Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mark Driscoll Parody of Persecuted American Christians

I found this on Syms blog. Mark Driscolls humour makes for great social commentary!

And all that Jazz...

As you readers would know my life has become very very busy. You are probably wondering what I’m up to and why I havn’t written anything substantial in what seems to be a long time. This is a summary of what’s been happening.

At present I’m working on a contract in town in a government department. This is my first substantial job. I’m really enjoying the experience and the team that I’m working in. I have a whole lot to learn about how things work within government but I’m looking forward to the future challenges I face in this field and endeavour. I am also currently working every second weekend as a library assistant. This should be an interesting role in which I can meet a range of people so this should be fun.

Mosaic is one of my major focuses of my energies this year. Mosaic is a community of believers that is exploring what it means to do church in non-institutional ways. We explore Christian spirituality and what it means to be a follower of Christ in the 21st century. We face an exciting and challenging year, and already seeing growth and excitement in what is happening. If you want to check us out you can go here

Life in General – Priorities
The last few weeks have made me ask numbers of questions about the way I live out my life – Its weird – Two things have really marked this period of time. 1. I now earn a lot more money than I have previously. 2. I have a lot less time than I had previously to do things with. This is different than my university life where I both had little spare time, and also little spare money (particularly in my honours year). Now I am trying to use the resources that God has given my wisely – I have identified the limitations – My physical health, my time and my money, now I need to identify the best way to get optimal performance (I know this sounds instrumental but it really isn’t). I have identified that I want to live intentionally in a way that makes the world a better place (this has become my goal for my life – linked intrinsically with Jesus’s commands to Love the Lord with all your heart mind and soul and to love your neighbour)

At present I’m struggling with this all. I’m starting to get into a rhythm and I’m starting to get my focus straight and placing my energy into those things that I see as the highest priorities. I really need prayed about this though. I want to invest my money and time in things that honour God. I want to be wise about this. Its hard sometimes to know if I’m getting it right.

I don’t want to just live for me, for status, for pleasure, for money. I want to live for something bigger than that. I want to live to see the gospel spread. I want to live to see justice established, I want to live to see Gods Kingdom come on earth as it is heaven. These are the pangs of my heart. I want to see this established through the skills, personality and character that God has given to me for his glory. I am a canvas that God is drawing his beautiful picture on, ripped, muddy, and broken I may be, but the loving creator God is performing his repair work, creating a beautiful piece.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Narnia Qoutes - CS Lewis

I enjoyed these qoutes - they kind of explain some of my understandings of Jesus. Read and take in, they are good.

“‘They say that Aslan is on the move’
And now a very curious thing happened.
None of the children know who Aslan was more than any of you do; but the moment Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different… … At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delight strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”

I'm not going to explain this, its too hard for me at the moment!

"'Ooh!' Susan, "I thought he was a man. Is he - quite safe? I shall feel nervous meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake,' said Mrs Beaver; 'if theres anyone who can appear before Aslan without thier knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly.'
'Then he isn’t safe?' said Lucy.
'Safe?' Said Mr Beaver; 'don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said any about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.'” (My Emphasis)

I've thought about this qoute often, it has made a deep impression on me about my lord and saviour. As I've read the story of The Lion the Which and the Wardrobe this qoute has stayed in my mind constantly. The story shows these kids who form a relationship with the King of the whole world, Aslan. It is interesting, they know he will protect them, but they know that if he wanted to that at a single swipe they could be gone. But they cherish his freindship, his wisdom and guidance. He shows his love and care for them by sacrificing himself for the life of Edmund on the stone table (remind you of anything?) Remember this week that Jesus isn't safe, his message is not that of a meek mild man but of radical loving world-shattering saviour. His way isn't safe or easy, its challenging and dangerous. Follow him though because his way is good.

Christs Reworking of Israels Story - from NT Wright

This quote is from NT Wright's Simply Christian. Over the past few years I have come to the belief that we have to remember the context of Jesus’ message and teaching. He was ministering to a Palestinian Jewish culture. One shaped by its past and looking forward to the establishment of the Messiahs reign. In Jesus we find the proclamation of the kingdom of God. This reworks the story of Israel and the role of Israels Messiah. Jesus calls Israel back to the heart of God – the redemption of the whole world.

“[Jesus] believed that the ancient [Jewish] prophecies were being fulfilled. He believed that Israel’s God was doing a new thing, renewing and reconstituting Israel in a radical way… … It wasn’t a matter of the God of Israel simply fighting off the wicked pagans and vindicating his own people. It wasn't about God judging not only the pagans but also Israel; about God fulfilling his promises, but doing so in a way that nobody had expected or anticipated. God was issuing a fresh challenge to Israel, echoing back to his promises to Abraham: Israel is indeed the light of the world, but its present policies have been putting that light under the bucket. It’s time for drastic action. Instead of the usual military revolt, it was time to show the pagans what the true God was really like, not by fighting and violence but by loving ones enemies, turning the other cheek, going the second mile. That is the challenge which Jesus issues in his series of teachings that we call the “sermon on the mount.””
I will come back to this quote at a later time, for a while think on it, give your opinions and thoughts; I will try to comment when I have time.

