Tuesday, March 29, 2005

the church part 4

I will now go into some of the Pauline ideas. If we take these in context, viewing first Jesus, and cross referencing the church as described in Acts, I think we get a pretty good picture of what Church is meant to be. This will not only serve to help us to understand our calling as the community of faith, but also make us relevant to our communities. Please understand that this part doesn't really matter much if we don't understand the above call to relational, incarnational ministry. The church like Jesus, becomes Gods presence in the midst of the world, rather than call the world to it.

Pauls concept of the body, and every joint supplying. In the epistle to the Ephesians Paul says that the body of Christ is to be built up for works of ministry. It also says that each person in the body has a particular function, and when we are all doing our part, the whole body works properly. This theme is repeated often. The idea being quite simple actually. If your little toe stops working, it effects the entire body, same with the stomach, the knee whatever. So for the body to be healthy each part must do its part.

First Corinthians tells us when we gather we are all to participate as well. 1 Corinthians 14:26 (The Message) 26So here's what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. In Romans we are told that we all have certain gifts, some have the gift of hospitality, some of leadership and so on. It then tells us to work hard, to not be lazy, to serve the Lord with devotion.

Now here is where the current church structure has made things difficult. When we gather together, often we have hundreds, or sometimes thousands of people. It is not possible to have each person involved in sharing. So hundreds of gifts do not get utilized. Now some may say, well they can use there gifts at home, well it seems to me, this was not the intention of Pauls exhortation.

We know from history, and the bible that churches met in homes in the first century. Now the place is not the most important thing here, but, we see from this that there would naturally be a limit in space in a home. That these groups would be small enough that each person could bring something. Maybe one would bring the meal. Another a word of warning that they felt while praying. Another a scripture passage that really changed their life that week. Every joint supplying.

We also see that in this smaller grouping the ability to have true community. In larger groups we must necessarily divide into smaller groups in order to have deep relationships, or, have more shallow relationships with multitudes of people. We see this in Jesus life, he made sure the numbers were managable. There was a small group that he spent most of His time with, but when larger groups appeared he often enlisted the help of the smaller group to minister to them, but eventually sent the crowds away.

Now when we consider the "charismatic" gifts, we often see some pretty weird stuff. And I think again it is possible that our current structure adds to these abuses of the gifts. When a gift of knowledge, or prophecy is spoken in a large gathering, there is an unhealthy tendency to elevate the person. People tend to idolize the individual and put them above others. This happens because outside of relationships we do not see the person anymore but the gift. Then with that social "power" we see others try and qualify for that prestige, and it can often become a contest to see who is most gifted. This can be true in the smaller groups, but since relationships are much closer, and vulnerable, and the power available much smaller, we find this not as easy to fall into.

We also see the ability for each person to beging to experience the gifts of the Spirit in their lives. Someone who may have a prophetic gifting, really doesn't have much place in the larger gathering, because everything is scripted, or is overseen by someone who may or may not know of this persons giftings. In a small group we can begin to walk these out in a less intense envirenment. And if a strong word from the Lord is given, it can and should be shared around the churches, and maybe via a large gathering.

So in this smaller focused group we find the giftings of the community expressed more easily, and the burden shared more equally. So every joint supplies, not just the extremely talented, and the rest pay them to be experts in their gift.

I will next talk about the five fold ministries.

Friday, March 25, 2005

the church part 3

Next I would like to take a look at our faith communities. Again I would like to start with the idea that Jesus is central to our faith in every single aspect. And in this aspect He should be as well. We are constantly called the body of Christ, and Christian thought is that we are filled with the very Spirit of God. The veil to the holy of holies was rent, and we are now the holy of holies.

So, like Jesus was the emmanuel, God with us, we too are called to be God's presence on earth now. Having been filled with the Spirit, one can honestly say spending time with God, is in many ways spending time with each other. Yet the structure of our worship has been largely regulated towards the professional, and the gifted, and not just the gifted but the "particularly" gifted. In many of our worship services the only reference to each other is the sign of peace, however that is lived out in each context. And fellowship largly becomes having lunch on the way home.

Many movements have arisen stressing the need for small groups, or cell groups, and there is much hope in this. But often these groups become nothing more than a smaller version of the big worship. There is little or no acknowledgement of the Spirit of God in each member, nor their particular giftings of personality, calling, and the miraculous . If we are truly filled with the Spirit, then to ignore some, is to ignore the Spirit. Paul alludes to this in his letters, saying every joint supplies, all bring something to worship and so on.

