28 February, 2003 4:30 PM
What do you think about this? Pay them and they will pray for your forgiveness and send you a certificate!
Thanks Presurfer for the link.
What do you think about this? Pay them and they will pray for your forgiveness and send you a certificate!
Thanks Presurfer for the link.
While we are talking about issues that the Church (and the world at large) has been a little too silent on...
The UN on Wednesday released a revision of its forecasted population figures. The good news is that they have revised the forecasted population in 2050 from 9.3billion to 8.9billion. Population growth is slowing which is good as far as overcrowding issues goes.
But wait - lets dig into the report a little deeper and find out WHY we have such results. I urge you to not skim over these findings, allow them to sit with you for a while today.
'About half of the 0.4 billion difference in these projected populations results from an increase in the number of projected deaths, the majority stemming from higher projected levels of HIV prevalence.'
' Over the current decade, the number of excess deaths because of AIDS among the 53 most affected countries (largely African and Asian countries) is estimated at 46 million and that figure is projected to ascend to 278 million by 2050.'
I was stunned when I read these figures on page 7, in a little and probably largely unnoticed article, in yesterdays paper.
278,000,000 people to lose their life in the next 47 years, within my lifetime, from one cause and its page 7 news! What kind of twisted priorities do we have? Why don't we hear these types of reports mentioned in church? Why is there not some major response coming from the Body of Christ? Yes efforts are being made and they are valuable - but largely they come from individuals or organisations who we give our loose change to to 'fix it'.
I wonder what the response from Church, World and Media would be if 278,000,000 people were projected to die in the West in the next 50 years?
Didn't he say something like - 'Love your neighbour as your self'....and 'Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me'?
I have been thinking a lot today about the topics that we as church choose talk about and what we seem to avoid.
It strikes me that the church at times talks a lot about issues of personal morality. Sexuality for instance is an issue that most Churches have no problem in preaching about, confronting individuals (and the world) on and defining what is right and wrong in.
However there seem to be a number of other issues that often get left out. Consumerism, Individualism, Elitism and Materialism (to name a few) are issues that in my reading of the gospel that Jesus had things to say about. They are also things that permeate our culture in the West yet which we tend to sweep under the carpet.
Just last week I heard of a church attendee who was asked not to come back to their church of 9 years because their struggle with their homosexuality had become public. The leadership of this church was quick to act on this issue - in their eyes it was a clear cut call and they felt compelled to confront. I've heard similar such tales on numerous occasions in the past few years.
However I'm yet to hear of a church where the leadership confronted an individual member on the way they spend their money. I'm yet to hear a tale where someone was asked to leave a church because in their job they made decisions which exploited or oppressed the poor. I've never heard of a church sitting down a member out of a concern for their workaholic tendencies.
Why do some parts of our life seem to be impacted by faith while others are kept separate? Why are some 'compartments' of ones life open to the church's scrutiny and comment while others are largely ignored?
Tomorrow is the last day of our intensive at college with Tom and Christine Sine.
It was interesting today in class, they did a quick tour of the world of Emerging Church and shared some of the stories of people they've met doing new and interesting things. Among their list was Jonny Baker, Steve Taylor, Karen Ward, Malcolm Hawker and Mark Pierson. I never realised my blog roll was filled with such cutting edge practioners! I feel humbled to be rubbing shoulders with you guys!!! (Of course there are some other people doing some great things in my links that Tom and Christine have yet to meet!!)
Interesting comment today from a caller on talkback radio who asked the question "Why Iraq? Are there not other regimes in the world who have committed the same 'crimes' as Iraq?"
He suggested China (to name just one) also had a non democratically elected government, had weapons of mass destruction, had an appalling human rights history and could be seen as a threat to the West.
I hadn't considered that before.
Was also interested to hear tonight that Canada had taken a different approach to the conflict to Australia. Canada seems to have made the decision to not support any strike until it has UN backing. (yep I'm a bit late with this news....its been a busy week) They seem to be proposing a middle ground approach. This is a little unusual because so often our countries are aligned in their approach - however the 'experts' on the radio tonight felt Australia has more of a need to win over the favor of the US than Canada does as we don't share any borders with our powerful allie and are less likely to have US forces come to our aid if attacked.
No I'm not talking about burning any world leaders - rather I'm talking about Exodus 3:1-12, the passage I'm preaching on this Sunday.
I've been thinking alot about this passage where Moses is confronted by God through the burning bush - and I wondered if anyone out there might want to contribute to my thinking/preparation process!? Any ideas?
Have been thinking about drawings the similarities out between the calling of Moses and the calling of us. Moses was a man whose people were in chaos. God desired to do something about the mess they were in and chose to come to their aid - through Moses.
I wonder if there is a parallel to the place we find ourselves in today - our world is in chaos - I think God sees our plight and perhaps desires to make a difference through people.
The question is, have we seen our burning bushes??
Done lots more thinking, but interested in others thoughts!?!
What could possibly take the Iraq crisis off the front and back pages of our morning paper today??? Australian sporting heroes in crisis of course!
As I shuffled past the news stand this morning on the way to my morning coffee I took a quick look at the Herald Sun to find Cathy Freeman (our number one track star — Olympic gold medallist) on the front page discussing the breakdown in her marriage. On the back page is Shane Warne (Australian Cricket star — probably one of the best in the world) who has recently returned a positive drug test for a masking agent.
The media frenzy has been ferocious around Warne's drug test results — it reminds me of the one that followed the Wayne Carey saga last year. Carey was Australian Rules Football's number one player (they called him 'the King') until he was caught having an affair with a team members wife and the media (and Australia) turned their back on him.
The fall from grace from Carey and Warne has been most interesting to watch. The media attention and the debate within the community has been at unprecedented levels.
Its got me thinking about heroes. Why is it that we elevate some people to 'god like' status and not others? Shane can bowl a great 'flipper' (a certain type of spinning delivery), Wayne can kick a football further than I can run without a coronary and Cathy — well she's fast!. But do these skills make them worthy of the worship that us Aussies give our sporting heroes?
As Australians we like to have someone to look up to — someone who comes from an ordinary places and yet is seen to do extraordinary things — someone who we can live vicariously through — someone who will distract us from our average mundane lives — and someone who we can look to as leaders and role models.
Unfortunately on the other side of the coin is that as Australians we also tend to suffer from the 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' — a national dysfunction where those that rise to hero status too quickly, or those that show some humanness are easily chopped down — sometimes harshly. One can be a hero one day but an antihero the next.
Its sad to me that on one hand we give hero status for such strange reasons and in doing so place human beings in situations where they are set up to fail and then on the other hand we are so swift to put the boot in when the inevitable failure comes.
The past two days I've spent time talking to two potential Living Room Roomies. Its been exciting to share the vision and hear where they are at. Both have indicated that they want to journey with us - this is very exciting for me, and also a real relief in many ways as I've sometimes found myself wondering what I'm doing - asking 'am I on track?', 'am I deluding myself' etc
Its great to hear that the vision I have connects with others who are also excited by the prospect of doing church in this way together.
"Based on a biblical and historical study of what Jesus ate, as well as scientific research on why these particular foods are ideal for healthy living, What Would Jesus Eat? is the ultimate program for eating well in the twenty-first century. Now, this companion cookbook helps readers to creatively and practically incorporate these foods into their own diets."
With some of these things I don't even know where to start in responding to them! I'm sure the diet is great - but 'what would Jesus eat?' as its theme? Hmmm...perhaps we should do some research into the type of sandals he wore and release a line of foot ware to cash in on it, or perhaps we could research the type of hairstyle he had and start a new trend?! Why do they slap the name of Jesus on this diet? I have nothing against dieting - but maybe it would be more accurate to describe it as a '1st Century middle eastern diet', but then again it might not have sold as many copies.
Maybe I'm being pedantic?
Was reading through Acts 27 this afternoon and thinking about the situation that Paul found himself in on a boat in a violent storm that lasted 14 days. The chaos of that situation must have been amazing. There was almost a mutiny, people couldn't bring themselves to eat and they must have lost hope of survival.
Yet Paul was able to influence and even lead in the situation despite him being a prisoner and therefore relatively powerless.
