Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Becoming a Disciple of Jesus

Regularly we water down what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?

I think this post states it well.

Here's some bits from it:

"A disciple of Jesus is simply someone who is with Jesus to learn from Jesus how to be like Jesus. It will involve loving Jesus and putting his teaching into practice. It will involve re-arranging your life and priorities so that you can do the things he said were best. And to enroll in this course of study, Jesus says you must…

1. Prioritize discipleship above everything else.
2. Completely die to your old life.
3. Give up everything you have.
I’m sure this all seems like an unrealistically high bar to our comfortable, postmodern Western ears, but these were Jesus’ own words to the “large crowds” that were following him. He wanted them to be aware of what it actually meant to follow him as a disciple. Perhaps we need to hear them today as well, when it’s easy to be part of “large crowds” that think Jesus is a great guy that can help them with their struggles, but really need to understand what it looks like to become his student in kingdom living."

Check out the post for more ...

Monday, September 17, 2012


Over a number of years now I've been aiming to implement some rhythms into my life.  As someone who likes spontaneity this has been a difficult process but one that I know that I need and that makes life work in much better ways.

These words in a blog post by Hamo ring true for me:
"Rhythm… I like it. I don’t like routine. I find routine boring. But rhythm is different. It’s recognising that our lives work best when they are in some kind of order and when we can anticipate what’s ahead."

Saturday, September 15, 2012


How often do we really listen to each other?

Here are some great thoughts thanks to this post:

  2. BE SILENT WITH THE OTHER PERSON IN AN ACTIVE WAY: open, active, receptive, alive, without letting your mind wander or daydream. Keep eye contact, let your body language tell the person you care.
  3. LISTENING INVOLVES PATIENCE. It may take a period of time before the person trusts you enough to tell you what he/she really wants to let you know.
  4. AFTER YOU HAVE LISTENED CAREFULLY AND REFLECTIVELY, YOU NEED TO REFLECT BACK WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD, and ask for more details. This is called feedback on what you have heard.
  5. LISTENING IS A GIFT WHICH ONLY A FEW PEOPLE ARE BORN WITH, BUT IT CAN BE LEARNED. Having learned how to listen, don’t ever let it be rote.
  6. LISTENING OFTEN INVOLVES SHARING OURSELVES. People who come to us need to know that we are wounded too. This sharing is mostly to put the other person at ease, and is never more than the person can bear to hear. The troubled person coming to be listened to should not become my therapist! We listeners are the wounded healer.
  7. WE USUALLY MUST LISTEN TO THE MORE SUPERFICIAL LEVELS OF COMPLAINT BEFORE WE ARE LET INTO THE DEEPER AND MORE VULNERABLE PLACES. If we pass the first test of acceptance, then a dam breaks and the whole human pours forth. It is hard to hear this kind of pain, but if we do not listen to this dark side of others, we seldom see these people in depth. They remain for us like a child’s painting—with no shadow or perspective or depth.
  8. BEYOND THE DARKNESS/SHADOW LIES A BEAUTY WE NEVER KNEW EXISTED. In this deepest level of the human psyche we discover that within another human being we have communion with God.
  9. LISTENING REQUIRES A PRIVATE AND QUIET PLACE. Usually an hour at a time is enough for most people.
  10. LISTENING USUALLY MEANS HOLDING MY OWN CONCLUSIONS IN ABEYANCE—until the other comes to his/her conclusions. Whenever I argue or interrupt, I probably have a sensitive spot in my own being that has been struck, and my attitude stops fruitful communication. I give unsolicited advice only when I see pitfalls the other hasn’t which might destroy the other person.
  11. OUR ONLY TASK IN LISTENING IS TO ENABLE THE OTHER: to grow, to take responsibility for his/her own life, to form his/her value system, and to come to own full potential by his/her own choice.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rules of Thumb for Change Agents

Steve has listed these rules of thumb for change agents:

• Stay alive – care for yourself and keep a life
• Start where the system is – empathy for the group and the people
• Look for green zones – places of promise
• Innovation is as simple as a good idea, initiative and a few friends – work with the willing
• Celebrate well – build in lots of success milestones
• Light many fires – utilise the complexity of any group by seeking movement in as many places as possible
• Keep optimistic – with a focus on the better future

from “Rules of thumb for change agents”, a chapter by Shepard in Organization Development Classics, 1997.)

I reckon they are helpful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Prayer Window

How do you go at remembering to pray for things that you want to pray for?

Lots of people have systems in place to help prompt them to pray for things.