Now I am not advocating a wholesale refusal to gather in large groups, and have excellence in worship times. I am saying that it reflects a part of Gods charector, and is very important, but it is only a part. When we realize that it is an occasional, joyful, and powerful time, we not only pour our hearts more into true community, but we take the pressure off of our ministers that are somewhat less "gifted" than Greg Laurie, and Rick Warren.

The other idea here is the need for our communities to be lived out in front of the people we are sent to reach. When we embrace the community of faith, and begin to live in this love community. We become the greatest witness to the world. You will know they are my disciples by the way they love one another. Jesus also prays, Father I pray they may be one with each other so that the world may know that you sent Me. The truth of Jesus never shines so brightly as when the community of faith is loving one another. However, with our current structure, most of this loving is designed to be done behind the fortress of our churches. When the church becomes a place, the world never gets to see our communities, unless we get them to the place, and usually they have no interest in going to that place.

When the community of God becomes a living breathing entity, out in the world, being part of it, incarnating within culture, then culture can truly see the truth of Christ, and be won to Him. When conflicts are resolved with justice and mercy, when care is given with true compassion, when general affection is shared, Christ is shown to be in our midst. And though these things often do happen in our churches today, they too often happen behind closed doors, and our light is put under a bushel.

True Christian community needs to be our goal, as it was Jesus goal. It needs to be the focus of our structure, and our practices. And it needs to be placed in the midst of the population. Then Christ' body, is once again come to the world.

the rev

Holy week ritual for wife and I

On Good Friday my wife and children and I said a prayer and then watched the Passion. I had not seen it before, so it was especially meaningful for me. I have often wondered why a movie depicting the last twenty four hours of Jesus life in the gruesome reality had not been made. Well, Mel did a spectacular job on this one. It made me really want to join my wife in her next Good Friday ritual.

I accompanied my wife to the tattoo parlour for her latest tat. I had purchased a gift certificate for her as a Christmas present and she chose that Good Friday to get her work done. She had Emmanuel in Greek tattooed down her spine. After watching the Passion, I had the desire to get one too. It just seemed right to me to have a permenant reminder of Gods sacrifice that day.

Raquel had planned hers for over a year, and I recomend this for anyone planning a tat, I mean it will be there even after you are dead, you better make sure. She wanted to have a symbol of God's words to her during a time of trial and strife. While seeing some of the pain of a grandmother looking for help taking care of her grand daughter, and finding the authorities not too helpful, Raquel sensed God's voice telling her, "my church needs to put Jesus back in the world". Emmanuel means God with us. And if we are truly the body of Christ that is what we are.

After watching the movie I wanted a reminder that God calls us to pick up our own cross, and follow Jesus. I got the letters D X F tattooed on my right wrist.

D deny yourself

X the cross, pick yours up

F follow Jesus

So on this holy week we remembered, we bled, and we have a scar.

The thing I like about symbols is people always ask what they mean. As they do with words in another language. I get to share some of my life, and my belief with others, and this I do enjoy.

May God bless you this season.

the rev

Good Friday

I watched the Passion last night for the first time. It was remarkably true to the biblical and historical record. I was deeply moved. But I found myself really drawn to the charector of Peter.

Peter was so gung ho. He loved Jesus with all of his heart, and was the leader of the apostles. He swore his allegiance even unto death, yet when the test came he failed. Everything in him wanted to be the hero of the faith. Everything in him wanted to stand and die if necessary along side his master, his Lord. Yet his frailty is recorded for all of history to see.

We all know about Jesus' death, but I believe Peter died that night too. He died to his own power, his own abilities, to his own pride. He was crushed, and humiliated. Everything he said he believed seemed to him now, just a lie. He was no longer worthy to be called a disciple.

But we all also know of Christ resurection. And because of this Peter's.

This Friday I pray you will all find your own death, your own crucifixion. I pray that you will like the scripture says, be "poor in spirit" for the kingdom of God is never far from those of us that have died. I pray that your lives would be lost, so that they might be found. That like Peter, you will experience the resurection of Christ as your own.

And move on to be a caretaker of God's children.

