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06.17.14

So what is the bible…really?

Filed under: books,God's movement — 10:14 pm
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I finished Adam Hamilton’s book “Making Sense of the Bible” today, and I think it might be the most important book of the year.  The church needs it so badly.  Here’s why…

In 2004, we were a part of Mars Hill’s transition to allow women full participation in leadership. It was an explosive, divisive, tumultuous season.  And I remember the moment that it hit me: “Wait a second…this isn’t about women or the church or leadership or the issue.  This is about the bible.  What do we make of this holy book and how do we let it direct our lives?” And I wonder if the same could be said about other divisive issues like immigration, abortion, and homosexuality.  These issues are critically important, but the “issue beneath the issue” is the bible.

Thankfully, Adam Hamilton (pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City) has boldly and lovingly invited us to wrestle with this.  What is the bible?  Where did it come from?  What do we do with the contradictions?  Can we take it seriously but not literally?  What does it mean for the bible to be inspired?  How can we allow the bible to be everything God intends for it to be, but not more?  

These are really important questions.

To hear more, check out this short interview.  Hamilton shares the basic idea and heart behind the book.

You won’t agree with everything, and I don’t agree with every one of his conclusions, but the questions he raises are critical for every one of us who takes the scriptures seriously.

Let me know what you think!
Aaron

06.04.14

Four Weeks of Practicing and Becoming Community

Filed under: The Practice — 8:38 pm

 

COMMUNITY banner

The next four weeks…

To all those who are part of The Practice – either physically or virtually:  Over the last couple months, we’ve begun re-arranging our lives to put Jesus’ words into practice. If you’re like me, it’s been three steps forward and two steps back, but God keeps carrying us on. Amen. We’re finding that the Christian life is not about perfect performance…but learning to get swept up in the unforced rhythms of Grace. And THAT is some good news!

But we can’t do it alone. We need a tribe. We need fellow Practitioners to walk with us, carry us, and be God’s hands and feet. And they need us too.

So in June, let’s dive into Community. We get to learn from three brilliant mentors about God’s gift of community, and then practice the tools to lean into it. June will be a highly practical, practice-oriented month.  

Our prayer is that every one of us will take a step into Community by the end of June. Would you join us in this prayer: “God, who can I walk with in this next season? Please help me find my tribe.”

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June 8 – Spiritual Listening (Sibyl Towner)
June 15 – A Theology of Community (Dr Bilezikian)
June 22 – Transformational Groups (Mindy Caliguire)
June 29 – Celebration Feast
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June mentors

June mentors

 

Sybil Towner.
It’s hard to walk around Willow and NOT bump into someone who has been deeply impacted by Sybil Towner. For the last 20 years, Sybil has been a relentlessly redemptive force for good and beauty in the souls of so many people around here. (More) On June 8th, she will lay out a vision and practice for HOW we can hear from God on behalf of each other. Her “3 Way Listening” framework is profoundly helpful for becoming a healthy community, and we will practice it together.

Dr B.
About two hundred years ago, Bill Hybels sat in the class of Dr Bilezikian. This revolutionary vision and passion for the local church launched Bill and a few friends to flesh it out into Willow Creek. (More)  On June 15th, we’ve asked Dr B to go back to the beginning and give us a foundational theology of community – followed by a time of Q&A. This is like getting to ask Obi Wan to teach about the force. Such an honor to have him with us!

Mindy Caliguire.
We can’t overstate how influential Mindy has been on The Practice. Her wisdom, teaching, and spirit has lead our community in many ways, and anchored us in the “unforced rhythms of Grace”. (More) On June 22nd, Mindy will teach from her book STIR, and lead us in practices for each of the three stages of spiritual growth. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work! Check out this description of STIR to learn more…

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If you haven’t joined us yet, please do!

Grace and peace,
Aaron

05.15.14

A Practice Update

Filed under: The Practice — 12:04 pm
Father Michael teaching The Examen

Father Michael guiding The Examen

Next week, I’m excited to share a big update about The Practice.  By God’s grace, some things have really come together over the last three weeks and we’re getting ready to explore our first shared “rule of life”.  Two reasons I’m writing this today…

First, if you want to catch up on the last three weeks of The Practice, we’re making the teachings available for free download.  (I’ve really wrestled with this because lecture is such a small part of our experience;  I don’t want to reduce The Practice to a set of spoken ideas.)  However, since we’re building our next season on the last three weeks, we want everyone to have the same foundation!  So please dig in…

04.27.14 “A Theology of Peacemaking” by Jon Huckins

05.04.14 “The Prayer of Examen” by Father Michael Sparough

05.11.14 “Practicing the Presence of God” by Kellye Fabian

And all the practices for these weeks are at practicetribe.com/blog.

Second, if you live anywhere near us, this Sunday is a big gathering.  Please join us!  We’ll reflect on where God has brought us, engage a couple practices that align us with His Kingdom, and share a vision for the future.  God willing, much of the next three months will spring from this Sunday.  Even if you’ve never been to a Practice, this could be a great introduction.  (Especially if you listen to a teaching or two above!)