Made me think of the times we are living in - some days when I watch the news or look at the paper it seems like the violent storm we find ourselves in is almost overwhelming. The gloomy skies of war, poverty, terrorism and the rampant fear that so many have - life is chaotic. Its easy to get swept along with it all, to be overwhelmed and to loose hope.
Our world needs 'Pauls' right now. People willing to stand firm on the rocking boat. People that can make some sense of the situation and point to solutions. People that are able to encourage the world to move onwards and to have hope and people willing to help people catch glimpses of a God who desires to bring life.
Well I've been talking about moving to Moveable Type for a while now as a result of some unreliable components of my old blog and its finally happened! I'm pleased to welcome you to my new bloghome. You will notice Living Room now has its own domain name which means all kinds of exciting possibilities are just around the corner for a community site with alot more information about this new church plant which is slowly emerging. Please adjust your bookmarks and links to the new domain name.
At this point I want to make a couple of sincere thank you's to two people who have made this move possible by giving their time and energy the past few days. Regan and Rachel Cunliffe have been so generous to me that it leaves me boggled. These are two people who I've never met - yet who have taken the time to give so much. So thank you guys, I appreciate you heaps. Regan has helped with the hosting and domain name side of things while Rachel has helped with the conversion to MT.
Please don't forget to change the domain name in your bookmarks and in your links - I would hate to lose any of you as living roomies in the move. If you could promote the change in any way you can I'd appreciate it as I want to get the word out there. Thanks.
Please have patience with me while i get used to MT and shift some of my comments and links over here to the new home, there is still more work to do and more changes to come.
This morning V and I woke up to a very unusual sound. It was raining! After months...no years of very little rain today has been the first day that I can remember for quite some time where it has barely stopped raining! People all around our state are rejoicing because this is the first step towards ending one of the worst droughts this country has ever seen. It also is a step towards putting out the fires that continue to burn in the North East of our state. So far these fires have burnt uncontrollably for over 40 days and have destroyed over 1,000,000 hectares of bushland.
The only downside to this rain is that tomorrow I'm marrying a young couple in a garden wedding! Not sure how it will work, but we'll get there!
Rachel's latest post about a Christian Billboard with the reference to John 3:16 got me thinking about the whole John 3:16 phenomena. Yep - the verse that was drummed into all of us who went to church from year dot that we were told sums up the whole gospel in a nutshell. I can remember saying it over and over again before Sunday School one week in the hope that I'd be chosen to resite it for the class and get my reward (chocolate)!
Recently someone asked me why this verse was so popular - why it was chosen to sum up the whole gospel? Does it sum up the whole gospel? The more I began to think about it the more I began to wonder if perhaps we've got it all wrong! What single verse would Jesus leave with us to sum up the gospel message if he had a say in it?
Now before I continue I will say that I think Jn 3:16 is pretty good - it says a profound thing. I will also say its pretty hard to sum up something so profound as the gospel with just a few simple words. However i want to put forward an alternative verse and want to ask you to put forward yours!
The suggestion I have is that we keep Jn 3:16, but we don't go to the Gospel of John, but rather the first letter of John. Yes - 1 John 3:16. For those of you with memories like mine it says:
We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
To me this not only encapsulates what Christ did, but points us onwards to what our response should be. The call of Jesus is not simply to get people saved - it encompassed that, but it was so much more. It was (is) a call to a life of making a difference in our world, in the lives of those around us. Its a call to love. If the gospel stops with God's love for us then its only half the picture - its an incomplete gospel.
Interested in your opinion - what verse would you suggest that sums it all up?
I've added two new articles to Phuture - one from Dave Fagg entitled Prayer, Movements and Belief II and another by Darren Altclass entitled Doing it. Darrens article takes a look at Mission and challenges us to stop just thinking about it and start doing it.
There's also a new discussion forum asking why Phuture articles on worship and forms of Church are so popular and yet articles written on the topic of Mission have largely gone unnoticed!?
UPDATE - Again - if you would like to submit an article to Phuture that would engage people in thinking about issues of Church, worship, justice or mission in the age in which we live, please shoot me an email and we can talk about what scope such an article might have. I'm always looking for good articles - just let me know!
The response of some to France and Germany questioning the stance of the US call to arms against Iraq has been to set up these two websites. FranceStinks and GermanyStinks see themselves as "The All-American Answer To The 'Axis of Weasels'". They say
"The MAIN THRUST of these two sister sites is that we give you, the loyal American patriot, a chance to comment on the perfidy of our fair-weather allies in Old Europe. To do this and to see the uncensored, unvarnished feelings of other patriots, join our one unified web log or "blog" for an ongoing discussion by clicking this link. Post, comment on the posts of others, and stay tuned every day to keep track of the good fight for truth, justice, and the American way! Blog On!
The sites include photos of French and German leaders with Saddam - (they go right back to the 70's - I wonder what would happen if we went searching back through the archives as to the types of people US leaders had entertained or visited in their times - there are skeletons in all countries closets are there not?), French and German jokes, Latest News on the issue, French and German products to boycott buying and of course a shop where you can purchase the campaigns merchandise!!!
I'm a little confused as to the point of it all.... I think my words in my last post speak of what I feel on this one too.
Once again I've been accused of being Anti American in some of my postings below. Specifically 'Anon' who's email address and webpage are both 'Anon' writes:
"I am sick of your Anit-American Comments Darren. You obviously have a problem with our nation and the direction we are headed. You look for every opportunity to knock us down even though we are one of the last chances our world has at freedom. God is using our Nation to bring about peace, harmony and freedom in our world and yet you continue to question our motives! You are a short sighted, ignorant man!"
Why don't other people seem to get comments like these???
I would like to say for the record that I have no issues with America - I am not Anti America - I do not hate America. I have numerous close friends who are American - some I see on a weekly basis here in Aus, others I have met through this blog. They are all good people - I like Americans as people. I think America has given alot to the world. As a nation it has done many things to help our world. It does lead the way on many things. It is a powerful nation and in its history it has used this power for good many times!
However - whenever one is given power, one should also be held accountable for how they use that power. We can see throughout history many occassions when nations, groups and individuals have abused their power because they were not asked the tough questions, they were not held accountable or challenged when they made certain decisions.
I do not believe that America is 'Gods chosen nation' any more than any other nation or individual is. I believe we are all called to bring freedom, peace and justice to our world - America does not have a monopoly on these things. Therefore I think I have a right to ask questions of the most powerful nation of the world.
To take this freedom to question away from any individual would be to go against what I suspect most Americans would say is one their nations founding principles. Perhaps it is you Anon who is Anti American in suggesting that I keep my mouth shut!?
I think America is big and strong enough to handle being asked some questions by other nations and individuals. I think the critiques and questioning from around the world will only strengthen what America is trying to do in bringing peace and freedom to our world.
Check out Rachel's brand new design - it looks fantastic, very fresh, clean and simple yet also functional. I can only dream of having something like that for my blog and will have to enlist her brilliant design skills to manage it.
In class today Tom said something that struck me. He was talking about the challenges that the Church of today faces as we move into this new century. We got on to talking about the competitors of church. Some would say that the biggest threat is coming from Islam or other religions. He said he thought the biggest competitor was not another religion, but rather marketers who are subtly creating a new religion of consumption.
Of course there is not an international conspiracy, there is not a competitive group of marketing types out there planning ways to get rid of the church — they are just doing their job. However in reality the Consumption mentality is gradually growing and growing.
Tom quoted many interesting stats from both Australia and the US that illustrated the point. One that stays in my mind this evening was that in the US per capita income increased 95% between 1968 and 1998 — but in that time giving in churches decreased by 20%. In the same period average levels of savings have plummeted and the level of the average persons debt have sky rocketed.
Some of this can be explained perhaps by increased costs of living — housing costs — health insurance etc However I suspect its more to do with a consumption mentality that has crept into many churches as it has crept into society at large. I agree with Tom in his assertion that this is something that the church needs to address — and something we need to address fast. It is something that I think that gospel has something to say about and therefore it is something that the church should be taking a critical stand on also.
Sadly though, after a recent trip to a Christian book shop, I wonder if the church may have actually done the opposite and bought into the whole consumption thing themselves.
Looking forward to your thoughts on the last couple of days posting.
