Category Archives: Books

All Saints Church Reads: Reflection by Paul Watkins

Last week we had our first (of many I pray) meetings of the All Saints Church Reads book club.

torranceThere were two meetings: one in the morning at 7 am at the Upper Room and one in the evening at 7 pm at my house. Over 15 people met and discussed the first two chapters of James Torrance’s book Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace.

It is a short book that profoundly explores the depth and grace of the gospel of God! It is a book that leads me to worship and marvel at the grace of God!

The book club will meet again on July 24th (at 7am and 7pm) to discuss the last two chapters of the book. All are welcome!

Paul Watkins attended and wrote this poignant reflection:

“The worship and mission of the church are the gift of participating through the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father and the Son’s mission from the Father to the world.” (p. 9)

This sentence embodies the main thesis of Torrance’s book: that we live Christianly by entering into participation with what is already happening within the life of the Trinity.

Acceptable worship is already ascending to God – from our great High Priest in the heavens who ever lifts up holy hands to His Father in praise and thanksgiving; when we worship rightly, we do so only by entering into and taking part in the Son’s worship already taking place.

Likewise, acceptable mission is already happening – climactically in the Father’s sending forth the Son into the world to call all men to Himself, but also in the Son’s sending forth of the Spirit He received from the Father into the world to carry on the same mission; when we do mission rightly, we only do so by entering into and taking part in the Son’s and Spirit’s mission already taking place.

Which is to say, living Christianly does not mean offering worship and mission of our own to God, but in participating in what the Father has already provided for Himself through His Son and Spirit. This is the meaning of “grace.” It is not so much that God gives grace for us, extra nos, and we respond in faith and service for God, extra Deum, as two actions by two different actors playing their parts in turns; rather, our faith and service are nothing other than the faith and service of the Son through the Spirit operative in us, which is one and the same thing as grace itself, as one action by two different actors playing their respective parts in simultaneous, intimate co-action.

So our work (of worship and mission) and God’s grace are not two different things, traded between us; they are one and the same thing, seen from two perspectives. This is why we can never imagine our service to God apart from His grace (Pelagianism), nor imagine His grace apart from our service (radical Protestantism).

So remember, when we worship it is the Son through the Spirit that is worshiping through us. And when we go forth in mission to the world, it is also the Son through the Spirit that is going forth in mission through us.

All that we do, if we do it Christianly, is nothing other than what God Himself is doing while using us as His vessels. It is “not I, but the grace of God which is with me.” Which is to say, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” So let us be cooperators with the Spirit, and co-workers with the Son, joining them in their worship and mission as we are drawn ever more intimately into the life of the Triune God.

– Reflection by Paul Watkins

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All Saints Reads!

This summer All Saints Church is beginning a book club for all interested in exploring topics in theology, Christian spirituality, church history, and relationships. We will meet monthly and read and discuss a wide variety of books. The first two meetings will be held June 26th and July 24th in the morning and evening 7 am and 7 pm. The 7 am meeting will be held at the ASC Upper Room (3622 Lyckan Parkway Suite 5005) and 7 pm at Thomas Kortus’ Home (1 Hampshire Court, Durham). Feel free to attend the time that best fits your schedule.

For the first two months, we will discuss James Torrance’s book on Christian worship: “Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace.” On June 26th, the first meeting, we will talk about the first 68 pgs.  Please contact thomas@allsaints-chd.org for more information.

 

torrance Description of “Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace” from the  publisher:  “Here is a book that sets our worship, sacraments,      communion and language of  God back on track. In a day when refinement of method and quality  of experience are the guiding  lights for many Christians, James Torrance points us to the  indispensable who of worship, the  triune God of grace. Worship is the gift of participating  through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s  communion with the Father, writes Torrance. This book explodes the notion that the doctrine of  the Trinity may be indispensable for the creed  but remote from life and worship. Firmly rooted  in Scripture and theology, alive with pastoral  counsel and anecdote, Torrance’s work shows us  just why real trinitarian theology is the very  fiber of Christian confession.”