I loved this idea about a prayer window that I read about here.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Impact of Interdenominational Organisations ...

I work for an interdenominational evangelical organisation.

I love that and there are so many great things that organisations like mine bring to the Christian spectrum.

However, there are some impacts of interdenominationalism.

Rory ponders whether in seeking to downplay the things that we don't agree on we lose some things and things that are important in the discipleship journey.  There are impacts, for example, of downplaying the sacraments.  This may not be significant in the interdenominational context that we are involved in together; however, often these situations shape our theology and practice strongly and we carry these influences over into the whole of our church and life contexts.  This certainly does impact the importance some place on the sacraments amongst other things - and may well have broad implications.

What do you reckon?

Friday, September 07, 2012

What is your land?

What is yours to toil? To work? To plow?

Have you found it?

Are you working it?

Are you plowing it?

What would it look like to look for it, to find it, to work it, to plow it?

It takes courage to find your land ... to work it ... to plow it ... to trust for things to grow.

(inspired by this blog post)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Discipling People Older Than You

It's been great over a number of years to play a significant role in the lives of some people who are older than I am.

For some people this is quite strange and sometimes people feel a bit uncertain about how they might go about being in an intentional discipling or mentoring role with someone who is older than they are.

This is a great 3 minute video that speaks just to that topic and says some quite helpful things.

Monday, September 03, 2012


Ideas - so often we think they come from nothing.  We treat them as if they come out of thin air.  Sometimes it seems like that.  Those moments are precious.  Far more often, however, we have to work for our ideas, or at least work for the space that allows them to come.

Cheryl Lawrie's words on this struck me the other week:

"I remember how to have ideas now. It’s 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. You have to do the hard work of being interested in the world; of being in different places, of delving into really complex areas of life, of being interested in other people’s wisdom and experience and way of interacting with their world, of not being an expert. And then the ideas just come."

Friday, August 31, 2012

Standing for Something

"The best way to be missed when you're gone is to stand for something when you're here". Seth Godin

As I read this in a blog post a little while ago it had me thinking.

How often is it hard for us to stand for something?  Often I back away from standing for the things that are most important to me.  How about you?  But I know it is true that standing for things matters.

I'm aiming to stand for the things that matter to me.

What is it that you need to stand for this week?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Prayer for You

Love these words - and I pray them for all who read this:

May you continue to fall more deeply in love with Jesus.
May you take time to simply be in his presence.
May you trust his work in you.
May you be blessed as you follow where he leads.

(words from this blog post)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Communion Liturgy

Here is a Communion Liturgy with great words.  It from a community on the other side of Australia but on the blog of someone on the other side of the world: how global are we!

It begins:

The table of bread and wine is now to be made ready.
It is the table of company with Jesus.
And of all those who love him
and choose the way of discipleship.
It is the table Jesus shared with all the wrong people
And its open boundaries challenge our selective friendships
It is the table of communion with creation
In which Christ became incarnate
And it anticipates the day when all creation
Will celebrate the fullness of life
So, come to the table,
You who have much faith
And you who would like to have more;
You who have been to this sacrament often,
And you who have not been for a long time;
You who have tried to follow Jesus,
And you who have failed.
It is Christ who invites us to meet him here.
Read the post for more ...

Spiritual Practices

Embodying rhythms or practices into my life has been a constant journey for me over the last decade or so.  It feels like I'm finally getting somewhere in that pursuit.
This is a great post that speaks about practices - and links spiritual practices with any other practices in life.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

America - Washington DC

I went to the US in May and I've been meaning to write some of the things from that trip up for some time.  I thought I would write up things from each city.

I was really in DC for the Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity Conference.  I will write up a post about the conference some other time.

I loved DC - and would love to go back.  So much history, so much of interest, so much to do and see. It was great staying really close to everything at a really basic but sufficient hotel - the Hotel Harrington.

We got a two day pass on one of the tourist buses - and that worked really well for me.  I loved seeing lots of things and being able to decide what I wanted to go back to.

Given the amount of time I had not at the conference, I ended up seeing a good amount of DC: the White House (from outside), the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, into the Art Gallery to see the Impressionist section, the Air and Space Museum (including the biggest McDonalds!), Washington Monument, Martin Luther King Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean and Vietnam War Memorials, Capitol Hill, Georgetown and the National Cathedral.  Wow!

