Posts Tagged: "brian zahnd"

Maybe We Need To Recover Our Imagination

*photo above: Scott Erickson painting during his one-man show “We Are Not Troubled Guests” at NWLife’s Together Night

 

Sometimes I wonder, have we lost our imagination?

Stewart Henderson, in his poem I Believe says,

‪Propagandists are

excellent mimics

But don’t expect them to say anything original.

I believe in doubt

I believe doubt is a process of saying

“Excuse me, I have a question.”

Propagandists hate questions

and in so doing

detest art.

I believe in art.

We are so easily tempted to mimic, copy, follow, and accept status quo as reasonable and good enough.

In the church it happens like this: we look to another church in some other part of the state or country that is considered successful because of one or more of the “B’s” – buildings, budgets, and butts-in-seats.

We esteem these other churches as having or being something that we also should have or be. We podcast them. We fly over to them and scribble notes about everything we see and hear. We meet with their leaders to get their secret recipes. And then we bring it home to our state, city, neighborhood.

This whole thing reeks of a lack of imagination to me.

What ever happened to… Read More

Here’s My Favorite Books I Read In 2017

Here’s my favorite books I read in 2017, in no particular order (not all of these books were released in 2017—some are much older… I just read them this year – also, click on the picture of the book to view on Amazon):

Barking to the Choir by Father Greg Boyle

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Glory Happening by Kaitlin Curtice

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Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by Brian Zahnd

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The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

invention

 

Peaches for… Read More

The Illusion of Superiority

We are in a series on the Beatitudes of Jesus at church right now… it’s called “Dance to the Beat.” One of my favorite lines came from a message on humility:

The essence of “God blesses those who are humble (or those who are meek)” is that God can work with people who don’t think they are superior to others—but where there is arrogance and aggression, God’s blessing is not there.

Jean Vanier, in his book Becoming Human, says:

The illusion of being superior engenders the need to prove it; and so oppression is born. A bishop in Africa told me that, even though there were few Christians in the area, he had built his cathedral bigger than the local mosque. All this to prove… Read More

Lent Day 19… The Beatitudes Are The Antithesis Of What America Has Come To Adore

It cannot be denied that too often the weight of the Christian movement has been on the side of the strong and the powerful and against the weak and oppressed—this, despite the gospel. —Howard Thurman

Brian Zahnd, in his book Beauty Will Save The World, says:

The Beatitudes are deliberately designed to shock us. If we’re not shocked by the Beatitudes, it’s only because we have tamed them with a patronizing sentimentality—and being sentimental about Jesus is the religious way of ignoring Jesus! Too often the Beatitudes are set aside into the category of “nice things that Jesus said that I don’t really understand.”

Here is Zahnd’s paraphrase of… Read More

What The Spirit of the Age Blesses vs What Jesus Blesses

The following is from Brian Zahnd’s recent sermon on the Beatitudes entitled, “The Declaration of Blessedness.”

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The spirit of the age blesses the cocky and self-confident… But Jesus blesses the poor in spirit.

The spirit of the age blesses those who are shallow and thus happy all the time… But Jesus blesses those who have the capacity to mourn deeply.

The spirit of the age blesses the… Read More

Favorite Books Read In 2016

I thought I’d share the list of my favorite books read in 2016. A new thing (for me anyway) that I’ve been doing is reading poetry and fiction… I think Brian Zahnd convicted me with something he wrote that included the following quote from Eugene Peterson:

Isn’t it odd that pastors, who are responsible for interpreting the Scriptures, so much of which come in the form of poetry, have so little interest in poetry? It is a crippling defect and must be remedied.

So anyway, this year’s list includes a little poetry and fiction too. Not everything on the list is new—in fact, some of the books are quite old. It’s just that I read them in 2016 and they made my favorites list. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Water to Wine: Some of my Story by Brian Zahnd – OK, so I might have lied about “no particular order,” at least concerning this one. It’s number one on my list because this was the best book I read all year. Honestly, I wish every Christian would read it. If you only read one book from my list, please read this one!

2. Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity by Norman Wirzba – this book is accessible, enjoyable to read, and totally connects with the heart. I rarely mark up a book as much as I did this one. And this line is gonna stick with me for a long time:

It is a profound calling to look at whatever is before us and ask, “How can I make love visible here and now?”

3.  Celtic Daily Prayer: Book Two: Farther Up and Farther In by the Northumbria Community – this is designed as a daily prayer/devotional book. It is both thought-provoking and beautiful… something to look forward to every day.

4. Life’s too short to Pretend You’re not Religious by David Dark – David has become… Read More

Saving Quotes

* pictured above: the town of Assisi, Italy —July 2013

I save quotes. In my phone. On my computer. Folders of them. Ever-growing, constantly adding.

And there are times when I need them. When all the world seems to be busting apart at the seams, all hell breaking loose. When my peace has run away like a dog terrified of the fireworks on the 4th of July.

I save quotes. But sometimes they save me.

I’d love to share some… saving quotes.

 

The Saint Francis Prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is… Read More

The Gardener by Brian Zahnd

I’ve been thinking a lot about metaphors lately—especially the ones most commonly used in church. Whatever metaphor or metaphors we choose to be primary will inevitably shape both our perspective and approach—how we think and how we behave.

The military metaphor is one we’re all familiar with. “I’m in the Lord’s army… Yes Sir!” (I sang that a lot as a kid growing up in church). What I don’t love about this metaphor is how simplistic, black and white, its perspective is. Either you’re fighting with me or you are my enemy. Everyone is either a good guy or a bad guy. Life is a battle. There are winners and there are losers.

The competitive metaphor is similar. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt says, “This tribal psychology is so deeply pleasurable that even when we don’t have tribes, we go ahead and make them, because it’s fun. Sports is to war as pornography is to sex. We get to exercise some ancient, ancient drives.” So in sports, you’re either fighting with me or you are my opposition. Life is a contest. There are winners and there are losers. Nobody wants a tie.

While these types of metaphors are certainly found in Scripture, I do wonder about people who… Read More

Why I Want These “Feminine” Qualities

*picture above: Coptic Ethiopian painting of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. 

I couldn’t resist clicking. The title read, What a Leader Needs Now: 7 ‘Feminine’ Qualities. And here’s what the Inc.com article had to say…

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Labeling traits as masculine or feminine reflects popular perception rather than evidence-based fact.

But it’s a handy way to think about what works in organizations today. The following qualities, traditionally identified with women, produce results for leaders of… Read More

The Question I Will Keep Asking Over And Over Again

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty.   —John Muir

As I’ve shared before, my word for the year is Beautiful. It shows up in my goals…

Make beautiful food. Write beautiful words. Say beautiful things. Dream up beautiful things to do. Go beautiful places. Notice beautiful things and learn from them. Take beautiful pictures. Design beautiful artwork. Think beautiful thoughts. Pray beautiful prayers. Find the beautiful in the unexpected or where it has been previously unnoticed.

So, with goals like these, I will obviously be asking myself this question over and over again: Is it beautiful?

In a recent staff meeting, I shared with the team that I will be asking this question about our church too, “I’ll want to know that what we are doing and saying and giving and making is beautiful. If it’s not beautiful, something needs to change.”

In that meeting, I read some words by… Read More