Sunday, February 27, 2005

I'm back

Well it was an amazing week for me. I have been struggling with depression, not fun, but part of life for all of us I am sure. This short holiday was very good for me, helped me to pull out of it. I will write a bit more about my depression and my experiences in that in another post.

I felt things start to lift as I arrived at Wilsons prom. The stunning beauty of the place, is medicinal all by itself. We saw a kangaroo, two emus, a few wombats, and a few foxes on the way in, I imagine Aussies, when observing Americans get their first look at the Australian wildlife, feel a bit like parents watching their kids look at disneyland for the first time. I was also with a good friend from the states who had come out to visit, and was arriving at a campsite filled with the people from my faith community, as well as some other very good friends. It is quite amazing what a community of people that truly love and care for one another can do for your soul. I was feeling better immediately.

We had a great dinner prepared by one of my best mates Rob. It was an awesome vegetarian stew. A nice glass of wine, and some great company completed the evening. We chased a wombat out of our tent, got settled, and went to bed. It was a wonderful night sleep, only interupted by the wombat trying to come back in. He actually tore a small hole in the tent, but we scared him away and went back to sleep. Well atleast I did, the wife was a bit more worried about a return than I was.

I awoke to one of my favorite noises in the world, the cheerful and slightly crazy laugh of the cuckaburos. Its nice to wake up smiling. It felt like the depression had completely gone away, and I was very relieved. The day was completely overcast, the sun didn't come out til about five in the evening, but we didn't care. We just lazed around the beach, talked alot, and aside from spending an hour helping my friend train for his up coming fight, didn't do much of anything. I was feeling refreshed.

The next few days were sunny, and we spent them soaking up the precious few rays, swam out and jumped off some cliffs, took a walk through the rain forest, and ate a few more awesome meals. If you don't have a friend that is a gourmet cook, I highly suggest finding one.

Our last day there was the most incredible time for me. I had the honor of baptising my daughters, a very good friend, and one of our newer church members. I also presided over the dedication of three children from our community as well. There were about thirty of our friends and family present, and it was quite an amazing service. The scenery was magestic, I will post pictures later of the baptism at Whale Rock. Sounds like a sappy movie title.

I will admit I cried quite freely when baptising my girls. They are truly amazing young women, who have such a profound and pure faith in Jesus. It was great doing it along with a baby dedication, as I remembered dedicating them years ago, and now they were making their own decision. God is very good.

Over the next few days I will try and tell stories of specific events during the week. As well as post some of my observations and experiences dealing with my depression and the FORGE intensive.

I feel a bit on the edge again, it is not easy for me to be alone so much, and now I find myself working in an empty house. One thing I have learned is that community, true community is very hard, it takes humility, courage, and transparency. But the benefits are beyond anything else we can experience this side of heaven. One can almost become addicted to it.

the rev

Sunday, February 20, 2005

On Holiday


I have been very busy with FORGE the last few days. This was the first intensive weekend of our missionary training course. A lot of preparation, and then a lot of time actually running the weekend. It has gone well and I will tell you more about it soon.

I will also have to finish my testimony in a week as well.

We leave today for Wilsons Promontory for a weeks vacation. We are going with our friends from out church, and our last day there we will be baptising a few people, including my daughters, and dedicating a few of the children from our church as well.

Hope you can get along without me for a few days.

the rev

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

My Testimony

I was raised as a good Catholic, we went to church on Easter, or Christmas, sometimes both :) I went to Catholic jr High School, St. Edwards in Corona California. I almost got expelled for getting in a fist fight with my eighth grade teacher. He hit me first, they suspended me for three days and didn't put it in my permanent records. He wasn't exactly the best teacher I ever had. I almost got in trouble for drinking a bit of the wine in the back of the church, when I was an altar boy.

Didn't really like church much, but had a pretty profound experience when I was around ten, in the Charismatic mass. My mom brought me, and this was different. I really sensed God in a way that I cannot to this day deny. But I went my own way.

