Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Cave Opening (big thanks)

Well, the urgent work is done, and we had a celebration last night. There is still plenty to do, and truly the work is never done, but it was nice that most of the essentials are now finished and we can continue at a more leisurely pace.

Thanks to everyone who helped to fix the building, to bake goodies, to prepare the service and for all of you who braved the cold, rainy Melbourne night to celebrate with us.

I felt like it was a great evening. Started out with Andy singing a beautiful rendition of Hallelluia, by Leonard Cohen, (sounded a bit more like Jeff Buckley), sang some songs, and had a bit of silence. Were treated to a couple of African songs from our Sudanese family. Then I gave a message about Lazarus' cave, and how that was an inspiration for us. We then had some prayers, took communion and took our time leaving.

There were many people I had not met before, I was especially glad to spend a brief bit of time with one of the former pastors at Ascot Vale. There were many comments about the remodel, and it seems most of what we were trying to accomplish worked. It really is a warm, inviting space, with art on the walls, comfortable chairs around tables, a bar to sit around. It feels nice to be there, ofcourse we do have three gas heaters that actually can make the room too warm even on a night like last.

I would particularly like to thank a few people. My wife for putting up with my obsessive nature. The amazing group of people at ascot vale church of Christ. They have not only put up with me, and my wild ideas, but jumped in and helped make them a reality. They have laboured long and hard to retain a vision, and have welcomed change with only a little glimmer of worry. I am blessed to work with such humble and tireless Christians. My two assistants have also been a big help and inspiration to me. Dan and Anthony have faithfully walked through this time, despite some very traumatic events this last week, and have lost none of their passion for mission and the vision.

I am very pleased, excited, and hopefull.

thanks again,



Gods_Rhema said...

All the best for everyone involved Rev... May God hold this start in his heart and multiply it greatly for his glory..

Holy Blessings..

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

Congrats and best wishes brother John.
I know you and your family will do good things here.

DonaldDuck said...

KLJ, no doubt John and family can do good things. But must they also tell fables about a god, when we both know there is no such thing?

The Rev said...

well maybe they meaning me, aren't as smart as you.

the rev

Rebecca said...

very exciting Rev!

DD, haven't we been here before?

DonaldDuck said...

When are you bringing Benny Hinn to Melbourne, Rev?

I hear that Benny is taking in two hundred million US dollars each year in his ministry.

When do you think you'll get to that level, Rev?

The Rev said...

wow good one, I am so ashamed

the rev

DonaldDuck said...

Rev be "not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" and then to the rest of the world for a small donation.

Salvation in this verse, Rev, means financial security. Don't you want all that money for the work of God? Think of the many more people you could reach. Why, you would have to travel first class around the world staying in the finest hotels to spread the Gospel.

Plus, you need to think of retirement. Where is the money going to come from when you're to old to work?

The Rev said...

You are very clever, hows that working for you, being clever.

the rev

DonaldDuck said...

If that's sarcasm, Rev, you need some practice. Now, what are we going to do about your old age pension?

DonaldDuck said...

And what does God think of your new venture, Rev? Has he given you an assessment yet? If He starts talking to you, Rev, ask Him to put it in writing.

Gods_Rhema said...

Hey Donald Duck,
Im interested in your comments how did your heart get so hardened my friend? Can I help you in anyway? I have a sure way cure for hurting hearts!


The Rev said...

It's actually a quote from a favorite movie of mine. I am sure God is watching with the apporving heart of a parent watching his children stumble through the lines of a primary school play. I am just trying to remember my lines.

the rev

urbanmonk said...

Yeah GR

What is it?

DonaldDuck said...

It doesn't sound like you have a close relationship with God, Rev. Or God is playing games with you.

The Rev said...

How would you like it if I said the same thing about your wife and you? Please understand that my relationship with God is very precious to me, and I don't appreciate it being made light of.

the rev

DonaldDuck said...

Well, let's ask God, shall we?

