Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Dog Days are Over

I was listening today to Florance and the Machine's "The Dog Days are over." When you first hear the song the experience you get from it is that it is a celebration that something good is around corner. But when  I read the lyrics I found that the song is talking about the inverse of hope, urging the listener to run away from love as it brings hurt and pain.

No matter the meaning of the song I think one of the revolutionary crys of easter is "the dog days' are over. " A joyous cry that the captives are free. That israel is free from exile and God is establishing his kingdom. Gods kingdom is one of peace, joy and freedom. Gods rule will end chaos and establish shalom.

In the story of the Lion the Witch and the wardrobe is a good analogy for this. In the story the white witch is reigning over the kingdom of narnia. Her reign has led to their being  constant winter (without christmas.) Aslan enters in on the stage and the and winter begins to thaw. The power of evil over narnia is ending.

The story of the gospels is similar. With Jesus's ushering in of the kingdom we see Jesus excomunicate demons, heal the lame, give sight to the to the blind, provide food to thousands. All tell us that something was happening. That the end of winter was coming. and the cry is that "The dog days are over."

Friday, February 26, 2010


As usual with fridays, I find it pretty hard to put together a coherent sentence. Usually i've been out with mates or I am trying to need out the knots that have developed in my life through the week. Fridays are often a time for the dust to settle from the carnage.

Its been a busy week, and I feel the tiredness settling on me as I write this post, I had a few headaches today and have felt pretty lathargic through the day.

We watched lost today, its the fifth episode of the last season. I'm one of those crazy lost fans, I got past the second series and love the show. I love it for the mystery in the show. Lots of people find it too hard to watch because of the mystery I love it.

I was talking to my mates recently about the fact that I think that mystery is a gift that we can embrace or a gift we decide to ignore. I see it as part of the classic "tension" between pure rationality and pure spiritiuality. Pure spirituality has always lived in mystery, to embrace the spiritual aspect of the world is to embrace mystery (all the religious beleif systems hold on to mystery - with beleifs about the supernatural and the divine), while pure rationality beleives everything can be explained through rational thought, science etc. Max Weber, the classic german sociologist explains rationalisation as the "mastery over mystery."

The tension is shown the story of lost itself, between the Characters Jack Sheppard and John Locke. John Locke comes to the Island as a cripple and is miracourously healed by the Island. Through the story he beleives that he has a fate, and that the Island has an ultimate purpose for him. But he also struggles with doubt in his own abilities and strengths. Jack Sheppard is a surgeon, his goal is to fix people, fix problems, but he can not fix the issues in his own life. He beleives everything is explainable when he comes to the Island.

Through the story we see a constant tension between the John and Jack, with both going there own ways through the story, one to find his purpose, the other to try and define his purpose. In the story though it seems fate may be winning out and free will may not be as much of an option for jack as he first thought.

Lost is a great show as it allows you to ask questions, and go on a journey. One of the great joys with lost now is we are getting answers to the questions - but we are getting more questions and the ride continues. I love mystery, and thats my I enjoy lost.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lent 9: Sitting at a bar talking about Lent

Nearly every thursday night I hang out with mates, mates mates, aquantances, friends and get to know people over a few beverages and some food. We share jokes, stories of the past week, share general life together. I went up to the bar to ask the bar staff for a sprite, and I got asked for I.D. I was not very happy about this, and went and shared my annoyance at getting asked for I.D for a sprite and some chicken wings.

As the time went on, people around the table learned that I was doing lent, and for lent I had given up alcohol and coffee. People started asking the question, what is lent and what does it mean. I shared that lent is not always about giving up stuff, it may be about taking something on. I also tried to describe how lent is meaningful as it gives people time to reflect on life, how thier tracking. I wanted to describe how Lent can be a very freeing expereince and how it is countercultural.

I understand how foreign the idea of lent seems in our culture. People automatically assume that its difficult, and people wonder why you would make your life more difficult.

The only thing I can relate lent and other spiritual practices to is the practice of keeping your body healthy through exercise. Exercise is painful, if you want to be fit and healthy, you need to give things up (eg. time in your day, maybe unhealthy food) and take up healthy practices (eg. a regular exercise routine, healthier food choices etc.)

Spiritual practices are similar, we give up unhealthy activities (selfishness, unhealthy thoughts, resentment) and take up healthy activities (prayer, focusing on God, generosity, thankfulness.) As we pick up these healthy practices we work towards living a healthier spiritual life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lent 8 - Mornings with Mates

Each Wenesday morning, me and a group of a few mates get together for chatter and prayer. We have been doing this for about half a year now and it has been a great experience in the spiritual discipline.

Today we met at rise cafe, I was unusually late for the occassion (I am know for being habitually early to things, which comes from what I beleive is a subconcious fear for being late, but anyways that it a completely different story, which relates to echoes.) Lacey lead us in a time of reflection about where we are at. It was a good time to share our struggles, where we feel we are going in our journey with Mosaic and the state of play of the year.

