Sunday, September 24, 2006

Putting it in context

Last night Shirley told us the story of Jesus getting his feet washed by the immoral woman. She explained that working with the street people, punk rockers, and druggies in the city, that they didn't really get the story. So she put it in context for them.

She made Jesus one of the street people, and the disciples his friends. She made the sadducees the social workers, and the pharisees the governments case workers. And they were all together talking about homelessness, poverty, the drug problem. And the immoral despised woman, well shirley's retelling made the woman a police officer.

See these street kids got that Jesus would love them, and the immoral woman, but a cop!!! No way. But Jesus' ability to love those that we find unloveable was passed on, it just had to be contextualized. Thats what good missionaries do. They tell the same gospel stories, but do it in a way others can understand it.

What a blessing to have Shirley with us last night.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Shirley Osbourne at the Cave

Next Sunday night Shirley Osbourne is going to be at the cave sharing with us. If you don't know Shirley she is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. I think of her as Melbournes Mother Teresa, but I am sure that would embarass her. If you want to be inspired to love just a little bit harder, please join us Sunday night at 6pm

76 St Leonards Rd.



Well, just incase any of you don't know that quote, it was a quote delivered by Jack Nicholson. The setting was a court room, and Tom (I am actually insane) Cruise was interogating the high ranking military officer played by Jack. Cruise' character realizes that the colonel will incriminate himself if given enough rope and sets about giving him that rope. The colonel is accused of ordering his troops to deliver some military justice to a young marine, that winds up dying from the abuse. He is an arrogant, intense, and very focused man. And he doesn't like this young punk lawyer disrespecting him.

At one point he needs to tell everyone what he is there for:

Son, we live in a world that has walls.
And those walls have to be guarded by men
with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You,
Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater
responsibility than you can possibly
fathom. You weep for Santiago and you
curse the marines. You have that luxury.
You have the luxury of not knowing what I
know: That Santiago's death, while tragic,
probably saved lives. And my existence,
while grotesque and incomprehensible to
you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth. Because deep
down, in places you don't talk about at
parties, you want me on that wall. You need me
We use words like honor, code,
loyalty...we use these words as the
backbone to a life spent defending
something. You use 'em as a punchline.
I have neither the time nor the
inclination to explain myself to a man who
rises and sleeps under the blanket of the
very freedom I provide, then questions the
manner in which I provide it. I'd prefer
you just said thank you and went on your
way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a
weapon and stand a post. Either way, I
don't give a damn what you think you're
entitled to.

Well, I had a bit of a difficult bit of self realization this morning. I act
like this sometimes. I say, "well I am an intense guy, I am the guy who will
say the things other people don't want to say, I am the ugly, mean, prophetic,
monster that is going to save everyone" What a crock of shit. I am an insecure
little man that wants his daddy to be proud of him. And this is how I try to
be a man, because as much as I know in my head that this is not true, I think
men are supposed to be harsh, fearless, unapologetic and warriors. Jesus wasn't
like Colonel Jessup, and I am not supposed to be either.

God help me.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

From the Challenge of Jesus by N T Wright

Just loved this quote and thought I would share it with you all.

"my proposal is not that we know what the word god means and manage somehow to fit Jesus into that. Instead, I suggest that we think historically about a young Jew possessed of a desperately risky, indeed apparently crazy, vocation, riding into Jerusalem in tears, denouncing the temple and dying on a Roman cross - and that we somehow allow our meaning for the word god to be recentered around that point.

Let me recapitulate and develop something I said in the opening chapter of this book. After twenty years of serious historical-Jesus study I still say the Christian creeds ex animo, but I now mean something very different by them, not least by the word God itself. The portrait has been redrawn. At its heart, as disclosed in the biblical writings, we discover a human face surrounded by a crown of thorns. God's purpose for Israel has been completed. Salvation is of the Jews, and from the King of the Jews it has come. God's covenant faithfulness has been revealed in the good news of Jesus, bringing salvation for the whole cosmos."

wow! I really like the book and the author.


Matthew part 2

So remembering that this is a Jewish man, writing for a Jewish audience, the subversive and radical nature of Matthews gospel continues to inspire me. He sets the stage for a Jesus that is ofcourse very subversive and radical Himself, and shows us just how upside down the kingdom really is.

In chapter two we read about the visit of the Eastern royalty. Now we know these are not the first visitors to come and worship Jesus. In fact reading Luke we understand that on the very day of Jesus birth he was worshipped by some jewish shepherds out in the fields. And then on the eighth day after his birth, as is the Jewish tradition we come to the temple, where a prophet of God recognizes Jesus' call, and having been promised he would see the Christ before he dies, is happy to go do that now that he has seen Jesus. And another devout Jewish woman, who worships night and day in the temple worships Jesus as well.

But Matthew doesn't speak of these events. Matthew doesn't tell about family visits either. He tells of an event that happened over a year later. The visit of the magi, or astrologers from the East. Matthew tells his Jewish audience that the Christ, the king of the Jews, is born in Bethlehem, and the first people that he tells us about coming to recognize the king, are not only not Jewish, but those that practice astrology. And the current king of Jerusalem, wants to kill this baby, but these non Jewish foreigners actually hear from God and do their part in saving the child.

Right from the start of his gospel Matthew is showing that Jesus though Jewish himself, and as messiah the heir to the throne of David. Jesus who is the coming King, the saviour of Israel, is also destined to be the saviour of the entire world. And gives us a hint that in actual fact, the world will see this, and respond, when many Jewish men and women will not.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Repent the kingdom of God is here

What exactly does that mean? Well in my studies the word repent means that we are to turn from something, but not just a negative turning away, a turning from one thing to another. In this case the assumption is, turn from the kingdoms you are currently in, to the kingdom of God. Now let us remember this was spoken of in a time of kings, and empires. So this message really packed a punch. But we can over spiritualize this and say that it only applies to our own rulership. I need to give up my own rulership and accept God's rulership. Now this is truly what this verse means! But it means more than that!!! It means turn from any and all kingdoms and accept God alone as the ruler. This means the kingdoms of the world, the kingdoms of the political powers, the kingdom of the economy the kingdoms of culture. We must turn from them all and receive the rulership of God, and infact bring that into this earth. This is what we pray when we say, "thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Now my contention is that somewhere along the line, we have rejected this command. We have not only rejected God as our ruler, but have set up another kingdom. The kingdoms of the church. We have found being ruled, and trusting the rule of the creator of the universe a daunting, and to be honest frightening task, so we have created a kingdom in His name, to help us feel more secure.

Now this is a very harsh thing to say, but lets take a closer look:

What do kingdoms do?

They create structures to protect, educate and control the people. In some cases they have a document, that has been ratified and accepted as the proper way to rule and govern, and call these constitutions, that provide a way to keep even the leaders in line. And they have special people that study these constitutions and make sure they are never broken. They have special people that are "qualified" to carry out the rule of the kingdom. They are often very capable, and qualified men, often very charismatic. They in some cases are elected, in other cases appointed, and in some cases inherit positions. And special people that enforce their rule. And they call these people public "servants". They create borders, if you are inside this border you are part of the kingdom, if you are outside you are not. They create armies of people to protect these borders, and to expel those that do not follow the dictates of the rulers. They have people that create propaganda to further the agenda of the kingdom, and they have others that are enlisted to battle against the "enemies" of the kingdom. They provide services for the people in the kingdom, they prepare roads, provide for the needy, educate those in the kingdom. And ofcourse all of the services and servants cost money so they charge a tax, a percentage of your income, in order to pay for all of these good things. They sing special songs and anthems about the kingdom. They have special days to celebrate the important days and people of the kingdom. They have special books, pledges, and covenents. I am sure this is sounding familiar. We have created new kingdoms, and these try to be the kingdom of God, but they are not.

Now I have been told I am advocating lawlessness. But I am not, I am advocating responsibility, and community, and the rulership of God. But who is to control things and keep them from getting out of line? Well seeing that a church able to even have people put to death wasn't able to curtail desent, I will just trust God to deal with it. What I am advocating for the people of God to return to the grass roots, diverse movement of our history. To relational authority. To an upside down kingdom that gives up power rather than protects it. That opens its borders rather than protects them. That actually requires of people that they leave the kingdoms of this world, and gives them no new kingdom in return, but allows God's rulership to take place.

Turn from the false kingdoms, and accept the only true king, Jesus the Christ.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

the subversive gospel of Matthew

Started a series on the book of Matthew tonight at the Cave. I focused my attention on this gospel while I wa away and was really excited about what I perceived. This gospel is very subversive, and I think we might miss it if we aren't careful.

First off we must understand Matt. was written to the Jewish people. The fact that a tax gatherer (read traitor to his people), would write telling them the good news, is a bit subversive, even before we get to the text. But it is apparent in his writing that this is his primary target. He does not use the word God, or THE NAME vey often. In fact he uses the expession kingdom of heaven rather than kingdom of God. He also uses the phrase, "as was spoken of through the prophets" way way more than the other writers. He is mainly trying to witness to a Jewish audience.

Which makes the geneology so much more subversive. Matt starts with Abraham as a good Jewish boy would, being that the Hebrews counted being sons of Abraham as their ticket into God's good graces. But then he goes a bit crazy. Now, there was no need to mention any women in the geneology. Luke doesn't at all. But in this geneology Matty lists four women in Christ's lineage. And just who are these women? I might add all but one are part of Mary's lineage as well.

The first is Tamar, who has the dubious distinction of having her father in laws child. This woman after having her first two husbands die, then tricks her father in law into getting her pregnant. And I thought I had some strange rumours in my family tree.

The second is Rahab. Now most people know Rahab usually has a second name: the harlot. Rahab the second woman Matt decides to highlight was not only a harlot in Jericho, but was not Jewish. I don't know if you understand how scandalous that is to a Jewish reader, but to think Gods Son comes from the line of a non jewish harlot is quite the radical idea.

The third is an amazing woman, one of the heros of the old testement: Ruth. She is a truly righteous and Godly woman. But... not Jewish again.

and the last...

The last woman isn't actually named, but called "the wife of Uriah" In other words Bathsheeba, the woman who's beauty brought king David to his knees. This woman not only was impregnated by a man she was not married to, but then conspired to trick her husband into thinking he was the father. And when that didn't work married the father of her baby after he had her husband killed!

Now what is the moral of this story? I think it is this: Jesus does not come from a nice safe pedigree, the path God chose to enter the world is a wayward, sinful, scandalous path. And He does the same today, but through you and me. Jesus is not a safe, easy, pious Godman, but rather a subversive, dangerous, revolutionary Godman, who came to not only save us, but inspire us to take up His dangerous call. And I intend to do just that.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

After a few days of solitude

It was not as hard as I expected, maybe I need to do it longer. :)

It was very good for me to get away, and reflect, study, and pray. I struggled a lot with centering or abiding prayer. My mind is very unruly and I doubt I kept it focused for more than a few minutes at a time. I imagine as with all things this will take practice. Some of the phrases I chose to center on were, "Jesus Christ, the saviour of the world." just the name "Jesus" and the name "YHWH" but like I said it was hard to keep my mind running off chasing every rabbit that hopped up.

The main reason I decided to go away was to help get some resolve for a charactor issue. I explained before that I tended to crave the respect and admiration of men that I respect and admire. I had difficulty realizing that they were father figures in some way, as many of these men are my own age. It was only recently I reallized that my age, is actually the age my father was when I "came of age". So I am still the teenaged boy desperately wanting the approval of dad. And I put that onto God as well, thinking that my heavenly Father is maybe a bit disappointed in me as well.

The problem with the rejection of legalism is, however, that we are left with no objective standard with which to judge our standing with God. We wind up face to face with the Creator of the universe, with no lists with which to hide behind, and justify ourselves with. This is not always a comforting thought. As I seek my Heavenly Fathers approval, I cannot rely on a set of morals acts and ommisions to make me feel like everything is okay. So my weird mind has created this subconsicous way to get this acceptance and approval:

If men that I really respect as Godly, wise and inteligent, like me, and even admire me a bit, then God must be happy with me too.

Ofcourse it is all an attempt to be loved and accepted by God. Something that the bible tells us is already true. It comes back to faith, do I believe it or not? Well today I do!!!

The time away allowed me to understand this much better.

It also gave me a bunch of sermons that I cannot wait to preach on the gospel of Matthew. I will post them here after I have delivered them at the Cave.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Well I leave today

I am a bit nervous, but also looking forward to it.

Last night was a very good night at the Cave. We prayed for Andy who is going to New York for a few weeks to do a show. We looked at the need for us to pay attention not only to the spiritual needs of our friends and neighbors but the physical needs as well. I got to play lead guitar, and rocked a nice riff or two. And Anthony played some harmonica on one of the songs which sounded great. I really love the fact that we have people of four generations there, and people that were born in four different countries, there are five different languages spoken. Which might not be a big deal but in a church of twenty five it certainly is. I love the diversity, and the flavour each culture brings.

I enjoyed a nice quiet fathers day yesterday, got a new cricket ball, which is just what I wanted. And the mighty Pies won for me.

In the morning our house church talked about what we would be doing to reach out to those in need more directly. It seems everyone is trying to figure out how we can practice hospitality in one way or another. We are looking into foster parenting, taking in asylum seekers, or helping people that are mentally or emotionally challenged. We all have committed to tasks this week to draw us closer to realizing these dreams, and I can't wait to see what trouble we wind up in. :)

Have a nice week. I will post some of my reflections when I return.