[Heads bowed, eyes closed please. Remember the more tightly closed they are, the better you will hear God]

God, we humbly beseech thee, have mercy on our souls. Oh, and do You know this Rev guy very well? Like, is he a close personal friend, or what?

Hello God? Hello? Testing, one, two, three, testing.

[Ok, you can open your eyes now]

Sorry, Rev, no answer. We're still in the dark about this alleged relationship you have with God.

Gods_Rhema said...

Well If you want a hardened heart to be softened let love in. After you let love in...ask God if he knows you. Knock and he will answer, then you may have the priveledge of meeting his son. Ridiculing someone for their belief Donald Duck isnt the way to enlightenment it just makes you frustrated....lonely and spiritually empty, and unfortunately not heard within thinking theologists veiwpoint. Whether your a Muslim.. a Budhist or a Christian.

Hey Rev...God Bless you mate your a fantastic man..keep leg spinning for The Lord.


DonaldDuck said...

There are a number of peculiar aspects about people having relationships with God.

First, sensitivity about others mocking these relationships. The same sort of sensitivity a mad person might have if you mock him about his imaginary friend. Rev, referred to a real relationship like the husband-wife relationship. If someone mocked the Rev's relationship with his wife, I'm sure he would just laugh it off. Besides, real human relationships can be observed by others. It is possible for others to observe that a real relationship exists between the Rev and his wife. No-one ever observes two-way public communication between a person and God.

Second, a relationship with God seems to depend entirely on the human's attitute or emotional state. Unless the human has the correct state, no communication can take place. Once again this is unlike normal relationships.

I suppose if my wife lived on another planet, the Rev might have valid point.

The Rev said...

My relationship with God is not dependent upon a emotional state, it is always there. I often hear His voice in the midst of hardship, depression, joy, elation, or peace. Sometimes I take His presence for granted, but ofcourse I do the same with my wife.

If you mocked my wife, or my relationship with my wife I would be upset. It is the most sacred relationship on earth, and my wife is my best friend, my love, and my partner. To mock the best things in my life is uncouth, and rude. I would not do the same to you.

You think you know God is not, but as strongly as you do not believe, or maybe more so, I do believe. In my darkest moments I do not doubt. For I have experienced God, first hand.

the rev

urbanmonk said...

I do doubt in my darkest moments,( and their dark, believe me) but I still believe..."it always stops beside a name, a presence I can feel." U2 - "I believe in love"

GR - That simple is it?

DonaldDuck said...

Could you imagine an experiment conducted by a third party in which two or more people independently pray the same prayers to God and record their answers. On conclusion would a comparison of notes reveal consistent answers or differences?

But don't we see a similar situation in the world today? Lots of people praying to God. And the results? Inconsistent versions of theological truth, unresolvable arguments about beliefs. Look at the multiple faiths and splits within faiths.

No one can really claim this his/her relationship with God is the real deal. The evidence of thousands of years demonstates otherwise.

Sorry, Rev, Gods_Rhema, Urbanmonk and others, but personal anecdotal evidence is not as convincing as if people could see you and God interacting, could record it and could clearly understand it.

Keith Lowell Jensen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Keith Lowell Jensen said...


You know what I hate most about religion? When people cram it down my throat. I can't stand that. Damn preachy religious people. Knockin' on my door. Posting their religious posts on my blogs, or e-mailing me their preachy nonsense.

Luckily my brother, in his Christianity is not like that. He does what believe he's meant to do, and he makes his beliefs available to those that are interested.

You on the other hand are exactly like that. You are the evangelical atheist. Annoying, pesky, pushy, and I suspect not comfortable with your own beliefs, as evidenced by your need to seek out and annoy those who do not share them.

So bug off (keeping it clean. My mom reads these things). Go find a site that's using their belief in god to condemn people or making gross amounts of money by instilling fear of hell into the poor and working class and keeping it all for themselves. Bug them.

