I was wrong… on two different counts.

I was wrong.

There… I’ve said it and I can’t take it back.

I have almost finished the best book I have read about relationships… Which is not a small thing to say because I’ve read quite a few.

It’s also a painful thing to say because it is a book written by someone I was prejudiced against.

I have already acknowledged that I was biased against Bethel church, so it was a bit of a shock to find such balanced, helpful and confronting words penned by one of their leadership team.

Danny Silk has written two books that I now highly recommend.

I’ve already written about the Culture of Honor, but as I now come to the end of Keep your Love on, I find that I am even more challenged.

What I have found so instructive about both books is that they paint a picture of what healthy relationships look like… in detail.

I love the training from Fusion because it is so practical… teaching people how to listen, give feedback, manage conflict and avoid dramas. Silk’s work paints a picture of how all those skills work together to create healthy culture and healthy relationships.

If I am to be honest, part of me would like to write the Bethel church off as “airy fairy” (Australian for not very grounded in reality), but these books show that the leadership of that church have been doing the hard work of naming what it means for people to actually be in healthy relationship.

As I start to acknowledge my prejudice, and announce my “discovery” of Danny Silk, I find that many people have known about him and valued his writing for many years now. Turns out i’m just slow.

The timing of discovering the books has coincided with our sermon series on Ephesians 4, where the Apostle Paul makes it clear that the whole purpose of the church is to reflect the wisdom and nature of the God in whom all things hold together.

Paul’s basic premise is that we are all created as unique, however we reflect the wisdom of God in the way we live our lives together.

As I think about it it shouldn’t really surprise me that Bethel have had to work on how to relate healthily to one another, because the more charismatic edge of the church has a strong focus on the unique gifting of God for each person… which creates a very big headache unless relationships are managed well.

So… I was wrong in my prejudice.

Last night I discovered that I have been wrong about something else, and something that has had significantly more negative impact in my life.

I haven’t been very good at keeping the right boundaries in place.. and I have sometimes named my mistakes “ministry”, and felt good about my sacrifice.

It’s not good to have to write that. Continue reading

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Every time we give someone a label we make them a stranger.

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Welcoming Sako’s family to Canada

Yesterday evening a little family of four people finished their journey from a war zone to the comparative tranquility of Edmonton.

Sako, Nairy, Nver and Anna-Maria left Lebanon earlier that day, where they had fled after seeing their city of Aleppo destroyed.

A group of about 30 of us welcomed them at the airport, which they seemed to be pleased with. Pastor Hany (centre of the photo with the white shirt) assured me that Syrian culture enjoys crowds.

For Leeanne and it was a strange experience. So many memories came flooding back. Four years ago it was our family coming through those doors. Four years ago it was us coming to a new country.

Australia and Syria are very different. Australia, like Canada is a Western, Commonwealth country. We both have a head of state that cheers for another country during the Olympics. We both speak English. The experience for our family, though, was overwhelming. Everything was different.

Four years on, Canada is starting to seem normal and Australia feels a long way away.

Sako and his family are resting today. Soon they will start a period of engaging with government departments, orienting to new ways of doing things and even learning a new language.

One of the biggest challenges they will face is that, unlike Australians who are generally welcomed with open arms by Canadians, Syrians are entering a country that is divided on whether they should even be here.

Continue reading

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It’s not in their hands – its in God’s hands

Originally posted 2012-01-07 12:27:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

I haven’t written a reflection for a few days for a couple of reasons.

The main reason is that I have been using every spare minute to try to finish my book on Kingdom Cells.. Its coming along well but still needs some work.

The other reason is that I haven’t been sure what to write about. I would love to write more reflections that are resolved and uplifting, but so often my life is anything but resolved.

I have enjoyed this first week of the year and starting a new journal, and as part of my thinking about the coming year, I have been reflecting on the Matthew chapter 5.

Today I was a bit confronted.

I know I have been in ministry for 20 years and should be starting to have a clue, but I realised today that I had fallen into a trap.

