Sunday, September 23, 2007

Aslan is on the Move

In the story of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susanne go into the world of Narnia. Narnia is not the way it should be, the country of Narnia has faced winter for hundreds of years, but they have never had Christmas, all because the country is under the power of the evil white witch. Unknown to them, these four little kids are part of the prophesised return of the lion. Word is in the trees that something is afoot in Narnia, something that the land has been aching for years for, the return of Aslan, to end the reign of the evil white witch. The animals, the wind, the trees are aching for the return of their master, to bring order to Narnia, to restore it to its glory. There is hope, Aslan is on the move!

Why do I tell this story, why am I recounting my favourite childhood story? There is a sense in me, and others that I know that God is on the move! He is waking a new generation of disciples willing to bring about something new, something fresh, something that we have not seen before. The land of New Zealand, and the world is yearning for restoration, people are crying out for God, for healing, for restoration, God is on the move, setting the captives free, bringing sight to the blind, revealing himself to the poor. He is on the move, are we ready to join!

I was extremely excited to see Matt Mansell lay out his vision for the Vineyard plant that is going ahead in Karori. Matt and the team have a real passion to reveal Christ to this community and to bring people into Gods story for the world. I have had the joy of travelling along with them for part of the journey and seen how God is planting seeds in these talented, spirit filled individuals. I am watching and waiting to see the bear that awakens. I am looking forward to seeing how God shapes and creates this community, and what impact it has on Karori and the world. What an exciting time to be in!

God is wanting to restore the lives of those who live in Karori, he wants to show people that in him there is restoration, freedom from sin, freedom to live a new life, to become all that God wants us to be. God wants us to confront the empire, the wicked witch of the world, and free the land from the grasp of sin and death and from the devil. God wants us to shine out truth and bring people back in to the hands of their creator.

Lord I pray for your church, that you will awaken its potential, that it will see that it is the Greatest hope for humanity, that you are here moving in the world, changing people, bring people back to you. Let your church be a light, let your church be a refreshing to the world, awaken your followers, awaken the sleeping bear!

Lord I pray for Matt Mansell and the passion that you have given him, fan the flames of his passions and give him the tools and the people to build your church in Karori.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Things that have caught my attention this week

There have been a number of posts or articles that have caught my eye in my reading this week. Again this blog is to cover the fact that I have failed to do any substantial writing this week, but show people that I am alive, well, and are thinking over some things.

Boston Globe has a great piece on the state of education in the west. As time is going on it seems that our universities seem to be becoming more and more focused on "bum-on-seats" educational policy, rather than providing an education. Education in my mind is to teach people to be good citizens, to teach people about how to think critically about the world around them and to engage in the world that they live in and bring about positive outcomes for society. Rather than just providing commerce graduates (I know, I'm a intellectual who will not get off his soap box, but hey, we need some of them) with insufficient pieces of paper, who cannot think for themselves and can't engage with the world in any way other than in theory. Why am I writing on this, I think this has some good lessons for the church. The church needs to come back to understanding the mission that it was put here on the earth for, that is being Christ to the world around it, incarnating into the world. It wasn't sent here to be an institution, It was sent here to be a counter cultural community of followers, showing people Gods will, challenging people to grow and change and become part of Gods plan for the world.

Ryan of Tall Monastic Guy has written a blog asking the question of whether the Church can learn about cultural relevance from Kanye West. I think he provides a good overview, I think Ryan stretches it a bit too far, but there is one good point. We need to be empowering the innovators within our churches. These individuals are those such as our entrepreneurs, artists, film-makers, graphic-designers. These guys have big dreams, they are the life of the next generation of churches. God is creative, we are creative too! We were made in his image so we could create, build and design the kingdom of God. We need to give these individuals the resources to create and design a church of the future, or even just ethical businesses, art houses, cafes, pubs, tattoo parlours etc, where they can reveal Christ in ways that are relevant to the audience that surrounds them.

