Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rewriting the Christmas story

I don't know if its a bit cliched to rewrite the Jesus stories into modern times-but this is a particularly good one about Jesus being born in Melbourne. Follow the hyperlinked title of this post to check it out

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Moby on Christmas

Don't mind his music, and has some interesting stuff to say on Christmas and Christianity. Worth a look.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Jesus Was a Punk Rocker

Even though its late and I should be preparing for this wedding-I found this great little parody and it just cracked me up! Pretty cheesy, but so much so that its cool! Well done Trav!

Oh a saviour has been born to us let's say a thankful Prayer
Back in Bethlehem in BC 4 their were angles in the air
He was born to lead a world in disrepair
Oh I’m thankful for the saviours birth,
God showing us he’s there

When the Census date from Rome was called
And everybody young and old
Had to back to their homeland and sign a little form
Mary was expecting soon but they couldn’t even find a room
They found a little back shed to have the baby king

Oh a saviour has been born to us let's say a thankful Prayer
In Bethlehem in BC 4 their were angles in the air
He was born to lead a world in disrepair
Oh I’m thankful for the saviours birth,
God showing us he’s there

The Angels gave the shepherds fright
The sheep were attacked by parasites
The went to find Jesus while angels danced and twirled
The shepherds couldn’t believe their eyes.

It was better then a coke and fries.

They went and told everyone.

It was a new day for the world.

Oh a saviour has been born to us let's say a thankful Prayer
In Bethlehem in BC 4 their angles in the air
He was born to lead a world in disrepair
Oh I’m thankful for the saviours birth, God showing us he’s there

The wise men now were really glad
But this just made King Herod mad
He called in the wise men and he had a little scheme
Wise men crowned Jesus King
Gave him the gold, Myrrh and lots of bling.
They took the eastern freeway home
Warned of Herod in a dream

Oh a saviour has been born to us let's say a thankful Prayer
In Bethlehem in BC 4 their angles in the air
He was born to lead a world in disrepair
Oh I’m thankful for the saviours birth,
God showing us he’s there
He was born to lead a world in disrepair

Oh I’m thankful for the saviours birth, God showing us he’s there

Ministries or minister?

Found this post here the other day, a good little site I've linked to before.

I think it throws a couple of unneccesary barbs, but is a good thought-provoker.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend about his decision to move to an inner city neighbourhood. At first he had grand plans to start all kinds of ministries when God stopped him. My friend heard God tell him the neighbourhood doesn't need another ministry. It needs another minister. As that thought has been rolling around my head it has come to be very profound for me. It articulates something I've been working through especially with my house church experiments.

Most ministry that occurs in a church is through a church program. In most church programs a few individuals conduct ministry (usually teaching or preaching) to a large group of people. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. However when almost all ministry follows this pattern we have a problem. We become insulated from each other. Even as someone who has taught and preached I can tell you it is a lot easier to preach to crowd than it is to get in to the nitty gritty details of someone's life. It is also much easier to sit in a crowd and listen to someone talk than it is to open your life up to others.

I think this is the essential difference between simple churches and regular churches. They shift the emphasis away from centralized ministry and become ministers. They open up their lives, their homes and even their fridges to the purposes of God. There is a huge cost to this.

The cost of being a minister of the gospel is too high. It means we have to deal with our own emotional issues and become vulnerable enough to open ourselves to healing. It means forgiving those who have wronged us. It means loving people who might reject us or return our love with contempt. It means becoming people of integrity who honestly address the hidden sin in their lives.

I think this is why we have so many ministries and not enough ministers. One can teach or preach to a faceless crowd and not have to deal with their personal issues or sin.

Church is the way it is because it is the way we want it. Deep down inside at a semi-conscious level we decided the cost of being a minister, the cost of being a disciple is too much and we stick with the status quo. We may recognize their are problems. We tinker with programs and convince ourselves that there really is a legitimate chance this going to make a difference. Nowadays people innovate by adding in couches or video projectors or art installations. In the end the more things change the more they remain the same.

Check out Leighton Tebay's blog.

See ya later Warney!

We all knew it was gonna come sooner or later, but unfortunately it's finally happened. And with the next Ashes now not until 2009 I don't reckon there's much chance of him making a Michael Jordan style comeback either!

Warney was the one who inspired me to bowl leggies back in the day. I was just another average medium pacer in a gun team, and needed to do something to make sure I got a bowl, and so leg-spin became my craft! I remember seeing his first wicket against India, a mis-hit lofted off-drive caught by Dean Jones, his figures:1/150! And with any luck I'll see him take a few at the Boxing Day Test this year.

He had a few mis-demeanours, but I can get over that. Besides, he's in the team cos he can play cricket, not cos he's a good role model.

Congratulations on a great career Warney!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The myth of the reliable condom

Found this post today on the blog of a guy who i happened to meet whilst trying out for another game show-but you'll hear more about that if and when I'm gonna be on! Anyways, its a good blog (it'd wanna be-he helps people with blogs for a job!) and this was an interesting post. No doubt I'll find plenty more useful stuff there over time.

At a recent World Congress on Sexology, a speaker asked the 800 sexologists present this question: “If you had available the partner of your dreams and knew the person carried HIV, how many of you would have sex depending on a condom for protection?” Not one person raised their hand. After a long delay, one hand was timidly raised in the back of the room. The speaker was irate. She told them, “it was irresponsible to give advice to others that they would not follow themselves.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My first wedding...that I'm conducting!

I'm not a full minister and what not yet, but I managed to score myself my celebrant's licence a while back and am now qualified to conduct weddings! And don't worry-I'm as scared as you are! Haha, na I'm stoked, can't wait. Got my first one on Sat and already another 3 on the cards! Bring it on!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Kevin Rudd + The God Factor

Just watched a great interview with Kvin Rudd, by Geraldine Doouge-the chick who hosts Compass. It was done last year but rerun due to his recent grab at the Labor party leadership.

It was a great interview, and I was really really impressed with him. He seems to take his faith pretty seriously-yet still have his feet on the ground, and a good perspective on the place of faith and religion in politics. He also really seems to have a good perspective on the spiritual, social and personal implications of faith.

It reminded me that I'd forgotten to post (as I often do) something I'd wanted to a while ago, which was this essay by Kevin Rudd.

Here's a couple of quotes. If u don't know the Bonhoeffer he's talking about, do some research on him-a great story.

“Bonhoeffer’s was a muscular Christianity. He became the Thomas More of European Protestantism because he understood the cost of discipleship, and lived it.”

“But there are signs of Christianity seeing itself, and being seen by others, as a counterculture operating within what some have called a post-Christian world. In some respects, therefore, Christianity, at least within the West, may be returning to the minority position it occupied in the earliest centuries of its existence.”

“I argue that a core, continuing principle shaping this engagement should be that Christianity, consistent with Bonhoeffer’s critique in the ’30s, must always take the side of the marginalised, the vulnerable and the oppressed.”

“In the fifth approach, the Gospel is both a spiritual Gospel and a social Gospel, and if it is a social Gospel then it is in part a political Gospel, because politics is the means by which society chooses to exercise its collective power. In other words, the Gospel is as much concerned with the decisions I make about my own life as it is with the way I act in society.”

I particularly like that last one too. Some good stuff I reckon.

The full transcript of the interview is here.

So close, yet so far...

My U/17s continue to motor along nicely, having another win-sitting 4-2 going into the Christmas break, which will have us in the 4 which is sweet.
Still working out the balance between wanting to have a win and give everybody a go, but it seems to be going well at the moment I reckon.

But then it was in the seniors where the real action was! After pretty much the worst day ever in the field the week before, not getting a wicket in the stifling heat and smog until 5:00pm and them setting a massive total of 341, we knew it would be a mammoth chase.

We lost a few early wickets, and the run chase didn't look good, but Uncle Darryl was still going strong with everybody falling down around him, whacking them all over the place, bringing up his ton with a massive 6.

Now I don't normally play in this side so they didn't know about my batting prowess (and lack thereof) so chucked me in at 10-which to be fair was one spot lower than I should have been, I was demoted after the guy who was at 10 begged to be at 9! Nonetheless I came to the crease at 8/246-still 96 short of a winning total.

In short Darryl and I put on 65, then I had to try and protect our #11 who'd never played cricket before, we made another 20 and then we ended up on 330-a mere 12 away from what would have been a classic victory. I made 36, including 6 4's, my highest score outside of school cricket!

A great day for restoring confidence in my batting ability but still terrible to get so agonisingly close!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Less commitment church=less commitment faith?

I have been thinking a lot about the Huddle lately-as I often do, and particularly the perception of Christianity and faith that it would give to people who were just new and starting to get involved.

