Blog

Thu, August 25, 2016

Chesterton original sin quote

Original sin is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. G.K. Chesterton

Pascal original sin quote

Certainly nothing offends us more rudely than this doctrine (of original sin), and yet without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible, to ourselves. Pascal

Pascal and Chesterton tell us two (at least) things about original sin.

First, that it is the most obvious theological reality of all. Modern liberal celebration of the inherent goodness of man sound increasingly lame. In our culture, we are now suspicious of most people, most of the time. Trust is at all time levels of "low." That would not be so if we were all amazingly good people.

Second, that as hard as it is to understand this doctrine, apart from it, we cannot understand ourselves or life itself. Nor will we be inclined to look for a meaningful answer to the question of what has gone wrong?

And, while they don't say it, a third thing should be added. We cannot expect to find a remedy for what has gone wrong, among those who are themselves wrong. Remedy, renewal, and reformation, AND in the beautiful words of Scripture, reconciliation and redemption, will have to come from someplace else. The God of grace is where we must look, if we wish to see what is wrong - put right.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

Wed, August 24, 2016

alcoholism quote

Alcoholism isn't a spectator sport.
Eventually the whole family gets to play.

Joyce Rebeta-Burditt

Some "wry humor" but penetrating in its truth. Most sins turn out not to be solo sports. Most sins don't keep others seated as spectators. Most sins pull others, family and friends especially, into the game. This is above all true - with the addictions.

You are going to play the game. Your only choice is how you will play the game.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

Tue, August 23, 2016

self centered quote, narcissistic quote, pride quote

At the very best, a person completely wrapped up in himself (or herself) makes a small package.

This is not an original thought, just a good one, that I thought I would pass on today. The Great Commandment is to be wrapped up in God and in others, to the same degree and passion, that we prefer to be wrapped up in ourselves.

Expand your life - get involved with others.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International
BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

Tue, August 23, 2016

To do them justice the people who crucified Jesus did not do so because he was a bore, Dorothy Sayers quotes

To do them justice, the people who crucified Jesus did not do so because he was a bore. Quite the contrary; he was too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium.  Dorothy Sayers*


This is a theme that has grabbed hold of me through the years. Whether it was the old Larry Norman - Outlaw Song, or Mr. Beaver telling the children that Aslan is not a tame lion, or the "wild Messiah" of reJesus (Frost and Hirsch), or the more recent Beautiful Outlaw book - it is so obvious that we try to tame, domesticate, diminish, de-radicalize, and water down the ferocity of love of this daring prophet, Son of God.

When Jesus is saccharine sweet - Christianity is boring.
When Jesus is safe - Christianity is blandly predictable.
When Jesus is nothing more than the latest version of a tolerant liberally minded, vague do-gooder - Christianity is just one more option among many. 

While that is what we do as 21st century dwellers.
That is not what ANYONE did in the First Century.

Jesus challenged every spiritual option that was not his Way-Truth-Life,
he opposed the religious status quo at every turn,
he powerfully preached and fullness of God's beautiful kingdom,
he exposed every wrong motive, misguided end, and dubious means to get there,
he rebuked, exhorted, corrected, and chastised all that was dysfunctional in religion, and all that was superficial as well.

So they killed him.
Like they have always killed the prophets and mystics who were in tune with the deep and true realities of God.
To their vast amazement and befuddlement - this time, they couldn't keep Him dead. 

He is still Alive.
He is still interrupting, still interfering, still disturbing, still upsetting the tables of distorted spirituality. So he can invite us to share in the dangerous abundance of his kingdom, and the joyful but always risky journey of being his missional friends who change the world in his Name.

It will be far better for you to reject the wild Messiah than to live with one you have domesticated. For once domesticated, your Savior has become a pet house-cat and not the majestic Aslan. I would rather we hang on for dear life and ride the Lion of Judah where he will take us.
 

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

*Quoted in Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge, pp. 92
 

Mon, August 22, 2016

mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs, M. Scott Peck

Here is the full quote by M. Scott Peck. For easier internet reading, I broke it into sections. You can find it in The Road Less Traveled, page 50.

Truth or reality is avoided when it is painful. We can revise our maps only when we have the discipline to overcome that pain.

To have such discipline, we must be totally dedicated to truth. That is to say we must always hold truth, as best we can determine it, to be more important, more vital to our self-interest, than our comfort.