Dan Kimball pastor of Vintage Faith Church has written a post on Exchanging Religion for the Mission of God. The prayer of his church is
"Asking God to transform us into a worshiping-community-of-missional-theologians". This is what I'm desiring too as a Christian, to be following Christ - as a worshiping, missional theologian. Not as a man who follows his own will, being arrogant, believing he has it all right, but a man desiring the will of God, and following his call for his life.

Mosaic has started an exciting (well in my view) series on community. I have not been able to listen to any of the sermons yet, but believe that this will be an encouraging (and challenging) take on church community. I love mosaic's vision, the church in L.A. has members from over 50 different ethnic groups, focuses its energies on creativity, evangelism, worship, etc. It really tries to reveal Christ in an authentic and real way. Church community is not about being a consumer (service often becomes people demanding the church to serve us!). Many times our communities of faith take on a culture where all is done to make people within the community comfortable (usually Christians and the one or two who accidentally walked in the door), but comfort may be the wrong thing, comfort excludes those who are outside the culture of the group, we have to drive to mix this up, change our culture, desiring diversity (e.g, desiring to break out of a group which usually is white middle class, and increasingly female to a community which is a melting pot of cultures, talents and desires- this will prove to be chaotic and very uncomfortable!)

On the last point, I read in the listener about organizations and the need for them to become more diverse. Those organizations moving forward these days are mainly network based computer companies. They are not driven by the old model of hierarchical bureaucracy. These organizations are much more flexible and able to innovate at a faster rate. This might be a good thing for churches to take account of!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Map of the Internet

I saw this on Joshua's Mac a couple of nights ago when I was laxing out. I had to put it on my blog. I have some issues with it. It doesn't show Bebo on it, which is one of the top 3 social networking sites in New Zealand, and it doesn't show the unseen web (academic journals etc) this should be displaced as a reef underwater somewhere on the screen. Anyway i thought it was quite cool, it will be interesting to see what shape it takes in five years time!

Friday, September 14, 2007


This came from the Mosaic sermon "Beauty." This video is a metaphor for what Martin Luther called "the Great exchange, where Jesus took all the crap that we have done, and took it onto himself in the process of his death on the cross. The result was that we were given new life, we are given salvation. Hope you enjoy

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Becoming a Missional Christian

I wrote this post at the beginning of the year. Please forgive some of the repitition. It was written when I was processing through some stuff, this is actually not really that finished, but I want to share it with you because I was actually quite suprised to see how far this has played out in the way God is shaping me, it sums up how I'm attempting to live my life now as a christian sent out to the lost, sent to be a light, an example of something different, something fresh, something new! I will write further on contextualised faith, missional christianity, missional church and the missional God that we follow when I have some more time, but let this settle with you. Sorry about the intensity of this blog, again, it was written at a time of deep proccessing for me.

I have come to believe that a very important aspect of Christianity is that we are to be missional. A fact of Christianity is that it is a missional faith, we are called by our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ to show people who God is, to show Jesus who Jesus is, and share with them the Truth of the Gospel. The last words spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew commanded Christians to spread the gospel throughout the world. Jesus said “Go to people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. (Matt 28:19-20) Mission is to be a focus of Christians in the way they live and act, we are to fulfil Jesus’ commission. We are to tell people the Gospel through our words and deeds, just like Jesus did. We are here to bring about Gods redemptive plan on this earth. Not here to twiddle our fingers or debate how good our navels look. Jesus said that he was here on the earth to “tell the good news to the poor … …. to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers.” (Luke 4:18 paraphrase) Throughout Jesus’ time on earth he did this and showed people that the way to salvation was not through trusting in our own actions, because frankly our good actions are like s%$%*y nappies when compared to Gods Holiness.(Isaiah 64:6) Salvation cannot be earned, it is given in act on unmerited favour to those who have faith in Christ (read Romans 3) as a result of the saving act of Jesus Christ on the cross.

So as Christians we are called to preach this truth, that God came to earth as the man Jesus Christ, lived a human life, died on a cross and then rose again and ascended into heaven, that the life that no man had ever lived and ever will live. Showing us that salvation is only through God, through having faith in God and his saving grace. But how do we do this practically through our lives. How do we centre our lives around these truths and preaching them in word and deed.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and it scares me a lot, When I look at New Zealand I do not see a quarter acre, pavalova paradise, I see men and women crying out for something more, they live caught in addictions, making the wrong choices, getting drunk, living in unhealthy relationships, all of these are images of a broken nation, a nation which is not Gods Own.

