Tag Archive: anne rice

i’ve been blogging for a little over two years now and i enjoy having a space to write my thorts or share my actions or be seriously silly or intriguingly insightful and a whole host of other stuff in between…

and in that time it is the stuff i’ve written on relationships that has been the most widely read… so from ‘How to Love Your Woman Better’ to keys to ‘having a good marriage [ideas submitted by friends i know who are married well]’ to the ‘i kissed dating series’. Then, recently, the first of the Taboo Topics series i have started [trying to look at issues that a lot of people have but rarely discuss] was really successful and hopefully assisting a lot of people who have struggled with losing a baby. A few brave people sharing their stories in the hope that it will bring encouragement, inspiration and hope to others going through the same thing.

so those are the blog topics that have really got a lot of attention… but there have been two other topics/themes/people that have popped up in my “TOP SEARCHES” spot on my blog, and, would you know it, as i go to find out what it is called, it proves my point… so before i announce the point, let me share with you today’s top searches which led people to my blog:

brett fish anderson, john ellis christian, brent fishes blog, never once did we walk alone, john ellis tree63

ha ha, when i go to check yesterday’s to see if they match up, someone reached my page by asking the question, “why did matt redman leave soul survivor?” i fear that will be a question that is never truly answered to my satisfaction…

and so that is the answer – from week to week to week, the two things that keep popping up in searches for my blog are ‘John Ellis’ who i blogged about possibly two years ago [and more specifically, ‘is John Ellis a christian?’], here and also here… and matt redman and more specifically the words to his song ‘never once did we walk alone’ which i posted a while back over here…

i am not really sure why those two topics have been the ones that continue to lure people to my writing [which feels like it happened so long ago – why is no-one searching for ‘somewhat funny bad afrikaans accent instructional warning-of-potential-danger you tube videos’ because surely that is something people are struggling to sleep at night for?] but i thort it would be interesting to pose the question in the subject line, because i already know the answer.

i have met both matt redman [interviewed him on CCFM radio many years ago, connected with him briefly at Soul Survivor Holland and was an attendee at a Matt Redman/Chris Tomlin/Louis Giglio panel discussion held for a bunch of worship and church leaders a couple of years ago at Jubilee church in Cape Town] and john ellis [mc’d for the band when they were still called Tree and i was a dj at CCFM, emailed a few times and had coffee with him in KZN two years ago, hung out with him when he gigged in Stellenbosch and mc’d a gig where he performed as himself at Arisefest in KZN in 2010].

and so when you take the question, ‘who would win a fight between matt redman [never once did we walk alone] and john ellis [formerly of tree63]?’ the answer is definitively that john would win. no doubt. because matt redman would not fight!

the first time i met matt i was a precocious know-it-all radio dj for a christian radio station and yet, as much as i asked him if he was a vegetable which one would he be? and other lame questions like that, all he wanted to do was talk about Jesus.

the second time i was around him he was one of two co-worship leaders at the Holland version of Soul Survivor [2001 i think] and i remember the one time the other worship leader antonie fountaine was leading a few thousand young people in worship and matt moved over to the side of the stage and sat with his legs dangling over the edge of the stage, playing his guitar and just really being out of the way of it all. just screamed ‘humility’ at me and any time i have been near or around me i have never seen anything to suggest otherwise.

and then there is john ellis, who has a song called “come out fighting” which i enjoy, as i do most of his first solo album. and having spent a bit of time with him and watched him do one or two gigs is quite a fitting description of the kind of head space he is in at the moment [or was, a year ago]. i really enjoyed my one on one coffee date i had with john two years ago – we have a similar sense of humour and have been inspired by some of the same books. he has an incredible gift in terms of writing and playing and singing, there is no doubt about that, and when he uses that for Jesus he is a force for the kingdom of heaven, that the gates of hell will not stand against…

but then we had an unfortunate incident at the gig i was mc’ing that he played at, and it’s not important to go into details, but the bottom line was that we went from being friends and him buying me a coffee before he went on stage and then cutting all contact off with me a few days later when he reacted to my blogged response of the incident. more than a year later and i have tried on a number of occasions to make contact and see if we can discuss what happened or move on, and i even emailed him during the writing of this blog [which is now into its third day] to let him know i was writing something and offering to send it to him before i posted it in case he wanted to approve/comment and am still to hear from him…

i don’t know if this is the right space or way but i have tried a lot of ways to connect with him and at the moment anyone who does a search for john ellis and ends up on my blog, gets the early stuff i wrote which was about giving him a chance and the benefit of the doubt and having a conversation with him… i figure there are a few people who read this who know john and so maybe you can pass on the message… some stuff happened, a long time ago now, and it’s beyond time to make up and talk it out if necessary or just move on… how about it john?

