Monday, February 28, 2005

Service with a Difference

So we're in week 3 of "The Undivided Life" - this week it was "The Worshipping Life"...our usual venue was booked for the ballet(!) so we relocated for the night to the nearby Habitat For Humanity warehouse. The usual food options were there with chairs set up outdoors all ready for "the service". What people didn't know was that we were going to worship through service to Habitat! 2 hours later, people were sweaty, dirty but feeling good about their worship offering...nice.

Its been a weird week:

  • Wednesday I was debriefing with 2 of our missionaries wearing the National Church hat;
  • Then that night playing small group leader;
  • Thursday, I was playing National Secretary at the National Council - this still feels like a weird role but people seem to appreciate that we are actually getting away from administration to strategy and leadership;
  • Saturday, I got the chance to marry Jimmy and Nicola (they married each other as well). A great witness - this is the couple who, having got their lives with Christ sorted out, began living apart at the start of their engagement - they specifically asked me to talk about this in the I did!
  • Sunday, it was National Secretary time again, this time at a Ministerial Licensing;
  • Sunday afternoon was a dedication for a fringe cession attender;
  • Tuesday I fly to Wellington for the Heads of Churches meeting;

I feel the conflict of these various roles, particularly the time demands and role changes with events very close together. And I still feel like the same stroppy know-it-all that led me to pastoral ministry. Some days I feel distinctly non-pastor-al...

My wife took me on a day-date on Friday. We went to "The House of Flying Daggers" a beautifully shot martial arts love story complete with subtitles...highly recommended for the visual symphony. Picnic lunch on the Mission Bay boardwalk/park. A quick pastoral visit to one of 3 babies born this week. Then dinner at a Thai restaurant.

Anyways...lowest weight to date on the weekend...somehow?

Lotsa good stuff happening...need to keep moving!


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

My New Weekly Blog...

Welcome to my new weekly blog...

So the weekend was frantastic...that is a new word which means mindblowing busy but awesome all at the same time...

Saturday, I taught a full day course for a local church - it was a dumb thing to do - but I enjoyed the people and the nice cheque they gave me!

Sunday was week 2 of The Undivided Life - its going really well - this week's message seemed to connect - I'll never understand that dynamic - one week you give everything and it falls flat; the next week you do the same and it connects! We have some cool things going on within the community right now, with new people searching earnestly for God. Many of them are in our new cell groups, most of which are now full and already candidates for reproduction. Heaps of people showed up with their devotional journals and took notes. One non Christian seeker has given up smoking for Lent. Nice.

So, I preached on The Examined Life using James 1:22-25. I find James interesting because he didn't follow Jesus (his brother) prior to the resurrection. I get that. If my brother called in one day and asked me to "Follow him" I'd probably ask him whether he was still drunk from the night before! And who'd believe that someone who you consistently beat in backyard cricket for your whole life could be the son of God? But at the same time, if I, like James, saw my brother get killed and then come back to life? Well I might believe with the passion that James did and pen a book like the book of James with its uncompromising stance...and its call to look intently into the mirror and see who we really are.

Cool thing happened on the weekend - this guy Daniel who's been travelling with us for a while - well he's been reading everything he can lay his hands on including the Koran and so on. We did this small group thing together last year called Journeys and he seemed to gain quite a bit of insight into what following Jesus was all about. But he was really tossing up between Judaism and Christianity cos he couldn't quite get the need for Jesus. So anyway on Christmas Eve I preach on the Great Banquet, which is this story Jesus tells about people who get invited to a huge feast. And when the host sends out messengers on the day that everything is ready a bunch of people renege on their earlier invitations. There is a lot in the story but basically Jesus is comparing the Jews to these no-show guests - the invitations had gone out through the prophecies concerning the Messiah, but when Jesus actually shows up, they turn into party poopers. So Daniel is there that night and amazingly comes forward for communion in what was a pretty unequivocal statement by him (he's a way intelligent guy and my invitation left no room for confusion). Then he drops from sight over the Christmas vacation. I'm thinking. "He's not gone to the Jews after all?!" Then reappears at a party on Saturday night and asks if he can be baptised at Easter! Makes all those late Monday nights talking philosophy, theology and bollocks worth it...

Anyways, back into the day - feeling good after the gym - weight is down, nearly at the first goal - 2 more weeks I reckon. I'm trying to lose my sympathetic pregnancy weight by the time Kristen sheds 6-10 pounds (now in only 17 days, officially that is...we're not holding the baby to that timetable). Then I'm heading earnestly for my 2 year low. Thats still 20 pounds away however!


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Morning Wakeup

Up and at 'em at 5am this morning! Time to farewell our Canadian friends from the Atlantic District. Had good times with this seriously serving sextet... As always, I had to share them with the other churches and would have enjoyed some more downtime getting to talk with people.

Peter Moore brought an inspired message at ECW on Sunday just gone. Romans 14 and holiness stuff. More Wesleyan than the Wesleyan church, if you get my drift...also enjoyed Drew Donovan's worship leadership - gave me a chance to just be the keyboard player.

