Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My pastor Buddy

No that not his title, that is his nickname. His real name is John, but everyone calls him Buddy, or maybe bud. I just talked to him today, first time in maybe two and a half years. It was so good to hear his voice I almost cried. I needed to talk to him regarding our visa application. It sucks that it took me needing something to finally call my friend, and the most important Christian influence in my life, but it did.

What is a bit funny is I was thinking about him just the other day. See Bud isn't your average pastor guy. He worked construction, and kept working construction after he was a pastor. He never went to bible college, but taught himself to read Greek. He has a photographic memory, and has read the bible from cover to cover so many times, that he knows almost every passage and its address. He has never learned to speak Christianese, and is one of the funniest men I have ever known. He used to be a quick draw artist, yes I mean cowboys and pistols here. And the guy can do magic with a knife, from all his years as an insulator. But what is most amazing about him is his way to relate scripture, and stories, to whatever situation you happen to find yourself in. He is one of the wisest men on the planet I think.

Now this may sound a bit arrogant after all of the praise I have heaped on him, but the other day I found myself saying the things I had heard him say many years ago. I realized that I am now, the age he was when we met. And as I talk to the young leaders I am coaching, I find myself copying my old coach. I also find myself trying to counsel and encourage others like he did. I am becoming like he was, though not as good I suspect. What a testimony, and a warning to us all. What we are, will influence those that we minister to in profound ways.

When I grow up I still want to be like Buddy, cause he is a lot like Jesus.

the rev

things have changed

When I woke up this morning I had a remembrance. Not sure if I was dreaming about it or not. But I remember watching a movie about a native american (we called them indians back then) and a frontiersman that had become best friends. At one point the indian took a knife and cut the other mans hand, and then cut his own, then he clasped hands with the white man, and wrapped their hands with a white rag that became a bit less white.

They became blood brothers. This was a way of saying we are now of the same blood, we are now family.

Ofcourse my best mate and I immediately did the same thing. Although, we just scratched ourselves with pocket knives, and our hankerchief didnt' actually get much blood on it. It was our way of saying we are best friends forever. We were probably eight years old.

It is interesting in this day of HIV and AIDS how important blood is now. I would guess even a child would not do this anymore. I mean we stop a wrestling tourney, go running for the bleach bottle and will even disqualify a competitor if we can't completely contain the blood.

And mine is a bloody religion. I was made a blood brother with another in a far more gruesome, and universal act years ago. And I celebrate this bloody act often. The life is in the blood.

the rev

eating, not eating and eating

In the second chapter of Mark we see Jesus start to crush some stereotypes very quickly. First thing in the chapter Jesus heals a paralyzed man, but not before upsetting everyone by telling him his sins are forgiven.

Then he goes to a party at his new friend Matthews house. And is eating and drinking with tax gatherers (traitors and thieves) and sinners. The pharisees get very upset that Jesus is hanging out with these unworthy people, I mean after all, isn't he a traveling preacher? Jesus, lets then know, he will be spending a lot of time with these people, and that He came to call them to turn around. Who do you eat with?

Then some people start hassling Jesus about fasting, and wondering why his disciples don't fast. And he tells them that it isn't time to fast, cause Jesus is still with them. But when He is taken away then they will fast. But he also tells them that He didn't come to patch up their religion, nor to fill it with a new wine, but that He is starting from scratch. Seems this new religion is more about people and relationships and less about ritual. (funny when he does give us a ritual it is a meal)

Then the disciples are walking through the fields on a sabbath, and being hungry that pull off a few heads of grain, rub them between their fingers and start having a midday snack. Well the religious types are again upset that they would be threshing wheat on the sabbath. But Jesus explains that the day of rest is meant to help the people, not that the people are there to help the sabbath.

I hope you break some rules today, I know I plan to. :)

the rev

Monday, March 27, 2006

My new job

Well my friends, I have started a new job. Its not really a new job, but rather a new phase of my job. I have begun to work with the Ascot Vale Church of Christ. We have been talking over the last few months, and we have decided to see just what God has in mind. I am very excited.

The group of people at this church are wonderful. They have such a heart for mission, and are currently reaching out in beautiful ways to their neighbors, particularly new settlers. I have joined them to add some additional projects, and to help them to continue their wonderful work. I will be joined in this by my wife and daughters, (we pretty much are a package deal), one of the FORGE interns from last year Dan, and an intern from this year Anthony.

We will be starting a Sunday night service that will be a diverse, challenging, creative and hopefully interesting. We will be opening the church building as a drop in center (lounge, coffee, table tennis, homework help, art workshops ect.) . We will be hoping to start additional congregations in the neighborhood. We are already working to help some settlers with their English. As well as working on growing together with our new community.