someone once said [and it has been repeated by a lot of someones since then] “Preach the gospel always. When necessary use words.” and for me, that statement has always felt more like an excuse from those who don’t want to say the name ‘Jesus’ than an encouragement to live out what you believe. because the reality is that it has to be both… if you only ever speak the good news and it is not lived out, then it will have no meaning, relevance or authenticity to those hearing it… and if you only ever live the gospel but never speak the name Jesus as the author and reason behind why we do what we do, then there is going to be a lot of good done, but no or little opportunity for life-transforming life change.

so the phrase i am working on looks something like this – “Preach the gospel in what you say and how you live. When necessary, refrain from words.”

Up to your cross I crawl
Now I am standing ten feet tall
Jesus my savior look what you’ve done for me

Free at last I’m free
I owe you my life completely
Yahweh Yahweh look what you’ve done for me

‎one of my weekly thort for the week reader friends wrote me an email containing this line:

‘It doesn’t matter how much doctrine I know, if I don’t reflect the God I serve in my daily life, it’s pointless.’

which in essence is a paraphrase of James 2 – faith without works is dead – and James 1.22 don’t just read it, do it.

and it was part of an email from a guy who was part of a local church, struggling with a bunch of questions and being told not to question or leave – don’t ask why we do this, just do this

brainless christianity must be one of the most dangerous things there is and i think is one of the huge things a lot of atheists – or maybe non-believers in general – hold against christianity – because so many people are told to “just believe” or “have faith” in such a way that it sounds very much like switching your brain off and just coasting on this fluffy pillow of ‘faith’

i think this is the issue both anne rice and john ellis are wrestling with – and i am there completely – so sick and tired of religion and rules and posturings – do you reflect God?

hating gay people is not a reflection of the God i serve (who desires that all will be saved) and neither is distancing ourself from a young teenage girl who falls pregnant, especially if she has an abortion; responding in anger or hatred or dismissal to those who speak against us or have different opinions or just want to understand the opinions we hold does not sound like Jesus who said love your enemies and bless those who persecute you; hiding ourselves in the bubble of christian gatherings and literature and bad movies does not seem to fall in line with the command of go and make disciples of all nations, be salt, be light, be my ambassadors, live such good lives among the pagans that…

risk it, come on, dare, be prepared to be kicked out or asked to keep quiet or go somewhere else… reach up and switch your brain back on… i think that is quite possibly what the Jesus i follow and the God i serve designed it for, to be used or something

‘It doesn’t matter how much doctrine I know, if I don’t reflect the God I serve in my daily life, it’s pointless.’

all i am asking is are you reflecting God? if not, go back to begin, do not pass go, do not collect 200 pharisee points, right back to the beginning, to the love God with all your heart, love people square, and roll the dice again…

just add rice

i am not usually drawn into current world events to the extent that i research them and get quite involved – altho i do iafrica.com every day to keep up with what is happening in world, local, sporting and entertainment events – but for some reason this anne rice story has been following me – i found three links on her facebook page which i think are worth reading [while i ‘get’/understand a lot of what she is saying i don’t agree with it all but i wanted to be able to look at the different perspectives honestly as opposed to just posting the bits i like]

the first i think is an excellent response from a guy called anthony horvath which i thoroughly encourage you to read:

the second is a guy called Michael Rowe who expresses a lot of the stuff really well too altho i don’t agree with everything he says, he does hit some things firmly on the head

and the third is an interview she did after her big announcement which shows where she stands on a bunch of stuff and which i certainly don’t agree completely with, but it gives us insight into where she is which i think is good

so i write a weekly email called thort for the week aimed at challenging people to live out what they say they believe and for this week i really felt like John Eliastam’s comments on the Anne Rice note i wrote on Facebook really express well what a lot of Christ followers (and others) could well do with reading:

In fact for this week’s thort let me use my former boss John Eliastam’s response to my note and to someone who replied antagonistically to it because i really think this brings up a lot of important stuff for us to think about [those who know me know that i love the church – i am currently working on a book aimed at people who have ‘walked away from the church’ but still profess to love Jesus – and so just because i understand to some extent where Anne and others may be coming from, i don’t think the solution is to disown church completely, but i do ‘get’ it:

‘I’m hugely sympathetic to Rice. I had a long conversation with an atheist the other day. Most of his objections to the Christian faith were based on his observations of church history from Constantine to TBN. He asked if an impartial observer were to look at Christians, would they find any links (other than spoken words) between their lives and the message of Christ that would make them any different to anyone else. He doesn’t buy the “God sees the heart” thing… said that what’s in your heart is expressed in your priorities/values/actions towards others. I struggled to find words to explain or defend what we call “church” – particularly why there was a need to keep it going exactly the way it was, rather than seek reform and renewal that would give it a “shape” that changed the shape of our lives to be more like Jesus (my thoughts not his). In the end I managed to persuade him that he was really an agnostic rather than an atheist by showing that the arrogant, closed-mindedness of the atheist view as unappealing as his perception of Christians. Next week we’re going to explore the questions of “how we know” more deeply.

Back to Rice though: all over the world the church/institutional christianity/whatever you choose to call it is losing people because they want to follow Jesus more authentically and find “churchianity” an impediment rather than a help. I can’t judge “church”; it’s the way it is because its made up of people like me who are so susceptible to the selfish sinfulness of our hearts and the pulls of our culture. I believe that it’s God’s desire to renew and reform his people, whatever shape they currently find themselves in. My questions to anyone who reads this: are there ways that you can align your life with God’s renewing work rather than with perpetuating the status quo?’

Then later he responds to an antagonistic response to my note:

‘I agree with the “lone ranger” bit completely. We need to be part of a community that isn’t made up of people we choose to be with because we’re comfortable being around them – the miracle of God’s people is that they are old, young, black, white, in-between, rich, poor – all a visible demonstration of God’s reconciling work, especially because in the NT picture, they seem to really share each other’s lives (including possessions), not just a church service. Following Jesus isn’t a solo thing and needs to be done in costly community.

Something I’m exploring is what “church” really means. Most Christians are quite comfortable with the concept of “nominal Christians” – people who would put down “Christian” as their religion on a form…. what about the idea of “nominal churches”? Organisations that call themselves churches, but if they are analysed they bear very little resemblance to the biblical picture of following Jesus. They say all the right things, but in their everyday lives their members lives just like everyone else, with the same priorites and concerns. Jesus himself said that there would be sheep and goats, wheat and tares in the field, that many would claim to be his followers and do great things in his name – even though he says he doesn’t know them. Do we have to surrender unquestioningly to the “authority” of anything that calls itself “church”?

What we call “church” at this point is history has seen things like a clergy/laity split, a whole lot of syncretism with Roman pagan religion, the Enlightenment and the separation of secular/spiritual, a history of splitting whenever we disagree…. Today churches often look a whole lot like a clubs with some kind of loose affiliation to the teachings of Jesus… I long to be part of something deeper….

When the followers of John the Baptist come to Jesus (Matt) and ask if he is the “real deal”, or should they expect something more, Jesus points to some very tangible evidence. The world looks at the church, especially it’s claim to be all about love (I have yet to find someone outside the church who would believe this), and asks, “Are you guys the real deal? Are you really what the whole of creation has been waiting for? Is this as good as it gets?”. What do we point them to to convince them that we are? That we go to services, listen to sermons, sing songs, have a lot of correct information about Jesus in our heads, that we tithe and go to home group? Not sure it’s that convincing for them…’

Really think John is saying some good stuff here and i would say one of the keys is his line:

“He asked if an impartial observer were to look at Christians, would they find any links (other than spoken words) between their lives and the message of Christ that would make them any different to anyone else”

and then his question:

“are there ways that you can align your life with God’s renewing work rather than with perpetuating the status quo?”

