s'all good when He comes to the hood

Sweatshop free threads have bounced upon Aucklands shores in several large unglamorous cardboard boxes and we here at the youth department are now sporting some tres bon tee's, check us hot stuff out:
This is me on the left, Katie in the middle and Brenton on the right (he has that menswear look down alright!) We have 500 hundy of the darn things, and so far 30 (including all the bands and the team) registered for Easter- regos close today. Hehe. You gotta laugh. Hopefully they are all just late, not boycotting. So, um, if you want one, or have any friends/family/neighbours/colleagues/ people on the bus that might want to don one, they are availible for a mere $18 NZ smackerooneys.
God is good though ay, and even though we have a mere week and a half to get this Easter Revolution together, we are still frimly beleiving that God is gonna rock up and transform us through his Big Loving. Kia ora and Amen to that thanks!


The Singer and his starsong

Shiver my timbrels, I just bought The Singer trilogy, by Calvin Miller. Found it tucked away at this depressing little Christian 2ndhand shop. It is so very intensely beautiful. For those that haven't already been wooed it is an allergorical poem depicting Jesus, sin, creation etc. Jesus is (drumroll) The Singer, singing the starsong of love. I might pop a whole section up one time.... it is stirring stuff, thanks.
But also, at the start of each chapter there are these random little proverb type things. Here are two to tantalise:
"Oftentimes Love is so poorly packaged that when we have sold everything to buy it, we cry in finding all our substance gone and nothing in the tinsel and ribbon. Hate dresses well to please a buyer."
"Institutions have a poor safety record. The guillotines of orthodoxy keep a clean blade that is always honed for heresy. And somewhere near the place where witches die an unseen sign is posted where invisible letters clearly read: WE ARE PROUD TO REPORT 0 WORKING DAYS LOST TO INJURY OR ACCIDENT.- THE MANAGEMENT. Let us pray. "

Oh that last one makes me chuckle.


risky business and the kingdom

I am doing literature reviews for our upcoming research on Forgotten People (at the Salvation Army social policy unit) and just read this wee experiment, by Baumeister (rad name) that took some students and did a personality test on them and then told some they were going to lead lonely and alone lives in the future(future alones), and told the others that they were going to have a stable marriage and strong, long lasting friendships(future belongs). They then offered each participant a lottery “choose no 1 and theres a chance to win a lot of money, but if you loose- which is likely- you will have to listen to an awful screech for 3 min” the second option was explained as being low risk, with cash reward. They found that 60% future alones chose high risk, compared with 6% of the future belongs….
Its just a little experiment that joins a whole lot of research that asserts that socially excluded people are more likely to partake in selfdefeating behaviour- I.e, foolish risk.
Now, apart from this being a fascinating little snippet in terms of social exclusion stuff, it got me thinking about us non risky Jesus lovers…
Cos, see, surely, theoretically, this means that Christians, who ideally have lots of strong networks are less likely to “do” risk. …So while we are more likely to be protected- through accountability- from moral taboos- affairs etc- perhaps another consequence is the inability to Step out, live on the edge, spontaneously and in response to Gods voice?
I’m not saying we need to stop having friends (!) or step out of community, I just think it’s a reminder about the pressing danger of security and comfortably in compromising the ideal position of vulnerability that leads to a greater dependence on God… And it perhaps gives a sort of explanation as to why Great Radicals are often a bit socially inept/unnormal/reclusive…? I.e.. joan of arc- or even Bono (his #%@!* performance at the awards!!!) (Having said that perhaps its just a connection to their non-conformist aspect of their personality)
Whether or not the connection between social inclusion and low risk decision making is relevant to Christians, I am convinced that our mastering of risk management severely hampers the spreading of the kingdom….
What do you think?!