Christ sacrifice must remind us of our own desperate need for resurection. Christ' death must remind us of our own death, in baptism. And seeing His ability to face this with the resolve and majesty of God, must remind us of our brokeness. I have denied him, in my thoughts, in my words, in what I have done, and what I have failed to do, and I long to be restored that I might not deny him again.

May Gods presence be experienced in your lives this Holy week.

the rev

Thursday, March 17, 2005

standing up for the defensless, or protecting a pedofile?

The family and I were on our way to Anglesea for a day. Sunshine was predicted, so we thought a day at the beach might be a good idea. We brought our jackets however as we are starting to understand Victorian weather charts are really just hopeful guesses. We were looking forward to some time with our friends, and some sunbathing.

As we were making our way through Geelong, we saw a disturbing sight. Right on the side of the road there was a man laying on the ground struggling to get up. Another man was obviously mad as hell, circling and screaming at the downed man. I couldn't tell exactly what was going on, the crazed man might have just bashed the other, but maybe the other was drunk and fallen down, and his mate was just pissed off at him for not holding his liquor. I wanted to stop just in case assistance was needed, but the wife thought it might not be a good idea with my daughters in the car. But we were both unsure as to what we should do.

As we passed the scene another car stopped, the guy who stepped out looked like a nice bloke, and wasn't very big. The angry man was not really tall, but was chiseled with muscle and looked like he had been in a scrap or two. Negotiations started. My wife was still not sure, but now was worried for this other fellow. I thought we needed to go back and make sure things were okay. She agreed, and we turned around. As we approached the place we saw that the angry guy had left, but now was turning to go back.

We saw the one who had been on the ground staggering away. As we made our second u turn to go back and give some assistance, we saw the car that had stopped before, was now pulling in to a fish and chips shop, what we didn't know was they were calling for an ambulance.

When we arrived at the staggering man, we realized he was badly hurt. He was covered in blood. His face looked like the end of a Rocky movie, and he had already given up walking for a seat in the grass. I didn't want to touch him, covered in blood, but I was very concerned for him. As I began to ask him if he was alright the angry man arrived, he was screaming at the guy.

As I took a stance that said I am not going to let you hurt him anymore, he started screaming about protecting a pedofile, and saying that the man molested his four year old daughter. Now I find myself in a difficult position. What do I make of this information? He is pacing back and forth, and I am trying to figure out what to do, but also realizing, I need to decide fast. Do I watch and allow another assault, or do I choke someone unconscious to protect someone who may be a pedofile? I didn't really want to do either.

Sometimes things happen that you later realize were God's assistance. I said calmly, "well then lets just call the police" The angry man changed a bit.

"I can't call the police, I just got out of jail"

"Well I am going to call the police, so we can work this out"

He then started to explain what happened, His explainations contradicted each other, and didn't make sense at all. It appears to me that these two had been drinking together, hired a cab to take them somewhere, and then started argueing. The cab driver kicked them out of the cab, and the angry guy got so mad he bashed the other. When someone stopped to intervene he left not wanting to get in trouble, but came back and made up this excuse so he could bash him some more. Atleast that is what I believe happened now after talking to the other fellow.

I went to tell Raquel to call the cops on her mobile phone, and found she already had, she is a smart gal. I told the guy the police were called and on their way, and that he had better leave. He said, "where? I don't have anywhere to go" and he left, very reluctantly.

Raquel got on to an ambulance dispatch and they sent someone out. I was not going to leave this guy to get beaten up, and told him I would stay until the ambulance arrived. He assured me he didn't know what the guy was talking about, and I had already figured out that their was no girl in the cab. I asked if he had been drinking, he said, "yeah, a bit" I knew it was more than a bit. I gave him some apple juice, stood in the sun so I would shade him a bit, and we waited for the ambulance.

He thanked me over and over for what I had done.

The ambulance came and took him away.

It is possible I am wrong. Maybe he did molest the guys daughter. Maybe I protected a pedofile. All I know is that in the heat of the battle, I defended someone who was defenseless. I have to leave the rest to God.

the rev

the church part two

Now, I will continue to assert that Jesus is the center of our faith, and should be the center of our ecclesiology. I hate using a big word, but it is just more simple for me, please forgive me. The word means our understanding of how the church is structured, practices, and purposes.
So if we start with Jesus, and the gospels, we can interpret everything else based on the examples Jesus set and His teachings. Now one of the problems with the modern idea of church is its non conformity to Jesus example in terms of His becoming part of the community of humankind. We have instead created our own community, and call people out of their communities and into a "new" community which is the church.

