Millones Cajones

Just finished this great novel by Rob Bell.

Found so many similarities to my own life… especially my transition from church work to “other.”

Download your free copy here.

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The idolatry of god by Peter Rollins – 43 of 48


Finished this a while back. Great book. I need to read it again. So much in there.

I want to give you more but I can not.

Love the idea of how religion, institutions are in fact the idolatry. But not just them. All of our religious needs, institutionally or not. Yet. These things are not bad in themselves.

How can we change to enjoy these things as they were to be?

Doubt. Abandon. Avoid the “need” to have them. Once we are free we can have.

So much more in there.

I need to read it again.


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Powerful podcast: This American Life – Heretics

Found myself really blessed by this podcast today while I worked out at a gym in good Ol’ Smithers, BC. If you haven’t listened to This American Life before I highly recommended it.

From the website:

The story of Reverend Carlton Pearson, a renowned evangelical pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who cast aside the idea of Hell, and with it everything he’d worked for over his entire life.

As one who left the church and my role as a pastor only 2 years ago and who is rethinking a lot of things in a really positive way, I found the way people in the south treated this man quite sad and I guess interesting. I am sure some of my best friends don’t agree with my current journey (in fact I had 2 of them question my salvation in a face to face meeting), but for the most part my journey has been incredibly positive. People listen and try to learn. Those who don’t want to either listen or learn, basically smile and wave, which is fine by me. It helps, I guess, that I actually have a lot of good biblical reasons for some of my new beliefs, but no one, no matter what belief should be abandoned by their friends.

I suppose that is what was most powerful to me in this message. Friendships and how beliefs impact those relationships.

Please listen/ download it before you have to buy it!

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A Better Atonement by Tony Jones – Book 42 of 48

I recently finished a kindle only book by Tony Jones called A Better Atonement and for myself it was timely in my recent journey back into the world of theology. If there is anything that I have wrestled with over the past few years of this transition it’s been the need to find a more generous atonement theory. The classic evangelical penal substitution theory was not feeling right to me and the more I read the bible the less and less I actually felt it was even biblical. In fact this book finally tipped me over the edge and I can say strongly that penal substitution (although having some truth to it) is no longer something I would consider myself ascribing to as my main understanding of what happened when Jesus died on the cross.

Tony Jones does a very helpful thing in this book; by walking through the many different theories, of which many were the main held theories of the early church before penal substitution even became main stream he establishes a good base of where we have come from. One of his best points was the fact that of all the councils that were held during the churches early years, there was never one for “atonement” suggesting that it was never something that the early church considered critical. History in this regard does become very helpful in the journey and establishment of a generous and hopeful atonement.

I definitely recommend this short easy to read book for all people interested in reengaging the atonement topic. Especially if like me, you are wanting to challenge the theory you’ve been taught for so long as critical to your faith, when it is likely it was the best theory for an “in and out” Christianity. I am a both/and person and realizing that there is so much more that I don’t know that I can’t just settle on one theory or idea is capital T truth.

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Family adventures with salmon, trees and mighty machines

It seems that going back to church is a little more of a challenge than first thought, which makes me wonder about the whole Sunday gathering, once a week deal. I realize that I once was involved in organizing such weekly events, whether they were on Sunday or not, but I think what kept me going in Vancouver was the ongoing almost daily encounters with the friends that made up that church. I am starting to wonder whether I am ready to push out into a large group at this time. In fact the past 3 weekends, Anna, the boys and I have been venturing out into nature and I think I felt closer to God in this way for the first time in my life.

After spending back to back weekends at Goldstream watching the Salmon run, we drove up Saturday to the site of the future Kinloch Cabin at Lake Shawnigan to show the boys the large machines and grab some stuff of our own from the garage. The boys played in the rain with their toy trucks around the large parked real mighty machines and it was quite a beautiful scene. Then Sunday we went to a friends place in North Saanich and then spent the rest of the day having a nice lunch and exploring the Sidney Aquarium.