scrambelled eggs and frame breaks

Wow, what a crazy and challenging weekend! Our Fuel retreat....
We did The Table: half the group arbitrarily gets put on the floor to eat weetbix and water, the other half gets put on a silverservice table to eat bacon and eggs and pankcakes. Lo and behold, Lucy is put on the bottom table. My mouth literally starts watering, my tummy churning, my hearts beating faster: I want scrambeled eggs!!!! This is not fair!!! I look up at Tim enthroned at the top table, longing for him to chuck me something yummy. He doesn't.
I have often intended on doing this with my youth group, but never got round to it- if you have never done this with a group YOU MUST! It is soooooo Powerful! For the first time ever I had a personal experience of the unjust nature of global inequality, and for goodness sake we were only talking eggs here! Not whole livelihoods at stake!
Tim got sent to the lower table on missionary service,and when the General came along to appoint him back to the rich table he took me as his native wife! Man was I stoked, I tucked in and filled up my puku (belly)... but you know what- those eggs tasted sour! I relished the laughter and the sharing we had at the bottom table, up here at the top people were just helping themselves, eyes on their plates, mouths to full to chat. Meanwhile the lower table was hurt, cos Tim just came along and ate their weetbix and then shot off back to eat bacon as soon as he got the chance!
Although there were a thousand billion analogies to take from The Table, the big ones that got me thinking were the individualism of the Western world, the apathy towards those on the other side of the gap, the danger in sending missionaries to the slums for a few years and whipping them out.
"Shivers Lu, its just a silly game" you might think! But it actually nailed home some stuff I have known headwise but not felt heartwise. Now that is surely the definition of one darn good activity!!!
My session on poverty and trade went well. It was so cool having these young people deciding to take the next step on Doing Something. It can be so simple- if 20 young people begin that justice journey; start chatting with friends, buying FT choc, it's wave making...Im convinced.

In sociology there is the concept of Frame Breaks- that life/conversations/events are a series of frames- just like a movie. Shared understanding of whats going on makes it all run smoothly, but when something happens to jar that understanding- a Huh? moment- that is called a Frame Break.This weekend was a multitude of frame breaks for me! Or maybe one big fat frame break! These young people,(some of whom know JC, most dont) were so brutaly honest and crazy I could hardly handle it.... I had my last name mocked hour after hour (Our name does actually sound very very like I Can Read, when said fast) and at one point we were even asked by a yound Somali boy If Tim would like to wife swap with this other couple he knew. Hello???
But, we had fun. 2 man white water rafting(my husband is an absolute hooligan), clambering in bare feet through mud swamps, we also got to chill with my FABULOUS bro and sis in law Kyle and Hania in their whare ataahua (beautiful home), with their little rascal puppy, Tui.

ARGH got home to mammoth flooding in our house where the roof had leaked- WAH! But actually led to an amazing little time of connecting with the neighbours, as we taupolined the roof together.

We still had the work projector at home last night so we set it up in our bedroom, and watched The Constant Gardener in bed as we ate chocolate cheescake yahhooo! Such a treat as we dont have a telly. An incredible, shocking film. Big time recommend it. Might post on it another day as it made me think much.
WOWZA what a huge post, my apologies!


the wizard and the general

Just read an awesome article aout the Wizard of Oz, ok, about Leadership really, by Brian Mclaren Here he's discussing the idea of discarding the little man hiding behind a big powerful voice style of leadership, and embracing a seeker journeying with other seekers Dorothy style of leadership. Slightly more in depth than that - I really reccomend it for a good short read. He's lucid, that Brian! I think that so many other emergent writers can be incredibly waffley.... (Dont be put off that he was voted something like Americas top evangelist hehe)
I found that the article once again raised big time questions about the stlye of leadership the Salvation Army rewards, very much the "I know everything, and might enlighten you through being very authoritarian" type, rather than the servant model we have in Jesus. What do people reckon?

Have some exciting few days ahead- Off to a big planning day in Wellington with the social policy unit tomorrow, which will be interesting, and then whipping of to the beautiful Raurimu for a FUEL retreat, leading a session on Poverty and Trade, armed to the eyeballs with some fantastic Tearfund videos sent from my sister. Thanks Jo.