Now this accomplishes many things, some of them would seem good, others seem unimportant and some I think you will see give critics the right to call the church irrelevent.
In creating our own culture, we create our own language. This language makes it difficult to speak to others on their level. Examples, we use words like, evangelism, repentence, sanctification, holiness, and even ecclesiology (sorry :( ) These words are not part of the vocabulary of most of those we are trying to influence.

We have created our own power structures, the church becomes a political entity. Those that control the most people, have the most power. Those that have the power can use it in ways that may or may not be good for their followers, for spirituality, or for the earth. The creation of power structures also creates a division between the leaders, and the followers. And then these powers if great enough can then begin to enforce their own will upon others outside of their own kingdoms. Notice Jesus, gave away His power, and told the others the way to heavenly power is service.

We have created our own merchandise. Now this goes much deeper than our "Christian" music and t shirt. But we have, rather than live in the world and among the world, we have simply mimiced their consumeristic notions, and duplicated them, even in our church service. We sell knowledge, and entertainment, and to some extent we attempt to sell God experiences. Rather than have a service where the gifts of all are given for the edification of all, we pay professionals to do the work for us. To entertain us, to make us feel close to God, to make us understand the holy scriptures. We pay for a product, and this product is our own spiritual well being. I will talk more about consumerism and its effect on the church later.

So again we have created our own culture, and then all of our efforts are to call people into our sub culture, with the idea being that within our subculture truth will be found.
Now the modern church growth movement had done much to explore what those outside of this culture are looking for in an effort to reach them. Churches like Willow Creek have spent much time and resource to make the services and programs meaningful to those outside of the Christian culture, in the hopes of calling them out of their own culture and into the church culture. But again this is an attractional mode. And it will often fail because, it is set up to compete with the other consumeristic offerings. So rather than a grass roots movement of communities we have experts, that create experiences that will attract new customers.

My contention is that we have taken the "be in the world, but not of the world" scripture and actually completely misapplied it. We have created worlds that are not actually in the world, but then act consistent with the worlds primary religion which is consumerism. The truth of this is easily seen when we see that most devout Christians now have no, real relationships outside of their family, with non Christians. It also sets up a very difficult situation where people that work in the "real" world, and then come home to their Christian subculture, find themselves living dual lives. Sometimes there is no moral distinction, in other words people aren't being hypocrites, but there is a disconnection in their workplace from their normal world.

Discipleship then becomes about training people how to act within our new subcultures. I can often tell which church people attend by the words they use when they pray. Some church members can be spotted by their clothing and so on. Discipleship also is about teaching people the correct answers for difficult questions, the correct way to interpret our holy books, and the correct application of rituals. And holiness is defined by how well one learns this new culture and acts properly within it. It becomes an inculturation process, rather than a relationship that teaches them how to walk with God, in and among their friends, and their culture.

Therefore, for those outside of the church culture, it seems irrelevent. You are not teaching me to walk within my own world, but calling me into a differnt world. For some this "escape" is welcome and they make it out of desperation, or desire, which is fine. But a vast majority now don't want t different world, but the ability to have a transcendant spirituality within their own world. Funny but it seems like that was what Jesus came to offer.

the rev

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Church part one

For the purpose of this thread I will define the church as, the community of Jesus followers and their corporate identity and worship.

Let me start by saying I do not believe the church is irrelevent, I think it has amazing relevence to todays society. But, what the church has chosen to be about, is not only causing it to be perceived as irrelevent, but has in effect caused it to be irrelevent in many areas.

Now, I must state that my critique of the church is not meant to mean I am somehow better than it, but rather to confront some problems I see in the church, and to call it, and myself to a higher calling. I have some ideas, but not the answer, and I hope we will continue to go forward, and in some respects go backwards to our roots.

I must also state that throughout the world there are many different forms of Christianity, and my generalizations are mainly reflecting the current "western" church models and structures.

I will start with one of the things that has I think become a problem. We are Christians. The term Christian was a derogatory term made to ridicule these people that seemed obsessed with following Christ, Jesus. This is our foremost calling. We are to be followers of Christ.

