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I spend my days doing stuff for Soul Survivor NZ and my church "Blueprint" in Wellington NZ. I am perplexed, amazed, in awe of, and spend a lot of time thinking about this revolutionary called Jesus and what it means to follow Him.

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Final Movember Update

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 by Sam

With great relief we are entering the final stages of movember, and to be very honest I cant wait for the flippin month to end. I am thinking about going for a walk to a playground, and just sitting there enjoying the fact that the little children are not running away - screaming. I hope you appreciate that white trash nature of my photo; wife beater, aviator glasses, and the dirty dirty slug.
A huge shout out to Adam, Rob M, Rob Mc, Scott, Sam B, Dan, Chris, Matt P, Chez, Nathan C, Pete, Clay, and the many other mo-bros that have gone through this very dark month. If you want to have a look at the journey... update one. update two. update three. update four.

In other news...
It's business time, back from my much needed break and into a very full season as we start heading towards the very first Soul Survivor festival in January. I am curious to know how people get back on the horse spiritually, because I need to do that at the moment. It may be the mo effecting me in more ways than one, but I am in a bit of a weird space where I feel quite disconnected from God.

The problem is that life doesn't stop to let me have a bit of space to get back on the horse; I am up in Gisbourne this Saturday for a youth alpha training day, then speaking at the Rock church on Sunday night, and have a pretty full plate with different speaking things and churchy stuff etc till (gulp) May next year.
I feel like I have very little to offer at the moment, and the temptation is to just bluff it. And on top of this, I really don't want the motivation to get back on the horse to be because of what I have to do for God. I want it (and I think it is) because I want to be with God.
I really don't want to feel like a hypocrite, I despise playing the Christian game, I loathe saying one thing and living another, I desperately want to live with integrity. I need Grace yet again.

Grace; that amazing concept, that reality, that truth, that injustice. Grace which needs to be something alive in my heart right now, rather than just another head concept.

Micah 7:8 Do not gloat over me my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

Songs of Songs 8:5 Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on their beloved?

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Bono tells it like it is

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 by Sam

I will endeavor to shut up about U2 sometime soon, but please, have look at this clip of Bono giving a talk at the presidential prayer breakfast earlier this year. Very special stuff. I was listening to this feeling dry and discouraged, and it was like water to a thirsty man. Hat tip to Alan Hirsch for making me aware of it.

Update: Transcript of Bono's talk here

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The U2 Story

Sunday, November 26, 2006 by Sam

The U2 journey all started late last year when the lads found out that U2 were coming. We formed three teams; Team Alpha (Sam Bartos and me, sleeping overnight outside real groovy where tickets were being sold), team Bravo (the internet ticket team) and team Charlie (the phone ticket team). It was a cold rainy night, but well worth it as both team bravo and Charlie bombed out due to NZ going nuts trying to buy tickets. We got our dirty mittens on 16 tickets, some which were given as gifts, most them of them brought on behalfof mates that now owed us a beer. A very fond memory is of me and Sam B driving home after the all nighter listening to the U2 song "One"... I was getting a bit emo, looked across and saw that Bartos was in exactly the same state. We both blamed it on the lack of sleep.

A couple of months later I was doing some painting work at my parents house when I heard the absolutely gutting news live on the Rock radio station that U2 were postponing "indefinitely" their show. I couldn't believe it, and felt sure that they would not actually come.

As soon as we discover they were returning, the road trip got planned, and we all got as excited as little girls, with DVD screenings of old shows, yarns about set lists etc.

We arrived very early at the gig to get in line, hoping against hope that we would be near the stage. But with forty five thousand other people, we weren't hopeful. But unbelievably we discovered we were one of the first couple of hundred to be there, and so were guaranteed a spot in the eclipse... The American roadie that told us this became an instant legend in our books. The photo below is soon after we discovered that we were going to be close...

But just how close? After waiting for a couple of hours in the holding marquee we walked onto the field, an hour before the rest of the public were allowed in. Seeing the stage for the first time... again... emotional.

We settled down a couple of meters from the front of the stage, completely stoked about how close we were.

