Saturday, December 31, 2005
I had met a girl at my moms church that I thought was pretty good looking. I asked her out and we went on a date. Everything went wrong, I even couldn't find the latch to unlock the petrol tank. But I was charming enough to secure a second date. She suggested we go to the New Years eve party at her brother in laws, and I figured that would be fine.
What happened there that night changed my life forever. Here were a people that seemed to genuinely love one another, in a natural way. There was an atmosphere created by this love that was profoundly different. What was really surprising to me is they showed this love to me as well. I was an outsider, dating one of their cherished young women, but they accepted me, and lavished this strange love on me. I found myself wanting to spend a lot more time with these people, and to be able to be part of this kind of community.
At midnight they got in a circle, there was about thirty-five of us. Starting about two seats to my right Terry, who was the host and the husband of my dates sister, said he would like to usher in the new year by giving testimony of Jesus work in his life the previous year. And he talked about how God had met him in his day to day life. Then he looked to his right and the next person began to talk. I was relieved I was going to be almost last. But as I sat listening to story after story of God's work among these people, I began to understand where this love came from.
When my turn came I told everyone that I had not experienced God the previous year, but that night was making a decision to experience Him from that day forward. There was no sinners prayer, no altar call, but that night, among those beautiful people, I found Jesus, and have been following him ever since.
Maybe this is why I love small group church, the stories of God's interaction with people, the irresistable nature of community outreach. These were the beginnings of my journey, and I am ofcourse colored and biased by them.
In the last 21 years a lot has changed, I have changed, I have two children and a loveley wife. I have had many faith experiences, many church expressions, many ministries. The two things I will forever hold on to from that night however are these:
God indwells His people
The way we love one another, shows the reality of Christ
I hope you have a wonderful new year
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I remember one morning at seven oclock, I was in the basement of Millennia Jiu Jitsu, where I trained for my fights. There was noone around. I was doing laps of bear crawls, wind sprints, step ups, squats and pushups. I was trying to push myself beyond that quiting instinct. While I was on all fours trying to race around the mat, I felt like God spoke to me. He said this is where the battle is won. When no one is looking, when you are all by yourself.
I knew He wasn't talking about the fight, but rather life. Life has been called a fight, a marathon, a contest. But often we only perform when the lights are on and the crowd is cheering. But it is how we behave when no one is watching that really matters, that is where the game is won.
I have been getting up early each morning before the wife and kids are up, and going to the nets to practice my bowling. This little act of discipline, which has the very selfish goal of helping me to perform better at cricket, has reminded me of the need for my discipline in my God life as well. So I pray, I read, I remember the sacrifice of Jesus, and I bowl some leg breaks.
I hope I win!
All to Jesus I surrender
all to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust him
in His presence daily live
I surrender all
I surrender all
all to Thee my blessed saviour
I surrender all
Make me like you Lord
make me like you
you are a servant
make me one too
Lord I am willing
do what you must do
to make me like you Lord
make me like You
Man, I better go listen to some Nirvana quick. If I don't get this outta my head soon, something crazy might happen.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
This year I would just say this, Jesus came to us. He came humbly. He was a fragile little baby. Relied on others to feed Him, change his dirty nappies, and protect Him. The voice that spoke the universe into being, was now voiceless, just the gurgle and ga ga of a tiny child. The creator of the universe, as this fragile, humble little thing. This is how it started.
The little baby, ofcourse, grows into an amazing man. But still suffers with hunger, tiredness, aching muscles. His status in society is one of menial labourer. He is looked down upon, made fun of, and has His lineage questioned.
He starts His ministry by submitting to another. Picks the most unlikely group to be His followers, fishers, tax gatherers, zealots. He hangs out with a very un-important crowd. His last great act of defiance, is the lowering himself to common slave status washing even the betrayers feet. And then gives His life, the life of the Creator, for us.
I wish this Christmas for Christ to come and be born in me. And I also pray I will allow Him to be the same servant, giving up power, for love.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
"I'm surpised it took so long to happen, the lebos have been out of control for over 10 yrs in Sydney... "
"I think this kind of thing has been brewing for some time. i dont even live in sydney but even i have heard plenty of stories about the lebs and i think it's about time we AUSSIES started to stand up to this sh#t. I also think that most of Australia shares this view. I think this is just the beginning and we will see this happen in other parts of Australia also. "
"Most lebanese youths have no respect. Aussie familys should be able to go out to the beach and not feel intimidated or be harassed. It's a shame but, Sydney has been ruined by ethnics and there gangs and gutless tactics. "
"The flawed ideology of multiculturalism has reared it's ugly head.
Unfortunately for us, it is something that is enforced by our self-serving politicians of vested interest and we, the average Aussies, end up footing the bill as a result of having what's supposed to be good for us dictated to us from nanna. "
These quotes are not all from one person either. Now there are other posts as well condemning what happened, and saying how upset they are. But the fact is this is a racial issue and must be dealt with as such. The recent issues with Muslim extremist terrorism, and the politics behind it only fuel the fires.
Atleast it hasen't escalated to the levels of US riots. Was a bit scary being in Southern Cal during the LA riots.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Whiskey don't make liars it just makes fools
so I didn't mean to say it
but I meant what I said
too long in the wasteland, too long in the wasteland
must of gone to my head - James McCurtry
I know I may not have a right to say what I think in this Australian drama, especially with so much going on back at home with the execution of Tookie, and the issues following hurricane Katrina, but as the big mouthed American I just can't help myself.
I was appalled at what happened, I was appalled at the response of the police, and I was appalled at the ridiculous comments of the Prime Minister John Howard. But I will stick to the latter here.
The ridiculous statements that this was not a racial thing, that Australia doesn't have racial problems, and that this was more about alcohol, than race infuriated me. Like the song above, I do not believe alcohol makes you lie, it just takes away your inhibitions. These drunk people acting like kkk members were not just acting drunk, they were acting racist. The drinking allowed them to act in a way that was contrary to their social training, but their sentiments were truly held. This was a racial thing, it must be treated as such. As an American I can say that where I grew up had its racial problems, but it wasn't as bad as other areas like the deep south. But I have experience much more racism here, than I did in Southern California. The number of times I have heard comments that made my toes curl is frightening. I have heard things I would only expect to hear from the reddest of red necks or the neo nazi skin heads back home with surprising regularity.
It is my opinion that the correct way to deal with this is not denial, but rather acceptance. Yes we have a racist past, yes we a legacy left to us from this, and the way forward is to reject this and grow together as a community. The government should acknowledge the problem as the first step towards dealing with the problem. I will admit that we in the US have a long way to go towards overcoming our past, and I would hope that I can with my Australian friends here say we have a long way to go to overcome the past here as well.
To be fair, I will also say that it would help if the attacked community would not only claim racism, (which is fair enough, thats what it was), but also address some of the issues that brought the racism out in the open, they might have a bit more luck dealing with the issues. When Jesse Jackson got up and chewed out the African American community for taking part in their problems, and exhorted them to live right, it went a long way in restoring some trust in the African American leadership. Finger pointing rarely gets us forward.
I sincerely hope this can serve as a wake up call, and a start towards a new better future. I also hope it doesn't descend into a more and more violent racial struggle. I pray for my new country, I pray for these darker skinned brothers of mine, I pray for the lighter skinned brothers of mine, I pray for myself. Let love win here, let hatred be defeated, let peace reign.
I am sure I offended some people here, feel free to let me have it.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Talked a bit about the need to just be willing to have a go. But also to bring atleast one other person with you. A lot of this is just having the guts to jump in there and try it. And there seemed to be some importance to Jesus about sending his disciples in atleast twos.
I talked about the need to pray. Now many people think of prayer as begging God for something until He gets tired of your nagging and gives it to you. We do this with church planting and evangelism as well as material things, sickness and emotions. You have all heard the stories, just pray long and hard enough and God will give you a church. Well my concept of prayer is not like this. I really believe in prayer walks, allowing God to talk to us and reveal to us the spiritual truth of our neighborhoods. I remember walking through East Los Angeles in prayer, and seeing that all of the houses had bars on all of their windows. God used this to show me the fear of this neighborhood, and to help me understand how fear can turn a home into a prison. Ofcourse praying for people in our alone time can yield the same kinds of insights if we listen more than ask.
Lastly I talked about the idea of the person of peace. Jesus instructed His disciples to find people of peace, people that were open to them, and to the gospel. It is these people that allow us access into a culture. Sometimes these people may not accept our teaching, but they accept us, and through these relationships many doors to the community are opened. Rather than banging our head against the wall we are to seek out those that welcome us, and in turn introduce us to the community.
Monday, December 05, 2005
My first thoughts were about the need for leadership in the church. Well really in the world, we hear it in every enterprise and endeavour. "We need leaders". "Leaders are the need of the day". "The pressing need of our time is good leadership". It is constantly pointed out that we are in a leadership drought. But what is it that we consider a leader. I showed some film clips. Braveheart, Malcom X, Return of the King. We looked at leadership as portrayed in these movies. We want men, (maybe grudgingly women too), that can inspire us, that can motivate us, that can cause us to rise up against all odds, and fight the good fight. We long for Aragorns, with their good looks, powerful presence, and brilliant tactics. They can eloquently call us to the future, pointing clearly towards a triumphant vision, a dream, a fulfillment. And is it any surprise we find ourselves lacking in leaders? Who can fill that roll? "Not many, if any, I don't know anybody"- scribe
But Jesus talked about, and showed us a different view of leadership. Jesus told us that the way the worlds leaders rule over people should not be our way, and that in Christ's kingdom, the leader should be the servant of all.
I of course had three points:
The world wants visionary leaders, leaders that paint a picture of the greater future, and then inspire us to fight everything to get there. Funny Jesus didn't seem so visionary at times. "they will hate you as they hated me" "They will persecute you and kill you" "you will be cast out and despised" "I send you out as lambs among wolves". Not very inspiring there Jesus!!! But Jesus was a visionary leader, He gave us a vision of who we are. In this Malcolm X was a better example than Martin Luther King jr. We find people saying the strangest things about Malcolm X, I didn't agree with him at all, but I sure loved him. How does that work? Well Malcolm X gave the african American men and women a vision of themselves. They were not slaves, ghetto dwellers, criminals, they were sons and daughters of kings and princes, they were a noble, strong, powerful people. Jesus did this. He wasn't concerned with retaking Jerusalem, He was concerned with sons and daughters of God, realizing their place in the kingdom. He gave us a vision of who we really were, and a vision of who God really is. The loving father anxiously awaiting our return. If we want to be leaders in Christ mold, we must follow Him in this.
Point two, the world leaders are charismatic. They lead by force of personality and often manipulation. But Jesus calls us to lead by service. "He who would be great among you should be the servant of all" Jesus illustrates this point over and over again, but sees this as so central to His future church, he takes His last moment to show the disciples just how important this is, by taking off his outer clothes, wrapping himself in a towel, and doing the lowest of the servant duties, washing His disciples feet. He kneels before them, and removes the dirt and grime from their journeys. Even of the one that will betray Him. In a world where leadership is such a strong, royal type of thing, we must remember this example set by Jesus. And I would challenge us to resist the temptation to make this example null and void by saying to ourselves, "the best way I can serve others is to be the strong leader they need". This type of misinterpretation in nothing short of blasphemy. I would be known by the way I serve rather than the way I preach, write, or even evangelize. Heaven knows this is not my nature, but it is CHrists nature, and He who dwells in me, is about the long, slow, torturous task of shedding the flesh.
Lastly, the leaders of this world lead by positional, and powerful authority, but a leader in the mold of Jesus, leads by spiritual authority. Too often we get these mixed up, and power, is always authoritative. We cannot accept that just because someone is powerful, and holds a position in the church that the authority they wield is spiritual authority. And I would say often it is not. Spiritual authority comes from one place, and this may be contentious, and controversial, but I would say spiritual authority only comes when one is willing to give up ones own life, and even salvation, for those they are leading. We see this in Gandhi, we see this in Martin Luther King jr, the early church fathers. But we see this very clearly in two of the most magnificent leaders in the bible, Moses and Paul. Moses pleads with God, in the midst of Israels debauchery, and idolatry, Lord, do not destroy this people, infact I would that you would destroy me, and save them. Paul expresses similiarly, If I could by giving up my own salvation, secure the salvation of my brothers and sisters of Israel I would do so. It is only from this that we see true spiritual authority. Jesus, ofcourse showed us the way. Giving up His life for us, and even taking our sin upon Him and being forsaken. He was willing to give up everything for the sake of those he served. Again we are reminded, he who seeks to save his life will lose it, and he who loses his life, for Christ's sake finds it.
As leaders we are called to give a vision of God, and of ourselves, to serve with abandon, and to lay down our own life for those we are given to. Then and only then are we imitators of Jesus, and if we are not imitators of Jesus, though we may be leaders, powerful, inspirational, charismatic and succesful, we will not be Christian leaders, but merely leaders that happen to be going to heaven.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
As I layed in bed not sleeping I hear my daughter laughing. What a beautiful sound. I felt my lips pulling back into a giant smile as I enjoyed my daughters laughter. I thought to myself that if I am truly made in the image of God, then He must take great joy in our laughter as well. Though the carrying of our cross, and the denying ourselves is serious business, it is business to be carried out with a joy, and an appreciation for God's medicine for the soul, laughter.
I am blessed to hear my daughter laugh. I am blessed to laugh with her. And God is blessed to watch His children smile and laugh and enjoy life. I pray that in our endeavours to reach people, to help people, to stand against injustice, and with the poor and the marginalized, we will also know the joy of laughter. We will also share the joy of laughter. And so doing, make our Daddy smile.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Why is this such a hard concept for people to understand? I understand running a bit behind, but if you can't see me at 1:45 then don't tell me to come at that time.
I have our intensive this weekend, and am having to make a lot of adjustments because I just can't seem to get the stuff done. I will be there, I will fulfill my responsibilities admirably I hope :) But man, why did this have to happen now? The busiest part of the year.
I know there are medical reasons why times of stress make it easier for us to catch a bug and harder to kick it. I also know there a spiritual reasons for the same thing. I also know that prayer sometimes helps and sometimes doesn't. Makes me wonder:
Have I been regularly having a sabbath? A time to allow my body to recover, for my mind to rest in the Lord? For my priorities to be re-instated and assessed? Well who has time for that? Not me?
I have decided that this sickness is God's grace on me, you see I couldn't play cricket these two weekends anyways, so God in His love and mercy has allowed all of my summer sickness to be compressed into these two weeks so I don't miss any matches.
