Friday, September 25, 2009


So John Key was on Letterman...he was kinda lame, but he's our lame right? Good on ya John!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Post Post Bureaucratic Post

So back in June I posted on Post-Bureaucracy and the small problems I was having getting WOF's for vehicles. So today was interesting. I didn't (of course) fix the offending window. Why should I? I walked in (to a different place naturally) and got the WOF. No questions asked and before you ask whether it was one of THOSE places - it wasn't - it was one of the reputable places. Funny how the LTSA regs changed while I was away.

We also got Kristen's SRS light to go off. It was a little less than the $780 quoted. It turned out to be a loose wire. Not sure why the original garage couldn't have popped the steering wheel to confirm that before quoting. The garage was too embarrassed to charge so all it cost was the $50 for the computer scan.

$50 and 2 WOF's. Thats my kind of bureaucracy...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Gospel For iGen

Scot McKnight makes a great case for "gospeling" in a recent CT article. The basic premise of the article is that a generation raised on a robust diet of self-esteem may be less predisposed to accept personal responsibility for sin.

For a start McKnight exposes a constant myth:

Sometimes I think we forget that no where in the pages of the New Testament do we find what many of us heard when we were gospeled: God loves us, we are sinners, God still loves us and sent us his Son to die for our sins, and if we receive God's plan we will spend eternity with him and be empowered by grace for a new life now. I believe every line in that gospel to be true, but no one said it quite that way in the New Testament.

Just ask Jesus into your heart - it's true but its not true. Instead he points iGens to Jesus.

First with the vision of the Kingdom:

Nothing in my experience mesmerizes iGens like the kingdom vision of Jesus. One approach I use is to move through the Gospel of Luke. I begin with the preliminary expectations of Mary, Zechariah, and John the Baptist. I then focus on what Jesus wanted to bring about on earth (Luke 4:16-30; 6:20-26, and 7:18-23). Then I observe that Jesus knew the cross was the way to that kingdom (9:18-27). We move from there into the cross and resurrection, and then emerge on the other side of Easter with Pentecost and the apostolic church community (Acts 2:42-47).

He then vividly descibes the process by which community can draw someone to Christ (a far cry from the lampooning attempts of the anti-community brigade and it has to be said the "community is all" set):

Anyone who vividly sketches a community marked by justice, love, peace, and holiness has a message iGens want to hear. The self hidden behind the castle wall is now interested. And I have found that the self-in-a-castle feels shame about systemic sin, and their sensitivity to things like AIDS, poverty, and racism leads inevitably to recognizing the sin in each person. At some point in this movement to the castle door, the iGen will realize that systemic sin is linked to personal sin. Suddenly he or she feels accountable to God.

Perhaps its the inverse of the self-help guru approach that appeals to the iGen, but McKnight also sees discipleship as an attractive force with iGens:

Along with Jesus' kingdom vision, some iGens are awakened to faith by the discipleship demands of Jesus. I usually focus on the Sermon on the Mount, and not just because I'm an Anabaptist. This message of Jesus was the church's favorite and it remains a powerful sketch of a moral life that both creates a world of possibilities and—at the very core—unmasks pretence and sinfulness. Through the Sermon on the Mount, I find the self-in-a-castle lured to the castle door. In fact, rather than turning off iGens, the demand of Jesus for a life that matters and a morality that exceeds what they have experienced, is radically attractive. It challenges them to their core.

He concludes with an encouragement:

Like many young people in her generation, what finally led this student to embrace the gospel was being brought into the story of Jesus. Our task in gospeling iGens is following the example of Peter and Paul and helping them find their place—and themselves—in that remarkable story.

What I enjoyed about this article was cKnight putting some framework around some things I have observed in ministry, while still leaving room for a wide variety of responses and experiences. Not everyone is iGen in their makeup but for those who are McKnight offers some clues on reaching them. It resonates with what I see of God's grace drawing people in different ways to the point of commitment to Christ.

What was your experience? What drew you to Christ?

Monday, September 14, 2009

End of Year Tour

While there is one more test to go (and therefore now is not the time to sharpen coaching knives) it IS time to begin thinking through the 30 for the end of year tour. So I've picked my team, not the one they will pick. Comment away if you've done little else but think about this and find yourself blogless...

