to navigate the expectations that we have for them, is it any surprise that they end up hurt and broken deep inside?

It isn't that one kid out there is hurt, or that just fringe kids in youth culture are hurting, but it's that all teens have been systemically abandoned.  This is to say that teens live in a world that has systems and structures which are to meant to support them, but actually fail and damage them ... those systems promise support, love and nurturing, but when teens push back against them or step outside the boundary lines, those structures abandon them.  The result is broken hearts and a hurt generation.

Key Text:
John 4:1-42

Jesus begins the conversation in this passage by making an initial connection with the wowan that he encounters which breaks Jewish law and the ethical expectation of the day.  This is the same thing that we are called to do in youth ministry: to care, initiate and honor those who culture would suggest we should avoid.  

At one point in the conversation Jesus asks her to get her husband.  He brings up this point of hurt / pain with her and enters into her story, moving past small talk and into the messiness and brokeness of her life.  We see here that ministry involves working hard to serve Christ and honoring others, coming alongside of them and leading them to Jesus.

Key Thought:
There is a second track and calling here, however.  It is something that is hard to navigate.  It is rooted in a belief that we, as pastors, are taking on the Jesus role in the story as we minister to others.  However, we are not Jesus.

In Acts 1 Jesus says we have one task ... to be his witnesses.  This is to demostrate his grace -  poured out into our lives - to the world.  It speaks of honesty and self examination.  It speaks to vulnerability on our part that has to face what is on the inside of our hearts.

It is easy - as pastors -  to identify with Jesus in the story ... but we are not Jesus.  We are the Samaritan woman ... we are the broken one who is in need of healing from Jesus.  We are the woman who, after the encounter, then goes out and tells all she meets of the God who knew everything about her.

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 
(John 4:29 NIV)

Key Thought:
"What must I do to do the work of God?" (John 6:28) ... to trust in the one who God has sent.  It is not about external law-keeping, but something more.  In John 6, Jesus reveals to the man looking for direction his heart ... he exposes to the man his hurt and brokeness by telling him to go and sell all he has, giving it to the poor first and then to follow Chirst.  He can't do it.  He chooses to keep it hidden.

Back to the Woman at the Well ... notice that the woman went to the well at noon because she had strategized how to hide her brokeness and hurt from others.

"I have prayed for years for one good humiliation a day and then I must watch my reaction to it.  In my position, I have no other way of spotting both my well-denied shadow self and my idealized persona." - Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

What Jesus is most concerned about is the 'shadow self' that denies who we are on the inside.  It denies the power of the Gospel in our lives.  It would allow us to avoid the sin in our life in order to, as pastors and youth workers, concentrate on the ministry before us at the cost of our hurt being healed and our brokeness restored.

To die to the shadow-self that I constantly feed and to daily take up my cross and follow Jesus: to acknowledge our dark side and allow Jesus to take it away that we might walk with him and minister from the healing and grace he has given to us.

It was when the woman's shadow self was revealed that she was set free.  The disciples labelling of her when they returned held shame no longer.  Returning to the city where she had a history didn't produce fear in her any longer.  She had been set free.

Questions:
- What steps must you take to reveal your shadow self and allow The Lord to set us free from it?  It must be acknowledged and acknowledged daily.  What might God be able to do with people who have come to the end of themselves, fall into the arms of Jesus and rediscover their first love?

- Who are the friends that you can reveal your shadow self too?

- What questions must you ask daily to make sure that you lead out of your brokeness which has been / is being healed rather than your shadow self which you so focus on keeping hidden?

Last Thought:
Jesus can see into our deepest heart ... we are his beloved children ... and we can trust Him.  My God grant us the courage to crawl into his arms and be set free from the inside out.










Canadian Youth Worker Conference - Session Four with Tony Campolo



Empowered to Love as a Red Letter Christian

There is a sense that the younger generations are not connected to one and other or to the Lord.  There is a deadness of the soul out there.  There is a lack of life and awareness to life.  There is a generation that is striving to come alive.  It is a generation that has to be loud and have an energy bouncing off their skin in an effort to wake them up.  

The reason that we live in such a sex-crazed generation is that we hope that in it we might find some kind of awakening.  And yet, after cheap sex or a temporary hook-up, there is nothing but a deadness deep inside.

Key Thought:
The answer to the deadness of the soul is love.  

And yet, love takes an incredible amount of energy.  Where does one find that energy?  

It is by the filling of our souls with nothing other than the Holy Spirit.  He brings an energy and a life that can not be found in those who are still asleep in their souls.