Conversely, we must always consider our personal discomfort, relatively unimportant and, indeed, even welcome it in the service of the search for truth.

Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.

You can add or substitute emotional health and spiritual health where Peck speaks of mental health. This is so wise at many levels.

Reality is what matters. Not just your interpretation of reality. We all tend toward distortion bias. We all misrepresent reality in our own favor, to make it less painful. Such a strategy is doomed and destined for failure, and greater pain the longer we spin doctor reality.

It takes hard work, time, discomfort, and discipline to make significant mental (emotional, spiritual, worldview) change.

This is one reason why quick conversion to a "new faith" is usually suspect. Paradigm shift like that does not happen quickly or easily. If it happens in those ways, it happens superficially.

This is also one reason why ongoing transformation in the new faith is intermittent. We usually do not know what we have "gotten ourselves into." When it comes to Jesus Christ, we have gotten ourselves into a great deal, a beautiful deal, but a costly deal. 

So to paraphrase M. Scott Peck . . .

Christianity is an ongoing process of dedication to the reality of Christ at all costs.

May we be willing to make that long obedience of dedication in the same direction.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

Fri, August 19, 2016

I came that you might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).

Or have it abundantly, amazingly, graciously, generously . . . and to overflowing. Jesus came to lavish us with his life. He is truly the Prodigal (Lavish) God, who spares no expense and who holds nothing back. 

We are blessed.

First because God loves to bless us.

Second and even greater, because God loves to bless others through us.

Third and greatest of all, God loves to recreate us in his own image, so that we too love to bless others. Not just allow God to bless others through us. No. We take up the active role of those who bless others with what we have been given.

So may you be richly blessed by God, spiritually alive, emotionally healthy, physically strong, mentally alert, relationally attentive to all this day has for you.

Then, may you offer all that you are and all that you have - for the sake of others. As you do this, you will find (and not surprisingly) you are even more blessed.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

Thu, August 18, 2016

love the Lord your God with all your heartA Preliminary Proposal

This is PRELIMINARY. I am "in process" of designing the best way to say it. I have nuanced and adjusted this several times. This is my latest version. Take it, use it, change it, make it better - but above all - figure out how to be about the journey of adult learning and transformation using its approach.

I provide the part of our human makeup, and then suggest a few words that describe the kind of activities that engages that aspect of our being.

In part, I use the theme of loving God with heart, mind, soul, strength - as the stepping stone to knowing God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength...
 

The MIND.
Information, presentation, investigation, consideration, ideation.
This is the gathering of the raw material of learning. 

The MIND.
Interpretation, collation/collaboration
(synthesizing and structuring). This is where you begin to "make meaning" out of the raw material. 

The MIND (plus other parts of your being)
Illumination, reflection.
This is where insight begins to emerge. This is the enlightening or the brightening of insights. This is the "aha" moment.

The SOUL/SPIRIT.
Imagination
. This is the human capacity to see, to dream, to hope, to wonder, to envision possibilities.

The DESIRES.
Motivation.
What do you want and why do you want it? What do you need and why do you need it? The longings of the heart. The reasons we do things. Why learn, why change, why do this hard work?

The AFFECTIONS/EMOTIONS.
Inspiration.
This is closely connected to your DESIRES. To move and stir the heart is considered to be among the most vital components of education-formation-change. 

The WILL.
Mobilization, activation, persuasion.
The realm of choosing, deciding, and willing to change. The call to response. Overcoming resistance.

The BODY.
Implementation, application, integration. This is where truth is embodied in the active agent. Now truth becomes incarnate in your life. Truth is lived in and through you. As you begin living according to the truth, this is where transformation is evident. The transformed person, who lives what is believed and loved - this person is known as the Wise Person.


What I have NOT provided, were examples of the kinds of learning methodologies, tactics, procedures, etc. that can be used with each of the above categories. Some methodologies will be useful in many categories. 

What you should do, whenever you are to communicate, is to use a wide variety of methodologies, always asking - how do I speak to a particular part of the human nature of the learning audience?

I am currently working with a new leadership team for our church and just beginning the process where we are a Learning Community who learns in this way; and then in turn, we become leaders as facilitators of learning-transformation. But, before we can lead others, we must go there first.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org


 

Wed, August 17, 2016

The Information Distribution Theory of Christianity doesn't work. That means most preaching doesn't work. Most teaching doesn't work. Most reading of most books doesn't work. Or if they work, they work inadequately, incompletely, superficially, and temporarily.

