Tag Archive: authentic


last time on ‘What makes Jesus sadder?’:

‘but it’s me. i mean that’s the answer right? the only person i can really change is myself, brett fish anderson [where fish seems to be proved more and more to be something i’m desperately aiming at as opposed to anything i hit regularly enough] and so that is really where i have to look.

and i do and i have and i am and a lot of it just leaves me with questions that i am struggling to answer.’

This is the picture of the exact mug i have.

This is the picture of the exact mug i have.

so i was sitting on my step the other nite sipping coffee out of my Marvin the Martian mug and thinking about life [which i definitely don’t do enough – i really do enjoy the times when i can slow it all down and just ponder great things… so maybe the start is to be more intentional about creating those times when i just move away from the busyness and distraction it’s so easy to fall into slash facebook] and i had a couple of thought [thinking will do that to you]…

the one which has been plaguing me for a while kind of fits into that category of ‘I’ll do that when…’ which so many of us have been taken down by i think – the idea that at the next stage of life or season of living or pay increase or whatever, that somehow miraculously the thing you aren’t doing now is going to happen. and for the most part it’s a lie.

and i imagine that often it is linked to following Jesus. I’ll get really committed when I’m done with exams… when my kids are at school… when my kids are out the house… when this project is done… when i have my own car… when i’ve finished paying off my studies… and so on…

‘WHEN’ WON’T HAPPEN UNLESS YOU MAKE IT TO BE SO

it’s a lie. if you’re not doing it now then it is unlikely to miraculously happen. something significant has to change for your current behaviour not to be your future behaviour.

i suspect that often it’s AS EASY [and AS DIFFICULT] as just getting off your ass and doing it.

for me, sitting on the step, it was the awful truth of me just not knowing any of my neighbours. like not really. and not cos i don’t want to [well maybe the ones next door who are so inappropriately loud and who scream at their kids most of the time, i don’t really have great desires in myself to know them] but just cos it hasn’t happened and it might be for a hundred different reasons but it still bums me out.

The need is to just do it already.

The need is to just do it already.

tbV and i live in  four apartment complex [two upstairs, two downstairs] and a lot of it maybe has something to do with timing as we don’t often see the people. it may be because we are white and everyone else is black/African American and so there is not a natural cultural connection. it may be a stage of life thing as there are young children in i think each of the other apartments. and it may be because, apart from the one guy, our neighbors haven’t seemed particularly friendly but then maybe they are thinking or feeling the same thing about us.

but the one that bums me out the most is ‘African American guy’. you see what happened there? that is the part where his name was meant to go, but i don’t know it. and the main problem is that he knows my name. he learnt it the first time he met me and has greeted me with, ‘Hi Brett, how are you doing?’ ever since [and ‘Hey man’ feels more and more pathetic every time i mumble it back to him in the friendliest way possible]. The first time it was, ‘Oh no, I don’t know his name’ which quickly became, ‘Oh man, he knows my name and has called me Brett three times now’ to where we now stand at, ‘He has called me Brett 90 times and so it feels worse and worse to get my brain around the idea that i have to go to him and confess my panic [and just ridiculously bad manners] in that area.

do you know what the worst thing is? he looks really cool. he’s an older black man and i really want to get to know him and hear some of his story and hopefully we can be friends.

what sucks is that i feel like i have a strong heart for community and Val and i talk openly about how great it was in Potter street [at the Simple Way] where we knew everyone and life happened on the streets and we’d be in each others houses and so this all feels like an epic fail to me.