Inviting the presense of Jesus creates what the ancient Celts called the "thin place" ... a place to yeild and wait ("They that wait upon The Lord shall renew their strength ... raise up on wings as eagles ... run and not faint) ... 

The practise of waiting on The Lord again each morning ...

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus / look full on his wonderful face / and the things of earth will grow strangely dim / in the light of his glorious grace."

We are not saved by simply accepting a doctorine ... we are saved fully when the presence of God invades and penetrates the deepest places of our being.  When Christ enters in he does something ... he forgives (1 John 1:9) ... then the verse continues ... "he cleanses us"

Question:
When was the last time that you waited on The Lord and let him cleanse you by the Spirit as He once again invades you and flows into you like a fount of living water?

The Spirit fills us and gives us that energy to love.

There are 3 characteristics of love that only the Spirit can empower us in:
1) to concentrate - to be able to hear what is really in the depths of a person's being because of the insight brought by the Spirit ... to love with the power of the Spirit is to be able to look into a person, past that which might distract ... it allows us a concentrated focus on that which is deepest in them because the love of The Lord is not an erotic love, but a love that is spiritual and seeks to know others fully and with purity.

2) to be concerned - this is a compassion made real in the words and actions taken to show love to another in a way that can only come through the power of the Spirit.  It is not pity (that dehumanizes).  It is not 'feeling bad'.  It is the compassion that enters into another persons pain and where your heart is broken by the things that break the heart of Jesus.

3) commitment - a love that is energized by the Spirit is one that is committed for longer than a feeling or beyond the call of culture that squeezes us into its' little boxes where all of life is compartmentalized and commitment is limited to comfort.

The Challenge: 
Are you ready to become a 'red letter Christian' who doesn't only have a solid theolgy, but also is one who is a Kingdom person full of mercy, willing to be persecuted, who turns the other cheek, and is willing to give it all away?

Love - red letter love - calls us to be wiling to lay everything down and give all away for the sake of the Kingdom of God ...

You who were once dead have been made alive ... but it comes with a price ... are you ready to take up your cross and follow Him?  Are you willing to be the kind of person who loves in a way that can only happen when you are empowered by the Spirit?  Are you willing to not only make those who believe in Christ, but disciples of Christ?  Are you being willing to let God invade you, fill you and empower you to love?


















Sunday, November 10

Canadian Youth Worker Conference - Session Three with Danielle Strickland


Setting Our Eyes on Christ

Summary:
Fear is the greatest inhibitor of God's glory on the planet.  Jesus will lead us to places where we are afraid and needy and in over our heads. In the midst of that, Jesus calls us to follow him.  He reminds that he is in control and, forgetting what is behind, we must set our eyes on Him so that He can lead us into unexpected places of ministry in unexpected ways. We will see it happen as we follow him.

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Salvation and redemption are much bigger than just us and our personal sin ... it is personal, but it is much bigger than that.  It is the plan to overthrow the enemy and evil and it is the remedy for sin and it is big enough for the salvation of the entire created order - all of the cosmos!  It is a boundless love that is beyond our comprehension that we might know only through a devine revelation!

May we understand the biggness of God's plan for this world and loose the tinyness of just our own salvation in His huge ocean of redemption!

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Matt 17:1-16
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” (Matthew 17:1-16 NIV)

Key Thoughts:
- Luke's account of this says that the discples where sleeping for some of this story ... it may remind us of another time of sleeping that happens in the Garden on the eve of Christ's crucifiction.  It seems that  people have a propencity to fall asleep in the midst of great, glorious things.  

- Jesus, Moses and Elisha are talking about the Exodus ... all the Isrealite people knew about God and his Law through Moses ... and Elisha was the prophetic voice of all that was to come.  Yet there was another Exodus to come and, in fact, had already arrived with John the Baptist and it was the reason that Jesus was now on the scene.  Yet the disciples had not realized it ... they were missing it.  They understood Moses and Elisha to be the big attraction, but as the story ends, Moses and Elisha being to fade and disappear so that it was only Jesus ... a new exodus was coming through Him.

[insert fantastic stories of The Lord using ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things for his glory and seeing people set free]

Key Thought in the Story:
- Letting go of what The Lord has done in the past is crucial - let Moses and Elisha fade - because God does new things and so we must look to Jesus and follow him rather than our own ideas that are rooted and based on what has occured in the past.  

- The disciples are witnesses to the glory of the transfiguration on the mountain and then Jesus brings them back down to the valley and into a situation that is too hard for them to handle.  He is doing the same thing with us today.

