Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Falcon Has Landed!

Deur has landed safely. Started to plan the menu already. Weight gain is the goal!



Monday, October 25, 2004

Midnight Reflections

The problem with early nights is I often wake up round midnight. Weird.

Sunday night was one of those nights: I blew it from a preaching point of view; yet God shows up in a remarkable way. Its sobering at a number of levels. Objectively, my good material couldn't save me from bad delivery and an overlong message. I was struggling with 2 things: I full texted for a change - this was a mistake as I have become so used to notes now. I persevered in bad lighting when I would have been better to stop and have that sorted. But here's the amazing thing: God chose to touch a struggling, embittered woman specifically through this bumbling offering. She had come with her brother and her 2 daughters. Her brother is new with us these past months and determined to help his sister break free from a life of difficult circumstances. Her kids loved Kids Encounter. So afterwards they come for prayer, specifically for the daughter who has been suffering bad dreams and headaches. The four of us hold hands in a circle and pray together. Very special moment. Mum is balling by this time and starts to share on how she is not religious but the message really touched her. I reassure her that I'm not religious either. I end up praying for her as well. What a significant step for this woman who swore she would never set foot in a church after her brother gave his life to Christ! I reflect afterwards that I don't want to put myself in the position where God bails me out on bad preparation and then I realise the arrogance that lies beneath that thought: what, I don't need God to show up if I prepare well? As I said, a sobering experience. The brother rings me today to tell me his niece had a great night's sleep...

Today, I picked up Scott Parker from the airport. Scott is from First Wesleyan in Battle Creek and is here to check out the scenery in NZ over Conference. I like Scott - a quieter type with a warm smile and gentle manner. He spent the day touring Auckland.

We had family over for lunch - its Labour Day weekend. I also met with a young guy struggling with depression and the deep questions of faith - and I mean deep! This guy has been reading like you wouldn't believe. It took everything I had just to stay with him. From Kumar to the Koran this guy is seeking in a deep way.

Anyway, sleepiness is returning. I'd better start the rest thing again.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Saturday Morning Peace...

I like the relative peace of Saturday mornings. And never more so than this week: its been a long slog! Class went well - nice people generally. I will fail 2 of them on their preparation for the negotiation but they do get a chance to resubmit so they'll be OK. I was driving home last night and realised how relieved I was that the week was over. And here's the thing: its not actually. Today will be filled with message writing, service planning, planning and having the cessionlcore team meeting, Conference worship team practice and preparing materials for next week's Conference (all the things that got pushed aside by the other job). But the difference is the focus of the activity: I just love doing what I am doing vocationally! And as much as I "enjoy" the teaching for its focus on people and downloading of skills, I just can't get as excited about it.

Somehow we have enjoyed some nice time with people this week. Yesterday I raced home between assessments for a 2 hour brunch with a new couple in the process of joining the community. He is a deep thinking radio DJ (they do exist); She is a former youth staffer and Mercy Missions volunteer. They'll be at the Plugging In seminar on Sunday. Cool couple. We had dinner with our Children's Ministry leaders on Thursday - was a lot of fun and we got some work done! The ministry is taking shape: working names, for nursery "L'il Lambs" for kids, "Kids Encounter"...Last night we had Melissa and Jacob over. Good time for us to just hang together - and stuff comes up that just doesn't make it to the table in more formal meetings. It was good fun. Tonight is the National Provincial Champs Final for rugby. So we have a few friends coming round for traditional steak sandwiches. Nice.

This week will be full-on with Conference looming. Our first international guest arrives on Monday morning @ 6-something am! The venerable Steve Deur will be arriving on Wednesday to conduct some rabble rousing! Can't wait for you to roll up Steve: there are a number of very important cultural experiences waiting for you! The Burger Fuel exerience is a must. The last US visitor I took there left swearing that it was the best burger he ever had. Then there's this nastly little Thai takeway that you're gonna love...

Alright, the day calls. Oh a funny thing. I mentioned that there was talk of me being nominated for National Secretary: well it happened. The funny thing? At this stage I am the only nominee. So I have a good chance! Actually there are some interesting votes looming on some roles - a good sign that the church is maturing enough to have mulitple nominations for some roles.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004


I thank God for his guidance in not agreeing to teach fulltime this year while planting the church! This week (of fulltime teaching) has been hard. The day which started with a 7am meeting is just finishing @ 11.30pm following a finance/strategy meeting. Contemplating the alarm clock being set for 6am with something approaching hatred. Is it possible to hate an inanimate object?

On the bright side: its preparing me for the 3 week stint I have agreed to do Nov/Dec. There's logic in there somewhere...