This week I'm participating in a 10 day intensive subject at college studying under guest lecturers from the US - Tom and Christine Sine. Tom is the writer of 'Mustard Seed vs McWorld' (and numerous other books) and he and Christine wrote 'Living On Purpose' (the title of the subject I'm studying). After two days I'm finding it pretty good. I have probably covered most of what we've done previously in my study with FORGE - however its good to have the lessons previously learnt confirmed by someone outside our context.
The premise of todays lectures was that as Christian leaders we need to be looking at future trends in order to be effective in producing good discipleship in our churches and communities. Its a simple and logical idea really, one which businesses and corporations generally do pretty well and one which most churches and church leaders would agree with in theory. However when it comes to practice I'm not so sure that most of us do too good a job of it.
Often as leaders we are so busy in maintaining the status quo in the present and dealing with the past that we don't have a spare moment to think about or plan for the future.
I guess we need to be balanced in this - we could go to the other extreme too and spend so much time reflecting upon future possibilities and strategising for them eventuating that we never think about the here and now.
The challenge I felt today was to spend some more time doing some discerning about the place where we live and are planting the Living Room. I've done a lot of personal observation over the past few months but will spend some time in the next couple of weeks seeking out more information from others. I actually sent an email to our local Council member requesting information - I wasn't sure about getting a response from her, but within a few hours I had a reply - she is willing to meet and talk about the opportunities and needs of our local community. She has already indicated one or two possible areas that we might be able to make contributions to some local issues. I guess its all a part of the discerning process - all part of spotting what God is up to in the neighborhood and discerning how we are to join him in it.
Just got this from my mate Yolly (ta mate)- its an email signature - but I think its probably pretty relevant for this blog too - perhaps I should attatch it to every post....
IMPORTANT: This email is intended for the use of the individual addressee(s) named above and may contain information that is confidential privileged or unsuitable for overly sensitive persons with low self-esteem, no sense of humour or irrational religious beliefs. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this email is not authorized (either explicitly or implicitly) and constitutes an irritating social faux pas. Unless the word absquatulation has been used in its correct context somewhere other than in this warning, it does not have any legal or grammatical use and may be ignored. No animals were harmed in the transmission of this email, although the kelpie next door is living on borrowed time, let me tell you. Those of you with an overwhelming fear of the unknown will be gratified to learn that there is no hidden message revealed by reading this warning backwards, so just ignore that Alert Notice from Microsoft. However, by pouring a complete circle of salt around yourself and your computer you can ensure that no harm befalls you and your pets. If you have received this email in error, please add some nutmeg and egg whites, whisk and place in a warm oven for 40 minutes.
sorry...comments still are not working....grrrrrrrrr
In surfing my regular blogs this morning I found a number that touched on the topic of war (and peace) that stimulated my thinking.
Rachel painstakingly collated all the different Peace demonstrations around the world over the weekend. I was astonished by the mass of people that got out there on the streets to make their point! Wow. It gave me some hope.
Signposts headed me in the direction of this article in the Age which reports our Prime Ministers response to the hundreds of thousands that hit the streets in our country. He doesn't believe that such demonstrations give an indication of what public opinion is.
He says, "What I'm doing here is what I think is right for Australia." This may be the case - but what is you are wrong Mr Howard? What if the 200,000 people that showed up in Melbourne last Friday night (despite it being Valentines Day) are more in touch with what is right or wrong?
Martin Roth who supports American action to remove Saddam writes about what he calls "a kind of American triumphalism, a sense that America is arrogantly asserting its right to do what it pleases, anywhere in the world."
Later he writes, "But some of President Bush's statements — like his claim that America is �the greatest nation, the most decent nation, the most compassionate nation on the face of this earth� - display a hardness, an unloving quality, even when, as happens, God's name is being invoked. It all sounds too — how can I put this? — too Old Testament."
And then further on, "But the message of Jesus involves much more. Humility, for example. And repentance. My friends, not to mention myself and — I suspect — many, many others around the world would be encouraged were we to see America humbly repent: for its past arming of Saddam Hussein; for its profligate use of oil; for paying billions of dollars to Israel as that country expanded its settlements; for unyielding support of despots in the Middle East and elsewhere."
Whilst Martin comes to a different end point to me (a blessing for George Bush and his troops as they enter into this war) I find his comments insightful.
Lectio Divina is an ancient monastic method of reading the Scriptures. Latin for 'Divine Reading' or 'Praying the Scriptures', Lectio Divina is a quiet and contemplative way of coming to Gods Word in which the participant allows the rhythm of Scripture to wash over them as they meditate upon the passage.
There is no one way to do it - I'm sure there as are many versions as their are people using it - but I'll post here the way I've written it up for my community to use. We've done it from time to time as individuals, in small groups and even a few times in groups of up to 200! (although it obviously has to be adapted) I've written it up as follows - feel free to take it or leave it...
1 - Stop/Relax/Connect with God. - Calm your body. Concentrate on some slow breathing - try to clear your mind of the busyness of life and your day. Simply call out to God - ask for him to touch you as you pray.
2 - Scripture Reading 1 - read the passage you've chosen twice. Read the Scripture slowly. Allow its words to wash over and sink into your consciousness as you become familiar with the passage. Don't try to interpret it or understand it. Picture and even enter the scene, watch and interact with the characters. Listen for words that catch your attention, when they do, savor them, toss them around in your mind. In the silence that follows the reading meditate upon what you have heard, let the verses begin to stir up memories, thoughts or ideas as they come. If a word/s or phrase/s from the passage strikes you say it out loud or write it down - don't embellish or explain it.
3 - Scripture Reading 2 - read twice more. As you read the Scripture again, continue to allow it to wash over you. Let its rhythm and repetition flow. In the silence that follows continue to enter into and engage with the scene and the authors words. What theme/s emerge for you? How do you and your experience connect with what is being read? What is Christ speaking to you at this time? Write in a sentence the theme that you feel God is speaking to you through the text.
Make note of any action that you feel God is leading you to.
When you feel comfortable ending your time, thank God for interacting with you ? pray about any other issues that you may have on your heart.
Spent an couple of hours with a group of young Chinese Australians (or is that Australian Chinese?) this afternoon in preparation for a camp of theirs which I'm speaking at the weekend before Easter. They are a great bunch and I'm looking forward to doings some studies with them.
We're looking at the theme of 'getting real' which has alot of scope for some fun but also some challenges. Its nice to be able to speak on this topic as I've done so on a number of times now and really enjoy watching it evolve each time I do it.
Its interesting that on the Enneagram test (mentioned alot last week on this blog!!!) I came up as the 'individualist' which has the characteristic of Artistic/Creative. When I first heard this a couple of years ago when I first did the test I was a little confused as I'd never been good at artistic stuff. However I now realise that my outlet for my creativity is in my speaking/communication. To craft a sermon or a talk or a series of talks is one of my favorite things to do in the world! I love it - it energises me so much.
One of the worries I had in leaving DCCC to start Living Room was that the preaching element of what I do would dry up because we'd be doing more small group/discussion group type activities than your traditional Sunday service. However the engagements to speak around the state have started to arrive which will enable me to continue to explore this area - very exciting.
Sorry about my comments, unfortunately Haloscan seem to be doing work on their server....again....seems to be happening every day now. Will try to work something out.
Check out Signposts for a first hand report on the peace rally in Melbourne last night that attracted between 100000-200000 people and which made V late for our Valentines dinner! (I figure it was for a worthy cause that her tram was delayed)
Well the day finally came yesterday in the midst of much craziness at work where I picked up my new ibook. I am really pleased so far with the little sucker - I went for the 12.1inch one with a combo drive - I think we'll get along fine - although I think it needs a name. Any suggestions? There will be a prize for the winning suggestion - don't get your hopes up though cause I still havn't worked out what it will be. But suggest away.
Anyway - its nice to have a computer that works - I guess now all I need to do is work out how to use OSX - I'm a newbie to the whole Mac thing - learning something new every day...hour...10minutes.
Unfortunately as I said hello to the new computer I also had to say goodbye to my little mobile phone. Last night V and I went out for dinner and somewhere along the way my little nokia 8210 hitched a ride with someone or something else. I suspect its in a taxi somewhere hurtling around Melbourne - so I put it on hold and after more searching and calling it without answer this morning I decided to go get a new one. Got a little T300 complete with a gimmicky little attatchable digi camera. Got it for free on the plan I was on and they didnt even charge me for a new sim card.