- Jesus basically says, "Follow me, we are going to change the world ... change the world for a little boy who is possesed and going to die."  In that possessed boy, the disciples are faced with a need that is too great for them.  Nothing they think should work to change it does.  So Jesus brings the focus back to himself.   They must look to The Lord for the answers.  

- In the same way, we must let go of what we think it should look like to change lives and, instead, fix our eyes on Jesus who will lead us to go to places we have never gone before and to minister in ways we would never have considered before.  

- Jesus will start us with the kid / the parent / the dark spot where we are most powerless and most afraid so that we must look to Him and follow Him.

Final Question:
Feeling overwhelmed?  Excellent.  That is the perfect place to be.  Fix your eyes on Jesus.  Trust Him.  Don't be afraid.  Listen to him and obey.  Let Moses and Elisha disappear so that there is only Jesus leading us in what looks like foolishness to the world, but is actually the power of God to see salvation and redemption establish itself.  














Saturday, November 9

Canadian Youth Worker Conference - Session Two with Rikk Watts



The Centrality of Narrative and the Conflict it Brings

Summary:
As Christians, we are part of a single, epic narrative that we are called to live out in the midst of the  various places we find ourselves.  Many Christians, however, have a hard time doing this because they are stuck in two narratives.  They try to be cool and a Christian, or Canadian and a Christian.  The Christian narrative is in conflict with the tennants of most all other narratives ... it is a unique, beautiful, life giving story that is not about being cool or patriotic or even about goodness, but is about bearing the image of our God to those who we interact with.  We know God and we bring that knowledge of a person - not of rules and academic facts and laws and morals - to the forefront of all of life in the person of Jesus.  This world is the Lords and He has created everything and everyone in it and is in the midst of restoring it and bringing it back to himself through us ... 

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Key Thought:
The Christian story changes us deep, deep down inside and enbodies the ethic and character of the Kingdom of God.

The Gospel of Jesus is one that destablizes all other narratives.  Not because Christ is against culture, but because He created culture and so must inform culture.  This is the nature of what it is we are involved in.

So who is this Jesus?  

This is God's narrative ... 
- all narratives happen in a place and in God's narrative it is earth.
- God sees earth and all of Creation as his Temple ... his dwelling place
- His glory is reflected in his creation ... in the earth ... and is seen in the gifts He gives us
- Jesus died to redeem not just us, but all of Creation ... it is his dwelling place ... His Temple

Living in this narrative, no act is too small.  Every remote corner of it has been touched by His glory.

Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God ... what does this mean?  

- In Genesis 1 God creates his Temple - the cosmos, including the earth as his "footstool" and then creates humanity in his image to put his presence in that Temple.  
- The Holy Spirit filling us is the act of bringing that image of Himself to actually contain his presence
- The Holy Spirit allows us to have his character and his creativity ... we build and we imagine because, as our God brought things into being, we are able to do the same.

"... what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet ..." 
(Psalm 8:4-6 NIV)

- we are created and bear the image of God, therefore how we treat others and ourselves matters ... it reflects on what our God values
- we can't separate how we treat male and female from the character of God in our narrative ... 
- if we loose sight of our humanity, we become nothing more than the lifeless stone idols like the pagans worship
- the way that we treat people is based on who they are; NOT based on what they have done

Jesus is the Climax of History ... God with Us

What is God like?
- when you see Jesus you actually see what God is like up close and personal .... "When you see me, you have seen the Father." - Jesus
- Jesus tells of a Father who is generous and compassionate ... do we, as His people reflect that?  
- as an example, Jesus tells us that the Father is like one who gives a full days worth of wages to a man who has only worked a few hours.  Is this the picture of God that we are reflecting?

What is Holiness?
- God did not make people to keep the law, but the law to serve people ... 

What does it mean to be fully human?
- to become fully human is to embody God's character ...
- to use our relationship with God, not for our own benefit, but for the blessing of others ... it does not manipute or use power for selfish gain
- I deny my own self to reflect Him in my life

- On the Cross, Jesus absorbs all the death so that we might have life ... if we trust God in Jesus then he will take us through death and beyond it to real and abundant life!  

Key Thought and Question:
- Christianity is about life and growth and athenticity and creativity ... and we come across as the moral police of the universe.  What if true holiness is a life that offers and brings God's life to others?