Writers Block - Part 2 - The Frustration

Hello again my patient readers. As you all know, I have been suffering from a very bad case of writers block over the last couple of weeks. This has been very very frustrating for me. I have all these ideas stuck in my little head. The good news is that I'm over the writers block. The bad news is that I have no time to write at the moment as I've been busy with work and life. I will try to get a post written this weekend - if - if I have time. I have a few quotes that have got me thinking over the last week or two that I'm going to hopefully get posted. Anyways, see you later. Hopefully by then I will have some substantial ideas written up!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Writers Block

This post is to tell you that I’m still here and still thinking. I think many times we fall into the lie that “I blog therefore I am”. In reality this is not the case. I’m suffering from a bad case of writers block. This has basically stopped me from putting any thoughts on paper for the last week. This is driven by the fact that my life has just gotten a whole lot busier and because of this I have not made blogging one of the priorities of my life. Also I have been thinking about my blogging, where should I go next, why do I blog? What do I want to achieve by blogging? These philosophical questions have been haunting me for a couple of months. Is it worth it?

I love to write, it gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to put my thoughts on paper, and will continue for the time being. I want to know how to do this. To the benefit of those who read my blog, without feeling pressure to produce or mass produce what I write. I want to be authentic, honest and questioning in how I write. Opening the way for healthy discussion that will impact peoples lives.

I have a couple of pieces that I’m thinking through about producing

- Some comments on the book of Acts – I’m reading through this book at the moment. This narrative is having a major impact on me as I can see a lot of what is going on in this narrative seems to reflect the story I am finding myself presently in with mosaic and how we are moving forward.

- The Story of the mustard seed – this came out of a word that I/we had at our last mosaic meeting – It has been impacting me in the last week as I move forward. It has been both a challenge on my heart and a source of encouragement.

- Thoughts inspired by reality tv shows – particularly “So you think you can dance” – I know I am a heathen in need of saving – I still flirt with watching “reality” TV shows – but what can you do when they are the only thing they show on TV?

I am going to go to bed now. Hopefully, tomorrow I will be totally over this bad case of writers block and I will get some good quality writing done for my real job.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Posts of Note # 3

I have been busy this week as I have started a new job (yeah at last!) so I have had less time to write blogs and surf the net (though contrary to popular opinion I do more than that all day when I am not working!).

My Brother has a long postive and humour post on his time at Parachute 2008. It gives a in-depth look at the in and outs. On another note my brother has joined the dark side again (he has XP on his Mac!)

Anyway you can find this information on his blog. I'm going to see if I can write anything of further consequence this evening, hopefully on Acts, as I've had some indepth thoughts that developed out of a awesome meeting of Mosaic people on Monday night.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Chuck Norris is too Much Even for the Power of Google

Type "Finding Chuck Norris"

Press "I'm Feeling Lucky"

Then run, really really fast!

H.T Jake Belder

Stop Look and Listen

Many a times I forget to listen. I'm a ENFP and I'm naturally excitable and can get extremely focused on dreams, cuases and ideas. I attempt to convince people that the ideas I have are the most important and most valuable for them. Some are just personally very, very important to me (Like the best way to have a coffee - its a heresy to do certain things to your coffee and I will tell them about it in no uncertain terms - i'm also a coffee snob - no star bucks for me!) but there are other ideas that I think I have some good thoughts on or things that we should be doing that I will tell you about becuase I'm excited about them. I'm naturally an advocate and will advocate strongly for my passions. But the issue with this is I can forget to listen, listen to the other voices that are crying out to be heard and to be listened to.

I had a good lesson in this over the last few days. Me and my younger brother Ben went up to the Wairapa for a guys day at the maslins farm. Most of those who went are probrably about five or six years my younger. I found the conversations fascinating to listen to from a vantage point. Some of the conclusions that they were coming out with sounded fairly similar to what I came out with at thier age. Others represented conclusions I had just come to now.

I just love the idealism though with teenagers. The willingness to give ideas and challenge the past preconceptions. Some of thier thoughts made me cringe and I just had to say something. Like when one of the guys said "The morning church focuses too much on mission." It was one of those moments (due to my passion for mission!) that I had to respond. But most of the time I listened.

It was great, we had some awesome conversations in the car on the way back. One on the dangers of prosperity doctrine, the bahai religion (which was short and sweet) and one conversation of buddhism. I enjoy the willingness they had to talk about different beleif systems while refering to christianity as the story beleive is the one true story of redemption, love, grace, our human condition and who God really is.