I loved so much - and would love to do it with more time, and to see some key things which I didn't get to see.  There was so much good stuff that I couldn't pick a favourite.  I was certainly struck by the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.  Amazing places of acknowledgement.  I had significant moments at all of these places.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sacred Idleness

One of my favourite quotes is a George Macdonald one: "there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected."

This post discusses a recent NY Times article about The Busy Trap - and discusses the benefits of the type of idleness George MacDonald is talking about.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Girl with the Dove Tattoo

I don't think I've ever finished a book within one week of the publication date before - even an ebook!

Brian McLaren's latest short fictional ebook, The Girl with the Dove Tattoo, is somewhat paving the way for his new non-fiction book that will come out in September.

Once again, I enjoyed the way in which Brian uses fiction to help us think and reflect on the real issues at play.  However, it was a particular interaction in the book that most inspired and impacted me - where the character Jesus is urging the character Crystal to follow him.  

Once again, I felt myself urged to put everything else aside and follow Jesus in practical ways that make a difference in our world and bring about peace, love and justice.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Live in the Difference

Live in the Difference
John Westerhoff

Don't try to make a difference--be willing to live in the difference God has made and continues to make.
(via inward/outward)

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Radical Trust of Rest

Rest ... it is so important.

What hinders you from rest?

I think if we are honest it is often because we don't trust God.

I mentioned to someone the other day that I reckon one of our key issues is that we don't accept our finiteness.

How differently would be live if we trusted God and accepted our finiteness?  As I've grown in these qualities, rest comes so much more easily.

With this in mind, I was encouraged by Christine Sine's post that spoke of a book she had been reading that spoke of "the radical trust of rest".

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Texting or phone calls?

What are your preferred methods of communication?  There are so many options these days.  I've had many conversations about this topic.  Sometimes, these have been sensitive as a friend and I work out how we use various communication tools differently and share with one another what it might mean to love each other well and as we work to understand each other.  Often these have been profitable and beneficial to the relationship.  Do you think about how you communicate, what you are trying to communicate and the best tool for that and what the person/people you are communicating with would prefer?  Do you text, phone (on mobile or home number?), Facebook message, email, snail mail or speak face-to-face?  Do you communicate with those around you your preferences?

I reckon much fruit comes from us thinking these issues through and this is an interesting post around the topic.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grief - boring for the uninitiated

Clare Bowditch has written the words that speak my feelings and thoughts strongly - yet again.

She sings: The thing about grief is that it gets kinda boring for the people who don't yet know.


Monday, June 25, 2012

The question is the answer

"The question is the answer" is a phrase those who know me well are probably used to me saying.  Another favourite saying of mine is "live into the questions".  One wouldn't be surprised then to find that I loved the poem below as I read it on this blog:

Never kill a question;
it is a fragile thing.
A good question deserves to live.
One doesn’t so much answer it as converse with it,
Or, better yet, one lives with it.
Great questions are the permanent
and blessed guests of the mind.
But the greatest questions of all are those which build bridges to the heart,
addressing the whole person.
No answer should be designed to kill the question.
When one is too dogmatic or too sure,
one shows disrespect for truth and the question that points toward it.
Beyond my answer there is always more,
more light waiting to break in,
and waves of inexhaustible meaning
ready to break against wisdom’s widening shore.
Wherever there is a question, LET IT LIVE!
Gerhard Frost, from “Bless My Growing”

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Publishers represented at Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity Conference

One of the reasons that I went to America recently was to attend the Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity Conference in Washington, DC.  I will write more on this soon.  However, in response to a readers' question, Brian McLaren has done a list of the publishers who were at this conference and who he hopes might be people who write useful resources for those interested in this topic over the coming years.  You might like to stay tuned to what these publishers produce!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kindle Highlights to Evernote

Some of the readers of this blog are users of Evernote.  Some are also Kindle users.  I'm loving my fairly new iPad and being able to read ebooks.  It has made such a difference to my reading.

Here is a post regarding getting your Kindle highlights into Evernote.  I'm still yet to try it - but thought that some readers might be interested in it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Commissioning Prayer

I was struck by the words of this Commissioning Prayer that was on this blog.

Co:missioning prayer

In the name of the divine and mysterious Trinity,

You have called us into being through love,

You have joined us to one another in love,

You have placed us in your world to love.

Grant each one of us the strength,

To carry your blessing from this place to the next.

May we be at home in any land and in any place in between,

for all the cosmos is yours.

May we, with our hopes set on shalom in the world,

live also as aliens in all lands.

May the rhythms of your creation,

be the pulse that sustains our very life.

May the lamp of your word guide our feet,

on the unsure paths of each day.