So its officially gadget day in the Rowse House!
Sorry to those who've had trouble with my comments today - Haloscan have been driving me nuts of late - time for a change soon....
Tried to post a comment two posts back in reaction to the conversation going on there. It wouldnt let me post a comment so I'll do it for all to see...
Sorry that you seem to have been hurt in this conversation Laura - I suspect a number of people have been and I would encourage us all to attempt to continue the conversation going with Graceful dialogue as our intention.
I've appreciated most of the comments made on this topic have been made in that vain - however worry when we write one anothers comments and opinions off as invalid without trying to see the others point of view.
Yes - do hold an opinion - argue it - tell us all your point of view but don't write others off or make accusations or assumptions about what they think or believe without a little grace. Rather ask them a question, make a suggestion and encourage them to think about something.
As far as I know none of us are experts in international relations, none of us have had conversations with our worlds leaders on the topic and all of us are trying to work through this international conflict from our own perspective's, through our own pain, from our own viewpoint in the world and in our own time. I know this is where I'm coming from and this is the type of atmosphere I'm trying to create on this blog. The day I realise this blog is not about bringing life to its readers and the world is the day I'm out.
Please continue to discuss the issue, I'm happy to provide a space for us to work through this, to learn from and understand one another and to pray about this.
Sorry - feel strongly that we maybe need to refocus at tad... and by 'we' I mean me too...blog on
After logging on this morning to see the debate happening in the comments of the last post and to read Rachels latest post and the one Josh put up last night - I guess I feel saddened that the point in my last post was sort of missed by some.
Josh writes in my comments "C'mon Darren, that suffering is at the hands of Saddam Hussein and you know that but refuse to admit it. Removing him is the only way to truly relieve the suffering you mention here."
If one reads my previous post they will see I was not denying that Saddam is causing incredible problems in his country - that he is oppressing his people - that he is the cause behind some of those horrific statistics that I quoted. Yes I acknowledge that he is largely at fault - there would be few people in the world who wouldn't. This is why in my last paragraph (sorry, maybe I should have put it at the top and in bold instead of where most people tend not to read) I said "there are also consequences of the children of Iraq of not going to war and allowing Saddam to continue to dictate as he currently is.
The point behind my post was not to identify who is at fault, but rather to help us think through what the consequences of a War will be on those that we don't think about so much - the children.
I think its very easy when we talk about War to lose perspective on the fact that our enemy is not just one man, a dictator, an oppressor - but when we launch an attack upon him we launch an attack on an already broken nation, made up of people like you and I. We launch an attack upon men, women and children who breathe and who bleed just like we do. In the midst of the media frenzy its easy to lose sight of the humanity of the people of Iraq. This report looks at the impact of a war upon these people.
I understand that the plan is to minimise civilian casualties - I appreciate that that is the hope and desire of Bush - however my previous observations of war are that no matter how hard to try to minimise these things that the innocent die and suffer- usually in incredible numbers. This happens in two ways, firstly as a direct result of the weaponry used and secondly because of disruption of essential services, displacement etc.
Heath writes in my comments " Personally I'm not so concerned about some Muslim kid dying if it means freedom for the rest of the world."
I want to apologise to my Moslem friends who read this blog for this comment, I'm offended by it too. Heath, I don't know whether you ended up on my site through Christian links or not - I don't know your background as your email address is either a broken link, fake or you are not replying so I'll reply here - however I want to say to you that as a Christian I follow a guy called Jesus who gave me a pattern to live. He said things like 'whatever you do to the least of these you do to me' and 'to enter the kingdom of God you must do it like a child'. He also hung out with the ostracised, people from other cultures and other belief systems from time to time. He ate with them (a powerful symbol of unconditional acceptance in his time and culture), he touched them and he loved them. The pattern I see him establishing for me was to align himself with the powerless, the insignificant (in the eyes of the world) and those that could not defend themselves. This is what I guess I was attempting to do with my last post.
I acknowledge again that this is not a simple issue - however again I ask us to consider the 'them' as we debate war from the relative safety of our comfortable homes many miles away from those that will be directly impacted in horrific ways by the war that threatens to disrupt their lives again.
After chewing over another very stimulating post on Rachel's Journal today (read it!) where she asks the confronting question - "I ask, will the war on Iraq relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people, or add to it?" and after following the link from Mike in her comments section to this page entitled War Child Canada I read the following findings from the executive summary of a report on the impact on the 13 million children of Iraq of a new war. (for more comprehensive discussion on these findings read the full report on this page)
Key Findings of Our Common Responsibility: The Impact of a New War on Iraqi Children:
- Iraqi children are even more vulnerable now than they were in 1990, before the 1991 Gulf War.
- 16 million Iraqi civilians are 100 percent dependent on government distributed food rations. If war breaks out, this distribution system will be disrupted, leading to food shortages, malnutrition and possibly starvation.
- There is only an estimated one month's supply of food in Iraq. If war occurs, food imports will be disrupted.
- Approximately 500,000 Iraqi children are acutely malnourished or underweight. These children are particularly vulnerable to disease and death should war occur.
- The health care system is worn down and only a fraction of its pre-1991 state. The UN estimates that hospitals and clinics will run out of medicines within 3-4 weeks of a conflict.
- The death rate of children under 5 years of age is already 2.5 times greater than it was in 1990. Most children (70%) die of diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases. This greater vulnerability means greater illness and death under conflict circumstances.
- Iraq's water and sanitation systems are in bad need of repair following 12 years of sanctions. 500,000 metric tons of raw sewage is dumped into fresh water bodies each day. Only 60% of Iraqis have access to fresh (potable) water. Further disruption to these services, as occurred during the 1991 Gulf War, would be catastrophic for Iraqi children.
- The UN estimates that a war could lead to more than 1.4 million refugees and as many as 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).
- Iraqi children are already badly traumatised by 12 years of economic sanctions. With war looming, Iraqi children are fearful, anxious and depressed. Many have nightmares. And 40 percent do not think that life is worth living. (did you get that....40% DO NOT THINK THAT LIFE IS WORTH LIVING!)
- The United Nations estimates that, in the event of war, as many as 500,000 persons could require emergency medical treatment.
- The level of emergency preparedness is currently very low. It will not be enough to respond to the expected humanitarian emergency.
In summary, a new war in Iraq would be catastrophic to Iraq's 13 million children, already highly vulnerable due to prolonged economic sanctions. Iraqi children are at grave risk of starvation, disease, death and psychological trauma.
The International Study Team is forecasting, should war occur, a grave humanitarian disaster. While it is impossible to predict both the nature of any war and the number of expected deaths and injuries, casualties among children will be in the thousands, probably the tens of thousands, and possibly in the hundreds of thousands.
I do understand that this whole situation is complicated - there are also consequences of the children of Iraq of not going to war and allowing Saddam to continue to dictate as he currently is. But I did find this report very helpful at putting a human face on Iraq people. We need to be reminded of the consequences of war, not only upon ourselves and our own nations, but also on the 'enemy' on the other end of our missiles. I encourage you to take the time to read this full article and let it sit with you a while. I'd be interested to hear your reactions...
First Place writes in its promotion - "First Place is a Christ-centered health program for men and women of all ages. Using a support system that incorporates Bible study, scripture memorization, prayer, and balanced eating and exercise plans, FirstPlace provides the opportunity to change your life not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well."
Is this another example of putting the 'Christian' lable on a product, service or commercial business to increase one's sales? See my critique of the "Christian" Paintball Park to get the drift of what I'm talking about....or is this different???
This afternoon I went into the city of Melbourne to make a long awaited purchase of a new ibook computer. The wait was over - or so I thought - the time had come for my computing hardware to move into the new millenium.
I have not been in the cbd much of late - I guess I've not had much need to go.
I had lunch with V first which was a nice treat after a week where we've not had alot of time together. She was happy to see me and I her - nice.
Then I went to get the computer only to find that despite being told earlier in the day that they had stock that they did not. There would be a few hours wait until they were able to rustle one up.
So I was alone in the city with a few hours to spare and I decided to wander around, grab a coffee and see the latest sights. Things have changed in Melbourne of late - I noticed quite a few changes.