At about eleven I started going down a bad path. I started hanging out with some of the rougher kids and started to get in a bit of trouble. Drank a bit. Smoked some pot. Then around thirteen I started listening to punk rock. This was when it was pretty new to So Cal. It was 1979, and bands like the Dead Kennedy's, Bad Religion, and Social Distortion were just coming out. I was kinda a poser. Left home as a clean cut kid, but changed my clothes and hairstyle as soon as I was away from mom's eyes. We got in a bit of trouble, started experimenting a bit more with drugs, but nothing too hard core. My friends, the Crown Town Punks, started getting pretty deep into it, some of them were spending longer and longer stints in juvenile detention centers.

I started going to Notre Dame high school, and there I met some friends of Portugese lineage. They turned me on to Portuguese bullfighting. This was the craziest thing I had ever seen, eight guys get in a line and catch a bull, head on, no capes, no barrels, just caught the bull. I got into it right away. I became one of the best "forcados" in the country, and was the only white guy that the portuguese would actually let their daughters date. I was also wrestling on the school team, but as one of only a few punk rockers in school I wasn't very popular.

I was heading in a bad direction and didn't care much for church, God, or anything but myself. The ego I was developing bullfighting was pretty overgrown for a very young man. My mom desperately wanted me to get into church, so I would go once and a while just to make her happy, and get a few prayers for my bullfighting. Standing in front of a charging bull makes you hedge your bets a bit. My mom organised a monthly young persons group the first few meetings were at our house. She was really just trying to get me interested, and it worked, when this hot chick came walking in the door. I figured, she is pretty good looking, maybe this church stuff isn't too bad. I asked her out and she said yes. Our second date we went to her brother in law and sisters house for a New Years Eve party. It was 84/85

I remember being amazed at how these people seemed to really care for each other. I was even more amazed at how much they seemed to care for me. At twelve midnight, they got in a big circle and just talked about what God had done in their lives the year before. It really got to me. By the time it was my turn to speak, I had given my life to Jesus. I wanted what these people had. That night my life changed, and it has never gone back.

I started my Christian walk as an insane student. I read every Christian book I could get my hand on. I read my bible like a maniac. I even once beat up my brother because he was disturbing my bible reading time, now before you get too upset, please realize that my brother is really irritating, and God made him that way, so I am completely justified. Well, lets just hope I have matured a bit. My faith has grown a lot since then. I am not as rash, or judgemental. I am much more mystical, but also much more stable.

Maybe one of the reasons I am so passionate about smaller communites of believers, living real Christian love in front of their neighbors, is because that is what attracted me to Jesus. Wasn't a cool service, it was people loving each other, and loving me. I want to pass on that legacy.

I'll talk a bit more about what happend after that later, stay tuned

*coming attractions, repossesing cars for a living, getting dumped by fiance because of prophetess vision, housing a murderer, starting a church or two, meeting my wife, cage fighting*

the rev

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Art, Spirituality, and ADD part three

One of the artists I most admire is Antoni Tapies. He is an amazing Spainish expressionist, and his works are full of texture, and symbols. He is a mystic, and his spirituality is the fire behind his work. I would strongly suggest seeing any of his works in person if you ever have the opportunity, pictures just do not do them justice.

In one of his essays he talks about the role of artist in society, particularly ancient and eastern societies. The artist was considered a shaman of sorts. The job of the artist was to take the unseen, or the heavenlies and make it seen. To interpret spiritual truth for the people. In our western culture this was true as well, and artists were to be of exceptional virtue, even in the Christian context.

However, as the "power structure" of the church became more and more the only benefactor of the arts they were not only able to decide what was painted, but how it was painted. And as the only ones buying art, the artists were forced to submit. At this point in art history, what became more important was the craft, or technique of the artist. The spiritual strength of the artist, or their giftings in seeing, were not important. Just their ability to reproduce images.

As art was changed by photograghy, and more abstract forms gradually appeared we find both a resurgence of the former trend, and an amazing vacume. Much art is now a contest of vileness, though some of these artists assert they are just mirroring the vileness of our current world, and that may be a fair prophetic point. It would seem however, that particularly in the church there is a call for not only good technical art and artists, but those prophetic voices to come to the fore. For those of amazing charecter and true spiritual depth, to use their creative drive to illustrate clearly the majesty of the kingdom of God, to capture its depth and beauty and justice. To be dangerous art, to be art that calls us to deeper places.

