I have been stewing over the words of Revelation 21:5 where Heaven in it's fullness comes down to earth and the risen Christ says: "Behold, I make all things new." Christ, the head of all creation and renewed humanity provides us with a radical new model of what it means to be human, fully human and fully alive. Ain't it sweet? God bless you all today, and Christ be with DCC as another member was lost this week to cancer, my prayers are with Sequim.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
It's funny how a change in the weather can make us reflect on life , much like a song or smell that we haven't encountered for some time can spark up a moment of nostalgia. I understand that for the majority of readers, your April showers bring on those stunning May flowers, whereas Aucklands showers represent the onslaught of winter. Fall is in the air. It's just warm enough to get me outside, while cool enough to suppress the bug population that had a uncanny ability to find their way into the back of my throat while cycling.
Winter to me holds a dark beauty with a quiet sense of peace and tranquility in the air. It's moments like these where time seems to slow down, and one can reflect deeply over the course of events of their life (for better or worse). In the last few days possibly more than ever before, I have come into a deeper awareness of God. Giddy(?), might adequately describe my present situation. On Tuesday I “randomly” received five emails from five different people that expressed that I had been strongly on their hearts recently. This lead me to do one of two things, the first of which say, “Father is something going to go terribly wrong soon and this is the prep?,” and the second being, “Thank You Father, I think.” In the last week I have found ample time to study 8-10 hours a day and a time to just slow down and dwell deeply by eating, exercising and laughing, to prayer and prayerful study. As of now, I think my second response minus the “I think,” was most appropriate. A response of praise. Nothing outstandingly difficult has occurred this week as this two week break I'm on represents the calm before the storm of term two. Ah, a refreshing time.
I have been reading numerous philosophical works as I'm drawing together the sources that will make my project on theologian/missionary Leslie Newbigins book Proper Confidence, go. It has been tremendously rich. Without Christ as the center of everything though, none of us this makes sense. The philosophers search of objective truth and the truest reality will prove forever elusive without the framework of Christ's life, death, burial and resurrection. Philosophy while helpful in defining, can't bring purpose or complete certainty for that matter; Christ alone is certainty. Science contains great merit in and of itself (providing medical breakthroughs etc), but where science falls short is providing story. Science can explain how things work, but not the said things purpose. Without Christ there is no purpose and we should doubt everything, but in him and how he lived, things become clear.
In the current life I live, one rooted and grounded in the story of the Gospel, I have continually been seeing beautiful connections formed around me as all the seemingly disconnected stories/seasons(experiences) of my life convene into one larger whole and that bigger picture is what God is up to in the 21st century through me and his people, the church. Working with Excel students where there are struggles with alcohol and intense sexuality issues, has taught me to rely more and more on the example of Christ as my ways of understanding fail me without Him. What a joy it is to journey with young men and women as I attempt to show them why they live and breath as I seek to connect their story with the true reality of the world, a world under that brilliant light of the Incarnation.
In this season (and forever I suppose) I feel as if I'm working through complexity(Learning) to get back to simplicity (Christ) but I know without a doubt that I'm loved and I'm pursued, feeling the overwhelming warmth of the one who created me. Yes, I am loved and I'm pursued. I stand in awe of God as I reflect on my life and experiences by the communities that have shaped me.
As a tree stripped of its leaves lays bare for all to see, we see the frame and structure of what is normally covered and dignified exposed to the elements during winter. What really is the structure and framework of the tree? It certainly doesn't look as impressive as it did when it had everything together. I have felt like a stripped tree at times(to spoof Spidermans take of leadership: “With great responsibility comes great embarrassment”), as I realized the outside that covered me was my own doing, built on various misunderstandings of my purpose/pride etc. Life is so much better when covered within the frameworks and exposure to Christ's love. With the humility that comes through admitting nakedness+ shortcomings, Christ works. I trade my exposed frame for the fullness of his, that's all I want, I don't want to be naked and exposed but covered, living in Christ with his wisdom and understanding when my words and thoughts+actions fail me. I can't explain all that my racing thoughts hold in these sentences, but it is my prayer that my heart came through. I pray that God would reveal himself to you in a way that is pertinent to your present situation, whatever season you may find yourself in. I hope you would come into a greater awareness of his presence and majesty..... that, and purpose. What a joy it is to write to you all.