Something for us all to ponder on this week perhaps…

God bless you as you live as the church God called us to be
Known by the love we have for each other
Love brett anderson

so last week at enGAGE (sun eve congregation gathering at stellenbosch vineyard church) we had over 40 people there including a bunch of first-timers and roymond preached up an elijah storm in his first ever preach on the firetruck in the desert and your buckets capacity… at the start of the service i challenged the congregation to be more committed in terms of choosing to hang with us more regularly (attendance can be a bit sporadic at times) not wanting to make it a heavy ‘you-must-come-to-church’ vibe but also when i preach this term a series that build on each other it really helps to have people coming more regularly to get the whole journey as opposed to one or two of the pit stops

so last nite, once the worship team took their places – and we don’t have a worship team of 25 people – there were close to ten people left – from 40 plus to under 20 – great upping of commitment there – and so i was completely bummed

before then i was only partially bummed – we have a prayer time with the leaders and whoever wants to join us before the service and everyone felt so dead and withdrawn and no one was really praying or anything so i felt like God wanted me to pray for peoples amping and filling with the Holy Spirit and so i shared a bit of that and then said whoever wants God to fill them or up their amping please stand and i will pray for you – by then i was super amped to see God just pour Himself into people and really bring His joy and life and ampdness…

til no one stood – a room of 6 or 7 people and no-one seemed ampd to be ampd – and then one of the guys tried to cover over the awkwardness perhaps by making it into something else but i really felt strongly that this is what God was wanting to do and if no one is ampd then that’s fine but i really want to pray for anyone who does – my beautiful wife Val stood and i got to pray for her which was amazing – but again, no one else – and i’m sure people have their reasons and so on and that’s fine – i’m not judging them, but i’m just saying that i was super bummed…

and so during worship singing time i really didn’t know what to do because the preach i had prepared on engaging with those outside of the church seemed a bit random when there were only about 20 people inside the church and so i decided to lus my preach and instead share the anne rice/john ellis stuff that i’ve been blogging and thinking about – i started by saying how i know the pastory type guy has to have it all together and can’t be bummed and so on, but i am and mentioned the previous week’s commitment thing…

and so i read Anne Rice’s three comments/posts and we had the raddest discussion and within about two minutes i had left super bummed behind and just embraced the potential and opportunity to discuss something that is quite real in the church and the world right now – the importance of understanding where a lot of christians are coming from at the moment – loving Christ completely but not so ampd for some of the horrible hurtful things church can get up to

this week i also read the headline of a story of a church in the US (think i know which one if their reputation is anything to go on) who are planning a koran burning on the 9th anniversary of the destruction of the twin towers – i can not begin to imagine the damage that might cause – i can imagine the ‘message of love’ it is sending out with the label ‘church’ attached and i can fully understand a lot of people wanting to have nothing to do with being associated with that particular label

another friend of mine commented on the anne rice note i had on facebook something about those clowns who love Jesus but leave the church – again words of love which are really going to help ‘those clowns’ realise how misguided they are and draw them back towards the church?

at the end of it all, and the really delightful participationary service it had become, the conclusion was this – it is our responsibility and opportunity to draw alongside the anne rice’s and the john ellis’s and so many more people out there in similiar waters, and demonstrate to them a church that IS known by the love they have for each other, that is loving the sinner (while hating the sin but making well sure the sinner realises the difference between the two), that is involved in society actively building, reaching out, loving, reconciling and being the body of Christ in a world that is desperately hungry to see a church that lives out what it says it believes

so i managed to track down the john ellis article that started all the ‘fun’ and am very much looking forward to having caffeine with the man when i hit durban this week to hear more of where his heart is (and cos, hey, caffeine!!) but i’m not too sure he is going to be poster boy for pagans anonymous just yet – also take some time to read some of the comments by christians and meditate on the whole ‘you will be known by the love you have for one another’ piece of that book we follow…

the article that was published [disclaimer – it was an article, written by a journalist, wanting people to read it]

john ellis blog response

so i quoted Anne Rice the other day and this is a further explanation of where she is at which explains it a little bit more – i really like her last line… [from http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2010/07/30/anne-rice-leaves-christianity/?hpt=Sbin]

Anne Rice leaves Christianity

Legendary author Anne Rice has announced that she’s quitting Christianity.

The “Interview with a Vampire” author, who wrote a book about her spirituality titled “Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession” in 2008, said Wednesday that she refuses to be “anti-gay,” “anti-feminist,” “anti-science” and “anti-Democrat.”

Rice wrote, “For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian … It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

Rice then added another post explaining her decision on Thursday:

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me,” Rice wrote. “But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

%d bloggers like this: