"Its like rain, on your wedding day
A free ride when you've already paid
Losing a job, before you worked one day..."
OK so its not irony but then nothing in Alanis' song was ironic either - tragic or a pain in the a** maybe, but definitely not ironic! My prayer worked: about an hour after the email I blogged about yesterday, I received a phone call advising me that the class sizes had changed and that I would now be surplus to requirements! So, I can still teach the online class for 6 weeks in about 2 months but otherwise...
I'm viewing this as God's promise to provide for us in an extravagantly amazing way that allows me to stay in full time ministry. Does it get any better?
Gotta run - picking up my nephew and niece today but have double-booked! I'm in a degree of trouble...
Thursday, July 29, 2004
"Its like rain, on your wedding day
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Had an excellent time together at our cessionconnect planning meeting (that's worship) last night. A great group - we shared communion together as part of our devotions (we thought of our American friends as we poured the wine). Melissa (who leads this group) led us in some thought-provoking liturgical prayers and pointed us in the direction of the idea of the church as a sacrament - the quote she used referred to the church as "a symbol of divine love". In celebrating communion I spoke briefly on the alternative to "symbol" as a partial explanation for the sacrament suggested Keith Drury in an article I read - the sacraments as being more than symbols of an inward grace, but rather as "signs" of grace - and added to the reflection the idea that Jesus was much more than a symbol of God's love, grace and truth - he was certainly a sign of it at least - the idea of the church as a sign of grace, as tangible evidence of God's love, launched us into our planning for the next 2 weeks of the (Un)Orthodox-Y series on the church. Good times - fun, enriching and productive.
2 days down and I'm not sure I'm that happy with progress down my to-do list. I did manage to finish the cession brochure I was updating - that was good. Recruit a leader to cessioncare our pastoral and hospitality ministry (Yay!) and organise some print promotions for an upcoming series...but there's a lot more to do yet. I'm very glad that the teaching phase of my latest online class comes to an end this Friday - just the marking to do after that which I can schedule to suit me. Its not been as bad as the first time though - my routines have adapted much better! I'll have a month back to full time ministry.
I've just emailed my Law boss to take up an offer to teach face to face for 6 weeks on a full time basis in September/October. I feel a little conflicted about this because it will put the pressure on with the 20 hours for church and down the line into family time. A week that is 60 hours on paper is hard to hold at that. But the real conflict is between whether this is God's provision in action or whether I am jumping (prematurely) at the chance to put away some cash to get us over the December - February period when there will likely only be 20 hours pw for the church. Its one of the disadvantages of our current scenario wth cession - if we get to the point where internally we could up my hours it has to be balanced against the wider ECW cluster of churches (ECW Family and ECW Mandarin) and the total picture now is in the red. Against that we wouldn't have been able to plant as a fully autonomous unit without the support of this structure - I think we barely spent $2000 on the launch as it was! So, really making the call on gut. I hope its not out of a misguided sense of a need to provide, when God is really the guy for that.
"Let me employed for you or laid aside for you"
The Flying Kiwi
Posted by BJ at 7:55 AM
Monday, July 26, 2004
Another awesome night with the cessioncommunity on Sunday. There is something about Communion that connects with people in a deep way. We're actually quite sacramental in our worship gatherings and I can often get a "read" on what God is doing in people by the way they respond. This week, they were slow to come forward - in preaching on John 8:1-11 - the woman caught in adultery I had pointed to the way in which God includes us and how that our state before Him is a great leveller in life. When we truly see ourselves in that light we will much less quickly exclude others. Anyways, I was interested to know whether Jesus, even in the knowledge of Judas' impending betrayal, included him in the Last Supper. I'm no theologian but I think its almost certain he did. Some of the gospels have him eating bread but Luke is clearest on the whereabouts of Judas when he quotes Jesus in 22:21, "But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table." How amazing that we can come to the table in the same way. Judging from some of the comments post gathering there were some deep thoughts being thunk.
