The Favour of God Doth Rest on Grendel

Either that or he’s a lucky bastard.

Go to his blog and find out that he won a car thru the Sunday Times.


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Having heard him ruminate for over a year now about buying a newish car its great to see him not even having to worry. Of course I doubt he and Mrs G & the boys will be driving around in the Mitsubishi Cabriolet Convertible – somehow it just doesn’t say ‘family car’, but hey, once he offloads it then there is plenty of choice out there.

I once won a wheelbarrow.

Once was an Evangelist

I think I used to be an evangelist… but even then I’m not so sure…

You see when you are a youth pastor, especially one with significant influence there is a very strong ‘power’ relationship with the young people in your care and their desire to emulate you can make them quite easy to influence towards the gospel. I know that in my time as a youth pastor I intentionally guided many young people into faith. They seemed to want to go there, but I am also aware that because of my position I was able to exert an influence that few others had. I never sought to use that influence in an inappropriate way, but in hindsight I am aware that it was there.

Even as a senior pastor I had influence with those in the church sphere when it came to issues of spirituality. People would listen to me, sometimes defer to me and again I was able to influence some towards faith. I was the bloke who ‘knew stuff’.

However in recent years I haven’t been able to do that. Minus the position and status accorded to me as a pastor, I don’t seem to have the same influence among my friends who are not Christians. To my friends I am… a friend… Hamo… just that.

They tend not to be ‘impressed’ with me nor want to be like me. Nor are they likely to defer to my superior knowledge of all things spiritual, because they have their own view on these issues, some of them strong and well constructed and my view is not considered at all ‘superior’.

I really thought I was an evangelist, but these days I am not so sure. Without the leverage of some kind of position I have found it hard to influence people towards Jesus and I haven’t been able to help anyone experience ‘new birth’ or whatever term you choose to use.

For a ‘missionary’ its been pretty disappointing and it often causes me to consider giving it away. I wrote a post a few weeks back that in the end I chose not to go public with – a lament of sorts about where I find myself. It was a little too raw for the public environment! (This is a mellow reflective version of it)

This issue has caused me a fair few questions, questions I am still mulling over.

As we live as missionaries here in Brighton are we just ‘not very good’ at what we are doing?… That’s not a self pity question. Perhaps we are just shitty missionaries. Perhaps we would fail missionary endeavours 101… Although to be honest, without blowing my own trumpet, I don’t think this is it.

Am I who I once thought I was?… Interestingly much of my ‘evangelism’ has been oriented around intellectual discussions and rational argument for faith. This was in vogue 20 years ago, but now people care less for the coherence of an argument and more for the experience of a faith. “If it works we will consider it.” Interestingly, I have also become more aware of the difficulty of arguing logically and coherently for the truth of the gospel! While there is much that makes sense there is also much that is simply taken by faith – even if we would prefer not to admit it. I have a much more humble take on my grasp of faith than I did as a 20 year old. In the last 20 years evangelism has also become much less confrontational / propositional and much more relational / experiential. This does not play to my strengths at all. Perhaps I was an evangelist in that more cognitive, combative world?

Then I wonder if this really is just a tough place to be missionaries. A middle class environment in boom town Perth isn’t easy, but honestly I don’t think anywhere is easy. I am told that the people who churches are ‘reaching’ are usually the down and out, the poor and needy. I think this is great, but I am concerned for how we connect with the middle class who make up the vast bulk of Australia. And I am concerned to see real disciples formed, not just church attenders.

I wonder if we should just pull up stumps here and move on… I wonder if there are easier places – better places – more open places?… We do sometimes consider overseas missionary work and I wouldn’t write it off (Tasmania is a nice place), but my own sense of desire to somehow connect the gospel with middle class westerners is very very strong. In fact it could almost be seen as masochistic I reckon. For a results oriented person to be a backyard missionary is just a bad mismatch…

I really don’t know what the future holds. Some days I would like ‘out’ of what I feel called to. Some days I wonder if I made a big mistake just setting out in this direction. I usually have a meltdown once or twice a year, but this is not a meltdown, its more a question of how I best invest my life.

As our Upstream team shrinks, and we seem to find it impossible to recruit missionaries (most people are ‘seeking good worship, a kids program and good teaching…’ ) I sometimes consider going back to leading a larger church where there are some people to inspire to action. But I’m not sure if I could slot back in again… I may have gone beyond the point of no return.