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The Shame Exchange by Steve & Sally Breedlove and Ralph & Jennifer Ennis

The problem of shame is real. Things people say, things people do, the systems of our families and cultures – that’s just the beginning of the problem. Add to it things we have done, just who we feel that we are in the secret places in our souls – shame heaps up and eats away at our souls. The result? Shame becomes our personal world view. It damages our sense of identity, our view of life and our ability to relate in love to others. The Shame Exchange (185pp.) faces the problem of shame head-on. This book will help you understand the origins of shame, and it will help expose the unhelpful ways we deal with shame’s power. But more than just diagnosing the problem The Shame Exchange gives a Biblical perspective on how you can face shame and through it discover a door into the deep mercy and love of God that leads to freedom.

“I began reading “The Shame Exchange” over a month ago, thinking I would enjoy an evening in an intellectual discussion that would further my understanding of shame biblically as well as how it contributes to any or all of the issues people seek prayer and counsel for. This objective approach soon turned very subjective for me as I realized that this was not a quick topical read that I could accomplish in an evening or two without an emotional involvement…a very personal emotional involvement. I was not far into the book before I knew I was into something I would have to become engaged in, like it or not. This slowed me down in my reading as I needed to find times when I could be more present to that which was being touched in my own heart. Having finished the book, I have not finished with the topic of shame in my life.

“I want to congratulate you for making a significant contribution to the Church and the helping community with your book. Your book has given me a deeper understanding of shame biblically as well as its part in the issues we seek help with through prayer and counseling. I believe that personally I have opened up some areas that with perseverance will further my own transformation and bring more joy to my relationship with Christ. My hope and prayer is that many others will encounter their shame through your work and come into greater freedom and love.”

Keith
Counselor and spiritual director

Join Steve and Sally Breedlove and Ralph and Jennifer Ennis as they draw the distinctions between heaped-on shame and identity-level shame. Listen to the stories of people laboring to be free. Look at seven different ways we avoid facing the shame that taints our souls. Discover how shame can actually become the door to deeper intimacy with God, spiritual transformation and ultimate healing for our hearts.

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The Mission of Art : Christianity Today Interviews All Saints Church’s own David O. Taylor

David looking smart and pensive as well as bearded and hip

The Mission of Art

W. David O. Taylor grounds his aesthetic passion in the local church.

Christianity Today: Mark Moring | posted 5/18/2010

Growing up as a missionary kid in Guatemala, David Taylor was learning the meaning of beauty before he even realized it. Taylor names the tropical landscape as one of five key elements in shaping his own identity as an artist. The others: listening to his mother play classical music on her grand piano; watching his father tend orchids in the backyard greenhouse; reading “books outside my tradition” recommended by his Regent College professors, including Eugene Peterson; and “being given permission to try and fail—again and again—by the leadership of Hope Chapel [in Austin, Texas], as I sought to discover what an arts ministry was supposed to be about.”

Taylor, Hope Chapel’s arts pastor for eight years, is now studying theology and liturgy in the doctoral program at Duke Divinity School, with an eye toward establishing an arts center in Austin. He has just released his first book, for the Beauty of the Church:Casting a Vision for the Arts(Baker), with contributions from such culture observers as Peterson, Andy Crouch, Lauren Winner, Barbara Nicolosi, and Taylor himself. He hopes his book will “offer the church a theologically informed, biblically deepened, liturgically sensitive, artistically robust, and missionally shrewd vision for the arts.”

Question & Answer

What is beauty?

Classically, the approach has been to see beauty in terms of three qualities: unity, complexity, and radiance. The textured parts of Shakespeare’s Hamlet hold together in a way that keeps us asking for it again and again. But that can also be true of a Texas barbecue, the four beasts of Revelation, and the athleticism of Kobe Bryant. We shouldn’t stop with classical ideas about beauty; we also need to think about beauty Christologically. The moment we sever beauty from the death and resurrection of Christ, we risk sliding toward idealism or pretty-ism. In Christ we can discover the broken side of beauty, and it is in that light that we will find beautiful the self-sacrifice of a Mother Teresa or the terror of a Schindler’s List.

