Monday, May 30, 2005


Sunday was fun. Preaching on holiness from 1 Peter at ECW in the morning and then switching gears finishing off our CSI:Malachi series at cession in the evening. I feel good about the series overall. It was a challenge preaching from such a challenging book. But I feel like I learned a lot in the process and got challenged personally along the way. This week the crime was: THEFT - preaching from Malachi 3. Jacob did this awesome response element using the metaphor of a Libarary book amnesty (this tied in nicely with one of the core questions in Malachi 3 - "How are we to RETURN" ;)) . Heaps of people responded returning the children's book they received as they entered. Nice.

I've been pondering the past few months on how frustrating it can be debating important issues with other Christians (no wonder Paul warned against it). What I've noticed is at best a laziness in debate; at worst intellectual dishonesty. I've seen this on discussion boards, blogs and in real time. Here's just some of what I see:

  • The straw man argument - you take something someone said, exaggerate it to a point that they themselves did not take it to, and then proceed to knock down the exaggeration instead of the actual proposition. Its very effective as a tool of argument but ineffective in promoting understanding;
  • Arguing from the abuse to the abolition. Simply put: the abuse of a thing does not logically lead to its abolition. That does not mean that the abuse is justifiable but the thing which is abused may well be. Here's an example that Christian readers might relate to: Christians act hypocritically, therefore Christianity must be wrong. A relatively well know Christian, Augustine was his name, wrote that a thing ought not to be condemned because it lent itself to abuse - his subject was gold - kinda makes the same point;
  • "Play the man, not the ball" At the risk of being tautologous...this sporting metaphor carries the foulplay analogy into the realm of debate. Its always easy to find something personal to criticise;
  • The irrelevant crititque - when you're getting beaten in an argument, a good tactic is to select something irrelevant in a person's statement and start crtiquing that - its easy to do because most people don't express themselves perfectly 100% of the time.

My point is that it can be awfully tiring attempting to pursue truth in a discussion when you have to clear your way though the murkiness of the approach to discussion. And boring. Anyway, now that I have that off my chest I might go to bed...

Tiredness quotient is improving. Actually had energy last week! Don't forget to check out Jonescam


Friday, May 27, 2005

I see you...

Friday, May 20, 2005


So the wonder child slept for 6 straight hours! And so did his father..."feeling alright..."

Today is the day off, a wonderful opportunity for doing all those things I have been procrastinating from...thats if I get round to it...and yes some of those things are day off material as I am fast reaching the point of needing to have them done in order to experience rest!

Heading out with some old friends on Saturday night - a kind of reunion - the guy who is organising it has picked this old restaurant that we used to go to - highly ordinary fare but thats who we all were back then. Nowadays the lads are as likely to do a curry as a steak. Should be fun, telling stories for the 20th time and realising life has changed somewhat. There will be 6 of us in total, all Christians. One of us has been divorced (although it was the wife who left), two are currently separated (one permanently, the other is still working on it), we have 3 children between us, one is not married strangely, one is no longer actively following Christ, one is but not going to church (if thats not something of an oxymoron), from our humble University days sneaking out of lectures to watch movies or play video games we comprise the accountant for NZ's largest Electronic Funds Transfer company, the financial controller for one of NZ's largest clothing and sporting goods store, the head of HR for one of NZ's largest steel manufacturers, the National Sales Manager for NZ's largest Christian radio network, a retail sales assistant and a lawyer turned teacher turned pastor. Life is funny like that. These guys have been great friends over the years. I'm glad to have them in my life. Many of them have shaped me significantly. The EFT accountant took me to the event where I began following Christ, the National Sales Manager was my best man (travelling to the US to do that) and is an amazing encouragement to me, the financial controller and I rented a home together for 4 (hilarious) years - I was his best man, the HR consultant not going to church right now, dropped a large cheque in the mail last week in support of the cession ministry - he earlier ran an awesome training cession for us for free...

As I said an amazing bunch of guys who have profoundly impacted me over the years...



Thursday, May 19, 2005


Yup, I'm finally admitting it - I am officially sleep-deprived. I've toughed it out for 9 weeks, operating at normal speed (with appropriate and considerable family time) but I need a good 8 hours! Gordon MacDonald writes in his book "Ordering Your Private World" that for some of us the most spiritual thing we can do is get a good night's sleep. Right now I am feeling the truth of that! Struggling to get the things done that I don't like doing!

Feeling a little financially burdened - probably a combination of the actual $$$ but also the grind of managing the personal side of life - my car is giving me grief - failed its Warrant of fitness on rust, driver's door won't unlock etc plus we have this BIG bill from the hospital hanging over us that is all dependent on getting Kristen's immigration sorted...I think its more the working through the steps that I'm struggling to get to, rather than the money itself. God has always looked after us and I'm not expecting Him to pull out now! Not helped by IRD losing my tax receipts and therefore not refunding me my tax rebate...