See we are (and quite intentionally) a church that doesn't run a lot of programs, courses and events for people to go to, which is for a few reasons. Mainly because none of us want church stuff to take over our lives and have no time for our normal lives and normal friends. So I guess the idea is that instead of always being at church stuff, people have got time to get out and live their lives amongst people in the community. See we all get that, but I wonder about how new people might perceive it.

Do we run the risk of giving the illusion that your faith is something that should only be a small part of your life? That it should only be an add on to everything else? I guess at the end of the day it comes down to how well we're able to help people be a part of our community, and to understand God's call on their life, but its still something worth thinking about.

The importance of hearing others fail and struggle

I was thinking the other day about how important it is to hear about others failing and struggling in life, not for schadenfreude (its German-look it up) cos thats just crap, but because it makes us and our struggles and failures seem normal too, so we don't feel like the only crazy ones! Particularly when the people are older or people we really respect.

I remember a while back hearing an older guy I look up to a fair bit about how he didn't want to put himself in certain situations because he knew he didn't trust himself not to stuff, which was really cool, as I was struggling with the same issues (It was basically about girls-no surprises there-they're always the source of guys problems!!) But yeah, it really helped me a lot in terms of not feeling alone in my struggles and issues. I think there should be more of it in church.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Another sweet music festival!

Damn these music festivals with their close locations, enticing line-ups and expensive ticket prices!

I just found out yesterday about this Point Nepean Music Festical over Easter next year, acts announced are Ben Harper, John Mayer, Missy Higgins, The Waifs and Ben Kweller, plus a few other sweet looking funk/reggae bands.

And then there's Chill Island, with Beautiful Girls, Ash Grunwald, Blue King Brown, The Cat Empire and Custom Kings down at Phillip Island on 27th Jan!

As well as Pyramid Rock I definitely won't be able to afford them all, tough decisions ahead!

My new blog layout!

I signed up the beta version of blogger the other day, and they've made it heaps easier to mess around with your blog and add all different stuff. So what ur looking at now is the result of that!

Hope you like it! As you can see I've finally been able to add some links to blogs I like reading, a funny photo which I think you can only see half of, and will endeavour to add some more stuff soon. I've also just realised I'll prob need to go back and chamge the colour of the text in some posts as it now looks crap with this new background-but any other ideas for changes from anybody?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You're biggest God question.

This blog is runnign a thing where everybody is submitting their biggest God question. Man there's some rippers there! Heaps of brain food there!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dressing up for church

Was having a discussion today with my VETAMORPHUS guys, and the topic of dressing up for church came up, particularly to be on the music team, an idea to which I'm strongly opposed. Clearly with the Huddle we don't have this issue, and having never been involved with music stuff at Franga, don't know what rules are in place, but I digress.

I'm just not a fan of any sort of putting on any 'airs and graces' for church. For a number of reasons.

I don't reckon God cares.
If we're dressing up for church, why don't we dress up everyday? Cos God is just as much in our everyday as at church.
It can make people feel excluded if they can't dress up-ie they don't have enough money.
It can make people feel excluded if they don't fit the image.
It puts unneccessary restrictions/expectations on people, and is another possible way to exclude people.
It feels unnatural and very fake to me.
It can give people the wrong idea about what God wants/expects from us to newcomers?
Dressing up, not God, can become the focus.

But mainly the first one.

Sure you don't have to dress down, or wear singlets and no shoes like me, but I'm just really not a fan of people having to dress up for church or music teams, I really can't see any reason. If you know some, please tell me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Anybody wanna try out for Big Brother?

I'll prob go in on Monday. Give me a call if ur keen. I've got a feeling this is my year!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bono and Making Poverty History

I've been thinking a lot about Bono, and his popularity, and particularly his involvement witht he MPH and other related campaigns.

I've heard a lot of people talk about how he's a prophet of our generation, which I do agree with in mnay ways, and the difference he's making by using his popularity as a rock star to speak to world leaders-great, and all sorts of other great stuff. I also notice that a lot of Christians are getting behind him and his message, which I reckon is great, but is also in a way, a soft option.

See Bono and the whole MPH movement make no sort of argument whatsoever about what we should be doing with our own personal money, about looking at our own spending and lifestyles. Their main deal is campaigning and petitioning Governments to increase their aid spending, which I'm totally behind, cos I believe that will be the way in which long-term, massive change will take place.

Because as important as it is, me and you sponsoring a child is not going to end extreme poverty. My donations I send off to TEAR or World Vision or whoever will help people, but won't stop 30 000 kids dying a day. So for that reason i'm all for getting stuck into out Government about living up to their promises to spend 70 cents in every 10 dollars of our national economy on global world aid.

But as a Christian response, thats far from enough. See by campaigning and shaking our fists at Government, we feel as if we've alleviated ourselves of any sense of duty or having to play a part in dealing with extreme poverty. By wearing a band or T-shirt, or going to the concert, or signing a petition (all of which i've done by the way) we think we've done our part, which is bullshit.

As i said, me and you donating money won't end extreme poverty for everybody, but it will for somebody. And the Gospel is that we have to care for that somebody.

The Gospel is that it will make a difference for that somebody, and for the somebody that could be helped if we ate out less, and the somebody that could be helped if we lived in a smaller house, drove a cheaper car or drank less beer. The somebody that could be helped if we bought less clothes, CDs and consumeristic crap. And the problem is I'm just as guilty as anybody else of all this stuff.

Bono and the Make Poverty History is a great start, but is far from a complete Christian response.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What Not To Expect

I found this the other day and really liked it, good stuff of what a good missional community shouldn't look like. Neither Frankston or the Huddle are there yet (not that i think its something you ever really arrive at) but we're on the journey.


1.) Should not expect to regularly come to church for just one hour, get what you need for your own personal growth and development, and your kid's needs, and then leave til next Sunday. Expect mission to change your life. Expect however a richer life than you could have ever imagined.

2.) Should not expect that Jesus will fit in with every consumerist capitalist assumption, lifestyle, schedule or accoutrement you may have adopted before coming here. Expect to be freed from a lot of crap you will find out you never needed.

3.) Should not expect to be anonymous, unknown or be able to disappear in this church Body. Expect to be known and loved, supported in a glorious journey.

4.) Should not expect production style excellence all the time on Sunday worship gatherings. Expect organic, simple and authentic beauty.

5.) Should not expect a raucous "light out" youth program that entertains the teenagers, puts on a show that gets the kids "pumped up," all without parental involvement. Instead as the years go by, with our children as part of our life, worship and mission (and when the light shows dim and the cool youth pastor with the spiked hair burns out) expect our youth to have an authentic relationship with God thru Christ that carries them through a lifetime of journey with God.

6.) Should not expect to always "feel good,"or ecstatic on Sunday mornings. Expect that there will ALSO be times of confession, lament, self-examination and just plain silence.

7.) Should not expect a lot of sermons that promise you God will prosper you with "the life you've always wanted" if you'll just believe Him and step out on faith and give some more money for a bigger sanctuary. Expect sustenance for the journey.

8.) Should not expect rapid growth whereby we grow this church from 10 to a thousand in three years. Expect slower organic inefficient growth that engages people's lives where they are at and sees troubled people who would have nothing to do with the gospel marvelously saved.

9.) Should not expect all the meetings to happen in a church building. Expect a lot of the gatherings will be in homes, or sites of mission.

10.) Should not expect arguments over style of music, color of carpet, or even doctrinal outlier issues like dispensationalism. Expect mission to drive the conversation. OH AND BY THE WAY-You should not expect that community comes to you. I am sorry but true community in Christ will take some "effort"and a reshuffling of priorities for both you and your kids. Yes I know you want people to come to you and reach out to you and you're hurting and busy. But assuming you are a follower of Christ (this message is not for strangers to the gospel) you must learn that the answer to all those things is to enter into the practices of "being the Body" in Christ, including sitting, eating, sharing and praying together.

Your role as a minister

"Keeping your community attentive to God" I really really like that as a definition of our role as ministers or pastors or whatever we wanna call ourselves as church leaders. That was a part of one of the Eugene Peterson quotes I put up the other day, but really liked it-so gave it another run here.

U2-Best concert ever!

I don't think i need to say much more than the fact that it absolutely rocked! They played all their big songs, put on a massive show and were generally awesome!

After seeing the Make Poverty history concert on Fri night, going to a mates bucks party, my juniors winning cricket, the church AGM going well, seeing Borat (so so wrong but so so funny), a footy pre-season launch BBQ and my mates wedding, it capped off one of my best weekends ever!

Vote for me so I win a holiday!

All you need to do to help me win a free trip overseas to do some aid work is follow the link above and vote that I'm hot-even though I look like a shambles in that photo! I'm generally against stupid 'rate how good I'm looking' crap websites, but hey, if it will help win a competition to do something I'd love to do but can't afford, then I can change my outlook!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Prison Fellowship

On Monday night we had a top night, with one of our crew sharing her passion for prison ministry stuff, was a really awesome night.