I was starting to see people who I feel hurt by as “them”, and I was blaming “them” for the place I found myself in. Continue reading

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The Nativity will never look brighter, louder or prettier than Santa, Turkey and presents.

Originally posted 2011-12-22 13:06:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Christmas Lunch at Mornington

I have an embarrassing confession to make for someone who writes a blog called “Faith Reflections”.

For much of my life, Santa has  seemed a lot more exciting than the Nativity.

I was thinking this morning about what kind of Christmas reflection I could write that would help focus the “reason for the season”.

Truth is, for many years  the “reason for the season”  seemed out of place and ordinary alongside the color, music, food and presents of Christmas.

I know a lot of people have got into the book about love languages.. I never did really, because it seemed a bit to simplistic.

I think the truth though,  is that presents do matter to me as a symbol of how I am seen and valued.

Christmas for me was about being seen, and the anticipation of Christmas day was fantastic, but the day itself was often a bit of a let down. Continue reading

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I love the heart, vision, challenge and pathway that I am seeing.

I’ve had a busy few weeks.

Two weeks ago I spent the week at my first National Assembly of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

This past week I have been at the Deepening Community conference hosted by the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement.

While I’ve been doing all this I have also been continuing to preach through Ephesians chapter four and have been processing two books by Danny Silk (Culture of Honor and Keep Your Love on) which have been challenging and inspiring.

These diverse experiences and inputs are somehow weaving together, and a picture is emerging that has me feeling both excited and daunted. Continue reading

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House of Cards vs West Wing: Life is a Battle between the Two Sides of Me

Originally posted 2013-03-08 12:33:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

I’m tired its been a big week and this morning I went out for a really nice cooked breakfast with friends. I came home to an empty house, which is not a normal thing for me, and I was faced with the question of how I would spend the morning.

ht_house_of_cards_nt_130211_wgI’ve just started watching House of Cards on Netflix and this morning I thought that before I did anything I would watch an episode. I have discovered that, although I don’t watch a lot of television, when I get onto a particular series I can be a bit compulsive. My favourite television show is the West Wing, I have seen every episode at least seven times.

House of Cards is the antithesis of West Wing. West Wing is mythical, portraying a brand of politics that is ultimately noble and committed to the greater good. House of Cards portrays a politics that is grubby and committed to self interest. At the end of an episode of the West Wing, I often felt more “together”, like somehow in watching the screenplay I had come to understand more of myself. At the end of a House of Cards episode I find myself feeling a bit more fragmented and suspicious.

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I’m interested to see the way that in House of Cards, people have to work hard to suppress their goodness in order to be in politics. I am interested to see whether, as the series develops, whether people are actually able to do that, or whether a sub plot will be the redemption of any of the main characters. In many ways the drama of the show is the attempt to suppress goodness. So far in House of Cards, evil constantly wins the battle despite the humanity of the characters, but I keep holding out hope. It’s certainly not one to watch if you are easily offended.

In the West Wing, the characters had to continually work to suppress their doubts, fears and self interest, and it was the constant battle with themselves as individuals and collectively that created the drama in the West Wing. Ultimately in the West Wing, good won the battle despite the fragility of the characters.

I was interested in a quote from Aaron Sorkin, the writer of the West Wing, that seems to sum up almost all the main characters in the screenplays he writes:

“Develop your own compass, and trust it. Take risks, dare to fail, remember the first person through the wall always gets hurt.”

The stories of the West Wing are almost all about an attempt to hold on to the compass in the middle of an internal and external battle. The stories of House of Cards seem to be about to what extent it is possible to pretend the compass doesn’t exist.

What I appreciate about both series is the depiction of the battle.

I experience life as a battle between two sides of me. I was interested this morning to be able to watch myself and realise that I could have quite happily just watched television all day and pretended that the challenges of life didn’t exist. I could have run away from the battle and hidden the compass.  Continue reading

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In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man. In the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.

