Monday, January 31, 2005

The Worship Gallery

Rich time on Sunday evening with the Worship Gallery - a series of interactive "exhibits" and an hour of unstructured time to participate. Personal faves included:

  • The Art viewing exhibit - moving powerpoint images of artists down the ages portraying Christ - the guidebook had short explanations so you could get a handle on period, title and artist. Nice.
  • The confession cam - a chance to respond to the events of the evening and share what the experience was like (I couldn't help myself and voted Jacob off the island while I was there)
  • The Art exhibit - this was where you got to play with charcoals and paints and pastels and stuff! I'm no artist but enjoyed creating my own surreal yet highly spiritual (!) pastel work...

Cool time and impacting for people old and new. Definitely need to do it again in another format.

Went to the Parachute Music Festival on Saturday. Couldn't believe the heat! Music was great - saw a variety of bands/artists - Blair Giles Band, Matt Couper, Day of Fire, Rapture Ruckus (!), Alabaster Box, Audio Adrenaline. Here is the fluid intake register: 3 bottles of water, 1 can pepsi, 2 milkshakes, 1 coffee, 2 bottles chocolate milk...I told you it was hot!

Its a public holiday today so I'll take some time out yet catch up on a few outstanding tasks that otherwise won't get done...


Friday, January 28, 2005

Sabbath Arrival

The Unthinkable has happened! My Friday Sabbath has arrived (for those of you who don't know I'm a 6th Day Adventist) and even with the new found freedom of fulltime status I haven't cleared my "to do" list. Its kind of annoying but a reality check as well. This is where I get to say, "It is good, what God is doing in and through my life, is good." And then I rest. For me, the offering of a worshipful restfulness is often more worship than my effort for God. Alright I'm convinced. I'll rest.

Had a great small group last night - we officially commissioned Pete and Antoinette to go plant their new group. Pete was baptised last April and has grown hugely in his relationship with God and in his leadership. Antoinette is an invitational machine. They will be partnering with 2 of our cessionlcore leaders, Reuben and Vania, and are putting together an awesome group of people. It was a wonderful moment for the group recalling the experiences of the past months and realising that we were helping extend that kind of opportunity to others.

This week I wrote an article for Emergent Wesleyan - I don't really like doing these sorts of things - there are some pretty ascerbic commentators on the site - and I'm not really into that. The first commentator was kind, although he said he didn't understand what I was getting at (although he did)! So much for the clarity of my thought! Thats fine - its just more postmodern that way...anyway you can check it out here if you're interested. In suggesting that there is a kind of postmodern fundamentalism in some emerging churches that is often as exclusive and as purging as their "modern" counterparts, I'm bound to raise the ire of some. So if its blood, particularly my blood you want to see, have a look in a couple of days. Of course, maybe what I have written IS meaningless in which case no one will comment!

Right I need to get busy with this resting.


PS Prayer Blog is updated...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Slow Off the Mark

Bit slow into the blogging week - sign of some busyness and too much cricket on TV! Gym is going well and the weight is slowly coming off.

Melissa brought the smack on Sunday (someone once said that at Watermark so I've wanted to try that since...). I am so buzzed by having such an awesome colleague who ministers so effectively. She totally aced the message wrapping up our re:incarnation series with re:sourcing - looking at life in the Spirit. Some significant response again.

We are having such a great January with people finding a new home and God - we're not used to it, this being our first January as a church. I guess its a transition time for many people and us being up and running gives us an edge in helping people feel welcome and ministered to. Its been awesome to see.

Had some good times with people this week - some cession leaders + a pastoral meeting in my (unfamiliar) National Secretary role. Went well and a real privilege to minister to a couple who have been wonderfully sacrificial in their first ministry year.

Well gonna get back into the work - have a heap of stuff to clear...


Friday, January 21, 2005

Re: Laxing...

Its the day off and its been great so far! Weather is nice which is a good start. Solid gym session followed by coffee with Mike and Michelle Yates of Shore Grace, a church plant on the northern shores of Auckland (they're about 3 months older than us). It was nice to hang - talk a bit of "shop" and catch up with family life and 2005 plans. Great couple doing an awesome job.