She talked about how people end up there, how terrible a lifestyle it is, the part drugs play in so many crimes, the troubles people have integrating into society and all sorts of stuff. So many more issues and things to think about than I was aware of.

They do lots of visiting, helping people transition out of prison, mentoring prisoners, helping families-particulalry kids of prisoners. A couple of the projects we'll hopefully be able to help out with will be their Angel Tree project-providing gifts for kids who's parents are in prison and can't give presents, and their Easter project where every prisoner in Victoria get 10 home baked cookies and a little Easter message from people in churches who cook them.

The website I've linked to above is well worth checking out too, provides some good information and ways to help out.

Children of God

Was chatting with a friend the other day about a whole bunch of stuff, and one of the things that came up, was how much we really are ever going to know about God, and Jesus, and all what manner of theological topics.

He then made a really good point about reclaiming our title as Children of God, I didn't understand at first, but it does make a lot of sense.

So often we call ourselves men and women of God, but that implies being grown up and mature, that we know lots of stuff. But if we begin to see ourselves as children, we again are forced into the position of having to rely on God like a little child will rely on their parents. Always asking questions, always trusting them no matter what, always wanting to know more about the world.

And it allows us to not know everything, as children we have so so much to learn, but often as adults we can think we've got ourselves sorted. We don't have to know everything when we're children, we're not expected to know all the answers.

Haven't explained that as well as you said it B rad, but it made sense to me at the time!

My 2nd blog birthday

This was like a month ago, so can't really blame blogger being down for not posting up this post of flagrant self-congratulatism.

Anyway, happy second blogoversary to me!

Back in action

Blogger has been doing some upgrades, which has meant I've been out of action for a while. I always seem to think I have a plethora of great blog posts when I can't write them up, then nothing when I'm sitting here.
Will see how I go catching up.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Eugene Peterson 2

“The biblical fact is that there are no successful churches.

There are, instead, communities of sinners, gathered before God week after week in towns and villages all over the world.

The Holy Spirit gathers them and does his work in them. In these communities of sinners, one of the sinners is called pastor and given a designated responsibility in the community.

The pastor's responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God. It is this responsibility that is being abandoned in spades."

Gold from Eugene Peterson

Some great food for thought here

"(P)astors are abandoning their posts, left and right, and at analarming rate. They are not leaving their churches and getting other jobs.
Congregations still pay their salaries. Their names remain on thechurch stationary and they continue to appear in pulpits on Sundays.

But they are abandoning their posts, their calling. They have gone whoring after other gods. What they do with their time under the guise ofpastoral ministry hasn't the remotest connection with what the church'spastors have done for most of twenty centuries.

A few of us are angry about it. We are angry because we have been deserted....It is bitterly disappointing to enter a room full of people whom you have every reason to expect share the quest and commitments ofpastoral work and find within ten minutes that they most definitely do not.

They talk of images and statistics. They drop names. They discuss influence and status. Matters of God and the soul and Scripture are notgrist for their mills.

(P)astors have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are preoccupied withshopkeeper's concerns-how to keep the customers happy, how to lurecustomers away from competitors down the street, how to package the goods so that the customers will lay out more money.

Some of them are very good shopkeepers. They attract a lot of customers,pull in great sums of money, develop splendid reputations.
Yet it is still shopkeeping; religious shopkeeping, to be sure, but shop keeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the fast-food franchise occupythe waking minds of these entrepreneurs; while asleep they dream of the kind of success that will get the attention of journalists.”

Stupid Christian emails

I've thought most of this for ages now, but somebody bothered to write it, so I thought I'd post it here.

I am so sick of receiving chain mail from people, ESPECIALLY from Christians. The one's that say things like 'only pass this on if you love God' or 'if you are a true Christian you will pass this on' are the ones that drive me most nuts. As if passing on guilt fuelled email will prove you are a Christian. Prove to whom? Forwarding a chain letter in order to prove your relationship with God is a poor substitute for the real thing.

God will certainly not judge you by if you passed on an email or not and the people who write them obviously don't know God too well in the first place to trick others into believing this. No, it is only by asking God into your life, apologising for your sins and living for God that will prove you to be a true Christian. So many of them use the verse 'if you deny me before man, I will deny you before my Father in Heaven'.

Refusing to pass on an email to my non Christian friends is not denying God, it is denying the misrepresentation of God that the email presents. Jesus bought hope in the place of hopelessness and peace in place of fear. These emails use guilt motivation to get people to pass it on. What kind of Christian uses guilt for motivation? The kind that has ulterior motives. God's perfects love drives out all fear, so who would use fear to force people into passing on a letter?

Letters promising good luck if you pass it on are also insane. It's crazy to believe that people believe this stuff. I refuse to be cursed by a letter. I believe in the providence and omnipotence of God. I believe that God uses the circumstances of life to speak to me, change me, mould me, make me stronger. Things that may not seem that fantastic at the time often prove to have a profound effect on my life and character for the better. Yet, if you believe in luck, circumstances that appear bad can be attributed to by luck. If someone chooses not to pass on the letter, any bad circumstances will be seen through the filter of your belief system in luck. It just becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.

If you believe that God is the author and perfector of our faith, circumstances will appear completely different. I entrust my life to the loving hands of my God. I know He has plans for me. My life and its direction do not come down to just luck, but to divine intervention and a purpose that was planned for me before I was born. Luck has nothing to do with it.

Christians have more ways of communication available to them than any other time in history. We have fax, phone, radio, television, the internet and emails. Why would we waste our time passing on chain mail when the message of the love and peace of God is waiting to be heard by millions? I refuse to pass on these letters so don't bother sending any to me. I have better things to do with my time and refuse to be bullied, scared, intimidated or oppressed by mail that will in no way benefit me or my relationship with God.

The only letters I will be passing on are ones that encourage people and have the potential to draw them closer to God, not ones that will intimidate them into submission and false beliefs about what Christianity and a relationship with God truly is.

Chaplaincy 2

My only possible reservation, and its maybe not a big issue, is the issue of getting money from the Government, and how that may affect our position in terms of being able to speak out, or have some form of prophetic voice into, Government.

I remember the people at Urban Seed talking once about why they don't accept Government funding. From what I understood, they felt that by getting money from the Government they would be less likely to be able to speak out against Government things, because then people could turn and criticise them for lack of integrity for then receiving money froma system they may have issues with. I haven't explained that well, but there's just something about those ideas in the back of my mind that would like to explore further.

And the other thing I would like to add about this whole issue is that it sucks for me as its totally come at the wrong time, as I'm moving on from my current schools position, but could work really well as I hopefully move into another school-a public one that would probably be less likely to fund me, but more on that later.

Chaplains in schools

Considering it affects me greatly, as it relates to what I'll probably be doing for a fair chunk of my life, I've been thinking a lot about this whole chaplains in schools debate.

Initially, I do reckon its a pretty top idea. Anything we can do get more quality people helping young people in schools, particularly Christians, is awesome. Great stuff I reckon.

I really am a big fan of the fact that they don't have to be Christian chaplians either. Obviously thats where I'm coming from, but we need to recognise the fact that we live ina secular, yet multi-faith, country. To me this means that we can't impose any one belief system on people, and need to allow space for people of all faiths. I don't really care what you think about other religions (thats another discussion for another day) but the fact is we need to acknowledge their existence and the Government should support them if they want it. (Feel free to post up your thoughts from the other day as to why you disagree Gary)

Of course Christians, or people of any faith or spiritual path don't have a stranglehold on values and morality, you'd be silly to suggest that, but the fact is that we can offer students an alternative viewpoint, something different to a normal counsellor, which i think is a valuable choice to offer.

But having said that, chaplians can just act as 'normal' counsellors or youth workers, so I don't get why people are saying we should just have more of them. I agree we do need more youth workers in schools generally, but chaplians can play the straight counsellor card too. I know with some kids I see at school God never explicitly comes into the conversation, I'm just there helping them with their issues. Personally I believe God is there, working through me if I mention God or not, but thats another issue.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Opt-In Leadership

For a while now I've been wanting to write a lot more about the Huddle, but just never seem to think of it when I'm near a computer.

One of the things I thought I'd just quickly write about was how leadership works for us, in terms of woking out what we do every week, and what we do and don't get involved with etc.

The system we have at the moment is what I call 'Opt-In' leadership, which basically means that anybody who is a part of our community can be a part of, and have a say in, the leadership of our church.

We have monthly planning meetings where we get together and try and discuss how we've been going in terms of our three focus areas (another post for another day), what we're gonna do each week for the next month or so, and any other issues that come up, and just generally chat about stuff to do with where the group's headed.

At the start it was just me deciding what we did every week, which I, and the group, weren't really happy with. The main reason for this wasn't because I felt I was the only one with stuff to say-which i'm clearly not, it was just that I was never organised enought to ask people to prepare things! At the moment I think it is working pretty well, so we'll see where it goes.

