main cow pic

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.

03.05.14

Setting up for The Practice

Filed under: A New Liturgy,Discipleship,The Practice — 6:14 pm
The Chapel

The Willow Chapel

So excited.  We spent yesterday setting up the Willow chapel in preparation for our first gathering of The Practice this Sunday night.  I can’t possibly convey how much we’re looking forward to this new adventure.

Our goal for the chapel is to help it feel like a holy living room.  Simple, reverent, and human.  The chairs are set up in the round because we long to become a tribe together, and the Eucharist table is in the very center of the room because we know that Christ is the very center of everything.  It’s simple, but hopefully the room will preach louder than any words.

Becky and I even had the chance to run through some of the opening liturgy.  Friends, we can’t wait to dive into this with you.

T minus three days…

02.28.14

Asking different questions

Filed under: church — 4:11 pm
Moody Radio

During broadcast

Yesterday I had the fun of getting to dream about the future with my friend Skye on Moody Radio.  The title of the segment was “Rethinking Church”, and we got to share a few hopes for what the church could become – both inside and outside of it’s walls.

You can listen to the whole thing HERE.

During the interview, I realized that there was one idea beneath everything I was trying to say:  In order to change anything,
we must ask new questions.
 Beginning with the same question will always lead to the same core result, even if we update the packaging. Like trying to pour new wine into old skins.

For example, if my question as a worship leader is “How do I get the church pumped up during worship?”, then the correct answer will never be “corporate confession”.  Right?  But how can a worship community become fully healthy if we don’t include confession on occasion?

So I’m discovering that a more helpful question can be “What are the worship practices that we can do over the course of a year to form our community in Christlikeness?”  Or “How do I offer a well-balanced meal?”  These kinds of questions can help us get at the heart of what we’re all trying to do (help people follow Christ in a deeper way), rather than paint us into a corner.  I can’t tell you how much clarity and freedom has come from discovering new questions to ask.

Friends, what are the questions that drive you?  What are the questions that frame your decisions?
And then…Are these the questions that will lead to the future you imagine or desire?

What might it look like to ask different questions?

02.19.14

Solitude and Community

Filed under: Discipleship,God's movement — 10:45 am

Life Together

Life Together

On a retreat this weekend, we wrestled with these words…

“Let them who cannot be alone beware of community.  He will only do harm to himself and to the community… But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.  Only as we are within the fellowship can we be alone, and only he that is alone can live in the fellowship.  Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in the fellowship.  It is not as though the one preceded the other;  both begin at the same time, namely, with the call of Jesus Christ.”  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together)

Most of us lean strongly one way or the other, which is why these words are so challenging.  But even for me – an introvert who often seeks out solitude at the expense of deep connection with others – Bonhoeffer’s words ring true.  In terms of spiritual health, it really is both or neither.

What about you?  Where do you naturally lean and what would it look like to embrace both?

“Each by itself (solitude and community) has profound pitfalls and perils,” Bonhoeffer goes on to say.  “One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feeling, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.”

02.15.14

NT Wright’s advice for every Christian

Filed under: Discipleship,God's movement — 7:57 pm

Apparently, whenever someone asks NT Wright for advice about how to go deeper, he gives the same advice. Brilliant and so simple…

Scripture, prayer, the sacraments, and listening to the poor.  This resonates with me deeply, and yet is quite challenging.  The one thing I would add, however, is community.  None of us can do it alone.

I also love how Wright places these age-old practices squarely in the NEW thing God wants to do in and through us TODAY.  Such a hopeful and forward-looking embrace of our traditions.

Do his words connect with you?  Why or why not?

02.07.14

My new job

Filed under: church,God's movement,willow — 10:50 am

Hey friends.  In terms of vocation, the last couple years have been a tumultuously beautiful journey.
Great moments of pain and great moments of blessing – often in the same day.  But through God’s mercy,
the last few months have brought incredible clarity and a brand new adventure.

No, it’s not my life-long ambition to become a Chippendale’s dancer.  That dream will just have to wait.
But instead…

We are starting an experimental community at Willow Creek called The Practice: Learning the
Unforced Rhythms of Grace.  We aim to be a discipleship-focused, formation-oriented, practice-based tribe
asking two simple questions:  (1) What is the Life that Christ invites us into? and (2) What are the 
practices
we can do, together and on our own, to embrace this Eternal Life now?  Or said simply:
What is God doing and how can we join Him?

That’s it.

We’ll gather on most Sunday nights in the Willow chapel to explore this together.

Friends, I haven’t been this excited or hopeful in years.  This is the kind of work I was made for.
But more than vocation, this is the kind of tribe I desperately need to be a part of.  I need them.

Here are a couple foundations we’ll be building on…

(1) The Kingdom.  Jesus has invited every one of us to join God in healing and redeeming this
world.  Through the scriptures, story, and worship, we want to align ourselves with this good work.
(2) Equipping.  According to Eph 4, the church exists to equip the people for ministry.  Sunday
night is not the main event, but a training ground to be God’s hands and feet in our world.
(3) Practice-based. More of a spiritual gymnasium than classroom. The focus is on the practices and disciplines that form us into Christlikeness.
(4) Ecumenical. Relentlessly committed to humbly learning from other Christian traditions and practices.
(5) Eucharistic. Every gathering will culminate with communion to weekly anchor us in Christ’s death, resurrection, and promos of return.

Over the next few weeks and months, our little tribe will begin fleshing out these pillars.  Please pray for us!
Please pray that God would give us supernatural Wisdom, strength beyond ourselves, and deep humility.
Please pray that God would pull us into His Revolution in ways we never could have imagined.

And if you live in the Chicago area, we’d love for you to join us. (Sign up to our email list to learn more.)  We don’t have it all figured out…in fact…we don’t have almost anything figured out! But we are throwing ourselves into this adventure and can’t wait to see what God does.

Grace and peace,

Aaron

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