The Experiment Bites Back!

As it happens my conclusions on “The Experiment” (listening only to music that’s good for me for a whole week) were a little premature. All this week, as I put in my earphones, I’ve found myself craving some solid worhip songs. Other times I’ve been desperate to hear a bit of “Jars of Clay” (sure, a bit of a blast from the past). It’s starting to feel like I might have made a significant change to my listening habits. Might even end up buying more Christian music. Now that’ll freak me out!

An Experiment

I spend a lot of my day listening to music. A lot. I spend about an hour and a half on the train with the iPod going, prostate and most of the day at work I’ll have earphones in. There aren’t many harder-working iPods than mine. And while there’s not much in my collection that would be deemed overtly offensive, a lifetime with parents who were always concerned with closely monitoring the music/movies/computer games I entertained my self with, has got me constantly checking myself to make sure that I’m not polluting my existence with nasty things.

So in the interests of interest, and perhaps even altering my lifestyle, I’m embarking on an entire week of nothing but uplifting, positive, good music. It won’t be only overtly christian music, although there will be a fair chunk of that. But I’m staying away from Hilltop Hoods, Scissor Sisters and the Killers. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of them, but just in the interests of science. So it’s Matt Redman, U2 and Jars of Clay for Geoff. I’ll keep you updated.

Why Be Anonymous?

I just recently got noticed by the big-wigs at signposts.org.au after I linked to them (which was a bit exciting), nurse writing about the distinctives of the Vineyard (a very worthwhile read and pretty much encapsulates what I love about Vineyard). And in their post there was a mention of the fact that I was posting anonymously. Now, there I know first-hand that I haven’t been anonymous enough for people who know me to work out who was writing these – Scott (from Ranges CC which I’m still plugging) didn’t take more than a few posts before he asked if I was writing theGeoffRe(y)port.

So why bother? No really good reasons. Mostly it’s that one level of separation. If I was to go for a job and they were to run my name through a google search, I wouldn’t neccesarily want them reading the top 5 things that make me cry. Just that type idea. It’s a sweet irony that not revealling myself completely helps me to be more honest. In a weird, twisted way it’s kind of poetic. I also think there’s a little more interest in reading the musings of someone with a bit of mystery.

The other part of my thinking – and there’s a little bit less selfishness in this bit, is that I like being able to write about what’s going on in the lives of people around me, in broad terms, and to write about those lessons. And where I’ve been cagey about my own identity, I’d definitely be very frightened of giving out other people’s names. So it’s just building in another imaginary layer, between the people in my life, and the big bad internet. Sure it’s all just an illusion, but it’s my illusion, and I quite like it.

P.S If anyone REALLY wants my name, it’s Geoff.

Letting people in on the dream

Sunday night was a bit of a milestone in my life. Even since leaving school, patient and probably before that, pilule I’ve had an inclination, prostate almost a longing, to chase the idea of planting a church. Some of that I’m sure comes from having been involved in a “fertile” church, where we have planted a number of congregations out of YVV (including the oft linked to Ranges Community Church). But the dream has always been a very private thing. Despite the fact that I’ve tended to lean towards making myself more vulnerable in sharing with my youth guys, almost none of those guys knew. It’s something I’ve discussed with some close friends, and happily discussed on occassion with people I barely know, but it’s not something that most people who know me are aware of. Or at least they weren’t.

So we get back to the happenings on Sunday evening. Part of the camp was a whole celebration of the past 10 years of YVV, and as part of that we had representatives from each of the plants being recognised and that was all very nice. Then Gordon Lingard (pastor of Bendigo Vineyard and Cluster Leader for Victoria) spoke and that was also very nice. Then as part of the ministry time, Judy Lingard (wife of aforementioned Gordon) had a word about people who had felt something as the plants had been called up, and that if (and I quote) “you don’t know how, or where, or when, but you want to be involved in planting a church” then people should come forward. Well I knew as soon as she started speaking that I was one of those people. And I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on whatever God was going to do in that.

Now I don’t really want to go into the specifics of the words that came out of the prayer, other than that there was a real sense that this was a huge forward step in regards to the dream, and that sticking with that is vital. But the weirdest thing was what happened afterwards. Going up for prayer in that meeting ended up being quite a conspicuous thing to do. There was only me, a “good-side-of” middle aged couple and a couple who everyone knew are eventually going to plant a church. So afterwards, the first thing was that Pete (pastor extraordinaire) came up straight away and gave me a deadpan death stare while accusingly pondering “So you’re going to go plant a church now? I’ll need to see you first thing Tuesday morning in my office”. But that’s just Pete. Then the funniest thing was one of the youth guys (a year 8 who I’d been particularly close with when I was doing Friday nights – see this post) came up and asked “You’ve not just forgotten about us, you’re leaving as well? So how long til you go?”. That required some fast talking.