If you could pray for a few things:

I am very busy now and need to get better at my time management

New things and change are always hard

I would like to find someone to teach me Arabic

To find some more workers for the harvest

For Dan to find work and a place to live in Ascot Vale

and most of all, for those of us involved, a fresh filling of God's Spirit

If you would like to help, or know anyone who might want to help we have some practical needs as well:

We need some tradesmen, (there are some things we need to do, and some things we want to do), to help with some renovation

We need some funds for materials and equipment

I am very honoured and excited to get this opportunity, and I pray we will see much fruit over the next few years.

the rev

Time for a diet

Well, I have been on a see food diet for a while. You know, see food and then you eat it. I have also been a bit too liberal in my beer drinking, not drinking too much at once, just drinking too much per week. And I think my body is mad at me.

Today I start a diet to get me back on the right track. Not really concerned with how I look, cause...

I look good!!!


But more concerned with my health, and my lack of energy.

But that leads me to me point. Whenever I diet, I cannot do it like a normal person. No cutting back on a few things, beer only once on the weekends, eat a bit more veggies. No, I cannot actually stay on a diet like that. For me it has to be extreme in one way or another. Now I don't mean straving myself, (though I have done that for weight cutting purposes in the past) I mean more like, no carbs, or maybe all organic food. I need a challenge, or else I am just not interested.

My faith is a bit like that as well. When things are comfortable, just cruising along... Well I don't do very well. I need to be out on the edge, doing something creative, something bold, something that takes up my attention, and give outlet for my passion. Now is a time like that for me, and I feel like I am really reaching stride. I know not everyone is like this, but it just seems to me that maybe when we extend ourselves far enough, we have to depend on God, and to seek Him. Maybe being extreme is being the most safe, I don't know, but it works for me.

My diet? Well its gonna be raw veggies, raw nuts, fruit, and a little bit of fish, no dairy. Lots and lots of water, and I am gonna try to excercise more. But the biggie, the one I am most scared about... No coffee. Now I can't handle a full blown caffeine withdrawal, so I am switching to green tea. But I am gonna wait a week for that,

Wish me luck

the rev

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Spin bowling and the devil

Well on Thursdays my work day starts at one, and goes till nine thirty at night every other week. This week was one of those. So I went to the Melbourne Cricket Centre for a Leg Spin clinic. I have already started my preseason training for next season. The last season ended two weeks ago, I figured that was enough time off :)

As we are discussing the different deliveries, and working on our action, the talk comes to deception. Our job is to deceive the batsman. To make the batsman think one thing is going to happen, when infact something altogether different is going on. And I started to wonder about the devil, and how he operates.

One thing we talked about was to scramble the seam. That means we bowl the ball with the seam running the perpendicular to the spin, this makes the seam impossible to see, and then impossible to figure out which way its going to turn when it bounces. And I thought, the devil doesn't just come at me with simple things anymore, its all so much more subtle now. So the attractive girl is really open to talking about God, and seems to really need me to help her make sense of the scriptures. I think its God opening a door, or is it...

Then we talked about doing the same thing three or four times, and then doing something that looks the same, but is different. The batsman gets used to you. Oh yeah, I have seen this before I will just act this way, but then the ball goes through the other way. Out!!!

There is the way you set your field, leaving a big gap where you want him to try to hit it. Sometimes we see the easiest options as God's opening the way for us, or is it maybe something else entirely.

There are countless was of deception, and I want to learn them all.

When I am on the cricket pitch, I guess I am a devil


the rev

Monday, March 20, 2006

Jesus the rockstar

Well, Jesus wasn't a rock star, ofcourse, but one of the verses I read today made me envision a rock star, or a movie star. Though not as glamorous. There was not limo, and no big security guards with mean scowling faces.

At the end of the first chapter of the gospel of Mark Jesus heals a leper. He does so in a very unsafe manner. Touching one unclean, was not the accepted practice. But Jesus then very carefully instructs the man to go and fulfill the law, and in so doing win back his rights to worship in the temple. Showing the priests that he is clean. But Jesus also very carefully tell him to tell nobody what has happened.

I am stuck by the difference between Jesus and the modern day healers, or for that matter myself. We call for a few camera's, and have someone write a press release. Maybe have a doctor interviewed for those idiots who think we come from monkeys. Pitch a tent and take an offering.