This allows for people who want to have input to do so, and for other people who just want to come along and be a part of the group, to do so, which I think is cool. Down the track I'm thinking it might be a good idea to have some spiritual practices which people who choose to be a part of the leadership group would comitt to, but thats very much just a preliminary idea at the moment, so we'll see. That could have the potential to be a bit In/Out, We're Good Enough/You're Not, but yeah, I really don't know.

I do think that groups like this need leadership, its just that it will be a different sort of leadership to most church settings. I'm still working out what exactly that looks like in our setting, but its an exciting journey I reckon.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What do we call the building where the church meets?

Have been chatting a bit with a few people at Franga CoC about what we should call the building where some of our congregations meet as a church.

Obviously the church is the people gathered together, nott he building, but so often I catch myself, and others, calling the building the church.

It's a force of habit I think we need to change. It may seem like only a small issue, but is probably more important than we think.

It's not a problem with the Huddle as meet in homes, but for our Sunday morning and evening congregations and others involved in the life of the church, these little things do make a difference.

So far we've been tossing around ideas like'The Resource Centre" "Community Resource Centre" "Red Brick Building" "130" but clearly none of those are going to do the job. Let me know if you've got any ideas.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Cool Oscar Romero Poem

Prophets Of A Future Not Our Own (Oscar Romero)

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fractionof the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.Nothing we do is complete, which is another way ofsaying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.No set of goals an objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that oneday will grow. We water the seeds already plantedknowing that they hold future promise.We lay foundations that will need further development.We provide yeast that produces effectsfar beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense ofliberation in realizing this.This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’sgrace to enter and do the rest.We may never see the end results, but that is thedifference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
— Archbishop Oscar Romero (martyred on March 24th 1980)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Finally! A new easier to swallow Bible version!

Excellent! Finally somebody has gone to the effort of taking out all the parts of the Bible that are too hard, or place too many demands on us! Perfect for todays consumer church!

Here is what the editors and others are saying:

According to Chairman Mr. De Rijke the foundation has reacted to a growing wish of many churches to be market-oriented and more attractive. "Jesus was very inspiring for our inner health, but we don't need to take his naïve remarks about money seriously. He didn't study economics, obviously."

no serious Christian takes these texts literally. "What if all Christians stopped being anxious, for example, and started expecting everything from God? Or gave their possessions to the poor, for that matter. Our economy would be lost. The truth is quite the contrary: a strong economy and a healthy work ethic is a gift from God."

“We don't use them anyway! There's no single Christian selling his possessions and giving them to the poor."

Good stuff!

Everybody should do Kids Hope

For the past few weeks I've been 'mentoring' (really we just hang out, read his books, do somehomework, and play games-nothing revolutionary really!) a 6 year old kid from a local primary school behind our church building at Franga Church of Christ.

Its seriously so cool, and such an easy way to make a difference in a kids life. All you do is go down there and hang out for an hour a week, muck around a bit, help them with some work, and it rocks their world! If you've got a spare hour during school time you should definitely do it!

Good Tree

I just found out about this website, looks pretty simple really. All you have to do is search using their search engine, and it donates a cent to some charity or cause you pick out. Uses the combined searches of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, so should be pretty good.

Terrible name, but an easy way to raise money for a charity that otherwise just goes to big business n stuff. Get on it I say.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The peloton of God

Went for a bit of a ride on the weekend, sort of did half of Round The Bay In a Day, did 110 kms, but it wasn't really official-me and a mate just went for a ride on the same day the big ride was on. More packs to slipstream behind that way!

I got to thinking, as one does whilst riding a bike for an excessive period of time, (and it was an excessive period of time going the pace we were!) about the Kingdom of God and cycling.

See the phrase 'the Kingdom of God' is one that I love-as its my favourite topic at the moment, but is also one that I think we slightly lose the meaning of, seeing as how we don't live in a culture where Kings and Kingdoms really mean anything. To use, the King-or Queen as it is now, to us is just a far off monarch who doesn't really do much. Not the idea Jesus was trying to present I think.

See I think if Jesus were around today, he might use very different words to describe His Kingdom (which in a nutshell is 'wherever God reigns') than He did back in the day.

A metaphor I thought up was 'The Peloton of God'. (Basically a Peloton is a big pack of cyclists, usually the lead group in a race) See a peloton is ultimately about being in community, you can't form a peloton with only one person.

It's about helping each other out, about lightening each other's load, making the journey easier. Sometimes some are called to be out the front of the peloton, doing the hard slog, but they can't stay out there or they'll get burnt out.

In a peloton sometimes you get people who just hang on, who are struggling along, but are kept going by being part of the group. There are some that could push harder, but instead choose just to coast, which is Ok-but they aren't getting the most out of themselves as a cyclist.

Sometimes people will drop off the back because its all too hard, which sucks for them, and the rest of the peloton, but is just a reality of riding. The offer to join is always there, but not everybody is always up for it. Sometimes a stronger rider can drop back to the struggling rider and help pull them back in, sometimes this offer is accepted, sometimes rejected.

The peloton doesn't force anybody to join, people can always take their own journey. Sometimes people on different journeys will help out the peloton, any rider can be out the front if they choose. Even thought that person may be travelling a different path, sometimes their journey will overlap with that of the peloton of God.

So there you, its not a perfect analogy, I don't think any are, but its my attempt.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Radish churches

Was chatting with my Mum this week, and we were talking about a little seed planting exercise I'd used when I spoke at our church gathering at Franga CoC last Sunday night (I do hope to post more on that at some stage too) and she was saying how I should have chucked some radish seeds in with the other ones.

When I asked why, she simply said, because they're the ones that shoot up first, and break the soil, which makes it easier for the other seeds to break on through. Gold.

My prayer is that the Huddle will be a radish church, breaking through new church planting soil, that by doing so, we can make it easier for others in our area to rise up and impact their own communities.

I can't believe we traded Taz!

Chris Tarrant, 5 time leading goal kicker, All Australian, for Paul MEdhurst and the No.8 pick in the draft! What a shambles!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Airport Ancecdote - Strip!

CPT Airport Ancecdote - Strip! at morepraxis

I think this captures a little of what I was talking about a while back with the whole turn the other cheek/give your cloths to anyone who asks you thing. This link from the same site picks up a similar issue.

This summer, Israel denied entry to many travelers, so in Palestine conversations with overseas visitors often touched on “airport stories.” One former resident of the At-Tuwani area, a Palestinian who married a Swedish woman and has lived in Sweden for twenty-two years, told us of his exit experience at the airport.
“After they searched all my luggage, the officer said, ‘Now you need to strip.’ I said, ‘You want me to take my clothes off? Why?’ He said, ‘Normal security procedure.’ I said, ‘OK, I’ll undress, but not here in this back room. I’ll go out into the lobby and strip there, in front of all the tourists, and tell everyone, “This is how they treat you when you leave after visiting here - the officer ordered me to take my clothes off.” You can strip-search me out there.’
“The officer asked, ‘You would do that?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I would do that.’ Then he said, ‘Never mind. Take your bags and go to your plane.’”

Should doubts be silenced?

Eclectic Itchings: Should doubts be silenced?

Found this today, liked what he had to say, interesting blog to check out from time to time too.

It saddens me that some churches encourage the silencing of doubts.

Every now and again I come across people who express anger at the ‘blind faith’ of churched Christians. I had one of those conversations today. At issue was the ‘hissing’ responses this guy had received in the face of his questions and dissenting opinions, and his conclusions about churches in general that he’d come to as a consequence of that. I had this to say on the issue of blind faith:

“…the fear reactions you have encountered in conversations with others speak to me of shaky faith. Deep faith is incompatible with fear. Deep faith can handle tough questions. Deep faith can weather doubt, and indeed come out stronger on the other side. How? Because it has faced many such crises before and seen God’s faithfulness! How can you know how deep your faith is until you have faced your doubts? Hiding from your own doubts and suppressing them is a recipe for eventual disaster. Doubt is the necessary state you must come to if you want to grow beyond your current limitations.

I came to faith when I began to doubt my doubts, having given doubt full reign. I don’t know all the answers. I cannot. But I’ve seen enough and learnt enough and experienced enough to take the risk of taking this path. I cannot give you ‘evidence that demands a verdict’. All I can offer is evidence that invites further exploration, to be open to being tested as you test things out. I identify most with churches (read: communities) that respect that.”

Friday, October 06, 2006

McLaren on Irwin

God's Politics - Jim Wallis blog, faith blog, religion, christian, christianity, politics, values

Once again, he's done it. Summarised everything I was thinking, and said a lot more clearly than I ever would have. I know I need to read some other stuff for a bit of diversity, but I'm loving most McLaren stuff at the moment. Here's a couple snippets:

I know this might sound strange, but I think the man was a kind of missionary. He knew why he was put here on this planet; he knew his mission, and he knew it was more than a job. It was a vocation, a truly spiritual calling, an invitation and solemn duty to join in the care of God’s sacred creation.
What characterized Steve’s mission? Saving love – and especially for the creatures that are often misunderstood, despised and hated - crocs, sharks, snakes, spiders, and their kin.