But it wasn’t just them. All around, you knew that people were thinking about you differently. Sadly, and it will be something I’ll need to come to terms with, some people seemed to have a bit more respect for me, now that I might one day be a pastor of a church. I think it probably made some of my friends understand how I work a bit better. Some of my weird decision-making starts making sense. And when you chat with people, they start wondering if you’re sizing them up to come along with a church plant.

The dream is yet to have any form. All it is so far is nice thoughts, ideas, and probably a hugely unrealistic view of what church planting would be like. But this is a big step. And letting people in will probably be a positive. People might start taking me seriously. Never know. I hope this post hasn’t come across as me being paranoid about what people think of me, because that would be much more honest than I ever intended to be on here. And my focus isn’t on the other people stuff. I just found it intriguing. So, in the words of Bono: “One step closer to knowing”.

The Frustration Of Immobility

After having a great time at the YVV camp, ailment and especially great prayer on Sunday night about some very serious stuff which I’ll probably cover once I’ve had a chance to cogitate over it for a while, I slept in a little bit past what I wanted this morning, and was having a quck shower when it all came crashing down.

Quite literally. I slipped on the (poorly designed and very slopy) shower floor, and on my way down, managed to take a significant chunk out of the top of my foot, because I kicked the underneath of the dividing wall between the showers, leaving me bleeding profusely. So once I stumbled over to the bench, and with the very kind help of Greg Rivett I managed to slow down the bleeding, before I passed out and then I had the wound bandaged and went off to hospital to get five stitches put into my foot. And so now I’m on crutches for the next 2/3 weeks.

It’s one of those things. I can see God already teaching me things. Like patience. Now nothing happens in a hurry. Now I actually have to rely on other people. My illusion of self-dependance is shattered. That’s a tough thing to actually take on. I can’t make it on my own.

Forsaking All

Have had an interesting chain of thoughts running through my brain over the last week or so. Met up with a few old school friends last Saturday for a BBQ, store and one of the friends who was there was someone who up until about a year ago would have been someone I’d have asked for advice on spiritual matters and the like.

Disturbingly, help in the past year this friend has joined what ultimately is a cult in Sydney, there albeit one that doesn’t seem to be completely dangerous. but certainly not at all good. And in chatting with her about what had changed about her, and why is living in this community, one thing stood out to me. Above anything, she said that their community was all about forsaking everything to follow Christ. And to be brutally honest, some of the model that this group uses could be a lot closer to the way we should be living than it is in my life at the moment.

They live with about 25 people sharing four houses. And in everything they do, they live simply, opting to forsake the trappings of modern living like computers, or even telephones, and while some of them work part-time, all their money is shared, and no-one’s needs are put above anyone elses. When they are not working, they spend their time witnessing to people (and I’m sure there’s some weird stuff in there, my friend was pretty sketchy on the details), and ministering to the poor.

And while I’m not for a moment saying that I’m about to uproot and join this cult (there’s some very, very dodgy theology and ideas floating around, that are not OK at all) it seems to me that if we were to genuinely attack this God thing with ABSOLUTELY no pre-concieved ideas, this could quite possibly be a lot closer to the model we’d start with than even anything as radical as the emerging church forge type model. But ofcourse I’ll still be doing church on Sunday as usual, it’s pretty hard to make a change anywhere other than your head.

Soul Survivor ‘06

Well I’ve been meaning to post earlier but it’s been a bit crazy back at work which tends to make for not much enthusiasm when I get home. And while Soul Survivor was spiritually refreshing, sales the poor old body takes a little recovering. But on with the post…

I must admit that my expectations for Soul this year were pretty low, not only was there the law of diminishing returns with respect to youth festivals, but I was going as the only one on our youth team who could make it this year and so was expecting to do a fair bit of hand holding, particularly given that we had a few year 7/8s who were rocking up for the first time.

But on a personal level Soul really delivered. God came and dealt with some issues that have been lying around for quite a while, in particular to do with fear, and also really freed me from some of the crap that is still lying around from the break-up. I had a chat on Saturday night with the ex, just because things were a bit weird and I really needed to get some of that junk out of my system, and then we both ended up going to the late night worship (separately). And in that time God just really broke off the last strings that were tying me to that relationship and helped me to see the girl as just another person. It really was one of the most real experiences of freedom I’ve ever felt. God was so amazingly in it.

I really got heaps out of the workshop program this year as well, where there was some high quality stuff, and I’m desperate to hear some of the seminars I didn’t make it along to. Fortunately I’ll be able to do that because the Soul Survivor team were selling the recordings of every seminar and session in MP3 onto a CD. Which will be so good! I’m already watching the mailbox for it to come.

Hopefully I’ll post again, slighly less personally and slightly more topically because there was some real thinkers that Soul Survivor brought up in me. But for the moment, it’s probably enough to say that God is just really really faithful.

My 5 Top 5s for ‘05 (aka 55405)

’tis the season for retrospectives. So 5 fives of 05 seemed like an obvious way to go. I’m sure that some will disagree with most and that most will disagree with some. But it’s all fairly personal.