So how are we to reach out and change New Zealand for the better, how are we going to change the world for the better?

I have come recently to discover that the way we need to do mission goes like this

First we need to figure out who Jesus really is, we need to figure out how he did mission, how it permeated his whole life. Read Mark, you do not find a guy who sits at his computer all day or reading books all day, he is out there, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, saving people from hell all the time, taking on the religious hypocrites of the age and kicking their butts. Read Luke, find out about how Jesus relates to people – he met them at their need. Man, he even used a drunken jewish wedding to show who he was to the people around him.
What I’m saying is that we need to know who Jesus really was, this is not based on our view of Jesus, in your preconceptions Jesus may be a hippy in a dress, but was he really that? Read, wrestle with what you find in the Gospels. I am coming to realise that Jesus is not a comfortable teacher that I follow. He was a radical, no-nonsense man, his words divided families and continues to divide families, it isn’t all roses. He wants us to be righteously-angry radicals willing to challenge the systems of injustice in our world. He doesn’t want us to act all high and mighty, he wants us to put all our trust in God, he wants us to do his will throughout the world and change this world for God.

Good Christology (In Laymans terms – how we view Christ’s and his saving actions) will lead to good missiology. As Christians we a called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. This means that we follow the example of our teacher. Our way of living should be incarnational. This will be a change from being evangelistic (I’m stealing these terms from Michael Frosts book Exiles) We are called to be in relationship with non-Christians on a equal footing. We are called to be Christ to our non-Christian friends. An example of truth and life to those who are non-christians. This means eating with non-christians, going out to pubs with non Christians, spending good quality time with non-christians, feeding them with the truth through our actions. It means we will have to stand up for what is truth when we are with them as well.

We are called to be different from the world, but what does this really mean. In contemporary Christian culture it has meant putting up walls, closing us up. We have not been allowed to form relationship with non-christians, and become separatist in our actions toward non-christians. This is not what Jesus has called us to do. He has called us to be ambassadors of the kingdom, going out into the cultures, subcultures etc and bringing the truth of the Gospel. We are not to be closed in, but reaching out with this truth, by living out the gospel.

So how are we to be examples of Christ in the world?

What does a culturally Relevant Church look like in Wellington?

What Churches in Wellington are doing mission well? What can we learn from them about doing mission in Wellington?

What is the culture of Wellington telling us about the concerns of the citizens of Wellington?

What are the Cultural Idols of Wellington? What are the Cultural Idols of New

We need men and women, godly, Christ centred men and women who will cry out “Give me New Zealand, or i’ll die”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The New Zealand Sopranos

This was a clip from last monday nights episode of facelift. Sit back and enjoy!

Learning to Breathe

My Brother has just bought a number of Switchfoot CDs, one of them being Learning to breath. The title track has been a really powerful song in my life over the last few days, I love the lyrics to this song, it explains so much of my journey with my Lord and saviour.

"Learning To Breathe"

Hello, good morning, how you do?
What makes your rising sun so new?
I could use a fresh beginning too
All of my regrets are nothing new
So this is the way that I say I need You
This is the way that I'm

Learning to breathe
I'm learning to crawl
I'm finding that You and You alone can break my fall
I'm living again, awake and alive
I'm dying to breathe in these abundant skies

Hello, good morning, how you been?
Yesterday left my head kicked in
I never, never thought that
I would fall like that
Never knew that I could hurt this bad

So this is the way I say I need You
This is the way that I say I love You
This is the way that I say I'm Yours
This is the way, this is the way

First Verse, the goodness of God gets me up in the morning. The saving act of Jesus on the cross has changed my life, revealed to me that there is hope for this world, hope for me as a messed up confused out of control man. I rely on the goodness of God to get me through the hard times (particularly this period of university, where I’m becoming increasingly stressed as deadlines loom and I cannot get myself to work.)

