Monday, October 31, 2011

Unpacking the Story 1 - Judgement vs. Love

 A while back, I had a go at summarising the narrative of the Bible.  (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 if you missed it and are interested)  I talked a little bit about my reasons for doing it... partly because I think we have unwittingly twisted it into something else.  But also, (in fact, mainly) because I wanted to look at it again, if possible, with new eyes.  There has been a paradigm shift, a BIG one, going on inside me - & I wanted to check it out against the WHOLE story, and see if it really fit.

As it turned out, I really got a lot out of doing it.  I approached the Jesus bit with fear and trepidation, to be honest - I have NEVER really understood what the cross was all about.  Something about it just never made sense.  Reading Derek Flood's work (Penal Substitution vs. Christus Victor, in particular) was a great help.  It put into words a lot of the questions I'd had.  The picture of a bloodthirsty God requiring a life as payment for the smallest infringement... just didn't read like justice to me. 

So What was the cross all about?

I'd seen the garden, and a lot of the old Testament stuff, as the story of two competing worldviews.  The one most of us have (well, all of us, if we're honest) that judges other people, compares them to

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tasty words... I hope!

Here's a little offering, from 4am wakefulness... Hope you like it!

My Garden

Welcome to my garden of words;
Heart-grown and tender.
Full of youth and sap
and vigour
Or ready to seed
And fly on the wind
who knows where...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cosmic prayer.

I went to Church yesterday (more remarkable than it sounds - I've been absent a lot this year, and have ended up finding, I think, a new Church home - longish story & not what this post is about ... although it's worth saying that my old fellowship merged with another Church - great bunch of people, but it coincided with a whole lot of upheaval in my own family, which kept me away from services and by the time I got back there it just wasn't quite home anymore.  I'm still in regular contact with those I was close to, however, so its all good!)

Anyway, the new mob (which is really just an extension of old mob - sister fellowship to my old church, and lots of folks who already know me or my siblings... just a different branch of the family, really!) are studying Ephesians right now.  Different folks have been sharing their insights into different bits of it.  This morning, Virginia, who is a wonderful "highlands woman" - proper, keenly insightful, with a touch of humour and lots of grace, shared her thoughts about the prayers in Ephesians.  If you're not a Bible-reading type, Ephesians is actually a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the believers in Ephesus - which exists today as an old town somewhere in Turkey.  It was written to them to encourage them in the faith and new life they had embraced.

Virginia made the point that the prayers Paul prayed for his family of faith, way back then, were quite different to the prayers we so often pray today.  NO prayers for prosperity!!  No lists of things that need fixing.  Not even so much as a "bless auntie so-and-so"!  Paul's prayers skip all of that and cut

Friday, October 21, 2011

Places I've been...

For once, I'm NOT short of blogging inspiration, and this is at least partly because of lots of inspirational reading I've been doing, on and off the net  (well, mostly on, if I'm honest!).  Before I wax lyrical on my own, I thought it would be worth sharing a few of the gems I've been inspired by in the past week or so:

Probably the post that touched me the most, was this amazing poem by Joy Wilson.  I've just discovered her blog, and will keep following it.  She's also written a book, called "Uncensored Prayer", which I have ordered from Amazon.  More on that when it arrives!  Her poetry is raw and real and, in the words of one reviewer, "not for the faint hearted" but as I read this one poem it could have been MY story.  It threw my morning off balance in the most incredible of ways - I just wanted to cry, and talk to Jesus.  It brought me closer to God than I've felt in quite a while!  Find it here.

This punchy and insightful guest post by Alise Wright, on Jamie, the very worst Missionary (one of my fave blogs) really hit the mark!  Alise is a Jesus-follower married to an atheist and I think probably straddles the divide between "Christian culture" and the rest of the waking world, in a unique way!  