that little word as

Jesus says: "As my father sent me so I am sending you"
Newbigin says: “We have to remind ourselves again of the significance of the little word “as”. It is the manner in which the Father sent the son that determines the manner in which the church is sent by Jesus. It is mission governed by the manner of his. We are reminded again of the pattern as it is outlined for us in the four gospels. And lest the full meaning of that word “as” should be missed, he shows them his hands and his side. It was the scars in his risen body that assured the frightened disciples tat it really was jesus standing amongst them. It wil be those same scars in the corporate life of the church that will authenticate it as the indeed the body of Christ, the bearer of his mission, the presence of the kingdom. It will not be enough for the church to place a cross on top of the altar or on the robes of its clergy. The marks of the cross will have to be recognizable also in the lives of its members if the church is to be the authentic presence of the kingdom.”


organic yams and dirty dishes

so yesterday after church- every time a good time, we worship to a euphonium at the moment- we were sitting in our little lounge the two of us, contemplating that feeling in your tummy that you sometimes get that says "I want something/need to do something but dont know what that something is". Do you know the one? It is an unsatisfied feeling. Usually at that point I rally up some pals and do something fun and usually Tim would eat a scrumpcious morsel. Seeing as it was Sunday -we obviously had our Christian hats on- we concluded that that feeling was an urge to connect with God, but we tend to usually cover it up with carnal satisfications....
That unsatisfied nudge we get on occasion could well be Jesus saying "Yo, (homie?) your disciplined spirituality is All Good: your habitual devo time is important.... But as well as that I want spontaneous spirituality- organic, take-every-moment friendship". Do you think He could be saying that?
In my last flat we became part of this organic collective group, so that we put in (huge amounts of) money every week and got a box of random and weird, munted little vegetables. 4 yams as big as my little toe, 1 sweet potatoe knobblier than a coloney of belly buttons, a carrot with extra limbs and a few other unidentified foodlike objects. Needless to say we didn't last long in this collective. Despite the succulent tastes which far surpassed our normal veges, and the knowledge that our bodies would long be saying Thanks for the Goodness, deep in our hearts we desired the Big and Cheap, Synthetic and Chemicalised, Nicelooking and Shiney foodstuff from the supermarket.

So... while the yam's dont apeal, an organic friendship with Jesus does. A friendship that stems from the gut! One that isn't polished on the outside with a total lack of nutrients on the inside.

It is always the case with these things, that just when I think I've had a tiny bit of an inspirational thought it smacks me in the head that a wise man has said these things along time before me!
"Now then, you pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness! You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you" (Luke 11)


a sacrilege and a desecration!!

Kate Booth's words from her biography "The Marechale" about the Army's work she started in France....
"When I went to France, I said to Christ: "I in You and You in me!" And many a time in confronting single-handed a laughing, scoffing crowd, I have said, "You and I are enough for them. I won't fail You, and You won't fail me." That is something of which we have only touched the fringe. That is a truth almost hermetically sealed. It would be sacrilege, it would be desecration, it would be wrong, unfair, unjust if Divine power were given on any other terms than absolute self-abandonment. When I went to France, I said to Jesus, "I will suffer anything if You will give me the keys." And if I am asked what was the secret of our power in France, I answer: First, love; second, love; third, love. And if you ask how to get it, I answer: First, by sacrifice. Christ loves us passionately, and loves to be loved passionately." From "The Marechale" by James Strahan.


Fair trade is a fad

Now that is cleeeeaaarly a myth. But a prevalent one at that. We have been looking at trade justice issues at our Fuel group (mission focused discipleship/leadership training) the last couple of weeks. One Fuelee thoughtfuly proposed that the biggest obstacle to Fair Trade was the idea that it is a trend that a few excitable people are jumping on the bandwagon of. See here in NZ it is quite a different scene. Elsewhere, I take it that Fair Trade is taken for what it is- a sustainable pathway to development, but here the lack of knowledge means that people relegate it to being a fashion statement. In fact, Kiwi Christians can even be heard debating whether it is a worthwhile cause: open mouthed wonder.

On a fabulously positive note the territory is apparently very optimistically considering our rejuvenated proposal to become a FT territory, and there could even be chance for my role at the Social Policy Unit to include developing these policies etc.

AND we have 500 fair trade REVOLUTION tee's being currently shipped from Ozzy shores for our Easter shenanigans- yahoo and wowza! AND the War Cry are publishing my article on FT for FT fortnight (end of April) which will hopefully get a bit of eyetime.

