Saturday, November 27, 2004

Happy Birthday

to me...12.01am...another one ticks over...

Friday, November 26, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Many people ask: "So, do you celebrate Thanksgiving in New Zealand?" There are 2 answers to this question. The first usually involves a short history lesson in the form of questions to the enquirer about the origins of Thanksgiving. This is generally followed by a 500W light going on in the enquirer's head - "Oh, New Zealand isn't [part of] [a colony of] [a State of] the US (no that's Australia you're thinking of). Sometimes a map is needed and the observation that while I suppose it IS possible the Mayflower made a side trip it is nevertheless unlikely and not supported by much (actually "any" is a better word here) historical evidence.

The second answer is yes. We do. Officially this house does anyway. Thanksgiving is a tradition I am very much in favour of. And yes, it is the (often absent) spiritual aspect that I find attractive. So this year (having spent the last 2 Thanksgivings in the US) we get to start our own tradition. We are having over 20 people - friends and family - over for Turkey and the works. People have really jumped on board and are enjoying the novelty of making things usually reserved for Happy Days re-runs like Pumpkin Pie, Green Bean Casserole, Pretzel Jello etc.

This year I am giving thanks for many things. For an amazing wife and an active baby! For strengthened ties with my family and a wonderful extended family in the US. For good friends here and abroad. For my church community. For changed lives. For the way in which God can purpose a life, even mine.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

Sunny Weather

Its been a great start to the Spring/Summer! The weather is often unsettled at this time of year and while we have had some wicked thunderstorms they have been short and sharp. Made me realise with the jet setting of the past few years I have missed a full summer - and 2 Christmas Days in NZ. My Mother will be pleased to have me round this year.

Week is going well. Had a great meeting with Melissa and Melva - a new cession partner with experience in small group ministry planning some next steps with small group's ministry. Really solid time of planning - good amount of visioning but some great immediate action points that are already bearing fruit.

We're in full swing planning our outreach cafe - the stories that are coming back to me are amazing. The amount of preparation that the various teams are putting into this is awesome. I'm simply praying the budget will stretch! I've said I'll help with the coffee making as I figure thats a great way to connect with people in a natural way. First time we've had the people power to let me out of the kitchen. But more amazing are the stories I'm hearing about the invites people are extending. Liz one of our new recruits in 2004 invited her friend to come but also suggested she bring some artwork to display so we can help her financially while she recovers from an accident. That's extending community Acts 2:42-47 style...Another guy Pete asked his Masters research supervisor - she's coming and he's meeting up beforehand to make sure she finds the place...thats just smart...and the list goes on - Kristen managed to reconnect with a lady she met at a cake decorating class who lives just down the road...she says she will come as well...I'm nervous and excited all at the same time!

This Saturday we have our final cessionIcore advance for the year. Should be good.

Right, a lot to do today, so better get on with getting on...


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Shank's Pony Day

Translation to my global audience: I'm walking today! We lent our car to some friends whose car self-destructed on the weekend...some would say I need the exercise...there's a chance they would be right...there's a whole irony behind that story which the fleshy part of me longs to blog on...but even in this relatively safe forum of 2 or 3 it would be a little less WWJD that even I would stoop to!

Big week getting fired up about our outreach cafe this Sunday. Excited at the opportunities to invite people and help them encounter truth. Its actually a pretty low key event - we use it as a relational link more than a direct gospel presentation. Should be heaps of fun!

Had week 2 of our Journeys Series last night here at the house. We had a young seeker show up after we re-ran week 1's video after Sunday's gathering. As he left the house he remarked: "I'd just love to stay and watch the whole rest of the series now!" He had a ton of questions! Right now I'd say he's leaning towards Judaism...I told him I could understand that particularly in light of the removal of the difficult question of Jesus from the scene - it makes it easier to worship this single God without the complication of the resurrection. But of course, if you're heading down that route you then have to ask yourself: was Jesus really the Messiah? He has read quite extensively and commented that many Rabbis will tell you that only an uneducated Jew would believe that! I responded with the fact that Acts tells us that the disciples were exactly that: unschooled men who walked around doing miracles. Then there's the small problem of Paul...he laughed at a very interesting night...

A poignant footnote: this guy came because of my decision to run the video Sunday night. That decision precipitated the resignation I blogged on yesterday. I recall a story about some sheep. Sometimes the 99 get pissed when the under-shepherd goes after the one.


Monday, November 22, 2004

This was supposed to be...

when things got better...with the conclusion of law teaching etc...