We sprung a surprise on people - we had a "mystery shopper" along that night who I interviewed - someone who was there to assess how good we were at welcoming and befriending people. We got a good response and he gave the band a wrap as well. Risky but worth it!
This (Un)orthodox-Y series has been a lot of fun. I've had a ball preaching up the church as it can be! This week I get a spell and a chance to be inspired by the soon to be Pastor Melissa who is being licensed this week. She is a stimulating preacher - loves the Word and doesn't flinch from a deeper examination of it than many would take the trouble to engage. I'm taking the time to catch up on some "infrastructural" stuff that needs doing.
Today was quiet. Caught up with a friend for lunch who is having a few marriage problems. A good chance to connect and offer some support. Came home and pulled out our couples devotional - we'd not been doing it since we got back - lunch today made me recognise the importance of maintaining that investment. We had a good time remembering to take time together with God.
Time for bed,
Posted by BJ at 11:00 PM
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Sunday morning arrives after a relaxing Saturday - got some message writing time and enjoyed that process of blending inputs on the passage I'm preaching through - from commentators, articles, historical bits to my own insights: "Exclusively Inclusive" - week 2 of our (UN)Orthodox-Y series. Its not quite there yet, I'll need to polish this afternoon.
Had some friends over for dinner to watch the All Blacks maintain their unbeaten record this season by beating South Africa. I found myself reflecting on a message I preached a few weeks back as I punched the air in euphoria as the NZers finally took the lead: The ectasy that playing (I mean winning of course) or watching sports provides us with a "divine moment". A British theologian I'm quite fond of put it like this: "The man who knocks on the door of the brothel is looking for God." That is to say the seeking of ecstatic experiences whether through sex, drugs, alcohol, movies, food...or sport is part of us seeking to quench our thirst for what a real encounter with the Living God would offer. Its part of who we are - God seekers - but we become focused on the substitutes - thats partly because we can control our access to these things, but with God, well we have less influence! Apart from the fact that through Jesus we can have access to God - direct, immediate, complete. Nice.
Well better away. Much to do before the curtain goes up, or is that down, or split or something...
Posted by BJ at 6:37 AM
Friday, July 23, 2004
So here's the weird thing - I emailed the Auckland contact for my MBA and the final results had just arrived at her office. So I went in to get the results...I don't want to brag, but it begins with an "A"...
I'm still a little bemused by the feedback straight out of "Quotes for Academics" (The Abidged Version) but at least its a pass and the thing is now over after a 6 year slog. That's longer than the combined time it took me to do the first 2 degrees! I think I need a break.
Now my boss wants me to write articles. Its OK for him to say: he has a masochistic bookwriting fetish. But for me, once the idea is conceived the pleasure passes...I find it somewhat boring then to write about it...
Then there's the stark reality: I think maybe 2 people other than me have actually read the thing (the marker and the moderator) so what does that tell you about the riveting nature of the subject matter? Maybe I just need to come up with an angle:
"The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Volunteer Abuse"
"The Five C's of Volunteer Coercion" Condemnation - Cajoling - Criticism - Castigation - Control
"Burn Out, or Burn in Hell" The leaders guide to servanthood that hurts like it should
I see the hits on this website have tripled since I wrote that...
The venerable CC asks whether I have lost any weight. The answer is: Yes - nearly 10lbs. Heading off to the gym shortly if I don't get overly obsessed with my computer. Its the day off which usually works OK for a leisurely gym visit - weights today - not as boring as the cardio grind. Have a lunch booked in with a friend but not much else planned. Should be good.
Well, time to pump iron: I am man, hear me roar!