God is good!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I am also aware that I will most likely not make everyone happy with my response here, I might not make anyone happy, but thats what I get for being such a big mouth. I would point out however that everything I am about to say is very superficial. I spent a couple of hours at this place and a couple more with Phil Baker. These were just my impressions from my limited time there.
Let me first say that I have been critical of the mega church for some time now. I realize that some of this comes from some of the criticism I have received from them, and my natural desire to fire back. I also have felt I need to defend my position, and that this defense will quite naturally result in some negativity towards the mega church. I think that recently, even in the last month or two I have realized a few things, and even felt a bit guilty about some things I have thought and said previously.
Okay, well enough lollygagging:
I met up with Phil Baker almost as soon as I arrived in Perth. I had actually met him once in Melbourne but didn't remember it. He was very nice, and very personable. He talked freely, and I enjoyed our time together. We talked a bit about my life, presumably to get some ideas for the interview on Sunday night as well as to learn a bit about me. And he shared a bit about himself. He shared some of his own issues, and problems that he had faced and seemed to be on the same page as me in some controversial theological areas. He talked with pride about some of the social justice things Riverview is involved in, and I was very pleased to hear about them. My first impression was that he was a very charismatic leader, very inteligent, and was honestly wrestling with some difficult issues. I did notice that he was very careful in the way he said things. I think my first impression would usually be that he was being a politician, but it did not seem this way to me. Rather it seemed he had learned to be cautious because of his position, not in order to attain it.
The next bit may be slightly out of order.
When I arrived at Riverview I got pretty much what I expected at first, friendly greeters, nice building, cleanliness, organization. All of the things that really big churches usually have. I was welcomed by one of the staff and lead to our seats, they explained that things fill up quickly so stay put. Someone brought be a bottle of water which was appreciated.
The service started and to be honest I was a bit taken by surprise. I had actually never been to a service like it. The stage was set up more like a concert, and the lighting and even stage smoke was very concert like, this I had seen before. The music was loud, and very upbeat to start with, again I am used to that. But what I wasn't used to was the stage full of people hopping up and down, dancing and wooping it up. The entire area in front of the stage was immediately taken up by a large group of younger people that were also jumping up and down. Everyone seemed to be very into it. And it was done very well, great graphics on the multiple television screens, the words were easy to read, the musicians were fantastic. My reaction? Well, to be honest, it just isn't my style at all. I felt it was a bit overbearing. I prefer to be lead in worship, but felt almost pushed. I prefer more meditative worship and this was definately not that. Now ofcourse that is what I prefer, I have no problem with others liking something different.
They had a skunk band that was out for a rock festival play a song. These guys were very very good. They had a great sound and I would enjoy seeing them in concert. They actually did play a set after church was over.
They showed a video clip of a church baptism, and Phil told us of another baptism that had just happened that week. Now I am a big softy when it comes to baptisms so I really enjoyed this. Nothing more exciting to me than people giving their lives over.
They took the offering. Now they probably did a bit more of a hard sell when doing the offering than I would be comfortable doing, but I was very happy to see them explaining how giving is part of maturity, and what we do with out money is part of our faith. There was no give so God will bless you, greed manipulation. It sounded nothing like the prosperity stuff that I have heard many times. They also spoke the now standard line, "if you are visiting, please don't feel obligated to give", which I like.
The sermon was challenging. Phil is definately a great speaker. He talked about one of my favorite verses Acts 2:42, and spoke a bit about the unity of the church. I ofcourse would have emphasized the meeting in homes more than he did. :)
He then interviewed me. He asked me some questions to be a bit entertaining, but also asked me some questions to allow me to talk about incarnational mission, and giving up your life to follow Christ. He asked me about luke warm Christianity and I was able to talk about giving up our own lives for others. I did not feel censored, or compromised at all. And it was fun.
Afterwards Phil wrapped things up, did an altar call, and took an offering for me and my ministry. They were very generous.
I talked with some people afterwards and they were very friendly, and inquisitive. Then Phil took me and my friends, one who is a member of Riverview, to dinner at a nice place. We had a few beers and some great food and I grilled him for a while about the church and its small groups and his philosophy of leadership. He was happy to answer all my questions and we had a great chat.
My overall impression: Most of the stuff I didn't like was merely style issues.
I am still concerned about the tendency of big churches to spend too much of their resources on maintaining the church rather than reaching out, but they look at the church as part of their outreach and appear to be very generous and supportive of outreach initiatives.
Community is so important to me that I felt their small groups should be given a higher profile and a bigger push. People would definately not consider their small groups church, but rather a church program or add on.
I think they are really trying to reach out to the people in Perth and beyond. I also feel that Phil recognizes that if they did everything perfect they still wouldn't come close to reaching everyone, and is happy to support and champion other initiatives.
I am scared of how much power a church that size has, and I suspect it would not be good for me to be leading one like it.
Overall I liked Phil, and I liked what the church was doing. I would never go to a church like Riverview, but I know many people obviously would. Infact my friend who has never gone to church, said he would like to return. I hope they will continue to be challenged to be more and more involved in social justice issues, and supporting incarnational mission initiatives. I am also very thankful for their warm welcome, and generous natures. Phil even went to the trouble to read my blog and by me a thoughful gift. I was blessed by Riverview.
Monday, November 28, 2005
I would like to invite you to come to our December intensive on Pioneering Leadership.
It will be an inspiring time around real stories of innovation, empowering leadership and looking at Jesus as a model of leadership.
The world is changing at an incredible rate. The challenge of effective mission in our time demands new thinking about leadership. History shows that people can be great ministers, but poor leaders. We must develop leaders with authentic vision, innovation and creativity.
Our December intensive is a shared learning experience with not just key note sessions but group work and innovative ways of learning with ministers, missionaries and leaders from across several denominations.
Friday night the 2nd of December and goes to Sunday 5 pm.
Friday and Saturday night (7:30pm) are open (an offering will be taken for the missionaries presenting) for anyone to come & hear from two pioneering church planters and leaders (John Jensen and Mark Sayers).
Friday night and all day Saturday will be based at Northern Community Church, 81 High St Preston.
Sunday, you will have a choice of three pioneering communities to visit from three different denominations (Churches of Christ. Baptist church, CRC churches international)
This will be a great opportunity for a hands-on experience of their Sunday services as well as the chance to dialogue with their key leaders over lunch and wrestle with some real leadership questions.
Connection in Croyden. (www.connection.org.au)
A church that meets in a Pub and explores creative ways of opening the bible and engaging people. It has a great relational feel that is reaching its community. Wayne Nebauer is the leader.
New Communities Ringwood. (www.ncr.org.au)
This church meets in the Arts centre and has a desire to be the kind of place that allows others to explore meaningful ways they can connect with other people and ultimately with God. Their fresh approach to worship, teaching and allowing people to engage with God is worth experiencing. Troy Arnott is the leader.
Urban Life Ringwood. (www.urbanlife.org.au )
A church that has reinvented from being a middle class Pentecostal church in the suburbs to renovating a night club and opening a cafe on the main street of Ringwood. Anthea Smits is the leader.
Register now, email@example.com
Invite your friends & come and be part of this innovative learning experience.
All Forge intensives are fully accredited with most colleges.
