Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Into the silence

Well I have found a cabin that I can use for free out in the bush. So I guess I am going to find my silence and solitude. I am still a bit scared, extreme extroverts are not really that comfortable with solitude and silence.

My wife is going to go up to the cabin with me and we will spend the Monday together bush walking and then she will leave me there. I will be picked up on Thursday morning. I am still not sure exactly how I should order my time.

And advice would be great. Also wondered if at silent retreats they speak prayers aloud? And is the goal not to write as well? Some things I have planned was scripture readings. Taking communion daily. And possible doing some painting. I am planning on having regular times of centering prayer, and trying to practice stillness.

I would rather get charged by a bull.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Surrender conference (panel discussions)

At surrender I was asked to be on a few panels. One was on ministry as a family that was with my wife. The second was on starting communities from scratch. And the third was on worship. I was honoured to be on each of these panels, as the people I was with were very amazing people, doing some great works, and I did feel a bit humbled to be among them.

I will not go into too much about what was said, but if you have any questions about any of these things please just ask and I will try and give you the combined wisdom as I heard it. But what I did want to point out was the quality of teaching and instruction that came out of these sessions was very very strong.

As you may have recognized from my posts and maybe from me personally, I am not shy. I speak my mind quite freely, and usually believe I have something worthwile to say. And even if I don't I'll will speak up anyways :) But I really saw this weekend, that I always gave, just a piece of the picture. And when we had a group there was a more complete picture given. And thats not all, since it was not just one person speaking, the "audience" not only felt allowed to ask questions, but to offer their own answers as well. I hope to use this format more in FORGE, and I think it is something that church should be more about. The collective wisdom of a community of faithful disciples will always bring a more well rounded wisdom.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Surrender conference (Mick Duncan)

Was a very inspiring weekend. Loved all of the messages. Loved being with such a great crowd of people. Loved getting to share some of my own journey.

I thought I would share a few of the highlights for me, the first being Mick Duncan. Mick spent ten years of his life in a Manila slum. He speaks from a platform of both integrity and brokeness. He always, everytime, challenges me deeply. He is a great speaker, very powerful, but not always very fun to listen to. My friend Jon Owen described listening to him speak this way, "its like he smiles and then stabs you with a knife... and then twists it... and when you think you can't take anymore he pulls the knife out... and jabs it in again" Which isn't always true, but I think you get the picture.

In the first session Mick talked about our mind, and what we have mentally decided was our non-negotiables. He talked to us about God being the only thing allowed to be in that non-negotiable space, and anything else put there becomes an idol. At the end of the talk he asked us to take a time of confession. He asked us to kneel before God and confess the areas of our life that were not in obedience to God.

In actual fact, I believe that in my life I didn't think anything was intentionally above the line. I actually think I would do whatever God told me to do. But it is the nonintentional, as it is much of the time, that was and is giving me problems. My confession is one that probably won't shock you in the least, but I desperately look for the respect and admiration of other people. Particularly older men, or peers that I deeply respect. I really want them to be proud of me. And sometimes, well perhaps more honestly often, I am motivate by this rather than by my love and devotion to God.

I sat down with a brother in the Lord and told him about my struggle, one that has gone on for as long as I can remember. And he told me that Henri Nouwen also struggled with these things. He advised me that like Nouwen, I may find my struggle with this sin in my life, helped by times of solitude and silence. This confirmed my own thoughts about my need for this.

The problem is silence and solitude scares the hell out of me. I do not know if I can do it. But I need to. So when I am done writing this post, I will start looking for a place to have a time of silence and solitude. I am not sure if I will get a tent and just go to Wilsons Prom by myself, or go to a monastery of some sort. But I will do this in the next month...

unless one of you can suggest some really good excuses for me not to do it. Please!!!


These last four days

Well its been pretty full on these last few days. Been running non stop. Had our FORGE dinner, which took a bit of work to set up, and a bit of work to run and a bit of work to finish. Then we had the UNOH surrender conference, and that was awesome, but exhausting as well. Then we rushed back to the Cave and had the privlidge of having Darryl Gardiner come speak to us.

Pretty full on, non stop for a few days. But there is a tiredness that is not weariness. I am thankful to have today off, to spend a day with my wife just relaxing. I am only writing here because Raquel is having a nap, and I cannot as I am having some sleeping problems at the moment.

I will write a bit about my personal experiences this weekend in another post, but I am just feeling the need to share my thankfulness for a busy, tiring weekend. It isn't a bad thing at all.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Two worlds collide (last nights dinner)

This last Sunday Raquel and I celebrated 18 years of marriage. I am very thankful for my wife, and our wonderful relationship. We have fought through many difficulties, we have survived theological shifts, church plants and closings, panic attacks, kidney stones, unemployment, eviction, depression ect. We have experienced the joy of companionship, amazing passion, the birth of our two beautiful children and the blessing of ministering to many young people along the way. It truly is a celebration for us.

Now as you might know we live fairly simple lives, don't have a lot, don't really need a lot. But every once and a while we get a special treat. Last night as we celebrated our anniversary we were able to use a gift voucher for a beautiful, fancy restaurant in St. Kilda called the Stokehouse.

We were given this voucher as a thank you for the work we do with Red Network (formerly South melbourne restoration community). This allowed us to go and have a really nice night out, that we wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.

So we are sitting upstairs, looking over the bay, and enjoying the most beautiful food. I had potato and leek ravioli with parmesan encrusted pumpkin, and really nice glass of red wine from Spain and we shared a beautiful affogato with walnut liquer for dessert. My wife looked beautiful and we were enjoying the atmosphere.

Then my mate Jono from UNOH sent a text message. If you don't know Urban Neighbors of Hope, they are an amazing group of people that live in community with people below the poverty line. Some of the UNOH team live in the slums of Bangkok in what amounts to a shed, with their children. This amazing organization is worthy of your prayers and financial support if you want more info AND PLEASE GO TO THE SURRENDER CONFERENCE THIS MONTH

Well when I get Jon's text I am confronted with the amazing diversity of these two worlds. I am eating in this posh restaurant, and am communicating with a sacrificial missionary, who inpires me so much. The question is what do you do with this?

Now I could follow my good Catholic upbringing and jump right into guilt. I could also jump to my Pentecostal education and say "God wants me to have this wonderful meal as His blessing". But I found myself in neither of those camps. I sat with my wonderful wife, and enjoyed a gift, and also prayed that God would allow me to become more like Jesus, accepting life as it comes. Having a wonderful feast with some wealthy friends and experiencing hunger an homelessness the next. Accepting the annointing of oil with grace, and walking in absolute humility, even becoming the worst of slaves, by washing his disciples feet. That truly is a man to follow.


MIRACLES!!! a discussion next Sunday at the Cave

What about miracles? This next Sunday at the Cave we are gonna take a look at some miracles in the book of acts, and talk about miracles. We will discuss the different arguements for and against miracles both in the past and today. We will talk about a practical response to some of the problems and will even have some time for prayer.

I am a bit nervous talking about the subject, I find that so much weirdness in the church has made me reluctant to talk about the supernatural. And the typical attitude of "naturalists" to dismiss it as faerie tales and con men, doesn't make it any easier.

If you would like to share anything that might be helpful on the subject I would be grateful. In other words, help me do my homework!