It doesn't work because it ignores the way Jesus used to bring about transformation.
It doesn't work because it misses core insights the Apostle Paul gives us about change.
It doesn't work because it doesn't understand the essential nature of our human makeup.
It doesn't work because it neglects the best methodologies for how adults learn and grow.

So here are a few introductory thoughts to renew your thinking.

ONE:
Information is vital. Truth matters (greatly).
Doctrine is important. What you believe is essential. Go wrong on knowing the truth - then you go wrong on everything that follows. So, in NO WAY am i suggesting for a minute that truth doesn't matter. It does. In fact, it is because I am so passionate about the truth of the way of Christ, that I am so concerned about transformation (and its lack in our lives).

 

TWO:
To be human is to have . . .
a mind that thinks, a heart that feels,  an imagination that dreams, a soul that desires, a will that decides, and a physicality that embodies and fleshes out what is believed. All approaches to change must take into account - THE TOTAL MAKEUP OF THE HUMAN PERSON, and design communication strategies that reach every aspect of our humanity.

 

THREE:
No one aspect of our humanity can bear the burden for transformation.
No one aspect was every meant to. Any strategy that appeals to just one aspect as the primary means of transformation - is destined to fail. The evangelical preference is to put the burden for transformation on the intellect. Therefore - give more information to the mind.

 

FOUR:
To be transformed by the renewing of the mind
(Romans 12:1-2) does not imply a particular approach. it only says our minds are to be transformed. It is an unwarranted assumption that information distribution is the way the mind is renewed.

 

FIVE:
Jesus spend most of his three years of ministry doing life with a group of 12 (plus a few more) disciples.
Yes, Jesus preached and taught to the crowds, but he chose a very different "andragogical approach" and gave most of his time investing in a small group of core followers. As we study the way Jesus interacted with the Twelve Disciples, we see a holistic, integrated, situational, relational, conversational, approach to their training. Jesus preached to the crowds. Jesus discipled the twelve. The crowds remained unchanged. The Twelve were not only changed, but they changed the world.

 

SIX:
Transformation is being formed into the image of Christ
and the one called Christ being formed in us (Galatians 4:19). Think about how GRAND is this vision of the Christian life! We are to be made new in every facet of our being. What we believe, feel, desire, want, will, dream, love, pursue, prioritize, imagine, and embody - are all contained in Christ. 

 

SEVEN:
To be transformed is a comprehensive process
where truth must be received and welcomed; it must be seized and held to; it must be loved and cherished; it must be activated and implemented. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work creating these kinds of processes. 

 

EIGHT:
We must make the shift from being teachers who pas on information, to those who facilitate learning experiences
in community with others, where they use their entire humanity to engage with the truth. You are not successful when you teach or preach. You are successful when you facilitate learning (and growing, i.e. the change of transformation). Teaching is a tactic and methodology, not a strategy and certainly not the essence of change and transformation.

 

NINE:
The best learning is participatory, highly active and highly communal.
Any mode of teaching that requires the audience to be mainly individual/isolated, passive, listeners is a sadly and seriously deficient paradigm for change. We learn by doing, we learn by engaging, and we learn as we participate together with others.

 

TEN:
We have a vast amount of work to do in creating transformative learning communities (TLCs)
in the church. Think of the life on life of Jesus and the Twelve disciples. They were the original TLC. Most of us who were trained in Bible college and seminary have a massive reFraming program ahead of us. That is just to equip us for the work God wants to do through change agents. Then, we have an even greater work to do in designing and sustaining these TLCs in the local church.


Tomorrow - the model of holistic learning that engages our total humanity.

 

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org


 

Tue, August 16, 2016

How do we change?
How do I change?
How are we / am I changed?
Why is change so hard?

These are the questions I ask almost every day. At the core of my ministry and my being - is to help people flourish. To help people flourish, I must help them change. To be in the Christian ministry is to be in the ministry of life change.

To be in the Christian ministry is to be deeply associated with reformation, transformation, and renovation of the heart.

The evangelical church has a widely held and tragically flawed theory of change. It goes like this (albeit in many different guises). Information changes you. Ideas change you. Beliefs change you. Doctrine changes you. Truth changes you.

The short answer to that theory: NO THEY DON'T CHANGE YOU.