Stay for two more days and do the intensive for College Credit.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Birthing and nurturing the missional church.
ph: 0411 104 443
I will be sharing on leadership Saturday night and Mark Sayers will be sharing Friday night, there is no charge for Friday and Saturday nights but an offering will be taken.
Hope to see some of you there.
What a great time I had this weekend, despite being sick.
Started getting sick on Tuesday, was pretty bad on Wednesday. Then we had our thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. Had a bunch of friends over to eat some traditional American thanksgiving food and share what we were thankful for. Was a lot of fun, and a lot of work. I felt pretty bad.
Well then I had to run around Friday morning, jump on a plane and go to
Then I went to do a postcards event for Andrew Hamilton, and FORGE
The next morning we had a bit to eat and then off to teach some Brazilian jiu jitsu, and mixed martial arts. Six hours of teaching later and I was again feeling a bit wiped out. We went back to my mate Gerald's house. We had a great barbeque, and a lot of laughs. But not too much sleep. My codral cold medication was running short.
Sunday morning we got an early start. I did a bjj lesson, and then another seminar with both bjj and mma. There was a good turn out and a great bunch of guys. I only managed to injure one person and that is always great. Another barbie was fired up, had some nice snags and then off to shower and change for Riverview.
Riverview was a big church. Not really used to them anymore. The level of excellence they obviously strive to uphold was easily apparent. The service was full of energy, great music and Phil Baker was inspiring. I smiled as he started his message talking about Acts Chapter 2 and one of my favorite passages. He interviewed me for about fifteen minutes and the church was very generous in an offering, and then a nice dinner with some fantastic beer. I was now praying for death, and strange green bubble gum seemed to be coming from deep in my chest.
The next morning I got up early, packed, got a ride into the city with Gerald, and had breakfast with my friend Stacy. I met up with internet acquaintance and radio celebrity Lance for a coffee overlooking the river. The conversation was compelling, and I think I learned a lot and was challenged a bit. The coffee was bad and I drank just a bit. Stacy picked me up and we grabbed a quick lunch while watching a bit of the cricket, and I jumped on a plane.
Landing when your sinus cavities are swollen and filled is kind of like sticking knives in your ears. Trying to sleep while an avalanche of flesh is slowly pouring over the armrest and invading your personal space is even less fun. Taking a cab ride home at one o’clock in the morning with a wanna be formula one racer is the best way to settle into a nice sleep.
It was a full on weekend but I am so blessed to have went. Thanks to everyone that welcomed me and to those who were so generous with their time, their homes and their money.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
We ran into a couple of Neufoundland dogs. They were big, beautiful creatures that were swimming quite easily in the river. Unfortunately, dispite the fact they were all black, no roaring torrent of water shaped like horses carried them to their doom. We walked back, listened to some birds, took some pictures (I'll share later) and were on our way.
We were cutting across to the Western coast, and the road was insane. Like I said we had been warned. There were many switch backs, and blind turns, yet only room for one and a half cars to pass. Very scary. I was absolutley exhausted at the end of it, yet my wife was the driver. She is actually a better driver than I, but I am still a bad passenger. I was twitching, and recounting my life over and over. But through it all we saw some of the most beautiful country in the world. And a few sheep. When I wasn't fearing for me life I was in awe.
Then we saw it. I looked kinda like an echidna. It was curled up on the side of the road, and appeared to be in one piece. Raquel stopped the car at me request so I could run back and see if it was alive. It wasn't. And it wasn't an echidna. It looked like a small echidna, with the spikes and all, but its face was more like a rat. Raquel, sure we discovered a new species dubbed it the Echidna rat. We returned to the car and made it to the coast and eventually back to Wellington.
Oh, the echidna rat...
its just a hedgehog
It is different being in a public place, being with the people who live and die with the team. The whole pub sang the national anthem. They shouted, cheered and chanted through the whole game. Many beers were consumed. Then when we won the shoot out, it was magical. Grown men jumping up and down, hugging each other, singing together. I was caught up in the sheer jubilation.
Some things I learned:
The refs hate Australia
Keanou Reeves is not the worst actor in the world, there were atleast six examples of worse acting on the football pitch
Taking off your shirt is somehow good luck
Drunk Aussies show affection to complete strangers when their team is winning
Spewing is always sad, and disgusting, but more so after such an awesome event
I still feel a bit like an outsider, though I am still accepted
I don't know the words to the Australian anthem, and I can't really fake it
My friend texted me right after the game and said he has been waiting for this his entire life. The last time the Aussie team qualified for the world cup was in 74. I was very happy for him, but still think soccer is boring. Unless you watch it with a hundred insane, drunk fanatics. Would have been perfect if we had a few fights :)
Monday, November 14, 2005
I spent the last weekend in the beautiful city of Wellington New Zealand. Grappling Specialists Wellington www.gsw.co.nz/ invited me to come out and do a seminar at their Brazilian jiu jitsu school. Not only that but they decided I would be in a better mood if my wife came with me. So through some incredible generosity, my wife and I got to have a nice weekend away.
The place was absolutely beautiful, and I will write more about specifics, but we went and saw a few Lord of the Rings filming sites, we met up with one of my friends Darryl Gardiner, (a guy I want to be like when I grow up), and his wife for dinner, had the first decent Mexican food and margaritas since I moved to the pan pacific, and just soaked up some of the local culture and scenery.
On sunday I did a seminar on bjj and taught a few private lessons. I hope the guys enjoyed it, and learned a few new tricks for their martial arts training.
It is amazing to me how many amazingly good people, I meet along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these kiwi's, hearing their stories, telling my own. Being changed and challenged, and blessed by new friends. God in the creation story looks down at the pinnacle of His creation, man, and utters His first negative critique (though more follow :) ), "it is not good, for man to be alone"
I'd like to thank Geoff, and all the guys and girls from Wellington, for reminding my wife and I that the ultimate gift of God is people.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
I must say that I am ashamed of the way I have judged Willow Creek, and churches like them. We have called them attractional churches, and suggested that they stand back and call people to them. Well though I cannot speak for other "willow creek" type churches, reading this book has really challenged this perspective.
I think that the emerging church is in many ways doing exactly what Willow Creek atleast purports. What we have discovered is ways of doing this in different cultural contexts. I believe that is exactly what Willow Creek advizes. I do have concerns still about very large churches, and the power base that they create, I also have some concerns about the leadership philosophies that some adopt. But one thing this book really challenged me on is my judgementalism of what is basically style.
To greatly oversimplify it would seem to me that the "stategy" of Willow Creek is that their members would go out and make friends with their neighbors. They would invite them into their lives, and share their faith with them. The church then "helps" these relational missionaries by providing a service that their talented, and gifted staff create. Through this "team evangelism" they lead others to CHrist, and then through small groups they disciple them. I was very profoundly blessed by the intentions and heart of these two people. They want to take completely unchurched people and turn them into fully devoted, missionaries.
It would seem that is my goal exactly. It would seem that I employ very similiar methods. I have just recognized that Willow Creek would not appeal to my friends, and the people I desire to work with, and have developed a different way of "team evangelism".
Now I might share some of my concerns about their model, but also, recognizing the similiarity of the emerging church ideas, I have these concerns for myself and friends as well:
I have been to a service like Willow Creek, it was my impression that many did not move from the "seeker service" to full discipleship, and infact were content to be entertained by the professional "performance" of the church. and i must recognize that there are many that come to emerging churches that come for the cool mystic worship, the discussions, the community, yet are not called to full discipleship.