As always, we gather in the Willow chapel from 7-9pm on Sunday nights.  You’re always welcome to practice with us.

Grace and Peace,
Aaron

05.11.14

God Our Mother (part 3)

05.10.14

God Our Mother (part 2)

Filed under: God's movement,music — 6:59 am
God Our Mother

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Our friends from The Liturgists just released an incredible EP called “God Our Mother”.

I love every part of it.

The music is beautiful, the performances are incredible, the theology is expansive (moving us beyond our overly-masculine view of God), and above all, the reading was written and performed by the cutest girl in the world.

Highly recommended…

“God Our Mother” by The Liturgists

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05.09.14

God Our Mother (part 1)

Filed under: God's movement,quotes — 8:46 am

“Sara Ruddick in her book Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace speaks of the attentive love of a mother.  In summary, Ruddick says mothers are characterized by attentive love.  They have to keep watching this new life; they have to keep listening and adjusting to the needs of the child.  It is necessary to recognize a new agenda with the growth of the child.  If the mother cannot transform herself into attentive love, she quite simply cannot be a mother.  She has to learn early on that life is about change, not about theological absolutes.  All growth is about changing and adjusting to what is needed at this moment by this child.  The mother cannot run to abstract truths.  She has to deal with this child, these tears, and this present moment with this child.

The feminine face of God is helping us see God as Mother God.  Then we will be able to love and trust God in the maternal AND masculine forms.  Who would not love back such an attentively loving God?”

Fr Richard Rohr,  On Transformation: Collected Talks, Volume 1

 

05.07.14

The moment when you realize that a song you wrote is being performed WAY better than you will ever perform it…

Filed under: music,worship — 5:52 pm

I love this!  So great…

04.24.14

Four Weeks of Action and Contemplation

Filed under: The Practice — 6:35 am

The Practice

During the next four weeks of The Practice, we will immerse ourselves in practices that help us become people of action and contemplation. Most of us lean to one side or the other, right? We are naturally activistic (and often exhausted) or naturally reflective (and often self-oriented). But must we be either/or?

It’s no surprise that Jesus lived and invited us into a third way: To be prayerful activists. Engaged mystics. Grounded zealots. A community of humble courage, learning how to tangibly love God and everyone else.

So please join us to practice, learn, stumble, and practice some more. May we not be content to remain weary activists or isolated contemplatives, but instead follow Jesus into the deeper streams of Both. His unforced rhythms of Grace will lead us.

You can read about all four weeks at our practicetribe.com/blog, but let me quickly tell you about this Sunday, April 27th.  (I’m so excited that I can’t hold it in)

Jon Huckins

Jon Huckins

My friend Jon Huckins will present a theology of peacemaking …teaching us that “Peacemaking is the mission of God and is the vocation of God’s people. It’s central to what it means to be a follower of Jesus.” Not only does Jon live this out in his local community, but he co-founded The Global Immersion Project in 2011 to “cultivate everyday peacemakers through immersion in global conflict.”  Jon is the real deal.  You’re going to love him.  And as we follow the theme of peacemaking throughout the scriptures and Story of God, Jon will lead us in four practices to help us become peacemakers in our everyday lives.

Please feel free to join us!  This Sunday night, 7-9pm in the Willow chapel.

Aaron

04.22.14

The Practice: a few reflections after our first six weeks

Filed under: Discipleship,The Practice,worship — 12:05 pm
The Practice

The Practice

Hey everyone!  Thanks for all the questions and encouragement and interest in this holy experiment we’re calling The Practice.  The last few months have honestly been one of the best seasons of my life. Not easy, of course. And really overwhelming at times. But this is the kind of adventure I want to give my life to, and an incredible team to explore with. I’m just so thankful to God.

Now that the first six weeks are done, we’re getting ready to jump into a four week exploration of the practices that help us become people of action and contemplation. But before we move ahead, can I tell you about those first six weeks?  This is a bit of our story so far…

We began with our shared desire:  We long to be a tribe who doesn’t just believe things
about Jesus, but is willing to rearrange our lives to put his words into practice.
 In order for this to be true, we believe three things must be present at the end of our 18 month experiment: Vision, Practice, and Tribe.

(1) Vision. We must begin with a ravishing view of the Kingdom of God. What did Jesus teach and invite us into? What does it look like for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven? We need to start with the Big Story.
(2) Practice. What are practical, concrete actions that help me align with God’s Kingdom among us?  What are the disciplines and habits that I can choose to put me in the flow of Grace…so that God can do in me what I could never do othe
(3) Tribe. We can’t do this alone. We need to walk and practice together.

We’ve always known that a weekly service couldn’t accomplish this on it’s own. A two-hour gathering is only 1.2% of our time and can’t compete with how we spend the rest of the week. But a service “in service” of a community practicing the way of Jesus could be quite powerful. So with this in mind, our Sunday night gathering has become very important to the journey.