He had a zealot’s passion for saving wildlife, and he had a childlike freedom to let his passion show. Somehow, he managed to grow up without ever outgrowing the unabashed wonder and unedited enthusiasm that all of us probably had at one time.

I don’t recall Steve speaking of God much. But every time he said, “Isn’t that a little beauty!” I think he was speaking for God, the One who notices and loves the smallest goodness of every created thing. The look on his face when he sat with an orangutan or swam with a green sea turtle or let a lizard perch on his finger – that look in itself was a sign and a wonder. Sure, some people think he was over the top, but with millions of other fans, I miss him, and with them, I’m inspired to live life a little – no, a lot - louder and freer because of him … playing my own unique part in the sacred mission of saving love. Rest in peace, Steve-o. Well done.

Thanks to Garth at EmergingBlurb for this one.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Inspiring people

Man these people inspire me, I'd so love to be doing something similar in my area. I went to YITS with the older brother of the chick who leads all of this, who's like 21 now. She was the kind of 18 year old who would rock up to functions and parties with the 10 girls in her small group, just real life on life discipleship stuff. Amazing, inspiring woman of God. Check em out, be inspired, do something about it.

Love everybody stupid

Thought this to myself this arvo, as one of my neighbours dropped around to say, well, not much, cos she doesn't, she just kinda stands around whilst you uncomfortably make conversation.

Interrupted my other plans for the night completely, missed out on doing what I had planned, but judging by our conversation, God probably had something else in mind.

But just as I internally groaned when Mum yelled out that she was at the door, I was again reminded of Jesus telling us that anybody can love their friends, but it takes something special to love your enemies. Of course, she's not an enemy, just a socially awkward neighbour.

For me, the whole incarnational mission thing is predominantly about loving my friends, easy enough. It takes a whole other level of love to love these kind of people. God, help me, I've got a long way to go.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I have become everything I loathe!

I honestly can not believe how bad a person I am! I have turned into exactly the kind of minister I never wanted to! I'm almost ashamed to write that on Sunday, I preached for over 50 minutes!

I was really pumped about what I was talking about, and everybody said it was all good stuff, but that is no excuse! In my own defence, I did include a fair bit of interaction and getting people involved, but it was still way too long! When I realised how long I'd been going for, I wanted to finish, but couldn't, as my last bit was the strongest part!

Thinkin I'll be doing some slight modifications before I speak to the evening congregation this week!

(N.B. Don't take this post too seriously, surprisingly enough, the sarcasm was lost through the printed medium. I was annoyed at myself, but not that much!)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

brian mclaren session 3: spiritual formation in practice

e~mergent kiwi: brian mclaren session 3: spiritual formation in practice

Found this today whilst procrastinating from real work that needs doing, but its useful, so meh, what do ya do?

Watching Movies

A few weeks ago at church we watched V for Vendetta, one of my favourite movies of the past few years, and discussed some of the spiritual/religious themes we saw come out of it, and I feel it was an altogether worthwhile couple of nights.

Similar to my last post, I was thinking a lot about why we do it. If its just so that we can say we're cool and watch movies at church, then i think we've missed the point.

For me the point is that God can speak to us through movies, through secular songs, through all what manner of popular culture, if only we're switched on enough to hear Him. We need to get better at opening our ears, eyes and hearts-and those of others, for God to speak to us through these medium.

Why do we do what we do?

A while back we (the Huddle) were discussing some ideas for our future meetings, and one of the ideas floated around was that we should have church at the pub-an idea which i'm totally up for-if we have a good reason.

See i think its easy when rethinking church stuff to just be attracted to something because it looks cooler and funkier, because its better than meeting in a 'church building', because people would tell us how much more in tune with culture we are if we're in a pub, or all these other crappy superficial reasons.

I reckon meeting in a pub would be an awesome thing to do, if we were going to connect with the pub crowd, or if that was where we all naturally hung out, or some similar good missional reason.

Somebody suggested once that we as the huddle should meet in our footy club rooms, which has some merit, but I'm not totally keen on, for one, WE ARE NOT A FOOTY CHURCH, a lot of people still seem to ask me about how the footy church is going, but thats not our only focus, its one, but not our only. But mainly because the motivation of the person suggesting it thought it would be a 'cool' thing to do, which don't impress me much.

We need to get over our desire to be cool, and just get on with the business of connecting with people, and living the way we reckon Jesus would if he were in our shoes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Steer clear of Exclusive Brethren

Before i start this, please be aware I'm talking about Exclusive Brethren, not the normal kind. Some of my best friends are Brethos, and I don't want to tar them all with the same brush.

I was watching some show the other night on the ABC about the Exclusive Bretheren, and man, those dudes are such a cult-in the worst kind of way. And don't worry, I feel safe that they're not gonna chase me down for writing this, as they're not allowed computers (actually, they are now, but only if they buy them from their leader, the 'Man of God'... but even still they're probably not allowed to read non-EB blogs.)

Those guys are seriously whack, people aren't allowed to smoke, drink, wear shorts, associate with those outside the fellowship, vote, go to uni, have pets, question their leadership in any way.

From their leaders there's the usual tonnes of money given illegally, alcoholism, adulterous sex with members etc (well, that was two leaders anyway, perhaps I shouldn't generalise)

But the worst thing about it all, other than the massive distortions of the Christian faith and the teachings of Jesus, was the way they ripped families apart. Not letting wives see their dying husbands, stealing kids away during the night from parents thathave been ex-communicated, making this young autistic kid write hate mail to his dad, not letting husband and wives sleep with each other if one of them has been ex-communicated.

It's an absolute bloody shambles!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Australian Entry Test

I got emailed this today, then found it on this blog, which i was stoked with, cos I was struggling on how to blog it in pdf form. Funny stuff.

"Australian Entry Test
Australian Government Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Application for Grant of Australian Citizenship
You must answer 75% (28 or more out of 37) of these questions correctly in order to qualify for Australian Citizenship

1. How many slabs can you fit in the back of a Falcon Ute while also allowing room for your cattle dog?

2. When packing an Esky do you put the ice, or the beer, in first?

3. Is the traditional Aussie Christmas dinner:
a) At least two roasted meats with roast vegetables,followed by a pudding you could use as a cannonball. Alsoham. In 40C heat.
b) A seafood buffet followed by a barbie, with rather a lot ofbooze. And ham. In 40C heat.
c) Both of the above, one at lunchtime and one at dinnertime.Weather continues fine.

4. How many beers in a slab?

5. You call that a knife, this is a knife.True or False?

6. Does “yeah-nah” mean
a) “Yes and no”
b) “Maybe”
c) “Yes I understand but No I don’t agree”?

7. The phrases “strewth” and “flamin’ dingo” can be attributed to which TV character?
a) Toadie from Neighbours
b) Alf from Home & Away
c) Agro from Agro’s Cartoon Connection
d) Sgt. Tom Croydon from Blue Heelers?

8. When cooking a barbecue do you turn the sausages
a) Once or twice
b) As often as necessary to cook
c) After each stubbyd) Until charcoal?

9. Name three of the Daddo brothers.

10. Who was the original lead singer of AC/DC?

11. Which option describes your ideal summer afternoon:
a) Drinking beer at a mate’s place
b) Drinki"

Friday, September 22, 2006

God is already there, already working

Was chatting with aforementioned wise mate today, pulling out weeds is also a great tool for conversation, as well as earning money.

We were chatting about our different areas and passions for mission, and I was really stoked to hear him getting his head around the concept that it wasn't him going to a place to take God there, but it was God who was there first, already working, and it was just his job to join in what God is already going.

I've found this to be a really helpful missiological principle, so thought I'd share it with the rest of the blog world! Stop asking God to bless your ideas and what you're doing, but jump on board with what he's doing, and hopefully the two will soon become one!

Who's gonna get Satan out?

Was chatting with a mate today, and he was telling me about what he'd said when some clown had said 'you can't go to the pub, cos thats where Satan is'.

Sometimes I don't even bother engaging with people like that, very lazy and poor form I know, but I really liked his response 'well if I don't go, who's gonna get him out?' Gold. I'm stealing that!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Two ways that money can control us.

I've been thinking a lot lately about money, often due to my lack of it (well for the society I live in anyway, not really on a worldwide scale) and the influence it can have on our lives.

I hear a lot of Christians trout on about how we all have too much money (agreed) and that we should all be poor (not so sure).

It's easy to see how having too much money can really easily consume our life, its all we live for, we work too hard and too long at the expense of other more important matters, and we just get greedy, always wanting more.