JonesBuff, MBA (Mighty Big Arms)
Posted by BJ at 8:06 AM
Thursday, July 22, 2004
Well I got my provisional result for my MBA dissertation yesterday, along with a comment sheet that sounded like it had been produced using a cut and paste approach from standard comments. Provisional means they can change it. Result means they tell you that is is at least 56% - Um I should hope its at least 56%! Feels like a momumental waste of time telling me nothing. So, figuring that this letter that took over a week to reach me had arrived after the confirmation process had concluded I emailed asking for my final results letter to be sent to me...answer? No we can't do this (even though we know what the results are) for "data protection and privacy reasons". Sorry, thats my data and my privacy you're being so ridiculous over. A lot of times I think I hate this PC world we live in. I mean I thoroughly regret, with a deep sense of of loss and an acknowledgement of the subjective nature of my egocentric worldview's tendency to oppress University administrators by requesting highly sensitive information, that I asked.
She said she hoped the letter would go out by the end of this week. Course it will then take another week to get here. I'm not sure what action she will be taking to protect my privacy and data in replying in writing. Probably by stamping a big "confidential" on the outside. That should work well.
So this has been a blog without purpose because I, like the letter yesterday, have really said nothing. Now I better go - this whole blogging experience has been an exercise that really puts at risk my data privacy.
Posted by BJ at 6:11 AM
Sunday, July 18, 2004
A great night at cession this evening. Big crowd (for us) in. Had a dedication - our first one as a community actually. Went really well and we made up some new traditions on the way! Thats the good thing about doing a church plant (I'm sure there are other things as well) you get to make up instant traditions! Anyways, I didn't drop the baby or anything bad form like that. She didn't cry, crap or crawl away so that was good too.
Nick the atheist liked my message and complimented us on the way the service had been put together. I noticed him singing during the first song bracket. He's close. We meet this week to talk about him coming on worship team to play some bass...that will be interesting...
Met a young SDA tonight as well - he had come along previously to cession before the church plant - he plays organ in his SDA church but states he has not made a commitment to Christ. We talked about keyboard playing for a while before he asked me what we were doing next week - I told him. He's close too. He can't play the organ if he joins us though. Its the devil.
I had fun tonight starting our series on the church (Un)Orthodox-Y. I told them I planned to use 4 adjectives to describe the church as it should be - Ruthless, Exclusive, Desperate and Radical...I enjoyed that moment...anyways tonight was "Ruthless Community" - community you'd kill for...almost! You can check out the site (to the right) for more info or to find out what the other 3 adjectives describe...
Well, I'd better get off to bed. Its cold here tonight - I'm looking forward to a warm bed.
Oh I nearly forgot - for you Aussophopes - they got killed - NZ slaughtered them - the score appeared close 16-7 but the weather was appalling which affected handling. Suffice it to say that at one stage in the second half the Aussies had spent just 1 minute inside the NZ quarter line with NZ having had something like 28 minutes in the same area! Thats domination in anyone's book. Made me feel proud.
Posted by BJ at 10:29 PM
Saturday, July 17, 2004
The week has ended. A good one. Had a great time with God at the local cafe. We drink coffee there together. Some good interactions with people and some real signs that some next steps in the life of the community are about to be taken. Also at the same time feeling quite the amateur with this church planting deal - learning stuff that makes me think, "I should have done that already!" Hopeful that some of the things that we're measuring with positive movement are actually suggesting increased health for the community! Anyways, a big day Saturday completing message and completing some creative elements. Then there's the All Blacks v Australia - this really is the big one - revenge for the semi final loss at the World Cup. Its time to deal to the Aussies...
Posted by BJ at 12:08 AM
Monday, July 12, 2004
Wow what a weekend! I think perhaps a little too much on the schedule...I attended a weekend intensive on "The Doctrine of Holiness" which was very enlightening but squeezed time for the usual activities - still it did mean I could write my message during the classes...and the message itself was well-received by many people on the night itself. This week was the instant sequel to the Extreme Makeover Series - The Fitness Edition! We looked at spiritual fitness - a real highlight for me was the involvement of our new Christians' group "Back to Basics" (B2B) who gave testimonies on different training activities through the medium of an Infomercial we created. Also 2 of them with fitness industry connections did a great presentation on general principles of fitness:
> Match the exercise to the desired result
> Don't train in isolation - training partners and groups are great for motivation
> Get a coach
> Commitment and Perseverance make the difference
Awesome huh? I was proud...