Firstly we have a new centre piece - Federation Square (pictured right)- a whole city block that has been reshaped with some what modern architecture, cafes, museum space and miscellanous other nooks and crannies. Interesting place although it cost something like $300million more than was budgeted....I shudder at the thought of the waste...
Secondly there were tourists everywhere! Backpackers - tour buses - people from all nations. Many from Asia, but also alot of Europe and the US. Its a great time of year to come to Melbourne I guess, great weather and it is a beautiful city. (free plug for the Aussie tourist Industry!)
Thirdly I was disappointed to find alot of sidewalk sellers of all kinds of description. I was approached by four charities (from 'save the children' to 'amnesty' to 'greenpeace'), two football clubs selling raffles, two religious groups (both of whom were concerned that I wasn't really saved despite me being a endorsed minister of religion with two major denomination), two mobile phone companies, one jewelry company and one guy trying to drum up business for the local topless bar. I found the whole experience more stressful than anything, I might have to get a T-shirt that says "I gave at the office" for my next trip.
Of course that next trip might be sooner than expected as after three hours of wandering I got a call from the Apple shop saying the ibook was still out of stock and that I should come back either tomorrow or Monday to pick it up.
This morning I encountered the divine in a simple way.
I met for the first time with the local baptist ministers here in the inner north of Melbourne. Just four of us. We talked about how things were going for each of us, planned a couple of things and then went in the chapel to pray. It was very different to what I'm used to in that the prayers were largely read - they were simple - they related to real life and in a very beautiful way I felt that through them I went very deeply into the presence of God in a way I could almost feel.
I realised while I was there that is was something I'd not been fostering as much lately - it was a very peaceful experience and one that made me felt not only connected to God but to the others in the team. I came away with energy and motivation that had been lacking earlier.
Last night I was able to conclude another part of my work at DCCC. For the past 2.5 years I've been co-ordinating the Young Adults Ministry there. They are an amazing bunch of people (mainly girls for some reason). Many of them have become really good friends - I've seen alot of them grow heaps too. Great people. Last night we launched the new years small groups which was my final task in that role. Now they are on their own as the church has not yet appointed a ministry team member to work with them. It was a strange feeling - sort of like going to the docks to see off a ship with close friends on board. There was that feeling of a mixture of excitement for them, saddness that they'll be gone and wondering how their trip will be.
Letting go can be a complex thing sometimes - I sort of feel a little like I'm breaking up with hundreds of people!
So only six or so weeks to go at DCCC - my role now is largely focused upon preaching and coordinating our evening congregational - FESTIVAL.
A southwest Missouri man requested Jesus Christ as his trial attorney during a hearing Wednesday.He was told that he in fact can have Jesus Christ as his attorney, but only one licensed to practice Missouri law will be allowed to speak for him during trial on charges he tampered with a judge. Get the full story here
My mate Diddle left a great quote in comments of the last post relating to Jesus spending time alone and then being propelled into action/mission - its so great that I want you all to see it in fact!
"No one can become an authentic Christian on a steady diet of activity. Power comes from stillness; strength comes out of solitude. Decisions that change the entire course of your life come out of the Holy of Holies, your times of stillness before God."
He found it on the wall in the offices of his Church of all places...thanks mate
Kevin was doing Lectio on Mark 1:29-39. It grabbed my attention because I did a Lectio on it last week.
The verses that particularly got my attention were 35-39 as follows: "The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. They said, "Everyone is asking for you." But he replied, "we must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too, because that is why I cam." So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and expelling demons from many people."
I've always been challenged by the way Jesus took time out to spend time alone with God. I guess what has struck me for a long time is that if JESUS - divine - Son of God! - needed to take some time to connect with his father - then how much do I need to as a broken, fallen mere mortal!
But this week as I read this passage I was drawn less to the fact that Jesus took the opportunity for such a time, but rather I was drawn to the result of this time.
Out of this inimate few hours with his Father Jesus propelled himself into his mission, into the world. Out of this time where he perhaps caught a glimpse of the heartbeat of God he seems to urgently desire to spend time with the people God's heart breaks for. He didn't sit the disciples down and teach his inner core team, he didn't send his disciples away and stay contentedly in his own little relationship with his father - he straight away was propelled into action.
I'm not sure that on those all to infrequent occassions when I do stop to spend some intimate time with the Father that the same thing happens. I fear that too often I come out of these times in my own little world, thinking my own little thoughts, largely unchanged and unwilling to let what I've just experienced impact those around me. Basically I felt convicted that I'm a bit of a navel gazer - can't get my eyes off me...
I guess to extend it to a corporate level I wonder if what most churches do Sundays would follow the pattern we see here of Jesus either? I suspect that too often services end up focusing those attending upon themselves and the church and not enough on the world we live in and our response to it. Imagine if people came out of church every week propelled into mission, propelled into relationships with their neighbors, propelled into making a difference in the world they lived.
Feeling mighty uneasy about this whole Iraq Us thing this afternoon. Ever since Powells presentation of evidence to the UN I've not felt at peace about it all - but unable to articulate it. (I'm a bit slow - have patience with me)
I guess part of my uneasyness comes down to the impression that I'm getting that most of the evidence against Iraq seems to be coming from one source, the US. They are the main investigator. In addition to this they are also the main analyser of this evidence. They are also seem to be the main nation calling for action and the country that will be the main contributor to the firepower that will come.
I guess I'm uneasy because the information we are being presented with is not really independent enough. Where is the accountability, where are the checks and balances? These are things that must be kept in place to ensure that the power that some countries have is not abused. At the moment I fear that the US is gathering itself for a war no matter what the checks and balances might say.
I'm still confused about it - still trying to put words to my fears...meanwhile today Australia's Prime Minister Howard met with President Bush for 'war talks'. He insists that no committment to war has been made by our country, no promises have been made to Bush - no matter what the leaked papers from the governments offices might say to the contrary. It also seems that Bush is pretty convinced that we're 'in'. After an hour of talks between the two Bush was asked today whether he felt confident Australia would join the US in the conflict - he said 'yes I do'. Howard sitting next to him looked rather uncomfy after weeks of saying no decision has been made.
God help us.
Received some critical email today from a number of people about a very old post (one of my first) - a story about the day I visited the local Mosque. It looks like the post has been passed around a group of Christians who despises Moslems - a comment was left at the post that will give you an idea of what was said - I've had to edit it.
I won't quote the email - it was not productive - actually it was quite inflammatory - however it concerns me and confuses me that people can twist the gospel message of Jesus - the one who constantly crossed barriers and borders - the one who constantly surprises those watching him by touching the untouchable - the one who eats with the 'unholy'. How can anyone read and accept the story of Jesus and still have such hatred for a fellow human being from another culture or religion?
It saddens me that such hatred emanates from those that call themselves Christ's Body. How it must sadden him to look at his body and to see what comes from it sometimes. Can you imagine looking down at your own body and seeing it do the exact opposite of what you passionately stand for? To look at your feet do something that sickens you to the core - to look at your mouth and see it speaking words that go directly against the words you wish it would speak - to see your hands inflict hurt upon someone that you love with everything within you! To see your own body doing these things of its own accord and be helpless to stop it? Is this what we do to Jesus?
That is the picture that I got this afternoon as I read these emails - my stomach turned - my heart broke and I realized that maybe I'm probably part of the problem. What are we doing???
It is difficult for those who are inside. The only way they have ever entered the church is through the door. They have been using doors their whole lives and never had a single problem with them. Many of them refuse to believe that it is the door that is the problem. How can something which has been perfectly serviceable for generations now be a barrier?! It doesn't make sense.
If only there were some other way to enter. If only the windows were left open, if an underground tunnel were connected, if a skylight were easily accessible or if there was some other way to get into that building. If only a great ragged and dirty hole were cut in the side of the church for people to crawl through.
Some of the people outside have been searching for another way in. Some have had themselves shot from cannons and dropped from balloons to try to get in, but have missed the building altogether and landed somewhere else that they never intended to go.
Michael Spencer writes "I don't really know why someone thought it was necessary to do a poll to see just who were the most disliked groups in society, but the results are in. While serial killers and IRS agents still rank the highest, hot on their heels are evangelical Christians. Not Christians in general. Not Roman Catholics. Not all Christians�but evangelical Christians. Get the rest of the article here
Thanks to the Presurfer for the link.