Now, I like to think of myself as a bit less garrish than those big haired televangelists. But, I will admit, I would feel the pressure to tell people. If for no other reason than to justify myself to my critics. But which one of us doesn't want to have people think well of us, and which of us would not want to extend God's kingdom? Jesus however says, "don't tell anybody"

The leper, thinking this is a totally unreasonable request tells everybody. And then Jesus, is mobbed by people. His response to this is to leave the city, and go out into the desert, where He will not be mobbed. He does not want the celebrity, he stays away. He doesn't draw on the currency of His miracle, but rather retreats to solitude. But His love for us compells Him back again, and it isn't long before word gets around He is in the house.

I really want to be like Jesus when I grow up.

the rev

Monday, March 13, 2006

My wife doesn't eat meat

This is from my wife's blog

So today it finally happened... I almost ate meat for the first time in ?? years... note the word almost. My worst fear came true. Cheyenne and I were at the house where we tutor a Sudanese family in English. We were done practicing for the day and were about to leave when the mom told me to sit down... I could tell that she was making us food. I'm sure a gesture of thanks for helping out. She speaks no English and I spend my time there helping her and Cheyenne helps the kids (there are 8 kids). Anyway a few minutes later she has one of the kids invite Cheyenne in and we sit at the table and she puts this beautiful food in front of us. I asked her if there was meat in it... by just saying meat (that is a word she knows) and she said yes.... There was a beautiful meat sauce and rice. I asked her son who speaks pretty good English to tell her I'm a vegetarian... there is no word for that in their language. I felt like such a jerk, but the thought of eating meat was making me queasy. So I served up some to Cheyenne and just took the rice for myself... thank God that there was rice so I could eat something... I'm such a western jerk! I know the food was beautiful because Cheyenne told me :)

Now I am not sure that there is a word in arabic for vegitarian, but maybe the kid just didn't know it, but it is an interesting topic. When does our missionary actions come in conflict with our western values, and what to do in that situation. My poor wife would have vomited the meat when she got home probably, and that would have been pretty funny.

Anyways, my wife is a hero of mine, she loves people like I wish I could.

the rev

Thursday, March 09, 2006

mmmmm attitude chicken

At the risk of pissing everyone off...

Album Name: The Happy Club

Song Name: Attitude Chicken

Later on that evening when
I thought I'd had enough
I sat down in a restaurant and
Over powdered drugs
I ordered up some dew-soaked lettuce
Picked by virgin hands
Nestling on a bed of
Pearl encrusted clams
Well the waiter's name was Renee and
He told me how his aunt
Who had 47 children
And how they'd always planned
To grow the smallest vegetables in
All the kingdom's land
"They're poor," he said "but happy and
Well that's what really counts"
And every evening after
Their 20 hour day
They'd sleep content imagining
That restaurant far away
Where fat fucks in designer suits
Would order over deals
The smallest portions of these
Tiny morsels for their meals

Still the blood it clots
And the hearts get stricken
See everybody's searching for...that attitude chicken

My Porsche got stuck in traffic and
My girlfriend said get real
How dare you get me stuck here
How d'you think that made me feel
I got a Yamaha 5 Million
A bike was what I needed
With my name spelt on the number plate
Like Paul Revere on speed
Yes my girlfriend's name is Anne
But she says the K is silent
Put the H after the A or
She gets "rilly violent"
She wears designer jewels
And she's got designer clothes
Which go with her designer mouth
Eyes, ass, tits and nose

And she does another line
And she's talking finger lickin'
And that's my signal to send our for...that attitude chicken

A special breed
That fills the need
Is bred to feed
The endless greed

Yes it's poultry time
For all you little kittens
Let's get hip and do...attitude chicken

Now when she comes she screams designer screams
At precisely the right moment
Loud enough so the neighbours hear
And think I'm really potent
She's considerate like that
Which is why I guess I love her
And by that I hope you don't think
That I am trying to smother
Her uniqueness or her freedom
To find some other lovers
And express herself sexually
In attempting to discover
The inner self that every modern woman
In the land
Has a democratic right to
Which I as modern man
Of course respect and understand
And indeed can empathise with
Appreciate, articulate
Feel for and sympathise with
And any reference I might make
To her sexually
Has been vetted and approved of
by the Woman's Commissary

Still the plans get hatched
And the plots the thicken
See everybody's looking for...that attitude chicken

Neatly packaged politics
For all the little minds
it's the special interest lobby
For these multi-cultured times
The Politically Correct
Are the Nazis of our time
When it's the freedom of ideas
That makes man civilised

Let's drag out the old scapegoat
If he's still alive and kicking
And go riding off in glory for that...attitude chicken

Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble
Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck
Attitude chicken

I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

*written by Bob Geldof
*taken from the album "The Happy Club"

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sunday night

We had our first interns dinner on Sunday night. And I must say, what an amazing bunch. I am sure we will continue to grow together, and really enjoy the fellowship this year.

