Open Discussion Material

For over 40 years my beliefs were based almost entirely on head knowledge rather than heart awareness.  I have had a bit of a reputation for asking the awkward questions to which there are no easy answers.  Now, after a life time of asking questions I have a faith that I don’t have to defend.

I’ve put together (in no particular order) a list of topics that might be worth discussing within Safe Havens.  I sense that much of this material is more appropriate for face to face conversations, but if anyone would like to start a discussion on any particular topic just drop me a line.

  • A friend isn’t someone you have; it’s somebody you are!
  • Heb 10.25 – assembling together for a purpose – what preparation is there beforehand – what is the purpose – what is created – what is achieved? What impact does the ‘church’ have on communities? Don’t people realise that I want to leave the institution so that I can really connect with people? Others say that if we cut ourselves off from the fire it is likely to go out!
  • ‘Christians’ are encouraged to feel good about themselves, but how often do they try to ignore the emptiness they feel deep inside? An ache placed there by God?
  • The need for gardeners – neither passive nor aggressive – encouraging people – giving them what they need to sprout and grow – recognising that growth of any kind is ultimately a mystery! Encouraging others to move through the stages of growth.
  • Wilderness experiences – when the old answers no longer make sense – forced to ask new questions!
  • “Thought is not meaningful without action; action is not meaningful without friendship”
  • Worship becomes meaningful when we have an insight into what God created us to be!
  • Traditional churches restrict growth, discovery and creativity – a college where the students never graduate – passive observers!
  • In a sea of apathy, ambition, greed and cynical sell-outs, it is a brave man or woman of God who chooses the ‘road less travelled’ in order to follow the road that Jesus travelled.
  • Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain (Ps 127.1).
  • Share the struggles and the positive results – listen and learn from each other!
  • The need for involvement and participation in the learning process
  • o Tell me and I may forget
  • o Show me and I may remember
  • o Involve me and I will understand
  • What lies behind those socially acceptable masks?
  • In times of profound change the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
  • To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.
  • Six processes of dialogue:
  • 1. what we mean to say
  • 2. what we actually say
  • 3. what the other person hears
  • 4. what he thinks he hears
  • 5. what the other person says about what you said
  • 6. what you think he said
  • Could it be that Father is raising up the unstructured church to withstand the chaos ahead?
  • We are sailing in uncharted waters – follow the Master – reach out and bless fellow travellers!
  • God’s wisdom – a mystery hidden from the world? Can we see through Papa’s eyes?
  • Revelation is a process – like the growth of a seed!
  • The narrow gate and the ongoing path – where we sometimes need to walk alone with Papa!
  • Learning direct from sitting at the feet of Jesus – not from others who tell us about Jesus – BUT unless we know about Jesus how are we going to understand?
  • Let Jesus live his life in and through us – clay in the hands of the Master Potter
  • As individuals we cannot lead where we are not prepared to go
  • How many see God as being there to meet our needs and guide us through the difficulties of life – not unlike pagan worship! Church seems to exist to get people through one meaningless week after another – a relationship that wouldn’t keep a marriage together!
  • Where two or three are gathered together – stop looking for such a place and be that place!
  • Prophets favour inspiration and revelation; teachers favour illumination and study – how often do they recognise their need for each other?
  • Unless our faith means everything to us it will mean nothing to others!
  • Heaven and hell are surely not core issues. But the problem is that the beliefs about heaven and hell have taken centre stage and cause so much confusion and deception!
  • Why are we not willing to discuss what happens after we die? During the war it was not considered morbid but merely commonsense to talk about it – an uncertain mortality!
  • Christianity is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be experienced (Iona)
  • God’s workmanship – metamorphosis – from the inside out – the Master Potter – but beware of assisting others!
  • I don’t believe in God – tell me something about this God you don’t believe in, maybe I don’t believe in him either.
  • We are what we think. The only way to destroy darkness is to bring in light.
  • It is what we are that other people see!
  • The gate is an event, the path is a process
  • Our faith is based on our own ‘world view’. But ‘wrestlers’ are uncomfortable companions – especially for those who feel the need for ‘certainty’.
  • Some people need the freedom to explore the questions without being given the answers – the need to do their own exploring!
  • It is only by talking about our faith that we are able to share it.
  • Do we allow God to enjoy our day by what we do?
  • Believing as the transition between knowing and living!
  • We can’t deal with evil by resisting it – only by forgiving it?
  • Learn to think with God throughout the day.
  • Remember Job who had only heard – but then he saw (Job 42.5-6)
  • The young have so many teachers – they need a father figure to lead them to the Father!
  • Western society has moved from dependency to being independent – few are willing to move to interdependency!
  • The self image – how we feel about ourselves affects how other people feel about us
