Thursday, December 16, 2010

something I noticed

The last couple of weeks I've been working on a new version of IMMERSE where we'll have learners focus on the life and ministry of Jesus. Aside from it being an incredibly enriching experience, there's something I noticed.

The way I've chosen to trace the narrative thread of this part of God's story has been to use six key words in the progression of Jesus' story mainly from the book of Matthew:
  • BEGINNINGS (birth, baptism, test)
  • INFLUENCE (call of first diesciples, early miracles/healings, beattitudes, etc.)
  • MOVEMENT (sending of 12, then 72)
  • CONTROVERSY (flashpoints with authorities - particularly Mt 12)
  • IDENTITY (Jesus walks on water, Peter's proclamation, etc)
  • PREPARATION (upper room discourse - mainly from John)
What was of particular interest to me was the place in the story where the disciples were able to articulate who Jesus actually was (IDENTITY). This didn't happen early in the story, but later - after they'd seen, participated in, and contributed to what Jesus was doing - operating according to the Kingdom of God.

This makes me wonder about our approach to raising up disciples - whether we're preoccupied with ensuring young people are clear on the deity of Christ before we permit them to participate in the work of the kingdom (and perhaps experience the humanity of Christ).

That's not to say Jesus wasn't demonstrating His deity early in the story, but it seems like He was ok with them participating with Him before they truly "got" Him.

facebook welcomes Jesus ...

I'm on the mailing list for worship house media - i didn't mind this presentation:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The insect and the buffalo

After a number of recommendations, and then a random connection with one of the authors, I finally got it through my thick head to read this gem.

How Roshan Allpress and Andrew Shamy managed to cover the narrative of the Bible in such an engaging way in 80 pages still leaves me scratching my head, but they did it. What's more, they've written it in such a way that can awaken anyone to this story - whether they say they've heard it before or not.

If you're looking for a way to shift a worldview in the space of two hours, then the insect and the buffalo is a great offering.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bah, Humbug

So, here's a christmas observation - not a whinge, just an observation.

I'm not normally all that vocal when it comes to the Christmas season ... it's almost an intentional decision for me not to jump on the Santa-slugging bandwagon. There's plenty of folks who seem to be willing to protest our cultures' ironic ability to celebrate the Christmas season without recognizing the centrality of Jesus and all that He brings to our world.

So at the risk of riding the humbug train, I quickly noticed the advertising in our local shopping centre this morning for paytv and mobile phones ... "foxmas" and "txtmas".

Yes, it saddens me that the word doesn't have "christ" in it, but it also shows me that it's not hard to identify our culture's gods in its marketing efforts.

May we live in a way that exposes the false nature of idols and reveals the brilliance of a baby born in a stable - the true God who brings far more satisfaction than the selection of tv stations we could have, or the amount of times we can bug our friends with a text message.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

... to the coming generations ...

The young people who carry the gospel to the coming generations will be the young people who have souls. They will be people of prayer, people who know how to be renewed by the spring of God's love. They will be people of hope and humor, people humble enough (and crazy enough) to follow the voice of Jesus. They will be people who are not afraid to look and see and respond to suffering. They will be people who know how to feel - people who grieve, dance with joy, and speak out when they're angry. They will be people who enjoy the company of strangers. They will be people willing to sit and listen to those whose speech, dress, food, and even prayer are different. They will be people who crave truth, even hard truths - people who have the capacity to look at their own shadow, their faults and participation in evil.

These young souls will be people living within the Spirit of Jesus. Like Jesus, they will embody a sense of trust, freedom, and well-being, even in the midst of fear, passivity, and increasing cynicism.

Mark Yaconelli-p257,258, Growing Souls

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Good Story-Teller...

... speaks something into nothing.

Where there is an absence of story, or perhaps a bad story, a good story-teller walks in and changes reality.

He doesn't critique the existing story, or lament about his boredom, like a critic. He just tells something different and invites other people into the new story he is telling.

P232, Miller

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Story of the Forest

"But Victor Frankl whispered in my ear all the same. He said to me I was a tree in a story about a forest, and that it was arrogant of me to believe any differently. And he told me the story of the forest is better than the story of the tree."
P198 - Miller

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Story is...

"a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it"

A nice definition from Donald Miller in "a million miles in a thousand years"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

ignatius @ interchange ...

... ok, ok, the Jesuit monk isn't actually coming to Interchange, but I'm hoping to pick up on a practice he instituted with his crew back in the 1500's.

As we work on the schedule for our time together (25-28 October), I'm wanting to build in some space where we intentionally listen for the voice of God in our own lives, and in the movement of YMA.

You can read up on the "Ignatian Examen" here ... maybe in the lead up to Interchange you can build this spiritual exercise into your routine as a way of preparing for what God wants to say to us in October :)

If you're wanting to know more about Interchange - jump on the rego page now ... it's not too late to sign up!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

interchange 2010...

Things are gearing for us to be hosting YMA's national conference - INTERCHANGE (25-28 October).