And I need a haircut. Soon.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Back in Harness

So today was Day 1 back in the classroom teaching negotiation seems a nice class so it should be OK - just this week full time and then continuing with the online teaching scenario next week. The course has changed a bit since I taught middle of last year but its near enough. I really like the people interaction that comes when you're teaching a performance skill - there's something about downloading skills to people that is quite satisfying. The good thing about doing this sort of work is that I mostly find it energising - it just takes a chunk out of your day. But then those of you that still work for a living know what that's all about!

Sunday night was cool. My sister, her husband Brad and their 2 kids came and participated fully in the life of the community. It was great to see so many people connecting with them. A couple of friends I had invited also showed up - one going through a marriage struggle; another newly back in NZ this year and still struggling to find a church. Strangely, this was his first time along to cession. I'll be interested to hear how he found the experience. Nick the Agnostic was back - I spotted him singing songs about the God he's not yet convinced about.

Melissa preached and did a good job. We had an amazing video - well a short film really. I originally got the idea from Watermark...who got the idea from the Bible :) Basically we wanted to take the account of Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac and portray it through 2 members of the community - to connect people to the outrage of the obedience God required. This was the first project that our new video team took on. It was astonishing. Just amazing. Can't begin to do it justice. Deur, I'll let you be the judge when you visit next week.

So tonight, I need to write an essay for this holiness paper I'm doing. Its just a book report really. Hate those things: proving I can read. I do have another assignment due as well but I'm gonna try on an extension for that one. Basically, I'm not ready to write it (!) and I am not gonna find the space this week - 40 + 20 hours does not leave much time for study...

Speaking of which...I'd better hit the books!


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Half Full or Half Empty?

I realised something yesterday. When it really comes down to it I am too often "a half empty" kind of guy. Because I live with such an intensity of expectation of myself and others concerning the living out of the vision of the church, I am easily disappointed when others flake out. Part of this is me unconsciously experiencing a degree of personal betrayal. Their failure is my failure. Their failure becomes personal.

So when we have the second of our Leadership Dinners and some key faces find excuses for not being there or just don't show I am somewhat ticked off. So much so, that my wife actually sends me to my room (!) to sort out my attitude before people arrive! She's great. (it was actually very funny especially when I snuck out the ranchslider and tried to come back into the main house - she was waiting) Its because it means so much to me and I expect it to mean that to others.

So in the spirit of being half full - we had an excellent time with those who did show and they loved the material and the discussion opportunity. It was well worthwhile. People grew. We celebrated some "wins". I tried to follow my own advice on vision casting - I wrote a wee article for EmergentWesleyan which I think they might publish this coming week. The lights were going on all over the place.

So, I'm left with this sinking feeling about ministry for the long haul when the time bomb of expectation is ticking...its one thing to visit the explosion on the privacy of one's own home...anyway, something to work on I know that people ARE getting it when they turn up 8 1/2 months pregnant as one couple did - they're my heroes! Andy Stanley talked on the DVD we watched about the brutality of life and its impact on Vision. Thats the challenge. Need to harden up: life is brutal sometimes.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Beat Goes On

A busy week. I realised my online class is bigger than I thought. This means my inbox is perpetually under attack from automatic forwards from the IPLS website. Its much easier to deal with students' work via email but its daunting to come back to it at the end of the day to see 30 pieces of work waiting for your comment! Anyways, it pays the rent for the moment.

There are some interesting discussions taking place on the site. A great article by one Steve "Deurty" Deur dealing with some engrained attitudes Christians can find themselves harbouring. I probably spend too much time wandering around this site. But it is mind stretching at times. There are some pretty phenomenal minds putting in some time with their posts. And some great comedy. By the way if you have any great articles you'd like to submit for consideration let me know and I'll hook you up.

Had a great leadership small group yesterday. One of the guys was baptised back in March and he's sharing about his process in discovering his area of passion. Its amazing to look in on a person's life like that and see God's transforming grace take them places they never thought they'd go. This guy is already a born leader. Now to see God shaping his have to say I had to blink a few times just to ensure that the sense of awe I experienced didn't overflow in an inappropriately unmanly way.

Well the day is calling...better jump on into it...


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The New Season

Well I'm officially here in the latest season of my vocational year. The contract has begun. I'm about to dive into a bunch of posts from my students. Steeling myself for a change of hat. The good news? This morning I have already been to the gym and had time with God. This is a good thing as I have sometimes struggled to keep those priorities before me when faced with the workload. No point otherwise though is there?

Have a couple of meetings this afternoon - trying to give 2 hours in the mornings to the law work to break the back of it and then do the rest at night when I don't have church meetings. Keep the afternoons for ministry. Its a plan.