In the monotheistic Jewish understanding from which our religion comes we must understand that Christ is to be central to all of our lives. It is not Christ is the center of my spiritual side, and the republican party the center of my political side. There is no animism here. It is meant to be Christ, over all of our life. We are to follow Christ in our worship, in our behavior, in our politics, and even in our structure and practice of church. Unfortunately this has not always been the case.

In our church structure and practice we have often been Paulians, or Constantinians. We have allowed others to be central to our church practice, rather than Christ. Now before you pull out your bibles and have a go at me, let me suggest to you that I have no problem with Paul. Nor see his contributions to the New Testement as less valid. I do think that we are to view Pauls advice and directions through the lens of Jesus life and teachings rather than the other way around. We tend to not have a problem doing this with the Old Testement, but when it is suggested that we look at other New Testement passages through the lens of the Gospels we sometimes hit a road bump.

This is not a bad place to find ourselves. As we see a world in which the interest in spirituality, God and even Jesus is at a new high, and interest in church at a new low, we can rejoice that one of our responses is to lift up Jesus. Jesus is the center of our faith, and our church. My goal is to lift Jesus up, rather than other important, yet less central things.

Let us start with a current Christian cliche'. Its not a religion, but a relationship. This is supposed to be true. It is what Jesus modeled, and in fact opened the door to. We are to be in relationship with God, and relationship with Jesus. And infact if we are to truly center on Jesus, everything we do is to be based around relationship.

For example Discipleship or Christian training

In church growth, and outreach circles the question often comes up, what do we do for discipleship? We search the epistles, we write books about education, and primacy theory and what not, however, if Christ is central, why do we not ask the question, "how did Jesus view and practice discipleship?"

Jesus lived in close community, actually shared community with a group of people for five years. During this time He taught them, but it is apparent that His teaching is modeling more than speaking. We see when Peter raises someone from death, he follows Jesus' practice exactly. Jesus taught the disciples how to live as a son of God, by being the Son of God in front of their eyes. He modelled it.

So we should see discipleship just as the cliche', not a religion, not a program, but a relationship. A commited, communal and ultimately a sacrificial relationship.

Another example


We are called to make disciples of all nations. Interesting we are called to make disciples, not converts, but that is another talk. It is a direct command of Jesus. However what is our methodology for this? We have Sunday school, we have evangelism teams, we have seeker senstive services, we have programs. But the question we should be asking is, how did Jesus do outreach.

The first and foremost thing we see is Jesus was incarnational, not attractional. In fact when Jesus ministry became attractive, He intentionally made it unattractive lest the crowds stopped Him from His true purpose. God did not make a beautiful, professional display, to make the sinners come to heaven. He became one of us. He came to us, and became one of us, and lived in our midst. He incarnated, and if he really is the center of our outreach, we must do the same.

It is not enought to make our services attractive to our neighbors. It is not enough to try and get our neighbors to attend church. We are called to be a part of our neighborhood. To have relationship with our neighbors. To be frequent at their tables, and them at ours. To walk through the trials and tribulations of life, and let Christ in us draw them unto the Father.

This is particularly true in this generation. In a cultural context where relativity has become more and more the accepted world view, and tolerance has become almost a religion, the message itself is not always heard. Why? Well because it is just one of many messages. The first question that is asked is not is the message true? but can I trust the messenger? If we are not a part of peoples lives, if we have not proven our charector, if we have not "been Jesus" to them, they do not know if they can trust the messanger, then they do not know if they can trust the message either.

Please let me point out that I acknowledge the mystical power of the scriptures, and the work of the Holy Spirit, and God can and does do things outside of the framework I am advocating. This does not however mean that it is always the case, nor that we should presume upon God to make up for our error.

So Jesus came into community with us, so we could hear His message. He incarnated, and we are called to do the same. But, also, His outreach was one of relational discipleship as I pointed out before. He understood that will His miracles and charisma, he could do public ministry, and did, but the true effectiveness of His ministry would not be on stage, but behind the scenes in everday life. The disciples would be the carriers of the flame of outreach to the rest of the World. This is outreach by multiplication rather than addition.

Jesus is to be the center of our practices as a church.

the rev

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

John the Baptist

Yes that is my name. Well atleast it was last Saturday.