I THINK YOU’RE BEING TOO HARD ON YOURSELF!

and i don’t think i’m being too hard on myself. possibly not enough. there are definitely some reasons why it has been harder to stamp on my pride and just go and confess and put it right [the biggest being time – we don’t see him often and it’s usually between his car and the door and there are other family members around and stuff] but this last week i think i have come to the conclusion that this is something that i want and i will probably look for a chance while Val is away at the Wild Goose festival [she leaves tonite] to try and get that opportunity and put it right. so it feels definitely on the cards. and it actually not the biggest deal for me to have to go and make that confession and try and put it right. just a bummer that it has taken so long.

when i was sitting on the step though, the biggest question i faced in myself was the question of what is different between what i believe, or what i say i believe or preach/write that i believe and that which i am living out. and what am i going to do about it? and when?

the biggest problem, perhaps, is that the answers are not so simple. they are complicated. it is not as easy as it is with ‘African American man’ where i know what i have to do and just need to do it – there are a bunch of areas of ‘well i don’t know how to get from where i am to where i want to be?’ There might be a bunch of fears of ‘what if i try and it doesn’t work or happen the way i expect?’ and there are also some disappointments of things i have already tried or hoped for that didn’t turn out the way i was hoping for. where i did do the thing i needed to do but the person on the other end didn’t respond or not as i hoped. and so what now?

one small example of that is that there is a young girl in the house where ‘African American man’ lives and i don’t know if it’s his daughter or grandkid or anything but on the occasions i have walked past and she has been at the door and i’ve tried to be friendly to her [connecting with people in Philly was done largely by befriending and looking after their children] i’ve got the strong feeling that her mom is not super amped. she feels a lot suspicious of this dreadlocked white guy from upstairs. so that makes it a little harder cos i definitely want to respect the mom and so generally just try to be friendly to them when they’re out together and hopefully in time something will shift. or maybe i just need to bake something and take it around. that might be a plan.

the conclusion of all this for me is that the thinking part is so important. the noticing of ‘hey the reality i’m living doesn’t match up exactly with what i’m speaking or even what i’m hoping for’ and it’s insane to me to think that i will have amazing community in the next place i live if i haven’t even properly tried to reach out to those around me here [or remember one name! sigh].

but then it HAS to move to the action point. and soon. we don’t know how long we’re going to be here and if  want it to be easier to find it in the next place then the best way is stepping out here and even if things don’t go according to plan, at least i will know i’ve tried.

so i imagine Jesus gets sad when we just get caught up in living lives that are self-absorbed and focused and miss out on the opportunities He may have been prodding us towards

i imagine Jesus gets bummed when we say and think one thing and live a completely or even somewhat different thing [He may have calmly mentioned that to the Pharisees that one time]

i imagine Jesus is a little disappointed if i get stuck in the thinking phase and never step out of the boat He has called me to step out of and take a bit of a risk

this is not condemnation [which leaves you in a loud and stinky mess on the floor, paralysed and unable to change] – this is conviction [which inspires you and directs you to change]

oh and something about God putting His Holy Spirit in me so i should be alright in the empowered-to-do-this-whole-thing department.

you might not be cool enough to have a Marvin the Martian coffee mug, but i would still recommend grabbing some form of beverage and a step and taking some moments on how your life is looking right now… let’s do this thing. for real.

This might be comedy if it wasn't so tragedy.

This might be comedy if it wasn’t so tragedy.

“Are you doing what Jesus did and taught?”

that line came up in the bible devotions this morning at the CCDA conference and it’s not like it’s anything new or particularly revolutionary, but it is a line i think must keep on being said and cried out and shouted and written down and sung about until more and more people take a moment to really hear it and digest it and pour their present life through the filter of it and go, ‘Hm. Wait. Maybe not. I should do something about that.’

or something.

the line is NOT ‘Are you going to church?’

it is NOT ‘Are you involved in some form of ministry?’

it is also NOT ‘Do you read your Bible and can you quote verses from memory and know all the words to the latest hit worship song?’

and there are probably a bunch of other things it is NOT.

but what it IS is ARE YOU DOING WHAT JESUS DID AND TAUGHT?

a good place to start is to head back to the gospels [matthew, mark, luke, john] in the second part of the bible and read once more the story of Jesus and pay careful attention to WHAT JESUS TAUGHT as well as take time to focus on HOW JESUS LIVED and then to stop, have a quick hammer time, and think to yourself, ‘Am I Really Living out What He Said and What He Did?’

like for real?

well, are you?

