Monday, May 31, 2004

Pentecost Revisited

This Sunday we celebrated Pentecost. By "we" I mean the ECW cluster of churches including ECW 10am (I'm the worship pastor), 2pm Mandarin and the cession|community. The place was packed out. Following the message (titled in an understated way "We Need the Holy Spirit"), around 50 people responded to a call to be filled with the HS. The area in front of the platform was strewn with praying, kneeling, weeping people. Good times.

We changed the time to 4pm to bridge the 3 different congregations into one time - so for the first time I experienced the (nearly) cession timeslot as others do - without the morning rush! It only reinforced to me - evening church is the way to go! Relaxed family time in the morning leading to a meal and worship in the evening. The rhythm suits me!

My mother came - second week in a row. She's virtually a regular.

Saw Kill Bill 2 on the weekend. Really was a very good movie. Its almost a shame you have to see Kill Bill 1 in order to get to the better half of the thing. Check out the "5 Step Heart Explosion" and keep an eye on the eye... Am I sick because I enjoy Tarentino movies? I own a copy of Pulp Fiction and saw Reservoir Dogs before it was fashionable... I bet actors like Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill), Uma Thuman (Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill) love QT - they always seem to turn up in his movies...he must be more than a deluded sicko?

Is there ANY connection between my thoughts today?


Friday, May 28, 2004

A Restful Day

Nice day of rest today.

Spent the morning on the net - cruising some interesting sites - posted on the rebel site for General Conference - finally - I'd been watching the discussion at a distance but finally got engaged by a couple of threads on membership and church planting. I could easily become addicted.

Had a loooooong lunch with a friend. It was good. Ended up vision-casting to him on the cession plant. Will be interesting to see what happens.

Then did the shopping. I like shopping for groceries. Here's why:

> I like the challenge of getting the best quality for the best price
> I love getting good deals on staples and stocking up
> I like changing the week's meal plan when faced with a compelling deal
> There's something restful about it...go figure?

I hope you feel like you know me more deeply...

Tonight we made pizza (you have to taste my pizza to believe it...home made bases etc). We then kicked back and relaxed. Kristen watched TV. I played Cossacks. I love strategy war games.

Some good news: remember the riveting saga when I was writing my penultimate MBA assignment? Well I passed. The grade was pretty good too! Just the dissertation to go.

Anyways, I think I'll head for bed shortly. Don't forget to cheer for NZ boy Scott Dixon in the Indy 500...


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Working Week Winds Down

Its been a strange week. I've felt like maybe I've been lagging a little in the energy stakes but it still seems a mildly productive time with what I did get done. Always more to do I suppose. A few frustrations - wisdom from deep within: "Church would be perfect if it weren't for the people..." Cynical thinking I know. The reality is that its people being touched by God that make the whole thing worthwhile - its just there are some others who need a touch from God too...maybe a soft punch or something...

We are fully booked out for the Wesleyan convention at Lake Taupo in 2 weeks! Awesome. A huge risk - we'd have been $20K down the toilet if it hadn't come off. Hats off to the Rev. for having the guts to do it (N8 having guts is different from dropping them...)

Anyway its good night...

Looking forward to catching up with Watermarkers soooooon along with the SLWC crew and friends and family at Berkley Hills. I even wore my Watermarked shirt the other day. Happy days!


Monday, May 24, 2004

Post Match

A rewarding day. The morning drama went pretty well - while they didn't quite nail it, the end result was very funny (the main goal) and certainly set things up for later on. Apart from the senior pastor feeling the need to "explain" the drama during his sermon - I'll be having words...I mean we will engage in a constructive feedback dialogue... Another week without a worship leader - so we just didn't use one! Working on the theory that the whole team just leads by their example...not a long term strategy but we survived another week. Did take the opportunity to introduce a worship leader candidate on vocals with a view to her stepping up next month.

My Mother, sister and niece/nephew came which was very cool.

Sunday afternoon had another successful "Plugging In @ cession" seminar. We welcomed 7 people into Partnership on Sunday evening.