Two thoughts come from this time: 1. We all need to take time out of our busy weeks to give to God, we are hopeless at silence, for allowing God speak to us. We are battered with noise.

2. What I have discovered in communities of faith, that no matter the number of meetings we hold to figure out what our priorities are for our limited time and resources, it is fruitless without allowing Gods sovereignty reign through prayer. Prayer is the act where humanity realises that we cannot do everything in the world and that its only through Gods grace that we can be agents of change in the world.

I have loved watching how God has worked through prayers over the last year. As we have prayed through the last year, we have seen Mosaic grow and take steps forward. It has been awesome.

I love journeying with Mosaic, its definitely not easy, and it definitely tests me, but the journey brings life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Dear Watson

My Dear Watson is a new project from Simon Watson, a musician who plays in the band Jonny and the Dreamboats and my mate Benn Crawford, who is doing promotions and other stuff for the band.

My Dear Watson will be putting out a song a week over the coming months. If you are a fan of good Wellington music, join the mailing list on My Dear Watson's site.

Creativity in Scarcity

We recently had a financial crisis at my flat (aka "Area 51.") Basically we were at a point where we had very little money, and had to cut down our outgoings so that flat and learn some fiscal responsiblity quickly.

I innitiated my own personal policy of doing classic "Pantry cooking". What I found fascinating, is that through the experience, it spurred my creative spirit in cooking. I went and tried out ideas, and thought about how to put flavours together to creative a tasty dish.

Some of my friends are fans of the show Project Runway. My favourite part of this show is where the designers have to design something out of a random material. I love watching the creative process (the drama that unfolds on screen) and the creations they come up with.

A couple of weeks ago, me and my mates got to Mosaic to set up the area. Due to being a little bit out of practice, we had forgotten to bring a few peices of furniture. We decided to change it up for the night and use the peices of equipment and create a environment that people enjoyed. Erwin McManus tells the a similar (and better story of how one day they found out they could not use thier building at short notice, and they had a group coming from Saddleback church to check out how Mosaic "did church." A group huddled in a corner talking through ideas. His son wanted to be involved in the think tank. What Erwin found is that Aaron, his son came alive in problem solving, creating, and innovating.

What I find amazing is humanties God given ability to create and create things which are good and pleasurable and in the end give pleasure to humanity but also show Gods character. It seems that humanity comes alive when it is given the chance to create. Creating pleasurable food for my flatmates, for example to me is is an act of service, is hospitable, and for me fun.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Canvas

I got given a canvas today, it is empty. I have a paint brush, some paint, and my dreams.

Today I was talking to my mate Benn about the need for a new project. You see, as a person, I am easily restless. I get bored pretty easily and need new things to stimulate me and get my focus. Benn is one of the great people to have in your life as he thinks strategically and can show you something that needs to be done. I find it hard often to start things, I have been given the ability to finish (I got given acheiver as one of my strengths, but for some annoying reason I was not given something like activator to help me start things.

He showed me an area where I can start helping the community and prepare some material for. The world is my canvas, I can use my passions and my strengths to paint that canvas anyway I like to help grow my community and expand its horizons.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Defrag for the soul

If you know a little about computers you will know that you are meant to defrag them every couple of months. Defrag is when you allow your computer to put the files all back in order in your hard drive and clean up the mess that you allow to accumulate when you delete, add, remove files. It gets rid of useless files and gaps and essentially makes your hard drive go alot faster.

My room is often a mess, it reflects thae fack that I lead a busy life. In my comings and goings I create piles of stuff that some time I will come back to and have a look at when it seems neccessary. This can often lead to me living a pretty chaotic life, trying to find things in the piles I have created. I actually have a lot of useful things in these piles, I just do not know where they are in the piles. When I clear these piles I find mess and clean it up but I also find things that can be reused in my life. I know in my life I need to slow down and take time out, so that I can clean up the messes. I am not well practiced at this though (I'm dispairing as I look at my room!)

The sabbath to me is a defrag time. A time created for man to slow down, take in the moment, reflect on where he is, the useful tools God has given him, and the mess that he needs to work on his life. God created sabbath as a gift for humanity. Rest is essential, it helps us recover, heal from woulds, and refocus our energies and refocus on the vision going forward.

I often don't take sabbath on sunday, I can not with the busy life I live in my community. But I have to find time to take to rest, refocus, and spend recovering and focusing on the one who created me and is making me whole.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lent - Reflection No. 4 - the journey is so much easier with fellow journeyers

My mate justin invited me out on a walk today. Its one of wellingtons many public walkways created by the council to give you an greater appreciation for this amazing city (you get to walk along the edge of a golf course in Newtown - a pleasure that would be met with five security guards and dogs in other parts of the world.:

One thing about wellington public walkways, they are not well marked at all. Me and Justin spent a number of times stopping trying to figure out where we were going. We felt that we were lost about 15 times. In many ways I do not think we would of made that trip without each other being there. If it was just me doing the walk, I would of gotten anxious about the fact that we were getting lost and taken the bus home, and Justin would of just got him self lost and no one would of being able to understand his anxious and himself even more lost. We were able to share in the beauty of the moment, and learn valuable lessons of each other on the journey.