Then again maybe those goal posts would shift as well!

Anyway, I realise this may sound somewhat depressive. It is a tad. But that’s life sometimes isn’t it. I have a wonderful family, my life is pretty rosy in many ways, but I live with an ongoing sense of disappointment that I haven’t been able to accomplish what I had hoped and I am not sure if I ever will.

A few people have suggested that my struggles have not allowed me to enjoy the journey – partially true. There have been times when I have missed out on the enjoyment of our experience because I am results oriented. Then again I tend to be someone who climbs mountains to reach the summit. If its an endless scenic tour then I’d rather just buy the postcard.

In Jesus Love has won.

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

 “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, always.” Mohandas Gandhi

I’m off to Indonesia this Friday (forgive me my carbon debts) to the Historic Peace Church Gathering on behalf of AAANZ and Quakers (It will be a bunch of very respectable, intelegent and impressive people from around the world… and this dreadlocked kid from Perth!).  So this will be my last ‘Wednesday with Gandhi’ for the year.  It’s funny I set out to write about a bunch of stuff that I didn’t get round to but I trust the Spirit will take what I have done and use it to invite and inspire people to know in deeper ways for themselves this Jesus that Gandhi said was the greatest practitioner of nonviolence in history, central to his revolution in India, and the one through whom, I believe, God’s dream for creation has broken into history.

I thought I’d end by letting you in on a little of the life of our community. Us Peace Tree mob can say with our hero Dorothy Day “We have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” As a community we seek to ‘serve in silence’ and not make a big deal of what we do but since the gang fights and the subsequent killing in the street behind ours was so public and made the news overseas, we thought we’d let our light shine in the hope that it doesn’t glorify us but the God who is transforming our world not through force but through a love seen fully in Jesus.

As Eastern Orthodox bishop Kallistos Ware writes (I love this quote);

“The Cross, understood as victory, sets before us the paradox of love’s omnipotence.  Dostoevsky comes near to the true meaning of Christ’s victory in some statements which he puts into the mouth of Starets Zosmia:

“At some thoughts a man stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and he wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide: “I will combat it by humble love.” If you resolve on that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world.  Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.” “

We witnessed something of this humble love and healing on Saturday with our ‘Peace and Pizza’ event in response to the gang killing in our streets. As Nick Cave might put it “God was in the house” (well… garden). The family of the 18 year old kid who was killed bravely join us as well as many indigenous people and white fellas like me. We had yummy wood fired pizzas, great music, and Maori, Noogar and Wajalla (as well as  people from Malaysia, Iran, Indonesia, Kenya and elsewhere) came together for a time of silence to honour the life of John[ston] the young man who was killed and tree planting and prayer for an end to violence in our neighbourhood and our world. Thanks for all who have supported us Peace Tree crew over this time. Please keep the families involved, and our neighbourhood in your prayers. 

These photos were taken by our good friend and brother Tom Day who is an amazing photographer now in Perth. (his website is worth bookmarking: )


 the guy with the dog in this photo is classic 🙂

Prayer with the family that have lost their loved one on our streets.


This was one of the most moving parts of the day when Noogar elders, parents and children helped to plant a tree to honour the life of a Maori boy killed by a Noogar gang.  It was truly beautiful and touched the family and the community gathered deeply.


Youth Worker, Community gardener, co-chaplain at Hampton High and Peace Tree brother Josh Hobby, helps plant the tree with one of the family members.




Thanks to all who have journeyed with me and Gandhi this year. I can still be found at Thanks more so to all who don’t put out PR releases but quietly go about living the decision “I will combat it by humble love.”   

You inspire me to know Christ more, to walk in the resurrection more. You witness to the reality that in Jesus love has won… and not even violence’s ultimate threat of death can stop resurrection power.

Grace and peace of the new world breaking in be with you,


Random Reflection on Business Ethics

In the few short weeks I have been running the retic business I have seen how easy it would be to be shonky and take advantage of people. It makes me wonder how many times in the past I have been shafted and not even known it.

On a couple of jobs there has been extra work to do – work that was not quoted for and that was going to be an extra expense. As I sat and worked it out I tried to make the cost as little as possible as I know what its like to be hit for extra. The first person I had to up the price on was completely blase ‘oh yeah whatever…’ I think I could have made it an extra $800.00 rather than extra $400.00 and I would have had a similar response.

