Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The time has come for me to throw in the towel and give blogging up to those who are better able to make a useful contribution to the net-enabled world than I.

The process over the past 10 months has been interesting and, in a sense, worthwhile. For a while the act of blogging was quite cathartic (as an interesting aside - cathartic comes from the Greek word catharsis which can mean to "suck", as in pacify, but I thought it was also applicable to my blogging!!) and I have managed to meet and maintain contact with a couple of really cool people from different places on the globe.

I will definitely still be surfing the blogosphere - I have my favourite blogs locked into Bloglines - and will continue to read and comment.

To those regulars whose visits appear in my webstats - thanks for dropping by and taking an interest!

Cheers and all the best,

Andrew (aka - the Creature)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Discipleship without the Bible - Pt 2

Two and a half years ago something remarkable happened to me. I would even call it miraculous.

It was, without a doubt, the end result of several years of prayer, but to this day I cannot understand why it happened, except to say it was definitely a "God thing". I want to make this really clear. It had nothing to do with me or Lyss, other than, I guess, we were prepared to act when the time came.

The miracle is something I have talked about a few times on this blog. Mostly in trying to find some answers to the many questions I have as someone who has well and truly been thrown in the deep end of something big and amazing and really, really scary.

The miracle was/is a youth group.

3 teenage boys turning up on a Friday night with the specific intent of finding out something about God - whoever (as I am sure they were thinking) "he" was going to turn out to be.

By the end of our first 6 months the group of three had grown into 5. A few left, a few more came and for a good 12 months we settled on 4 regulars turning up each week. None of these kids had a Christian background (although a teenager from a Christian home who had been attending a youth group in another town did start attending after a while) and so our Friday nights were their only experience with God stuff and with Christians.

Now our group has a regular gathering of 7 or 8 on a Wednesday night (we changed the night early last year. I no longer worry about the fact they don't come along on Sunday mornings - sometimes I am actually glad they don't. We often refer to Wednesday nights as our new Sunday morning. We also have our first teenage girl coming along - a new challenge for us.

Bible reading though isn't our strength - hence the title for this post. I have tried setting reading homework, but it rarely gets completed. We have tried doing book studies, but these have flopped and one guys stopped coming because, in his opinion, youth group was too much like school!

I have used the Visual Bibles Gospel of John as an alternative to the Bible, this worked to some degree in engaging them with the Gospel story. Another good resource, particularly in terms of generating discussion, has been the Vancouver Youth for Christ's DVD series Quest. I have just started using this again as we have a number of new attenders who didn't see it the first time round 2 years ago.

But I have found it really difficult to find many resources out there designed for situations like ours. Most assume a group comprised of kids from Christian families and so the suggestions and approaches just don't seem to fit guys like ours. The language and the illustrations are specific to cultural, evangelical Christianity, which makes it really difficult for these post-Christian, non-reading kids to relate to.

As a result - and with the exception of a couple of the resources I mentioned above - we have had to come up with pretty much all our own material and approaches, specifically tailored for post-Christian youth to connect with. And this has been an incredibly difficult process, centred mostly around discussion, story telling and hanging out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ancient Egypt and the Afterlife

As we had to visit Perth yesterday for a doctors appointment for one of the kids, I thought we would take the opportunity as a family to check out the Egyptian Antiquities from the Louvre exhibit at the Art Gallery of WA.

The exhibition itself was spectacular with an amazing selection of artefact's dating back thousands of years and in amazing states of preservation.

One of the most interesting aspects of the exhibition was the focus on the religious beliefs of the Egyptians, particularly pertaining to the afterlife. It is almost as if the Egyptians were preoccupied with death and the life beyond the grave.

One of the more interesting exhibits was a beautiful papyrus dating back to c500BC containing what is commonly referred to as the "Book of the Dead" or as it was known by the Egyptians, the Book of going forth by day. This book is essentially a Lonely Planet guide to the afterlife. It contains everything a deceased Egyptian needs to know about traversing the lands beyond the grave, facing the judgment of Osiris and gaining entry into the field of reeds, the Egyptian version of paradise.

As we made our way around the exhibition, I was struck by how knowledgeable the Egyptians wanted to appear about the afterlife. From the way they prepared their mummies and tombs right down to the Book of the Dead and its descriptions of the things the dead would encounter and the spells required to make it through the hall of judgment to paradise on the other side. They seemed to have every base covered and in immaculate detail.

It slowly dawned on me how different this way of looking at the world was to the Judeo-Christian way, and how different the Egyptian equivalent, the Book of the Dead, was to the Bible. Whereas the ancient Egyptians claimed great knowledge of the life that came after death the Judeo-Christian scriptures really don't deal much with it at all.

