Monday, November 28, 2005


“It’s a hard world,” Brandon muttered to himself, as he contemplated the events of the past week. Life had become a house-moving hell for Brandon Jackson, his wife Katherine and their son Raoul.

It hadn’t started that way, but as Brandon contemplated the world from the front seat of his tired white Honda, he decided he’d had better days. In the rear view mirror he could see the two moving trucks which contained the sum total of his family’s belongings. Maybe things would get sorted on Monday, but as things stood, they had no where to go.

It hadn’t helped that the Queen family had arrived at the Bluecastle address early, before the Jacksons had even had the chance to say a final farewell to their home. Nor had their indifference done much to endear them to the shell shocked Jackson family.

Ever desperate to find a silver lining Brandon hit upon the notion that at least they has two trucks worth of stuff – but that just made him feel guilty. But, the two trucks themselves were something to get positive about. The truck rental company had worked tirelessly to rearrange their scheduled hires to accommodate an extended use of the trucks over the weekend. Maybe things could have been worse.

Even so, Brandon couldn’t understand what would motivate the kind of dispassionate stubbornness displayed by the vendor – sure the settlement hadn’t gone through smoothly, but there was little risk to Wayne and his company in letting the Jackson’s take possession over the weekend. It wasn’t as if Kerr Laboratories was actually using the premises any longer.

In a strange twist of fate, Brandon had actually met the owner, Wayne Kerr, at the truck rental company. So it was more personal than it might have been. In fact, if anything, Brandon was even more surprised that his family has been left out on the street.

Finally, Monday arrived. As Brandon ticked off in his mind the people that were now not available to assist with the move, he realised just how many people had helped that Friday just past. From baby sitting to moving, cleaning to meals, they’d received a lot of help. The impression was only reinforced when another crew of people arrived to help with the last phase of the move. Maybe the world wasn’t such a hard place after all.

With minutes to spare Brandon returned the trucks in time to avoid another day’s hire. The Truck company couldn’t have been more empathetic. The owner even softened the blow of an extra 3 days hire by eliminating the charge for kms and diesel. Brandon was amazed. After all that had gone on he had begun to harden himself to the inevitability of an uncaring world. A few dollars made a big difference.

That night a friend turned up to view the new home. As he left he slipped an envelope into Brandon’s hands. “It’s to help with trucks,” he said, his insistence forestalling Brandon’s instinctive decline of the offer. “I really appreciate this,” he said instead.

“Maybe the world was not hard,” Brandon mused, as he sat on the new verandah watching the sun go down. “It’s a beautiful world,” he decided, “with a few hard people”. Faced with the cast of thousands who had helped the Jackson family that weekend, Brandon decided that one hard person was not enough to become hardened over himself. “One hurting person,” he amended.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Doxology for the 21st Century

The Lord bless you and bless you
The Lord make his face into a great big smiley face
And be grateful to you
The Lord lift up and countenance all you do
And give you peace...
Of mind


Friday, November 18, 2005

Proud To Be A Kiwi

Its official! NZ will host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. This is an amazing achievement in the face of a very strong challenge from Japan. I'm not surprised South Africa went out in the first round: after all they last hosted in 1995, whereas NZ has not hosted since 1987 (when we actually won the thing).

So now the big question is: can we move from being the best team between world cups and finally win the World Cup on home turf.

A great way to start the day!


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Friday Poetry Encore

After the stunning response from Wordsworth to my last poety effort I thought I'd try a more cerebral effort this time:


Evil green
Childhood nightmare
Watching, Waiting
Inevitability crouched at the edge of my plate:


"Down With Broccoli!"

Monday, November 14, 2005

Moving Day

Most of my remaining equivocation concerning the impending move has been extinguished by the desire to have the physical demands of the move itself completed! Good therapy: surround yourself with endless piles of unmitigated crap! Actually the first time I typed that sentence it came out as "unmitigated carp" - therapy of a different kind...

The house is in that in-between stage of packing where its really hard to tell how much is actually packed. We did the Garage Sale thing on Saturday and shifted a bit of stuff. It really wasn't about the money, more the rubbish removal, but it will help with moving costs which is nice. Strange that the work in progress of relocating creates such a mess and disturbance of equilibrium...

How odd then, that our move should coincide with the final episode in our Freedom series: Relocation. My message reminded me of Kirsty Alley, once of Cheers fame, and now consigned to Jenny Craig ads - a thin person trying to get out! Sunday was a good message trying to get out of a poor message! Frustrates me when that happens - you know you have some thoughts that you're excited about sharing but it gets bogged down in delivery or length or some random comment that hits the "off" button in some people. That said people seemed to respond to the overall experience of our worship gathering and that is (nearly) always the yardstick for me.