Peter Barney (pictured) from Scripture Union WA will be our keynote speaker on the topic "God's Story, Our Story" ...

When I asked him "what do you hope for as you share at INTERCHANGE 2010?" here's what he said:

"I am excited about the way Youth Ministries is seeing the narrative in the Bible give life to the Christian message. I hope that at INTERCHANGE we will learn a little more about the role narrative can play in peoples lives and see how this can equip us for the mission of introducing people to Jesus and his kingdom."

I'm pretty excited by who God is gathering for INTERCHANGE this year - it's shaping up to be a rich time in the journey of YMA.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

church-planting, tall poppies and movement ...

An offshore breeze can make all the difference to a decent ocean swell. The influence that blows across the top of a wave can determine how well the wave forms up, but it means nothing without the momentum and rhythm that comes from beneath.

I came away from a seminar on church planting recently - asking myself the question ... "how much is top down, and how much is bottom up?" Sure, the influence from above is vital in delivering form, but that form means very little if there's no groundswell from below. Patience and timing are everything when it comes to facilitating movement.

As I was wrestling with this tension between the priorities of leadership development & appointment, and the analysis of culture and context, my wife drew my attention to Mark Sayers' recent blogpost. Not unusually, Sayers was helpful in bringing me to see that the Australian culture of "tall poppy syndrome" is neither unique to us, nor is it something that needs to be "overcome" for church planting movement(s) to surge in our nation. In fact, if respect for leadership is a primary block to church planting, then one wonders how the likes of Jesus and Paul were so successful 2000 years ago. (Romans and Pharisees weren't much more endearing than socialism or papal authority ...) ... it may even be that a lack of respect for authority provides some healthy compost for the movement of God's kingdom.

And so, in thumbing through Luke 10 again, I noticed some helpful thoughts in my wrestling ...
  1. Jesus DID appoint (and implicitly, equipped) 72 workers to go into the field ahead of Him ... there was influence from above to help give form to the movement of God's kingdom ...
  2. In looking for a "person of peace", the workers ARE instructed to discover where God is already at work ahead of them ... there was an expectation for the workers to work where some sort of groundswell was already emerging ...
No matter how strong the offshore breeze blows, top-down influence cannot initiate movement .. and no matter how consistantly the swell rolls in, bottom-up momentum alone will never deliver the potential it promises without being given some helpful form.

So, leadership development and appointment will be a key strategy in the harvestfield of Australia ... but so is a good read on the momentum, rhythm, and story that comes from beneath ... and a tall-poppy "ocean bed" might prove to be a magnificent asset in the telling of this story.

Friday, August 6, 2010

engaging with the world ...

I'm pretty excited about sharing with the d4thekingdom crew on the 28th of August ... their topic for the night has me doing some pondering though ...

... engaging with the world ...

when we say "world" ... what do we mean? Is it a question of pure geography ... or is it more than that? ... and if it is more than just where we are, then what does it mean to engage with it?

engage - rugby players do it in a scrum ... soldiers do it on the battle field ... lovers do it in the midst of proposal ... politicians do it in the midst of their campaign ... are these helpful pictures?

... so ... while we're at it, what do we mean by "engaging" ... and who are we expecting to be doing the engaging?

Would love to hear your thoughts ... it might help in my prep!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

change4ten ...

This morning was the fifth time we hosted a "change4ten" breakfast in our office.

Every month or so we have our team invite one or two extra folks on Wednesday morning. We gather, pay $10, eat awesome food usually provided by my wife, listen to somebody's ministry context story, pray for them, then surprise them with the change from the cost of the breakfast for their ministry.

I love it.

I love seeing folks in ministry gather without a specific "ministry agenda" ... I love hearing stories of what God's doing in people serving Him ... I love seeing them blessed and encouraged.

Another cool thing is that as we see folks gather around this event it's facilitating a great network of people with a heart for transformation.

change4ten - it's a lot of change at little cost...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

levels and dimension ...

So far, in my "conversation" with Rick McKinley in his book on the kingdom of God, I've come across some really helpful thoughts ...

One of which being his personal frustration with his (and my) default to thinking and living in "levels". You know, getting to the next level in employment, in relationships, in ministry, in life ... and with it comes all this pressure ...

Then, through a great story involving a kid in a car-wash, he introduces the thought of dimension ... check out the following quote:

"The kingdom is a dimension I acknowledge, I live in, I participate in. Yet it's never a level I achieve. It is a lot less like building the business of Christianity and a lot more like slipping into the matrix of Jesus." (p63)

I like it... for a heap of reasons. Two that come to mind ...

1. It aligns brilliantly with Matthew 11:28: "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
2. The dimension of the Kingdom provides motivation for action and discipleship that is far more sustainable than a kingdom made up of levels ... cos when do you ever get there ... really?

There's a lot more that could be written on this ... and it could be that McKinley has already done that in the remainder of his book - I'll let you know :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

what does it take ...?

Cannington Maccas is an unlikely spot for vision to be explored, life-changing possibilities to be pondered, and generational change to be initiated ... but it seems as good a place as any.