Tapies tells the story of a young caligrapher in Japan. He is such an outstanding artist at only 18 years of age, that he is granted the opportunity to see the revered works of a monk at a local monastery. These works were said to be of such amazing value that they were kept locked in a secret room, and locked in a special holding case. When he saw the paintings, he was amazed at the roughness, and lack of particular beauty of technique, they were not great paintings, but they were moving none the less. At that moment he understood that what was wanted, was for a man to be of outstanding charecter, not just outstanding technique. He stopped painting at that moment and dedicated himself to the study of Budhism and to becoming a monk of highest quality. WHen he picked up his brush years later, he became one of the most respected artists of his time.

This is what I wish, I pray my life would become of such quality, that my work would express the Kingdom of God, and not my own ideas.

the rev

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Why "the rev"

I am frequently asked if I am really a reverend, the answer is yes and no.

I am a lisenced minister, currently with the Churches of Christ in Australia. Previously I was lisenced by a conservative baptist church called New Song, and before that by Open Bible Standard Churches. So I am a minister. However some denominations have special titles of reverend for certain people who have a certain level of ordination that is above just a regular minister. I am not a reverend in this sense. I am also not asking to be revered.

In the USA I actually did weddings, funerals, baptisms and baby dedications. I often preached at church, and did counseling and what not, so I did behave as a reverend. I also fought professionally in Mixed Martial Arts cage matches, so I guess I didn't behave as a reverend sometimes as well.

When I was growing up, I hung out with a group of punk rockers called the Crown Town Punks. They were your typical group of punk rockers, did things mom and dad didn't need to know about. They were actually the only white gang on the Corona police departments gang files. I started going to a Catholic high school, got involved in Portugese bullfighting, and drifted away from them a bit. Then I found Jesus, and my life really changed. I moved away from Corona, began training to be a minister, and when I came back to town, I was needed to perform weddings and sadly funerals for some of these friends of mine. They started calling me reverend, it was an insult, but in the way you insult your friends. The nickname stuck. I have been know since as the rev, and many people call me rev even in person.

I was training with some catholic guys from wisconsin, they called me father john. I am glad that one didn't stick.

the rev

Friday, February 11, 2005

Artwork, Spirituality, and ADD part two

I have grown to understand that my artwork is deeply spiritual not for its subject, but for its process. My work is very reductive. You cannot walk by and quickly understand what it means, or what it stands for. In fact without my explainations, you may not be able to "get it" at all. But what becomes apparent for me is the process and the spirituality of that, is what I need to focus on.

Generally I build a wooden panel. I will usually cut the wood myself, and then nail and glue it together. I then sand the edges to an imperfect roundness. I coat the entire piece with a layer of drywall mud, or what is called in Australia finishing plaster. There will usually be natural cracks and imperfections, I will apply another coat to lesson but not remove these. Then I will apply layer after layer of paint. Each layer I will sand thouroughly by hand. In the end the bottom colors will sand through the top colors revealing the flaws and imperfections of the surface. When the piece is done, I will rub it with my bare hand for sometimes hours. The oils in my hand in effect polishing the piece to an intense sheen. This is very labor intensive, and the process becomes the piece.

In my artwork, the process is like a mantra. It settles my spirit, it connects me to God, it is prayer. The end result hopefully will be the passing on of a spiritual calm, and truth to others.

In part three I will discuss the changing roll of the artist throughout society, and explain why I believe the church should embrace the arts again in our post modern culture. It is in my opinion one of the more exiting distinctives of the emerging church.

the rev

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Artwork, Spirituality, and ADD

I have Attention Deficit Disorder, have had it my whole life. It makes it hard to complete tasks, keep conversations on track, or sometimes hard to just sit still. They gave me medication for it, it worked really well, but also turned me into a mushy, passionless, dork. So I stopped taking it. And after going though a pretty tough bout of depression I am now once again a loud, obnoxious, passionate, dork. Like most people that have these kinds of issues, I learned to self medicate. What I found to be the best medicine for me was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and mixed martial arts training. Four or five days a week of hard training and some herbal speeds like guarana and MaJuang helped tremendously, but without the adverse personality dump.

