Church

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heart laid bare


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chalk_outline_by_arucardpl-d5rdazs

i fell for you hard, dove straight off the balcony, chalk outline on the ground of where my heart used to be…

i need to write, don’t  know where i’m going with this, normally i have an idea or i’ve put some thought into it, don’t know if i’ll even edit or publish it…

i’m just going to write.

 

they say it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all, my mind sees the truth in that… my heart would tell you to go  **** yourself – yeah, it’s a little raw right now.

falling for someone  leaves you feeling like you’ve woken from a daze, feeling alive for the first time instead of drifting through lifes haze. if love is living i haven’t been living lately, even though I’d claim love motivates me.
when i opened up my heart & gave someone unrestricted access it made me realise how cautious & guarded i am, keeping people at arm’s length or allowing them to only see certain parts of me…what i choose, what i think you can handle, maintaining the status quo because it works for me…

and when you’re with someone where you feel completely free to be who you are it makes you realise how trapped you are with others, unconsciously buried under the weight of expectation, culture, diplomacy, heritage, family, friends, the burden of leadership or influence…who you think i should be.

amongst the many things i’ve taken from lifes recent ups & downs, one is that despite the risk of pain i need to let more people in, that unless you’re free any sense of freedom is just illusion…

that love isn’t arms length but an embrace… that i cant really love without letting people in.

 

so seeing as my heart is semi-splattered on the pavement we might as well leave it there… welcome to my heart laid bare.

broken_heart_3_1680x1050

 

there’s two things i’m passionate about…

christians being christian,

and the least (the poor, marginalized, oppressed, brokenhearted).

following Jesus should be simple, Love God, Love people…

i aspire to love furiously, be recklessly generous, to challenge the bullshit (let’s call it what it is)…

disillusioned, disheartened, sometimes it gets the best of me, i fail time & time again,  sometimes i fuck up monumentally. that confident calm collected me you see, it’s smoke & mirrors, nothing to do with me. sure i know who i am, i know who i am in God… but i’m still flawed, still battle-scarred… still battling.

I struggle to find my place, i can’t buy into to the materialistic American dream or the kiwi one of chasing & trading experience. i view life as being bigger than me, that what i have is to bless others, so the God thing fits… except i don’t really  fit in a church, in which if i’m honest its dreams and aspirations don’t differ much from everyone else’s… except eternity…

and while we’re on that lets deal with it. Heaven & Hell, that’s a choice?!…

about as much freedom of choice as me pointing a gun at your head, “love me or i’ll pull the trigger”. is it really love if its coerced or it’s because of what i can do for you. when church songs are sung “we love you(God) for who you are”, the words make liars out of most of us because it’s about what we can get or avoid…

but that’s the repackaged gospel we’ve been sold, robbed of the depth of our faith the pulpit often used as a rallying cry against current events, but if we’re honest its less about smacking & gay marriage and more about maintaining the status quo… state & religion. the cry of protest you hear is more a death rattle, the last gasps as church & state are separated, winding back the clock to pre-Constantine… which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just taken 2000yrs to get there, this kingdom thing was never meant to be established through politics & power plays…

but how we live.

as much as we claim the rights to Love, if i hear another fear driven altar call – “if you walk out of here & get hit by a bus where will you go?” – i think i’ll throw myself under it.

maybe we should spend less time arguing biblical inerrancy & more on solving poverty, less time defending an entire literal reading & more on taking this literally, “love thy neighbor”.

Love God, Love people.

i’m not perfect, never claimed to be, I don’t live up to the ideals i aspire to, nor am i the solution… christianity doesn’t have all the answers cause i’ve still got questions, it wont solve your problems because i have a bunch of them.  christianity isn’t the rock stage-bright lights-popstar preacher, tugging at your heartstrings with one hand while the others in your pocket. and christianity isn’t that heterosexual male decrying the abomination of same-sex marriage to shore up his own fears & insecurities… because it’s no longer “pc” to rally against blacks & women.

God isn’t a genie in a bottle, there are no 3 wishes… even if we pray like its so. Jesus isn’t Tony Robbins – come to self-help-christ & live a life of wealth & success,  and christianity ain’t a crutch for me… well at least 97% of the time.

This faith thing isn’t blind or dumb, if anything in its simplicity it complicates things… or at least i complicate things as it challenges me.

following Jesus isn’t easy, it’s not just a sunday thing no matter how much i want it to be, constantly wanting to fit it into my compartmentalised life yet it demands all of me.