Derek Flood has been an ongoing source of insight and encouragement.  I've already recommended his four part article (kind of like a mini-book, but REALLY worth the time it takes to read it) Penal Substitution vs. Christus Victor.  This week, though, I delved into his (much shorter) article on relational theology.  He has a way of taking the ideas I've been groping at, and laying them out clearly!
(Derek is also a professional animator, and the image on the right is his artwork.  You can buy prints via his webpage)

And finally, a bit of a thought-provoking discussion with Michael Camp, of Deep Thought Pub, on homosexuality in the Bible.  Something I've been wrestling with for a while, as I have dear friends and family members with same-sex partners.  I don't believe God's love excludes anyone because of lifestyle or sin, but it's sometimes hard to reconcile this with some passages in the Bible.  Michael and I both agree that the law is NOT part of following Jesus, but the discussion was eye-opening, nonetheless!

(nb. I think one of the reasons I'm enjoying engaging with Michael, is that we both have boozy sounding blog names!!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


This beautiful image sourced from:

As a writer, I find that my words are most powerful when they are most "from the heart".  When I'm no longer just telling a story, or talking "about" something, but expressing who I truly am on the inside.  I love it when meaning glows, and the craft of writing fades invisibly behind it!

Words, ideas, concepts, philosophies; all fascinate me.  I studied a bit of linguistics at uni, and loved it! Examining the way sound waves, phoneme concepts, language conventions are all somehow used to convey meaning from one person to another was endlessly intriguing.  Communication is incredibly complex!!   No matter what the message or how it is conveyed, the concepts and ideas in the mind of the sender are NEVER quite the same as those in the mind of the receiver.  Sometimes


This is Nundu.  
He's the newest addition to the Whalen family.  We think he's about 10 weeks old (though his size is more like 6).  He was rescued from the local dump, and ended up coming to live with us.  Specifically, he was adopted by my 12 year old daughter, Hannah.  "Nundu" is a Harry Potter name (Hannah is a mad-keen Harry Potter nut!! Apparently a Nundu is some kind of scary, leopard-like magical creature with very bad breath!).  The name is a kind of Hannah irony.  She doesn't see him that way at all!

When we first met Nundu, he was pitifully thin, had runny eyes, worms, and fleas.  Oh, and there was poo stuck in his fur.  We took him for a vet check (a bit worried that the eyes might be infectious as we have another older kitten at home) and the vet thought he was suffering from the tail-end of

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Retelling the Story 4

If you're just jumping into this, I've been slowly retelling the story of the Bible.  Why?  Well, because I think we have twisted it, and used it to say (in many ways) the absolute opposite of what it actually shows.  You may not agree...  but see how it strikes you!

See the beginning of the story here.
Some more thoughts on the message of the Old Testament story and the law here in Part 2
The beginning of the Jesus bit, here in Part 3

And we take up our story, now that Jesus has made the religious authorities angry enough to murder him, Here:

In a move that exposed the motives of the religious elite for what they truly were, the Jewish religious leaders conspired with the oppressive Roman rulers, to have God executed.  Money changed hands. Jesus was handed over, and the public was manipulated so that a notorious murderer was freed and Jesus, who had stood in every way for life and freedom, was condemned to die a murderer's death.

Jesus lived his death in exactly the same way he had lived his life.  No force.  No retaliation.  To

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Retelling the Story... Part 3

This is part three of a series I've been working on for some time.  Use the links if you want to track back to Part 1, and Part 2

Well, it has been a while coming, but time to continue the story of us and God...  Where were we??
Oh yes - the law, then the prophets...  God crying for justice and relationship and then...


For something like 400 years God was pretty much silent - at least, officially.  The Jewish nation hung onto the things that had been said;  that they were God's chosen, that He would bring a great King from the descendents of David, who would set things right.  And of course, they continued to follow the law.  In fact, they'd made quite an art form out of it.  Because Moses had said to keep God's laws in your hand and head, devout Jews literally wore Scriptures sewn into their clothing andheadgear.  Because there was a limit on how far you could walk from your front gate on the