I have tried to do similiar things in the past and have wound up having a church full of other CHristians wanting to come to a church that is "cooler" though I care for these people, I was desirous of providing a church for my nonChristian friends not a new service for unsatisfied Christians we must watch that we don't build churches only of discontent Christians
I believe that whenever we create power bases of this incredible size we cause corruption. That the politics of this power, will always cause us to compromise in some way. I do not believe leaders should be put under this strain. I believe we can and should seek to remain free from the stain of power. the emerging church is now developing the credibility, and the notoriety to become a significant power structure, I as a leader must seek to become not a power weilder, but a servant of all.
I do believe that the increasingly post modern world requires a more relational style of outreach, as well as a more relational structure. But I applaud the efforts of all of my friends to make the truth of Jesus love known to all.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
We batted well last weekend. I held up my end of the tail. Got eight runs, and wasn't out when our innings were over. Those eight runs included my first boundry, so I was pretty excited.
I was also very glad we were batting instead of fielding. I attempted to adjust my bowling action a bit to be quicker and a bit flatter, wanting to cut down on my bounce. The results were, I completely lost my form. I was all over the place, I was worried if the captain gave me the ball, I wouldn't have been able to hit the pitch. But we batted. What a relief!!!
Over the week I didn't get to the nets because it was raining a bit and I was very busy. But I started to pull it back together at training on Thursday. Yesterday morning I bowled a few before the match and I felt pretty good, I wanted the ball.
I fielded energetically as I usually do. Saved a few runs, but dropped a catch. Luckily my drop didn't cost us much. Late in our innings they gave me the ball, and I was hoping things would go alright. The ball was coming out really well. I bowled two overs and they only scored three off of me. I was dropped once at slip but it was a very difficult catch. But the ball was really turning, bouncing nice and high, and I even bowled a wrong'in that completely fooled the batter. The other bowler wound up taking the eighth wicket, but they didn't have the last two batsmen, so they were all out for 120 and we won by ninety odd runs. I was disappointed though, because I really wanted to keep bowling.
Made me very anxious to get back out on the pitch, I love this game
Over the next few days I will write down some of my insights over the past few days, but the biggest things in relation to the internet were...
I find myself being very reactive online. Although I think I am like that in real life to some extent online it seems much more so. It would make me appear unbalanced I am guessing. I tend to fight against things so hard that I don't present a balanced world view, though I atleast feel I hold one.
I spend entirely too much time on forums, where most people would rather argue, than stretch their own minds, and be challenged. This taps into my "warrior nature" which is probably not the part of myself I need to be nurturing at the moment.
If I were to spend less time online, but actually used it more creatively and inteligently I could probably accomplish more, and enjoy myself more.
And, it is very cool how many real life friends I have made through the internet.
I am glad to be back. I am planning on posting more often, so please stay tuned.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
I have the feeling I need to prioritze prayer and the scriptures for a while so this is my attempt. I would encourage you, whether you are a person of faith or not, to consider fasting with me. Give up something that takes a considerable amount of time, and focus on something worthy of more careful consideration.
I will be writing though so hopefully I'll have something worth sharing when I return. If I am not forgotten by then :)
Sunday, October 23, 2005
I think that is why thinking of family, and thinking of each other as family was important this week. The thing is, for many, our flesh and blood families are not what we would like them to be. Many of us have lost our families, through death, divorce, or other extremely painful things. Yet there seems to be this innate desire to be family, to be loved and accepted, even by those close to you. This desire is so strong we often find people going back to horrible abuse, because...
its my family.
Well I wonder if I might say something a bit extreme. Jesus is looking for people to be family to those that are suffering, those that are outcast, the poor, the marinalized, the rejected. We might be much more comfortable sending some money, and staying family with others more like ourselves. But I am being drawn continually to go beyond my natural tendencies, being drawn to follow Jesus example. And to truly become a brother to those that maybe don't smell as nice, maybe don't have the best use of their minds, maybe have some horrible addictions or other issues. They sometimes do need money, but they always need family.
One thing I know, families hurt. And another thing I know, thats okay, do it anyways. For the family of God, embraces Jesus, in the least of these.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
4"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come."
5His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[a]
7Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
8Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."
They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
11This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
Okay, so not only does Jesus make water into wine, for a wedding where they had already been drinking quite a bit of wine already. But he uses the jars for ceremonial washing. The religious washing fonts. In other words, Jesus is using their religious instruments to make alcohol. And he said a few minutes earlier that it was not yet His time. But wait, he then makes how much? Over a hundred and twenty gallons, for my Aussie mates, thats heaps. Oh, and it is really really good stuff as well.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
For more information see the ad at www.red.org.au
It will be in South Melbourne and the reception starts at 6pm
Or email me for more info email@example.com
Jesus Heals a Paralytic1Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"
4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7And the man got up and went home. 8When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.
Now look at verse two, when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "your sins are forgiven" Now hold on, who's faith? By the faith of the friends that carried the man to Jesus. How does that make sense?
Makes you go "what the?"
Sunday, October 09, 2005
The Sheep and the Goats
31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life"
So Jesus in the judgement says we will be judged not by how we believe, not by how righteous we were, but by how we treated others. How does this sit with our current evangelical mindset. We focus so much on believing the right things, or even doing the right things. But here it seems to be not so much about morals, or theology, but people, and how we recognize Jesus in those that surround us.
things that make you go hmmmmm
I love playing, even if it means standing all day in the freezing rain, and howling wind.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
The batted me 11th which is fair enough. I don't bat real well, and don't actually enjoy it that much. I came in and faced three balls, I got bat on ball each time. Actually played a shot once. But scored no runs. And them my partners wicket was taken the next over. So atleast I didn't get out. Maybe next week I can score a run.
They put me at square leg, after instructing the bowlers to bowl off or outside off, which means I wasn't supposed to get much action. But I did get to make a few stops, one was a full length dive that stopped a sure four. So they were happy about that. But they never gave me the ball. I was a bit bummed about that. The wind was blowing a bit and I know if the could have bowled into the wind my balls would have been dipping and bouncing and causing all kinds of problems. If they stayed on the pitch ofcourse :)
I think my best contibution to the team was every once and a while I would put on my thickest california surfer accent and call out, "take a wicket dude" I think that broke the batsmens concentration a bit, cause the first time we took a wicket a few balls later.
Anyways, I will be practicing harder than ever. I want to work my way up to number 9 on the batting list, and atleast get a few overs before the season ends.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
I am excited. I keep playing over the game in my mind. I play it brilliantly in my mind. Wonder how I'll do on the field. I'll let you know.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Now there is two big problems here, the first: I hated having to ask people for money. It seemed so humiliating, and I was very subconscious about it. I went to classes that taught you how to do it, but it was a very difficult thing for me to actually do. I actually find it pretty easy to ask people for money for other people, but for myself, that is very hard. Imagine you having to do it. I recently was watching a reality show and one couple had lost all of their money, and had to beg for money at an airport so they could get a taxi and stay in the game. The woman started crying, begging was that humiliating, and I understood.
Second problem: Having mainly worked with youth, I didn't really have much of a network of people to ask for money. Most of my contacts were too young to have much disposable income, and their families were usually poorer families, or weren't Christians and were suspicious of our whole deal anyways.