  1. Top 5 Podcasts (what with Podcasting being word of the year and all)
  2. Top 5 Sporting Moments
  3. Top 5 Albums I’ve Listened To (not neccessarily released in 05)
  4. Top 5 Things That Made Me Cry
  5. Top 5 Things That Inspired Me

1. Top 5 Podcasts

  1. The Ricky Gervais Show – I’ve very almost caused myself to get into a lot of trouble laughing at this at work. Sooooo funny
  2. Speaking In Tongues – Many of you would be aware of this SBS TV Show, generic few are aware you can download it as a video podcast. Single handedly made me feel justified in having bought a video ipod.
  3. Cinecast – This bi-weekly film buff podcast has inspired me to see plenty of films that are on the less general release side of things.
  4. Triple J’s Hack Podcast – I’m normally on the train or at work when this get airplay on radio, cure but this youth oriented current affairs program regularly challenges me on the plight of youth in this nation.
  5. Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code – Sure the guy might be up himself a lot of the time, but he’s got just enough British in him to keep the American in check. And he’s doing good work. And he’s funny.

Honorable Mention: Engadget Podcast

2. Top 5 Sporting Moments

  1. The 2005 AFL Grand Final – What a game! And seeing West Coast go down like that, with the Leo Barry heroics was beautiful to watch
  2. Socceroos going to the world cup – I was hoarse for days afterwards. And being a hack ex-goalkeeper, it was really nice seeing Schwarzer being the hero.
  3. The Ashes – Despite a nasty end, it cost me more sleep than I’d like to admit.
  4. Richmond’s early season form – Being a long (and I mean long, not quite old enough to remember the glory days) suffering Tigers man, you have to clutch at anything. And being top 4 for half the season was a beautiful feeling, even if the inevitable fall from grace was heartbreaking.
  5. Marat Safin at the Australian Open – Although like 99% of Aussies I wanted to see Lleyton take him down in the final, I loved seeing Marat take down Federer. He was the only man who looked capable of beating him, and it was unbelievable to watch.

Honorable Mention: Mixed Netball Runners Up!

3. Top 5 Albums

  1. Wolfmother, Wolfmother – Real fun rock. This is the album that is the most likely to make me do spontaneous air guitar/drums since “Get Born” by Jet
  2. X&Y, Coldplay – Wasn’t initially convinced, and I think Speed of Sound is a rubbish song, but Kingdom Come and Fix You are two of the best songs I’ve heard in years.
  3. Grace, Jeff Buckley – It’s an old favourite. And there’s no other album that compares when you’re getting over a break up
  4. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, U2 – They just keep doing it. Consistently good. And I’m going to their concert!
  5. We’re Already Gone/Learn Yourself, The Beautiful Girls – This band is so classy. Just really good music. Couldn’t separate the two albums, I got onto Learn Yourself early this year, and We’re Already Gone in the past couple of months

Honorable Mention: Jamie Cullum, early Michael Jackson, James Blunt, Bernard Fanning

4. Top 5 Things That Made Me Cry

  1. Breaking Up – Sure I’ve already mentioned it in previous posts, and it’s pretty much a given. It hurt real bad. Still does. Welcome to life.
  2. Young Faith – It’s the little glimpses that do it. The 13 year old who is actually worshipping for the first time. The Year 9 who is praying for someone. The teenager with a prophecy. That’s why I still do youth stuff after 4 years.
  3. Cronulla – It takes a lot to make me ashamed of being Australian. That just about did it. Those race riots represent the antithesis of what makes me proud to be Aussie.
  4. Hotel Rwanda – If only “never again” actually meant that. Compulsory viewing
  5. Poor Old Nathan Brown – If I ever have to see the footage of tiger-hero Nathan Brown’s leg breaking again, I’ll vomit. Killed the season for the mighty Tiges and provided some nasty nightmares for little kids

Honorable Mention: God, babies dying, tsunami’s and earthquakes all omitted as “too obvious”

5. Top 5 Things That Inspired Me

  1. Being In Love – Sure it’s hurting now, but gee it was good while it lasted. And despite anything and everything else, that was an amazing God thing. It has definitely changed me for the better.
  2. Victorian Vineyard State Conference – Really good things from Rich Nathan and David Parker that changed lots of my outlook on ministry, and in particular my teaching. Unbelievable stuff.
  3. Australia’s response to the Boxing Day Tsunami – Despite Cronulla, Australia’s compassion in response to a horrific event showed that we are gooder than we are badder.
  4. My Youth Guys – I know I’ve given them a mention, but they blow me away. Just when they frustrate you the most, there’ll be a little God moment, and it’s all worth it again.
  5. Live8 and Make Poverty History – The campaign has taken social justice out of small pockets of resistance, and harvested the general goodness of people to build a message that will not easily be silenced. Whether you like their methods or not, there must be good that comes out of that sort of outcry.

Honorable Mention: I’m sure this isn’t really the best of the best, but the point is there.