always take the weather with you

23 July, 2006
I had lunch with friends today down at the local food court. As we were chatting this amazing storm came in, we had heavy rain and hail, and lighting and thunder, the works. Check out those clouds.

We went outside to watch/listen to it, and I think I’m fairly safe in saying that this was a storm to rival The Great Storm of ’04 that came in over the Darwin Wharf. It was great!

This has been a good week all round really. I’ve had lots of late nights catching up with friends, and even got the lawns done at the folks again.

I’ve had a great week with God too. I’m really enjoying the freedom that has come with taking a step back from ‘going to church’ and concentrating on being his kid. Basically I’ve been getting to know Him all over again within what seems like a whole new context. All the ‘shoulds’ and ‘have tos’ have been taken out of the equation. I no longer ‘have to’ do anything, and there’s no kicking myself over things I ‘should’ have done.

It’s fantastic! It’s freedom, and much like today’s storm, it’s refreshing!

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and to think, he made the cows!

19 July, 2006
I’m heading off to New Zealand in 10 more sleeps. Going skiing with some friends for the week. I’m very excited! This’ll most likely be my last holiday (vacation for my North American friends) for quite some time so I’m determined to make the most of it. Slopes of Queenstown look out!

I remember the first holiday I went on. It was down to Philip Island with my mum. I was 3. I remember being totally excited by the cows. Yup cows. I remember sitting by the window on a stool and watching them and was totally amazed that these cows could tell the time!!! A feat totally out of my reach! Yet the cows could do it. Amazing. They knew exactly when to head up to the shed for milking, twice a day. Mum & I were down there for 3 days, and those cows didn’t miss a beat. Morning and night.

My second holiday was when I was 8. My Mum, Dad, brother and I drove up to Queensland and we stayed with my Nan & Pop at Hervey Bay (they took their caravan up there every summer). Early in the mornings Pop would go out on the pier and fish, and he would always bring back a catch for Nan to cook up. My Pop was like the cows, he too was amazing. There wasn’t a thing that Pop did that I wasn’t impressed with. He knew how to do EVERYTHING (and if he didn’t, he’d ask Nan and she’d tell him)!

On this trip I also learnt about soldier crabs and remember chasing them all over the beach as they burried themselves in the sand, clever little creatures. It was great.

Tonight (many years later) I’m thinking about just how magnificent my brother Jesus is. It hit me earlier this week that I have never really embraced the concept of him being my older brother beyond mental ascent. When it ‘hit’ me, that that’s precisely what he is, that he is an older brother who is looking out for me, who will stand up for me when the bullies come around, that he has never teased me, or chastised me, or put me down, and that he is sitting next to Dad and is proud of me… to the point where he is recommending me to Him… I don’t think I’ve ever felt so [brotherly] loved.

How magnificent.


go

16 July, 2006

My parents were married in this building back in August 1967. Back then, it was owned by the Dandenong Church of Christ.

Now it’s Cornerstone, and it’s where I was tonight. It was a great night.

One of the things that I love about Cornerstone is that it’s in an old church building. I love the fact that it’s being used to serve the poor, not just for services on a Sunday.

Actually, it’s not used for traditional ‘services’ at all anymore, although on some Sundays it’s open for the people of Dandy to come in and warm up and watch a movie, and catch up with friends.

I also love that it’s not a ‘sterile’ atmosphere, but a place where people can come and relax and be themselves, and be loved.

So, one of the questions I’ve been pondering of late is the whole idea of mobilising the church. How do we move from expecting the lost to come to us, to actually ‘going’ to them (aka the ‘great commission’)?

How do we transfer the task of preaching the good news, from the ‘professional Christians’ (ie, those that get paid to do it), to the general populous of those who call themselves followers of Christ?

What’s made us think that this gospel of Jesus’ is one of morallity and if we live moral lives people will come to know Christ?

Maybe we need a re-reformation? Or, maybe we’re waiting for persecution, or for God to destroy our ‘temples’ or perhaps another great dispersion? Something to shake us up a bit maybe?

So many questions, so little sleep.


timing

10 July, 2006

Currently Reading: Church Without Walls: Moving Beyond Traditional Boundaries
By: Jim Peterson

So, ask me what the secret of my comedy succes is

Hmn, this joke just doesn’t work in writing. Oh well….

So this morning I’m thinking about church, and about the fact that while every person who attends church on a Sunday interacts with unchurched people on a daily basis (or mostly I’d expect), for some reason, we’re still expecting people to come to us. What is that? Some will of course, but mostly those that do (oh I do detest christianese, but because I’m in a silly mood I’m going to use some) are “wandering sheep”. Apart from them though? Not a lot.

Anyhoo, so I go to the coffeeshop this afternoon, and what is Jim Petersen (Church Without Walls) talking about today? Well here’s a sample…

They days when we could expect the world to come to us are over. yet we try. In fact, that’s where we expend most all of our energy – trying to get the world to come to us.

No major diatribe on this tonight, just that it was an interesting thought, actually no, more than an interesting thought… profound really.

Timing.

Speaking about timing. A really cool thing happened today. I need a job, however, at the end of July I’m going to New Zealand for a week’s skiing with friends, so, I was a tad worried about applying for a job now and having to say, “by the way, I’m disappearing in a fortnight for a week’s holiday” (not a great self-selling point when applying for jobs).

Yet again, however, Dad steps in…

I recieved an email today offering me 2 weeks work. Nice. Perfect even. Makes me smile.

Timing.