The chorus – this just sums up my journey, it’s a life of learning, a life of growing. I am learning to breath in the goodness of God, to take in his encourage, his words of love, to realize that this is all his and that he wants me to be part of his plan for the world. I am stumbling, growing, realizing that there is much more to this world and to God than meets the eyes. I desire to know the Lord deeper than I have before and worship him in spirit and in truth, with my whole life.

Third Verse – The Pain I feel when I look inside and realize how much crap there is in my life. I have to come back again and again and realize that I am in need, that I am a leper, a man deformed and in need of the touch of Christ to cleanse my life of all that is unclean and make me into something new, something different, something fresh, that when people see me they see someone changed, someone who has experienced the power of God

The Bridge: This is my cry, that I would be a tool in the hands of God, that my life would be given up to serving God, that I would say that God is my all, that I am here to serve him only, and that I would give all my moments to worship him.

Anyway, this song is really cool, would like to hear your thoughts on it!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Work, Life, Faith - Its all about discipleship!

I found this on the Vanguard Church Blog today, I think it sums up my view on discipleship at the moment. We need to get past the idea that ministry is just for the church, located in the church, for Christians. Our lives are mission, we are a missional people, sent by a missional God, commissioned by a missional saviour (Mathew 28:18-20).

"Every Christian is in "full-time ministry," no matter what they are doing, no matter what it says on their business card, no matter if they punch a time clock or are on salary, no matter if they are doing technical work or people work, no matter if they are paid or a volunteer, no matter if they work for their boss or for their family as a housekeeper. Every line of work, no matter what it is, is full-time ministry. Because every line of work needs to be transformed into a calling from God to fulfill the cultural mandate of Genesis 1 & 2. Our first command from God is to create culture - 'to fill the earth and subdue it, to work it and take care of it'"

Seriously we have to get past this dualism in our thinking, every moment is sacred, every moment is also secular, we are to use it for the glory of God. Jesus is Lord over every moment of your life, are you living it that way, or do you think when you go to work, university, school, the pub, the cafe down the street that God takes a back seat, this is wrong, this is pagan thinking and not of God. We need to acknowledge and live in the knowledge that Jesus is Lord over every moment and every second.

Anyway, off my rant, the vanguard church blogger makes a point by stating that churches should have a commissioning service for all in the church. I think this is a good idea, making people realise that they are living out a missional lifestyle for all to see, for all to taste, so that all will know the saving power of God.

Jesus is Lord, remember that!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Switchfoot are Coming to Parachute Festival 08!!!


Oh man this is so great, I'm so excited about this! I am so going to go to parachute next year (Thats if I can afford it!) Switchfoot played in Auckland Last Night and said that they were coming to parachute 08 which will be from the 25-28th of January next year. I have not read any reviews of these guys concerts or sets, but they should be really really astounding. I have been wanting to see them for a number of years and do not want to miss this concert.

Mathew 8:24-27 Faith, Church, Life, etc, etc - or attempting to follow Jesus

This is a study I'm planning on doing in a few days, I was going to leave putting this up until I had done the study, but its in my heart to put this up on my blog now at this point in time. I may come back and edit it later. I want to apologise if any of this blog comes across harsh or condemning. That is not my intention. I'm struggling with the material in this blog myself, because I'm human. I just want to share this because its something close to my heart. I will will be the first person to say that putting Gods will first and following Jesus' call is hard (especially when you are struggling with what that means for your life). It is challenging and costly and indeed the most frightening thing you can do with your life. But it is the most rewarding, most meaningful and most exciting experience that anyone can have.

Mathew 8:24-27
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose,, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash.”

The first thing that came to my mind as I read this passage with fresh eyes was the radical nature of this parable. Jesus’ claims here seem to me to be very radical. Most rabbis yoked only there disciples to their teachings, but he is saying that his teaching is the truth, that the people should follow him, follow his teachings – essentially put his trust in him. These claims are huge, he is claiming that if you build your life on him, his teachings, when life gets tough, God will be there strengthening you and bringing you through the hard times.