We did cession|connect with a difference last night - decided to mark 3 months of being a church together by following the OT example of erecting altars around the PAC. We tore down all the staging as well and did unplugged sets with the grand piano, acoustic gat and percussion. So we erected a Sacrifice Altar to mark the sacrifice and obedience of people along the journey - we opened the mike on this and had some great affirmations of community members - a Community Altar - made of cardboard boxes with big photos of cession people on the outside - looked very cool and a Truth Encounters Altar - opened the mike for testimony on this as well. I then did some brief sharing on the Future Altar - Dave had produced this "space, the final frontier" kinda altar on the computer - it was pretty cool!

Add to that the Kiwi cricketers in a winning position with 1 day to go in the test v England at Lords, the Warriors managed a rare win and another sunny autumn day...

Roll on the week!

Flyin' Kiwi

Saturday, May 22, 2004


Overall right now I'm think I'm in a time of stretching and I don't mean the middle age spread - stretch marks I do not need! But I do think I am learning some things:

- It is possible to plant a church in your own strength. But only for a very short time.
- My wife's personal courage and the love and unconditional acceptance she shows me challenges my relationship with God (in a good way).
- God changes people. I don't. I'm not sure I ever believed that I could. But sometime I place burdens on myself and do things that suggest that maybe deep down I do...seeing God change people has convinced me my role is much less than I feared!
- The most important person that I am responsible to lead is myself - even then it is more a part of me handing much of that to God. But I am responsible for showing up at the meetings he is calling me to attend on a regular basis. I am a fool if I think I can lead anybody anywhere worthwhile without having God first leading me.
- People are amazingly gifted, surprisingly resilient and well worth any investment I might make in them.

Trite maybe. But its one thing to read this stuff in some leadership book...its quite another to have them take deep root within you - I'm not sure that these are issues that are done and dusted for me. In fact, I'm sure they're not.

Had cession|core today, a time where the cession|community's leadership team gather to pray, vision, plan etc. It was a good time. We are only barely started on our leadership journey and I would love the ability to meet say as a staff every week, but we are getting there. Some cool things happening within the various ministry areas.

Tomorrow is a rather full day so don't expect to find me here:

- 6am Write sermon for Sunday evebing (a terrible habit I know)
- 7am Gather all the props and things for ECW morning service
- 8am Set up
- 8.45 Practice
- 10am Service - doing keys
- 12.00 Family arrive for lunch
- 2.30 Plugging in @ cession Seminar
- 4.15 Set up for cession
- 4.30 Practice
- 5.30 cession|chow meal
- 6.15 cession|connect worship gathering
- 7.30 Post gathering chitty chat
- 8.30 Pack down
- 9.30 Arrive home!

I'm very glad that I kept my Friday Sabbath religiously...I mean in the right know...

Well better get back to it...a fun drama to write like yesterday!


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Mid Week Checkpoint

Its been a good week so far. Had some great opportunities to connect with a few of the cession|community leaders. I always find those times stimulating and rewarding. They really are the first things that need to be on my schedule from a ministry point of view. Well maybe second - I think the DAWG (or HOTDAWG* in my case) is something to find a space for SOON!

Had an interesting meeting with a guy today - very talented speaker and a natural leader of people. I had some thoughts for his future involvement but he's not feeling called in those directions right now. The guy works as a programme director for a Christian radio station so he's certainly doing his share of ministry. What we did end up talking about was some mutual encouragement we might be able to offer each other through regular meetings. We'll see where God takes it. Its been on my mind lately - I am undersupported in my role - I have some operational supervision - but lack people in accountability, prayer and mentoring...just a few biggies! So I'm praying God will organise that stuff in coming weeks. I have another lead I'm following up as well in this respect.

The renewal of even the most basic disciplines has made a significant difference in my week. I'm hoping it has more to do with God working in me than being back to 2 rather than 3 jobs! I'd much rather it was personal growth, rather than eased circumstances...if that makes any sense!

Looking forward to 2 weeks in the US come June! Renewing friendships, seeing family, getting inspired, riding rollercoasters - I can't wait!