UPDATE - Just saw that Bene also links to it...
Malcolm has succumbed to the blogging pressure and has started what promises to be a fine blog. He's another Aussie - a good thinker - a church planter...but then...I'll let him do the talking. Welcome to the blogisphere mate. Go check him out at the Missional Position
A few people have asked when I'm going to do a follow up post on my reflections upon these results. I'm a little hesitant to spend too much time on it because I'm always a bit dubious about such surveys accuracy and value - however let me share briefly my reactions. I'll do so by going through the list in order of how they were ranked.
Please forgive me for my gross generalizations, assumptions etc - I do not intend to cause offense....and I'm no expert in this....
TYPE 4 - INDIVIDUALIST - 9 BLOGGERS - I was interested to find that there seem to be alot of people out there with similar personalities to me! (this of course might be explained in a variety of ways...ie maybe all your other Individualists seem to be attracted to other likeminded people. (although it sort of goes against the grain of our personality type!)) Maybe blogging is attractive to us because it brings us the attention and feelings of uniqueness that we desire, gives us an avenue to express our creativity and individualness - or maybe its that we tend to be a little introspective at times and find it difficult to relate to people in 'real life'.....its got me thinking I admit.
TYPE 7 - ENTHUSIAST - 7 BLOGGERS - I guess this makes some sense - to be a regular good blogger does mean some dedication and enthusiasm. Also the hyperactivity mentioned in the profile could be a good thing! At least some of the bloggers listed in this section seem to fit the bill of being highly productive, with lots of energy and very enthusiastic about their blogs and their lives!
TYPE 1 - REFORMER - 6 BLOGGERS - This makes sense to me as well because Reformers tend to have strongly held ideas and blogging is the ideal place for them to be expressed. I've noticed that many blogs that I read are rational, well thought out and well argued (something I find I cannot do) - this fits with this personality type.
TYPE 5 - INVESTIGATOR - 6 BLOGGERS - Blogging is obviously an outlet for this type of personality. So much of blogging is about researching what others are saying - finding that insightful article - analyzing it and then responding. A good blogger has the knack of knowing where to find that statistic and has the ability to keep their eye on many blogs and other sources at once and still keep some perspective.
TYPE 2 - HELPER - 5 BLOGGERS - I don't need to say much more than go look at the description of this one and you'll see this evident in the bloggers listed underneath it. I've found the blogging community to be filled with such people, more than willing to help me out as I've started blogging and as I enter into the Living Room project. The support has been marvelous. I would have predicted that this personality type would have been more highly represented - perhaps it was the 2nd highest for many of you. I guess blogging gives an outlet for such people to make a difference in other peoples lives!
TYPE 9 - PEACEMAKERS - 5 BLOGGERS - Again I've noticed this trait in many other bloggers. In the midst of some of the heavy discussions of late there have been a number of bloggers that have stood in 'no mans land' and have attempted to bring reason and grace to the debate. Thank goodness this group is well represented - I can't imagine blogging sustaining any sense of community without them.
TYPE 6 - LOYALIST - 3 BLOGGERS - It surprised me a little about this group having less than 10% representation as I've felt a number of bloggers reaching out for relationship and connection. However I wonder whether MAYBE as blogging can be at times a bit of an impersonal thing (not fact to face) whether such people are actually more out in the 'real world' (don't like that term) building relationships more so with people face to face. I don't know...interested in peoples perspective.
TYPE 8 - CHALLENGER - 2 BLOGGERS - Again surprised by this ones small representation. I look at the two people who are listed in this section as fitting the bill quite nicely. (hope that doesn't offend you Bene or Phil) I think the church needs this type of person to stir the pot and make us think about how we do things. Often we ostracize such people rather than appreciate them (sometimes their views are too hard to hear...but necessary) - if we push them to the outer too much we may never address some of the issues that we face and this will be to our detriment.
TYPE 3 - ACHIEVER - 2 BLOGGERS - Why are there only two? Strange - maybe some of us have it as a 2nd or 3rd preference (this is the weakness of my analysis - too complicated to take it all into account accurately). Or maybe, just maybe, the achievers are too busy achieving to be blogging much about it. I guess at times blogging can be a very reflective process, sometimes passive even and the achiever may be frustrated by such practices...
We have every personality type covered in this sample of the blogging community. Obvious I know - but I guess I find this some what satisfying and reassuring that bloggers are not all just the same type of people feeding off one another in some sicko sort of fashion. Phew... It also backs up the experience I've had the past few months of blogging - as I get to know this virtual community I've been stunned by the variety of people that make it up. Diversity of opinion, interests, ideas, style, skills and now...personality types. To me it tells me something about our God who reflects all these things also.
so there are some of my thoughts on it (interested in yours...) - again, let not take it too seriously - in many ways its a bit of fun and shouldn't distract us from the tasks at hand. As Alan once said on someone's comments page...."Oh well, let's go change the world!!!"
UPDATE - people keep sending me their type - so I'll keep updating the stats/ranking as they come in. For a full breakdown of who says they are what see this previous post
Sadly another quality blogger has hung up his keyboard - thanks for sharing your journey Josh.
The past week has been filled with some incredible highs and lows. Its been a rather humbling week in many regards - here are some of the weeks events.
- I took another step away from my job at DCCC - the church where I've been a minister for 2.5 years. This week I went from employment of 4 days per week here to 1 day per week. Letting go is both exhilarating and daunting all wrapped into one.
- I officially began work on birthing 'Living Room'. The support from the Baptist Union of Vic kicked in. Whilst I had grand plans of recruiting new members and making connections in our suburb - I spent most of the week in the bank trying to open a simple account (impossible without a constitution, members meeting minutes etc). This got me down. I'm now realizing all the little logistical things that I had not counted on.
- 6 new people joined our prayer support team. This is amazing to me - why are people interested in what we're doing? Mainly supporters are coming from this blog - thanks to you all! The team is now approaching 40 - this blows me away somewhat!
- My home computer took a further step towards its grave and we decided we needed to purchase a laptop that would enable me to compute in my various work and study locations. Was staggered by the cost of such beasts! Started to pray about how to fund such a purchase. Investigated options of personal loans to fund it.
- A fellow blogger - out of the blue messaged me and asked 'Is there anything you guys need?' I shared the computer saga - they said they would pray about it. The next day there was an email in my inbox from this person saying that they sensed that we should wait before buying anything because God would make provision. We put our plans for a loan on hold.
- The next day we received generous financial gifts from two supporters which will cover about a fifth of the laptop. A cheque finally showed up this week for an insurance claim (from 8 months ago) that will pay for another fifth of the expense. Yesterday I was notified that we could have an interest free loan (not the 11.85% the bank would charge us) for the balance if needed.
- We were also given an anonymous donation to help us to throw a 'launch party' in the coming month for 'Living Room' in a local cafe. Also have offers of generous help in setting up of a website for 'Living Room' and emails of encouragement from around the country and globe.
- Attended a session at a Melbourne Forge intensive (on mission and church planting) run by a guy in Tasmania who is 1.5 years into a church plant remarkably similar to what we are planning. We just 'happen to be going to Tasmania' in a couple of months and will have a chance to meet the rest of his team and see what they are up to. This is so encouraging as I'm quite daunted by the task at hand.
The week leaves me feeling an incredible mixture of emotions - rather tired - but also positive. I'm unsure about many things - but am also aware that I follow a very big God who knows about where to from here....
Check out this brand new blog!!! Its called Signposts and its written by two good friends - Phil and Dan. They are from Melbourne and are also leading a new form of church at Northern Community Church of Christ. They are really good value and I'm sure there will be some good blogging coming out of SIGNPOSTS! (can you tell I'm excited?)
1,200 US citizens were asked: "To the best of your knowledge, how many of the September 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens?"
Of those surveyed, only 17 percent knew the correct answer: that none of the hijackers were Iraqi. Forty-four percent of Americans believe that most or some of the hijackers were Iraqi; another 6 percent believe that one of the hijackers was a citizen of that most notorious node in the axis of evil. That leaves 33 percent who did not know enough to offer an answer.