Where the Book of the Dead covered everything the newly deceased needed to know to traverse the perils of the afterlife, the Bible covers everything its readers need to know to traverse the perils of this life. Very few claims are made about the afterlife by its writers.

I think this caused me to think again about our place in God's plan. The afterlife (or lack of) is a given, one way or another we will all experience it, yet, the biblical text makes it clear, what happens now is of much more concern than what happens afterwards. Whereas the Egyptians were preoccupied with death and the afterlife, we, as followers of Jesus need to be preoccupied with life, and living it to the full! That's the lesson I learned from the Egyptians at the Art Gallery.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Science and the Bible - Part 2

Post moderns face the same problem in rejecting dogmatic proclamations of biblical truth as in accepting modern scientific explanations for the origin and continuation of the universe and all it contains.

If post modern Christians would apply they same level of scepticism to scientific hypotheses, such as the big bang and neo-Darwinian evolution (not to mention pop-sci-fi such as string theory), as they apply to the historical text of the Bible, their arguments would, at the very least, show some consistency. Hopefully enabling them to see more clearly the way in which the cultural ideals which resulted in fundamentalism in Christianity in the first place have also contributed greatly to fundamentalism in cosmological science.

In reality creationist beliefs (even those accepting of a cosmologically young earth) regarding the origin and continuation of the universe and the life which exists within it do not have to pose a problem for post-modern Christians. Rather the focus of their attention should remain on the over emphasis placed on these views as core tenets of the Christian faith and the out-moded approaches to apologetics that seem to be advocated by those who specialise in modernist apologetical models as a whole.

The post-modern Christian therefore must avoid all temptation to play the man and must stick to playing the ball – the ball being the questionable mode of apologetic operation, and not the origin belief of the individuals pursuing it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Science and the Bible

What's the problem with this quote?

In our experience, anti-evolution materials that do not use the Bible are overall much less effective. This is because the conflict is not over scientific facts fundamentally, but over the presuppositions that determine how we interpret those facts. The Bible provides the correct presuppositions about the past, enabling us to understand the scientific data correctly. If a person doesn’t accept the Bible as being inerrant revealed truth from God, then, since all beliefs about the past are equally impervious to scientific proof, there is no imperative for them to relinquish their evolutionary beliefs, even though biblical creation explains the bulk of the scientific evidence more plausibly.
Gary Bates, Creation Ministries International

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hirsch on Consumerism

Speaking to the insecurity of the human situation, it was Jesus who said "So do not worry saying, 'What shall we eat? or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matt. 6:31-33, emphasis in original). Consumerism is thoroughly pagan. Pagans run after these things (Gk. epizeteo"seek, desire, want; search for, look for"). Seen in this light, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Extreme Makeover, Big Brother, and other lifestyle shows are of the most pagan, and paganizing, shows on TV. Even the perennial favorites about renovating the house paganize us, because they focus on that which so easily enslaves us. In these the banality of consumerism reaches a climax as we are sold the lie that the thing that will complete us is a new kitchen or a house extension, whereas in fact these only add more stress to our mortagages and our families. These shows are far more successful promoters of unbelief than even outright intellectual atheism, because they hit us at that place where we must render our trust and loyalty. Most people are profoundly susceptible to the idolatrous allure of money and things. We do well to remember what our Lord said about serving two masters and about running after things (Matt. 6:24-33)...
...Offered "heaven now", we give up the ultimate quest in puruit of that which can be immediately consumed, be it a service, product or pseudo-religous experience. Consumerism has all the distinguishing traits of outraight paganism - we need to see it for what it really is.
From Hirsch, A. (2006) The Forgotten Ways, pp.110-111.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Discipleship without the Bible - Pt 1

One the biggest challanges and changes in MO I have experienced over the last few years has been the role of the Bible (or more specifically Bible reading) in the discipleship process.

Much of my life is taken up working with young people and, if you haven't worked it out yet, these guys have been born and bred on multi-media entertainment. From sharing movies, sounds and pictures on their mobiles to the latest video games consoles and the internet. They live and breath in a fast-paced, ever changing visceral world. But, unfortunately, books don't seem to have much of a place in this world and hence, the Bible isn't something that many of them are going to be interested in picking up.

This presents a whole range of challenges for those of us whose faith originates in the traditional, evangelical church. After all, the Bible is the word of God, and if we aren't drinking from the source we really aren't drinking at all.

So how can we effectively disciple a generation (or at least a significant segment of a generation) who just isn't into reading?