Right let the 2 hours begin!


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Good Day

Great night tonight at cession. Some cool stories - here's one: Daniel, a guy on the fringe of the community, reconnected with us last week at a sports/picnic event we ran and came to the last 2 worship gatherings. Tonight he made a strong step towards following Christ by participating in communion. We are a pretty sacramental church and follow Wesley's understanding of Communion as a "sacrament of conversion" (Wesley in fact encouraged spiritual seekers to take communion before their technical conversion). So, when Daniel appeared before me I knew he had responded to the invitation I had given - it was a cool moment: I had just finished preaching on the Abrahamic covenant and had concluded with Jesus' words at the last supper - his blood the sealing of the covenant and for the forgiveness of sins - they were like words of absolution in that moment. Then we had another guy (loner, sex addict, unemployed) turn up with his family! I could see that communion was also a major step back into his following of Christ as well. Ministry time afterwards touched others.

Today I start another law teaching contract. This will be interesting! I am basically in this role half time or full time until December. So its a significant season for me to try to hold everything together with church but more importantly: my own spiritual and physical disciplines. Need to stay on top of it all. But I am hopeful we can clean up some debts and start the new year free of them and perhaps in a full time pastoral role. Its a good goal to have.

Well, I certainly can't blog all day!


Saturday, October 09, 2004

Does this Scan?

Well, thanks to the miracles of modern technology we now know there is a baby behind Kristen's sudden weight gain! Nice to see Jones Junior doing so well. Apparently all is on track and in the right place with the right numbers...some things I noted:

> I learned that Jones Junior is living in an amniotic fluid environment which includes its own urine and dead skin...that will come in handy later at University...
> Its much more tempting to want to know the sex of a child when you suddenly see it there before you - we stayed ignorant but its suddenly more personal...
> It seems to take after me in brain development, but has Kristen's "sleep genes"...

I need to record something significant: I made the best pizza I have ever made in my life last night! The dough came out perfect, the base was just the right thickness, the pizza sauce a tomato, chilli piquancy, onions, olives, mushrooms, ham, oregano, black pepper and basil seasoning, with just the right amount of cheese and perfectly cooked...all washed down with holy water (otherwise known as Speights Old Dark Malt Ale). Its just that these blogs are supposed to be deep personal reflections - that pizza was a truly spiritual experience...

So I'm off to a strategy meeting this morning - its in my role as worship pastor for pur parent church - we're working through the Action Plan stage of the Natural Church Development process. This has been an exceedingly good experience for us. Some really significant insights have been generated.

Enjoy your weekend...


Friday, October 08, 2004

The Week That Was...

Friday arrives and I haven't blogged since Monday! In part that has been because of other online distractions namely the arrival of - Check this link out anytime in the Links Menu.

Its been a great week:

Monday: Fun with the cession staff meeting, presenting to the school board (we use their auditorium) and catching up with a friend with marriage difficulties...
Tuesday: Crunching some of the "to do" list and meeting with cessionlconnect our worship planning group - some great progress in finalising our "Playing Hide & Seek? Genesis For Adults" series and looking ahead to "Walking on the Moon" - we look at destiny and God's plan for our lives...
Wednesday: Catching up with the ECW staff, meeting with some expectant parents-to-be and heading to part 1 of the Parenting course our community trust ran this week (270 people showed up!) Also had a chance for coffee with my Law boss and a colleague - I start teaching again next week. So, I get the chance to talk with them both about what we are doing at cession. The boss, a lapsed Catholic, says, "The more I hear about this, the more I think this is a party I should be going to!" The colleague, who I actually don't know that well says, "That sounds really interesting." Encouraging. life enountering truth.

Thursday: A mentoring opportunity with a young leader and some forward planning for a strategy meeting this Saturday, followed by part 2 of our Parenting course.

Today we head off for our first (18 week) scan of Jones Junior. The usual (I'm sure) mix of anticipation and anxiety. No doubt I'll find something to blog about tomorrow...

Big congratulations to Steve Deur and Watermark church for this weekend: 1 year together and moving to 2 services. These guys are the real deal.

The sun is shining: I like that in a day off!


Monday, October 04, 2004

Monday Wrap

Postscript on the garage cleanup - we get home from church last night and start to load this stuff down to the gate - bear in mind this is 9.30pm - before we're even halfway through loading the junk a van pulls up, the door slides open and a man in a balaclava pulls me inside...hang on that was last week...the door slides open and out steps a middle aged Samoan woman. She starts talking about how their house burned down...not sure whether thats a shame-covering excuse but it really matters little - even if she's just collecting the stuff to sell, she still needs I give her a guided tour of the Jones junk. Sobering. This morning probably half of it is gone. I'd love to know where.