We had our biggest attendance ever - pray for - Simone a woman in her late 30's burned by church in the past, back for her 3rd time and interested in our Plugging In seminar - for a Moslem woman who has been back twice now with her friend Liz, one of our community members who is seeking guidance on how to share Christ with her - for an Indian family struggling with immigration issues who came forward for prayer (their first visit to cession).
Feeling fired up about this week - last week felt a bit tired throughout the week but today I'm feeling energised - off for a meeting with one of our community members who is looking to establish a support network for pregnant Mum's stuck at home - then heading for lunch with my wife - followed by a trip to my office/cafe for good coffee and reflection on the week's schedule...looking forward to it.
Our first dedication next Sunday - will be a great time of celebration for the community.
Time to run!
Posted by BJ at 10:27 AM
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Two of our good friends Jacob and Melissa dropped in yesterday afternoon and invited us for dinner - they just got married (by me - it seems to be sticking so far...) and were settling back into life post honeymoon. Of course, with an invitation to dinner we could not expect to impose the requirements of our eating regime (I use the word "regime" in the sense of oppressive)...nor do I recall a glass of really good Pinot being on the eating plan horizon...caught up on respective times away, dreamed about the future of cession and watched episodes of The Office - very funny Brit comedy, shot in a fake reality TV style around the goings-on in the workplace. Hilarious.
Am still resonating with a message on grace I heard at Mars Hill via Rob Bell a couple of weeks ago. I'd been suffering amnesia in this area - just forgot that God still has the intention and capacity to forgive me. Not for the really bad sins - I still got that, but for the accumulated failures to measure up. God is nice.
Have found my body clock is about an hour out which is pretty good. Getting up between 5 and 6am and feeling dead by 9-10pm. Still its a nice time of the day to spend time with God check in with email, blogs etc and then head to the gym...
Meeting today with a bunch of people...looking forward to it...
Posted by BJ at 6:36 AM
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
I am feeling somewhat pleased with myself...is that a sin? Its just that I have these new lifestyle commitments - does that sound pretentious? - that I've managed to adhere to today...some of thought processes that lie behind these...
> When you work a lot from home it becomes important to create some boundaries around your work life - for me that includes pastoring but also the online teaching that I do from home - now its a good thing to avoid the drive to work in traffic, the expense of parking and the loss of time in my day - but it can be a bad thing to have the spectre of work constantly hovering in the background. So, a new rule - no computer until AFTER my time alone with God, journalling, gym and breakfast. I'm also thinking of a night time finish time as well, but I do like recreational computing...Its a start.
> I am fat. I have always tended to fat. But right now its just plain gross. A pastor friend of ours has proposed establishing a new website "fatwesleyanpastors.com" You could imagine such a site getting record hits if everyone wasn't chowing down...Anyways, not only is gluttony one of the 7 deadly sins, its also an abuse of my body as a temple. So despite my great love for food I am going on a diet. I am viewing this as not only a way to drop some weight for my health's sake but also a kind of fast. It is 9:23am - I had breakfast less than an hour ago and I am starving...so I'm inventing the "Food Fast" - its just like fasting except you eat...I'm also back into the exercise - it nearly killed me today, but I did get to read a chapter of Andy Stanley's "Next Generation Leader" between gasps...
I plan to lose 10kgs. Thats about 22 lbs. So far I am down 2lbs. Its a start.
> My devotional exercises were getting squeezed by my schedule. As someone who's spent a lot of time training for rugby and then in gyms for personal fitness, I really get the metaphors in scripture that relate to training the spirit. So I'm not only physically training, I'm doing the other as well. For me that starts with scripture, journalling and worship - the rest flows from there - 2 out of 3 today...its a start, a good start.
