Friday, June 23, 2006

Peter vs Paul

Well this is a battle for the ages! :)

Spent a few days with a good friend. She works at an awesome place that provides shelter for pregnant women, and battered women. Kinda makes you feel proud to be a human when you see these kinds of places. Makes you feel embarassed to be human when you hear some of these girls stories. My friend is a great minister to these gals, and has developed some great ways to help them explore their spirituality using the arts and I am very proud of her.

She told my wife and I about an amazing psychologist that works at the shelter. He is very well known, and in high demand. But he stays at the shelter, has for thirty years. He busses groups to his home for barbeques and picnics. He is on call 24/7. He says he needs to be there for these girls for the long term, that they need to know someone is there for them and will be for the foreseeable future. I really admire that. It is an amazing thing he is doing. And its an amazing thing my friend is doing. They are Peters.

You see Peter stayed in Jerusalem. When the persecution got very intense and the church was forced outwards and underground Peter stayed in Jerusalem. He lead the church. He was the stability, the centre of the whole thing really. He dealt with long term conflicts, prejudices and personality problems. He dealt with financial hardships, jealousies, and sin. Peter stayed in one place, and everyone knew how and where to get ahold of him. And without him the church most likely would have suffered.

But there is another central character in the New Testement story. Paul, was not in one place long. Paul went from city to city, sometimes only staying for a few weeks. He started churches and left. Maybe he visited them again, maybe he sent them letters, but he certainly didn't stay. He was called to start stuff, not manage it. And I imagine lots of people were not too happy with him sometimes.

I am a Paul. I sometimes love being a Paul. Its very exciting, its dangerous, and its always new. The satisfaction I get from telling people about Jesus and figuring out how best to tell my story in new social settings is the most fun I can have. And to tell the truth I sometimes get bored if I am in one setting too long. But it also hurts like hell to be a Paul. I make deep caring relationships with people that are like family to me, and then I leave them. I lead people to Jesus, disciple people, empower them for ministry and then leave them to others to continue. Nobody sees the tears that accompany those things. But what gives me peace, is that I always know, I don't think, but I really know, that I am following my call and gifting, and the Spirits leading. People don't realize how hard it is when they try and entice me to be a Peter. There is much in me that wishes I could, the lure of that life is very strong, and for me I believe sinful.

Now the Peters face similiar issues. They can get bored, they can desire new borders and new adventures. They can get tired of the same old shite day in and day out. They can get soooo tired of certain individuals that keeps coming back to the same stupid place they were before. And these Peters will desire if only for a little while to join the Pauls. But they get other benefits, long term relationships, some kind of security and often they get to see the fruits of their labour and receive praise for all they have done.

The fact is however, that we need Peters and Pauls. Without Paul the gospel would have been restricted to a single social setting. Without Peter the church would have had no foundation. Now I, being a Paul, could point out that Jesus left the disciples, and so Jesus is more like Paul, but that doesn't fly because Jesus also said He'd never leave us or forsake us. And that is what I count on, that no matter if you are a Peter or a Paul, Jesus is always present, not just for you, but for those you minister with.

Looking back on my life I see that often times those I have ministered with, and cried over leaving, have become much truer and empowered disciples by my leaving. And I could say that those the doctor has ministered to have become truer and more empowered, because he stayed. That is the way this thing works. The gifts are beautiful because they are both needed and designed by God.

But I experience the scripture in a very profound and deep way, that tells of Paul, calling the elders of the church at Ephesus to come to him by the shore. And in tears he tells them he will not see them again. And that he did not want to come to their city, or else it would be too hard to leave. Seeing my friends and family here, I can relate so much. I miss them terribly. And my heart will break to leave again. But...

my friends in Australia want us back. And someday, not too soon I hope, I will have to say goodbye to them as well. In the end I must follow my Lord in whatever way he has called me. And it only does me bad to wish for a different calling. Rather I wish for myself and for my friends, that we would live in the presence, and power of Jesus. For the kingdom of God, is for those that really understand what it means to obey the king.

the rev

Saturday, June 17, 2006

met an artist in Manhattan

When I went to Manhattan to see some of the museums, I found myself in a mass of swirling Puerto Rican madness. It was the Puerto Rico pride parade, and it basically vice gripped midtown, and made getting to the museums almost impossible. When I finally got into the Gugenheim I was in such an agravated state that enjoying it was difficult.

I figured the Met was out of the question, so I went down town and didn't really have a plan. I got off the subway at Union Square and saw some breakdancers. I stopped to watch and dropped a buck into their tray. They were not only very good dancers, but good entertainers as well.

Then I was looking at the artists on the street. There was a lot of original art, which is really cool. But this one guys art just really stood out to me. His name is Scott Newcomb, and his work is very textured and I felt very strong. I asked him about his process, and he explained how he used chemicals, wax, and metal in various ways. Often getting colors not from pigments but from chemical reactions. He also scratched, cut, and otherwise got a bit violent with the paintings. I liked them even more.