What I did enjoy was trying a new set up - preaching in the round (or was it a square?) It was fun and the unplugged feel of our worship singing was also a cool variation.

Oh, and its official by the way - I'm what's called a "Snarky Blogger" - you can do this test somewhere that I can't be bothered linking to nor hassled putting the code of result up...but then you knew that didn't you?!


Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Poetry

Who Do I Say You Are?

I've grown used to being held in statistical regard.
Number crunched,
Numbed and crunched.
The democracy of opinion insists,
There is comfort outside the sample.
But I will not be defined by circumstance,
Nor bow to conventional wisdom.
One thing remains unshaken:
One in a million,
One grain of sand,
100% child of God.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What Price Freedom?

We're in the middle of a series on Freedom right now: "Freedom: think outside the square you live". For those not in NZ - the byline is a shameless rip off from a Housewares chain called "Freedom Furniture". So, we've been doing church "in the living room". In the first week, while Melissa was preaching on Renovation the furniture arrived mid message. This week I preached on Restoration from the couch. Next, its Relocation and what's gonna happen is...

I am often surprised at how God turns up when it comes time to prepare messages. This was a real personal journey as I spent time reflecting on being freed from the past.

It occurs to me that one of the key things we need to be freed from is the isolation that often characterises the way we carry our hurts. Maybe its shame or fear. Perhaps its a sense that no one will understand. For some reason we hold our secrets close. It seems to me that we withdraw from community so often when we're hurt. And yet, our healing/freedom is commonly achieved in community.

Maybe our secrecy is connected to an unwillingness to remember? It hurts to remember hard times. I suppose the opposite is true also: we can nurture our negative memories until they become more than something that happened to us, they become the lense through which we view all experience: past, present and future. Maybe thats why forgiveness is such a critical concept in Christian thought. In part, it frees us from the enduring power of memory to shape and influence us. Its not forgiving and forgetting - its more about memories losing the power to chain us to the past. Its the weight of those chains and the limitations of their length that constrain us in the present. Is that in part where the idea of God forgetting our sins comes from?

I think revenge is one of those subtle evils that lurks in most of us. Revenge is so often justified by reference to those memories of past wrong. There is so much about revenge that feels so right. Is that because revenge is a mirror of the pain of past wrongs? I've never found revenge to be enduring in the satisfaction it brings. Usually, it makes me feel worse! Dirtier in a way. The whole idea of overcoming evil with love is one that fascinates me. What power there is in loving those who persecute us. Maybe thats the ultimate kind of freedom? Where personal circumstances do not distract us from the choice to love?


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Conference Call

It’s been Conference week this past week - so for the first time we trooped down to Hawkes Bay for the 6th Annual Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand. It was a busy week of preparations. It was my first "live" Conference as National Secretary - a steep learning curve with lots of extra duties - next year, I will plan my pre Conference work load a little better! Anyways, some reflections personal and corporate:

> It’s a great church I belong to! Rich multi cultural and inter generational diversity. The relationships are incredibly strong. This was a real celebration!

> Dr Wayne Schmidt was outstanding. I can only hope the video record will come out OK, so this can be shared widely among the churches. Practical and biblically rooted leadership and strategy lessons.

> Dan Seaborn was quite frankly the most energetic preacher I’ve ever seen(!) with a timely word on protecting marriages. We have already begun putting some of what he shared in place.

> Saturday night it was amazing to see the range of people come forward for ministry – I love it that our leaders are soft enough to receive what they need from God at these times of refreshment and renewal.

> We celebrated 3 new church plants! Awesome to be part of a church planting movement...

> Overall, the experience was a time of reflection for me: a number of the threads I’ve been contemplating got woven a little more tightly into place. The time to reflect has to be one of the most necessary disciplines of a leader that there is.

> We enjoyed an extra day coming home to sleep in and relax just a little bit…the boy was a star the whole weekend as you can imagine those of you who know him…

The return to Auckland has seen one time wasting exercise concerning a Christian weekly newspaper sensationalising an issue that has arisen in the Methodist Church. The churches careful response was massaged into “a warning”. What gets me is this: surely a Christian newspaper is there to encourage and challenge, but always within the confines of protecting the unity of the body of Christ? So, placatory letters end up being written and a loss of time and energy occurs because of divisive journalism.

The Christian media in New Zealand is, in my humble opinion, very uneven. You get some great quality and some enormous crap. Why, for example, does NZ's only Christian TV station run Benny Hinn? How come Challenge Weekly prints every crackpot letter it can find? Why do tired (and arguably disreputable) radio hacks get constant replays of dodgy material?

Well thats my soapbox for the week!