Instead, I have a resignation from a key leader and good friend to deal with. I have no idea what to do about this, not even how to discuss this with other leaders. As usual like all good resignations it came by email. I am bemused somewhat: I probably caused this by asking some searching questions in our last one-on-one just a week ago. Searching but supportive. But feeling a bit let down and flat on it all. I've asked that we get together so we'll see. A lot of this stuff just didn't come out when we talked a week ago so I'm like, "didn't we have this discussion already?" Anyone who is bored enough with their own lives should feel free to email me any advice, articles etc you have for these situations. Needless to say the person is irreplaceable.

Anyway, I'm feeling dominated by this right now so nothing else much to say. Key reflection: Do I have the guts to deal with this crap for the next 30 years?

Friday, November 19, 2004

At Week's End

Pretty relaxing day off - slowed down enough to realise I was tired. Felt like I would have preferred to something more constructive with the time off but nevertheless enjoyed watching some test cricket - Australia v New Zealand - we're still in the game after 2 days. Got the last of the feedback down for the trainees and sent out the online assessment for them to complete. So just the marking to do next week. Nice.

Good small group time on Thursday - our group is ready to burst with people so looking at some multiplication options for 2005. One of our newest partners (and small group members), Melva, is going to help out with some small group strategy stuff next week. Melva and her husband Frank are gold! They did this SWOT analysis of cession which would blow your socks off! Highly recommend getting some "outsiders"/new people to critique what you're doing.

Just hung with Reuben, Vania and baby Isabella tonight - went to Mission Bay to eat fish and chips as the sun went down. Good times.

Tomorrow we have a half day leadership training event. Looking forward to it. Then its off to paint the sisters house. The things we do for family...


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Last Week...

I'm hopeful that this will be the last week of law teaching for me! There's a bunch of stuff to do but I'm well poised having worked out exactly where the various trainees are at...then its just the marking to do...but I do that on my schedule so thats OK by me...

Yesterday was good - staff meeting was productive laying out the next few weeks with Melissa having some extra time to give post-exams - Melissa and Jacob are very sacrificial and good friends - Kristen thought she was in heaven when she discovered that they were heading to Burger King after Sunday night's gathering! So we sat around eating garbage but enjoying some downtime together.

Sunday was one of those days you look back on and ask: "how did that go so well?" Sunday morning I was preaching at ECW while Richard was away. I also ended up having to hold the music together when my guitarist pulled out with a family commitment. I actually had a good time preaching on radical community. I started with a chemistry lesson drawing an analogy with the electron stealing antics of free radicals and how this can lead to the destruction of a living cell. My chemistry teacher would have been amazed! I hated chemistry. And finished with the self-giving activity of antioxidants - which actually donate electrons - community restored. For once I didn't steal the idea.

Not so in the evening where I leaned heavily on one John Ortberg in bringing part 2 in the "Walking on the Moon" series: "To Boldly Go"...discovering how God leads us. It went well mostly - I felt some of the personal illustrations worked really well. I had a bit of fun at the end finishing with: "After all the safest place to be is in the centre of God's will" and then leaving the platform - only to return with the rejoinder that such a statement is actually a load of crap and borrowing Erwin McManus observation: How is it that Christians buy into the idea of Christianity as a "safe" faith when its central metaphor, the Cross, is an instrument of death. I think that sealed the message quite nicely(!) With this message I was trying to challenge the idea that seeking guidance from God is all about knowing the right next step - so that we can "boldly go" - rather, we should be people that are "boldly being" - people who are being shaped by the process of learning to hear God. What was very cool was some of the things God has been doing in my own life that really helped this be a message of sharing some of my own shaping in trying to follow God.

By the way, if Wade Hatfield stumbles upon this - I'll need your email to send you the "gutter bitch" material from last week's message.

Well, better change gears! Time to become lawyer-boy again.


Friday, November 12, 2004

The Day After the Week that Was the Week after

Friday arrives and with it the prospect of a day of scattered pursuits! Lots of little things to do that will entertain, relax and generally rejeuvenate...That is after I sort out the beloved trainees...

I have become fixated on buying a shelf today. This as a metaphorical and literal panacea for helping restore health to our garage. My diagnosis is that a terranean, multiple layering approach to ecclesial storage management is not assisting us with consistent vehicular positioning strategies...there's too much ministry crap laying around on the floor to get the car into the garage comfortably...thus a shelf is required...

Its also date day - the past few weeks either Kristen has been working on the day off or we've had things like Conference to navigate. So unknown to my wife we are going to play Jungle Golf prior to a relaxed lunch. Kristen loves mini golf and is only slightly (maniacally) competitive in her approach. Maybe the frontal bulge will slow her down? Probably just frustrate her I suspect. She is doing well right now but is tiring more quickly. But one of us has to work a real job...

I have had 2 formal accountability meetings with leaders this week and one informal with a non leader following some less than savoury pursuits a couple weeks ago. I really felt God come through. I am totally not "conflict guy" but I experienced God's empowering to blend grace with truth, to act decisively yet compassionately. I think our leaders know exactly where they stand in terms of formal accountability, but I hope they also have a greater sense of our commitment to them as people struggling with the same things we all struggle with.