Canadian Youth Worker Conference - Session One with Duffy Robbins


Joshua and the Walls of Jericho

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord ’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15 NIV)

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- The people of God had crossed the River toward inheriting their future home, but now are realizing that the promised land was not only "flowing with milk and honey" (sounds like breakfast land!), but also potentially full of fights they might not win.  They are especially desperate as they now stand before Jericho ... a walled city looming above them.

Key Thought:
The average teenager's life is full of "Jericho" moments: times when they feel like they are confronted with walls that they are overwhelmed by ... like getting up in the morning or doing homework *grin*.

As youth workers, we have our own walls and "Jericho's" ... as we gather  at CYWC we celebrate with people who understand our unique walls ...

Dream Killers:
There are moments when the walls we face are overwhelm and haunt us ... they generally fall into two categories:

1) People ... there are people that we want to love, but they are really hard to love because of what they have done or what they have said. We pour our lives out for the kids we work with and to have someone question that or accuse us of doing it "wrong" hurts.   Sometimes the walls we hit are manafested people.

2) Circumstances ... sometimes the walls we hit that discourage us are in hearing the circumstances of others who seem to be doing great things for for God, or maybe in circumstances that are less then ideal in our own ministries.  

Key Thought:
We don't have to scratch to deep to draw the blood of hurt, anger, fears, discouragement that seem to block us from the promises of God.  These are the walls of Jericho for us today.  They discourage God's people who are pursuing the promises of God.

Joshua 5:14
God is not one to take sides ... He comes to take over.  Once The Lord identifies himself, it is clear that He is for himself ... that He is soveriegn ... and that he has more than enough power behind him - the army of The Lord - to accomplish His purposes.

For Joshua - and for us - the approriate response to coming before The Lord was to fall on his face and worship: a total yielding of the highest military leader in the nation of Isreal  to the One more powerful. 

-  "The only way to find absolute victory was to fall in absolute surrender".

Key Thought:
Before the walls of Jericho that are bigger than life and when we find ourselves engulfed by the shodows that they cast down upon us, the appropriate response is to fall on our face before The Lord and worship him as the only one that can overcome what confronts us.

In the heat of battle, it is not the size of the wall, but the priority of worship you have toward the one that you take your marching orders from that matters.

God's direction to Joshua is to take off his shoes and honor the holiness of the place.  It seems counter-intuative for one about to go to war, but it acknowledges the priority of worship in the midst of what seems like overwhleming discouragement.

"In all these things we are more than conquerers in Christ Jesus" - Paul (Romans 8:37)

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The Big Question:
What are the Jericho's in your life right now?  What are the places of great potential but also of possible discouragement?  What is your posture in those situations ... one of ready to rush into battle under your own power, or one of face-down worship before the commander of the Army of The Lord?

The Lord would say, "This place may feel like a battle ground, but watch me and serve me and I will turn this battleground into holy ground and bring a victory in ways that you might never expect."












Monday, April 15

Loverboy and a Different View of Rest ...

I was fortunate enough to have The News publish another article I wrote in their Pastors Point Column this weekend ... enjoy.


I look forward to Mondays each week like most people look forward to the weekend - remember that 1981 song by Loverboy called, “Working for the Weekend”?

Why Mondays? 
Mondays are my day off. It’s the day that I relax and rest in the midst of doing odd jobs around the house and maybe reading a good book over a hot drink at one of the city’s many coffee shops.

It’s a day to unwind from the business of life. It’s a day to let my soul breathe deeper than other days. Christians have a different view of rest than many others. It comes from our understanding of how the Bible records that God created us and our appreciation for the rhythms of life that he has hard-wired into humanity.

In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the narrative of Creation is recorded and it’s on day six that it reads:

God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Many of us would recall that on the next day, the final day of Creation, it records that God rested from all the work that he undertaken. In fact, we learn that this seventh day is blessed and set aside as a day of rest for all.

God works for six days and then rests. Humanity is created and then, before any work is done, is given the gift of a day of resting by the Creator. Christians believe that we do our work out of a time of rest, rather than resting from the work that we do.

This little adjustment in our approach to life and rest makes a massive difference in how we live, and because of it we work out of the rejuvenation we find in our resting times as opposed to trying to just make it to the finish line of the day.

When you think about it, the normal rhythms of life really do attempt to reinforce this in us.
For example, we begin each day with sleeping (rest) and then we wake and work. When we see Sunday as the first day of our week rather than the last, we start with attention given to restoring our soul and refreshing our mind by resting and doing what we love to do before we move into days of work.