And this “Love” thing isn’t what we’ve sold it out to be, dumbed & numbed  down to “nice”. nice-jesus asks of us to be nice, friendly hellos & plastic smiles, teaching moral obligations instead of following, enslaving instead of setting free. Jesus’ love was revolutionary, look deeper into the culture & settings of all too familiar stories & see how scandalous his interactions with others were. look at our culture, settings & how we do “love” – we’re scandalous for the wrong reasons.

 

 

i guess it’s just as well nothings beyond redemption, the church, the world…

me…

we could all do with a little more it.

so here’s to pain & growth, living & learning,  the mountain highs & valley lows, the journey, to living free, letting people in, to following & stumbling on the way, to challenging the status quo, to dreaming, to hope…

and to trying to be a little bit less of a hypocrite each day.

Love God. Love people.

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light


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If church is something we are, what might that look like? Let’s take a brief tour from the beginning…

IMG_3459creating…

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earth, light, trees, man…

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lions…

IMG_3480woman…

IMG_3488Woman!

IMG_3495humankind in the image of God…

IMG_3501shiny temptation!

 

fast-forward in the story.

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God chose a couple…

IMG_3506and said he would make them into a great nation, whose decendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky…

IMG_3509they would be blessed, and be a blessing to all the world…

IMG_3512they would look after the poor,

IMG_3513the refuges,

IMG_3516and the widows…

IMG_3521they would worship God and be a light to the other nations.

 

more fast-forwarding…

IMG_3524Boom! a savior expected, arrives in an unexpected way…

he gathers a raggity group of followers.

IMG_3528 Not only does Jesus die for our salvation but shows us what salvation looks like, lived.

IMG_3532Jesus taught about Following & Love & Lordship & Salvation &  Kingdom & Gospel & Light…

IMG_3533leaving his followers with the Holy Spirit, he says GO… into all the world.

IMG_3542And if we step back & take it all in we see Image, Blessed to Bless, caring for the Poor, the Refugee, the Widow, Loving the Least, true Worship, Gospel, Salvation,

we see Love,

we see Light.

 

This is the people of God.

This is following Jesus.

This is Church.

 

This is explosive…

 

IMG_3545IMG_3547

 

 

 

 

 

but we like to compress…

 

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we like to put things in boxes…

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and if Christ says don’t hide your light under a bowl…

IMG_3561how well does it shine under a box?

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or…

IMG_3568a box-shaped building.

 

If your light only shines in a service, who even sees it?

 

Where does your Light shine?

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church


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Whether we acknowledge it or write it off as nit-picky semantics, Church Service = Church is something that’s crept into our culture, just look at our language…

are you going to church? I’ll meet you at church. Lunch will be after church. Where do you go to church?

Even the signs outside our buildings proclaim the same, “Lets do church together”, “Come to church this Sunday…”, “All are welcome to join us for church”.

people of godpeople of god2

Church is somewhere we go to, something we’re in, some place we’re at, something we do…

but what if church is something we are?

people of god3

News

news: earthquakes, churches, reflection & hope


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I’ve had the privilege of being involved with a wonderfully talented group of people in planning & launching a new church service. It’s been almost a couple of years since our City church was damaged beyond repair in the Christchurch earthquakes, here are some reflections & hopes going forward.

 

We have been sharing a church building with a Baptist church, it’s a thing of beauty. A Baptist & Vineyard church sharing facilities & sometimes services. Long may it last, I wish this would happen more.

 

Recently I was told that only two churches were remaining in the CBD as part of the rebuild plan, the rest will have to find new buildings elsewhere.  And while I share a sense of sadness for those who have been in the city for decades, I can’t help but feel a little excited.

Maybe we were guilty of hiding behind closed doors, of letting our buildings do the talking for us…

I’m excited for the possibilities & what new things may come, as we wrestle with what it means for the Church to have a presence in the city.

 

Real Church rarely happens in church. While I love that our new service is at CPIT, it will take more than location to change a culture which increasingly is content with a couple of hours on a Sunday morning being the extent of my faith.

My hope is that this service will be both a celebration of the week been & equipping, encouraging for the week to come.

That it wouldn’t be “Church”.

That it would be a service that facilitates Church happening the rest of the week.

 

 

And while I’m only a small part, it’s still a chance to get my grubby little hands in the muck & hopefully leave some fingerprints on it. Where are you leaving your fingerprints?