I might find something beautiful that you find ugly. Are we both right?

Yes. You might find the German language beautiful; I may find it ugly. But we find it beautiful and ugly for complicated reasons. You may despise bratwurst and German consonants, but that doesn’t mean that the language of Martin Luther ceases to be beautiful. We have to distinguish between the form of the material and our personal response to it.

How can the church better integrate the arts into its life?

It’s not that we haven’t thought biblically about the arts; it’s that we haven’t thought biblically deeply enough. It’s all there, as Andy Crouch points out in Culture Making: in Genesis and in the Gospels, in Jesus, the Icon of God and the great metaphor user. My prayer is that the essays [in my book] will stir us to develop a theology—a Christian mind about art—that is capable of sustaining a long-lasting, fruit-bearing tradition of art-making by the church, for the church, and for the good of the world, to the glory of God.

More: ArtsPastor.blogspot.com

Age: 38

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Church: All Saints Church, Durham, N.C.

Family: Phaedra Jean (wife)

Reading now: George Herbert’s poetry, David Maine’s Fallen, Kevin Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine, and Harry Potter (in Spanish)

On your iPod: Russian choral music and lots of hip-hop

Favorite website:ArtMachineStudios.net

Copyright © 2010 Christianity Today.

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Second star to the right and straight on till morning

I have always loved the story of Peter Pan. The Disney movie, sure—it’s one of my favorites. But ever since I spent a semester in London and learned the story behind the story, I’ve loved J.M. Barrie’s play-turned-novel even more.

In Kensington Gardens, there stands a statue of Peter Pan, supposedly erected by the childless Barrie himself overnight in order to surprise the children to whom he had long told stories of pirates and fairies and babies who could fly and never grow up. One of those children on whom Barrie doted, the baby of the family, was named Peter. As the history (legend?) goes, another child whom Barrie entertained referred to him  as her “friendy,” but, as children are wont to do, had trouble pronouncing the letter R; thus “fwendy”—and eventually the name “Wendy,” which Barrie may or may not have invented—was born. And yet another detail of the story behind the story says that the child who never grew up was based on Barrie’s own older brother, who died at age 14 and thus remained a child forever. Or so the legends go. But legend or history, the context for Barrie’s fanciful tale of the Lost Boys and their adventures, of the boy-who-would-always-be and his flying lessons for children who wouldn’t, only adds to the delight I have taken in revisiting this story again and again.

Even before I joined the staff here, I joked with All Saints’s own dear Cindy Broderius that she is the Wendy to our staff’s Lost Boys. Keeping them in order, tending to their needs, helping them stay grounded when all they want to do is fly, being the grownup they need, just like the original Wendy. When, about a year ago, Cindy asked me to fill in for her for a few days while she was out of town, I laughed and said that if her invitation was a Tinkerbell solicitation, there was no way I was donning the requisite tutu. Now that I’ve joined the staff on a permanent basis, of course, I’m Tink (tutu or no), at least to Cindy. (And no, in case you’re wondering, we haven’t ever identified a Captain Hook.)

And of course, over our time together here on the staff, surrounded by the Lost Boys as we are, Cindy has indeed become my dear “f’wendy”. As Peter himself suggested, to love is, in fact, “an awfully big adventure,” and what a delight it has been to be on this adventure with my own Wendy. But Barrie’s Wendy couldn’t stay in Neverland. She had to go home, to grow up and become a mother, leaving the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell behind to do their Neverland thing without someone to sew on their buttons and shadows and whatever else they might lose.

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, our All Saints Neverland is losing its dear Wendy, too. If you find one of our own Lost Boys looking like he needs mending or you hear that our Tinkerbell has stirred up more trouble than she ought to have, you’ll know why. After all, as Peter Pan told Wendy, “one girl is more use than twenty boys.” You will be missed more than you can know, our dear Wendy, and we are all so grateful that you will still be part of our All Saints family, even if you do have to leave Neverland. “Never say goodbye,” said Peter Pan, “because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” No, my farewell to you from Neverland is something more akin to “second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning” as I delight with you in your next big adventure. And I am so eager to see what this next flight has in store for you. “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust,” and I pray for an abundance of all three for you.