So last night went OK it seems. A new couple back for a third time asking about getting involved. A young guy in his last year at High School, new to the place, asking about getting into a small group. An irregularly attending seeker came along having reconnected through our picnic and sports afternoon. Our friend Nick the agnostic (formerly the atheist) stayed to help pack down. Some responses to our next baptism lots more little God moments around the place.

I preached what was for me an extending message. Preached on the Fall as part of our new series on Genesis: Playing Hide and Seek - Genesis for Adults. So I tried to do it narrative style with the verses coming up on the screen as I told the story from the perspective of one of the protagonists who was on the run and trying to make sense of it all. I started preaching in darkness with a first-person running and hiding video backdrop. And then as the lights come up I emerge from behind a stand of trees on one side of the platform ("Eden") and try to unravel how it all went wrong. On the other side of the platform there is a wasteland made of rubble and cunningly draped cloth and I preach from that spot when talking about what was lost. Had some nice starter ideas from legendary pastor Steve Deur. "Where are you?" "Why are you hiding?" And then I connected this game of hide-and-seek together with Jesus' encounter with Zacchaeus - why you ask? Well, a couple of reasons really. Primarily because its the passage where Jesus says he came to seek and save what was lost and so it really connected with the idea of Jesus "coming ready or not". The whole cosmic hide-and-seek thing. But also because Z's choices resonate significantly with the meeting of our core needs through Jesus rather than through the cheap substitutes that we see reflected in the events of the Fall. I also liked the fact that it focused on a tree. That seemed appropriate somehow.

It really stretched me. That was good. The whole interactive approach to the environment was also really cool to work with - it provided a whole new palette to play with. So while there was some planning, there was also a lot to react to in the moment, to engage with as I went deeper into the story. There did seem to be a good response, although I was ready for the whole room to respond to the power of the story and follow Z's example! So we'll see what the feedback sheets say...preaching remains a lonely place where my character is tested. You give your all for God and in the resulting vulnerability there is this question: did I make a difference for people? And its all too easy for the answer to that question to focus on the wrong things. I know I'm not the first to struggle through this. I'm glad I have my awesome, godly wife to debrief my messages.

Well the day is decidedly stormy in stark contrast to yesterday's taste of summer. Its time to hit the week!


Sunday, October 03, 2004

Sunday Afternoon in Spring doesn't seem to matter that the clocks went forward an hour last night - its truly spring! A great afternoon with the cessioncommunity hanging out picnic styles with sporting action going on in the background. The pastor in red hot form scoring 3 of the first 4 tries (thats touchdowns for the ignorant) in helping his team win narrowly 10-9. The flush of victory...or was that simply oxygen deprivation?

So sitting icing my hamstring and finishing off a few things for tonight. We start the new series on Genesis - should be good. I'll do the run down tomorrow. We also launch the Summer Series encounter - 4 months of outreach events, month-by-month taking opportunities to connect people to what God is doing.

Right back into it.


Friday, October 01, 2004


...So I Can Clean My Garage...

There's something purifying about cleaning out a garage. Its a whole carthartic process that leaves one feeling cleansed and fulfilled...I think the secret lies in the multiple levels a genuine garage clean operates at: first there's the sense of achievement at having accomplished something truly significant - what seems like a mountain is conquered! Then there's the opportunity to reminisce as memories are triggered - places, associations, people - some of these you keep as a souvenir of your life...others once retained as souvenirs are this time consigned to the trash. Third, there is the discovery of that genuinely useful thing (as opposed to the aforesaid crap which is not) you forgot you owned . Its like finding a great bargain on something you've always wanted! It feels like you've just got this great thing for free - the trick is to store it somewhere where you will actually gain a benefit...Then there's the more mundane satisfaction that comes from cleaning beneath the clutter and the disturbingly OCD tendency to stack everything using whatever idiosyncratic indice seems helpful. A friend of mine and his wife recently organised their books into alphabetical category and author...and then by publication date...I guess sometimes they must just get a hankering to read something from 1982...

So I am excited about what lies ahead today - this is only enhanced by a once in a blue moon council-organised inorganic rubbish collection next week! This is largely an exercise in redistribution of wealth as the haves lay out their cast offs for the have nots - anything that is leftover is picked up by the council. Its a strange phenomenon - I never know whether to feel a sense of pride that my trash is good enough to steal or a sense of guilt that my lifestyle expectations are higher than they need be.

My wife looks at me strangely as my voice betrays my excitement: "Cleaning the garage on your day off - how exciting for you..." She doesn't yet believe. She will.