Anyways...its meeting time - putting on my Associate Pastor's hat and heading to the ECW Ministry Team Leaders' meeting. Its gonna be a strategy type meeting tonight - there are some serious next steps to get in place. Maybe one of them will be hiring a new Associate...

Only half joking...

*Half Of The Day Alone With God

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Somewhat Amazed...

There's this thing that God does that I hardly ever "get". It always leaves me asking, "how did that happen again?" Its like I am surprised by His ability to make a significant difference in my life...I'm thinking to myself: "It can't be that easy? Surely, I need to DO more for life to be so different, so suddenly?"

Therein lies the deception - my life is about what I do - a subtle belief that my efforts must be in proportion to the level of grace that God will provide. Its more of a contractual state of mind.

Whereas (a contractual term itself...) God just wants my heart, mind and soul - not my puny efforts - and while I'm sure He's glad that some things have changed in how I am directing myself to Him its the decision to do so that makes the real difference - the desperation that leads to the cry of the heart. I had a God encounter involving my crappy car stereo last Thursday - a song that moves me to worship came on the radio: "Enough" and I just responded. That moment made a difference. He has been enough.

I'm excited about a lot of my schedule today - apart from the marking of assessments I HAVE to complete this morning - the only thing I find exciting about that is the pay cheque! I'm preparing for cession|core this weekend - thats the cession leaders' group (none of the luxuries of a multi-staff team here boys!) We're in a crazy season right now - Reuben and Vania have just had a baby, Jacob and Melissa are about to get married - but we're holding our own. I love these guys - I'm really looking forward to getting together. I'm really pleased that we have both Sunday's covered for preaching while I'm away - a couple of dead ends and I was starting to sweat on it a bit!

Anyways...devotions are calling...the sun is coming up...I need to drag my corpulence to the gym...


Monday, May 17, 2004

Midwinter Sun

It was a beautiful mid winter's day yesterday - today looks like being another...fresh winter temperatures but warm in the sun! I like days like that.

The weekend felt a bit like that personally. For some reason there was respite despite the ongoing pace. A potential disaster Sunday morning with key worship people out of commission turned into a win. Sunday evening didn't quite "fire" - not 100% sure why - but I felt that I preached well on "The Body" and that the Vision took over...if you know what I mean. I preached out of Nehemiah and looked at different angles on how Nehemiah built (moved by vision, in the context of community, with all his heart) and that he built much more than a wall. It was pretty good for a 40 minute preparation phase (although I have to admit the ideas had been percolating for some days without ever making it to paper).

Some cool things happened last night - 2 weeks ago a young woman previously, but inconsistently, following Christ turned up - she connected in immediately with our Back to Basics Life group and has come both weeks. God has been showing up in her life and given her the opportunity to minister to a friend who is in a bad place - she brought the friend Sunday night... Another friend of mine (actually we flatted together for 4 years and I was his best man at his wedding) turned up as well. I've been asking him for a while now - he used to be right into God but the (persistent) lure of feminine wiles slowly created a barrier between him and God. Anyway he's married now so he can stop feeling guilty... So, some other friends of ours who Kristen has been connecting with actually brought them along! It was very cool to see him there. I don't know where that will all go but I pray that he caught something of God while he was there and that his wife (never been to church) saw something that will start some things for her...

Some people to connect with this week - I'm looking forward to that. I always feel like I do the most important part of this deal when I make the time to meet with people. Somehow the other stuff still gets done.

Right I'm off to make my week plan. An obvious (but neglected) discipline I'm reinvigorating this week.


Friday, May 14, 2004


Had the BTB Life Group last night. Very cool again. Most of them potential leaders - I feel good about the investment. Not sure whether I'm doing the job or not.

Having a love/hate relationship with a video I am working on - I love doing it - but am under resourced (mainly from a skill POV) and struggling with some corrupted footage.

I am contemplating having to lead worship on Sunday. I had built my team up last year to 5 leaders. Now I have only one of those left who is not even available this month. I have recruited one more but she is committed in other areas of the church as well so has limited availability. I am working with 2 others but they're not going to be ready for this week, nor the next. I'm just not that good a keyboard player that I can play and talk at the same time. Should be a laugh.