Originally posted 2012-03-11 15:32:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Yesterday I posted some of my Auntie Anne’s notes from Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. He was focusing on the impact of sin and confession in community.

Because some of his insights are so helpful, and also unfortunately, revolutionary, in terms of what is normal amongst most of us, I thought I would post a little bit more today.

Some of the language is now a little dated, but see if you can catch the heart of what he is trying to say.

Bonhoeffer says that anybody who lives beneath the Cross and who has discerned in the Cross of Jesus the utter wickedness of all men and of his own heart will find there is no sin that can ever be alien to him. Anybody who has once been horrified by the dreadfulness of his own sin that nailed Jesus to the Cross will no longer be horrified by even the rankest sins of a brother. Continue reading

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I am glimpsing both the kind of family and kind of church I want to be part of

Dinner on our first night

Dinner on our first night

This past week I drove 2,500 km in 5 days. My daughter Maddi needed to renew her passport, which must be done in person and at the consulate.

The major benefit of the trip was spending time with my two adult children. 24 hours in a car gives a lot of time for incidental conversation. It also gives a lot of time to listen to music any anything else we happened to have on our phones. I felt old.

We caught up with friends in Vancouver. Sam and Danni both worked with Fusion in Australia and are closer in age to Josh and Maddi than me. It was helpful for me to see the way that Sam and Josh chatted about the podcasts they listened to.

Maddi and I listened to a couple of Josh’s podcasts on the way home and it dawned on me that there is a whole other digital world that is largely invisible to me.

The podcasts were basically groups of people seemingly talking about nothing for a couple of hours at a time, and yet enjoying audiences of millions of people. It is a whole new form of media that doesn’t really make sense to me.

It struck me that groups like Rooster Teeth and people like Pewdiepie are the Beatles and Elvis Presley of this generation… and most of us have never heard of them.

If I am to be honest I have thought that these people were simply a distraction that Josh would grow out of, and maybe they are, but they are part of his world at the moment and to know him I need to know the things that shape him.

Last week I wrote about creating a culture of honour in my family. It’s an idea that has continued to frame my thinking over the last week. As one of my readers commented last week, creating a culture of honour is not only the key to a healthy family, it is the key to any healthy group. It is also much easier said than done.

The phrase “a culture of honour” was coined by Danny Silk, one of the pastors from Bethel church. His book “Creating a culture of Honour” has challenged me and provided a vision of the difference between how people normally relate to each other and how a group of people shaped by the truth of the gospel would relate to each other. His book has given me a vision both for my family and also for what the church should be.

The fundamental difference between a culture of honour and what is normal is that in a culture of honour people are trusted and people are different. Continue reading

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Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails

Originally posted 2011-12-30 14:06:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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I love this time of year.

I love it for two reasons, the first is that it’s not a normal time, it’s kind of a twilight zone time where no one is really working (apart from everyone in the hospitality industry) and there is the chance to reflect.

I also love it because there is the chance to catch up with family in a way you don’t really have the space for any other time of the year. We had a great picnic together at a park in Launceston (pictured) and it was just nice to be ‘us’.

I find that this week and next week are usually times when I do a lot of thinking. This week I look back over the past 365 days and read my journal from the year.

Continue reading

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Shadow Lands

Originally posted 2011-07-31 12:53:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

I watched two movies this weekend, “the social network” and “Enid”.

At the same time I am reading “Overcoming the Dark side of Leadership” by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima.

I have been struck by a quote from Carl Jung:

The brighter the persona, the darker the shadow.

I am seeing more and more that with a few notable exceptions, many of the people who shine brightly in the world have extremely dark shadows that they either have to hide or find a way to wrestle for their whole lives.
Continue reading

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The grass is very green

Originally posted 2010-12-12 21:09:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Making the choice to play

I am sitting in my rather warm office/shed as the sun streams through the huge window that overlooks my backyard.

Today I mowed our backyard.