It was cloudy and dreary all day, but it started to clear a bit right as we started to have our little service. It was family and friends of our little church in Footscray. There were about thirty of us. We gathered on the beach by Whalerock at the tidal river. The tea tree oil gives the water a very brown color that makes it look deeper than it is. We had to look around for a hole deep enough to bury those getting baptised. When we found the place we gathered together and had a prayer, we read a reading, and then we dedicated little Toby Wight. It was an honor to do so. We had the parents commit to raising him in the faith, by both teaching and example. And then had the community pledge to do the same, being an encouragement to the parents. I shared a bit of scripture that I though applied.

Then we dedicated Elwood and Grace Stevens, another two children from our church. Followed the same process. It was a very special time. I remembered when Raquel and I dedicated our two daughters many years ago. That made the next part a bit more special. And a bit more difficult.

I called up my oldest daughter Adriahna, she is fifteen, and I started to cry. I am crying a bit right now as I write this. I explained how she has wanted to be baptised for sometime now, but agreed to wait until we were in Australia and do it at the tidal river with our new faith community. I explained how proud I am of my two daughters, and that they were of age now. Then Ady, as her friends call her, talked about why she was getting baptised and her love for Jesus and desire to dedicate her life to Him. Then we walked into the deepest water, about waist high, and buried her, she was raised a new and Julie Stevens and I prayed for her. I told her the same thing I would tell her sister in a few minutes, "you are now a woman, you are responsible to God now for your life and your ministry. Your mom and I will always be your parents and always love you, but you now are old enough to be responsible for your own life" I think I cried a bit more.

Next I called up Cheyenne, she is fourteen. I didn't cry as much this time, and I think that relieved her a bit. She gave her testimony, and expressed her desire to give her whole heart to God. And then we waded into the water. Again I buried one of my daughters, to be risen anew. Anita Wight helped me and we prayed for Cheyenne. Anita told Cheyenne that her love for people was her calling.

We next baptised my friends Nick and Trudy. They have both been in ministry for a while, and wanted to be baptised as both an issue of obedience, and as a desire to increase their ministries. It was quite an honor to be a part of this special time in their lives. To relive my own baptism, and to commit myself once more to this journey. I have died, am dying, and will die. I have been raised again, am being raised, and will be raised. The mystery of our faith. And what an amazing mystery it is.

I pray your baptism will be a fresh experience in your present.

the rev

training at the beach

My mate was training for a fight while visiting us from the states. He had to stay in shape, yet we were many K's from the nearest gym. So we had to make do. I wanted to go running with him in the mornings, but, my sore knee and my exhaustion kept me from it. He ran for about an hour every morning.

Then as the evening started to creep up we would head down to the beach for some more intense training. The first night I had him do some shadow boxing to warm up. A few round of fairly brisk shadow boxing and then a good 2 K run to makes sure he was good and warmed. In the soft sand ofcourse. This wasn't supposed to be fun. I then had him start doing interval sprints. I let him run on the hard sand for those. Run at full pace for a minute and then jog for a minute. And again. And again. And again.

I had him do mf's, coach used to tell us that stood for My Favorites, but we though otherwise. He would run ten metres at full sprint touch the ground and come back to the start touch the ground, then twenty, then thirty, then forty, and then back down. When the last ten meters were done that was one. We did more than one.

Then twenty squats, sprint up a sand dune, jog back, sprint to the hard sand, do twenty push ups, jog back twenty squats and up again. We did that for a while. People were watching us like we were crazy. I felt crazy. Gabe felt like dying :)

Then we went down to the hard sand to do a little punching and kicking training. I had the thai full arm pads, he was wearing boxing gloves. There was a small group of young guys that were making fun of us a bit. Mimicing the boxing, and just acting like jerks. I though about a six on two sparring session, but felt we needed a real work out :) Funny their humour seemed to leave them when Gabe started punching and kicking the pads. When someone really knows what they are doing the punches and kicks land with a ferocity that can be a bit overwhelming for normal folk. He really knows what he is doing.

We finished up with five rounds of pads and then were through for night one. Gabe was consolled by some of the vacationers on the beach, I am sure they hated me, what a mean guy I am.