May your breathing be the wind that leads us,

across strange new oceans.

Our lives are but a flicker of a flame,

But we are kindled from your divine Spirit.

You have created us,

humble missionaries, holy wanderers,

Specs of dust and divine-image bearers.

Shadows of your creativity,

and crucibles of the spark of innovation.

We are constantly restless until we rest in you.

Grant each one of us and our community,

a deeper fullness of being and spirit,

May our faces be fuller in glory and joy,

now bearing new shape,

as we transform and supplement one another.

May that transformation bring peace, joy and love,

in the world in which you have placed us.

In the name of the Spirit who moves across the surface of the waters,

and in each beat of the human heart,

In the name of Jesus, the God-Man,

who died, rose and lives on for us,

In the name of the Creator and re-Creator,

the source of all beauty, freedom and grace.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Being a participant in life

I love observing.  There are many things that I have learnt as life skills from having deaf parents, many that have taken years to understand.  The skill of observation is one of them.  As a deaf person, observation is a crucial life skill.  It is a key way that you grasp what is happening in the world around you and having keen observational skills contributes towards the many things that you do not know because you do not hear them.  Often observation is also all that you can do, because to really participate is not made possible for you as a deaf person because the people involved will not make the space necessary nor do the actions involved for you to fully participate.

This is the world I grew up in and, despite not being deaf, this is how I learnt to function.  I did not need this life skill in the way a deaf person does but I still learnt the skill - it's bread and butter to my parents, how could I not learn it?!

I've thought about this a fair bit over the years, especially when a professional supervisor I had during my Clinical Pastoral Education raised my tendency to observe rather than participate.  I now recognise the strengths that this skill brings, and I am aware of how it can hold me back from fully embracing life, from fully participating in the ways that I can, from contributing the many things that I have to contribute.  It can be a method of not choosing vulnerability, of self-protection.  It can also be a path of contentment, of enjoying observing others, of knowing a positive sense of life in that.  Often it also means that I have information that feeds in a life-enhancing way into a project that I'm involved in.  Over time I'm learning to accept all of these as part of the picture and to embrace the parts that are life-giving and to choose to not hide and give power to the ways in which it's self-protective and using a life skill that is unnecessary for me as a hearing person.

With this background, I was fascinated by this post by Alison Sampson.  Some friends will be aware that I love watching board games.  Some of this is about the positive sense of enjoyment I gain from observing, but I wonder how much has been about self-protection.  How much has been not wanting to risk, not wanting to throw myself into life?  Certainly this has shifted and I reflect that this has been different over recent years but it has me pondering.

Reflecting on this topic also has me pondering the connection this all has to a conversation I had with another friend recently who was sharing her view with me that people are always better for our presence.  I wasn't convinced.  The conversation was coming from a different place, but I wonder on the connection with this line of thinking.  Do I hold back because I do not believe that my contribution is valuable enough?  Do I not believe that people will be better off because of my participation and contribution?

Hunger Games

During my recent holidays, I read through the 3 books in the Hunger Games series.  It's been a while since I was grabbed by a novel series.  They were a great read.  I'm still pondering many of the themes in the books and wondering what it says about our world that means they have been picked up with such interest.  I look forward to watching the movie when it comes out on DVD.  Steve Taylor has done an interesting review of the movie which raises many of the themes within this story.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Life Springing Forth from a Winter Landscape

A friend recently wrote these precious words:

A bleak, winter landscape, 
trees stripped bare, 
shivering, leafless, naked, vulnerable. 

Cold wind whips around my heart. 
Trees bare, but for little stubs, 
which one day will sprout unexpectedly, 
lush, green, new growth. 

Birds will sing, 
blossoms will open, 
sun will shine - warm and steady as it softens and warms the earth, 
readying it for its new Life to spring forth.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The consumerist experience of tourism

As I've been enjoying the delights and sights of New York and other spots, I've been pondering what I think about the consumerist nature of such an experience. While I'm in it, I've been aiming to experience it and enjoy it for all it's worth- the amazing beauty of Niagara Falls, the breath-taking views from the Empire State Building, the creativity expressed by the likes of
Monet. They are all great things. But it feels highly consumerist - in essence and form. I've wrestled with what I think about this reaction because I think some of it is highly personal that gets put onto these thoughts around consumerism. But I do think some of my thoughts are genuinely about the consumerist nature of tourism and feeling very questionable about it. So much of it crosses against so many of the choices about how I want to live and this experience is reinforcing those decisions and causing me to further question the huge number of ways that I buy into consumerism in my everyday lifestyle. I feel some considerable lifestyle choices coming up ...

