This is an abridged version of an essay I recently wrote, if you’d like to read the full thing do be in touch
It’s probably fair to say that the environment in which we share the Bible in the UK has changed radically in the last 100 years. People are bringing different kinds of questions to the table. As one author noted, the air of expectation and hope of the early twentieth century very quickly gave way to the cruel realities of “Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the Gulag Archipelago”. The West’s great hope of self-redemption and apotheosis through science, technology, education and the secular nation state gave way to a climate of fear, mistrust of institutions, and philosophical confusion. Continue reading Hermeneutics for Ragamuffins: Some things a Calvinist has learned from Liberation theology→
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything so I thought it was time for a brief update.
It’s been an exciting and challenging month in many ways. I’m starting to settle in to the change of lifestyle a little more since going down to part-time work to free time up for our mission dreams. This in itself has been a challenge, to begin with my energy levels were a bit all over the place spending half of my week very emotionally and mentally draining and the other half very physically draining working construction. I’m getting used to it now though just in time for another change, but more on that later… Continue reading Roadside Update – Laying Foundations→
As is often the case, this week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. We’ve been facing challenges from within and without which have sometimes tugged at the old heart-strings and other times tried rip them clean out of our chests. With this in mind I thought it would be a good time to write about something which has been buzzing around in my head for a while – how to love people even when it hurts.
One of the main facets of the kind of ‘ministry’ (still hate that word) my wife and I engage in is loving people who mainstream society would deem unloveable. Outcasts, misfits, struggling with mental health and addiction issues, outlaws and all other kinds of hurting people. Some call it ‘mission to the margins’. This is a little easier for us than some others because fitting in to the ‘mainstream’ isn’t something that’s ever interested us. We’re blessed and cursed with that quiet little nag at the back of the mind telling us that the American Dream, suburbia, the cute little middle-class life and all the crap that goes with it, is fake and meaningless. As I wrote in my post on ‘Befriending the Stranger‘, accepting the poor, weak and broken is the natural outworking of accepting God’s love for the poverty, weakness and brokenness in our own hearts.
This all sounds lovely and twee and often results in a nice little ‘pat on the back’ from other people, and comments like “that must be so rewarding for you”. But the truth is it usually isn’t. It’s damn exhausting sometimes. People who live chaotic and destructive lives will try to drag you into their chaos and bleed you dry. So how does one survive in this environment? How do you love the broken without burning out? In practical terms what does this love look like?
Being a two-wheeled missionary to the fringes is a confusing business. People are wonderfully complex, and love to blast out of the boxes we put them in. It’s much easier to have well constructed opinions when regarding things from a distance, but when you get up close enough to feel the breath, the beast is a many-faced monstrosity. Continue reading St Frank, Biker Cafés and Verbal Diarreah→
I hear many Christians talk about being ‘led’ to do this or that by God. This is a concept which still puzzles me, and I fear that few really carry through the implications of that statement in their minds.
This was a day when I was ‘led’ by God.
It was a balmy summer afternoon, the kind where all of creation seems to hum with life. Spring was not long past and the heat was at that beautiful point before stifling. My transit van was dutifully hauling me home from a tiring day labouring in the sun. That was when I saw him. Standing thumb-out on the hard shoulder, heavy-laden with rucksacks and looking well-travelled. This is a fellow travellers way of saying he looked like a ragamuffin. When I say I was ‘led’ to pull-over what I mean is that to do anything else was an impossibility. Almost like there was no conscious decision in the split second between spotting him and hitting the brakes.
As he pulled his slight frame into the cab of my van, baggage and all, I asked his destination and purpose.
“There are certain pious moderns who will not allow the preacher to speak upon anything but those doctrinal statements concerning the way of salvation which are known as ‘the Gospel.’ We do not stand in awe of such criticism, for we clearly perceive that our Lord Jesus Christ himself would very frequently have come under it. Read the Sermon on the Mount and judge whether certain among the pious would be content to hear the like of it preached to them. Indeed, they would condemn it as containing very little Gospel and too much good works. They would condemn it as containing all too much of the legal. But we must never let be forgotten Christ’s emphasis: the law must be preached, for what the law demands of us, the Gospel produces in us, else ours is no Gospel at all.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon