Tag Archives: Discipleship


A few quotes from Karl Martin’s book “Stand.” (which reveals an extensive and well indexed reading history).

Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no alive who is Youer than you.  – Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to you.

‘But what about all the miracles?  The healints? Raising people from the dead?  Doesn’t that prove that Jesus was God?  You know, more than human?’

‘No, it proves that Jesus is truly human.’


(The Shack, William P Young).

…eye contact is the most intimacy two people can have = forget sex – because the optic nerve is technically an extension of the brain, and when tow people look ito each other’s eyes, it’s brain-to-brain.  (Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus)

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Discipleship and Huddles

These were some of the gems I gleaned from the Mission and Discipleship training day that was run by Central Baptist.  There were many gems here.

First was the tension between covenant and kingdom, and how we love dualisms which separate these, rather than living in the tension between them.

Talked about the different triads that live within Covenant (Father, Identity, Obedience) and Kingdom (King, Actions, Power).


A lovely little aside that the move from Abram to Abraham and Sari to Sarah means that each one of them of is given part of YHWH’s name. Continue reading

Tributes to Dallas Willard – Part 1

From a couple of articles here and here about Dallas Willard.

Quotes from the first, earlier profile, are here.  Quotes from the second article (a profile by John Ortberg) are here.

On the quest for truth:

“If you could find a better way, Jesus would be the first one to tell you to take it. And if you don’t believe that about him, you don’t have faith in him, because what you’re really saying is that he would encourage you to believe something that is false.”

On scientists and knowledge:
The idea that knowledge—and, of course, reality—is limited to that world is the single most destructive idea on the stage of life today.”

Checking in with God:

“Generally, what I find is that the ordinary people who come to church are basically running their lives on their own, utilizing ‘the arm of the flesh’—their natural abilities—to negotiate their way,” he says. “They believe there is a God and they need to check in with him. But they don’t have any sense that he is an active agent in their lives. As a result, they don’t become disciples of Jesus. They consume his merits and the services of the church. … Discipleship is no essential part of Christianity today.”

Instead of “trying to get people’s papers in order for heaven,” the church began concentrating on helping spiritually hungry people “pursue their life with God.”

In finding sympathy with Willard and John Paul II, it is noted from the Pope, “You are who you are, and not who you would be if the system were different.” (reacting to the hypocrisy required to survive in Communist Poland)

God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are, and if we faithlessly discard situation after situation, moment after moment, as not being ‘right,’ we will simply have no place to receive his kingdom into our life. For those situations and moments are our life.” – Willard

Celtic Heart

Go on your way

Key Words Travel Discipleship Evil Devil
Source The Celtic Heart
Author Robson, Pat
Page 104
Quote From St. Anthony

“Go on your way trusting in God and making the demons look silly.”

Heaven is big and small

Key Words Heaven
Source The Celtic Heart
Author Robson, Pat
Page 85
Quote From the Celtic Psalter, attributed to Oengus the Caldee, on heaven:

“It is huge, ten times the size of earth, so that every creature ever born can find a place.

It is small, no bigger than a village, where all are friends, and none is a stranger.”


The Lower Classes Smell


Our civilisation, pace Chesterton, is founded on coal, more completely than one realises until one stops to thinking about it.  The machines that keep us alive, and the machines that make the machines, are all directly or indirectly dependent upon coal,  In the metabolism of the Western world the coal-miners is second in importance only to the man who ploughs the soil. He is a sort grimy caryatid upon whose shoulders nearly everything that is not grimy is supported.

Orwell captures the odious nature of this caste system by seizing upon an axionm that eludes simple propositional articulation.  As he puts it, “the real secret of class distinctions in the West”! can be “summed up in four frightful words” that are often left unuttered; The lower classes smell. Orwell’s points is that the root of class distinctions in England is not intellectual it’s olfactory,  The habits and rhythms of the system are not so much cerebral as visceral they are rooted in a bodily orientation to the world that eludes theoretical articulation, which is why theoretical tirades also fail to displace it.

Orwell later speaks of his education in the English public school system:

You forget your Greek and your Latin within a few months of leaving school = I studied Greek for eight or ten years, and now, at thirty-three, I cannot even repeat the Greek alphabet – but your snobbishness, unless you persistently root it out like the blindweed it is, sticks by you till your grave.

Smith then concludes

“This may help us picture what it means to talk about education as formation.  But it might also be an occasion to ask whether a Christian education could have the same odious effects as a public school education. Could we offer a Christian education that is loaded with all sorts of Christian ideas and information – and yet be offering a formation that runs counter to that vision?”

God’s Advocates – Stanley Hauerwas

Both quotes are from an interview with Stanley Hauerwas and one of his associates.

Heroes and saints

Key Words Discipleship Forgiveness
Source Gods Advocates
Source Author Shortt, Rupert
Location 180
Quote “The hero is in many ways the model we look up to in contemporary society – even though we want to be very democratic and egalitarian about heroes and say we can all be heroes spontaneously. We all feel it’s our job in our generation to make the story come out right, which means stories are told with the heroes at the centre of them and the stories are told to laud the virtues of the hero – for if the hero failed, all would be lost. By contrast, a saint can fail in a way that the hero can’t, because the failure of a saint reveals the forgiveness and the new possibilities made in God, and the saint is just a small character in a story that’s always fundamentally about God.”

Scarcity and abundance

Key Words Scarcity Generosity Ethics Grace
Source Gods Advocates
Source Author Shortt, Rupert
Location 183
Quote The word is gift (for how we should think of human existence). You only know what it means for us to exist in relationship to God’s existence when you recognise that our existence is gift: it’s not necessity. God didn’t have to make us. He chose to have us as his creatures. It’s all grace. One of the ways to think about it is that Christianity is ongoing training to help us accept our lives as gifts. It s a very hard thing to accept our lives as gifts, because we somehow want to have control over them, and there can never be control when your life is gift.

Life as gift –
The interesting issue is not “Does God exist, but do We?” Its all of life experienced as gift. And to take the example of how Stanley writes about the time-consuming and distracting practice of bringing up children: God gives us time to do the things he really wants us to do.

Nieburhian ethics as moral man and immoral society –
the ethics that dominated twentieth century though in this area is actually about shortage. There’s not enough – not enough life, not enough resources, not enough wisdom, not enough goodness, there’s not enough revelation – fundamentally there’s not enough God. Whereas for Stanley, there’s too much God.

The problem is, either our imaginations develop resistances because we want to be our own creators – we sin – or our imaginations simply aren’t big enough to take in everything is of God. The things that we need, really need, are things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness … It doesn’t matter how many resources we’ve got, if we haven’t got these things, we can’t actually use those resources abundantly. Well, the Holy Spirit gives us those things abundantly but many discussions of ethics are written as if there were no Holy Spirit and no Church.

Freedom In Christ – It was great

This session could take 5-6 hours and is bold in its thoroughness, and willingness to devote time to individual lives.  Several Church leaders spoke of having had 100s of these appointments with people – you can think of few better uses of our time, and makes you question some of the things we get sucked into.

  • A “theology of resolution rather than coping” – that people can have the power now to deal with biggest sources of sadness in their lives, rather than find mechanisms which avoid the problem.  That we have power to live lives which are away from habits of breakdown, anger and addiction.
  • A strategy of enablement – if people are struggling with things “they should pray”, it is not our job to do the Christian bit on other people’s behalf.
  • I’ll hopefully post a few more notes soon.

    The Divine Conspiracy – Part 2

    Part of you still tin

      Key Words Regeneration Sanctifcation
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 28
      Quote So C.S. Lewis writes, our faith is not a matter of our hearing what Jesus said long ago and “trying to carry it out”. Rather, “The person of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His zoë [life] into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.”

    A increasing life

      Key Words Sanctification Obedience
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 32
      Quote Talks about Frank Laubach and his attempt to deal with God every moment of his life.

    After only four weeks he reported “I feel simply carried along each hour, doing my part in a plane which is far beyond myself. This sense of co-operation with God in little things is what so astonishes me, for I never felt it this way before. I need something, and turn round to find it waiting for me. I must work, to be sure, but there is God working along with me.”

    He then talks about the increase that happens when we obey, based on the parable of the talents.