No real answers just living into my experience and aiming to process it as I live today.

One thing I'm surer of than ever - I want to live in such a way as I'm able to be truly present in each moment and savor the experience or person that I am present with. For me, that means choices to slow down.

As a book I have at home says -
When I loved myself enough I learnt to slow down- way down.
That's my experience too and it's good to be reminded of that by a few weeks that is different to that.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Where to start?

I'm sitting in New York Public Library wondering where to start writing about the last few weeks. There has been so much amazing stuff, many precious sacred moments, so many places seen and experienced, many thoughts had and a decent amount of angst in the mix too.

So I will start with this moment. What a luxury to be sitting in this quiet room in the midst of busy New York. I've been struck by the amount of public space in the cities I've been to in the US and Canada and the need for them. I've enjoyed the green spaces on the National Mall in DC and Central Park in New York, amongst many others. Space in the midst of life. Crucial.

And that is something that I really haven't had on this trip - space. And more than ever I'm aware of how crucial it is to me; how much my functioning well and capacity depends on it. It's been a lifelong journey of understanding this huge need of mine.
And the journey continues.

I've experienced so much yet have not included many of the things that help me process and feel my experiences before moving on to the next thing. This means that I've not had the capacity to fully engage with the next experience. This is a way I've chosen not to live but I've found myself choosing it this holiday and paying the consequences of it. Thankfully these days I'm very aware of what it takes to reset the button and can go there quickly but it's been a very powerful reminder of how easy it is to return to old patterns of living.

None of that takes away from the beauty and powerfulness of what has been experienced - it's just that they haven't been lived as well as they might have been.

And so today I'm thankful for this place of peace and quiet.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Do you feel conflicted with yourself?  I do much of the time!

Seth Godin discusses this conflict and suggests that we need to get better at self-marketing!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5 Types of Work that Fill Your Day

This is a good post on the different types of work that fill your day.

  1. Reactionary work
  2. Planning work
  3. Procedural work
  4. Insecurity work
  5. Problem-solving work

(Thanks to Matt at What's Best Next for the link)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Perhaps I am stronger than I think

Perhaps I am stronger than I think.
Perhaps I am even afraid of my strength, and turn it against myself, thus making myself weak.
Making myself secure. Making myself guilty.
Perhaps I am most afraid of the strength of God in me.
Perhaps I would rather be guilty and weak in myself,
than strong in Him whom I cannot understand. 
- Thomas Merton (from Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours)

Thanks to Rachel Held Evans whose blog I read this on.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why we will fail unless ...

I love TED talks.

This is a great TED talk about why we will fail.

Do you think about failure? About what keeps you from the things you most desire?  From what stops you being the person you most desire to be?

The TED talk speaks about why you will fail to have a great career, but the content could be applied to any area of life and passion.  There is some controversial material in there ... but I think helpful to get us thinking.

This week, in the midst of a busy week, I've been committed to ensuring I face some things I've procrastinated about and I've faced some other difficult conversations too.  It was worth it.

We will fail unless ....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Culture Shock

I've lived in Perth for over a year now.  I love it - it's a great place to be.

Over the last few weeks though I've become aware of some things that have shocked me about Perth.  On reflection about what I know about culture shock and transitions, I shouldn't be surprised.  I'm in the zone where I think I know the place and the culture and then all of a sudden something jumps out and surprises me, disorientates me and makes me aware of not being as understanding of the culture of the place I'm in as I thought.  Typical of transitions, yet disorientating at the same time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Will we be ourselves?

One of the great books I'm reading at the moment is Wikichurch by Steve Murrell.  Some comments that he makes in there, combined with reading this blog post today, have me pondering how often we try and lead or live like someone else rather than being the person that God has called us to be and leading in ways that are true to how we are wired and also to what is needed in our context in this season.

I wonder what it means for you to be deeply true to who God is calling you to be and what is needed in the context that you find yourself in this season of life?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Joining Jesus on the cross

As I continue to sit in the midst of the story of these few days, I was encouraged by another blog post which gives another perspective on the cross.

Again simple but profound.

He quotes Dallas Willard: Jesus didn’t go to the cross so we wouldn’t have to. He went to the cross so we could join him there.
And then briefly explores that.

Where am I being invited to die ... so that new life might come?
Where are you being invited to die ... so that new life might come?
Where are we as a church, as a society being invited to die ... so that new life might come?