Then a slightly weird phone discussion - at my MBA graduation (in England) it turned out I was top grad for that group of grads, so I get this prize etc. Now it transpires that there is to be full scale NZ grad ceremony on 1 March. Here's where it gets weird - I get my prize (which I already have) re-presented to me - what's more I get interviewed by NZ's leading business paper! How funny is that gonna be?!!! "Tell us how you're using your MBA?" "Well, I'm asking people to believe that the claims of a 1st century Jewish prophet to be God are true." Nice.

We had our first Life Group for 2005 - I'm very proud of our group - one of our couples will be planting a new group in '05. Life encountering truth. We had a new person turn up - she made a fresh commitment to Christ on Sunday evening. It was pretty cool.

Anyways, I see there's been some fun and games over at Emergent Wesleyan so I thought I'd go weigh in - I read this interesting article on former Creed lead singer Scott Stapp recently which has something to offer the debate.


Monday, January 17, 2005

My Word

Well the year has hardly started and God has been doing some wonderful things in the midst of the cessioncommunity! We're still in vacation mode but we have had great attendances for this time of year. Last night, we had a breakthrough with one woman who has been coming for around 7 weeks now. She connected with us through the cafe outreach we ran back in November and has been coming ever since. But, she has been counting the cost of following Jesus - she has been hurt by the church in the distant past and has some friendships she fears will be compromised. But nor has she wanted to make a half hearted decision - so this week she decided! Almost as if she were afraid she would change her mind she joined a small group - whichever one was meeting this week! Another woman who's husband I have been connecting with for some months over the possible dedication of their son arrived with son and a friend in tow. They haven't been in church for the best part of 5 years and this is a major opportunity for them to reconnect their family to God. I have a call to return from while I was out at the gym - exciting stuff.

I felt the message went great - I was preaching on the Word - re:wording - I didn't introduce the Word as Jesus until about 2/3 of the message was done - I was trying to identify the Word as the source of the Universe (the Word was God etc through him all things were made) and as the source of all light - truth, grace etc that we receive in this world. Then I introduced him as the Word became flesh - God downloaded into human form - and contrasted God becoming human with the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist takes on this. It went down well - one newer guy had a ton of questions afterwards and this led to a more personal discussion over coffee. He strikes me as someone with huge potential - currently he lays drains...

It seems to me that sometimes the whole message about Jesus gets "lost in translation" - yeah we used some clips from the movie - "more intensity" "you know lat pack?" Was "gentle Jesus meek and mild" all God had to say? Do people get the wrong idea about Jesus because we mistranslate him to the watching world? Does he get lost in translation? Its hard to hold on to this limited view of Jesus when we understand him as the Word who was God, who is light and who became human flesh - a unique claim among world religions. This kind of Jesus demands much, much more from us as people. Not in the sense of the demanding deity that so many seem to define him as, but rather if Jesus is who he seems to be then he is not someone you can be in peaceful coexistence with - someone who you can negotiate with over what is His and what is ours...

Anyways, need to de-sweat - its always a triumph to get to the gym on Monday.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Mid Week Check In

Yesterday was a perfect demonstration of what full time ministry could mean in 2005. Worked in the morning on various tasks. Noted my evening meeting. Factored in a half days leave due from last week. Triangulated wife's wistful yearnings for a beach trip on this our second fine day of 2005...So we went to the beach for the afternoon! It was nice to escape and enjoy the sun. Took my bible to allow some scripture to soak in along with the sun as I have to pick up the preaching this weekend due to the unavailability of our expected contributor. It was a no brainer what text I would use - this week's theme is re:wording as part of our re:incarnation series inevitably leads to John's a thought: if Jesus wasn't "the Word become flesh" then the shepherds and wise men were breaking the first commandment in worshipping him in Bethlehem...anyways it was a fertile time of meditation, relaxation and downtime with Kristen.

This morning was Breakfast Club with Jacob, Reuben and Pete - our first breakfast session of the year - we meet at 7am at a cafe and spend time doing accountability and working through Andy Stanley's "The Next Generation Leader". Such a valuable time.

Gym and nutrition are going well, but for some reason had no energy this morning at the gym. The weight has started to move but I'm not getting too excited just yet - there's a lot of lard to shift before I'll get too much into celebrating!