The other thing I need to do is work...I'd better start...
Posted by BJ at 9:16 AM
Monday, July 05, 2004
Back into life with a vengeance! Preached at East City Wesleyan in the morning with Lead Pastor Richard Waugh still traveling the world. Pulled a stunt with a fake cell phone call from him - amused myself if no one else telling him that I had changed the message topic (true cos the office secretary had this wrong in the bulletin) and that I wouldn't preach too well and thereby show him up... Preached on foundational attitudes to money - "Your Money or Your Life?" Used a clip from the Blackadder comedy series -I'm still left wondering whether the humour was just too sophisticated for the gathered masses...anyways found myself in the midst of expounding on the "Where your treasure is your heart will be" and making the point that this verse suggests that our hearts will follow where our money is and not the other way round - ie a heart for say missions will follow the giving to missions - anyways I found myself in the moment get very intense and direct in the challenge...interesting moment - sometimes deep emotion sneaks up on me in a message and I'm not sure whether God is in it, but it nearly always reveals something surprising to me about something I care deeply over...
I had this weird moment when I was referring to being jetlagged...and because I probably was (we arrived the day before) I struggled to find the word jetlagged in my brain - all I could think of was the word "hungover"! That would have been good: "Yeah I'm still hungover...but its OK its not as if I still drunk!"
cession|community was a fun place to be Sunday night - good turnout and plenty of new faces. We dealt with week 4 of the Extreme Makeover Series - Augmentation Time. I was a little worried about this message: I was trying to get to the heart of living in the spirit as being God's way of augmenting our life. In the end it seemed to come off OK - a bunch of people stayed for prayer afterwards. One guy who has a pretty stuffed up life right now (sex addiction, sister tried to kill herself etc) left me greatly concerned - he knows some of the next steps he needs to take but he has been dodging counseling and his small group lately as part of slipping back into the mire. I was pretty direct with him about "nothing changing if he changes nothing". Anyways you could pray for him if you wouldn't mind.
The new believers small group I started just kept itself running while I was away - sharing community, extending accountability to each other and even adding people to the group! These guys are amazing!
Well, time to hit the day - there's still a heap of unpacking to do...
Posted by BJ at 5:51 AM
Saturday, July 03, 2004
Kiwis do fly! Today we arrived home in New Zealand after a great time in the US. Sabre seemed pleased to see us and has been begging for attention whenever we walk past. The house is intact and there are not too many bills piled up!
So much got crammed into 2 weeks - so here's just a small attempt to names some highlights:
> Seeing what God is doing in Wesleyan churches around the world - 30,000 people making commitments to Christ in Wesleyan churches in Mozambique - Churches being planted in Sierra Leone during civil war - does that even register?
> Spending time with family. Sometimes it all seemed a bit frantic, but precious times. Felt for Kristen a bit that some didn't quite seem to "get" that she won't be back for 18 months - but we did get to see those that K is closest too so that was good. Kent was home for the summer, cool to hang out a bit blowing up things on the computer.
> Returning to Watermark Church - we were part of the plant team for this church - it was awesome to be back. A few people even remembered us!
> Hanging out with the Watermark staff guys - ended up catching people a number of times which was a bonus - getting some daily bread @ Panera as the guys prayed for me/us was a rich time of being ministered to.
> Reconnecting with old friends Ken de Peal (and fam) and Jim Wood - some things never change! Talking serious, talking crap...it all good.
> Meeting lots of new people and connecting more deeply with others - Phil Struckmeyer and the team at Impact were an encouragement; hanging with my homies Earle, Tom and Dave...
> Getting the chance to reflect on life and ministry. I have some thoughts on next steps...now if only I can take the next step that converts those thoughts into action!
Well better get back to it...2 sermons to complete for tomorrow!
Posted by BJ at 2:44 PM