Again we settled in for another long wait nervously scanning the sky's as the clouds grew darker... I was gutted (but trying not to show it too much... yeah right) when it started pouring down. I knew that U2 would still play, but I didn't want the spirits to be dampened... (get it, dampened heheheh)

Thankfully it rained a wee bit during Kanye West's set (hip hop is not really my thing), but as he finished, the sky's cleared, and there was nothing to do but wait for the show to really kick in. I was super stoked to see Dallas Schoo (the Edge's guitar tech) in action. What a legend. Then the man himself sneaked on stage with the band and it was game on!!

It is hard to pick highlights from the set, it was incredibly to see literally everyone in the whole stadium going nuts to the songs, an incredible amount of energy and love around the place. "One tree hill" was a special moment, complete with some huge Maori designs on the LCD screens behind the band.

It was an incredibly beautiful night, and as you can tell from the photo of the crew after the gig, we were so stoked. One of the those incredibly memorable moments that will be forever etched in the old hardrive, and probably get bigger and better as the years go on.

Sorry if this sounds like one giant brag, I've just arrived home from Auckland, still stoked from the weekend. I'm presuming that Bono and the lads will be leading worship in heaven, so if you missed out there will be a gig one day that makes Friday night look like a small town pub show.


Dorkland Update

Thursday, November 23, 2006 by Sam

A couple of updates:

Firstly, my blog has gone from a lada, to a formula one race car thanks to the talents of Chris Darnell. Sweeeeet.

Secondly, Naomi will be happy to know that we now have rabbit skins. We took out the golf cart last night, and went hunting, shooting three rabbits.... with flippin air rifles. Awesome times, we were having so much fun that before you knew it, it was four in the morning.

Thirdly, I took the holiday hat off, and put on the Soul Survivor hat today, enjoying some great chats with Rich from St Pauls, a top bloke who totally understands the Soul Survivor DNA inside out, it felt like talking to an old mate. Then with Andrew Robinson from Tear Fund. I have high hopes that SS and Tear Fund will form an ongoing friendship, Andrew is a top bloke.

And lastly I met with Mark Strom the principal of BCNZ, and a bit of a hero of mine. He made a statement the middle of last year at a Hui I was at that has profoundly shifted my relationship with Jesus... "From guilt and fear to grace and freedom". Will have to post at a later time about how this has changed me.
It was very cool chatting to the guy, but I got to the end of our time and realized that I had done a classic Harvey. Basically I harped on talking about Soul Survivor etc, but when hanging with a guy like Mark Strom, as well as a general rule of thumb, I need to learn to ask more questions, and to work a lot harder on my listening skills. The dude has a lot of wisdom buzzing around in that head of his, and on the drive home I reflected that I really could have learnt a whole lot more. I am a wee bit gutted about my poor form on that conversation to be honest. What a legend guy though.

And lastly, Im super amped about going to a gig by a little known band called U2 tomorrow night... its like a dozen christmas's combined. I hope I can sleep tonight.

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A white trash road trip

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 by Sam

Its very nice to be up in Omaha beach north of Auckland with a bunch of mates to take a week to chill before the U2 concert at the end of the week. It feels like its being a long while since stopping.
Its being a mans man trip so far. A quick visit to buy some bait at the local fish and hunting store saw us walk out with a couple of air rifles and a machete as an impulse buy. Very rock and roll. Spot the numbers of weapons and murderous tools in the photo below. Very cool. Actually the whole trip has a very nice white trash feel with every guy sporting a slug of a mo, lots of fishing, guns, aviator sunglasses, and a lot of meat on the BBQ. All we are missing is the moonshine.
Im amped about U2, its seems surreal that it is going to happen. Im sure it will be one of those gigs that will go down in history, I would argue its worth selling your firstborn, or a non-essential limb. Thankfully all that was required was for me and my mate Sam Bartos (who caught a nice little snapper today) to camp out all night late last year, and here we are.
And yes we are behaving with our new air rifles (that shoot pellets at 850 feet per second). Kinda...

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Friday, November 17, 2006 by Sam

It’s the business end of movember, and it turns out that this molestache is just as bad as the last time I grew one, just thicker, with more substance.

I do want to have one little rant if I can. You will notice that I have gone for the classic “slug”. The slug is the purist form of movember. I have noticed a lot of people have chosen to go for the “handlebars”, or even the “beard that I will shave a couple of days near the end”. From my perspective, I wonder why you are bothering.