Conversation is really important to me. I need it. It gives me great stimulous. Over the last couple of years I have had some really really good conversations about spirituality and I hope to have many more over the years. I really enjoy hearing the desires of peoples hearts. I love being able to wrestle with people, share my life with them. I enjoy humbly being a prescence of Jesus in these enviroments sharing my life with people.

Listening is important too. I walked down into town yesterday. I stopped at the top of the hill and looked out upon the beautiful city that I live in. I had another moment of realisation that God has put me here for a reason, that this is when God wants me and that I've been called to be in a conversation with this city.

The importance of listening is that only then can we learn what makes the places we live beat, what is causing pain in the place we live, what causes pain to the people who live thier. We need to listen to both the dreams of those around us and the pains of those around us. Only then do we have to right to humbly respond.

I dislike the way many have come to beleive there is a culture war going on within society between "family values" or "Christian values" and secular society. Many times they have come to beleive there is no hope for society (denying the awesome power of Jesus to change the hearts of people) and closing themselves off from the lost. At worst they decide that to show that they are right, they bomb abortion clinics or treat homosexuals as unhuman through slurs and isolation. Rather than being agents of love and grace and being Jesus and bringing the message of love and forgiveness to the lost. Dialoging and sharing life as Jesus would do.

But I also find it disheartening to see the truth become less and less relevant. People who turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, work, money etc for fulfillment only to find there is no wholeness in these ventures, they find that all thier quests end in the words of the writer of ecclessiates that they are "meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

As you know I beleive that Jesus offers a new way to be human. He offers wholeness for us broken vessels. Jesus came to earth and lived among us to show love, to show a new way to live, and went to die on a cross as an ultimate act of love becoming forsaken so we could be forgiven and so we could have hope in the resurrection of the dead and receive eternal life.

Becuase of this I beleive we need to be constantly in conversation with the lost, the hungry, the lonely, the poor, and the weak. Sharing Jesus with everyone in the way we live.

So we should remember to stop look and listen to those around us.

Graces Accidental Conversation

I read this on Kingdom Grace yesterday. Its amazing what occurs when we stop and listen to those voices that are there to talk to us.

I had to go to the dentist yesterday for a regular cleaning and exam. Good news, no cavities and my blood pressure is 100/60. Most of the time was spent with the hygienist. The dentist is usually in and out in less than 5 minutes. They say nice things to me like, “You’ve got great teeth for your age.”

The patient before me was a Lutheran pastor. When I sat down, the hygienist told me that he was trying to convert her. I asked her, “From what?” and she said, “From the Catholic church.”
She went on to explain that she and her husband are both “cradle Catholics” but they have been unhappy with the new priest in town, so they haven’t been going to church and want to start going somewhere more regularly. I asked, “So you’re trying to decide if you want to be a good Lutheran or a bad Catholic?”

At this point, her hands were in my mouth. She laughed and said, “Oh well, I’m probably going to hell either way.”

Thus began an interesting one-sided conversation with only nods and “awwww”s from me. “This priest is so conservative. The last time we were there, he said that if you use birth control, you might as well not bother coming to church.”

“I am used to tuning out the priest, but my husband is pretty upset.”

“We might visit the Lutheran church, but they have closed communion. Really I shouldn’t be taking communion anyway since I haven’t been to confession.”

She went on to explain how she does confession. She said she takes an outline of the ten commandments and lists her sins in the appropriate category and makes subcategories so she doesn’t miss any. She said one priest laughed when he saw her outline.

“All of the Catholics taking communion can’t be going to confession. If they were, the confession hours would be a lot longer than they are.”

“I guess the Lutherans just shoot their confessions straight up to God.”

“Our daughter has been learning bible stories at her preschool. But I am afraid we are dropping the ball at home. Since we are “cradle Catholics” we don’t know anything about our religion. We haven’t ever paid attention.”

“The other day, one of my patients told me he has a new Bible, and it is written in plain, everyday language. Can you believe that?! I thought they were all like the one I have, full of thee’s and thou’s. I called him at home and asked him about it and ordered one for myself on Amazon.”

“I haven’t decided yet what to give up for lent.”

“Time for fluoride. Okay, bite down gently on this and hold your mouth closed.”

It was ironic to me to run into this great spiritual conversation and literally not get to say a word. In less than a half hour she hit on the topics of church, liturgy, scripture, baptism, communion, sin, and eternity, all with a serious curiosity about what role God plays in a person’s life. It was fascinating listening. I am not sure what I would have said, given the chance, but in this case, I had no choice except to be a good listener.

I think its really important to listen, and be willing to humbly posture in a spirit of love. Only then will we truly learn, grow and develop. Only then can we get to the heart of where people are really at.