Lamentations 3:22
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.
(The Message)


falling in line with Him

8 July, 2006

Acts 17:24-28
God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (NKJV)

Firstly thanks for all the feedback.

I’m hoping the last blog didn’t come across overly harsh, I certainly didn’t mean it to. I really do love Dad’s Church, and the three local churches I’ve been a part of I still love, or, more precisely, I love the people within those churches, very much. It’s the institutionalisation of what we’re about that I believe not only subtracts from our purpose, but also can undermine our efforts to bring freedom to those ‘out there’ who are unchurched and do not want to, or aren’t able to, and really shouldn’t have to, fit into the ‘christian culture’.

But more on that later!

On the lighterside…

I’m house-sitting in Dandenong for a week, and I’m more and more convinced this is where I’m supposed to be. I’ve decided to move back to Dandy rather than to the City. There’s a certain symetry to the idea, I’ve come full circle in lots of ways. It’s right. So, now I look for a job and accommodation here in Dandenong. I can’t express how excited I am by this whole process.

I’m certain Dad’s got something planned. Nice.

I went into Dandy’s CBD today, It was great. I found a nice coffeeshop and met some people and had a great coffee and read and talked to Father and the whole time I had that feeling in my tummy – that one that says, this is right, this is where you belong, this is where I want you to be. I’m sure there’s a word for that feeling, for me it’s akin to Joy… or maybe that’s what it is… Joy.

Acts 18:9-10
Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night be a vision. “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you, for I have many people in this city.” (NKJV)

And you know, I’m not in the least bit afraid. Just excited.

culture bound

1 July, 2006

Eph 4:11-16
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful schemeing. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (NIV, emphasis mine)

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV, emphasis mine)

“The contemporary church seldom focuses on equipping every believer for the ministry of revealing Christ to the people around them. This is a primary reason why the mainstream of our society, which is spirutally adrift, is beyond our reach.” (Jim Petersen, – Church Without Walls, pg 61)

So I’m sitting at the coffee shop today and reading Jim Petersen’s book, and listening to one of The God Journey podcasts (The Power of a Transformed Life), and watching the people around me and talking to Dad about where He wants me and how I’m going to be of use to Him and his Kingdom and the people around me etc. and I’ve made some decisions. *gasp!* Actually, I think it would be more accurate to say that I confirmed a decision that I made about 4 months ago, but wasn’t prepared to put it in concrete at the time because I knew I was still dealing with events of the previous 6 months.

Anyhoo, basically I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to ‘do church’ any more. I don’t want to plant another church (there are enough out there already), I don’t want to ‘go to church‘ any more, and I certainly do not want to attend/participate/be a member of ‘a church’ any more. But before you get down on your knees and start praying for me (feel free to do so at any point after I’ve clarified though – more than happy for you to talk to Dad on my behalf!), the reason I don’t want to do any of the above is that I’ve decided to ‘be the Church’.

‘Semantics!’ I hear you say (that was you wasn’t it?)! But ‘hogwash!’ I respond! Let me explain…

In my experience, even though I know that the purpose and intent of those in leadership has been to “equip the saints for works of service“, I also know that for the most part, because of the presuppositions of those within the insititutional church, it’s near impossible (not saying completely, but near on).

I’m not entirely certain of the reasons, I know that even with the best intentions of making the people the centre of what we do, for some reason, discipleship (check out Dallas Willard talking on ‘the cross and discipleship) just doesn’t ‘take’.

We run bible studies and various courses, and preach and teach and lead and invite others in, and still there appears to be an underlying assumption that ‘that’s what the pastor is paid to do’ – to pray for people, to minister to people, to be available when we want to know what the bible says on any given subject, to preach, to teach, to counsel etc. afterall, he’s the one that’s been ‘called of God’ that has done all the study, that is, in essence, the expert professional Christian.

When in reality, from what I can tell, that’s what we’re all called to be/do!

We’ve all read the ‘body’ portions within the scripture, and we’ve certainly heard various pastors preach on the importance of the body and how we’re all important, and how we all play a part, and I’m almost certain we’ve all read and/or heard of us all being ministers of reconciliation etc, and for the most part we certainly give mental ascent to these things and yet, it seems that unless we’re ‘in leadership’ within the church, then we expect that there’s nowhere for us to ‘use our gifts’.

Of course, we love it that our pastors preach this stuff, it is afterall, truth, yet, as Jim Petersen says (and I love this):

Truth is not given to increase our knowledge. It is to be lived.

So, all this brings me to the conclusion that I want to try to do this a different way. I want to do this in such a way that Jesus is the leader, he’s the one that teaches us, leads us, encourages us, and I want to walk along side others as we, together, walk out this truth. I’d also like to stay away from the natural pitfalls of being a part of an institution.

Before I finish, I’d like to clarify what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that going to church is a bad thing, I’m not saying that pastors etc are bad roles, and I’m not saying that instituational churches are not good places to go to. Without these things, I’d not be feeling equipped enough to actually try to do this differently. If you’re comitted to the process of becoming a disciple, and if you’re in a good ‘church’ with good leadership who are committed likewise, then you will become a disciple, you will impact the people around you, your life will be transformed.

My main concern is that the contemporary church has become culture bound. There are so many things that we take for granted, that are the ‘norms’ of church life, and I’m not sure how those things can be challenged when they are so ingrained in us. I’m not certain that the way we ‘do church’ and the fact that we are ‘the Church’ can be easily distinguished, and for me, at least, I think this is a necessary distinction, and one that I need to make and make clearly if I’m going to do the stuff I believe Father is asking me to.