I am sorry is this sounds really harsh, but I am very passionate about his particular topic. Let me put it this way. Having the handlebars is like going for a nudie run with your boxers on. Whoopdeedo. You think you are participating, but there is no risk, no cost, and no fear of being caught looking like an absolute idiot (which by the way those with the slug have to deal with every day). The slug is where it is at… those with the slug are the ones on the edges of society, they are the ones shunned in public places, they are the lepers of our culture. I would contend that the word “mo” and “slug” are interchangeable, and therefore I would strongly argue that we could be calling it “slugvember”. Which raises serious questions about those who are choosing to have a more “culture friendly” version of the mo.

To those with the bars and with the beards I say… step up!!! Acknowledge your error, shave the offending part, and join the purist movember crew. You will be welcomed to the inner circle with the love and tenderness that only those with dirty slug mo’s can give. Wink wink

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This is my God...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 by Sam

I am (insert expletive here) sick and tired of people (in church out of church, wherever) thinking the God we follow is some kind of distant, boring, kill joy with a big beard. You want an idea about the type of God I am following and giving my life for... read on.

(Written by Mark Strom, the principle of BCNZ)

This God

This God could put on eyebrows and kneecaps, tear ducts and saliva glands.
This God could be born under the tyrants Augustus and Herod.
This God could accept the smells of shepherds, and the extravagancies of political emissaries.
This God could start life a vulnerable hunted child born into scandal.
This God could grow up under foreign domination and among terrorists and outcasts.
This God could sit in the street playing marbles.
This God could wear with pride the calloused splintered hands of an honest workman building the houses and fixing the furniture of half-castes, outcasts and bigots.

This God could ask his cousin to baptise him along with the rest of the crowd.
This God could make the best vintage Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon even when the guests were too drunk to know the difference.
This God could befriend a bloke in a tree with small man syndrome.
This God could enjoy a prostitute washing his feet, giving her his full and undivided attention, and ignoring the eye-rolling of lawyers and theologians.
This God could spend a whole night making a whip to crack over the backs of con artists who rip-off the poor.

This God could wrap the greatest truths in the simplest stories, and put a sting in the tail of every yarn.
This God could let himself hang on a tree, nails tearing at his sinews, blood, faeces and urine running down his legs.
This God could invite women to be the first to know that he was back.
This God could delay his own glorious homecoming long enough for a bite of breakfast on the beach and a yarn with an old friend to let him know there were no hard feelings and to pass on his mantle.
This God could take his own story and give it the most surprising ending.

This God, this God, is worth knowing.
This God could reach into the crevices of my soul to bring to life the longings I smother so pathetically and recklessly with shame and excuses.
This God could raise me up to life with him.
This God could give me every blessing he could give himself.
This God could draw me out of my petty self-interest without a hint of a ‘tut-tut’, a frown, or a patronising smile.
This God could be more infuriating and fascinating and gobsmacking than any god I could ever make up.

This God could love my obsessiveness and overlook my forgetfulness.
This God could laugh and cry with me, and come play with me.
This God could make me his glory.
This God could love me.
This God could trust me.
This God could never be safe, but always be good.
This God, this God, is worth knowing.
This God I want to know.
This God I know in the face and Spirit of Jesus.

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What songs make you Emo?

Sunday, November 12, 2006 by Sam

A while ago I was asked the question, "What songs make you dance?" which made its way to the blog with a number of crew weighing in with their foot tapping numbers. After some yarns with Naomi, its time to look at the flip-side, the underbelly, the darkside of that question.

What songs make you emo? What are your break-up songs? What songs just kill you when you listen to them? What songs manage to pull out your beating heart and put it through the blender? What songs should be illegal because they contain so much emotion?
Now this one should be an easy one to get warmed up on. Here is my stab...

Emo heart-break Songs (mainly due to girls)
UB40 - Don't break my heart (And yes, you can have a cracker with that cheese)
Coldplay - The Warning Sign (The chorus kills me, three words; break... up... song...)
Coldplay - What if
Breaks Co-op - Ima
Cake - Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps (a very perculiar break up song, don't ask)

General heart killer "send me into melancholy" songs
Mutemath - Its Ok
Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms
Eric Clapton - Lonely Stranger
Foo Fighters - On the mend
Pearl Jam - Nothingman
Radiohead - Exit Music (For a film)
Switchfoot - The Blues
U2 - Kite
Delirious - Our God Reigns