Rest makes you more alert, keeps you positive, helps you say the right things at the right times, gives you patience, helps you keep your mouth shut when you should, gives you more grace, opens your eyes, takes stress away and makes you stronger, gives you better ideas, brings focus, brightens the colours of our world, and helps you see the extra mile, and then go there.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”, and as we align our lives with how he created us to live, everything begins to change.

What does your next day off look like? May it be the beginning of your week rather than the recovery from it.

Sunday, July 15

Beauty in the hell that was ...

I've begun reading the book Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society, by Jason Locy and Timothy Willard.  It explores the false-faces we put on to cover up the person that we truly are deep, deep down inside.

That 'person' is often scarred, wounded, tired, tested, and refined.  That 'person' has been - at times it feels - to hell and back in life.  Is it possible that good can come from those times?  Is it possible that beauty can come from it?

This quote exploded off the page at me, speaking to these very questions ...
True Beauty, some say, resides at the threshold of pain.  This is why we can call the crucifixion beautiful.  Not because we are barbarians, but because there`s an inherent truth and goodness in it.  Christ lays his life down for all of humankind, past, present, and future.  This is good; he is good.  And his goodness points us to truth, truth of redemption, truth of coming restoration, truth of forgiveness.
This is why we can look back on pain in our lives and call it beautiful.  It wasn`t beautiful then; it was hell.  But from that hell grew a shoot, and from that shoot a leaf, and life sprang up where hell resides; that is beautiful.  God makes it so.
These truths are reflected in the song Beautiful Things, by the band Gungor.  Enjoy the video and may you learn to see beauty in the pain as you find restoration through the work of God in you.


Thursday, May 10

Teens and Tech ...


"Today's teens are the first generation to have no 
memory of life before cell phones and the internet"

That truth means that I am no longer a native in this culture, but rather an immigrant (to steal terms that many sociologists have used over the last number of years).  What I mean is that, in many ways, I've had to be adaptive to the world around me to be able to be a part of it and have a voice in the culture.  However, the simple truth is that I am "wired" differently.  

It's the same thing that the generation before me experienced (remember those blinking '00:00' numbers on your parent's VCR?) but even more extreme.

That's why this infogram is so helpful to me.

Maybe it will be helpful to you too.

Original article that went with it is here.




Saturday, March 17

Why March 17th Reminds Me of Pirates, Mullets and a Celebrity Missionary ...


Today is St. Patrick's Day and it began with my parents sending me a text from a Starbuck's next to the riverbank in downtown San Antonio, Texas declaring that the river had been coloured green for the day!

Two things of note here ...

1.) I would not want to be swimming in that river today, and
2.) why do we call it "Saint" Patrick's Day when the guy we celebrate with green beer (and rivers), shamrocks, and leprechauns wasn't technically a Saint at all?!?

Now, having said all that, I gotta tell you that who Patrick was and why we celebrate him today, is an incredibly interesting story.  It's a story of pirates, monks with crazy haircuts, and the most unlikely of Christian missionaries.

Here's an article that one person wrote about him that I think is brilliant ... enjoy!





Though I was raised Irish Catholic, I knew virtually nothing about Saint Patrick other than the green beer, parades, shamrocks, leprechauns, and drunken Red Sox fans that celebrated in his honor every March 17th. Technically, Saint Patrick is not even a saint, as he was never canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, Patrick was not even Irish. Rather, he was a Roman-Britain who spoke Latin and a bit of Welsh. Patrick was born around 390 A.D. When he was roughly 16 years of age he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland on a ship where he was sold into slavery. He spent the next six years alone in the wilderness as a shepherd for his masters’ cattle and sheep.

ISOLATION
Patrick was a rebellious non-Christian teenager who had come from a Christian family. His grandfather was a pastor, and his father was a deacon. However, during his extended periods of isolation without any human contact, Patrick began praying and was eventually born again into a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. Patrick endured the years of isolation in rain and snow by praying up to 100 prayers each day and another 100 each night. In his early twenties God spoke to Patrick in a dream, telling him to flee from his master for a ship that was waiting for him. Amazingly, Patrick made the 200-mile journey on foot without being caught or harmed to find a ship setting sail for his home, just as God had promised. The sailors were out of food for the journey, and after Patrick prayed a herd of pigs miraculously ran toward the ship, providing a bountiful feast for the long voyage home.