Yesterday I was doing a job for a young couple and it turned out there was some extra digging to be done and some extra parts to be purchased. The extra cost was $140.00 – quite a bit I would reckon for a couple of young 20’s. I did it as cheaply as I could and made a minimal amount out of the extra work.

But… if I were a bastard (a bigger bastard than I am 🙂 ) then I could easily have told them it was another $300.00 and they would have been over a barrel. I was almost finished and they needed the work completed so they would have had to pay. They were in a corner and I could have almost asked any amount and got away with it.

These thoughts cross my mind, not because I want to screw people over but because it highlights the level of trust we operate with in so many aspects of life.

Then today, as I picked my car up from the local mechanic today he charged me for 30 mins work because it running fine and didn’t need any more done to it. I thought that was pretty sweet. $44.00 all up – because that was all it cost.

I actually think the vast majority of people are quite honest and while they want to make a decent living they don’t want to screw anybody. I guess the tension point is the gap between what is fair and what is ‘expensive’ and how we navigate parasomnia free

Nuts & Bolts

All the talks from this Forge WA Training Day have now been uploaded.

If you’re interested in the nuts & bolts / practicalities of starting a missional incarnational community then you ought to tune in here. It was a great day and really worthwhile for those on the journey.

I also noticed that because it was very practical and specific, those who didn’t have the background at times were struggling to grasp the ‘why’ of what we were proposing.

If you want to listen then go here cooler the movie star wars episode v the empire strikes back movie

Harder Soil

I posted recently about hard soil

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and my conclusion was that in ‘hard soil’ you just keep chipping away…

Well, today I went to a reticulation job where the soil was like rock. After 10 minutes of ‘chipping’ I concluded that in the absence of something more substantial it was going to be a very long day. It was off to Bunnings to buy a pick/mattock where I could hack at the soil and break it up in a much more aggressive way. It worked and shortened my day significantly. Large slabs of crusty surface ‘soil’ broke away and I was able to form a trench.

I’m not sure what the implications are for ‘hard soil’ mission – but I wonder if some times in this suburban context we need to get the pick out and swing like a crazy man?

But what would that mean?…

Just some random thoughts at the end of the day!

Orthodoxy and heretics like Calvin?

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“Today I rebel against orthodox Christianity, as I am convinced that it has distorted the message of Jesus.  He was an Asiatic whose message was delivered through many media, and when it had the backing of a Roman emperor it became an imperialist faith as it remains to this day.”

Mohandas Gandhi, (May 30, 1936) from “Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings” by John Dear, p. 79

I’d like to start this post not just with a quote from Gandhi, but a quote from 3 others:

Quote 1.

“Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt.”

Quote 2.

“Anyone who can be proved to be a seditious person is an outlaw before God and the emperor; and whoever is the first to put him to death does right and well. For if a man is in open rebellion, everyone is both his judge and the executioner; just as when a fire starts, the first man who can put it out is the best man to do the job.”

Quote 3.

“If what I’m saying about the centrality of Calvary-looking love is right, we need a major paradigm shift on how we view orthodoxy – which in turn should effect who we see as the “heroes” of orthodoxy.”

If the words of this last quote were written and acted on in the 16th century the writer could expect a second baptism of the involuntary variety where you never come up for air again.  These aren’t the words of some dreadlocked, kingdom-fuelled, commune starting, dumpster diving, fringe-dwelling, freegan, (eco)activist, permaculturalist wanta-be  (but thanks for reading my posts anyway ;)) but of Charismatic-Evangelical megachurch pastor, and theologian, Dr. Gregory Boyd.

So what his problem?

Well… quote 1 and 2 were written in the 16th century.  Not by some crazed peasants fuelled by a violent feudal variety of liberation theology on some crazed apocalyptic crack (but enough about Münster). Rather from the two men that many evangelicals consider the golden boys of the Reformation:

  • Quote 1: John Calvin (after the execution of Servetus for preaching a non-Trinitarian understanding of God )
  • Quote 2: Martin Luther (in a pamphlet one historian described as “boldly encouraging the slaughter of peasants” who held agendas other than that of the Elector of Saxony)

Now Dr. Boyd and I aren’t arguing for a reactionary “they sinned so I’m going to discount their whole work”. There are too much faults in my own life to be able to even want to argue something like that (!!) and there is also too much richness in the work of these brilliant men. On that logic we also have to discount the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, John H. Yoder, Gandhi and… well… everyone except Jesus! 😉 That kind of dismissive approach shows little spiritual maturity and a lack of hard work in coming to terms with, and removing the logs from, our own eyes in our own contexts.