If they did, the church (the people of God, the communion of saints, the assembly of Christ) would look radically different than we do. We have all heard the necessary information on:

  • tithing,
  • evangelization,
  • social justice,
  • concern for the poor,
  • prayer,
  • mediation on God's Word,
  • taking up a cross,
  • denying self,
  • forgiving those who hurt you
  • loving enemies (especially those who hold opposite political and sexual views then you do)
  • etc, etc, etc.

And yet statistics tells us that most  Christians, most of the time - DO NONE OF THESE THINGS. In fact, I suspect that most Christian Leaders struggle with doing most of these things, most of the time! (That must be the subject of another one or two blogs!)

Here is a little experiment I recommend for those who work in the Christian ministry, especially preachers and teachers. Pick any of those topics. Preach your heart out. Drop a truck load of truth upon the listeners. Immerse them in what  the Word of God says. And then - measure change. See what happens. Discover how much transformation takes place.

Like the typical preacher, even (or especially) those who do expository preaching discover - not much changes. Studies show that the average sermon-listener can barely remember what you preached on by the Wednesday after. By Monday, they have forgotten 90% of what you said on Sunday!

The answer is not to pile on more information.

Information Overload is the enemy of transformation. Yet, that is how our preferred theory goes. They weren't changed. Then give them more truth, more doctrine, more Word, more explanation, more information. 

If you keep on doing what you've always done - you will keep on getting what you've always gotten. What will you get by doing more of the same. The answer is GETTING  MORE OF THE SAME. It is insanity to think you will get different results by using the same information distribution theories of Christianity.

Einstein, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different resultsFortunately, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and andragogy (insights into adult education) all concur and collaborate to show us a better way of Heart Transformation.

Tune in tomorrow.
 

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions Internaitonal
BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

 

Mon, August 15, 2016

Dallas Willard, there is nothing wrong with your life that discipleship cannot set right

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 (emphasis added)

Those who aren't following Jesus aren't his followers. Followers follow and those who don't follow, aren't followers. Scott McKnight

Discipleship is putting into practice everything that Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God. Dallas Willard


C'S. Lewis once told us that a young person must be quite careful about the books they read. Lewis was a bit ironic about the reading that stirred within him, a longing for joy. Desire was awakened that the modern world could not quench. Through the books he read, the Divine Dove was brooding over his life. The Hound of Heaven was doggedly in pursuit of C.S. Lewis.

I would like to borrow that sentiment and say that the average Christian must be quite careful about the books they read. Pastors must be aware as well, to their troubling, disturbing, provoking, power. As I have been immersed in the Gospels, and reading book after book on Jesus - they are disturbing and life giving. The last three books I read in the last two weeks are particularly so. Here they are:

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

All three of these books are written by prophet-teachers, who love Jesus, who love the Kingdom of God, who love the church and people of God . . . and who are concerned by the great lack of faithful obedience among those who say they are followers of Jesus. 

Each author says, in various ways, we have been led astray by a cheap grace that offers forgiveness without obedience, a Savior without a Lord, a tame Messiah instead of a wild one (reJesus), and a Christianized American Dream rather than true discipleship.

What is the Gospel?
What is the Gospel Jesus preached?

The Kingdom of God is here. Repent, believe, follow me (Mark 1:14-17). Any other understanding of the Gospel must take into account the Gospel of Jesus as the starting point. While we may add other themes as core to the Gospel, those other themes (like justification by grace through faith) do not replace or supersede the Gospel of the Kingdom according to Jesus.

We want the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10), apart from the context and conditions of discipleship. It does not happen that way. Jesus becomes the Way, the Truth, and the Life for us (John 14:6), as we accept HIM, on his terms and in his ways. Following Jesus in joy, love, faith, hope and obedience is His Gospel. It is His Way of you and I flourishing. 


Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

Tue, July 05, 2016

Opps...
This was a draft that was posted by mistake... in that it was incomplete thoughts... I did a quick touch-up on it... still not as finished as I would like, but use it as a starting point...

 

ONE
Imitation means you learn from the example of others as they model the way, but don't make yourself a "cheap copy" of someone else.

 

TWO
Borrow the best you can find, but process it deeply and allow your processing and life experiences to morph what you find.

 

THREE
Piece together in new creative combination, differnet best ideas/methods/models from others. There are very few leaders who are truly original. Most of our "originality" is really a creative rearranging of the best we find from others. That itself is an act of originally.
 

FOUR
While you are "given" a personality, temperament, wiring, inclination, leaning, tendency - there is a lot of room for "self-creation." I use that last phrase in a fully "Christ-dependent" way. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are the workmanship of God . . . AND . . . you have freedom to explore and design the Brand of You. 

