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holiday thoughts | Part 1

August 3, 2010

Aidan: Well, you’re officially back from holiday and back to work again full-time. Feel like you have anything to look forward to heading into the Fall?

Mike: Definitely. Obviously we’ve posted a few things up here in recent weeks, but September 9 there is a very cool digital conference called The Nines that I’m part of, as well as the release of two books. The first is all about putting the word of God back into the hands of the people. It’s called Covenant and Kingdom. The second is an insanely practice book on MCs called Launching Missional Communities–a field guide.

Excited about all of those and the various Learning Communities and Coaching Huddles we’re starting up. Really feels like things are heating up and starting to take off.

Aidan: Now if you’re anything like me, vacation is fantastic because it
gives you all of this space to think, process and dream. Sometimes there is one pervasive thought that really sticks with me. Anything big you’d like to share coming out of this time?

Mike: Well it was interesting, I really was taken back to the Temptations of Jesus again in Matthew, which was different because I found myself there in January and February earlier this year. It was really hitting me afresh how we live in a reality that is touched by a spiritual realm where there are powers at work. I mean, we don’t have to think there are demons on every corner to see that.

And for me, whenever I start to think about an idea, I tend to go  see where Jesus really took it on or confronted it, and we clearly see this in the Temptations…a series of events where the physical world and the spiritual world are colliding. And I’ll look at how something comes at Jesus, how he handles it, what principles are in play and often find some deep and meaningful truth there.

So for this…

Jesus is tempted three times, each time with a specific attack.

Ambition (leap off the temple, demonstrate the messianic potential)
Authority (being given the Kingdoms of the world)
Appetite (turn the stones into bread)

Now when we look at the history of Spiritual Formation, there are three foundational issues churches have sought to address with new believers: Money, Sex and Power. And it’s interesting how these correlate so well with the Temptations.

Money=ambition
Sex=appetite
Power=authority

From the Desert Fathers onward, these are the central issues we see in culture that need to be reconciled within ourselves. We see Monastic orders, once these ideas were fully formed, tying three knots in the rope that would hold their habit together, representing their vows of Poverty, Obedience and Chastity.

Money=Poverty
Power=Obedience
Sex=Chastity

And you know, as we’ve worked it out with The Order of Mission (TOM) that I’m the Senior Guardian of, we’ve talked about Purity, Accountability and Simplicity.

Money=Simplicity (the ability to leave stuff behind, it doesn’t own us)
Sex=Purity (sex in the context God designed it)
Power=Accountability (submitting our lives for examination to those we trust)

I mean, that’s all kind of review, right?

But what I really have thought about over holiday is how Money, Sex and Power are folded into our culture in a particular way that is true to the context it’s in. For instance, how Money, Sex and Power play out in England is quite different from how it plays out in the United States.

And if we want to see the Gospel truly incarnated where we live, we have to understand those realities, we have to understand how the physical world and the spiritual world are colliding in our mission context.

Our next post will dive more into that, looking at how it’s fleshed out in England and the United States and our last post will look at what the Gospel response is for each culture.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2010 6:34 am

    liking how you’ve drawn out these 3 key strands. Just launching some new wristbands this summer with another organisaiton, aimed at young people and relationships.
    these will be 3-stranded wristbands, one strand for the 2 young people in a relationship, and thirdy strand for God.
    But i’m also interested in future postings about accountability, as our culture has highjacked this phrase.
    It has turned into something relating to power, and people taking authority over others lives, as oposed to the relational, mutual journeying that it was origianlly menat to be.
    just finishing writing my ma dissertation on mcs’s, accountability was one of the main issues that i felt drawn too, and am aiming to do more writing on this in the future.
    could it be, that accountability, could actually underpin all 3 strands in this posting,
    1: accountability in relation to power and authority;
    2: accountability within purity and relaitonships;
    3: accountability in how our money is spent;
    i’m sure there’s more to accountability, but just relating it to what is written here, and i’ll keep on with my thoughts and writings on accountability, and see where it gets me.

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