GOD SPEAKS TO PATRICK
Upon returning home, Patrick enrolled in seminary and was eventually commissioned as a pastor. Some years later God spoke to Patrick in a dream, commanding him to return to Ireland to preach the gospel and plant churches for the pagans who lived there. The Roman Catholic Church had given up on converting such “barbarians” deemed beyond hope. The Celtic peoples, of which the Irish were part, were an illiterate bunch of drunken, fighting, perverted pagans who basically had sex with anyone and worshiped anything. They were such a violent and lawless people, numbering anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000, that they had no city centers or national government and were spread out among some 150 warring clans.

UNIQUE MISSIONARY STRATEGY
In faith, the forty-something year-old Patrick sold all of his possessions, including the land he had inherited from his father, to fund his missionary journey to Ireland. He worked as an itinerant preacher and paid large sums of money to various tribal chiefs to ensure he could travel safely through their lands and preach the gospel. His strategy was completely unique, and he functioned like a missionary trying to relate to the Irish people and communicate the gospel in their culture by using such things as three-leaf clovers to explain the gospel. Upon entering a pagan clan, Patrick would seek to first convert the tribal leaders and other people of influence. He would then pray for the sick, cast demons out of the possessed, preach the Bible, and use both musical and visual arts to compel people to put their faith in Jesus. If enough converts were present he would build a simple church that did not resemble ornate Roman architecture, baptize the converts, and hand over the church to a convert he had trained to be the pastor so that he could move on to repeat the process with another clan. Patrick gave his life to the people who had enslaved him until he died at 77 years of age. He had seen untold thousands of people convert as between 30-40 of the 150 tribes had become substantially Christian. He had trained 1000 pastors, planted 700 churches, and was the first noted person in history to take a strong public stand against slavery.

ROMAN OPPOSITION
Curiously, Patrick’s unorthodox ministry methods, which had brought so much fruit among the Irish, also brought much opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. Because Patrick was so far removed from Roman civilization and church polity he was seen by some as an instigator of unwelcome changes. This led to great conflicts between the Roman and Celtic Christians. The Celtic Christians had their own calendar and celebrated Easter a week earlier than their Roman counterparts. Additionally, the Roman monks shaved only the hair on the top of their head, whereas the Celtic monks shaved all of their hair except their long locks which began around the bottom of their head as a funky monk mullet. The Romans considered these and other variations by the Celtic Christian leaders to be acts of insubordination. In the end, the Roman Church should have learned from Patrick, who is one of the greatest missionaries who has ever lived. Though Patrick’s pastors and churches looked different in method, they were very orthodox in their theology and radically committed to such things as Scripture and the Trinity.

Additionally, they were some of the most gifted Christian artists the world has ever known, and their prayers and songs endure to this day around the world, including the Celtic hymn "Be Thou My Vision."

FOR FURTHER STUDY:
  • At www.ccel.org there is a free copy available of Patrick’s book Confessions. 
  • Steve Rabey’s book In the House of Memory is a good introduction to Patrick and Celtic Christianity. 
  • Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization is a fascinating historical look at Patrick and the implications of Celtic Christianity on western history. 
  • www.ChristianityToday.com/history is the site for Christian History and Biography magazine, which is a wonderful resource that includes an entire issue on Patrick and Celtic Christianity.

Thursday, March 8

Communication Revelation: What is "KONY 2012"?


OK, so are you ready for a massive revelation?

Here it is:
"Communication has changed."

Big shocker, I know, but many, many people (especially over the age of 35) have not got that through there heads yet.  For example, as an experiment for this post, I went to the corner store the other day and purchased a magazine off the shelf and a single copy of the Vancouver Sun newspaper, mostly because I was interested in the cover story.

The total cost for both items?

$8.54

And the crazy part was that every article in the magazine that I found interesting was available for free online at their website and the newspaper has an app for my iPhone that gave me that cover article and dozens more from that edition for free too.

What was acceptable, paid for, traditional means of sharing information is now an idiotic way of wasting money to get day-old (or month-old with the magazine) information.

Take the KONY 2012 campaign for example ...

KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.  Kony is one of the world's worst war criminals, responsible for the LRA and the slavery of 30,000+ child soldiers in Africa.

A film focused on raising his international profile and, ultimately, seeing him captured and brought before the World Criminal Courts was posted on YouTube March 5th.  Within 24 hours, the video had been watched by 1 million people, 2 days by over 7 million, and now, on day 3 it is noon and the number has surpassed 22 million.

Communication has changed and it no longer is top-down from the mega machine that turns out news and information.  It's grass-roots and viral.

How will that effect your pocketbook?

How will that effect your voice?

Oh, and why not set aside 30 minutes, join the millions of others who have watched it, and learn about KONY 2012 ...