We found ourselves talking for about an hour, and I tried not to hinder any sales. He asked me about my art, we talked about spirituality within art, about where we lived. It was a really nice hour. He also told me where to find an amazing church that had a chapel designed by Louise Nevelson, who is one of my favorite artists.

In the end I couldn't leave without taking one of his pieces home with me. I bought a very small piece that looks a bit similiar to this one

and you can see more of his work at

the rev

seeing good friends

It's kinda weird! It's actually so natural, and so normal to be sitting with our friends talking, having a coffed or some nice Mexican food, that we almost feel like we never left. Almost anti-climatic its just like another day, only we are fourteen hours away from home.

But it has been really good. Last night we sat with two pregnant couples, one very very pregnant. We got to see our good friends new baby, who is actually a year old now. These are the crazy things. And the way kids grow, you leave for a few years and kids grow up. Ofcourse we know our girls inspire the same sense of time change.

Today I am doing a seminar at my old jiu jitsu club, then going to do a bit of kareoke with friends. Should be a great day.

the rev

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The trip to the states

sorry guys, I posted this a few days ago and must have sent it to the draft bin, I can only blame jet lag

Well its been a bit full on for the last few days. I left Melbourne on Thursday morning, arrived before I left in Los Angeles, then jumped on a plane to New York and spent the weekend there with some friends. It was really good to see my friends in New York, and just to be in that city. I love New York, it is truly and overwhelming place.

I taught a jiu jitsu seminar there, and that went really well. They seemed to really enjoy the techniques I shared with them and we had a great time.

On Sunday I went into the city by myself to go to the Gugenheim museum. They were having a pollock exhibition and I thought I would go check it out. Man was that harder than I thought, it was the day of the Puerto Rican pride parade, and it took me an hour to push through the crowd for four blocks to get to the museum. But it was great to see the exhibit, it was all works on paper, and there were some really neat paintings.

Monday I flew back to California to join my wife and kids. Raquel and I stayed with our friends Dan and Staci in Long Beach and that was really nice. We have known them since they were in our youth group and they are now married and expecting a baby. It was a great time hanging out with them. We went to the beach on Tuesday, and just tried to bake all the jet lag off.

Yesterday we came back to the inland empire where we are staying with Raquel's bio father and family, and went out to eat with some close friends. It has been a great trip, just a bit tiring. It also feels a bit weird, part of me feels very normal and comfortable here with people I know for many years. But part of me feels very strongly that this is not my home anymore. I also really miss my friends back home, and the churches we are a part of.

I will try and post a bit more details over the next few days.

the rev

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I had a vision

Tonight at the Cave we had a night of silent meditation and prayer. In a candle lit room, with the projected scriptures about the day of pentecost, we sat. For an hour we did not speak, and tried hard not to move. There was no background music to put us in the mood, or to drown out the very loud silence. We had the elements so that whoever wished could partake of communion.

During this time I felt God speak to me. It wasn't in an audible voice, but just a sense of communication. I just had a few thoughts jump into my head.

But I also had this vision:

I saw these metal holding cases, that were triangular and long. Each had a nice, ordered set of balls that were all the same gun metal gray color. It was very organized and efficient. There were probably twenty balls to each case and the shown through the holes in the side of the case. And there were so many of them. And then there was an explosion of sorts, and all of these cases were opened. All of the balls became brightly and differently colored and began bouncing chaoticly all over the place. It was just like that add on tv, with all the balls bouncing down the street.

I felt like this is what happened at Pentecost. Everything was let loose, and this amazing freedom, and individuality was unleashed and was sent off in every direction, uncontrolled and amazingly beautiful. And then I got the feeling like the church, scared by the chaos, and constant changing, began to pull all of these balls back together and put them back in their cases, and take away their colors. And there was order, and comfort again. And it made me very sad.

the rev

My friend and workmate

I won't mention his name, because he would probably just be embarassed, but I want to tell you about an amazing man that I work with at FORGE. He is one of the most friendly, compassionate and caring people I have met. His work at FORGE has been the most beneficial, and probably the most succesful addition to our team since way before I came. But I will tell you a little story about yesterday.

Yesterday, he came to our workshop, a bit late as he was busy doing other work. He showed up in time for lunch and jumped right into conversation with those at the seminar. We were running a bit late so I started teaching while others were finishing eating. But since I missed the session before lunch, I needed to stay for the following session. This guy just took it upon himself to collect all the plates, do the dishes, clean up the mess and put the leftovers away for easy removal. He missed out on the seminar, missed out on the conversations and fellowship, so he could serve. I hope I can be more like him someday. He reminds me of Jesus.

the rev