  • The three selves – the pretend self (the image we project because we are afraid) – the negative self-image (that we are afraid of) – the authentic self.
  • Who am I when nobody is watching?
  • Human behaviour – the keys are habit and imagination – far more powerful than logic or willpower will ever be. How we see ourselves in our imagination is crucial – but don’t fake it!
  • Consider the cross as the symbol of vertical and horizontal relationships. In his death Jesus reconciled us with our Father in heaven and stretched out his hands to reconcile us to each other. Without the vertical there can be no horizontal relationships.
  • Obligation is the cage – cages stunt growth – but some cannot thrive outside the box!
  • Church was a duty not a joy – bondage – a university course that never ends – a lack of life – now embarked on a spiritual adventure – while God removes the habits of slavery (Trent)
  • Without aggressive and purposeful evangelism we are unlikely to see the magnitude of growth for which we long (a quote by a House Church leader)
  • Good conversation makes others curious – short on answers – long on questions – the need to encourage people to think – be gentle – respect – interact
  • Postmodern / post colonial – an interesting thought!
  • Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour
  • Building blocks being prepared in the quarry – need for reshaping – taught by the Holy Spirit
  • Those caught up in the real world have been indoctrinated – so busy – no time to seek truth – no motivation – not their fault!
  • If we are to be changed from within something must die – human reasoning!
  • If there are four and a half million Christians in the UK why are they so ineffective?
  • It takes a village to build a family!
  • Following is a fruit of salvation, not a requirement to obtain it!
  • The cross changes everything – people are easily manipulated unless they have been to the cross – the language of the cross is reconciliation
  • Three ways to live – rebelliously –religiously – relationally!
  • Sin – we don’t overcome sin – it is displaced as we allow Jesus through the Holy Spirit to live his life in and through us– changing from the inside out.
  • All genuine knowledge of God involves a cognitive union of the mind with Father – two way prayer study and meditation – a communion of minds – grace, love and trust
  • Theologians must have an answer for everything – no room for mystery – people who are set in their ways need to feel safe
  • Bridge building needs an understanding of all sides
  • Salvation is the beginning of the journey – discipleship then takes us along the narrow paths towards our destination – the purpose for which we were created
  • Prayer as our response to an encounter
  • Learn to live this life and you’ll have no end of folk to share it with. Teach it first and that will be your substitute for living it (Chap 10 of Jake)
  • Rebels may be in the early stages of the journey out of conformity
  • Do we know the voice of God? Are we listening or are we following men?
  • Where is the increasing joyous, free, natural response to our increasing intimacy?
  • Many people have nobody with whom they can discuss the deeper things of life!
  • It is so much easier to impart skills than to change the character of a student
  • Anger = not accepting the status quo – if anger has any purpose we need to work out why – and do something about it
  • Friends who know what the Master is doing
  • Adoption – affection as sons and daughters – have we experienced it?
  • The fear of being misunderstood is a big problem for lonely people
  • We need to be able to express our frustrations in order to move on
  • It’s how we see others that determines how we treat them – if this causes guilt or feelings of obligation something is wrong
  • While theologians argue the voice of Jesus is for many, very distant!
  • Where is that depth of intimacy with Father that is still available today?
  • How many recognise that their Christian experience feels empty – and maybe think that they are the only ones who feel that way? How many settle for the status quo?
  • Without a real hunger there are too many distractions – are we prepared, as fanatics or rebels, to challenge the status quo? Do we have a vision that cannot accept the status quo?
  • Spirit life is like a river: the moment it stops flowing it begins to stagnate.
  • Intimacy requires conscious participation – allowing God’s wisdom to shape our thoughts and actions – guided by the Holy Spirit.
  • What place spiritual hugs – sharing Father’s love and the new covenant of love – motivation from within! We cannot live off of someone else’s relationship with Father!
  • Religion / theology removes the mystery – (Revelation and Daniel) – if we rely on second-hand teaching we will remain shallow and may wither in the heat of the day!
  • So much busyness – but no overwhelming purpose!
  • Hidden treasure within the field of our own experience!
  • Competitiveness in an achievement oriented society – relationships often not seen as an efficient use of time – a lack of emotional contact – a lack of intimacy.
  • Learn to appreciate the world around us and its beauty – it is amazing
  • Sin = grabbing for ourselves what God has not given us?
  • You can’t pretend your way out of depression – the need for friends who will walk alongside.
  • How many are withering in church but are not being noticed?
  • Consider the eagle about to moult – flying up to a hole where it can’t fly!
  • Meditation: the discipline of getting the truth out of the intellect and into the heart – until it makes all sorts of personal connections and shapes our thinking, moves our feelings and changes our actions. Retention – Contemplation – Delight.
  • How many people worship a God of their own creation?

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