Anyways, back to the day...


Monday, January 10, 2005

Back in the Saddle

Its fun to be officially back at work today. Had staff meeting with Melissa and spent a bunch of time looking at her year and development. Melissa and her husband Jacob are awesome people and totally sacrificial - they're looking to free up as much time as they can for Melissa to be in ministry...seeing as we can't pay her right now. Its very encouraging.

A good night last night - its vacation season here but we still had a good showing with about 10 new people joining us. I preached on re:gifting as part of our re:incarnation series - its in the bible - John 15:9-14...I felt a little flat during delivery but the response was positive. One woman in particular who has been coming for a few weeks now was visibly touched by the evening's events and spent significant time afterwards with one of our core leaders. She has had a rough time of it recently and it would be just awesome if she let God into her situation. A visiting couple who recently moved into the area and are looking for a church commented, "We're used to more charismatic worship but enjoyed the strong biblical message." It made me laugh (afterwards)! First, because our worship is actually pretty charismatic, its just not orchestrated if you know what I mean (!) Second, it just tickled me that someone would characterise my preaching in that way.

We found out for sure today what dates Kristen's parents are coming to NZ in March...its confirmed our suspicions - they're not coming to see us! They arrive 5 days after the baby is due which must mean we're NOT the centre of attention of this visit. I wonder if they'll bring me a fine bottle of red to toast the baby's health...

Anyways, it looks like summer has arrived today. Course that is the way it works on the first day back on the job! "Feeling alright..."


Saturday, January 08, 2005


I am by nature a reflective person. Most of my battles are won and lost in the mind long before they play out in action. This last week has been a great time of relaxation and spending quality time with friends with some ongoing processing whispering in the gaps. I've worked really hard at not working over my break and feel significantly refreshed...and now the year stands before me...

I've branded 2005: the year of no excuses...I have everything a person could want: a phenomenal wife, a family in the making, a full time pastoral appointment (a dream 5 years in the making), a church that has been custom made, friends and partners in ministry who are exceptional, the list goes on...

So. I've run out of excuses for why I cannot be the best Jonesboy in 2005 that I can. I'm left with a bunch of impatient thoughts for this year that I now need to tame and a yoke that I need to take on fully. The book of James captures me so perfectly and is a text that I need to start my year with as I pursue that goal. There's a wrestle ahead for sure! But...this IS the year of no excuses!

And this is the blog where the excuses will be in 2005, feel free to fire away (in love) and help me banish my excuses...


Monday, January 03, 2005

2005 Arrives...

Yup, there is life on the other side of New Year's Eve. Enjoyed time with friends and playing silly games. Yesterday we had our first gathering - a BBQ with that quintissential Kiwi summer experience: back yard cricket! It had everything - static fielders (the BBQ and paddling pool), hits over the neighbour's fence (did I mention the 2 large dogs?) and admiring female spectators (why did they go inside?) This morning the shoulder is in trouble.

I'm still on leave this week. We're heading south 1 1/2 hours to Hamilton today with some friends to go look at some garden thingie - really not my thing - but its a good chance to hang with this couple.

I've been pondering New Years resolutions. Of all the human decisions we make NY's resolutions must rank as the most overrated and underperformed. My reflection on this is that we simply underestimate the amount of effort and planning that is required to implement the "great idea". We relax into the euphoria of New Year optimism as if there is some kinda magic in operation at this time of the year that will somehow transform our good intentions into reality. Then there is what a psychologist friend of mine labels "a psychology of failure". People who subconsciously overextend their goalsetting. I asked him what the "win" was for them in doing this, thinking that perhaps my pet pop psychology that humanity generally acts in (even misguided) self-interest was under threat. The answer: its not really failure if it was impossible...failure becomes palatable as a way of life.

And yet. There is something good about taking stock. Making plans. Conceiving the better life. As I've been thinking about this I went back to 1 Peter 2:5

you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

For me, I'm resolving to make view my resolutions as spiritual sacrifices that will help the ongoing dressing and smoothing of what is sometimes a pretty rough-hewn discipleship. It feels like more than good intentions...