We had Tom and Fiona who are doing some church planting type stuff in St Kilda

Tim who is doing a church plant around a community garden in Preston

Krystal who is doing some outreach work with young people and children in the north

Gareth who is doing a church plant through a card game network

Naomi who is doing schools work with young people

Sarah who is doing community developement and discipleship stuff in the east

Jono who is re-imagining youth ministry with a church in the west

Anthony who is going to work with us here in Footscray and Ascot Vale

For those of you who are comitted to prayer, please do your best!!!

It was a great night, where we debriefed the intensive, got to know each other a bit, shared some pasta, and grappled with a few questions. I gave the group a little encouragement I had gotten at the start of my ministry years and years ago. Do not doubt in the dark, what God told you in the light. When we begin a journey we are so full of excitement and expectation, but any journey worth going on will have its tough bits, its uphill climbs, its adversaries. It is in these times we are tempted to think we have made a mistake. But we must remember, the greater the journey the greater the trials and tribulations. We must remember God's call, and forge ahead (bad pun sorry) with a resolution and a holy tenacity.

I pray that we will all grow closer to the kingdom of God together this year.

the rev

Friday, March 03, 2006

A blog with my heroes

This blog is a compilation of writings from my real life heroes. Including some that are females.

It is a great honour to me to have been asked to join them. I hope you will bookmark this blog and visit it frequently.

the rev

Thursday, March 02, 2006

DEB HIRSH female speaker at FORGE


Deb talked about the open set idea. A community gathered around Jesus, rather than coralled by doctrines and creeds.

In her talk she helps us to understand that many people in the past were drawn into a BELIEVE first, then that belief allowed them to BELONG to the church, and then they learned to BEHAVE. In some churches, the BELIEVING, must be followed by BEHAVING, before BELONGING.

She explained how in our current society it becomes more and more important to rethink this approach. We must be willing to allow people to BELONG first. It is in the midst of this BELONGING that they begin to understand the truths of Jesus, and then come to BELIEF, and through that BELIEF, the will begin to BEHAVE differently. She tells some remarkable stories about how this has happened and worked in her life.

Perhaps some of you can explain how you have seen this work, or not work in your experiences.

By the way, DEB is a woman, and I like her, and she is in FORGE leadership.


the rev

Day Care!!!

Well I stopped by a local cafe to get a latte. They had just remodelled, and it was a nice little reno, added quite a bit of room. But as I was waiting for my take away latte it was just a little too crowded for me. I actually get really weirded out in crowds sometimes. Not sure why it bothers me at cafe's, and shopping centers, but not at church or sporting events. But anyways, I went outside to wait.

As I was leaning against a pole two early thirties gals came out of the cafe. They saw a friend of theirs, sipping on a coffee and enjoying the paper. "Wheres your kids?" they asked.

"At day care" she replied. Wow!!! Day care. They seemed so jealous, though they had no children with them. They were oohing and ahing.

"I want day care" one of the girls said. The other nodded, they both wanted day care it seems.

"Well enjoy it" said the other.

"Oh I am!" she answered, with this huge relieved smile. Life was good.

Now, I know I do not understand this womans life at all. She may have four children, and works from the home. She may be a single mother. Maybe she has panic attacks and suffers from depression. Lets not get too into judging this mother, nor the other two. But I think we can all admit that this is a bit of a current thing.

Now my wife and I decided to homeschool our children, not to shelter them, and we didn't shelter them. But rather to ensure they got a good education, and to take seriously our role as parents. This meant a lot of work for Raquel in particular. But it was a work she loved, because she got to spend time with her kids. And I worked from home frequently so I too got to spend a lot of time with my kids.

In this day and age we see so many kids sent to day care, and sometimes there is no way around it. The mom's income is necessary. Or sometimes it is about career pursuit, lifestyle pursuit, or just plain greed. But in this case it seemed like, I just need some time to myself to drink latte's and a cute cafe. And by putting the kid (s) in day care this was assured. And that just struck me as something not to be admired, nor to be jealous of, but rather to be sad about.

Now again maybe this particular woman sends the kids to daycare once a fortnight so she can spend the afternoon working with homeless drug addicts, and used a cuppa in the morning to prepare herself for that. But like I said, it just seems like something has changed a bit, and I don't think our kids are better off for it.

the rev