Well, I did have one group of people that I could go to. The people in our church. They seemed to like the things we had done with the kids, and were very supportive of their strange youth pastor. So I made a few appointments, mostly with people that already expressed interest in our ministry.
One of the first people I talked to was a family friend. When I talked to him I explained the reason I was doing it and the things being a full time employee of CRM would allow me to do. Well I should have used the word enabled rather than allowed. Because when I was done he basically attacked what I had told him, suggesting that CRM was some kind of huckster making money off of poor innocent fools by getting them to donate money. He said, "you keep saying they allow you to do this, well who are they to allow you", I tried to explain, but he basically said he wouldn't give any money to this organization, but would consider giving some money to us. He never did that, and I left traumatized. He wasn't very nice about things and called the pastor to express his doubts about CRM.
Almost the next person I talked to was an older gentleman that I had grown to really love. He was one of the few people that constantly asked about our ministry, what we were doing? how could he pray for us? and was very encouraging. I called him up and told him that since he had always been so supportive and interested in what we were doing I would like to set up a meeting to talk to him about my missionary work, and ask him to pray about being a part of our support team. He was very nice and we set a time up to meet.
I got a call about twenty minutes later from the pastor who had just gotten off the phone where he had been chewed out for twenty minutes straight. The man has told the pastor I pay my tithes every single week and the last thing I expect is someone going through the church phone book hitting me up for more. Pastor asked me not to call other people from the church.
I never really recovered from that and eventually dropped off of staff from CRM having never gotten more than thirty percent of my suggested salary raised. I vowed to never have to do that again, I worked part time and did ministry on the side.
But then I felt called to go work in Australia with FORGE. I again have to raise my salary, and I haven't done it very well. You see I am still really bad at begging, though I do it reluctantly. If we don't keep our support up we will be forced to go back home and discontinue our ministry here.
This is the reason for the donate buttons on this website. There are other ways to give as well, that might be a bit more difficult, but also might be better for tax purposes if you would like to hear about those just email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyways, I would like to thank those of you who have over the years been very generous to my family and I.
Now, this house also hosts a house church, or a faith community as I like to call it. They have a variety of mostly young people that come for a time of worship, and bible conversation. Sometimes there is teaching, sometimes reflection, and always some eating. I have had the pleasure of sharing with them a couple of times and I must say they are a great group. The community goes beyond a meeting, and they spend time together regularly outside of their "service"
I talked to my friend about this, and he said this community really helped him. The love of the brethren allowed him to begin to trust again, to begin to love and be loved, to allow him to re-enter the "normal world". The house provided a safe place for him to live, but the church provided him a safe community for him to love. I think this is unique.
We home schooled our children. Many people expected our kids to be weird, nerdy, not well socialized. But infact the opposite is true, they are very mature, well spoken, and comfortable around adults and their peers. You see, I think we have it backwards a bit. Children do not learn to be adults by being with other children, they learn to be adults by being with adults. They enjoy their friends, and we encouraged them to have friends and drama classes and what not, but they spent a lot of time with us, with the adults in our church, and with the adults in our neighborhood. And they learned to be adults. I think it is the same with many other kinds of situations. We pile all of the addicts in one group, all of the people with sexual issues in another, all of the mentally disabled in another. And we do them a disservice I believe.
This is a great joy to me though, because the church is the perfect entity to welcome these different subcultures into itself. And allow them to experience love, acceptance and the responsibility of community. Funny thing, it also teaches the "healthy" people a thing or two about themselves, their own issues, and their own lack of love and acceptance. It keeps us from being pharisees. What a beautiful model of healing community. I am very proud of my friends, they have done a great thing. A God thing.
Now you may or may not agree with this, but I think it is compelling. When we suffer we are actually hungering for something. It might be our true love, or relief from pain, or even for food. Suffering is being hungry for something.
Which got me thinking...
We live in a society that makes us hungry. Infact, thanks to the huge dollars poured into the advertising agencies research, we are made to feel hungry in more and more creative and irresistable ways.
McDonalds used to make you hungry for not only their hamburgers, but for rest, "you deserve a break today, at McDonalds"
Builders, sell you a lifestyle rather than a home, making you hungry for a new lifestyle.
I hate to admit it, but for a moment, a brief moment I felt that my life was somehow incomplete without this cool mobile phone I saw on television adds. Cool people, in cool clubs, with their cool phone. "Its lovely" They made me hungry for coolness, they made me recognize my uncoolness, and realize that my hunger could only be satisfied if I had this phone. THen I would join the cool kids.
In a world that makes us hungry for so many things, (how ironic that the world makes us hungry to look like we are starving), is it any wonder we are all too often miserable? I mean if suffering is being hungry for something, and we are always hungry, are we not always suffering? I am not trying to demean real suffering, there are those suffering in truly horrific ways all over the world and I do not compare my suffering to theirs. However, isn't it strange that our manufactured virtual suffering still hurts? It builds, and grows and can overwhelm us if we are not careful.
I think I need a mars bar, I am suffering
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
But that isn't the point. The point is the absolute rigidness that defines peoples "position".
I was listening to the radio years ago. Dr. Walter Martin, the bible answer man, was talking about abortion, and saying that it was okay for a rape victim to get an abortion.
A gentleman called up and explained how his mother was raped, and he was the product of that rape. He then asked the good doctor, "what gives you the right to say my life is worth less than anyone elses?"
I was sure that in the face of this obvious test, the bible answer man, would be forced to say, "well, now that I talk to you, I see my position is lacking." But he didn't. He began to justify his position. When they couldn't reach an agreement, the bible answer man said, "well, I guess we won't agree, but hey thats what makes the world go round"
The gentleman replied, "no it doesn't, but thats okay, goodbye"
I know I hold on to my arguements to long and hard too.
Sad really, keeps us from growing I reckon.
btw I don't want to get into an arguement about abortion or homosexuality
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
"doesn't it tell you where every bus is going on the front of the bus?" I demanded, irritated by the delay.
"Yes, Lin. See this one says Aurangabad, and that one says Ajanta, and that one says Chalisgao, and tha one says---"
"Yeah, yeah. So ... why do we have to ask every driver where he's going?"
"Oh!" he exclaimed, genuinely surprised by the question. "because not every sign is a truly sign."
"What do you mean, not a truly sign?"
He stopped, putting down his share of the luggage, and offered me a smile of indulgent patience.
"well, Lin, you see, some of those driving fellows are going to places that is nobody wants to go to. Little places, they are, with a few people only. So, they put a sign for a more popular place."
"You're telling me that they put a sign up saying they're going to a big town, where lots of people want to go, but they're really going somewhere else, where nobody wants to go?"
"thats right, Lin" he beamed.
"you see, because those people who come to them, to go to the pupular place, well, maybe the driver can convince them to go to the not popular plae. It's for business, Lin. It's a business thing"
"Thats crazy," I said, exasperated.
"You must have it a bit of sympathies for these fellows, Lin. If they put the truly sign on their bus, no one will talk to them, in the whole day, and they willl be very lonely."
"Oh, well, now I understand," I muttered, sarcastically. "We wouldn't want them to feel lonely."
"I know, Lin" Prabaker smiled. "You have a very good hearts in your bodies."
Now I can't help but think that a lot of modern church is just like this scene. They promise something else, and hope they can talk you into the something else on the way there. And for some reason it makes sense to them, we wouldn't want them to be lonely would we?