But the flipside of that is that when you don't have any money, it can very easily consume all of our time and efforts worrying about it, stressing about how we'll be able to pay the bills etc etc.

My only financial goal in life is to be in a position where I'm financially stable, just so that worrying about money isn't my main concern, that it doesn't fill my life. But I think to get there I need to stop doing so much volunteer work!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Meeting Minutes

Had one of our monthly 'planning meetings' with the Huddle last night, which went really well, got plenty done, tightened a couple things up, changed a couple things, so was all good.

It's nothing profound but I was thinking about how useful minutes are when having meetings like that. We hadn't purposely not done them, but I think in the back of my mind at least I was like 'na, we don't wanna do minutes for meetings, thats too formal, we're more relaxed and casual than that' but at the end of the day, they're just really helpful, particularly when not everybody can make it, as is invariably the case.

So yeah, beware of ditching things that may seem too formal or 'churchy' cos often, not always, but often, there's a good reason why they're their!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I can see why people get attached to church buildings

Was at a meeting the other night regarding my denomination (Church of Christ)s decision to sell our last campsite-Camp Acacia, a decision I wasn't massively impressed with, now understand a little better, but still don't think was the best idea. But thats another story for another day.

As many of you may know, for a quite a while I haven't been a massive fan of church buildings, for a number of reasons, mainly to do with the huge part that they play in determining many people's understanding of church-way way too much.

Too often we mistake the church as that building, or what we do there on a Sunday. We can view it as some special holy place where God is more present, when Jesus came and tore down the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies, and told us about God being everywhere and accessible wherever we are. Too often we can spend way too much money on a place that only serves to make us more comfortable.

But anyway, whilst I still have issues with church buildings, I can now understand a little more why people hold them so dear, because for so many people, so so many of their experiences of drawing nearer to God, of learning of his love, of experiencing the power of the community of His people, are associated with that building. And there is something special about coming to that place every week, of every week being reminded of those times of felt closeness to God.

For me, and more so the tons of kids I've lead on camps, particular campsites often hold real spiritual significance. They will look back on their times at a particular campsite, and remember them as times of intense Chistian community, and intense spiritual growth. So, for these reasons, the building, the place, are really special, and their worth can not be measured in monetary terms.

Of course, with campsites and camps, we can face the same problems as we do with churches, that people often go back home and struggle finding God in their everyday, they struggle when they don't feel as close to God as when they were on camp, and so the assumption is that camp is really the only place where God speaks to you etc.

So, although I still think we spend too much time, energy and money on church buildings, I can see where those who think those buildings are worth the time, energy and money are coming from.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Does God want you to be rich? - Does God want you to be rich? - Sep 10, 2006

Massive, massive question, one thats becoming increasingly asked these days.

One of my VET students-one of the most mature young people I know, has also written up her reflections on the issue here, which is well worth checking out.

Wife Joke

My insistence on repeating and now posting on the internet these jokes will probably not help me in the process of finding a wife, but ah well, such is life!

A man and his ever-nagging wife went on vacation to Jerusalem.
While they were there, the wife passed away.
The undertaker told the husband, "Youcan have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here, in theHoly Land, for $150."
The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.

The undertaker asked, "Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your wife home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only $150?"

The man replied, "Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What do normal people do on Saturdays??

No footy, no cricket-I'm a lost man!! :)

Friday, September 08, 2006

You can only change an organisation from within

I've been thinking about this a whole lot lately, and there's been a fair few situations over the years where I reckon this principle has been applicable.

A few years ago I was asked to be on the steering committee for a local Youth Alive-with which I think my issues are reasonably well-documented on here. I spoke to the guy who asked me and I voiced some of my concerns, some of which he agreed with, others he didn't, which was cool.

But he said to me something along the lines of "Well if you just stay on the outer where you are, the people who are running it will never change it will they? They'll just keep doing the same thing, and you'll just stay pissed off with it all, and nobody benefits. They need to hear what you have to say, and you need to hear where they're coming from and why they do what they do."

That really made a lot of sense to me, and still does.

Circumstances didn't work out with me being involved, but that principle has really stuck with me.

When looking at planting the Huddle, one of the reasons I wanted to stay connected with the Frankston Church of Christ was so that I could keep encouraging and challenging the church there about being missional, about connecting with the community etc etc. Not that I'm by any means the only person on that bandwagon, which is sweet, but I felt if I was to help the church there change, it wouldn't be done by me just heading out and doing my own thing and not being a part of the church family at all.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Churchless Faith: Creating a new worship service 2

A Churchless Faith: Creating a new worship service 2

I remember reading this ages n ages ago, and it just struck me as a really simple model of creating a new or different worship gathering. Nothing that out there or crazy, or particularly hard to organise, but just a decent simple model.

But then again, I say that now, maybe ask me again when I've tried it out!

My aim is to create a quite reflective worship space where people at differing stages of faith commitment can connect with God, where all are comfortable to explore (play with) spirituality.

Reflect is to be similar to Godly play in that worship will be about discovering God, rather than being told about God. "In most religious education children are told who God is. In 'Godly Play' children discover who God is." From

The Basic structure…
Meet and gather, chat say hello for 10 min
1) Move into the Sacred Space (with journal)
2) Light Candle and say opening prayer (based around Psalm for the day)
3) Watch a Presentation of the Reading(s) for the day (Done in some kind of intersesting way like cafe church flash presentations)
4) Reflect on the reading
5) Connect – using journal, stations (different art, prayer and other stations people go to) and wondering questions (projected on a screen) – ambient music in the background
6) Offer our thoughts, work (artwork or journal work) and money to God
7) Close – using prayer of St Francis
8) Move out of the spaceGet together chat, have coffee, hear any announcements.

Turn the other cheek?

Been reading Brian McLaren's latest book-Secret Message of Jesus (absolute gold, potentially his best yet, but I'm not finished it yet...) and he was talking about some of the deeper meanings behind the teaching where Jesus says "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

he goes on to explain the symbolism of turning your left cheek to somebody, because if somebody has hit you on the right cheek, it would be a backhander-which is the way a master would hit a slave or servant, or any superior would hit somebody below them. In that culture it was a very strong sign of disrespect-something lost on us today, to hit somebody with a backhander.

So, by turning to them your other cheek, you are ina sense raising yourself to their level, asking them to hit you 'man-to-man' so to speak, rather than 'superior-to-inferior' and also proving their cowardice in needing to hit you twice without you even responding. So in that way, you are switching the power balance away from them. If that makes any sense at all?

So it got me thinking, is this story totally about passive, nonviolent resistance, as many have interpreted it? Or is it more about the subversion of power? Is it more about not letting others try and control you with force, but actually undermining that force by showing it for what it is-power achieved through force rather than real leadership...

I don't even fully know what I mean by all this, or if it even makes any sense, but I'm just chucking it out there...

I got an A+ in Life...

I got this a while back on a MySpace bulletin from a friend of mine, and on one level its just a stupis survey thing done to fill a bit of time, but I also think there's something more to it.

This is the stuff by which people these days judge success in life. The title of the post is, I got a ... in life. These are the kind of young people that youth leaders, pastors and chaplians will be dealing with over the next few years.

We live in a world where this is the stuff that dreams are made of, where having all the right stuff and having all the right friends, particularly on mySpace, is where its at. This is not a generation that sees Jesus as a viable option, if you're seemingly kicking goals with both feet in life, why would you sacrifice your life for others, why would you put others first, when putting yourself first is seemingly going so well?

A tough time to be making disciples...

[ ] You have a boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/ husband/wife
[ ] You have your own room.
[ ] You own a cell phone.
[ ] You have an mp3 player or ipod.
[ ] Your parents are still married.
[ ] You have more than 2 best friends.
[ ] There is a pool/spa in your backyard
T 0 T A L :

[ ] You dress how you want to.
[ ] You hang out with friends more than once a week.
[ ] There is a computer/ laptop in your room.
[ ] You have never been beaten up
[ ] You are allowed to listen to the music you want to.
[ ] Your room is big enough for you
[ ] People don't use you for something you have.
[ ] You have been to a concert.
T 0 T A L:

[ ] You have over 50 friends on myspace
[ ] You have pictures on myspace.
[ ] Your parents let you have a myspace
[ ] You get allowance/loan.
[ ] You collect something normal.
[ ] You look forward to going to Uni
[ ] You don't wish you were someone else.
[ ] You play a sport.
[ ] You do something after school
T 0 T A L:

[ ] You own a car/truck.
[ ] You usually don't fight with your parent(s).
[ ] You are happy with your appearance
[ ] You have never got a failing grade on a report card in your life
[ ] You have friends.
T 0 T A L:

[ ] you know what is going on in the world.
[ ] You care about many people.
[ ] You are happy with your life
[ ] You usually aren't sick.
[ ] You know more than one language
[ ] You have a screen name.
[ ] You own a pet.
[ ] You know the words to more than 5 songs.
[ ] You don't have any enemies
[ ] You are happy where you're living.