 

 

 

 

 

ps. I’ve also added “the author” page, so that you can know more about me… to put me in a box & dismiss my point of view 😉

poetic, Uncategorized

church abbreviated


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“good day to you fine sir” became,

“what is up”…

“what’s up” …

“sup”.

We love to shorten & compact, I guess that’s why we spend so long “unpacking” ideas, phrases & terminology.

The “church service” became “church”…

and in doing so the “The Church” became just a service… a couple of hours one day a week.

And because it was only a couple of hours a week everything about it took on immense importance, the building it was in, the people involved, the quality of the production

And because so much time, energy and resources went into those two hours it surely must mean God cared about them most… that must be why I had to put on my best clothes & be extra nice to my brother & sisters, because God cares about the church & church happens on Sundays.

Some of us earn extra credits for attending fancy churches with spiral staircases & water features, “we’re honoring God” we say, when in reality all we are doing is honoring ourselves for honoring god.. “look at me I love God three-stories-and-a-water-feature much!”

And as I am a consumer it is only fair I search for value for money, bang for my buck, what meets my needs, because if I’ve learnt anything it’s that church is about me…and as long as I turn up, pay my tithes & smile, all will be well, like a country club to appease the soul…

or is it a salve for my conscience for the things I do, the way I talk & treat people Monday through Saturday… but then I don’t really believe Monday to Saturday matters…

after all we’re called to be the church & that’s just a service on Sundays.

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a day acceptable to the Lord


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I’m certain to fail certain “christianity” tests for not choosing a Jesus/cross or judgement text but this is my favourite chapter in the Bible, it has been for a number of years, thought I’d share it with you… emphasis added to the parts that ‘pop’ for me.

 

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.
 For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
    as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —
   when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
    and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
      then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

–  Isaiah 58

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Coffee


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“There’s two kinds of people in this world, when you boil it all down. You got your Talkers and your Doers. Most people are just Talkers, all they got is talk. But when it’s all said and done… it’s the Doers who change this world, and when they do that, they change us. And that’s why we never forget them. So which one are you? Do you just talk about it? Or do you stand up and do something about it? Because believe you me, all the rest of it is just coffee house bullsh!t.”

– Roco, Boondock Saints II.

 

I love coffee cake, coffee ice cream, coffee chocolate, coffee milk shakes, the smell of coffee beans, of coffee peculating. Yet for some reason I don’t like a hot coffee, I can count on my hand the number of times a year I have a coffee.

And I can’t stand bitter coffee.

 

If ‘Pills’ was an invitation to explore faith, God & beliefs, then ‘Coffee’ is what we do with it, what this blog is or isn’t about.

 

Are you a Talker or a Doer?

I like to talk, I love to listen to people share their beliefs & how it affects their lives, I love to hear about what fires people up & gives them a hunger for life.

I hope that this blog can be a place to facilitate some great discussion.

I hope this blog facilitates more than great discussion, but leads to some doing. Because at the end of the day I can “believe” in the Easter Bunny, but if it has no impact on how I live my life what’s the point? I can believe in a God who loves the poor, yet if I don’t go out of my way to walk with the poor then what’s the point?

 

If a value or belief doesn’t lead to action, do I truly Believe it?

Or do I just like the concept.

 

 

I hope this blog doesn’t facilitate Bitter Coffee.

Bitter Coffee is generally made by people who are dissatisfied with church, sometimes they meet with like minded people over coffee, sometimes that becomes their new church, sometimes all this new church becomes is dissatisfied people sitting around drinking coffee with an air of spiritual-elitists-arrogance, getting bitter….so bitter that it permeates the coffee.

Let me just make this clear, I’m all for house churches/organic church,

I have nothing against people being dissatisfied with church, I’m one of them. I’m dissatisfied with church, yet I love the Church & I can’t stand Bitter Coffee.

 

I believe that anything can be questioned & no question is off limits. There are practices and beliefs that are facilitated within church/Christianity which just make me cringe, that I believe don’t have any place in following Jesus, but have become so ingrained in Christian culture.

My criticism/questioning of them is not to make me feel like a better person or because I think I’m a better person, but to push for change.

It’s not because I don’t care about the state of Christianity, but because I do.

 

 

In the words of Roco, I don’t have time for bitter coffee house bullsh!t,

I do have time to be a Doer.