I came away from meeting with Dave, Matt and Greg with some clarity to the question we've been throwing around a bit: "What does it take to see a generation truly following Jesus?" ... I like this question for a few reasons ...

... it speaks in the present tense ...
... it implies that action will be the outcome...
... it invites vision ...
... it is specific, yet broad in it's scope (a generation) ...
... it demands authenticity ...
... it's about following someone who is worth following ...

I also like that the answer is found in the people who are asking the question ... not necessarily impressive or extraordinary people ... but people who are recognising the call of God on their lives, and how He wants to raise them up ... as they keep asking the burning question He has placed on their hearts.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Cannington Maccas fits in the impending story ...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

getting wet after church

Songkran festival happens this week in Thailand ... it's kind of a big deal as their traditional new year celebration ... we got a taste of it today after the church service.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

seth's breakfast

Yeah, so Seth is posting footage about Thai food on his facebook page ... kind of like Seth's food safari ...

He and Ryan have committed to trying something new each day ... so awesome to see how they're embracing the culture and trying things out. It's had it's moments though - like the chilli dish on the breakfast buffet yesterday morning ... let's just say things were a little more conservative at the breakfast table this morning ...

Keep at it Seth and Ryan - you inspire me!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dodging motorcycles ... smelling fish

Yesterday we visited a genuinely authentic Thai market - it's one of those "gotta be there to get it" kind of things - but here's a pic ... hopefully it awakens your senses!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

let the work speak its own praise ...

I don't know about anybody else, but I'd like to think that the work I do makes a difference ... or, at the very least, is noticed by somebody.

I guess that's why the inscription on an ancient, ornate desk displayed in the South Australian Art Gallery wouldn't leave me alone.


I didn't have the presence of mind to read up on the info published next to it (duh!) ... but as I walked away numerous questions emerged in my over-active and under-utilised brain ... Who made the desk? Who sat at it? How did it arrive to be where it is? What is the work? What is the alternative to the instruction? Who hears the praise? Who receives it? ...

The simple statement cuts to the heart of my propensity to endlessly justify and shamelessly promote the work I do ... and challenges me to allow the work I do to 'just be' ... and to trust that the outcome of that work will, in the right time and in the right way, reveal the true value of the workmanship.

It also helps me consider the work that I am, and my role in "speaking praise" ... and, whether I'm placed in a public gallery or in a small dimly-lit cubicle, my Designer's workmanship would resound with a clarity that can't be ignored.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"love is in the air" two

We had a great time on the weekend sharing stories of God's love with people interested in the work God has called us into ... about 100 folks came to lunch, and 40 to supper at "immersehq" ... check out this video as part of what we presented to folks ...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"love is in the air"

get along to our event if you can ... here's a video that was put in our church news ...

love is in the air from Trav Johnson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

nobody's creative, everyone is ...

I'm coming to realise that most of us are over-accustomed to creative elitism ... it's probably more tragic than we realise. The perceived superiority of those whom society considers "creatives" tends to smother ingenuity and originality ... I sometimes wonder whether our world is filled with people carrying all this repressed creativity ...

Why? I think it's fear. "Creatives" poo-poo everyone else's attempts to create because they fear competition .. and the rest of us fear creating because we feel we can't compete ... it needs to stop.

Maybe we think of "being creative" in an insufficient way .. kind of like it's a genre or personality type ... rather than a basic, yet beautiful, function of what it is to be a human being. Maybe being creative is a state of being human. We're designed in such a way that creating should be a natural expression of who we are ... musicians ... students ... parents ... accountants ... doctors ... art is in all of us in some form.

My hope is that more of us can overcome our fear and unblock the undiscovered flow of creativity that remains within ... realising that "nobody's creative, everyone is."

For a great definition of art, check Seth Godin's blog

Sunday, January 10, 2010

expulsive love

"If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" 1 John 2:15.

From time to time I find it difficult to not love the world ... actually, that's a gross understatement. The allure of things, relationships, and the countless means of gaining some sort of approval are all pretty hard to resist ... impossible, really ... that's how it is with idols.

When I let them in they're impossible to extract - no matter how hard I try, I can't stop thinking about them ... wanting more ... never satisfying ... it's like watering my front lawn.
Seriously, the drought and hard Adelaide clay provide a great combo for massive earthquake-like cracks in our front yard ... notsomuch watering our lawn, but the local geological fault-line ... and no matter how much water I spray on the dusty terrain, it just doesn't seem to make a difference. I keep trying, longing for some green sprouts ... but the water just seems to head for the earth's core, rather than moisten the root system ... nothing seems to satisfy it.

Imagine if there was a massive surge of groundwater and the dry, dusty landscape of my front yard was overcome with lush green grass as a result ... the never-ending nature of my appeasment of the drought is expelled by a much greater source of irrigation.

I know, it sounds completely implausable, but it helps me think about the expulsive love of God ... I heard this week that a determination to marvel at, and discover more of, the love of God is the only thing that can expel the idols I so easily attach myself to.

And it's true.