When Noise Returns

This past IMG_1821Sunday afternoon, for the first time in 47 days, the radio was on while I was driving. There was some song playing – I really did not recognize who it was. I did not mind the music itself. It’s simply that after nearly seven weeks of driving in radio silence, the music seemed oddly out of place.

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Telling Stories

“Flasher evangelism.” That’s what Bowen calls those abrupt spiritual conversations with a stranger on the street that mark certain evangelistic methods. (See his book “Evangelism for Normal People.”) Relying on a Margaret Atwood short story, Bowen exposes the way others often perceive our attempts at evangelism as “disgusting,”  if not abusive because of our attempts to suddenly access a deep level of personal intimacy with someone we’ve never met.  Admittedly, I’ve gone there before.

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What Good News are We Proclaiming?

This morning I saw a link on a friend’s Facebook wall to a blog post titled: “The Problem with Little White Girls (and Boys)” by Pippa Biddle. I don’t know Pippa at all, but her story conveyed through this post has a familiar tone to it. Overseas short term mission trips and the voluntourism movement in international aid efforts has been justifiably criticized for quite some time now because of the colonial and racist overtones and attitudes within them. But I am caught short again today at how absent this conversation is with regard to mission in North America.

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Andy, Andy, Andy…

Three weeks ago, those of us around Hamilton, Ontario had the opportunity to engage with Andy Crouch over a three day period. We found ourselves immersed in Andy’s enthusiastic vision for God’s people to engage the resources God has entrusted to us to create culture in such a way that the most vulnerable in our communities might flourish. What follows are a few short summaries and some of the lingering thoughts & questions that have stuck with me since then. Continue reading

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Unexpected Gifts: Our 12 Days of Christmas

It really was a flippant comment, one of those crazy, too-far-out-there ideas that you toss out simply because it seems so ridiculous that you would never do it. But for whatever reason, this one stuck.

Back in early December, Hennie and I were talking about how we might celebrate Christmas as a family this year. As we anticipated a busier than usual holiday season, we were tossing around ideas about how we could make our Christmas celebration into something more than simply giving gifts on one evening between a couple other commitments. More as a joke, I started singing “The 12 Days of Christmas” and suggested we could get all of our kids the traditional partridge in a pear tree. We laughed and then paused. There was something about that idea of extending our Christmas celebration over 12 days that stuck with both of us. Without hesitation, Hennie grabbed a notebook and started planning.  Continue reading

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Other People’s Thoughts: From Undercurrent to Mainstream?

IMG_0300Among the refreshing waters of the missional church movement, a few voices are drawing attention to an undercurrent of concern. This concern surfaced a few times in the converstations surrounding the A Missional Reading of Scripture conference last week. One person, who was following the various #MRSC13 tweets, simply asked about the demographics, noting that the speaker list was primarily (though, not exclusively) white, males. This same theme was lamented by Danielle Rowaan (‏@DanielleRowaan“Hoping that as we dream of a better missional future for the Western church @ #MRSC13 we include the voices of women. #alwaysreforming Voicing a similar perspective, Kyuboem Lee (@kyuboem)  tweeted: “Q I wish I could’ve asked @ #mrsc13: How can missional convo esc fate of academic fad if not done w subdominant cultures in urban contexts?”  Continue reading

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Reflections on A Missional Reading of Scripture – Day 2

Calvin Seminary recently hosted the A Missional Reading of Scripture conference. The conference brought together Christopher Wright, Tom Wright, Mike Goheen, and Darrell Guder along with a well-rounded group of workshop leaders to facilitate dialogue on how a missional reading of scripture impacts various aspects of living as God’s people. In part 1 of this reflection, I posted some of my summaries and responses to what grabbed my attention from the first day of plenaries and workshops.

This post reflects the happenings of Day 2 at this conference. I did not stay for the panel discussion at the conclusion of the conference – though I heard I really missed out on a meaningful and encouraging dialogue. Word from Mike Goheen (@MikeGoheenSays) is that audio from the conference will be available on Calvin Sem’s website some time next week.

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A Few Thoughts on A Missional Reading of Scripture – Day 1

This post covers Day 1 of the A Missional Reading of Scripture Conference. My reflections on Day 2 can be found here

I’m spending today and tomorrow at the A Missional Reading of Scripture conference at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI. Michael Goheen has pulled together the line up for this conference, giving space to N. T. Wright, Christopher Wright, and Darrell Guder to share their perspectives on the way mission shapes God’s word and God’s people. Perhaps, the brilliance of the conference, however, is found not in the big names, but in the three streams that shape the space between the plenary sessions. These streams focus on the relationship of A Missional Reading of Scripture and Preaching, and the Local Congregation, and on Theological Reflection on a Missional Hermeneutic. I’m planning to spend most of my time in the Local Congregation stream as it looks like it will have a fair bit of overlap between my current academic and pastoral work.

Throughout the next two days, I’ll add a few thoughts and reactions to what catches my attention in the conference. While this won’t be a live blog, I’ll keep this post going as a running commentary with updates throughout my time here. If you’re on twitter, you can follow the larger conference dialogue at #MRSC13. Continue reading

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Faith of the Wind and Waves

This morning, I found myself praying by simply listening to the wind. Don’t get me wrong: I am not talking about a mystical or other-worldly experience that overtook me. And I am certainly not advocating the adoption of a neo-pagan meditation practice. Rather, in listening to the wind, I found myself praying – but the praying was not me bringing words to the table, but me learning to be still. Psalm 46 comes to mind. As I think about it, this listening prayer really started last night as I noticed one of our trees leaning a bit more than usual as the rain soaked the ground and the winds pushed their way through our area.  It continued through the night as the wind howled around the corners of our house and the trees’ groaning woke me several times. And then again this morning, as I drove our kids to school this morning and felt the need to adjust my steering in order to compensate for the wind’s continued pushiness, I continued to listen.  Continue reading

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Just some candy canes

They’ve started already. Actually, they’ve been arriving for quite a while already. We received our first “Holiday Gift” ad in the mail the first week of October – a full week before Canadian Thanksgiving. One local retailer had Christmas displays up the same week they put out their Halloween displays. And it has not been without effect: two of our kids took it upon themselves to pull our Christmas decorations out of storage and liven up their bedrooms with the seasonal decor. Twice now, another one of our kids has turned on a selection of our Christmas music. And in the interest of full confession, I have already purchased and (mostly) consumed the first 12-pack of candy canes. Continue reading

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