Unfortunately I am getting older, and my body is getting more and more broken. I can no longer train hard four or five days a week. I can usually train hard one day, and then need a week or two recovery. So not only do I feel like an old fart, but my medicine isn't available anymore.

What does this have to do with spirituality and artwork? Well, my inability to hold on to a thought longer than ten seconds makes prayer, meditation, silence and other things very difficult. As well as making it hard to connect with my wife, and daughters, and members of the church. This is spirituality for me, and my "condition" makes it difficult for me to be spiritual. But now I am experiencing a new medicine. One that doesn't hurt me. Painting seems to quite my spirit, it seems to focus my soul, it seems to allow me connection with God. When I paint it is almost like I am praying, or meditating. I feel like God's Spirit is working through me. And I feel calmed, relaxed and focused. This does not just happen while I am painting but continues on into my life.

I will continue this discussion as well as others for the next few days, right now something else caught my attention :)

the rev


Lent started yesterday. Though I was raised Catholic, I followed a different path for many years, and am now a "post evangelical Christianarchist", my journey has lead me back to some of the Roman Catholic traditions. Lent for me is a time of focus, and a time of preparation. Though I do believe all days are sacred, as we strive to see and hear God, we find the divine all around us, I also believe that we can gain a bit by focusing on seasons.

This year I am giving up all junk foods, and junk tv. My meditations will be upon what we take in, and whether or not it is nourishing. I will try and spend more time in feeding my spiritual nature rather than my flesh. Though I did not go to mass on Wednesday, the idea of the ashes as a symbol of mourning our own sinfulness is a powerful beginning to this time. The fact that these ashes are made from last years palms, from palm sunday, is a powerful reminder of how easily we crown Jesus as king one moment, and then turn our back on Him another.

I pray that you will experience some "preparation" for our Good Friday reflections, and for our Resurection Sunday celebrations. I know it has only helped me.

the rev

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Church last Sunday

Last Sunday we spent some time with the passage of the rich young ruler

The Rich Official 18One day one of the local officials asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?"
19Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good--only God. 20You know the commandments, don't you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother."
21He said, "I've kept them all for as long as I can remember."
22When Jesus heard that, he said, "Then there's only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me."
23This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.
24Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God's kingdom? 25I'd say it's easier to thread a camel through a needle's eye than get a rich person into God's kingdom."
26"Then who has any chance at all?" the others asked.
27"No chance at all," Jesus said, "if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it."
28Peter tried to regain some initiative: "We left everything we owned and followed you, didn't we?"
29"Yes," said Jesus, "and you won't regret it. No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children--whatever- 30will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!"

We meditated on the passage for some time. One of these meditations we were to find a word or phrase that stuck out to us. The one that kept coming into my mind everytime it was read was, "you won't regret it".

Seems we often have many regrets in life. And we worry about adding to that list of regrets. But it is interesting, when we talk about sacrifices in regards to following Jesus, we won't regret them. I have learned through experience, that the more I sacrifice, the more I realize it was no sacrifice at all. Whatever I give I get much more in return.

Go ahead test it out, give all you got, you won't regret it.

the rev

Monday, February 07, 2005


Today I helped serve breakfast for the girls college my daughters attend. I will be doing that on Tuesday morning from now on. It is a great way to spy on my girls. :) I spent a good deal of the time talking to a gentleman that helps out as well. He was a loud and friendly chap. Smelled a little ripe. Introduced me to his daughters, and they knew my daughters. Seems there is a bit of drama, my oldest got moved up a grade, and now her year nine friends are mad because she doesn't spend all of her free time with them, but she is trying to make friends in year ten. Adriahna gets her first lesson in social politics, fun for her. Anyways, we laugh about the "drama", and he tells me about his last big holiday to Florida. He tells me about visiting the NASA space center. He talked about how much fun they had at Disneyworld.

