The Blinders of Fear & Control

Reading

John 9:13-23

Reflection

Jesus has helped his disciples move from laying blame to discovering the meaning of God’s purposes through healing a man born blind.  But the story doesn’t end there.  The Jewish leaders come onto the scene with some very clear blinders in place.  Rather than being able to enter the demonstration of God’s love and healing power, they have their shorts in a knot because Jesus followed through on his Father’s prompting to heal on the Sabbath.

Finding Meaning Rather than Placing Blame

Reading

John 9:1-12

Reflection

We human beings inevitably look for someone to blame when we encounter difficult or undesirable things.  You see it already in young children.  “He did it!”  “No, SHE did it!”  Of course, most of us don’t like to get into trouble.  So, we look for a scapegoat.  Jesus’ disciples had grown up in a culture that knew all about scapegoating.  Every Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, an actual goat was sent into the wilderness, symbolically carrying the sins of the people.

Quiet Faithfulness

First of all, let me say a big, “Congratulations!” to Sandy and to Wes who have worked so hard on our new website!  If you normally see these blog posts on “Bridging the Gap” then welcome to the brand, spanking, totally awesome, new New Direction website.  It is all super integrated and lovely – and now the blog is part of everything else here at www.newdirection.ca.  Since I’m basically technically inept, I am super grateful that the two whiz kids have done all the work behind the scenes and that apparently things will be easy to update, fix, and change in the future.

Now on to the post:

One of the realities of being a pioneer/risk-taker is that you get invited and then dis-invited.  Let me explain.  Back in the day, I was one of the first female preachers in my denomination.  That meant that I was often the first woman to come and preach in a given church.  But it also meant that there were plenty of times when I would be invited (often by someone who was in favour of women preachers who thought they could slide me in on a quiet summer Sunday morning) and then a few weeks later get a phone call with a stammering gentleman on the other end explaining that he pulled the short straw and had to let me know that I would not be able to preach for them after all.  I always felt sorry for the poor guy who had to disinvite me.  They usually felt worse than I did.

The Heresy of Restored Hope Network

Okay – so I had another frustrating go on Moody Radio and their “Up for Debate” program.  The first time I was on with Mario Bergner and it was super frustrating.  This was mainly due to the host favoring Mario so that I felt I had very little opportunity to respond to things he would say.  This time around was slightly less frustrating.  The other guest was Anne Paulk who has been hired as the Coordinator for Restored Hope Ministries.  RHM is the break-away group that left Exodus last year and maintain fundamentalist views about orientation change and the demands of obedience for people who experience same-sex attraction.  This time I didn’t get interrupted mid-sentence – but I was asked to speak first every time – which meant that Anne always got to respond to what I’d said – but I was not afforded the same opportunity.  This inevitably skews the conversation.

So, since I did not have the opportunity to say everything I wanted to say – and because I now feel that after this first-hand experience I can say some things in response to RHM – I figured this was the time to put some of my thoughts out there.

Response to the Closing Down of Exodus

While I was away speaking to a group of largely conservative pastors and inviting them to consider the challenge and opportunity of generous spaciousness in their congregations, social media was a’buzz with the news that Exodus International is going to shut down. I had read Alan Chambers’ apology yesterday. But pretty typical for me, I was not at the forefront of this news.  New Direction has always, rather purposely, flown under the radar, focused on being faithful to carry out what God has asked us to do.

None-the-less, this is pretty big news in our arena of engagement and some of you have indicated that you’d be intrigued to hear my thoughts.  So….. here goes:

Generous Spaciousness Retreat

Generous Spaciousness 2013: My Life Changed ~ by Gary Hazen

A month ago I attended a retreat that just days before I hadn’t even heard of by a ministry that only weeks before that I had come across through apparent happenstance during my internship. This apparent happenstance was actually divine providence through the amazing work of the Holy Spirit. This ministry was New Direction, and this retreat was the Generous Spaciousness Conference Retreat (GSCR) at Crieff Hills Retreat Center in, quite literally, the middle of nowhere. It was beautiful, quiet and a refreshing change of scenery from the city life.

I was invited to go on this GSCR by Wes Patterson and at first I have to admit that I was hesitant to attend.  This hesitancy came from a place of insecurity where I was afraid that if I went on the retreat that I would be moving on into a place of self acceptance, and I felt unworthy at the time of this kind of acceptance.  It wasn’t until I spoke to my brother Jason that I realized that this fear was not a valid reason to deny myself the opportunity to learn, grow and move forward, and taking that first step was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  It ultimately helped me experience true wholeness and authenticity in Christ, as well as engage with more members of the Body of Christ in a safe and genuine environment while learning about Generous Spaciousness.

That being said, I am going to give you the top five things about this retreat that changed my life due to New Direction.

Rob Bell

If I was Rob Bell …..

I received an email from a pastor today.  He is part of a group that I will be speaking to in a couple of weeks.  The email contained a video clip of Rob Bell and a British theologian named Andrew Wilson.  The pastor in the email admonishes the group to watch the video before my coming to speak to the group.

In the video clip, Andrew Wilson has a very clear position that same-sex sexual behavior is sinful.  He is trying to understand Rob Bell’s position.  It is clear that Wilson and Bell differ in their perspectives.  What comes across in the video, however, is that Wilson is articulate and clear – and Bell is murky and evasive.  And the end result is further polarity, further misunderstanding, further perpetuation of distinguishing true believers from heretics by using gay marriage as a litmus test for orthodoxy.

Reflections on the Generous Spaciousness Conference Retreat

It has already been a couple of weeks since our first Generous Spaciousness Conference Retreat – hard to believe how fast time goes.  I have been so busy with meetings and presentations that I haven’t had that much time to simply sit quietly and reflect.  But as Wes and I went through our lists of “celebrate” and “improve” it was really wonderful to see that all the things in the “improve” column were about behind the scenes administrative type details.  And all the things in the “celebrate” column were connected to our hopes and goals for the experience.  That is amazing – and I am humbled and grateful.

"Torn" by Jason Lee

Review: Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from they Gays vs. Christians Debate

I was asked to write a review of Justin Lee’s book, Torn, for a Canadian Christian newspaper.

This particular paper is one that I used to read at my Pake and Beppe’s place (Friesian for grandparents) when I was growing up.  It particularly, but not solely, caters to people of Dutch and Reformed background.  It’s a paper that demonstrates the intellectual legacy of a group of Christian immigrants who built churches, Christian schools, and other social institutions such as a labour union, an office to pursue matters of social justice, and social service agencies for the disabled, unwed moms, those struggling with addictions etc.

The folks who read this paper will come from a variety of perspectives. Sometimes you find progressive thought in surprising places.  Sometimes you encounter a stronger conservatism than you might have expected.  But these are people who have a deep and strong faith.  People who want to honour Christ and build his Kingdom.  And with that in mind, and a strict word count, I offered this review of Justin’s book.  And, since you can’t access it without a subscription …. here it is:

Compassion as Justice-Love

I thought it was time to write a slightly shorter, less dense, lighter post than my last few series.  And as usual, a number of disparate things have been floating around in my mind.  So hopefully I’ll be able to weave these various threads together into some kind of cohesive whole.

There has been some buzz today about Rob Bell articulating his support, as many had assumed anyway, for gay marriage.  Speaking at an Episcopal cathedral in San Francisco Bell said, “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”