Loving & Gathering

Reading

John 10:11-21

Reflection

Jesus continues with this lavish affirmation that we can rest in the confidence that he knows us.  Jesus’ commitment to us has no limits.  We have been invited into the very center of his life.  And not only that, but his life is in the center of the life of the Father and the Spirit.  We are caught up in the very life of the Trinity.  And their relationship is marked by complete and uninhibited knowledge of one another that pours out in self-emptying love.

Resting in Being Known

Reading

John 10:1-10

Reflection

Have you ever heard the audible voice of God?  I haven’t.  I have asked for it.  Sometimes when I’m faced with a great dilemma, I wish that God would just speak really clearly so that I would know for sure what to do.

Maybe you have heard very spiritual people talk about knowing God’s voice.  Does it ever make you feel a bit insecure?  Maybe you wonder if they have more of the Spirit than you do.

Faith & Freedom from Blindness

Reading

John 9:35-41

Reflection

We’ve been reflecting on the story of Jesus healing a man born blind.  And we’ve seen several ways that Jesus reveals the blindness of those around him.  First of all, the disciples are blind when they focus on placing blame rather than seeking the meaning of the man’s dilemma.  Then we see the blindness of the religious leaders when they allow their fear of breaking a strict code cause them to want to control the very outbreak of God’s loving power. 

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.