Well I've deleted most of this blog. It was maybe cathartic for me to a point.

I'm not sure what to do with most of it.

And my lawns are overgrown. Thats a metaphor for something I'm sure. Then again, I could just be lazy.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Closeup on Closeup

Sunday night was a blast with the third in our CloseUp: series - this week a CloseUp: On Formation...we heard the story of John and Nancy (names have been changed to protect the innocent) who told of their recent engagement (Friday) and associated decision to live apart - John and Nancy have been on a long journey of giving over their lives to Christ - they've been living together pretty much since they connected with the cession|community - its been an ongoing process of surrender and formation. Sunday was a celebration of Christ being formed in them to the point that they have decided to take a very counter-cultural stand - as John said during my interview with him, "This doesn't suit us at all, I don't WANT to do it." What an amazing way to honour God and each other. I'm looking forward to their wedding this summer.

I'm pretty much at the end of the teaching contract for the moment - thats good news for time management but bad news for the bank balance. I'm feeling annoyed with myself today - the bank rang a few weeks ago while I was buried in my MBA studies to ask about rolling over our term loan - I was too distracted to make a decision - now I find that the rates have gone up at least half a percent! That sucks. There are some big bills to pay this week and the mortgage continues to eat its head off. I remember in the church planters assessment centre Kristen and I did back in the USA where one of the guys talked about going without pay for months on end - thats not quite our scenario but its a real challenge right now. Guess it'll work out. :)

Been filming this morning and chatting with the Rev re the future - managed to lay out the dream of being full time on staff. Also working on some steps to keep the cession|community growing in this area along with small group and ministry involvement. Been a good productive day so far. Well better go and keep it that way!


Saturday, May 08, 2004

The Day of Rest

I'm a Sixth Day Adventist. I take my sabbath on Friday. Its not catching on as far as cults go but its OK. My truth is my truth...

So I started the day by heading into work...I know this sounds weird...I had a meeting with the woman who is taking the students I have been teaching online for the onsite part of the course. My students also had an assessment to sit so I went in to get them started on that and smile sweetly. I'm walking down the corridor towards the classroom, their dulcet tones resonating and then through the door into a maelstrom of negativity...these kids are really enjoying the online version of the course which we are running for the first time - don't get me started on this whole thing! I could rail on for hours at the incompetence of the Council of Legal Education! Bottom line I don't want to be working there next year - last year I asked the church to consider a full time appointment in 2004 (for those of you who don't know I am Worship pastor for our parent church (ECW) on 10 hours a week and leading the cession church plant on another 10 hours). Its crazy stuff...but I guess its the way it is and God will use us whatever. But I'd appreciate prayer for something to change in 2005. I've been doing the bivocational thing for nearly 5 years now - it is very hard work. Anyway, even writing that sounds a bit lame. Hard work never killed anyone.

Kristen came into the big city with me. We had breakfast and she shopped during the meeting. We went back to a store later and bought something she had seen. So, I'm standing just outside the doorway to the women's change room area - Kristen is right there showing me what she is trying on and this store nazi tries to tell me to move away (the implication being that I was some sort of pervert). Needless to say this did not go down well with me! I told her she should "get a grip", that not everyone is some sort of pervert - I think we could have had a very loud, extended argument but she found a customer she needed to help (instead of harassing one who was about to spend money). The concerning thing was how ready I was for a fight. I spent the previous evening sharing with our Back to Basics Life Group on the nature of holiness and the evidence in our lives of spiritual growth being an ever more abundant presence of fruit - I think I blew out all 9 fruits of the spirit in about 30 seconds...

On that note, I've been thinking all week about what a great visionary and leader I know, said in his last blog (now over 4 days old...):

"As a leader - you can not move people to pray. You can not create momentum. You can not do so many things, but you can BE the right person. You can pray. You can allow God to speak and follow and get into the current of God's movement. I think that is something I'm trying to catch on to. I have to lead - not by what we need to be doing - but by being who God wants me and us to be. I need to be who I am asking others to be. I need to live it - breath it - experience it... regardless if anyone else follows. And then, I can, call people to join me with a a great degree of passion and authenticity."