I am enjoying the weekends out with my family and I am finding it quite restful and powerful in many ways. It has been a bit of a struggle making the change to Victoria, mainly due to missing our friends a great deal, but it is quite amazing how much more we are getting out into nature than we did previously. It is this encounter with nature that is stimulating a God sense that I never really explored before and it is quite nice.

Maybe the larger group is not what is going to move me along this God-journey, but the power of nature and some encounters with close friends.

For now I am going to keep exploring the nature around us and keep my ears and eyes open to some powerful encounters.

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I saw the sign

Over the past few years I have learned a lot about “signs.” I don’t mean signs like the world is coming to an end, but the astrology ones. The ones I was taught in church that were to be avoided and that generally were made fun of by the church.

I don’t want to comment too much on whether they are accurate or not, but something I have come to realize (and if you are one who knows this stuff well let me know if I am missing something), is that in Christianity you are taught generally that you are born a certain way (into a sinful world with the desire to sin), you can transform this desire into a more positive desire and become a totally different person so to speak. Whereas, with astrology it seems that you are born a certain way (birth sign, rising signs, sun signs, etc) and the idea is to adjust your life to these characteristics because they can never be changed.

I really struggle with that.

It feels hopeless.

I have found astrology helpful in the same way I have found birth order study helpful. It gives me an understanding of myself, where I have come from and what my tendencies are. You may find hope in that if you work at your strengths you can really excel in a certain way, but you will always have these weaknesses.

I am not naive to believe that I can get rid of all my weaknesses by being better Christian. But I like to believe that I won’t be always fighting these demons (weaknesses) or that they can’t be avoided.

They can become self fulfilling prophecies.

Jesus came so that we can be transformed from the false self (ego) into the true self (real) and to me that brings real hope. I’d really like to know how astrology understands individual transformation and whether that can really happen.

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Waiting patiently to destroy or to not destroy

I did not come to destroy but to be a responsible version of myself.

I may not have said those exact words but that was the sentiment that I was trying to get across to a church planter I met with this morning.

It’s such an interesting place to be when you are faced with your past in a weird sort of way and you can see it all so clearly. It’s the opposite of what I generally see in film, where the main character tends to not learn from their mistakes but instead is doomed to repeat them. But I guess this situation is also different in that I am not given a chance to enter into church planting again, but instead I am gifted with a conversation that brings up pain as well as joy and provides me with a real choice of simply whether to be involved with a Christian community. And maybe that is my dilemma?

Am I doomed to repeat that mistake?

I always leave these conversations with a lot of joy and excitement about the future. But without sounding too dramatic I do need to take a step back. I’ve changed. A lot. And I wonder how my change would be accepted in a Christian environment. What I do know is that I need to be in a place where I am free to be who God has created me to be and in some sense who he has morphed me into. And that’s where I want to be sensitive to a church (especially a new church) and their hopes and dreams for the future. I, and I am sure they, don’t need someone coming in and spouting off differing and challenging ideas to their people during such a sensitive time in their development.

So here I am in a state of waiting. I want to responsible with my ideas and with my excitement.

Waiting to know and desire Christian community again.

Not to destroy but to create.

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Don’t force it

One of my best friends went through a phase where he decided to (try to) remove all expectations from all experiences. His premise: if I have low expectations (or no expectations), then every experience I have will “exceed” my expectations. I laugh every time I re-read that last line. Sounds a little crazy doesn’t it. And if you knew my friend Luke, who tends to try a lot of crazy ideas (something I love about him) and he blogged I would also link him here and here and here. But alas he keeps his thoughts off the public airways.

I can also remember my other buddy Adam, having strong conversations with Luke about the insanity of his thought process. And I guess if you think about it, it is a little nuts, I mean just try to remove all expectations from every experience. It’s not possible. Not having expectations is in one way or another an actual expectation.