So from a deep desire to first remove our own logs and then assist the church in doing likewise, this recovering sinner would like to raise some questions regarding the bench marks for orthodoxy. Why is it that the litmus test for orthodoxy for many evangelicals has been frozen in the 16th century in the thought of brilliant men who never the less had theologies that made it possible to disobey Christ’s commands to put away the sword, love our neighbour and even enemies like God has loved us (ie. not drowning, beheading or burning those who disagree with us). In particular questions about the bench mark of “orthodoxy” being systems of theology which fail to preach Christ crucified in ways that keep Christ central for atonement AND discipleship.  That have found approaches to preaching Christ crucified in ways that have failed to bear fruits that look like the church refusing to crucify others!! That have failed to continue reforming to an extent that we no longer perpetuate a history of Christianity that looks like the patterns of this world and nothing like the Christ who rejects the sword and goes the way of the cross trusting only in the faithfulness and sovereignty of a God who hears the cry of those in captivity.

Pastor Boyd suggests 16th century magisterial reformer John Calvin of the “worst heresy imaginable” in killing those who were in error. Greg’s argument:

“The New Testament defines agape love by pointing us to Jesus Christ (I Jn 3:16). To love someone is treat them like Jesus has treated you — dying for you while you were yet a sinner… Now follow me: If love [not a sentimental ideal but incarnate in Jesus] is to be placed above all else, if everything else is to be considered worthless apart from love and if everything hangs on fulfilling this one law, how can we avoid the conclusion that refusing to love even our enemies is the worst heresy imaginable? To miss this all important point renders whatever other truth we may possess worthless.”  

I wonder if one of the biggest heresies in the church today is a clever trick where by we keep the centrality of the cross in our understanding of atonement yet have created systems where the cross-shaped love of Jesus is not central to how we understand issues of power, of how we get things done, how we do conflict, how we relate to enemies, our way of being in the world (ie. following Jesus or “discipleship”). And I wonder how any theological system which is blind to this can be considered fully “orthodox”. For surely right belief leads to right practice?  And maybe it’s not until we start to practice what Christ commands of us that we can start to understand our belief. For doctrines (not a popular word but important none the less) such as the Trinity aren’t just boxes to tick but profound realities of who God is to be expressed in our lives.  So it seems that not just Servetus but Calvin was also in error regarding how he understood the Trinity because it didn’t express itself in refusing to kill his enemy because of the kenotic, self giving love, love that is seen in the Holy Trinity.

I recently wrote to our blogging mate Andrew Jones (aka tall skinny kiwi) regarding discussions of the Reformation:

Mate I was thinking the reformation conversation seems very ‘Magisterial-centric’ (did I just invest a word?). I don’t understand why we let Calvin or Luther set the bar for “orthodoxy”. What about the radical wing of the reformation that insisted orthodoxy lay in the witness of the early church and were therefore willing to die but not kill for Christ? I feel embarrassed that the conversation gets so nasty. While we don’t kill our brothers and sisters today over difference (in doctrine… we might still kill them in difference of nationality if asked by our nations in war) we still don’t think loving each other means not attacking each other. Why is that? What about Jesus’ Lordship in this area? If we really think each others in error should there not be tears in prayer for one another not ‘virtual burnings’. I think the church is still in need of a savour who rejects violence, and I think we have one in Jesus. Surely these conversations can be opportunities to for the church to journey deeper in the process of sanctification, of ‘divination’ as the Orthodox have put it, in become more Christ-like. If we can’t love our sisters and brother well how are we going to love our enemies?

Today there is a direct correlation between the theology of these 16th century magisterial reformers and evangelical leaders in the U.S. like James Dobson and Don Carson who actively oppose other evangelical leaders in actions like the ‘Evangelical Climate Initiative’ to prophetically confront the biggest ecological disaster in human history.  This is the same group that reject much of the work of who I think is one of the most promising thinkers on a ‘Jesus shaped orthodoxy’, N.T. Wright. They do this on the basis that his scholarship challenges some of the ways the Magisterial Reformers have taught us to read the Bible in light of their argy-bargy in the 16th century. And while gifted communicators Mark Driscol are able to use these Reformers to critique some of the stuff that passes for Christianity today such as the “success, self help and saved by rapture” nonsense, until we can let Christ be central to our critique we will not recover the dynamic faith and faithfulness of the early church which challenges the practice of these reformers (and our) comfort with violence.