(You can find the oracle in one of the blogs to the right - try them all - just trying to increase your traffic guys)

So some serious thinking to do. The good thing is the online teaching is finished for a bit - just some marking to do, so I can attempt to develop a routine to last me for the next few weeks. I think I need to realise that in my particular season, where the rhythm changes every few weeks as work changes, I need to be smart enough to change my plan early enough that I don't get too empty. Simple.

On a happier note we went to a birthday party last night where the birthday girl's boyfriend asked her to marry him. We knew this was happening cos Kristen made the cake! On one side it said "Happy Birthday"...on the other side it said "Will you marry me?" Kristen made a rose that sat in the middle of the cake with the ring inside it. So he tells her to close her eyes and make a wish and then he gets down on one knee nearly burning her eyebrows off as he does so and turns the cake around so the proposal is showing when she opens her eyes...then the magic words, "so did your wish come true?" She looks down and... Anyway she said yes. There is more to this story which I will reveal in a few days. Its gonna be exciting...

Well its Saturday am here in NZ and I have a power of work to get done. Later we are connecting with Melissa and Jacob, 2 of my key leaders who I'm marrying in 4 weeks (they're marrying each other as well). Melissa just got licensed as a minister this week so I'm pumped about that for her - the first pastor coming through the life of cession. Later we head for coffee with Kristen's key Kid's Ministry leader and her family. And then for dinner we are having 2 newer couples from the cession|community over for dinner...should be a fun day. There's even an outside chance that the Auckland Blues will sneak their way into the semi final playoffs. Objectively this would be a travesty. Subjectively I don't give a rip - they're my team so I don't care whether they really deserve to be there! The international season starts soon so competition is hotting up for places in the All Blacks - we play England in June so there is a whole world of hurt that needs to be visited on the so-called World champs (they're called the world champs because they happened to win some minor competition called the "World Cup")

Phew. A long blog. You can call me N8...


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Back to Basics... the name of the Life Group that we started tonight with 8 people from the cession|community who are newly following Christ or wanting to recommit their lives to Him in a deeper way. It was a great time of sharing and learning. We talked about the goal of spiritual life - John 15 stuff - remaining in Christ and bearing fruit - leaning into the training (1Cor 9) v trying stuff that Ortberg is so good on. For me it was a chance to put into play some of the things I have been learning about how we grow spiritually - with a group of brand new Christians. I think it went really well - well Kristen did - so I'll go along with that. Lots of sharing and affirmation - some of these people are like so into God they are learning a heap by just living a whole-of-life Christianity. Long may it continue - some of the time it was more a matter of validating what's already happening for them than attempting to teach them anything! Dropped one of the guys home afterwards - he is a lonely guy dealing with some heavy stuff in his life and trying to get the next step in following Jesus - he said to me during the drive, "it was just cool to spend time with some new people and get to know them" The power of community...

Had a relatively productive day today - storyboarded a video that I'm excited about for the final week in our series "CloseUp:" Now I've just got to find the resource to get it done...wish that I could do more with the whole video thing but don't have the time to specialise like that right now. I know I'd enjoy it...

Booked tickets today for a trip to the US - going to take in a few conferences as well as see family - Kristen is coming as well - 14 June - 1 July...looking forward to catching up with the crew at Watermark and Spring Lake as well as other buddies around West Michigan.

Tomorrow is my sabbath - I have to pretend a little because I have a non church job that I have to keep up with but its at least a church free day and a chance to spend time with Kristen. Did I mention we have found a great new pattern for our couples devotions - we have turned the TV off during dinner - moved into the dining room - the time and space to talk and then move into our devotions has proved to be very rich for us. Plus its a good pattern for us to build on in the future with family. I like God.

Jones Buzz

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Confessions of a Pastor...