I like the idea of talking to an actual person long enough to know where the journey is going, and then you may have a real companion.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
The funny thing is I love Winston. He is the best dog I have ever had. He is a sweet cuddly dog, that is also a ball of muscle. I don't feel embarassed walking him, (my last dog was a tiny little yappie fur ball). He really is so much fun.
But if he stays around there is sooooo much crap to deal with. And he smells bad sometimes too. He can clear a room with his flatulence. And he gets a bit excitable at times jumping on people in an effort to show them how much he loves them.
Got me thinking, this crazy community idea of church is the most awesome thing I have in my life. But there is a lot of crap to deal with. If we leave it for a little too long the task becomes very formidable. Wouldn't it be easier to just put them in a kennel and visit them on Sundays for a few hours? Then we wouldn't have to deal with the smells, the irritating behavior, and the mountains of crap. Luckily none of my bad habits effect anyone negatively.
I'll talk to you later, I have to go spend some quality time with a spade.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Now the truth of that story I have found out may have been exagerated a bit. But I thought I might talk about my reactions. My first reaction was one of anger. We as Christian are called to not only be forgiving people, but also by our very nature should understand the miracle of redemption. How could these shallow, unloving, unforgiving people call themselves Christians.
Then I thought about my own daughters. Would I be concerned if they were dating a former heroin addict. Well, too be honest I would. Now this particular person I would not be very concerned about, but the whole idea made me nervous. How would I feel if my daughters were getting involved with someone who had considered themselves gay in their past? Or someone who was a womanizer? Or someone who had beaten their former spouse before they became a believer? I would not like it.
I want to believe I can get past my own fatherly protective instincts and live what I believe. It is easy to point the fingers at others, but we want to prevent those that we love from possible harm. The fact is I find it much easier to call others to live a loving, forgiving attitude embracing redempion, while remaining judgemental, scared and protective of my own. This is unworthy of a follower of Christ.
Hi my name is John, and I am a hypocrite.
and everyone says "Hi John"
Sunday, September 04, 2005
25Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Does this sound like the kind of leadership you have seen anywhere? Yeah, me neither
Lord make me a slave and a servant to the people you have brought me to journey with.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
I smiled and said, "pretty good"
He made some small talk, asked if my big wheel was really fast or something. And then he said, "catch you later" I remember that because it sounded so cool. And then he rode away. I don't think I ever talked to him again. But I still remember it to this day. I can picture his face as I type this.
Well for me it was this older kid, who was obviously really cool, and he took time to talk to me. It made me feel so good, I felt important. I remember smiling for a good long while. Just because someone said hello and took a moment to recognise my existence.
I guess the question that comes to my mind now is: Do I do this for others now? If a stupid minute out of my life, may make someone feel better, even a little. If for one moment they can feel validated, and acknowledged just by a smile and a hello, why don't I do it more often?
Maybe the worlds not filled with impressionable seven years olds, but then again, maybe that seven year old is hidden in all of us.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
He called to L who is probably the leader of our group that goes to the Lodge, put his arm around her and talked about how he was going to run away and marry her. I am pretty sure her husband would not approve of the plan. He started dancing to a particular song and insisted she dance a bit too, which she did.
Then N and I spent about a half hour talking to him. He talked about how he liked it there, and that he knew he would get in a lot of trouble if he went back home. He told us of his sister and her pregnancy. I think he is excited to be an uncle. We compared tattoo's, my Christ saves tattoo across my belly was admired and when I told him what it said, it must have stayed in his mind for a whole two seconds. N and I were then invited to go see the new stereo he had bought. It was a small boom box, and he immediately turned on some Tupac and turned it up really loud, to show us how great it sounded. It really was loud, but not so great sounding.
We left after a few hours. I felt pretty melancholy for the rest of the day. Asking myself how we can make better relationships with these broken people. Maybe a movie night, maybe arranging some art lessons, maybe going to help clean some of the rooms.
Or maybe I should just go pick up my friend, and go have a coffee, or see a movie. The programs are great, and might really be enjoyable to some, but ultimately it will be the relationships that matter.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
I shared a message I have been talking about in a few places. It was about the early church, the way they lived, the way they cared for one another, and their devotion to the apostle teaching, to each other, the the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Devotion is a strong word. How are we devoted to one another? Devoted to the fellowship? How does that actually work?
It would seem to me that we are often more devoted to the orgainization, than to each other. I for one believe the way forward in the church, and in the fight against poverty is to learn devotion to each other. The first church sold their belongings, rejected the materialism and consumerism of their day, and in so doing were free to care for others. Funny but this becomes attractional. People being generous, turning their backs on the world, actually loving each other, and caring for each other, well that sounds pretty good. Better than a hour and a half rock concert, motivational speaking session!!! Well to me atleast.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
I just started to go there on Fridays to give out coffee and tea. Its an opportunity to get to know some of the hurting in our own neighbor hood. As I was sitting in the room one guy began talking to us. He decided if he was gonna lie, he might as well go for it! :)
Now as most good lies do his started with some truth, and then just went crazy. We couldn't tell where the truth stopped and the lies began. And as I sat there listening to this pretty young man, who was a helicopter pilot, and didn't drink, but while drunk rolled a personel carrier among other things, I found myself wondering why? Why lie about soooo much?
Then I started thinking about myself. How much of my life, and my personna is a lie? Do I try and make myself seem a little bit better, a little more humble, a little more self sacrificing? And is it any different because it is more believable? Atleast this guy had the balls to lie boldly.
Perhaps the title of this little message is my title. I hope I can be a bit more honest, first with myself, and then with all of those I love.
I think I have come up with the best answer I can. I loved skateboarding. But I always got hurt when I skateboarded. Sometimes pretty severely. The weirdest thing is, I enjoyed skateboarding not because I got hurt, but because there was a risk of getting hurt. If you took away the risk, well, I just wouldn't have any fun at all. I used to skateboard with Ray Barbie, who was at the time one of the top pro's and a Christian, and a bunch of other Christian skate boarders. Someone would always bring up how great it would be in heaven. We could skate all we wanted and pull off the most insane tricks and we'd never fall and get crunched. I couldn't think of anything more boring.
Well this is why I enjoy fighting. And my opponents are the same way. We enjoy the competition because of the risk, and that is why we both volountarily step in the ring to have a good time. I may not be able to live up to my values, but I would hope that even in the middle of a match if I began to take it peronally, or get angry, that I would forfeit and lose that match rather than strike someone in anger.
There is something in me, and in many men I believe that is built for competition, for physical exertion and risk. I think we can follow this in a healthy way, loving each other along the way. Whether it is fighting, footy, or rugby, we get a chance to go out there and let that warrior nature come out, but within a framework that is not sinful. I love the guys I train with, I think as we wrestle and box with one another we are drawn closer, and grow together. There is a learning to get in touch with this part of us and accept it, and control it. Before this I could just deny this part of who I was, and therefore not be ready for the wild warrior man, when he popped up, sometimes the surprise kept me from controlling myself.
I am a pacifist by choice, I am not weak, I am not incapable, I just choose the way of non violence. Regardless of what my sport of choice is.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
He was talking this last weekend about sustainability. He talked about how the ideals are usually different from our reality, and the fact is we may never totally reach our ideals. When we start out in ministry we are often doing so with a lot of our own issues being the driving force, ie. our desire to feel good about helping people that get neglected or something of that nature. And we move on from there hopefully to become people that are commited to the task ie. committed to the poor. And hopefully we will move on to ministering out of our love for God.