Oral Roberts has a website. So does Swaggart, Jerry Falweel, and your pal Benny Hinn. So does George W. Bush, though I don't think he reads all his e-mails. Why not go bust their balls for awhile?

Or better yet, why not find the areas that you and John agree on and see if you can be an example of unity across religious lines. The atheist and the reverend feeding the poor, building homes, baking delicious snack cakes (I don't know if either of you are into that. I like snack cakes.)

Or, keep dancing around here making a fool of yourself like your counter part the annoying bible thumper screaming at the passerbys every morning downtown.

DonaldDuck said...

KLJ, you sound more annoyed than your brother about these conversations. That's ok by me, although my intention is not to make you annoyed (not at this stage, anyway).

I'm sure we could have a conversation about common interests, but those type of conversations often degenerate into mutual back-slapping. I'd prefer to examine our points of difference.

As for pesky, preachy religious people that come knocking at my door - if I'm in the mood I'll occasionally invite them to continue and treat them to the same conversation as here. Otherwise, it's simply a matter of politely asking them to return at a later date. I don't see any need for annoyance or anger. In fact, I've found that annoyance and anger are innapropriate tools in these situations.

So, if you've finished attacking me personally (no grudges held, by the way, I'm a thick-skinned Aussie, not a wimpy, spoilt-brat American) then you're welcome to attack my arguments. I'd be interested in another atheist's point of view - in fact, your's in particular as you probably know the Rev better than I do.

The Rev said...

Can you please post the inteligent converstion and discussion points you brought up? Cause I really don't see any, just you making fun of me and my relationship with God. Not exactly meant to be a discussion, and definately not inteligent. I mean it doesn't take much smarts to make fun of me.

But hey, if it makes you happy then keep doing it.

the rev

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

I didn't attack you personally, I attacked your behavior on this board, that being the only thing I know about you. As for you theological arguments, I don't see anything worth commenting on.
Can I assume the spoilt-brat american is me? Glad you're not annoyed. I'd hate to see what your manners would be like then.

When they knock at my door, I try to remember that their intentions are good. I show my respect by explaining that they may find my views offensive, especially if they have children with them. I've yet to have them do anything other than thank me for the warning and be on their way.

I don't insult them, or try to bait them.

As for responding to your arguments, what arguments? You say that John preaches fables and then you go on about his financial state. Your big hit is when you point at that a relationship with god is not able to be observed by outside parties.

This is debate? I'm supposed to argue with this? Okay. John really believes what he preaches, regardless of your beliefs or mine. that is the answer to why he must tell his "fables" as you put it. You know that answer, you're just trying to bait him.

John trusts that he'll be okay financially and he seems to take to heart the anti-materialism often expressed in the gospel. You can't accuse him of greed, nor can you try him for the greeds and bad behavior of everyone else who claims to be Christian, Benny for example. In your vast knowledge of theology you should be well aware that many interperet the scripture differently and many will abuse it for personal gain. This has nothing to do with John and what he's doing with his ministry. Can you find any faults in his behavior? Or only in Benny's, since he and Benny are so tight.

As for the unobservable interactions people claim to have with god; I have interactions and feelings with individuals that you may not observe and that may not be able to be proven. The Reverend says he feels, hears, knows god. I haven't had the same experience. I will behave according to my experience and he will behave according to his. I will not endeavor to tell him what he's felt, seen, experienced. I'm glad that he's sincere and that he seeks to do things that better the human condition. In the areas that I feel his indeed doing good, I will work along side him.

I will not seek out websites of people with different beliefs than mine to pester them.

I might ask, politely, if they'd like to engage me in debate. I'd state my questions respectfully. And if I annoyed them I wouldn't tell them that this reflected poorly on their character. I'd apologize, explain that annoying them was not my intent and I'd go elsewhere.

Hell, I went to a church, panhnandled out front and ended up friends with the pastor. It was a lovely exchange.

