Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lift my eyes up to the mountains

'Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage' 
Psalm 84:5

Another year of walking, praying and telling our annual story with my seven friends. I am happy that we are all still standing, married and remain followers of Jesus. We're different, older, more battle weary, full of zeal but with questions, joys and challenges. The truth is we are a mix, as Rick Warren says, of battle and blessing. I am moved by my friendship with such special men.

One quoted a line from Hamilton: The Musical 

'Talk less and smile' I agree.

This journey started because one of our number read 'Relational leadership' which asks the question 'Who's going to see you through?' so he started what we now call 'Men on Mountains'. Fresh air, honesty, painful moments, laughter, stories, debate, beer, 'trail mix', endless chatter about life (and the C of E).

The now retired Bishop of London would be by the phone for any of his clergy to call him between 9 and 9,15 each Monday morning.

Tom Smail's question in 'The Forgotten Father' is one I have been asking since my pal told me about it walking up a hill:

Is Jesus facing me or the Father?

How might we start conversations about God. A pal is most impressed by Table Talk: A Game of Conversations. I am planning to explore more. Good for a bunch of men in the pub. 

One of us is preaching on 1 Peter 3 and was struck by Piper's question in a sermon which we chatted about on the mountain:

Who says 'Let's.....' in your marriage? Too often, it's not the man particularly over spiritual things.

If you want a good present idea: Spicery

These are the books we chatted about and have been read by our number:

John Flett 'Apostolicity' and he writes:

This is important because it challenges how we do mission and it’s just as important for doing church plants and Fresh expressions today. If we’re really reaching new cultures then we need to be prepared not to impose our leadership structures on new churches, but we also have to redeem the whole of these cultures (and their history) - so we have to really get inside the heads of those sitting sipping their cappuccinos reading the Sunday Telegraph.

He also read:

Michael Goheen 'A Light to the Nations': Haven’t finished reading this yet, but it takes the whole of Scripture and shows how missional church has been part of the plan from the beginning - not least it’s about bringing people together from different cultures (ethnicities). Me speaking: It’s a travesty that the word ‘nation’ is now understood as ‘nation state’ rather than ethnic - we of course are ethnic cousins of Saxons, Vikings and Normans but we are transfixed on our nationhood as defining our identity. Churches need to overcome ethnic differences and demonstrate unity in Christ, and offer that to divided world. 

Also read by the chaps in no particular order:

We chatted about a few films Chi-Raq, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, La La Land and a few others.

My pal and I listened to 'The Pastor, the People and the Pursuit of Joy' in the car on the way home. This quote from the sermon seems like a good place to end and I pray I can be this for my own people in the years ahead.  

Now a pastor hearing this realizes, If I groan with the burdens and difficulties of the ministry and am not sustained by joy in this work, I will be of no advantage to my people. That is really important — no advantage to my people, no good for them, no blessing to them, no help to them.
So as he ponders he realizes: In order to love my people — to serve them and be of an advantage to them — I must devote myself to being happy in this work. I cannot let my heart be defeated by this work. I can’t act as though emotions are superfluous. As though I just need to do my duty and show up with a plan and word from God. And how I feel doesn’t matter as long as I do my duty. No. This this text says joy is your duty. Because love is your duty, and your people will not be loved without your joy. If you try to do this ministry dutifully, without pursuing your joy in it as part of your duty, this people will gain no advantage. That is, they will not be loved.

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