But I’m not holding Gandhi up as a theological alternative. Gandhi was far from Christian orthodoxy in his beliefs and though I think conversation with his life is incredibly fruitful for discussing the log in our eye as westerners who claim to follow Christ, I have never held him up as providing a theological framework for deepening ourselves in the biblical narrative. Yet the “orthodoxy” which Gandhi rejected I think is no orthodoxy at all. An orthodoxy with an “imperialist faith”, that plays the chaplain to the kingdoms of this world that crucified our Lord is not “orthodox’’ (lit. “Right believe”) but a dangerous heresy. (for those interested here’s a link I put to a short 2min interview with Dr. Cornel West on this subject and photos of our Peace Tree ‘commun(e)ity’ and our initial response to the recent gang killing on our streets). 

So this plea for a Jesus-shaped orthodoxy will not be found in out arguing each other but out living (out witnessing! 🙂 ) each other. We remember the only way we can deepen in orthodoxy is by prayerfully seeking to do so in a way that reflects the way of Christ, after the likeness of the mutual love of the Triune God who is fully revealed in Jesus of Nazareth. In the love we see in the cross and the power we see in the Resurrection. We must learn to engage in ways where we deepen our journey of discipleship. Where we become more aware of our own desperate need for God’s transforming grace that lead us on the exodus journey out of our own captivity to the cycles of domination that can never witness to what God has started in Jesus, the kingdom of God.

ABC’s Radio National did an interview with me and others on parts of the Reformation traditions which insisted that following Christ means living Christ-like lives where we drop our weapons that we may pick up our cross: Here’s the link if interested

and an article on the “emerging peace church movement” and an orthodoxy in keeping with the witness of the early church: click here

Jesus for President (and PM!)

 Guest blogger in the backyard: Jarrod McKenna

Our friend Shane Claibourne, that mega-phone of amazing grace is at it again, this time campaigning for “Jesus for President”! dark reprieve dvdrip download

Amish for Homeland Security 

to read an Australian take click here

For a video explaining why you shouldn’t vote for Jesus this election click here

So as we go into this weekend, big respect to all those who will remember their identity in their baptism not in their nationalism. Big respect to all those that put precedence in God’s good earth and our ecological crisis over the economics of greed. Those who prioritise the poor, the orphan, the widow and the refugee the over promises of empty prosperity of Mammon and protection of a military. Those who remember that our primary place of political engagement is not in an election booth but in being the body of Christ together and living the politics of peacemaking and compassion that are the very texture of the new creation. This I pray for us all regardless if you vote or not. 🙂

Lockridge Community Garden

That’s what us Peace Tree crew will be seeking to do.  In response to the gang related murder on our streets we’ll be firing up the wood fired pizza oven in our Lockridge Community Garden and inviting diversity of mobs to break bread (with yummy topping on it) together.  As Shane Claiborne kindly said of what we’re praying for,

“One of the doctors I met in Iraq said (with tears in his eyes), ‘This violence is for people who have lost thier imagination.’ Jarrod McKenna and the good people of EPYC are prophets of imagination. They are on a mission to create new heroes and sheroes and to reclaim God’s dream for this world. And as they help young folks to learn not to hurt each other, hopefully the nations will take some lessons.”

I think it will be here at the table, in the garden as we share what we have and seek reconciliation we’ll be inspired to find our imagination of a different kind of politics free of coercion.  The politics of grace. All welcome! 🙂 

Out of Business in Sydney!

As I told Sydneysiders that I was running a retic business they looked at me in disbelief.

These guys are allowed to water their lawns twice a week with a hose… so there is absolutely no need at all for a business like mine in the East.

It makes you realise the fragility of these kinds of businesses when all it takes is some extreme water restrictions and the whole thing would be down the gurgler!download jingle all the way dvdrip


I was surprised by this place.

I expected a grimy industrial city with a bunch of rednecks!

It was a beautiful place and I got to hang with some wonderful people from the local church down there. Even better, they were coffee nuts and ‘home roasters’, so I was kept in good coffee by those around me. Further proof that there is a God!

It was a great time, but I’m glad to be home again.

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