A bit later I here the scoop on him. He comes in Tuesday morning to help out. Often times after being at the casino all night, smelling of alcohol. He has had to be reprimanded for not wearing gloves when touching the food with his hands. He is sometimes a bit embarassing for his daughters.

It is interesting who we meet. Someone once said life is what happens when you were busy doing something else. Well I might say life is who you meet, while you are busy doing something else. I pray I might be a good friend to this gentleman. I hope I might call him to a better place in life. And I do respect him, that despite his problems, he gets out of bed, or off his stool, to go show some care for others.

the rev

Thursday, February 03, 2005


My youngest daughter Cheyenne turns 14 today. Fourteen!!! I am getting old.

I am immensely proud of my daughter, she is an amazing young woman. She has such a heart for people. She seems to profoundly turn the bible into meaningful action, and always from a heart of love and compassion. She is everything I could have ever wanted from a daughter and more.

One of the things I love most about her is her complete disregard for who and what is popular. She is truly an individual. She does not worry about how she will be regarded, she just does what she feels is right. I wish I was more like her.

One of my favorite stories about her, is actually a little painful to recall. We had some friends over for lunch. They brought along their two daughters, who were very close in age to my daughters, and were their best friends. They were playing around, and then started wrestling with my friend. They were all piling on him and he pretended to need help. So I grabbed one of the girls and threw her onto the couch, she jumped up squeeling with laughter, as I grabbed another of the girls and threw her. Next thing you know, they are all lining up to be thrown on the couch, which I was happy to do, over and over again. After quite a few throws, an accident happened. Cheyenne, who must have been around four years old at the time, landed on her arm. By the screams I knew right away it was bad. (I am actually tearing up as I write this) I ran to the couch and looked at her arm, it was obviously broken. I picked her up, and we rushed to the hospital. I was crying, she was crying, mom was crying. I'll tell you walking into the ER with a little girl with a broken arm, cut off dickies shorts, no shirt and a big ganster style tattoo on your stomach, is a sure way to get questioned a lot. But this is the part that describes my amazing little girl. She always ran to mom when she was hurt. Always, even if mom spanked her or yelled at her, she ran to mom for comfort. This time she wanted me to hold her. You see, in all of her pain, she was worried about me, and knew I was feeling bad. She wanted to ensure me that she wasn't mad at me, and loved me. When the doctors drugged her up good, and then questioned her without me being in the room they asked her how she hurt her arm. She said "playing rough with daddy". The asked her if she liked playing rough with daddy, and with a codeine influenced smile, she said "yeah". There were no more questions.

My little girl is growing up. Someday she will find some other man to give her heart to, but for now, I am the man in her life. And what a lucky guy that makes me.

Cheyenne honey, I love you


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

talking about the weather

Woke up this morning to the sound of rain. Great sound to wake up to. But a bit strange for the middle of summer. It is pouring. Checked the Yahoo weather site, and it says:

Today: Periods of rain. High near 60F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall near a half an inch.
Tonight: Light rain early...then remaining cloudy with showers overnight. Low 54F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Tomorrow: Rain. High 61F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch.
Tomorrow night: Cloudy with periods of rain. Low 53F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall around a half an inch.
Friday: Cloudy, periods of rain. Highs in the mid 60s and lows in the mid 50s.
Saturday: Considerable cloudiness. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the upper 50s.

Then I checked my former home southern California and it says:

Today: Mostly sunny. High 72F. Winds NNE at 10 to 20 mph.
Tomorrow: Mainly sunny. High 72F. Winds NE at 10 to 20 mph. Stronger winds in and below canyons and passes.
Thursday: Mainly sunny. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid 40s.
Friday: Sunny. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 40s.
Saturday: Mainly sunny. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 40s.

And my question is, who is in the middle of summer?

I have heard it said its nice to have four seasons, but I am having a hard time getting used to four seasons in one week. But if getting used to the weather is all the suffering I have to do, well I can't complain too much. But the Superbowl on a Monday, now that starts to get my blood boiling.

the rev