Occasionally, something happens in my life that could just about be good enough to be a funny story in a really famous person's book...So on Friday I get the call to go pray with a couple from cession who are expecting their first baby - the wife is in the early stages of labour - I'm thinking a nice Psalm would be good to read - so we (Kristen and me) start looking and we come across Psalm 136:

Psalm 136
1 Give thanks to the LORD , for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

4 to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights-
His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

It has a great feel - God the creator, God who's love endures forever - perfect for the occasion...until verse 10 that is:

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.

I don't think so.

The couple thought it was funny too...2 days AFTER the safe arrival of Isabella when we went over for lunch...

I've been reflecting on my spiritual processes under pressure. I have a tendency to become insular and self-contained when something really big hits - like for example completing my MBA requirements last week. I withdraw into a cocoon of focus, driven by desperation and comforted by things other than God. This is not a good thing. I virtually lived a life alone (from God) that week, saved only by our couples devotions which were a real lifeline...I think this is for me what "doing it in my own strength" looks like. So, this week I'm wanting to revisit my disciplines. I've long realised that I default to unstructured approaches to life but thrive in frameworks of discipline - a recent challenge is the impact of contract work on the ability to predict life and create positive today, there needs to be some time to make stop blogging ie talking about it and DO something...

Step 1: I'm off to the gym. Just one of those disciplines that fell of the schedule. I do some of my best thinking there...

Ripped Kiwi

Sunday, May 02, 2004


Its been a rather full is it that at midnight Sunday I am wide awake and ready for more! Here's the week that was:

1. Monday I took my finished dissertation in for binding - this thing has been some years in the making - I started this back in 2001 just after Claire was diagnosed with what was/became terminal cancer. Three years to get it done - 23,000 words - its a bad annual average! But there were a some years when progress was slow...For those who are marginally interested I studied the mobilisation of church volunteers from within an MBA course setting - I'm not sure it qualifies as profound but I learned a lot.

2. Then there was the fever pitch of writing the final assignment in a week - it was done a day early on Thursday night - I've lost my sense of what it up to standard for the course so I'm hoping its OK. 5,000 words on Project management. For interest I ate cardboard in my breaks. So I'm through with the MBA. People have asked me what I'll do with all the extra time as if I've been working day in day out...the truth is I finished the lot off in April - I have no extra time! It makes me laugh...hysterically...

3. Friday was celebration date night. We ate pizza and went bowling. We sucked! It was fun though...We also went round to the home of some friends from cession - V was in labour - we prayed and left (quickly). A healthy girl later that evening. Awesome.

4. Saturday was my Mum's 60th birthday party. Thai restaurant - my fave. Ate too much but loved every mouthful! Caught up with my brother. Talked management structure, rugby and rugby.

5. Its an early start - the study week means I have a Partnership (membership) manual to write from scratch for cession and a sermon to write for the same. Morning duty at East City Wesleyan - Kristen worship leading - she does awesome, everyone is raving, but she takes some convincing! I play keys and run the practice. It all goes well.

6. Sunday afternoon we have 8 people over for a "Plugging Into cession" aka Partnership seminar (complete with sexy manual). I am so pleased at the turnout - a really diverse group illustrating how the makeup of who cession is has been changing. Makes for some interesting discoveries about people and their impressions of cession as first timers - "great music" "personal messages that apply to me" "friendly people" "highly creative" "new people every week". Four signed up on the spot. It was a lot of fun hearing their stories and laying out the vision - man it excites me to talk about it with others...Then this evening - Part 2 in our series - CloseUp: This week a closeup on surrender. I preached my story in 3 parts with readings from Lamentations interposed and various other multimedia/dramatic thingies - it was pretty awesome - I prayed with people for over an hour afterwards!

7. And now I have just come fresh from the battlefield where I defeated the Austrians in "Cossacks" - I am gorging on strategy games now that the study is over - I'll let you know if I get addicted...

8. Add to that the Blues and the Warriors won this weekend...does it get any better?

There's some stuff running round in my mind...lessons from the week that was...I'll blog on that later...

FH (Firm Handshakes)