Meeting most Sunday nights, 7-9pm, we have tried to turn the Willow chapel into a holy living room.  Simple, reverent, and human.  We set up the chairs in the round because we desire to become a community, and placed the Eucharist table in the very center of the room because Christ is the very center of everything. It’s simple, of course, but hopefully the space preached louder than any words.

The vibe of the gathering was…

Read the full Story of our First Six Weeks

04.16.14

To all my pastor friends on Holy Week

Filed under: church,Discipleship,God's movement,leadership — 7:47 am

Hi pastor friends,

It is possible to work so hard helping a community connect with God, that we wind up disconnected from God. I’ve done this many times. And so in the middle of Holy Week – often the craziest time of the year for pastors – may I share these prophetically freeing words from Dallas Willard…

“The easy yoke is to lay aside your projects and mine and to take up God’s projects.  I will say that again.
Taking the easy yoke is to lay aside your projects or my projects, which are crushing…and this is
where leaders come under intolerable pressure. It is because they are carrying their projects; they have presumed to take God’s projects and make them their projects.

“The great temptation is to try to make it happen, whatever it is.  That’s where we need to step out of
our yoke and into Jesus’ yoke and let him carry the burden.  This is true as parents, this is true as pastors,
and in every way.  We feel like we have to make it happen, and that’s what we have to lay down. We don’t make it happen.  We turn it loose.  Whatever we are doing for the Lord, we let him carry through with it.
We do our best, but we don’t trust our best.”

(Dallas Willard, Living in Christ’s Presence)

04.14.14

The Enneagram: hilariously painful

Filed under: life — 3:03 pm

Many of you know how much I hate personality assessment tests…AND yet how transformational the Enneagram has been to me, my marriage, and so many relationships. It has unlocked a number of doors: giving many of us language to name reality, and a set of practices to become more whole. Brilliant.

But all of that aside, these videos are hilarious.  And just for fun, the first video is my type (4), and the second video is Shauna’s type (7). Enjoy!

04.07.14

My favorite music documentary in a long time

Filed under: creativity,music — 7:15 pm

In the last year or so, I’ve loved a number of music documentaries – “Sound City”, “Beware Mr Baker”, and “Searching for Sugar Man”, and “Muscle Shoals” – but none of them held a candle to “Mistaken for Strangers“. It’s incredibly fun and complicated and touching and strange and hilarious. If you’re a fan of The National or music or funny family stuff, check this out…

There’s so much to love about this film – the music is incredible and I laughed at all the incredibly awkward moments – but honestly, I found the brothers’ relationship really touching.  To watch one of the coolest rock stars on the planet love and stand by his painfully awkward little brother, over and over, is beautiful. A smaller person would try to distance himself from the “messy” parts of his life, but this film feels like a bear hug in the opposite direction. Well done, guys.

03.20.14

Live in Bethlehem!

Filed under: music,Palestine / Israel — 2:37 pm

Hey friends.  Last summer a couple friends and I had the thrilling opportunity to perform at Bet Lehem Live in Palestine.  It was a profoundly beautiful and intense experience.  Check out my posts reflecting on it here, here, and here.

Well they are doing the festival again June 19-24, 2014, and just posted last year’s video.  Our little band even made the cut!

If you are interested in learning more about this, please let me know and I can help you get connected.

Shalom and Salaam.

03.12.14

Getting the tribe together for the first time

Filed under: church,Discipleship,The Practice,worship — 11:11 am
The first night

The first night

As you know, last Sunday was the first gathering of The Practice tribe.  To watch this holy experiment begin to live and breathe in the hearts and bodies of our community was really moving.  To me, as beautiful as it was to pray and worship and practice a “divine reading” of the scriptures together, the absolute highlight was communion. Wow. I can’t stop thinking about it and can’t wait for this coming Sunday.

Our prayer is that after 18 months, every one of us would have a Vision, a Practice, and a Tribe…

•A Vision of the Kingdom of God – the redemptive Movement of God on this earth and
His invitation for each of us to join Him.
•A set of Practices, or rule of life, that help us daily align with God’s Movement
•A Tribe of people who are walking and practicing together in Jesus name.

Vision / Practice / Tribe

To learn more and be a part of this journey, please visit us at PRACTICETRIBE.COM.

Every Monday morning, we will post the week’s Kingdom Practice on our blog. We believe that gathering
on Sunday nights is only helpful if it launches us to PRACTICE the way of Jesus for the rest of our week.
Sunday night is not the main event, but simply a springboard into where the actual
holy work happens: Our real lives.

So please practice with us!  This first week we’re diving into the ancient practice of Lectio Divina.  On our blog, you’ll find a short explanation, some simple coaching, and the specific texts we’ll all be engaging.  You don’t need to attend with us in order to practice with us.

Let’s learn the unforced rhythms of Grace.

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