Thursday, September 29, 2005

Debut at 39

Well on Saturday I play my first cricket match. I was picked for the third team. Gotta wear all white, which will make me look even fatter than I am. I am not allowed to punch, tackle or choke anyone. I have taken up the game at 39, first time I held a cricket ball in my hand was about six months ago. Hadn't even seen it, ever until our first visit here about three years ago, and to be honest my first thought was "dumbest game I have ever seen". Well, I see things differently now, what a great game.

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.

the rev

Monday, September 26, 2005

My finances (and what I learned from begging)

About twelve years ago I started on my journey towards full time missionary work. I was a youth pastor, but it was not a paying position, and I began to work with a wonderful organization called Church Resource Ministries. I was working as part of the church planting wing of CRM, and would help churches learn how to start other churches, and why that was important. I specialized in youth culture, and gen x church planting stuff, mainly because of my wild hair and combat boots. But part of this job was raising my own salary. Which meant asking people for money. I needed to get others to give monthly donations to pay my salary.

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 Anyways, I would like to thank those of you who have over the years been very generous to my family and I.


Community, and healing

I have some friends that started a rehab home. They lived there and brought young men that were struggling to get free from drug or alcohol addictions, to live with them. They provided counseling, support, a place to live and a safe place to re-enter society from. I don't think they did anything incredibly new, or innovative, just a caring response to the hurting, and outcast. I admire them very much. They moved on to the next phase of their lives, and one of the young men that had been with them has taken over the house. He is also a good friend of mine and I meet with him occasionally to talk about things.

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.

the rev


I recently finished the book Shantaram, definately worth reading. Great story, great characters, and some hard won wisdom in that book. At one point the author asks another what they think suffering is. His reply was, "that is easy Linbaba, suffering is when you are hungry for something"

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

the rev

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why do we waste our time?

I am talking on another blog about the issue of homosexuality in the church. And it seems as though some people are so stuck in their way of thinking they can't even look at another position. I believe that homosexuality is not the way God wants us to live, however, I think the way in which the church has treated the people that deal with this issue has been very hostile, and not very Christlike. I believe that we have singled out this and a few other sins for special diligence and having done so further victimize these that have already suffered much.

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.

the rev

btw I don't want to get into an arguement about abortion or homosexuality

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Where are we going?

This is an excerpt from a book entitled Shantaram by Gregoray David Roberts

"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.

the rev

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hearing God in the strangest places

So I have to go out in the back yard and pick up a mountain of crap. My dog winston seems to be miraculous. He craps more volume than he intakes it seems. I am sitting here at the computer trying to think of all the reasons I should stay here and not go out there and do it. Maybe if I wait long enough I won't have time.

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.

the rev

Monday, September 05, 2005

my hypocrisy

I was told a friend of mine who is a recovering heroin addict was dumped by his girlfriend because friends of hers suggested that he was a dangerous choice for relationship. They convinced her that his past may come back up, and that addiction often resurfaces. She shouldn't get involved with someone like that.

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"

the rev

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Matthew 20

Jesus 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.

the rev

Friday, September 02, 2005

My prayer for my country

I pray the prince of peace, would live out love through His followers, extend grace and mercy to the victims, and create a move of compassion that would break all political, racial and economic distinctions.

the rev