One last note. Shame on you for the Nationalism. This is not an Amercian Vs Aussie thing and that was a particullary unintelligent barb. It weakened your standing in this discussion considerably.

DonaldDuck said...

How can you claim on the basis of personal experience a relationship with God when such claims contradict the personal experience of others? Contradictions as evidenced by the many different faiths and variants of theological belief throughout the world.

Why would someone believe what you say about God, Rev, more than what someone else says?

It would be more believable if there was consistency amongst people's experiences. That doesn't mean people would have identical experiences, but it does mean they would have non-contradictory experiences.

The Rev said...

Well, all I can comment on is what I have experienced isn't it? I can tell you that Tim "Obake" Catalfo has incredible neck cranks, that practically paralyze you instantly. But you don't even know if there is an "Obake", but you could get online and look for him, bet theres more google sites for Jesus than him. Probably more pictures too :) But with a little resolve you would hear many people say he's a fake, his stuff doesn't work, it is just catch wrestling etc. And how do you base your opinion on "Obake"? You haven't met him, you haven't seen his stuff, you have no idea do you?

But I did meet him. I wrestled with him. And he made me feel like a helpless little boy (this was in the midst of my pro fighting time while I had sparred with many world champions and felt competitive). So if other people say something else, I cannot speak to that. All I know is what I experienced.

I can tell you this, my neck cranks are much much better, and more lethal now. And you wouldn't want to feel one I guarantee.

I hope you one day do experience what I have experienced, (except maybe the Obake part), ofcourse you might define it differently, communicate it differently. But I am always amazed at how so many believers in different countries, in different times, and stations of life, have remarkably similiar experiences with Jesus.

the rev

DonaldDuck said...

The two types of experiences - neck cranks vs talking with God - are different, aren't they? The first is believably caused by an external entity, Tim "Obake" Catalfo, and even if I don't see it or no-one sees it, we can still believe that it happened to you, Rev, because we can relate to it from our own experience of the world (not that I have ever experienced a "neck crank", although you would probably like to correct that deficiency in my life).

The experience with God is different. Now, I don't disbelieve that you have and do have some kind of experience, Rev. Where we differ is that you say it is caused by an entity external to you (namely God), whereas I would kindly suggest (without wishing to offend you or your relationship with your wife) that it could just be occuring inside your head or mind.

Sure, we can see that both these types of experience might improve ares of your life. But people say many mind-only experiences improve or change their lives - meditation, prayer, dreams for example. No-one suggests that their dreams consist of real events (unless they are sleep-walking).

You can do more than just speak from your own experience. You can compare your experience with others.

One other thing you can do, is suspend your faith for a little while, and adopt a doubting, skeptical approach. Maybe then, you'll come to a different view. I say this, because it is doubt that progresses our knowledge and belief which holds it back.

The Rev said...

It seems that you do not understand my meaning of doubt. I do not doubt God. I do sometimes doubt things about my religion. And I have grown a lot by my experience.

My faith, based on experiences that are both numerous and powerful, and experienced by others, including non believers, (who by the way couldn't suspend their belief long enough to question whether something other worldly happened), is further bolstered by my understandings of life. The experiences of others, including those of other faiths or no faith. As well as science.

You see, I don't have enough faith to believe that life generated spontaneously. And even if science can accomplish this feat, it still doesn't show that it could happen without outside influence. And even then I don't have enough faith to believe that this life that acciedentaly happened from non life, would then have the ability to reproduce. And even then I still don't have enough faith to them believe that this reproducing life could then adapt to its envirements. And even then I don't have enough faith to believe that this adapting reporducing life that came on accident could then leap in increasingly complex ways through a variety of species, and result in mankind, without the outside influence of some inteligence.

I also put my faith to the test constantly, both in action and idea. My faith has evolved significantly as I have tested it, as my brother can tell you. But though it changed, and will continue to change, it crystalizes, and more and more I find the truth of Jesus way of life, and His teachings.