This memory of this past conversation is stimulating some new thoughts in my soul regarding the expectations I have when I am looking to engage a spiritual experience (or a church event). I am slowly engaging church again, and in the past every time I stepped into the vicinity of a Christian focused event I got excited, hoping for some new fresh insight. And in the past I would leave discouraged. But recently I’ve been trying to understand those expectations. I wouldn’t say that I have removed all my expectations, but instead I’ve come to realize the power in what is present and real.

It’s good to be excited. It’s good to expect the best. But it’s even better to take the truth that comes before you and celebrate it. Almost as if there is no good or bad. I have countless memories of Christian leaders asking me if I was able to truly focus during an event when something technical went wrong, or if so and so was a distraction or whether I might have a better experience if my kids weren’t with me.

The spiritual experience is not to be forced. It can’t fit in your expectation box and it won’t. So exchange your expectations for education and experience. And I believe you will be able to take the most simple experiences and enjoy them for what they are.

I am beginning to get there.

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Is that you or me God?

As I attempt to re-engage with the institutional church, I sometimes wonder how I missed some of things I now see. And I am not sure if I will ever be able to go back to just accepting things they way they were presented, or the way I was supposed to present them.

I am starting to see how God is intertwined into our lives, more than ever before and it has really affected my traditional prayer life. I mean seriously, during prayer, when does one finally say that that was God speaking to you and that it wasn’t your own thoughts? When I used to say God spoke to me in prayer I had this thought that it wasn’t me, but God who spoke. And I don’t mean that in a healthy relational way, but a transcendent, God took over my body kind of way. I am starting to see how religious activity, however effective in getting you to this point, is in fact only guide that needs to be dropped eventually. If you don’t drop it, you can become dependent on it. And not only that, you can become guilt ridden when you don’t do the vice properly. I am not sure how many times I have heard people state their guilt for forgetting to pray at a certain meal, or for missing a meeting at a church, or sleeping in and missing a “quiet time.”

I don’t blame people, like the family in the restaurant today, for taking time to pray expressively, with a beginning and an end, and a form of narcolepsy. I can only take responsibility for myself. Who knows, maybe that family still needs the reigns of the form in order to feel like they are getting it right, but when do we step away from the chains and realize they are actually not there?

I believe there are a lot of these religious helps in our Christian life that have become staples, when they were meant to only be temporary. Somewhere along the line we took the Coles notes and made them the Truth. When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, I wonder if they thought if they were supposed to close themselves in a room for the rest of time? Well the bible certainly tells us they didn’t keep to that expression. Neither did Jesus.

This is my journey. Stepping away from the vices, in order to feel the freedom there is in God. For myself, stepping away from all the practices has helped in this endeavor, but I wonder, how many of us are actually willing or able to walk away from all the practices, the guides, the vice grips in order to try out a new relational adventure with God. It wasn’t easy for me and so I expect it won’t be for others. But I praise God for my exciting new journey.

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The Martin’s went back to church (once anyway)

So we did it.

We went back to church.

It was nice. Lots of friendly people. Lots of kids. Brunch. Sunday morning. No preaching, but some discussion (of which I missed a lot of it due to our kids running around).

What might be best about it is how we “were.” Our family was chill. We were not worried about appearance and we didn’t have large expectations, but we accepted it as it was. When one of the leaders asked us if we were able to connect and stay engaged with all the kids running around, Anna said it best… It’s just reality. Our faith, or regular life or church life looks this way, a little chaotic and distracted, but we engaged when we could and enjoyed the organic nature of it.

Now the question. Will we go back. That’s a funny thought actually. Someone actually asked us if we were church shopping. Never thought I was really in need of church so badly that I needed to shop for it. Maybe that’s part of our maturity. In other words, who knows, I don’t feel pressure either way. But it might be nice to visit again.

I have other thoughts about the time there, but I am going to leave those for another day. Ultimately the day was nice and the atmosphere was accommodating.

…and I really enjoyed being stimulating mentally. And I am looking forward to reading my bible again with some context.

I think that’s pretty good for now.

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