Salon who originally posted these results comments: "The Bush propaganda machine has convinced Americans that Saddam and the no-longer-mentioned Osama are the same person -- and the polls prove it."
Another Christian blogger from Australia is Dave .
REFORMERS - TYPE 1 - The potential for moderation, conscience, maturity, self-discipline, and delayed gratification. Negatively, the potential for rigid self-control, impersonal perfectionism, judgmentalism, and self-righteousness.
HELPERS - TYPE 2 - The potential for other-directedness, thoughtfulness for others, genuine self-sacrifice, generosity, and nurturance. Negatively, the potential for intrusiveness, possessiveness, manipulation, and self-deception.
ACHIEVERS - TYPE 3 - The potential for ambition, self-improvement, personal excellence, professional competence, self-assurance, and social self-distinction. Negatively, the potential for pragmatic calculation, arrogant narcissism, the exploitation of others, and hostility.
INDIVIDUALISTS - TYPE 4 - The potential for intuition, artistic creativity, sensitivity, individualism, self-expression, and self-revelation. Negatively, the potential for self-absorption, self-consciousness, self-doubt, self-inhibition, and depression.
Darren - me
I took the Red Pill
INVESTIGATORS - TYPE 5 - The potential for curiosity, perceptiveness, the acquisition of knowledge, inventive originality, and technical expertise. Negatively, the potential for speculative theorizing, emotional detachment, eccentricity, social isolation, and mental projections.
LOYALISTS - TYPE 6 - The potential for emotional bonding with others, group identification, sociability, industriousness, loyalty to others, and commitment to larger efforts. Negatively, the potential for dependency, ambivalence, rebelliousness, anxiety, and inferiority feelings.
ENTHUSIASTS - TYPE 7 - The potential for enthusiasm, productivity, achievement, skill acquisition, and the desire for change and variety. Negatively, the potential for hyperactivity, superficiality, impulsiveness, excessiveness, and escapism.
CHALLENGERS - TYPE 8 - The potential for self-confidence, self-determination, self-reliance, magnanimity, and the ability to take personal initiative. Negatively, the potential for domination of others, crude insensitivity, combativeness, and ruthlessness.
PEACEMAKERS - TYPE 9 - The potential for emotional stability, acceptance, unself-consciousness, emotional and physical endurance, and creating harmony with others. Negatively, the potential for passivity, disengaged emotions and attention, neglectfulness, and mental dissociation.
To be included in these results (of this cutting edge research!!!!) do the free short test here and let me know how you came out in my comments (which seem to be sort of working again....or email me your results to make sure I get them.
I have been interacting online with a great group of young Aussie Christians the past year or so on a discussion forums site - they really get me thinking about my own journey and theology.
One of the recurring themes seems to be questions like - 'Should Christians watch TV?' or 'Should we be going to movies?' or 'should Christians go to the pub?' or 'Should we be reading Harry Potter?' or 'should we go to parties where there are the more dubious types of people and activities?' I guess in many ways these are good questions and ones that many young Christians typically ask - questions that as I grew up I asked.
What alot of these questions seem to be asking is 'how as Christians should we be interacting with our world?' and 'do we run the risk of being influenced negatively by this world if we do interact with it?'
My fear is that as Christians we often write certain spaces, people and aspects of the world we live in off as 'secular' or 'unholy'. They are places that we should not go, people we should not speak to etc because they may have a 'bad influence' on us. By inference I wonder if we are really saying that these are places where God is not present.
As I read the bible I don't meet a God who is not present in certain places. I meet a God who is working in some very unlikely ('unholy' even) characters lives. I meet a God who parties with the Tax Collector, interacts with prostitutes and touches the leper. I meet a God who is bringing the whole of creation to himself and who calls his people to join him in this task.
I was reminded at the Forge Intensive today by another Darren that Jesus said in John 5:17 'My Father never stops working, so why should I?' and then in v19 'the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does'.
Jesus looked for what his Father was already doing in the world - in the 'unholy' places and people and then he joined him in those places. God is at work on the fringes of our society as much as he is at work in the centre. He is at work as much in the local pub or movie theatre as he is in the local church.
As Darren shared today - ' the question is not whether it is ok for me to be in the pub - the question is whether it is ok if I'm NOT in the pub?!'
Yes we do need to be balanced in our thinking - we do need to be accountable when we go to the fringes and to look at our motivations. We need to evaluate our own limitations and weaknesses and to discern where God is calling us to join him. However I think it might be more 'sinful' to write of such places and people as 'unholy' than for us to actually go to them and find what God is doing there and join him in it.
It seems most of my comments disappeared last night. Two implications of this
1. If you left a comment in the past 24 hours on any topic you may want to post it again
2. Does anyone have any ideas on a more reliable comment service?
Mike is an INVESTIGATOR (type 5), so is Jadan and Laura, Paul is a PEACEMAKER (type 9), SedNobis is a REFORMER (type 1) as is Avoiding Evil, Beth came out as an ENTHUSIAST (type 7) and I was an INDIVIDUALIST (type 4). We are missing some for a full set - do the test here, let me know what you came out as...Do the free short test here.
UPDATE exciting newsBoynton is also an INDIVIDUALIST. Phew, I'm not alone. Bene is a CHALLENGER (type 8). Michael might be a PEACEMAKER (9) but then again maybe he's a HELPER (2). Richard was very helpful in providing us with his results - a HELPER (2). Ian is an Enthusiast (7). I took the Red Pill is an INDIVIDUALIST (4).
UPDATE 2 Tony is a HELPER (2), Jan is anothere INVESTIGATOR (common theme emerging) (5) although she was a REFORMER (1) the other day.....and Rich is another INDIVIDUALIST (4), Jen is a LOYALIST (6) and Rachel came out as a borderline INDIVIDUALIST (4). Christopher is a borderline ACHIEVER (3), LOYALIST (6) and PEACEMAKER (9)
I'm going to have to collate all these....
Fellow Melbournian blogger Beth posted a really interesting review (Feb 4th) on this article by Catholic Archbishop George Pell. I'm not convinced by his arguements about 'just war' - and as I finish the arguement he almost seems to be straddling the fence a little. He is happy for us Aussies to send troops to put pressure on Iraq - but wants more evidence before we start shooting. Maybe my confusion over his arguements has more to do with a lack of my mid morning caffine rush to the brain....
I'm uncomfortable with using the words of Jesus 'give Ceaser what is his' as a justification for letting our government decide whether we go to war or not without the Church really being an influence in the decision. I'm not sure how Jesus would react to this situation - but I'm not sure it would include adding another $US15billion (for starters) to the annual defence budget.
I agree with George that the final decision about these things belongs to our government - but I do think that the Church needs to speak up and be a part of the debate. Unfortunately 'the debate' seems to be one in hindsight as our troops are already on route to a seemingly unavoidable conflict.
1. Saudi Arabia - 1063 votes - 25.4%
2. North Korea - 603 votes - 14.4%
3. United States - 588 votes - 14.1%
4. France - 512 votes - 12.3%
5. Iraq - 481 votes- 11.5%
Of course with 6th ranking being Geraldo Rivera (350 votes - 8.4%) you've got to wonder about accuracy of such polls...
The thing I like the Enneagram over others is that it gives you areas to work on. It tells you how you are at your best and at your worst - but also gives hints at the types of people you should try to be around and how they will influence you. I've found it to be a very helpful tool. They say if as you read the descriptions of the different types that if you cringe at one - there's a good chance it could be yours....the following makes me literally squirm....
Here is the first paragraph description of my Type -
The introspective, romantic type. Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: Profoundly creative, expressing the personal and the universal, possibly in a work of art. Inspired, self-renewing and regenerating: able to transform all their experiences into something valuable: self-creative.
At their worst....well I'll let you read the description at the site....I'd squirm too much...What type are you??? I wonder if us bloggers all are a certain type of person??? Would be interesting to do some analysis of the type of person bloggers are - and what type of blogs the different bloggers produce!
Jordon Cooper looks like he's reinventing. Good luck with it mate.
UPDATE - and he's back with a more refined and refocused version. Glad to have you back Jordon!
There is some interesting discussion going on in the discussion forum after this book review I wrote over at Phuture.