My friend Lisa, who plays TheatreSports with me and hates it when I don’t start sentences with capital letters or use respelled words like “thankx” and “thort” wrote a brilliant response to our live the line challenge which you should go and read by clicking here or here or going there:

http://relentlessabundance.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/biting-off-less-than-they-can-chew

busy reading ‘Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture’ by Michael Frost and have little bits of paper and elastoplasts stuck within the pages where i really thort it was profound or spot on (if it was my book it would be folded pages but it’s not – it belongs to the theological library of stellenbosch which has absolutely no relevance so shut up already) and this was one of those pages:

From the chapter titled ‘Following Jesus into Exile’

‘Jesus humility is commended to us insofar as it is expressed in His commitments to identification and relinquishment. First, to follow Jesus’ example means that we should share His profoundly humble identification with sinful mankind (Phil 2.7b-8a). Second, those of us who wish to emulate Jesus should be aware of His equally humble willingness to empty Himself and make Himself nothing for the sake of God’s redemptive purposes (Phil 2.6-7a). The greatest example of both is His humiliating death on the cross (Phil 2.8b). To embrace an incarnational ministry, then, involves a willingness to relinquish our own desires and interests in the service of others. Of course, our suffering doesn’t atone for the sins of others, as Christ’s did, but our self-emptying or sacrificial love will direct people to the higher and more efficacious sacrifice of Christ. The exile will be called to also suffer, relinquishing wealth, worldly power, and position. Pity, condescension, or paternalism misses the mark; only a compassion that acts is acceptable in incarnational ministry. Thus, following Jesus’ example, incarnational Christian witness will include the following four aspects:

[1] An active sharing of life, participating in the fears, frustrations, and afflictions of the host community. The prayer of the exile should be, “Lord, let Your mind be in me,” for no witness is capable of incarnationality without the mind of Jesus.

[2] An employment of the language and thought forms of those with whom we seek to share Jesus. After all, He used common speech and stories: salt, light, fruit, birds, and the like. He seldom used theological or religious jargon or technical terms.

[3] A preparedness to go to the people, not expecting them to come to us. As Jesus came from the heavens to humanity, we enter into the “tribal” realities of human society.

[4] A confidence that the gospel can be communicated by ordinary means, through acts of servanthood, loving relationships, good deeds; in this way the exile becomes an extension of the incarnation in our time. Deeds thus create words.

So, if we take the incarnation seriously, we must take seriously the call to live incarnationally – right up close, near to those whom God desires to redeem. We cannot demonstrate Christlikeness at a distance from those whom we feel called to serve. We need to get close enough to people that our lives rub up against their lives, and that they see the incarnated Christ in our values, beliefs, and practices as expressed in cultural forms that make sense and convey impact.

When one theologian emailed me about what he believed to be my inappropriate use of the term “incarnational,” I replied by asking him what term he would use to describe the biblical, Christian impulse to draw near to those who didn’t know Christ, and for him to give me examples of how he did this in his own life and ministry. He didn’t reply. I’ve come to discover that there is a whole world of professional Christians who live primarily in the church or the Christian academy, and who determine what is the so-called true and proper terminology or the correct biblical procedure for mission, but who never seem to embody the ideas that they describe. On the other hand, there are theologically untrained people who are reading the Bible and intuiting new ways to create proximity with not-yet-Christians. These exiles often don’t feel appreciated or understood by the conventional church. They have been marginalised by their other Christian friends who thought their ideas or lifestyle too radical or too unsafe to accommodate. But they are on to something, and in their unorthodox practice reside the seeds of the survival of the Christian movement.’

i really really really like that, especially the four numbered points and the truth in this last paragraph… deeds thus create words. Mm. Yum

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