T O T A L:

Total over all: times it by 3=

90%101%+: A+
100-90%: A
89-80%: B
79-70%: C
69-60%: D
59-00%: E

Some people just don't get it

It's funny, as much as you think people by now would have got the whole deal with house churches and that, its amazing the amount of people I meet who still just don't get it.

"Oh, so its just a cell group really"
"Yeah, but are you going to a real church"
"So, why don't you sings songs at church? Thats a bit weird isn't it?"

Sometimes its worth engaging with people on the issue, sometimes you just know its gonna take a whole lot more than one conversation to get them to see beyond their current experience.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

iDonate - Helping out Australian charities online. Earn donations and support charity by reading email and taking surveys.

iDonate - Helping out Australian charities online. Earn donations and support charity by reading email and taking surveys.

If you've got time to click on a link when they send you an email and maybe do a survey, this looks like a really easy way to raise money for a couple of different charities.

Looks worthwhile to me.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jesus Didn't Say

“• Jesus never asked you to worship only on Sundays. His disciples worshipped daily, broke bread from house to house and the Lord added to the church daily and the churches were planted daily. ( Acts 2: 46-47; 16: 5; Heb. 3: 13)

• Jesus did not say that you appoint qualified professional pastors. He gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers to equip His church. (Eph. 4: 11-12)

• Jesus never said that only the pastors can serve bread and wine. Jesus served roast lamb, bread, bitter herb and wine for the last supper. Whenever His disciples gathered they shared Agape meals together in His remembrance. (Exo. 12: 8; 1 Cor. 11: 20-26)

• Jesus did not say that you should tithe. According to His teachings, the disciples opened their homes and shared their possessions with others so that no one lacked anything. (Acts 4: 32-34; Deut. 8: 17-18)

• Jesus did not ask you to build a church building. He said God does not live in houses made with human hands because the heaven is His throne and the earth is His foot stool. Now we are the temple of the living God. (Acts 7: 48-49; 2 Cor. 6: 16; 1 Cor. 3: 9)

• Jesus did not say that only the Pastors can baptize. Jesus said you go and make disciples and baptize them. (Matt. 28: 19)

• Jesus did not ask the pastor to bury. He said let the dead bury the dead, you go and raise the dead. (Luke 9: 60; Matt. 10:10)

Jesus did not ask you to follow the church program. He said follow me and I will make you fishers of men. He did not ask you to send believers to Sunday service or the Bible school. He said send the laborers to the harvest fields. He said he who gathers is with Me and he who scatters is against Me. (Matt. 4: 19, 9: 38, 12: 30)

• Jesus did not ask you to organize crusades and conventions. He will not judge you on the basis of large crowds or the wonderful worship and beautiful music. He will judge on what you did for the little and the least of the world. (Matt. 25: 31-46,18: 3-6; Isa. 58: 6-9)

• Jesus did not say that only men can talk in the church and the women should cover their head and keep quiet. He made them talk, even allowed them to argue with Him in public. ( Luke 10: 40; Mark 7: 24-30)

• Jesus did not say that you are just a layman. He bought you with His blood and ordained you priest and king. As royal priests, make disciples, baptize, equip fishers of men and rule on earth. (Rev. 5: 9-10; 1 Pet 2: 9)”

Personally, I reckon thats brilliant. Summarises a whole bunch of stuff I reckon about Jesus and Church, and I don't even have to do any of the research!

Found this on Signposts who stole it from Simple Church

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Coolest church ever!

Ok, so thats obviously an over-statement, but I was very impressed with this church's gatherings.

As part of the VETAMORPHUS retreat, we went along to the Salvation Army's city temple on Bourke Street, and I absolutely loved it. It was just real, there was no pretensiousness, no crap, just a whole bunch of people getting together to walk further with God.

It had a really casual vibe, all the worship band where just up there doing there thing, dressed in old clothes, not putting a on a show or any fake crap, just getting into it. Then some other band of local people got up and did a bit of an item, including beat-boxing, guitar, an MC and the harmonica! It was funky as.

A dude shared his testimony of a life turned around from drugs, an officer lead us in a time of reflection, and we were very warmly welcomed, particularly by the big hairy toothless guy in front of me who said he's just escaped from somewhere! He was so great.

But the thing I liked about it most was that you could see it was a place the homeless and marginalised of the city felt realy comfortable, they could just sit on the floor around the outside, hang out near the coffee machine, mutter randomly, walk wherever they wanted, it was awesome, this was a place they could be themselves.

If Jesus were around today, they would be the kind of people he'd be hanging out with. Of course Jesus calls all people to follow, no matter how much money they have, but Jesus always seemed to have a thing for the poor, the outcasts, the lonely, and so did the church.

Good work guys!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Homeless people need more than just food

Just back from the third VETAMORPHUS retreat, and about to head off on a PE camp, so just some quick blog thoughts before I head off.

Based a chunk of the weekend around spending some time at Credo Cafe, which is a part of Urban Seed, a mission agency I have a lot of respect for, who do some top quality stuff with the marginalised people of Melbourne.

One of my old youth group kids ran some stuff on the Sat night (and did an awesome job JB) talking about some issues behind homelessness, and sharing his personal reflections and songs-which was quality.

But the stuff he was talking about with homelessness really stuck in my brain. He talked about the fact whilst food is often available for people, quite cheaply in many places in the city-the thing that homeless people lack is the sense of comfort and security, the sense of belonging, that home provides.

So rather than just feeding people, they've also tried to create that sense of home, a place to belong, a sense of community, at Credo. And from what I've seen, they do a tip-top job.

I think thats what annoys me about the place where I serve free breakfast to some homeless people in my area, its very much just a free breakfast program, nothing more. We have to stay out in the kitchen and prepare the food, whilst they just come to the window and order what they want and sit down. Would love to sit down and work out ways to improve that. Only problem is, its so early I'm too brain-dead to want to engage with anybody!

Reminds me of an Ash Barker quote 'the poor don't need our money, they need us...' Challenging stuff.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Global Rich List

Check it out, you'll have to convert to US Dollars or Pounds or something, but its pretty amazing comparatively how much money we have. Even me, someone who is constantly complaining about how poor I am-I've got nothing to whinge about.

Global Rich List

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Australian DemocratsSurvey

I got this emailed to me the other day, and thought I would share it with the wider world. It's basically the democrats doing some research into what people's thoughts are on what the relationship between church and state should be.

Definitely some interesting questions to think about.

Australian DemocratsSurvey

My definition of worship

I've thought about it a lot in the past, and more so again this week as its our topic of discussion with the Huddle at the moment.

I've never really come to an adequate definition, but I've come up with something that I reckon fits for now.

Our worship is basically 'our response to God'. Pretty simple really, but allows for a lot of diversity.

So sometimes our response to God might be to jump around and sing songs or fall flat on our faces and thank God for the awesome stuff he's done in our lives. But not always.

Sometimes our response to God is to go out and serve Him practically by feeding the poor, donating our time n money to charity, visiting Him in jail, or talking to Him when he's homeless or lonely...

Other times our response to God might be one of questioning or anger, which are both very valid emotions toward God (although ones we don't see validated often enough-but thats another post!)

I like it because it leaves scope for both the 'I'm gonna try and live my life like Jesus would' worship, and the 'I'm gonna sing a song/draw a picture/write a poem/light a candle/sit n meditate' form of worship.

I've already thought of a couple of flaws, but for now, I'm pretty happy with that.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Eclectic Itchings: The Bum of Christ

Eclectic Itchings: The Bum of Christ

Weird, kinda stupid title, but coolest two sentence blog post I've read in a while.

Key questions on worship

Last Monday and this Monday coming up we'll be looking at worship, and specifically what it looks like for us at the Huddle. Here are some of the questions I saw as key for us in getting our heads around it all.

What are our positive experiences of worship? How can we possibly incorporate that into the life of our church?

What are our negative experiences of worship? How do we acknowledge them, but not let them sour our ideas of what worship could be?

What does worship mean to us? What is our definition of worship?

Does God care if we worship Him/Her?

Should the fact that we don’t ‘enjoy’ a particular style of worship, mean that we don’t do it?

If worship is a lifestyle (Romans 12:1-2) then do we actually need to do anything as worship when we gather?

If not, does there need to be any sense of accountability/sharing with each other in that?

By not worshipping in song, are we missing out on that creative/musical element of our faith?

Monday, August 07, 2006

We have to trust people

Was chatting with a friend recently about the people in their life they feel they can trust,a nd their struggles with doing so, due to people having let them down in the past.

The interesting thing though was their level of self-awareness, talking about not wanting to turn out like their parents, whose lack of close relationships and support networks-which resulted from their lifestyle of not trusting people. They had seen the negative effects it had had on their parents life, and were looking at ways of turning their life around.