My method is this:

  • Take out the injured ones
  • Work how who needs a rest and leave them at home
  • Give the performers this year a chance
  • Retire those who seem past it now and give some new blood a shot

In that last category? So'oialo, Thorn, Donald, Rokococo. In the 2nd category Mils.

Fullbacks - Corey Jane and Israel Dagg (lets see who comes through as the top contender)
Wings - Sivivatu, Masaga, Gear (Jane, Slade etc can fill in)
Centres - Toeava, Robert Fruean (HUGE potential) - Assumption: Smith and Kahui are not available
2nd Five - Nonu, Jayden Hayward (the most talented 2nd V on display in the Air NZ Cup) - Assumption: McAllister is injured
1st Five - Carter, Cruden, Slade (Slade has utility value as well)
Halfback - Cowan, Leonard (it would be good to have a third, but not enough space and who?)
No.8 - Read, Messum (must be given a chance to develop his huge potential)
Blindside - Kaino, Thompson (can cover 7 as well)
Open Side - McCaw, Whitelock
Locks - Ross, Boric, Eaton, Jack (to see if he's ready and to pass on experience
Props - Woodward, McIntosh, Franks, Afoa (they'll take Crockett instead of McIntosh)
Hookers - Hore, De Malmanche, Hika Elliot (got to get another go)
Alright so thats 32 :) 2 to be omitted...take out a lock, a hooker or a first five...maybe they'll prefer Slade as a fullback to Dagg which would be a shame...

I reserve the right to think some more :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dear Lord

Please help Tony Woodcock smash John Smit in the scrums today and the AB lineout to confirm Matfield as the little girl he apparently used to be.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Personal Accountability

With some Texans fearing that Obama's message to school children of personal accountability will somehow lead them to the evils of socialism, I now perform a slightly clumsy segue...

...personal accountability for the Christian! I am digging around looking for various resources for a research paper I have to write in 2010 in the area of of discipleship (thus the Dave Tomlinson trip yesterday) and today I came across an interesting source thanks to the Shapevine E-zine. David Watson is a church planter and discipler whose blog contained a very stimulating post on the different realms of personal accountability. I immediately decided to roadtest the diagnostic questions in my journaling this week which I repeat here:

1. Relationship to God

•What will I do daily to build/improve this relationship?
•What will I do weekly to build/improve this relationship?
•What special events will I participate in order to improve this relationship?
•How will I involve my family and community in this relationship?

2. Relationship to Family/Family Members

•What will I do daily to build/improve my relationships with each family member?
•What will I do weekly to build/improve these relationships?
• What special events will I participate in order to improve these relationship?
• How will I involve other family members in improving our relationships with one another?

3. Relationship to Church and Community

•What will I do daily to build/improve these relationships?
•What will I do weekly to build/improve these relationships?
•What special events will I participate in order to improve these relationships?
•How will I involve my family in these relationships?

4. Relationship to Call/Ministry

•What will I do daily to fulfill my call from God?
•What will I do weekly to fulfill my call from God?
•What special events will I participate in order to improve my fulfillment of my call from God?
•How will I involve my family in my call?

5. Relationship to Job/Work

•What will I do daily to build/improve my job related relationships (boss and those I lead)?
•What will I do weekly to build/improve these relationships?
•What special events will I participate in order to improve these relationships?
•How will I involve my family in these relationships?

6. Relationship to Self

•What will I do daily/weekly to improve/maintain my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health?
•What will I do daily/weekly to improve my general knowledge?
•What will I do regularly for recreation and down time?
•How will I involve my family in these events

What I really appreciate from the wider article is the holistic nature of this model and you can see in the questions a deliberate attempt to relate each area to the other. You might like to join me in trying these and I'd be interested of any comments if you do. I will take one per day and journal on them.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Post The Post Evangelical Post

Rev Dave Tomlinson, an Anglican vicar, and writer of The Post Evangelical is in NZ with World Vision speaking to his book "Re enchanting the Church". I was fortunate enough to take our staff team to listen, process and reflect on our own ministry context.