He talked about the pitfalls in each place. How we eventually find that we do not find ultimate fulfillment of our own ego in ministry. We will eventually see that the task will never be completed and that others quit and leave us alone. We cannot minister forever with these as the basis of what we do. But eventually we must move towards our love of God being the more important of these.
Then he talked about these vultures :)
I didn't hear where they were from, nor what kind they were, but they gave an interesting picture of Christian ministry. These birds would find a feed and gorge themselves to the point of not being able to move very well. They were not able to fly, but would run and flap their wings often just winding up stumbling and falling. But eventually the air would catch their wings just right and they would lift, as they flapped and stuggled eventually they would hit updrafts and they would wind up soaring to the heights with almost no effort, being carried on the wind.
His point was this, we must wait on the Lord as we are exhausted from ministry, but it is not just standing still. We must move towards God, continuing to walk the walk. And then, somewhere in our struggles we bump into the Spirit of God that lifts us up. The struggle is what allows us to be ready for the up draft. DOesn't mean we earned the rest, nor does it mean that we even helped to get there. We were merely placing ourselves onto Gods hands, and he lifts us up. I have found this to be true in my life. Never really got out of my douldrums or depressions by sitting and waiting for something to happen.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
If we give money it will be eaten up by administration. It will be used up and wasted by the politicians. It will be spent on weapons, etc.
Well some of those things may be true, however, the poor and the marginalized need more than money, they need you.
My brother lived with a young racist skin head for about a year. The guy was a bit of a nutter, and I tried to help him grow out of his hate and anger a bit, but I wasn't very successful. His Grandfather was a multi millionaire who really took a liking to my brother. He was talking to my brother one day and said, "these people think they should have my money, that it isn't fair, well you know what? If I gave them my money they would piss it away. In a few years they would be poor again" And though I would love to test his theory, it might be true in some instances.
We only need to look at the gangster mc's to see how often when we add a lot of money to certain situations that it doesn't help, and can make it worse. But then what is our calling?
It seems to me that they not only need monetary help, but that they also need community, they need support, they need friends, they need examples. Josh McDowell once told me that what I needed to do in the midst of a generation of broken families (the number one cause of poverty in the first world), was to love my wife and kids infront of as many people as I can, but especially the kids in my youth group. He said we might be the only real family they ever see, and they need to have an example to follow. I think I am saying the same thing.
I can send my money, and I do. I can show up at the soup kitchen, and I have. But as long as I go home, in my nice comfortable neighborhood. As long as I am hidden from the people I say I care about. I am just perpetuating a system that keeps the poor, poor. It is easy, and almost ridiculously easy to give to the poor. Infact it makes you feel better. But it is something different to actually live with them. Funny, but when you actually do it, you realize that was pretty easy to. Jackie also said that, its the doing that is hard, then you realize I should have done this long ago.
At the end of Chapter four we find again that the early church lived in a form of voluntary communism. They didn't consider their goods to be their own, but considered it all to be God's and therefore, each others. They made sure needs were met, of everyone in their communities. Some were selling their homes and properties to help one another. It would appear from the text that others would use their homes to take in and care for those that needed that. One thing that is obvious, they considered it quite natural that following Jesus meant living in a way radically different from those around them.
We live in a different age. I have a lawn mower that I only use once every two weeks in the summer, and once a month in the winter, but so does every one of my neighbors. why? We not only live in houses by ourselves, but often have houses so that everyone has their own room, and we have bigger rooms for when we decide to be a part of others lives. We hear a message that God's blessings means you have even more of this stuff. We even have "small houses" that we use just to store our stuff that won't fit into our houses.
We live in a different age, but do we have to live the same way?
I choose not to
Monday, August 15, 2005
Mick Duncan and Jackie Pullinger were the key speakers.
Now Mick is someone I love listening to. He doesn't sweeten it up. He doesn't give you much in the way of comic relief. Nor does he shy away from the hard subjects. Brutally honest and direct. I love hearing from Mick, because when I do, I invariably hear from God as well.
Mick and his wife Ruby went to live in the slums of Manilla for ten years. They lived in a little shack right in the middle of the filth and poverty. They went with their children as well. For ten years they were riddled with illness, with trials we can only imagine, and most tragically one of their children died. Ofcourse Mick has copped a lot of flack for this. And I won't take the time to defend him here, nor would he want me to I belive. But he followed the call of God to minister to the poor, and he paid a heavy price.
Mick's second message really impacted me. He explained that he didn't have a bunch of miraculous signs show him he was called to Manilla. He didn't hear Gods voice from a clouds as a dove gently floated onto his shoulder. He didn't receive a letter in the post signed the almighty. He saw the need. He felt God's compassion, and he set out to meet that need.
He put his hand up. He said here I am send me. He was moved with compassion and acted. Look my friends, I believe God leads and directs us. I believe God lights our path. But I also believe that God cannot steer a parked car. Until we get moving, put our hand up, do something, we are merely an inert object. And as much as God would point you in the correct direction unless you move, you will only be a car pointing a different way, but still parked, going no where.
This world needs people to put their hand up. To say, I will respond. It requires two things, to see, and then to act. So open your eyes, then open your heart and just do what it says. Oh, and pray for me as I try to do the same thing.
So Dad how can I love your people today?
Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "look at us", so the man gave him his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Now, I see beggars all the time. I am sure you do as well. But do you actually look them in the eye? If they aren't looking do you call their attention to your presence? Do you take the time to actually acknowledge their humanity, to interact with them on a human level? Sadly, sometimes I do not.
Now Peter and John said, "we have no money, but we'll give you what we can." I believe they had already given him something, the knowledge that he was not invisible. But they gave him what they had to give, and then something amazing happened. Now I believe in miracles. I have seen some with my own two eyes, but I also have grown a bit of doubt about my ability to pull someone to their feet.
But I wonder a few things about this passage:
Do we look these people in the eye?
Can we legitmately say, "I have no money"
And if we can, are we then absolved of responsiblity? Or are we required to give what we do have?
Maybe we can see God working miraculously in our own lives if we take the time, and the faith, to follow the example of Peter and John. You know I don't have any money, but how about some respect, and then how about some...?
What can I offer?
Friday, August 12, 2005
My heart started slamming in my chest.
I got that God wants to talk to you feeling. I closed my eyes and tried to listen and I this is what I saw.
I saw an island. It was kinda black and white and so reminded me a little of Alcatraz, probably from old movie scenes. But there were many bridges that went out to the island. It appeared to me that the Spirit of God was smashing the bridges. And then I saw people getting into the water and swimming towards the island.
I asked the Lord what this meant, and this is what I believe He told me.
We put the poor, the outcasts, the sinners, the different on an island. These may be ghettos, or mental hospitals, or just the cliques we force them into. Then we build bridges to these islands. These bridges are our programs. Then make us feel in contact, they make us feel like we are doing something, like we are meeting the needs. But the fact is, they keep these people on their islands and us off. We might visit them, but we are still alienated from them. The Spirit wants to take down these bridges so that we must climb into the water, make a commitment and a sacrifice and actually live with these people. This is the way of Jesus.
And no I haven't seen the motorcycle diaries, I have been told I just described a scene from it. I look forward to seeing it now.