 

FIVE
While you have a fundamental identity in Christ, there is a secondary and also significant identity that is the Uniquely You version or display of your self to the world around. Do not neglect the essential identity in the pursuit of the secondary one.

 

SIX
It takes years to do this. You are a living, growing, evolving, Human Becoming. What is beautiful is that you will be doing this for the rest of your life. You may find, even late in life, substantial new things God does in you. You will most likely have several "re-engineerings" of your soul. Okay, re-engineering may be a turnoff. So think of reframing, renewing, re-imaginging, recasting if that language is more appealing. The point is - expect to have some change and at times, upheaval about your secondary identity.

 

SEVEN
Learn to love who you are and who you are becoming. You are already and you are not yet. Enjoy the already, anticipate the not yet. Be at peace with the journey.

 

EIGHT
Find metaphors and images that move you and capture the essence of your identity. For example, I am using several images like, the leader as: architect, artisan, ambassador, agriculturalist, conductor... while they may not mean much to you with just the title, I have reflected on what each image-metaphor means for how I will lead.

 

NINE
And while you are in this process, be a mentor to help others in the same process.


Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org


 

 

 

Fri, July 01, 2016


I don't know who the original creator of this image is, you can find it at many places on the internet. My gratitude to the creative individual behind the image.

I can't tell you enough how much I have been influenced by J. Robert Clinton (i.e. Bobby Clinton, and no relationship to a "power couple" in the USA). Bobby Clinton was in the Fuller School of World Missions, where his focus was on leadership. He is a prolific author, although his books are not easy reading. They are loaded with complex systems of development, filled with a terminology that must be grasped, and not especially well-written. However - they are priceless in their content and well worth the time to gather the substance and wisdom on every page.

For a "Clinton for Dummies book" you can read, The Making of a Leader by J. Robert Clinton, which is the most accessible of his books, and which will give you the overview of many core ideas in his model.

What is equally (or more) valuable, is to read other authors who have been shaped by Clinton and who write their own versions of Clinton. One such author is Neil Cole. And one theme Cole works with is the idea of "plateaued leaders." That is - the characteristics of leaders who have stopped learning and growing. In his book Organic Leadership, he provides ten characteristics. Here is the list with LITTLE or NO COMMENTARY. The list speaks for itself.

  • Give yourself a letter grade for how you are doing.
  • Ask one of your closest friends or colleagues to give you a letter grade.
  • Average the two grades.
  • Then subtract a full letter grade (to work against distortion bias and the general problem of faulty self-awareness) to find out how well you are doing.

 

1.  Avoid relationships of personal accountability.

2.  Have infrequent personal application of God's Word (not just studying ideas and an informational understanding, but the existential, heart engagement of those idea)s.

3.  Loss of joy, peace, and love and the growing reality of envy, resentment, competitiveness and other relational behaviors that reflect those things.

4.  Looking elsewhere for the greener pastures (not doing, or able to do, the hard work of creating a green pasture where you are planted).

5.  Easily find fault in others, but slow to see fault in your self.

6.  Prone to busyness and activity for God and find it difficult to have relational intimacy/friendship with God.

7.  Getting "looser" on ethics, values, character, and virtue in general (dancing closer to the line that should not be crossed, and usually justifying it).

8.  Choosing to stay in your comfortable areas of knowledge and not finding new areas to learn, develop and grow.

9.  Like to be seen as the expert, not the student-learner (like to hear your own voice much more than the voices of others).

10. The Christian life has become stale, rut-like, same old - same old.


That is the list Cole provides. I could add some others. You could to. Feel free to do that. But be sure to do the personal evaluation. Maybe even reflect on these as a journaling exercise.

My prayer is that you will be a Life Long Learner, pressing on to the fullness of maturity in Christ, highly intentional about personal development, living outside the comfort zones of life, and finding great companions who are doing the same.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org


 

 

Thu, June 30, 2016

Vision Casting and Vision Collecting: A Big Difference!

Peter Senge vision, vision casting, vision collecting

Visions that are truly shared take time to emerge. They grow as a by-product of interactions of individual visions. Experience suggests that visions that are genuinely shared require ongoing conversation where individuals not only feel free to express their dreams, but learn how to listen to each other's dreams.  Peter Senge


The typical understanding/model of leadership is the leader as Vision Caster. In this model, it is the senior leader who is responsible for "getting a vision" (from God), then "casting that vision" (communicating it) to others, and then recasting, recasting, recasting that vision. In other words, convincing others that the leader's vision is worth their time, energy, money, etc. One popular author says a leader must cast vision about every 30 days... because vision leaks, it drains, people forget the vision!