Not to over spiritualize things too much, but it seems a bit more sane to make these sacrifices for an athletic event. Everyone seemed to understand. He is on holiday, but he didn't drink more than a glass of wine. He ate very healthy, when there was some awesome food being shared. He worked his ass off both morning and evening. In this beautiful setting that yelled for you to relax, take a load off, just enjoy the grandeur of Gods creation, He was devoted to improving, to growing, to being in shape. And no one thought it was crazy, it is just what you have to do to win. Funny, but we are called to "devote" ourselves to the apostles teachings, to breaking bread, to prayer, and to fellowship. But if you sacrifice this much, you are seen as religious, fanatic, over the top. Well you know what? Maybe devotion is just that. Making sacrifices, working hard, seeming a bit strange.

I know I feel like maybe I should be training for my fight, what about you?

the rev

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


I have dealt with depression for most of my adult life, but only in cycles that are relatively short. It seems a part of my ADD, and I have grown to understand it and to just wade through it. Apparently what happens is I self medicate with adrenaline rushes. This allows me to hyper focus and be somewhat normal in how I operate socially, and mentally. So I live my life in some sort of chaos, this chaos makes my adrenaline surge, and I function very well in this stressed out world I have created. But, since we can't live that way for long, I usually end up in a cycle of depression that lasts for a few days, I can't do much, I lay around, I feel on the verge of tears at all times. Then like magic I pop out of it, and start creating a whole new bach of chaos for myself.

Let me tell you, my wife loves this :)

The only problem is, sometimes it lasts longer. One time I sank into a ten month spot of depression, and the term "dark night of the soul" really became reality to me. This portion of my life was very difficult. I was in youth ministry at the time, I had two very young children, and ofcourse my wife. I felt all alone. I would lay in bed at night, right next to my wife, and feel all alone in the world. I cried almost every night. I had no energy, I had no desire, no passion and none of my usual manic optimism. I never thought of suicide I could not quit, and could not subject my family to that, I just wished I wasn't alive anymore. It was very difficult for me, and my family.

The interesting thing is God never stopped using me. I did not hide my depression, I shared with the kids in my youth group, with the elders from my church, and ofcourse with my wife. I had made a commitment to never be false with the community God entrusted me to. So it wasn't the put on a happy face and pretend everything is okay. But God calls us to be faithful, and honors that faithfulness. I felt no passion, yet God somehow allowed my messages to encourage others and so forth. I learned a valuable lesson at this time. How we walk in the midst of these hard times is what defines and refines our charecter. We are called to be open, honest, and faithful.

The only thing that makes my "cycle" a bit hard, is my fear that it won't go away in a few days. Because I remember the one time it didn't go away, for ten months. And then it only went away after I fasted for 21 days on just water. That a story I can tell at another time.

Well about three and a half weeks ago, I felt the familiar cycle start to hit its bottom, a few days later it had not risen, and I was scared. I asked people to pray for me, and I began examining the different stimuli that may cause the extension.

Part of the problem is my body. My fight training really helps me to deal with both the ADD and the depression, but lately I get hurt so much I can't train as intensely as I need to for my medicinal needs.

Another part of the problem is being alone. I am not good at it. I have for the last sixteen years always had people in my home. My wife home schooled the kids, so the family was always there. Our church was always an open door policy so usually some of the church members were there as well. And often we had people living with us, for a variety of reasons. But now, when I am working at home as I often do, the wife is at the cafe working, the girls are at school, and I am by myself. I am a very social person, and this has been hard.

And the last part, well I do think there is a spiritual element to it all. I feel a bit under scrutiny if you understand what I mean.

These things added to my usual cycle, had caused me to have a bit of a lengthy dip. But as I have learned before, I ask for prayer, share my situation, and keep doing as I am called to do. It isn't fun, or easy, but I just keep walking. At the FORGE intensive I was at the two and a half week mark. It was a bit hard, but many there prayed for me. I heard some brilliant messages by Mark Sayers, Mike Frost, Al and Deb Hirsh. And the Sunday night service was quite enjoyable. I spoke on Monday, and I think did okay. But the dark cloud still had not lifted. But God still used me I believe. And He always does.

My desire is to be an example of God's faithfulness, by being faithful myself. To share the good, the bad, and the ugly with those I journey with. I refuse to come across as the got it all together God man, the fact is, I am as stuffed up as you, or anyone else. I have doubts, fears, and depression and I walk with God through it all. With the help of my community, and the Spirit of God, I am faithful, and so too can you be.

By the way, it appears I will not need to fast, which is good, the food here in Melbourne is too good to go on a long fast :) Thanks to those that have prayed and encouraged me along the way.

the rev