“Lord to who else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”
Monday, April 11, 2011
Above: My favorite Firwood photo ever.
Faith alone is certainty. Everything but faith is subject to doubt. Ultimate reality is knowable, it's available to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ alone is the certainty of faith.
I believe, therefore I understand. - Augustine
A lot can happen over the course of a month, in the last three weeks I entertained a dear friend from the states, enjoying the natural beauty of NZ's east coast which would allow me to connect what Paul writes in Romans 1:20 about the majesty and creativity of our Lord in and through the created order. God is an artist, and a gardener! Conversation was enhanced with seafood, and settings like hot water beaches (which I didn't know existed prior) in which at low tide you can dig yourself a hole where the out door geothermal heating system cranks out some smokin' hot water, right on the beach.
My mom who is a cyclist has also inspired me to get into the sport, and this last Saturday (the day of my beloved Sabbath) I did a nice 60 mile cruise in my spandex and new cycling shoes. My Lance Armstrong jersey is coming in the mail.... pictures coming soon.
It has been fantastically formational for my spiritual life working with the students at Excel, through the questions they ask me and just doing life closely with young people. We serve a God of mission, and our hearts our transformed into Christs on this life long journey. I have ventured into (personal) uncharted territory by counseling inner-city/pacific islander students that have suffered at the hands of family etc, weeping with them and praying for Jesus to illuminate the situation where words fail.
When it comes to Excel, there are in essence, two sides to my nature. There is “Dude Dave,” that wants to be your friend and there is “Papa Piper” who lays the law down. Finding the balance of these two natures is key, but I have embraced the tension that both sides bring. Lovingly disciplining when needed as well as engaging individuals over smoothies etc, talking about the centrality of Christ in the Gospel story and how that plays out today.
I have been praying for the Bultedoabs since I heard of Eugenios passing, my heart goes out them. My heart also goes out to my students at DCC whom I care deeply for. The process of seeking out a new youth pastor can be long (and draining) and I'm daily praying for this process as the person selected will have a huge impact on students I love. I was tremendously humbled to be considered by the group, my heart briefly raced with excitement at the thought of coming back home to pastor young men and women. Even the few emails I received from members of DCC asking me to prayerfully consider coming back home was humbling and I felt loved, but my place in this season is at Laidlaw worshipping through study and with my various leadership commitments. I need to see my degree through.
My visa came in!
Semi answered?: My eyes have been a little bit better / There may be a light at the end of my Hebrew tunnel.
Things to pray for:
-Spiritual warfare amongst the Excel students. Some come from dark dark spiritual backgrounds. Some come from gross sexual abuse and drug addiction and a some are just starting to ask questions about Jesus, not sure if they can trust him yet.
-I proposed a ministry model to the Laidlaw council that had been on my heart since this summer and after it was approved I was able to discuss it with the entire Laidlaw Community at lunch today. Pray for how the school body can organically bring the gospel into Auckland, specifically the restaurants and Cafes nearby the school.
-Doing justice to what I know in my assignments. I turned in what I would consider a very low quality exegesis on Luke 7:36-50 the other night as my mind has been elsewhere. I need prayer for guarding my study time, which is so hard because I want to invest myself into relationships. Balance is key.
-This Friday I'm organizing a Excel/Laidlaw night of music and dance performances to celebrate the 2nd year Excel students graduation.
-My Church is looking for a new head pastor, please pray for this search in NZ.
-My Church is looking for a new head pastor, please pray for this search in NZ.