Now that’s really not that big a deal, in fact at the moment it seems to need to be mown every 7 days!

It’s just that when I mowed it, I took a little extra time when I finished to mow in a practise cricket pitch.

As I survey the backyard I am pleased with my handiwork. Continue reading

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Faith in a bloke

Originally posted 2010-06-15 19:00:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Coming to terms with the person of Jesus.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of teaching our Certificate IV students about the life of John Wesley.

As I researched Wesley’s life I came across an article that explained his journey of faith in his own words, I came across one sentence that has been going around in the back of my head since reading it:

Continue reading

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Do we really intend community?

Originally posted 2011-03-08 16:07:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Poatina Morning Tea Devotion given yesterday

Getting past Hate

Today, starting a new series on Ephesians 4. I’ve found that God often seems to bring me to chapter of the Bible and keep me there. This was the first. It’s a very rich chapter. You could almost teach the whole of our Foundations Course from Eph 4.

You can imagine Paul being in gaol and he’s writing to these guys. There are things he’s responsible for but can’t do anything about because he’s in gaol. He’s saying, I can’t get to you but this is the stuff I want you to focus on.

“I want you to get out there and walk – better yet run – on the road God has called you to travel”.

I love the picture that there is a road that God has called me to travel. The fundamental question is do you know the road he’s called you to travel? It’s obviously important to him – he doesn’t want the Ephesians sitting on their hands; or strolling off down some path.
Continue reading

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My wrestle with prayer

Originally posted 2011-03-02 17:44:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

I want to pray

I was at the Poatina prayer meeting this morning and noticed there are gradually fewer people gathering to pray.

I don’t blame anyone.

I want to pray.

I want to be someone who prays.

I want to be able to write about how consistent and rewarding my prayer life is…. but I can’t. Continue reading

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How can I bring my children up in the training and instruction of the Lord without exasperating them?

I love my kids, however being a Dad is not a simple thing.

I love my kids, however being a Dad is not a simple thing.

I am a trained youth worker.

I know most of the theories of adolescent development.

I have worked with all kinds of youth from all kinds of backgrounds.

You would think that being a parent of teenagers would therefore be easy.

Its not.

Being a youth worker is completely different to being a parent.

A few months ago I wrote a reflection on the realization that parenting teenagers is fundamentally about a clash of Kingdoms. My realization  was that parenting teenagers is about stepping into, and not avoiding the right kinds of conflict.

Leeanne and I committed ourselves to seeking first the Kingdom of God in every area of our lives when we we were married, and that commitment (based on Matthew 6:33)  has been the foundation of our marriage and family. That doesn’t mean we have got it right all the time.

Knowing that we are meant to seek first the Kingdom in our parenting doesn’t automatically mean we know how. Our life has been a constant journey of facing our blind spots and learning what our original commitment actually means.

As a Pastor I realise that one of the qualifications for leadership in the church is that:

4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.
(1 Timothy 3:4 NIV)

So what does it mean to manage my family well and see that my children obey me?

If my 18 year old son refuses to do what he is told, does that mean that I am no longer able to be a pastor?

As a family, we have read out Paul’s pattern for a healthy family a number of times:

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:1-4 NIV)

I quite like the first three verses, I’m less excited about the fourth.

Over the past couple of weeks a book that I didn’t want to like has helped give me a clearer vision of what it means to lead my family in a way that takes Matthew 6:33, 1 Timothy 3:4 and Ephesians 6:1-4 all seriously.

The book is called Creating a Culture of Honour by Danny Silk.

The reason I didn’t want to like the book is that Silk is pastor from Bethel church. Bethel is one of those mega-churches that lots of people visit and quote.

I’m not sure if it’s because I am an Australian, or simply because I am immature, but when it comes to something that lots of people think is special, I am pre-disposed to look for what is wrong rather than what is right.

I have a sense that God takes particular delight in challenging my prejudice by teaching me through Danny Silk’s book. Continue reading

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