So...although sometimes I am desirous to work for an organisation that has all these global issues sussed in a smooth sailing kind of a way (ie. my amazing sibling Joanna Taylor's employer Tearfund) I really need to practice patience (argh, I am terrible at that) and remember that while we may be a bit behind on trade justice stuff, in many other areas- e.g social policy, the NZ Army is really making waves. Praise the Lord.


revolution in the city

We are 4 weeks away from our Easter experience- Revolution in the city. We are walking a fine line between trusting that Gods got stuff planned- waiting on him to share it with us - and needing to jump in and crack on with decisions. (There are still a plenty full of those to be made)
Its gonna be awesome, this Easter thing... It is hard though, to not get carried away with the planning, the details, the logistics- it is so easy to forget about the purpose, the big L.o.v.e. It is all so simple, how an entire weekend can come down to one word. Wah! If only the lead up to it could be reduced too.


my cynic boots

I find these pictures laugh out loud funny. It may be because of a prior relationship with the original posters which adorn our DHQ walls in abundance; Risk, Leadership, Vision.... I have many a time shook my head as I walk past wondering why they even exist let alone exist in our boardroom, lunch room and halls- wah! But yahoo- to my rescue a true mock of these dreaded posters. Must see site: despair.com.

But let me check myself- does succumbing to a good chuckle at the expense of these motivational posters nurture the cynicism that I struggle madly with???
I truly do struggle with it... I'm often metaphorically rolling my eyes, or having to bite my lip when reading or listening to something that tickles my cynical sole. I dont think its just a me thing either, might even be an Army thing- or a whole Christian thing? And I would say that cynicism can't ever really be healthy, that it might actually stand in polar contrast to deep spirituality. I find it does personally anyway. At the Generals visit to Auckland this week he described the three S's the Army ought to beware of: Stagnating, Secularism and Selfsatisfaction ..... Brave of General Larsson I think, as its pretty obvious that these are not just potentials anymore, but very real and strangling.

If cynisism began with an S, that would be nice as it would fit impecably on the end there, don't you think? Well before I untie these cyncial laces on these cynical boots, heres another demotivator...


seeking genuinity and a naked man with a holy bible

Last night we ate kipper for tea, and Tim laid the table nice with shells and candles. It was so romantic that we decided to go on an adventure to the movies. After ransacking our house in search of a 2 for 1 voucher we drove victoriously to the theatre. The only film to see was Capote, so see it we did. Man, what a movie. It impacted my soul...

Now, don't get me wrong I am the worst at trying to take spititual themes from films- I can never do it, I just like the entertainment, and then someone gets spiritual and Im thinking: Wow, was i watching a different flick??

But throughout this film I just felt So ashamed, of how Capote's use and abuse relationship with the death sentenced mexican so reflected my friendship with Christ and pseudo friendship with "those in need". I saw glimpses of myself in the things he did and said. He offered love until that love offerring got inconveniant. He sold his soul for his ambition and for the oohs and aahs of the crowds. As we walked out of the theatre we walked with heads down passed the street people... when I have been timetabled on to give them soup in the Army van, its been fine... but not now, not while we are trying to be romantic. We waved to the van as it drove passed us on their mission. We drove home, sharing our mutual bad Christianness, confessing times when we have silently slipped out of a friendship cos it stopped suiting us, and giving us that compassionate glow.... we were in full repentance mode.

When we got to our street there was a tall and skinny man wearing only navyblue undies- he looked strikingly like Spike from Notting Hill- standing in the middle of the road waving a Holy Bible at us. He wasn't a prophet, it turned out ,just a guy on drugs.

Thus last night became another step on this road searching for genuinity- for real love, deep, inconveniant friendship, integrated mission perspective. All of which I am decidedly rubbish at.


the first real one

Well, here art I, attempting a blog, convinced it wont last too long, although I am going to really give it a good crack.... It seems a good way to remember stuff you've seen/read/thought/ as well as joining in a bit of a community of likeminded Army brothers and sisters- in the hope that isn't all just going to end up one big typefest. I can always hope someone might comment on something too- which would be fabulous as it might hint at someone else thinking the same strange things as i. Meanwhile I had better find out how these things work.