One of my favourite stories is the story of the Lord of the Rings - for two reasons. The story of freindship between Frodo and Sam, and the story of comradery of the fellowship. The Fellowship all have a mission, that is to save middle earth from Sauron and destroy the ring. Thier mission gells them together even though they go off and fight the enemy all across middle earth. Their faith that frodo and sam will make it leads them to have hope that they can defeat Sauron.

Then there is Frodo and Sam, Frodo relys on his freind sam to get him through the hard times as he gets weighed down by the burden he carries. Sam literally carries him at the end to help them reach the final goal.

Me and Justin had a great time today, sharing stories, sharing where we are struggling in the journey. I have learned in my time in Mosaic that we need people to give us strengh on the mission we are on. Passion can bring you only part of the way, you need freinds to cheer you on, comrades to be part of the charge. While as individuals we can do great things, as communities of people, we can create movements of change, real change. Passion is fired up when we work with others.

Friday, February 19, 2010

lent is countercultural

Me and my mates went out to dinner tonight at an amazing Italian Restuarant today. What was bad for me was that I missed out on amazing wine and great coffee. As we were sitting there I felt like I was missing out.

It is interesting to limit your choice when there are array of choices. Our whole consumer driven world is driven by the fact that you have choice and freedom to make choices to enhance your happiness. We are driven by the need for instant gratification. By foregoing our choice and being self-discuplined, we are being counter-cultural in this day and age.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lent reflection no.2 - Preperation

I am flying to Tauranga as I write this reflection. Getting ready to go into two meetings that I have been preparing for about two weeks.

Preperation for me often comes with alot of anxiety, some excitement, and hope that i will achieve the goal that I have sent.

Lent is a time of preperation. The act on the cross (both Jesus' death and ressurection) represent Gods victory over the powers of sin and death.

We see in the scriptures Jesus accted seriously up to the event. In his anxiety he sweated blood asking God the father if there was another way. He prepared his disciples for the event that was to unfold in front of them through the last supper and asking Peter and John to pray with him at gasemene.

This is a season of preparation, take in the experience.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


This is my first post of reflections from the season of lent, and appropriately I want to talk about confession.

Confession to me is a form of spiritual detox. We allow bad tanons to build up in our souls. These poisons take hold and become natural. Confession is a time when we realise that these toxins are hurting our system, and we detox from them. This naturally means that the season can be painful, we have to focus on new practices and new ways of living (our 12 steps to healthy living.)

Confession has often been seen as a hard idea and a hard discipline. It can be seen as about guilt and shame. But it is essential for new life, giving up the old and living in the new. Its an important part of continuing to tune up for ourselves.

So I have confessions.

Lord I confess that I often rely on myself, my own energies rather than you.
Lord I confess that I often put myself before others and my own agenda before yours.
Lord I confess that I often let fear get the better of me, holding me back from wholeness.
Lord I confess that I often forget to listen to you and to those you surround me with.
Lord I confess that I often live out of the lie of the primacy of the individual and forget that you have made me to live a live that sacrifices my own desires for the better of others.
Lord I confess I often live in the lie of consumerism.
Lord I confess that I forget the needy, the brokenhearted and the lonely.
Lord I confess that it is only in you that I can be made whole.

hey what if you...

My buddy Justin Blass has set up a little social experiment coinciding with Lent. He is seeing what happens when he drinks a guinness a day. Now normally you would expect that a person who drinks a guinness a day will develop a beer gut. But my mate has trouble assorbing fat (he is slim as!) Anyway you can follow him here.

I'm heading out to Mosaic Community Gathering, leading a time around ash wenesday. Will blog my reflections on the day later.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lent - the beginning

For people who do not know Lent starts tomorrow. Lent is the 40 days (technically 40 days, including weekend!) leading up to up to the climax of easter. The season of easter is a time for Christians to focus on prayor, confession, giving and self - denial.

Many christians today throughout the many traditions recognise this season by giving up something (such as a particular activity, item of food) or by giving away money to people in need.

As part of this season, I will be doing three main activities.

  • I will be giving up coffee, v, and coke for 40 days;
  • I will be giving up alcohol; and
  • I will be doing blogs reflecting on the days leading up to Easter.

At this moment of time I have a bit of nervousness regarding this whole activity leading up to easter, particularly worried about what the effect of giving up coffee will be for me over the coming weeks.

Look forward to sharing reflections with you.