      References It is God who works in you (Philippians 2:12-13)
    Parable of the talents (Matthew 25)
    Parable of the talents (Luke 16:1-12)
    The work the Father does (John 5:17-19)
    The Lord will be their light (Revelation 22:5)

    The realm of God

      Key Words Kingdom Sovereign Sovereignty Rule
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 33
      Quote Accordingly the kingdom of God is not essentially a social or political reality at all. Indeed, the social and political realm, along with the individual heart, is the only place in all of creation where the kingdom of God, or his effective will, is currently permitted to be absent. That real is the ‘on earth’ of the Lord’s prayer that is opposed to the ‘in heaven’ where God’s will is, simply, done. It is the realm of what is cut out ‘by hands’, opposed to the kingdom ‘cut out without hands’ of Daniel, chapter 2.
      References The kingdom cut out not by human hands (Daniel 2)

    The presence of the kingdom

      Key Words Kingdom Conflict Evil
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 37
      Quote From C.H.Dodd
    “In what sense, then, did Jesus declare that the Kingdom of God was present? Our answer must at least begin with his own answer to John: ‘The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them.’ In the ministry of Jesus Himself the divine power is released in effective conflict with evil.”
      References Messengers from John (Matthew 11)
    The Nazareth declaration (Luke 4)
    Isaiah vision (Isaiah 61)

    The effect of the new birth

      Key Words Converstion Born Again Transformation
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 47
      Quote According to Gallup surveys, 94 per cent of Americans believe in God and 74 per cent claim to have made a commitment to Jesus Christ. About 34 per cent confess to a “new birth” experience. These figures are shocking when thoughtfully compared to statistics on the same group for unethical behaviour, crime, mental distress and disorder, family failures, addictions, financial misdealings and the like.

    Helmit Thielicke points out that we often wonder if the celebrities who advertise foods and beverages actually consume what they are selling. He goes on to say that this is the very question most pressing for those of us who speak for Christ. Surely something has gone wrong when moral failures are so massive and widespread among us. Perhaps we are not eating what we are selling. More likely I think, what we are “selling” is irrelevant to our real existence and without power over daily life.

    He is right about everything

      Key Words Commitment Discipleship Atonement
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 58
      Quote What must be emphasized in all of this is the difference between trusting Christ, the real person Jesus, with all that that naturally involves, versus trusting some arrangement for sin-remission set up through him – trusting only his role as guilt remover. To trust the real person Jesus is to have confidence in him in every dimension of our real life, to believe that he is right about and adequate to everything.

    Learning life from Jesus

      Key Words Discipleship Commitment
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 65
      Quote Right at the heart of this alienation lies the absence of Jesus the teacher from our lives. Strangely, we seem prepared to learn how to live from almost anyone but him. We are ready to believe the that “latest studies” have more to teach us about love and sex than he does, and that Louis Rukeyser knows more about finances. “Dear Abby” can teach us more about how to get along with our family members and co-workers, and Carl Sagan is a better authority on the cosmos. We lose any sense of the difference betweeen information and wisdom, and act accordingly.

    Page 68
    Must not all who speak for Christ constantly ask themselves these crucial questions:

    Does the gospel I preach and teach have a naturaly tendency to cause people who hear it to become full-time students of Jesus?
    Would those who believe it become his apprentices as a natural “next step”?
    What can reasonably expect would result from people actually believing the substance of my message?

    Our God-Bathed world

      Key Words Heaven Numinous Immanence
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 71
      Quote From Gustave Martelet
    While man is at home with animals and the stars, he is also the cosmic neighbour of the Absolute

    From Max Picard
    In the world of Faith, the heavens above the city are friendly and near: they are the upper chamber of every house.

    The worlds tenderness

      Key Words Joy Immanence Beauty
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 72
      Quote A character in one of Nabokov’s novels became aware of the world’s tenderness, the profound beneficence of all that surrounded me, the blissful bond between me and all of creation; and I realise that joy… breathed around me everywhere, in the speeding street sounds, in the hem of a comically lifted skirt, in the metallic yet tender drone of the wind, in the autumn clouds bloated with rain. I realised that the world does not represent a struggle at all, or a predaceous sequence of chance events, but shimmering bliss, beneficent trepidation, a gift bestowed on us and unappreciated.

    Where God enjoys himself

      Key Words Joy Universe Cosmos Beauty Nature
      Source The Divine Conspiracy
      Source Author Willard, Dallas
      Location 73
      Quote Human beings can lose themselves in card games or electric trains and think they are fortunate. But to God there is available, in the language of one reporter “Towering clouds of gases trillions of miles high, backlit by nuclear fires in newly forming stars, galaxies cartwheeling in collisions and sending explosive shock waves boiling through millions of light-years of time and space. These things are all before him, along with numberless unfolding rosebuds, souls and songs – and immeasurably more of which we know nothing.

    The poet William Cowper appropriately exclaimed of God
    “Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never ending skill
    He treasures up bright designs
    And works his sovereign will.”

    Page 74
    The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God towards all his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core – which we vainly try to capture with our tired but indispensable old word love.