This comes down to the heart of faith, the heart of having a faith in Jesus, his teachings and the saving act, that he is there, guiding us through, that he is there listening to our cries, that we are to follow his will with our life.

I have been reading a book recently called the Forgotten Ways, its forcing me to wrestle with these issues once again. Early on it sets the scene for the rest of the book, it asks the question, how did the church grow from 25,000 Christians in AD 100 to 20 million in AD 310. These churches were against the wall at this time, Christianity at this time was an illegal religion, the church went through numerous persecutions during this period, so if you became a Christian, the likelihood was you would not live a normal human lifespan at that time. It also had other things going against it, it was ill resourced, having only a roughly formed canon at the time, they did not have professional leadership, church buildings or the range of books on church planting, leadership, Christian growth, etc, etc. But they had a profound faith in the LORD Jesus Christ, they confessed with their mouths and proclaimed with their lives that Jesus was their LORD and saviour.

So what do I think that these verses are talking about, I think the fundamental thing that Jesus is trying to get to is the heart of discipleship and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. When we read the gospels we see the response of the disciples to Jesus. He called them personally by name and told him to follow him. The amazing response of these men was that they dropped their nets and followed. What did this mean for them, it meant that they were dropping their jobs. Like our culture, occupation carried certain social meanings to it, dropping their Jobs meant that they were dropping their security, their identity as people, the place in society and became disciples, a group of men and women who followed, learning and practising what their rabbi, our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ taught them. Jesus exorcised Demons, they jumped in and exorcised Demons, Jesus healed the sick, they practiced at this, Jesus cared for the needy, they did this, Jesus called for them to live holy, changed lives, they attempted to model their lives around this. It went to the point that when Jesus walked on the water, Peter wanted to do the same thing, because he wanted to model his teacher. We too are called to follow the ways of Jesus, who is our Rabbi, but also our LORD and saviour.

I’m going to be honest and questioning in this next section, about myself and the way I see things, a couple of years ago I went through quite a challenging period in my faith journey. It was a really difficult time, as it made me essentially question who I was as a Christian, as a follower of God and following Christ. The essential questions that came up for me was “am I really a follower of Jesus?”, “where do I find my identity as a person?” These questions were hard, particularly for a person who believed they were following Christ fully with his life, but began to realise there were major shortcomings in how I saw people, how I saw Jesus, how I looked at the bible, how I saw myself. It was a deeply humbling experience, an experience that in many ways has not ended completely. I had to find where I found my Identity, was it in my Status, my theology, the church I attended, my university education, the people I hung out with or was it in my faith in my LORD and saviour, Jesus Christ. When all these things seemed to fall to the wayside in importance, the thing that stood through all of this is my faith in my LORD and saviour. I have realised more and more that it is this that has gotten me through hard times in my life, the relationship I have with my LORD and saviour.

So what is it that you put your trust in, where do you find your meaning. What does God think of it? Is your meaning, your personal worth found in Christ or is it found in your career, your family, your theology, your church, your denomination, if all that was stripped back what would be left, stripping that all back, where would you gain your identity?

Again I want to say that I am wrestling with these issues right at the moment, what does it mean to be a disciple of Christ, what does faith mean, what does it mean to those who interact with me on day to day basis, and I’m continuously coming back to the feet of God and repenting. I know there are areas in my life I have not sorted out – sins and personality traits that I do not think are all that Christ like at all. There are areas in my life that need to be sorted out that I probably do not even know about and I need people in my life that can show those to me and even give me a good prod in the right direction, if you know what I mean.

I believe that this is the question we need to ask ourselves both individually and as a church, the people of God. Where do we find our identity? In a sense I have just answered it, we are the people of God, saved by Christ; set apart and called to change Karori, Wellington and the World. I can say these words, but are we living this out, accepting this. Do we live as disciples of our LORD Jesus Christ, modelling our lives around him– or do we live similarly to the world? When we take away the building, the lights, the songs, the church activities, its there something distinct, something deep, something so beautiful that people are attracted to it, are we reflecting Christ to the world, or are we just another social club?