Sunday evening @ cession we started our new series "The Undivided Life". Things seemed a bit uneven and I was left feeling quite flat about the message. I thought the content was good and I gave my all in the execution...but it didn't seem to resonate. The good thing was we had a bunch of people sign up for cell groups to work through the parallel series we have prepared for the groups. We also handed out personal devotional journals we made - Melissa did an awesome job of these - the goal is to have people work through the material one on one with God, including specific processing of the message and application exercises based on the scriptures read.

Some things we have tried NOT to emulate from a certain other 40 days type resource:

  • The idea of the "pop and play" small groups with the "all you need to know is how to run a VCR" recruitment strategy does not sit well with me. We've taken the obligation-free small group route but established groups with well trained leaders with a clear agenda for ongoing leadership development and multiplication
  • There is a lot to be said for the devotional per day approach...but there are some weaknesses: do people really engage the scripture or just read the book? Is there actually a lot of time spent wrestling with God over the issues? Do people end up with information overload and little application? These questions led us to a more interactive approach - less information; more scripture. Fewer 5 A's of Alliteration; more spiritual disciplines. Lots of space to journal (without buying the companion journal...)
  • A somewhat consumeristic paradigm (maybe thats the marketing rather than the original product's intention) We've incorporated a local missions trip into our worship put our muscle where our mouth is... might flop and we won't get to sell millions of copies of a book with mostly empty pages! But we pray that God will deepen the community's roots in Him so that we can springboard into our year. We have some seekers with us for the series as well so hoping it will give them a clear view of what the Christian life can look like.

Well, the day is calling...and the shower adds its demanding tone as the post-gym sweat screams in falsetto...


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Blog in the USSR...

Something of a blogging hiatus I'm afraid. A week of some franticasity. All good though and lots going on in a cool way.

Had a guest preacher Sunday - Neville Gosman from Sussex Wesleyan in New Brunswick. Cast a great vision from Acts 7 for the whole body of Christ to be involved in taking the church forward. Don't know whether to feel excited or frightened at his statement: "There's no reason why cession should not be 300 in 18 months". I know he's an evangelist but I'm not sure if he's a prophet! Anyways it was good and there was a high degree of response to his challenge for people to be onboard.

Watched some of the superbowl. Not surprisingly, my main area of attention was the half time entertainment. It was a good bet that the 60 year old Sir Paul would not take his top off halfway through "Hey Jude". But here's the thing that made me laugh: When did Paul McCartney ex Beatle become "American Family Values" guy? Weren't the Beatles all that was wrong and seductive about the world of rock 'n' roll back in the 60's? Thats progress, huh. I can't wait until the 2036 superbowl - I bet Marilyn Manson will have a cool light show too...

Start our bi monthly leadership training gig today. Looking forward to it. Have about 20 people coming - a great leadership core to work with and develop.

Jones Jnr is officially 1 month as much as babies ever come on time (apparently 8% are born on the "due" date)


Friday, February 04, 2005

Week's End

Its been one of THOSE weeks - where you simply have to say, "Is that the week over already?" The fulcrum of the week was a funeral on Wednesday for a 23 month infant found dead in her cot. The parents, both challenged by mild intellectual disabilities, were devastated, this being the second child they have lost in this way. The child was high risk with both Epilepsy and Asthma but nevertheless a shock for the family. I, along with 2 people from cession, was involved with providing music for the funeral held at the family's home. The mother's family are Maori and so it was open casket...yeah, that does make a difference. I could wax on lyrically about the occasion and the fragility of life etc. but my only reflection is a personally oriented one...this is my blog so I'll be introspective if I want to...once again faced with the death of another I was amazed at my "ability" to remain largely "untouched" by it all. Through the death of both my Father and my wife Claire I have wondered at my relative lack of distress in these moments. Its not the same as indifference - I care deeply for the impact on others and entirely regret the loss of these people. But I find simply find myself in a state of calm at these times. In earlier times I used to wonder that perhaps I was nursing some huge psychopathic imbalance that would one day reveal itself in a monumental episode...but more and more I tend to think that somehow I am able to access God's peace without noticeable effort (yes, I know thats how it should be) or even conscious appropriation. When I reflect on the past 18 years of my following Jesus and the difficult events that my life has traversed I am glad of that grace.

Or I could be a complete nutter.

The other major happening to conspire against me was the arrival of our first Missions team from Canada (also on Wednesday)! Somehow we ended up being the airport deputation and a last minute host family...needless to say that has the effect of muddling all my best laid plans. We have Neville Gosman staying with us. I really like Neville, although unfortunately he shares a passion (with me) for talking. I see some (more) late nights ahead! The good thing is that its his booty that will be on the preaching platform at cession this Sunday, not mine, so I can manage the lack of sleep! Good training for Jones jnr.

Well today I catch up with my (younger) brother for lunch. Hard times for him lately and with it some distancing from the family. Actually I was a bit surprised he could make it. He's a high-flying advertising executive with an expansive (read expensive) lifestyle. Praying I can offer something to him today.

Well, I have deviated from the gym long enough! Time to sweat...