Greg writes - "I'm a part of a large and growing Melbourne church - you might even call it a Megachurch - and we are growing at a much faster rate than what you said. Every week we have new people looking for a new church coming to our services.We are having to do more building projects just to fit everyone in. In comparison I know of 5 or 6 smaller churches in the same area who are shrinking and who probably will close in the next few years! Almost seems directly opposite to your statistics."
Darls writes - "It would be interesting to see what the correlation is between your churches growth and the churches around you shrinking! Perhaps there is a direct and sad link - perhaps the reason that your church is growing is that it is killing off the churches aroud you. This what I've seen time and time again - I think its really unfortunate - some of the mega churches around the place have a lot to answer for!"
Join the conversation here...
Just emailed out my first prayer newsletter - if you didn't recieve one but would like to - shoot me an email today.
This morning as I drove to church I heard the news on the radio of this event. My first reaction was of horror as I thought of the circumstances that those on board the shuttle must have faced and then of the grief that their friends and family must be feeling. How heart breaking it is to lose a loved one. My sympathy goes to the friends and family of the American, Indian and Israeli astronauts lost in this terrible event.
As the day has progressed I've looked at the many many blog entries that have been written about this tragedy. As a relatively new person to the blogging scene - I realised that I'd never seen a blogging response to a disaster before. I have been amazed by the minute by minute entries of many - updating their readers on the latest reports, expert opinions etc on the situation. Its amazing stuff to see such comprehensive reporting so quickly. Some of my fellow Christian bloggers have even notified readers that they intend to post about nothing else but the shuttle tragedy for the next few days.
As I've read I've been amazed and impressed - but I can also not help but feel a little disturbed by the frenzy that seems to be happening - both in blogging, the wider media and even in conversations that I've had with friends at church this morning. This disaster is on everyones lips - its on the front pages - its the lead story. I think its a subject worth reporting, worth talking about - but I have to ask - why do some stories seem to generate so much attention while others do not?
Four terrible accidents involving similar amounts of people passing away as their vehicles were destroyed. In each situation families are left grieving - investigations are underway - countries mourn.
Each one has been reported here in Australia to different degrees - but I suspect only one will be remembered globally in 12 months time. I suspect that in only one case the names of each person killed will be broadcast on news reports around the world.
There are probably no easy answers to my question of why the death of some seem to go largely unnoticed while some gather so much attention - I don't know myself. I'm not saying we should not talk about the shuttle disaster - we should report it, mourn the loss, support the families and talk about the lessons that are learnt. But I guess I would also like to encourage us all to keep some perspective as we reflect upon this sad event and to allow our eyes to see the other tragedies that happen each day around our world.
I find myself feeling a little low this 1st day of Feb. So I'm posting a story that I tell when I speak in churches or schools - its a story of an event that impacted my life incredibly - in fact it was an event that I credit with turning my life around. Its also a story that brings a smile to my face. I hope you enjoy it...
I entered the cafe in the hope of finding a small quiet place to sit, relax and read whilst enjoying a cappuccino. Caf�s have always been a favourite place for me. Not only do they give a place to escape the busyness of life but they meet some deep dark need within me to be cool and sophisticated. Don't ask me where it comes from, I guess deep down I'm a yuppie at heart!
I stood at the counter waiting to order when I heard my name being quietly called. "Darren....Darren" At first I thought it was my imagination and ignored the impulse to see from where it emanated. However it persisted. A small pleading voice coming from the end of the counter. Looking around to see if anyone had noticed and to check no one was watching me ( I had to keep up the 'cool' front!) I stole a quick glance in the direction of the calling.
Anyone else would have seen nothing out of the ordinary, but to me it was obvious from where the voice came. There at the end of the counter stood the one that now had me mesmerised. My heart leapt as I moved forwards, captivated by the beauty.
Encased in a glass cabinet was the biggest, richest, moist looking dark chocolate mud cake that I'd ever seen! It took everything within me to stop from regressing to a primitive neanderthal state as I stood there gaping at this work of art before me. This was no ordinary cake.
Mud cake and I go way back. We are one. Where there is mud cake there is Darren. I had to possess this cake. I was an integral part of its destiny. It was as if I had found a long hoped for soul mate. I was going internally berserk. The excitement was huge, yet I contained it. One must be sophisticated after all.
I ordered my mud cake and cappuccino and found a table by the window, barely able to hide my excitement.
I waited. The hustle and bustle of the caf� went unnoticed as I strained to see if the waiter was on his way. After what seemed like an eternity he appeared before, me cappuccino and cake in hand. He placed it before me with a wry smile on his face. It was better than I'd expected. The wedge of cake before me was massive, bigger by far than any I'd seen or hope to receive again. Not only was it big, it was accompanied by a generous serving of fluffy whipped cream.
I waited for the waiter's retreat, all the time trying to seem aloof and unaffected by the splendour before me. I had to remain 'cool'. He was gone, the time had come.
With trembling hand I took the small fork I found along side the cake and gently sliced a small, moist sliver of chocolate delight, dipped it in the cream and lifted it to my lips.
I've always considered my taste buds to be pets, some say a dog is mans best friend, I beg to differ. They were in for a treat! They leapt with excitement and showed their appreciation with a flood of pleasure filling my mouth and radiating into my body. This was sensational!
The fork followed the same path time and time again, not too fast, one did not want to draw too much attention to oneself. I had an image to protect here!
It was after the initial waves of euphoria began to subside that I began to realise that my restraint in partaking of my mud cake was a wise move. I was not alone in my part of the cafe. The table directly in front of me was occupied. There before me sat two people. the elder of the two was a woman, probably in her early thirties. Beside her sat a young girl, probably around three, blond, extremely cute, wearing a little pink frock and visibly excited.
You know how children are when they are excited, they fidget, they look around, they pull at the sleeve of adults around them and they bounce. Boy oh boy was this lil girl bouncing! Something very, very cool was about to happen.
The bouncing began to increase in ferocity with the approach of the waiter, he came it seemed, bearing the object of this little girls desires. A latte and piece of carrot cake was placed before the woman. The milkshake placed before the little girl was largely ignored as she strained, on her knees now, to see what else the waiter had for her. There it was. The little girls eyes widened in shock as before her was placed another piece of Mud cake. She was soooo excited!
It was the same sized piece as the one that had been put before me just minutes before, but in front of this tiny girl it seemed huge, it was bigger than her head! The whipped cream alone would have filled both her cupped hands and not only that, but much to my jealous disgust she had two scoops of vanilla ice cream on the side!
Electricity now seemed to be passing through this young child as she surveyed the enormous pile of cake, cream and ice cream before her. Held back momentarily by her mother until the waiter had left them alone the anticipation grew. I knew what was to come, I had just been there, this girl was about to be in heaven!
I could not take my eyes of this picture. The moment had come. As I continued to nibble at my cake, trying so hard to control my excitement for fear of seeming uncool I watched this child DEVOUR her cake. There was no fork. Instead she reached out to this huge piece cake, dumped a handful of cream and another of ice cream on top of it and then proceeded to pick it up with both hands and shove as much of it into her mouth as possible in one go! It was not pretty. There was chocolate instantaneously spread across her face from one side to the other, there was cream in her hair and their was saliva and goop all down her little dress. She fully entered into the experience of eating this cake, no holding back.
She had eyes only for the cake. She didn't care if she was being watched, she didn't care if she was messy, she WAS in heaven. The joy in her face was unmistakable, this was an intensely passionate moment.
As I sat there, fork in hand, nibbling at my cake I felt convicted. Personally I feel it was a 'God moment'. Like he was whispering into my ears with the picture before me.
'Darren.....you see that little girl? You see how she is going after that cake? THAT is the way I want you to go after me.'
Too often I know I go through life with a fork in hand. Trying to be cool, trying to be sophisticated, worried about how I look, concerned with what others might say and as a result nibbling at life and nibbling at faith.
That day a child gave me insight into another way of living, one I'm sure I once partook in, one I now strive to embrace. She reminded me of the words of Jesus who encouraged his followers to enter into life like a child. Kids have passion, they express themselves, they are single minded, they don't mind what others think, they are unashamed! Sometimes being a child is messy, sometimes others do gawk and point, but in the midst of it all I've found a way of life that I'd not give up for anything. It is the way of two hands and no fork!
Darren Rowse 2003