I want to suggest the reason a leader must recast the leader's vision is because the leader has a vision that was the product of the typical Western individualism and heroic leadership model. It bypasses that reality that there are many really committed people who are also dreaming, desiring and willing to work really hard for something they believe in. It is just that they are rarely asked, "What is your vision?" "What would you like to see God do in our midst?"

I think we are WAY PAST THE TIME for a new model of envisioning, that can stand alongside the old Vision Casting Model. Notice I didn't say replace it. I am too much of a lumper (i.e. one who loves the both/and and is highly reistant to an either/or approach). 

I believe we need a new model of the Leader as Vision Collector. That is exactly what Senge is communicating above. I learned how to become a Vision Collector when Vision Casting turned out to be inadequate to mobilize the energies of a congregation toward what I wanted. Once I started asking - what do "we" want, everything changed.

Tomorrow I will tell you the features of the Leader as Vision Collector and how to go about doing just that.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

 

Wed, June 29, 2016

From Merton, Foster and LeClercq

I am just going to provide the quotes with the images I found, without commenting on any of the quotes.

My only encouragement is to read, read a lot, read a lot of really good books, reflect on what you read, have conversations about what you read, and put into practice what you read and learn. May God hover over your heart and mind as you do this.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

Thomas Merton on reading

Reading is a deeply vital act not only of our intelligence but of our whole personality, absorbed and refresehd in thought, prayer, or even in the contemplation of God.  Thomas Merton

 

Richard Foster on what we study

What we study determines the kinds of habits that are formed, which is why Paul urges us to focus on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious.  Richard Foster
 

Jean LeClercq on reading old books

They loved the authors of the past, not simply because they belonged to the past but because they were beautiful with a beauty which defies time. Jean LeClercq (in his magnificent book, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture)

 

Tue, June 28, 2016

C.S. Lewis on the church, diversity in the church, church

It takes all sorts to make a world; or a church. This may be even truer of a church. If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display for more variety than Hell. C.S. Lewis


During my Sabbatical, I am doing all kinds of reading and reflecting on the church and its mission. The other day I had three books as conversation partners.

The Permanent Revolution which is building a case for the apostolic ministry where the apostle is much like the spiritual, ecclesial, missional entrepreneur who seeks to faithfully and creatively engage with the surrounding culture. It is a very exciting book, full of cultural analysis and prophetic invitations to design and lead churches according to the biblical patterns provided in the New Testament, particularly in Ephesians 4.

Then I read (at a sitting) the delightful book, Reading for the Common Good: How Books Help Our Churches and Neighborhoods Flourish. A short book, but loaded with passion and insight on the nature of the church, the full missional responsibility of the church, and how reading that shapes hearts and minds is vital to equip the church to be the church. The author (C. Christopher Smith) has written another book specifically on the church (Slow Church). He comes out of a distinct Anabaptist approach to the church. I found his book refreshing and innovative. I believe I would love to be a part of the church of which he is a member.

I also read the very short book, What is a Healthy Church?, by Mark Dever who leads 9Marks, a moment designed to promote healthy churches. And his book had a very different flavor, feel, focus and purpose then either of the first two. I found myself least inspired by this one, although there were a few chapters that were hugely important for me.

Finally, I am doing my devotional reading (both exegetical study and lectio divina readings) in Ephesians. That letter of Paul has some of the most exhilarating descriptions of the nature of the church as you will find in the Bible.

So i resonate with the C.S. Lewis quote on the diversity that is vital for the church. Paul celebrated that diversity and that this diversity is brought together in Christ to be a new community in a world of division and tension.

Of course the church always has and always will struggle to live into the fullness of the rich imagination of the Apostle Paul as he envisions the body of Christ. 

Still, struggle we must, for what is at stake is too beautiful and important to ignore. Becoming the empowered people of God on a mission to see all of life renewed, all of creation regained, and everything and everyone reunited with Christ the Lord.

I hope you love the church as I love the church.
I hope you love your church as I love my church.
Even more - may we all love the church the way Christ loved His church (once more, see Ephesians on this as well).

Grace and peace,

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 

 

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