Letting go – Missionally speaking

letting goI am a father. My children are the first of both my parent’s family lines to grow up in a Christian home. As a young man of twenty one, I had a lot of catching up to do regarding the Christian faith, when God actually invaded my personal space and started asking some pretty searching questions of me. I never went to Sunday school as a youth, and as far as God was concerned, I couldn’t have given a hoot to whatever ‘religious people’ said and claimed. I don’t even think I went into a church. My life and family were God-less.  We weren’t barbaric savages eating the flesh of our neighbours (not that I remember anyway), but we were, when the two-edged sword is speaking it’s truth – God-less.

Strangely, I am not aware that I even came across what I now know as re-formed, redeemed, renewed, born-again, evangelical, bible believing, Spirit-filled, rescued sinners turned saints – i.e. a Christian, as we say in the West, or a Nazarene, as Christians call themselves in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

I couldn’t have given a hoot to something I didn’t understand or think about in people I never met (I was thouroughly secularised). Until God met me. That’s the intorduction to my indifferent-atheist-secularist-1980’s materialist-turned follower of Jesus (and those details can wait for another time) life.  But God met me.

Three years previously, as a goofy teenager, I met this gorgeous woman, one of those God-botherers, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her (I still can’t). This is how it panned out (minimalism at it’s best): I met my (future) wife; God met me; we met our children. Our children thus grew up in a home with both parents madly in love with each other and God!

I am so proud of my kids (er, adults now)! My daughter, beautiful – clever – deep (like her mum), is my jewel. She could do anything she wants in this world. If she wanted to be an engineer, boom, done. If she wanted to be a writer, she could. And she may yet well be. But she has chosen to keep her heart and her ears and her mind and her life open to whatever God has for her. She is currently exploring missionary possibilities on the other side of the world. God bless the other side of the world!

The cost of missions; the cost of following Jesus does not just effect the individual concerned, it affects the whole family. I am certain my daughter could command a high standard of living in whatever she sets her mind to. She could earn high. She could do what she wants, when she wants, how she wants.

But she has chosen another way, the Way – of Jesus. Surrendering her God-given skills and ability unto the service of Jesus Christ is surely my highest honour as a father and my daughters greatest decision. There is a lot of uncertainty, in income, in security, in future decisions. But my attitude is simple: that’s what the majority world have to live with anyway. Us Westerners are so soppy and soft sometimes. We want secular/materialist/godless ‘securities’ (pension, salary, safety, etc) for our children, we often desire them as parents to make ourselves feel more secure in our God-less Chrisianised faith.

In fact, what we often truly want (our secret desires) for our children, is a successful secular/materialist life with a veneer of respectable Christianity (i.e. the Western Church – i.e. we want them saved but we don’t want their salvation to cost too much to our safe and mediocre lives). We want for our children a suburban piety – a Christianity without heart, a Jesus without the Cross and mission without the cost. We play with Jesus, and frankly, he can keep his Cross. When we talk about missions, what we really mean is someone else, somewhere else! We don’t mean me, we don’t mean here and we don’t mean now! But Jesus does!

And yet, it is not easy to let my daughter go into a ‘missional life’ (all life is missional I know), but it just isn’t easy to let go. I know I have to let God be God and, frankly, grow up in my faith. I have to see that when God calls, He calls. When He speaks, we’d better listen. When He sends, we’d better let go.

Good bye my darling daughter. I’ll see you soon. I am so proud of you for daring to believe God at His most wonderful Word. I couldn’t ask for more, even though my humanity has tried to make me ask for less.

I love you
Dad xxx

Jesus – the Fisher of Men

Ballad to the Fisher King by Eugene Peterson (in Holy Luck, p.74-5):

 

Pete and Andy and Jack and Jim, sailed in sturdy ships.

They were fishermen who plowed the sea, while curses flowed from their lips.

Heigh ho to the Fisher King, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

The world for them was stuff to grab, the sea a chest to plunder;

Creation was a vacant lot and not a place for wonder.

 

Heigh ho to the Fisher King, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

They caulked their ships with sticky pitch, were quick at mending sail.

They swore and sang old chantey tunes, and drank from a common grail.

Heigh ho to the Fisher King, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

But the fight though hard was joyful and free; and they sang good songs of blessing.

They helped and healed and loved and prayed, and seldom missed the fishing.

Heigh ho to the Fisher Kin, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

Now the fish is a sign of the saving Christ, and a sign of the men he’s for;

And a fish is a sign you can scratch on the sand, and a meal to feed the poor.

Heigh ho to the Fisher King, Heigh ho; Heigh ho to the Fisher Christ.

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The god of war

Ares, the god of war, lives!

And his children Fear and Terror have made Zeus a grandfather!

He rides the earth on his war chariot with his lover, Discord!

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He is a foul impostor on the earth, a god of unimaginable suffering and pain.

Men flock to his side.  They cheer him and throw flowers at his feet.  He is the Victor.

Economies are driven by the desire to satisfy his blood lust.

 

In his name, generations of children are sacrificed.

Baal and Molech are his ancient biblical blue-prints.

Each desiring the bodies of babies thrown to the flames.

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Men cast into war, in the name of freedom.

And sometimes, brazenly, in the name of tyranny.

Sent anywhere and everywhere that his bastard children can spread their fame.

 

Yet when they return, if they return;

Bodies and minds broken; hearts frozen; eyes glazed,

Even then he will not relent.  His lust for chaos is unrelenting.

 

He unleashes his bride, his lover, some say his sister.

Even incest is within his remit.

Discord: you heartless bitch!  Leave mankind alone.

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Shameless, you all press on, within and without the heart of man.

Children driven into the bloodied dust.

Bombs, rockets, bullets and mines.

 

Dictators who do your bidding.

Economies that do your spending.

Governments that do your defending.

 

The game is up!

The time is short.

Your ways are the ways of man.

 

And the ways of man are done.

Nothing new under the sun.

Tyranny is our middle name.

 

You are a false god,

And you have been called, judged, sentenced.

Your doom is certain.

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For there is One who has come.

A man from heaven,

Light from light

 

God from God.

Word become flesh.

His Cross has sentenced you to death.

Sideways Cross

The Hell of Hells is where you belong.

You shall go down, and unlike this Word made flesh,

You shall not rise.

 

But the sons and daughters of man,

They shall rise.

They shall rise and rejoice.

 

For fear and terror have given way to faith and love.

Discord must yield to Peace.

And this false god of thunder;

 

Must give way before the whisper,

the still small voice,

the sheer silence of the true and living God who is!

 

qol d’mamah daqqah.

God’s breath.

God’s Spirit.

 

Will silence the false gods of war and chaos.

Ares the false god is judged.

Yahweh Lives!

Praise him in London and New York.

Praise Him in Gaza; the guns will be silenced for Ares will be sentenced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a Pastor

“I only care about pastoral ministry as a servant of the gospel.

As human work it stinks.

On the level of positive and negative consequences, perseverance in this behaviour cannot be explained or justified.

As a tiny part of the mystery of God’s love in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, at work in the world today, I find it irresistible.”

 

Dave Hansen, The Art of Pastoring, p.213