Anyway, the sun is shining, the trash is at the gate, I have only one new post from students overnight, only a modest amount from yesterday to clear, the cat is fed, so am I, the wife has stirred, a golf victory beckons, the shelf seduces...


Tuesday, November 09, 2004


So we launched our new series, "Walking on the Moon" last night. Seemed to go OK despite a rather "direct" message from 1 Peter 2:9-10. A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Felt somewhat convicted to emphasise the last of these points - a holy 2002 I had the opportunity to go to a Willow Creek leadership intensive as one of about 70 international leaders. One of the highlights was an address by the legendary Dr B - in speaking on biblical community he described those people that treat the bride of Christ as if she was "a gutter bitch"...I kid you not! So, I used this account (including the quote) and my reaction to it to name some stuff that is going on with some of our people (Christians I might add - I expect it among the fringe). A couple of accountability meetings ahead this week!

Highlight in the programming was a 60's style sitcom drama complete with canned laughter! That was fun...good response to the message including some ministry opportunties. Hung out with Nick (former atheist, current agnostic) a bit afterwards - he plays a mean guitar and has been recording a CD. So I asked him to bring a copy next week - I'm thinking of asking him to do a short set at our outreach cafe at the end of the month. Should be interesting.

Got plenty of law work done today - the usual weekend post-fest to deal with. A good start to staying ahead this week. Good meeting with Jacob, our missions guy. Nice day today so enjoyed a half hour on the patio with a good book.

Somewhat stirred up concerning a couple of pastoral issues this week. Not my favourite game. Sometimes the temptation I experience is try to solve these things. I'm glad Jesus has a Messiah complex - I don't need one in my life...need to pray more for these situations.

Right, I need to sleep - guess that coffee wasn't a good idea!


Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Dust Settles

Its been a busy 3 weeks...first teaching and then Conferencing...I have felt more schizophrenic than usual, by which I mean torn between my competing worlds...just for a change...

The result? Conference was a really refreshing experience. Great worship, speakers and workshops. I also found great encouragement from the US guests - particularly Steve, Phil and Pete - its amazing how the "iron sharpening iron" tritism (thats a new word I believe) actually works in practice! I just found some needed reinforcement about what we're doing and where I need to sharpen up.

I've also arranged with my law boss that I will not teach the 4 week fulltime block I had earlier contracted for in Nov/Dec. I'm only doing it for the money and the paying off of some debt. When you put things in perspective and examine the cost on family and ministry its just not worth it. So I will see out the part time contract over the next 2 weeks and that will be it. It feels like a good decision.

This week has been a cool week for connecting with people not a part of the cessionIcommunity. God has answered the prayer of my heart that I can learn to be more "incarnational" within the community here in Botany. This week I met Ninio who works at BurgerFuel and lives just down the road from where we meet. Keith a petrol station attendent with a passion for movies was interested in hearing that we use a lot of multimedia in our church. An old High School friend Tony was surprised to hear from me when I rang him after 15 + years to reconnect the friendship. Brad and Kim came to the outreach BBQ/fireworks night we had last night. They're becoming a part of our community as people reach toward them with friendship. Its been good.

Today, holds a lot of work but not many people which is good. Need a break from them! So better keep moving - its a great day outside!


Monday, November 01, 2004

Catch Up

Its been a little while...

Its been fun having Deurty here along with Phil Struckmeyer, Mark Gorveatte, Peter Newhouse and Scott Parker...not enough time to hang out it has to be said! Phil has been here staying with us so thats been good. Still hoping for some more time just hanging, talking etc

Conference weekend was good. 18 churches this year. cession was recognised as a Pioneer church. That was cool - I broke the rules and took my entire team on stage for the presentation! Great worship and Steve did an awesome job preaching Saturday night.

I was elected National Secretary 36-2...I think I must be the first NS in the world to be inducted in jeans. It seemed right to do it that first campaign promise is to abolish the role...honestly, I think it is a stupid role so I'm gonna do my best to change the job description and name etc.

Light Party outreach went well. Kristen and her team did a great job. cessionconnect was fun - an All Hallows Eve Service - celebrating the saints in our lives - I did this convenient v prevenient grace thing using Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch from Acts 8 as an was OK but with the Conference worship to organise, it was a little light on prep!

So, I am ready for some sleep. I advised the law job I would prefer NOT to teach the 4 full time weeks in November/December. That will have a financial implication but I feel good about the decision. I'm having few problems with my class and one of the management but I'm just trying to play it grace and truth - its hard, but things went better today. Right my bed is calling. No. It was just Kristen.