Tomlinson is a fascinating individual with a very interesting story - including significant periods in the Brethren, Pentecostal and house church movements and playing a part in some of the early alternative worship initiatives in the UK - "Holy Joes". He is now an Anglican priest, which I think amuses him as much as this former lawyer is amused by his own transition from atheist lawyer to pastor!

His thesis is simply this: orthodoxy has traditionally been the subject of conversation, argument and progressive revelation. He cites not surprisingly the formation of the biblical canon over many years (including Luther's attempts to get rid of James and Revelation) and the establishment of the creeds out of periods of debate and conjecture. Thus his central tenet that orthodoxy is not orthodox if it is prescribed and pre packaged. In fact he sees the pre packaged brand of orthodoxy as a distortion. In contrast he advocates for a brand of orthodoxy which he describes as “progressive orthodoxy”, an orthodoxy that is:

• Fed and nurtured by its rootedness in past events
• Shaped and energised by a dynamic interaction with the world

He defines this orthodoxy within his own tradition as an ongoing conversation between scripture, reason, tradition and experience. How very Wesleyan of him although I suspect he might a little beyond Wesley's orthodoxy! All very interesting, but nothing earth-shatteringly fresh and he didn't pause to tease out some of his more developed and controversial views beyond laying this brief foundation.

What WAS interesting was the subsequent practical stuff on connecting church to community. This was what I had come to engage. Tomlinson is convinced that contemporary western culture is more spiritual than it has ever been, and that it is not difficult to connect with this spirituality as a Christian, but that the taste of the age is not for the pre packaged version of "tick the boxes" faith with which some brands of Christianity are identified.

What I took from this was that the journey towards faith is something we need to work hard to create room for in our churches while remaining unfailingly receptive and encouraging of people actually coming to faith on whatever timetable God has in place for them. Some nuggets I will spend some time thinking on:

> The community of the church as "umbrella" - the possibility of multiple activities occurring within the broader influence of the church without these necessarily being simply funnels to the main event of Sunday worship

> The recapturing of the parish model in terms of gaining traction as a "church for the community" in more than just name - this requires some very particular activity by the pastor in particular it would seem

> Creating space for spiritual seekers to explore spirituality as part of the richest tradition of Christian spirituality

> Work on the balance between extrinsic and intrinsic faith ie from belief-based to spiritual journey (note I am glossing this as a balance rather than as a movement to an extreme)

> Work out paradigms for engagement of the "spiritual atheist" - Tomlinson contends that humanistic atheism is basically dead but that there are spiritually minded atheists who need help approaching what they see as an arid, suffocating view of God within Christianity - need to do some more thinking about this one!

> Reflect some more on Tomlinson's suggestion that churches need to find ways to become places for existential spirituality within the Christian tradition rather than merely centres for devotional worship - a challenging thought

All in all a very stimulating day which led me to think more deeply about modes for engaging the community and shaping the church for that engagement. It was great to do this with the staff team and to test out our understandings, responses and thoughts for change (as well as sneak in some Burger Fuel). Some of the very real pastoral implications of what can happen when broken people become part of the church community were worthy discussion points.

The trajectory towards getting one's hands dirty with mission, but in more than just the traditional "care for the poor" way, was the biggest takeaway - what Tomlinson was really challenging me towards was understanding the spiritual and social context in which we seek to engage people. In that sense, his evangelistic leanings were as palapable as his pastoral ones.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Story

I was christened in the Anglican church at the instigation of my nominal Anglican mother and my agnostic father. In the early years of my childhood I was “encouraged” to attend Sunday School, but didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I was a bit of a troublemaker.

As quickly as I could, I got out of the church scene and by the time my High School years arrived was a committed atheist. My early years in the church had provided me with just enough information to challenge those who held Christian views. The worst example of this very bad behaviour on my part was my sister. She had made a Christian commitment through her school Christian club and was confirmed in the Anglican Church. Unfortunately a combination of my ridicule, an overly enthusiastic Pentecostal teacher and the bad influence of friends resulted in her falling away. I still feel bad about that!

