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Discernment and Decision making

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2014-05-24 11.51.13

View lying prostrate before the cross at Kingsfold retreat

The weekend silent directed retreat gave me some startling insight. I went into it with some questions I hoped to pray through, mainly personal life direction and growth questions. Very very quickly, in and after the first guided prayer time that is part of the weekend, those question got set aside and I got a very strong sense of a need to abide with God and let God abide in and with me, and those future things would sort themselves out. Matt 6:25 and following, along with John 15:5 and following became both my answer and my discerned new theme, which I refer to in the shorthand phrase “to abide is to be guided.” The starting questions faded far into the background, and appropriately so. Today I am much more relaxed and comfortable with them resloving well so long as I maintain relationship with God.

But the outcome and experience is not what I wanted to focus on this week for the blog, not the substance of that, anyway, but the change of direction that happened. I firmly believe surprise turns like that are what discernment is all about. Or having space for them in our life. My post for this week is about discernment, what it means in a church leadership setting, and a bit about what it feels like.

Here’s the post: http://wp.me/P3etrg-fd

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Relational theology creating dissonance for Doctrinalists

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Well, I’m not going to promise my brain a week off from having to write a blog post. Because instead of taking a break I’ve been overflowing with new thoughts, and now have produced a second one for the week.

This one is very crucial and timely, so I chose not to wait with it (I could have just saved it and published it next week, but it is relevant to some discussions we had at council, for instance, so I did not want too much time to pass. I believe it explains some of why some people have some trouble relating to and understanding my preaching style.

Here it is: http://wp.me/P3etrg-f3

One Right way, all else is wrong

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OK, I thought I could take a break and shut my mind and spirit down for a week, but it is not to be. Some recent conversations triggered some reflection on how Black and White or Wrong or Right thinking has a side effect, namely that people begin to believe there is only one right way for Christians do do things and all others are wrong.

Here’s the reflection: http://wp.me/P3etrg-eY

Value integrity

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I feel a need to give my creativity and deeper thinking a rest this week. So instead of creating a new posting I’ll share one I wrote and shared on the CRC network a few weeks ago. It has relevance here, but really addresses a broader issue for all churches.

http://network.crcna.org/pastors/expressed-values-lacking-integrity-lived-values

Listening in on a conversation about how church structures affect size

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This seems to have been a week of finding many interesting things others have written, most of which I chose not to share. This one is very specific to the CRC and talks about how the way we organize the operations of a church actually contribute to how big it is able to grow. And many other things. Warning, both my buddy Paul and Larry Doornbos who writes a good comment tend to be a a bit rambly. You’d think they thought they were getting paid per word typed.

http://paulvanderklay.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/how-does-size-matter-crc-edition/

What colour is the forbidden fruit?

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Ok that title is intended to make you curious.

My posting this week is more general and expresses something theological and relational that I have been thinking about for a long long time, since a discussion about the forbidden fruit with my Sowminary buddy back in the late ’80s or so. I’m a little afraid to share it, because I know how provocative it has been for me, and how much it has challenged and changed my approach to things as I have come to understand it more and more.

Before I get to it, I need to tell you what sparked thinking about it afresh. Two things, really. An internet discussion group I am part of is debating women in office, (again) and what is striking me in that is that one person who would be considered a progressive person, is speaking in very stark terms about expectations as to where we should go next as a denomination, and can’t see any middle ground.

The other is a great initial meeting with a group of young people who are preparing to publicly profess their faith. We studied the parable of the Lost Son together and had some good discussion. That parable came to mind because yesterday morning I began reading “The Prodigal God” by Tim Keller which was lent to me. I highly recommend that book, in fact it would make a great bible study group.

Well, those elements all came together this morning, and I wrote this reflection which you can get to by this link: http://wp.me/P3etrg-eL

Making Insiders and Outsiders

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Making Insiders and Outsiders

Just came across this via the CRC Network site and thought it worth sharing.