"Not trusting people is just not a good way of living life, it means you never achieve any depth in friendships, and people then begin to not trust you, and you wind up living a shallow and superficial life"

So true.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Trivia Night a Success!

Well, the first ever Tyabb Footy Club Trivia/Auction Night Fundraiser for TEAR has been run and won (although there is still some discussion going on surrounding the winners-but I can't discuss that further due to the legal proceedings...) and I think its safe to say it was a resounding success!

Over $2000 was raised for TEAR, the trivia action was hotly contested, and many people went home with some pretty sweet auction items too.

The footy boys supported it reasonably well, as did a whole bunch of other friends from all over the joint-so thanks to all for coming out. Will probably run another one next year, so we'll see how it goes.

Cool Gandhi Story

I re-heard this Gandhi story the other day, and thought it was a pretty good one, a great illustration of integrity. Learning from him makes me a better Christian.

Basically, a woman came to him and said "My son really respects you as a teacher, and I want you to tell him to stop eating so much sugar-as I'm worried about his health"

Gandhi said "Come back in two weeks, and I will tell him then"

The lady left, a little puzzled, but came back two weeks later. She brought her son in and Gandhi said to him "Mate (OK, so he probably didn't say 'mate' but you never know!) you must stop eating so much sugar" and the kid was like "Yeah OK, I respect you as a teacher, I will"

The mother, although stoked, was still a little bemused by Gandhi's request for them to go away for two weeks and come back. So she asked him why he had requested that.

He said "Because two weeks ago, I was still eating sugar..."

That, my friends, is integrity.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 � Blog Archive � Tolkien�s Myth for the Iraq Invasion � Blog Archive � Tolkien�s Myth for the Iraq Invasion

I thought this was an interesting post about how we form our ideas about war, and people who are our opponents in war. Made me ask a few questions about the whole Middle East craziness, a situation I unfortunately have not followed anywhere near enough of late.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thoughts and questions on prayer

Had a great night last night at the Huddle, looking at the topic of prayer, our understandings of it, and ultimately, what prayer looks like in the life of our group.

A few questions were raised for me:
We all agreed that if all our prayer life exists of is asking God for stuff, then thats gonna be a pretty shallow spiritual existence, but if we're asking God for stuff that are clearly a part of His will-people coming to faith/being healed/an end to hunger or oppression of any sort/helping people to deal with tough times, is that a bad thing?

Does God really care if we thank Him for all the stuff he does for us? Would he stop if we didn't? (Got an idea what i think about this one now, but still an interesting thought)

Why do we feel the need to pray out loud in groups? Obviously God hears us when we pray in our heads, so why do it out loud. This was an interesting one for me, because being extroverted and always willing to talk, i have no probs, but some members of the group who were slightly more introverted said they often found it a little stressful and intimidating.

Do we have to specifically call something 'prayer' for it to be prayer? Like when we're out in nature and we feel that deep sense of gratitude at how good the world around us is, or feel that sense of connectedness to God-without us having called it so, or even having specifically said God's name-is it prayer?

Just some thoughts for today, perhaps I should go pray about them :)

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Mexican Parable

emergingBlurb: The Mexican Parable#links#links#links

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village.
An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them."Not very long," answered the Mexican.
"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?"
asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a Siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.

"The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can Help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.

You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."
"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican."Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American."And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well, my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!"
"Millions? Really? And after that?" said the Mexican.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

And the moral is: Know where you're going in life. You may already be there.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Jesus, Are You Serious?

Was making my way though Luke yesterday, and found I really couldn't make it past Luke 6. It was just messing with my head far too much, I couldn't just move on.

I loved the bit about Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath, how love is more important than regulations, that even David went into the temple to eat the 'don't touch this' bread when he was hungry. Encouraging, affirming, good. Same again with the healing of the dudes hand in the temple.

Jesus spends some time praying, thats always a good thing.

Then its on to Luke's version of the Beatitudes, which may or may not have been an account of the similar message given in Matt 5-7. Some very interesting concepts there, but ok.

I like the idea in verse 27, love your enemies (liking the idea isn't the same as saying I'm that good at it-still working on that one!) I get the concept behind turning the other cheek, buIt then Jesus comes out witht his:

'Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not ask for it back'.

That stopped me, how seriously do we take that? Like, do we literally, every time somebody asks us for money, give it to them? Do we actually just not worry about it when somebody steals our car? Do we, as a friend once termed it, commit financial suicide?

Similarly, when Jesus asks us 'sell everything you have and give it to the poor' are we actually meant to do that? Even the most hardline 'I take everything in the Bible to be literally true' people I know don't do that! Why not??

I dunno, what do we do with this? Do we just put it in the too hard basket, and keep reading until we find something that fits nicely with our middle class Western worldview? Why have I never heard this preached on in church?

Is it one of those ones where Jesus is clearly over-exagerating a statement-ala 'ripping your eye out if it causes you to sin', so as to illustrate a point he's really passionate about? Haven't had the chance to look up too many commentaries/study guides yet, but I wanna let this one roll around in my head for a while longer, so I'll stick with it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another casual job, no dilemmas this time

It's a pretty sweet one this time, just encouraging people to recycle their old mobile phones through the MobileMuster program. Basically, there are like 16 million old phones lying around in Australia, and when 90% of a phone can be recycled, why not? If they go into landfill its definitely no good for the enviroment.

It was funny, cos I didn't actually have to approach people about it, but I wanted to, cos its actually a worthwhile cause, and wanted to get the message out there.

No crazy jobs next week, doing my chaplaincy gig for the Victorian Christian Schools Basketball Squad, should be good fun.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Toy demonstrating madness!

Had my first day of the toy demonstrating job today-it was pretty sweet! Although I seriously could not believe how many people were there before 8-literally hundreds! People were full commando rolling under the doors as they opened-it was seriously like Boxing Day!

I didn't have to do any selling, only demonstrating, just showing the kids how to play with the toys etc, all pretty cruisey. A lot of people knew what toys they wanted, so sometimes I just helped them find it.

At the end of the day, I kinda look at it this way, I'm in no position to be challenging randoms on the street about their lifestyles and how much crap they buy. So the best thing I can do in that situation is to help them as to what toys will best suit the kids they're buying for.

So if their kid wasn't the right age for a certain toy, I told them that, and helped them look for something better. If they had no idea about a decent present for a boy/girl of whatever age, I helped them find stuff in their price range. I dunno, i felt I approached a less than ideal situation in the best possible manner.

A prayer on losing faith

Found this today, thought it was an interesting one, via this site

it’s easy to jump straight to writing a prayer for peace
but i need to live for a moment with the reality
that i am terrified

struck dumb by knowing there is no prayer I have the faith to pray
that will help those
who watch rockets go overhead
(waiting for the moment one will hit, when they will live in fear no more).

i read the newspaper stories
until the words of ‘revenge’, ‘retaliation’, ‘provocation’, ‘fierce response’all jumble into one
blurred against the heartbreaking photos of those whose lives are destroyed(it seems grief looks the same in any religion)

and until i can no longer look, full face, at anger this fierce.

so I turn the page, story unfinished,aching, but immobilised
knowing I have the luxury of being able to turn the page,to pour another cup of coffee and talk of the day’s meals
(to say ‘amen’ at the end of the prayer, and move on to the final hymn),
and yet, somehow, the responsibility not to.

All the while, you, God of Abraham,
must be weeping for love of your children.
each one of them.
i fear my faith that peace and justice will win this waris deserting me,
(i pray someone else will hold that faith for me)

and the only act of faith I have left
is to honour the grief and the terror of those living it,alongside you.

Maybe – faint hope – that will be enough
to provoke me to make peace with my neighbours
and to practise being gracious in my own life(even when I am attacked without provocation).
to recognise the loved-ness of the otheras easily as I recognise their other-ness.

and instead of saying, that will have to be enough,I should have the faith that
it is the only that which will be enough.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I love my local community!

Had a quite productive-as opposed to the many opposite, meeting with a community group that I'm a part of, a few council youth workers, school principals, and interested citizens.

It is at times long and drawn out, as we've done all these community surveys on needs of young people in the area, assessed possible solutions, worked out which are viable, started doing them etc.

Tonight it just felt like it really started to come together, for me anyway. Had a productive chat with the guy from the high school about doing some stuff to help out there, chatted to the cops about helping them with their road safety campaigns, started the ball rolling with a decent looking 'positive language' program to implement at local junior sports clubs.

So many of these things, and the connections I have, would not have come if I wasn't living long term in my local community. I just love it. Which is why I think i'm such a big fan of Hamo and what they're doing with Upstream, and crazy people like UNOH.

I love the Message translation of John 1:14 'The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood'

I dunno, just recently been really seeing the value of the whole local community thing lately, always known it, been seeing it more lately.