At high school, I achieved well academically and above averagely on the sporting field. I made the top rugby team at school in my second to last year – this was a defining moment – until then I had been a “good boy”! I was still pretty much a good boy, but became a pretty heavily drinking good boy! The rugby culture was to go out and get smashed after every game (I suspect in an effort to attract women!) I bought into this with my friends and it became a regular activity…

When I left school, I went to University and enrolled for a mixed arts/law degree. In that first year my school friendships seemed to become increasingly distant. I began to tire of the mindless drinking. This did not go down to well with my friends.

In the meantime, University had reunited me with an old friend – well we were going to the same educational institution again – we had remained friends, but the immediacy of my school friends had taken over to some extent. Gary was a Christian and he often invited me to various events that his youth group were running. I went along to mainly social events from time to time. I couldn’t question how genuinely nice many of these people were. They impressed me as human beings but generally puzzled me as misguided, religious fanatics...

My dissatisfaction with my previous patterns and exposure to this new group of people collided. In my private moments I admitted to myself that I wanted something more from life…I even named it as being what these people had…but realised that for me God was not in the equation.

Gary continued to persist and invited me to attend a Youth Camp – Summer Harvest (funny how I never realised that the name was referring to me!) This camp was held in the beautiful Bay of Islands in the north of NZ. Gary had sold it to me – all I had to was attend the morning meetings and I could spend the rest of the day on the private surf beach. He also dropped in that there were 1,500 people attending…a quick bit of maths and I decided the odds were appealing – 1,500 divided by 2 = !!!!!!

In the days leading up to the camp my own questions continued to surface. Until one day, the atheist prayed to the God he didn’t believe in and gave him one week to make himself known. It seemed like a very tall order so I felt pretty safe.

The camp proceeded and it was all I had hoped for…sun, sea, surf and senoritas! Problem was these nice Christian girls seemed friendly to a point, but beyond that the shutters went up…I went to the meetings and one night responded to an invitation that went something like this:

“If you want to become a Christian, stand up”

This fitted me perfectly. I wanted to become a Christian. I was attracted to the lifestyle, the sense of purpose, the focus beyond myself. But, I still didn’t believe in God. The speaker had a reputation as a bit of a Holy Spirit merchant so I hoped God would zap me. He didn’t, so I sat down. God still doesn’t perform on my command.

I was disappointed. I realised my quest was at an end. I had tried to reason my way into belief in God. I had tried to befriend my way into his Kingdom. I had tried to match my social conscience with His. And at the last I had even tried to show faith, albeit that I had none.

I ended up talking with one of the older guys that night. I recognised that the only barrier stopping me becoming a Christian was my lack of belief in God. Some barrier! I realised that all my efforts were not going to be enough. That was just the way it was.

I went to bed with a degree of peace. I had been struggling a bit with the whole thing and it had wound me up more than I realised.

I awoke the next morning. And realised I believed in God.

That morning in the meeting, I committed my life to Jesus Christ – no counsellors, no altar call – just me and Him. I told Gary whose reaction betrayed his surprise. Almost immediately another non-Christian friend who Gary had also dragged along came up to me and asked me what I thought of all this stuff. My first opportunity to witness. I said, “I guess I believe it!” His reaction displayed his surprise as well and not a little hurt at being left in the madman’s den on his own!

The day was fantastic. Everything seemed that little bit sharper. The wonder of a creation that had a Creator. I won the surf flags race at the beach. I don’t think God helped me, but the victory was all the sweeter for doing it in Him. I still treasure that moment of achievement.

I returned home and began visiting churches. Early on a wise pastor advised me to find a home church and settle down. I had 2 choices – go to Gary’s church a successful, spirit-filled Baptist church that is now the second biggest church in our area or go to the run down Methodist church with the newly appointed Youth Worker. I chose the second. I became a Youth leader very (too?) early in my walk. I grew a relationship with God.

And later this Church would become the place in which my ministry developed and after the church split, the community in which my call to full time ministry would be confirmed.

God had his reasons I guess for doing things this way. There is a verse that echoes this for me:

1 Corinthians 2

4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

I know that all I am as a person is a result of his power, not my own wisdom. As a competent, relatively intelligent individual this is an absolute starting point for me. Everything that is now me is dependent on Him first providing a way for me to know and love Him. And now that He has, my life is His.