-Daniele Jackson

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Snake Bit! (Part 2 of 2)

I received another email (the first part of this post is here) about the sermon yesterday, for which I am also grateful, but which also calls for comment.  The writer thanked me for the message, and then gave me additional information about the life of Robertson McQuilkin that corrects things I said in my closing illustration.  The correct facts are even more beautiful than the mistaken ones I gave.

When Muriel McQuilkin was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Robertson was president of Columbia International University, a critical leadership position in a rapidly-growing school with a strong witness for Christ.   His writing and speaking ministries were taking off.  However, Dr McQuilkin made the decision to step down as president in order to personally care for his wife.  (At that point in time, she still knew him and was able to communicate with him.) His close friends did not urge him to divorce Muriel (as I thought): they urged him to put her in an institution and remain as president of CIU, continuing his important work for the cause of Christ.

I think we can all see the temptation, even the logic, that McQuilkin faced.  However, in his own prayers and convictions, he believed he only had one choice.  His statement was, “Anyone can be the president of Columbia International, but I am the only person who can be Muriel McQuilkin’s husband.”

Later he wrote a book about his experiences, A Promise Kept.  I haven’t read it, but the writer of the email says it is a book that every engaged couple ought to read.  She goes on to quote John 15: “No greater love is this, than that a man lay down his life for a friend.”

I thank BOTH emailers for helping me be a better communicator!  It is great to be a part of the Body of Christ at All Saints!

-Rev. Steve Breedlove

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Reading for Transformation

By now, you have likely seen in the KNN or heard during announcements that there is a group of folks reading through some important books with the shared goal of transformation.  We desire (and it’s the Spirit’s desire in us) to have our hearts transformed to love our local community (our neighbors) with Christ’s heart, and to have our church transformed to see the world with God’s eyes and hope for the world with God’s heart.

Because this is intended to be an OPEN GROUP, this blog is a great place to share some of the picture that’s forming.  Below are some excerpts from this month’s recap.  (Contact Rev. Steve Breedlove if you’d like to be on that email list!):

Great conversation tonight! I have attached the notes so that you can get a picture — but in summary, it was terrific to see how God has been moving for months at Oak Creek Village through the prayers and work of people at All Saints, Good Shepherd, and the Gathering. What has become a dominant aspect of our outreach is part of a much larger move of God to serve this community with the love of Christ.

As you read through, the are several concrete action items I want to highlight:

  1. There are many ways to get involved already. Contact Thomas Kortus if you want to help.
  2. We want to generate more information and more prayer. Thomas & Steve will be working on that.
  3. We want to see a prayer focus, perhaps a prayer walk, on a monthly basis. This could be part of a small group effort, or it could be its own thing. Paul Marvin is on this, along with Joe Adelman.
  4. There is interest in creating a small group, that has the regular ministries of a 242 group, but whose primary focus is outreach to OCV. This is Joe & Terri Adelman’s heart and prayer

If any of these things connect with you, please take the initiative. And beyond these things…there are many other issues that could get kicked up.

We’ll meet May 2 and begin discussing Andy Crouch’s book, Culture Making. Read as much as you can. Charles has done a great job of facilitating the discussion, and we may be able to induce him to continue. But if there’s someone else with an interest in leading the conversation on Crouch’s book, let me know.

Thanks for all the interest and prayers. I am genuinely excited about God’s stirring us and uniting us in mission and outreach for Christ’s sake.

Love in Christ,
Steve

As Steve says above, our next meeting is at the church on Monday, May 2.  We will be meeting from 7:30-9:15pm, and we will be discussing Andy Crouch’s Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling.  We’d love to have you!

(Note: Contact info for the folks above can be found here and here.)

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