I should say I'm multi tasking - I'm "officially" taking minutes in the National Council meeting of the Wesleyan Church in NZ. Words used in the last minutes: "symposium", "theological", "affiliation", "priority", "denominational", "sub lease", "dozy", "holiness"...

Anyways, time to get back to the minutes...


Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Leave Pass

Last night was fun. Headed out for dinner and a beer at the local with good friend Grant. Caught a very goooood band and watched a couple of good games in the final round of the Super 12 (rugby). The place was packed.

It was necessary as home was invaded by women - Kristen hosting a birthday for one of the women in our Life Cell. Grant was late so by the time I left I had to walk out through the gathered female hoard. The estrogen was so overpowering I felt this sudden desire to go shopping and talk about my friends behind their backs...

The Pub we went to is a stones throw away from where we meet on Sunday nights as a church community. The night out prodded me to continue thinking about how we can identify and interface more closely with the immediate community. I've been reflecting on this quite a bit lately. Its not that I feel this is out of my comfort zone - its more that I don't want to do stuff that is cheesy, flakey Christianity that will simply harden people. I want to know that whatever we do, and more particularly what I might do will be effective and productive. I'm particularly thinking about how we can have a presence in the wider shopping mall which is really THE focus in this new community. Still reflecting.

Big day today - I did take my day off yesterday but spent most of it working on an assignment (did a theological response to The Truman Show). Today I need to crank out some stuff for Sunday that just didn't get done. Hate that. Having some people over tonight for dinner. Should be interesting as a few of them are fringe community people.


Monday, May 09, 2005


Did my first "exit" interview tonight with a couple who have decided to return to the parent church. I think its a good decision for them. Sometimes people join church plants for the wrong reasons and I hope this experience will cement their commitment to belonging to the parent church. I pray they will find the community that they need and that this will in turn help them to grow in their relationships with God and people.

Interesting and challenging process for me for a variety of reasons. If I have a weakness (ha! just one!) its that I expect 110% of the people around me. I become sorely disappointed when people give less than that. Sometimes thats because I experience it personally. Thats my problem. Other times its because I don't get how sharing Jesus with others can take a backseat to ANY of our petty concerns. Of course I get it intellectually (mainly because I fail that way as well) but a part of me is repulsed by lifestyles of mediocrity. So I sometimes struggle for compassion when I perceive flakiness around me (as opposed to the genuine debilitation life sometimes brings to people).

My process was good with this one. God got to me first and gave me some of His compassion/insight. I know its not about me. I know its not even about whether the community is a place of genunine Christ-centred expression of the gospel. I know it is. It made it easier knowing this was about them. Helping them transition in a healthy (as possible) way. I think I even surprised them by thanking them for their input (and it was actually significant input in the outcomes it generated).

I guess this will be one of the hardest areas for me going forward as a pastor. I get so fired up about where we are going that it breaks my heart that we would lose anyone along the way. But it happens. And I need my heart to be God's heart when it does. I've resolved to communicate really positively about this, rather than cynically.

Anyways, just one more step of growth for this pastor.


Saturday, May 07, 2005


Deurty's blog asked the question all (hetero) post adolescent males love to reminisce over: their 80's fantasy chick. Funny how those sorts of questions take you back into a very much bygone era. Unfortunately because of my advanced age my fantasy woman was actually of the 1978 era - Leslie Knauer from the band Promises - with the all time classic hit: Baby Its You - awesome song. Funny how my taste in women has changed...

Had a bizarre experience last night - went to the Blues last home game. They'd oversold the game so it was every man for himself. The seats we got were terrible but at least we got seats. Couldn't see for half the game and the Blues played like idiots to snatch defeat from jaws of victory. Took Aaron Fussner with me - his Dad is Pacific Area Director so it was a new experience for a 17 year old from Indiana via Indonesia to sit in the midst of a drunken Kiwi rugby crowd. It was still a good night with some great comments out of the crowd...

Sunday night was our outreach cafe with some cool connections made as a result. Once again an awesome team effort. I'm amazed at the scale and professionalism of the operation. Great leaders building competent teams.

Had cause to reflect on the whole spiritual gifts industry this week. We've started the Three Colours of Ministry in some of our cell groups. The spiritual gifts inventory is probably the best around. But here's the thing: does it actually measure spiritual giftedness? What it does measure is past performance and inclination. But how much of that is talent (God-given aptitude) or skill (learned abilities)? What makes something a spiritual gift (a supernatural ability)? And what about those people who God wants to spiritually gift precisely because they have no existing competency in that area? The tests are not useless - but they do need to be weighed against a discerned, prayerful seeking of who/what God has made/is making us to be. Or maybe I'm wrong?

Not preaching this weekend - enjoying the chance to mull over the next series - Malachi - the Italian prophet.