Perhaps if you suspended your faith, (and yes you believe in something), long enough you will see that it does not speak to the core issues of your heart, like love, justice, and a desire to be accepted.

I ofcourse don't ridicule your lack of knowledge of GOd, I don't act like you are blind, I don't condescend to you. Nor do I go on athiest websites to pick arguements and ridicule the people there. I wonder what it is that makes you do this?

the rev

DonaldDuck said...

KLJ, you have asked me to "bug off".

Would you mind if I let the Rev advise me when he's had enough of my presence on his site?

Do you generally advise people to "bug off" from web sites you are not personally responsible for? It weakened your standing in this discussion considerably. I don't go around telling people to stop expressing their views. Maybe you have absorbed something from the new political climate in the US that is less tolerant of dissent and criticism.

If you want to stop dissent, do something useful and go and stand on a Baghdad street corner and demand Iraqis stop bombing American soldiers.

The Rev said...

funny, I thought he was telling you to stop being nasty, or leave. I guess not being nasty is impossible so it was just a leave.

the rev

DonaldDuck said...

That's more like it, Rev. Start getting a little nasty yourself. You might find you can do this a little better than sarcasm.

The Rev said...

So your purpose is to drag others down to your level? How egalitarian of you.

the rev

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

You're right. It's John's place to tell you to bug off.

You respond to little else that I posted.

How about it. Are you hear representing yourself in a polite respectful way? Are you really inviting a respectful discourse?
You come in agitating and then when people respond in a simillar tone you jump on them.

Reread my last post duck. Learn how to have a civil discourse with people you disagree with.

As religious people all over the world continue to disprespect and clash with each other it saddens me to see an atheis jump right into the fray.

I obviously diagree strongly with Muslims, Christians, Hindus even Buddhists (many of whom are agnostic themselves) but I interact respectfully with all of them, and I ask them if they'd like to discuss religion before I offer my questions. I don't just jump in an tell them their beliefs are but fables. If I did so I'd be conducting myslef in a very immature fashion.

And because I do actually read you posts, let me once more touch on the Benny Hinn thing. If John is to be associated with Hinn because they are both Christians, are you and then in league with the murderous Chairman Mao or Josep Stalin, both atheist. Let's also remember to put John in the same company of the peaceful and amazing MLK Jr, or even Ghandi,for he too was a theist.

So don't bug off, but I hope you'll consider learning to be respectful and civil in you discourse with people. And don't assume people are idiots or insane because they're Christian. There's no denying that C.S. Lewis was a brilliant man, and he was Christian. He's one of many examples. Yes, I differ than them in my beliefs, but I'm secure enough in my beliefs not to have to paint them all as idiots or loonies.

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

And please, don't jump on my attrocious grammar and spelling. I don't have time to edit this stuff as I'm taking a quick break from writing that I actually get paid for. Pay that allows my lavish American lifestyle.

DonaldDuck said...

You are way off the mark, KLJ. I don't accuse John or any other Christian of being an idiot or insane.

I do not speak on behalf of other atheists.

And I refuse to play polite respectful games with people because you or anyone else think it's bad manners to do otherwise.

I will continue to express myself in my own way, however idiosyncratic or irritating that may be.

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

It's a shame that you think showing respect is a game.
And if you don't think John or other Christians are insane or idiots, you sure don't show it in you how speak to and of them.
Again you don't really tackle anything I've said. I'll drop out of this conversation now. I find interacting with you unsatisfying.

Goofy said...

Donald Duck,

If you are still there, I think you should pack up and head back to DisneyLand ! Back to your little world of imagination and make believe.

Gods_Rhema said...

Hi Donald Duck..
Mate Im an Aussie to hey and if you ever want to talk about anything at all spiritual or not. Or anything related to this ere blog mate..Im in Perth Western Australia. We can meet, have a beer, and you can get some things off your chest..I dont think the Rev would mind me talking about him. Would ya Rev!

Urban Monk...the answer is yes dude.