And pretty much everything by Jeff Buckley and my mate Matt Holleman


Blog World

Thursday, November 09, 2006 by Sam

There have being a some absolutely stunning posts by some of the crew, especially today.
Firstly, a huge shout out to Matt Parlane who has entered the blogging world, and has made my week, not just with his beautiful post on faith, but with his sterling effort on the mo.
Secondly Marko with a great honest call about cutting back on his speaking engagements. What a great model to imitate. I have being thinking about this post a lot today as I reflect on growing up in a home with a Dad as a church minister. And while dads pressures are very small compared to Markos, I am all about quantity and quality time with my old man, and missed dad a lot when he was away, and was stoked when we got to charge around together. Onya Marko!
Andrew Jones with a deeply moving honest reflection on some of his experiences growing up in the midst of some fairly gnarly times for his family, written in light of the whole Ted Haggard blowout.
Scot McKnight wrote some very inspiring stuff on why we blog and write. This blog, as well as the many conversations had during the course of this year have being sources of huge encouragement as well as challenge for me. I am very stoked I get to live in an age where we can have such constructive dialogue, and where communication is so easy.

And for those wondering if my life is spent in front of a computer trawling blog sites, sorry. My secret is this great little thing called a blog reader. I use the google one, there are heaps out there. Useful little thing that means I get to have the pleasure of reading blogs when they are updated, and means I dont have to trawl through them to see which ones have being updated with something decent. To let you in on a little secret, Im a wannbe geek, but I really suck at being one, and so if anyone knows better ways of doing this, please let me know. And also if you know how to make my blog look sexy, I will be stoked, coz I am not that sort of geek yet.


Movember Update - The challenge of Charles Simeon

Tuesday, November 07, 2006 by Sam

Well the mo is coming along nicely. I must admit that the idea of doing movember, and the reality of doing movember are very different. The idea seemed like fun, a good laugh, a journey with a bunch of mates. But the reality of standing in front of a bunch of young people and talking about Jesus, the meetings with youth pastors, as well as general interactions with strangers with this freaken slug across my lip is a whole different ball game. Thankfully I was in Masterton in the weekend, and the slug probably opened more doors than closed them. But is it worth it?
I think the answer is yes, certainly when I think about what this beast will look like at the end of the month.

On a whole different tangent, I have been reading a biography on a guy called Charles Simeon who died in 1836 and was an Anglican minister back in the day. He was a bit of a legend because he would preach Jesus, and people got so agitated by his sermons that they would often get interrupted by some of the more powerful church members. But people flocked to hear him speak. The guy is a flippin legend for a whole bunch of reasons and I don't want to write a long post on why... you might as well just read a book on him. But one particular moment did stick its head out as one worth reflecting on.

"Simeon invariably rose every morning, though it was winter season, at four o'clock... he devoted himself the first four hours of the day to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures."

Straight away my mind started getting warmed up thinking ..."damm those morning people, they have it so easy. If I wasn't so nasty in the morning I would be that spiritual as well".

Then I read "The early rising did not come easily to him; it was a habit resolutely fought for and acquired. Finding himself too fond of his bed, he had resolved to pay a fine for every offence, giving a half crown to his servant". The hilarious thing is that Charles soon starts justifying why his servant needs the money, and so has to up the anti. He would fine himself a guinea (money not an animal) and throw it into the river if he slept in. Which was a lot of money for a guy living by faith. A hardcore guy.

What a challenge, and I wonder if the young leaders of today's church (point finger at me and some friends) are getting way to soft, way to comfortable, and way to dependent on what we think we know of God, rather than spending time in scripture and praying with God, learning his thoughts, being filled with God's Holy Spirit before each day.
I finished Phillip Yancey's book; "Prayer", and again that was filled with challenge and conviction for me. I am very much reminded of Jesus' seemingly impossible challenges to "be holy like I am holy" etc. And once again I am faced with the tension in my life of what is, and what should be, and deep inside I desperately want the "what should be".

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Jesus makes me uncomfortable

Friday, November 03, 2006 by Sam

Latest article I have written for Soul Purpose ezine is here. Hopefully it speaks for itself, but im becoming increasingly aware of this rumbling in my heart for something far more "Jesus centered" than "christian culture centered" in my life, and in my communities. In conversations with many people it seems that I am not alone in feeling this growing anger, tension, frustration about what is... and what could and should be. What excites me is that this holy frustration is bubbling over into action, into life choices, into churches and communities looking outward rather than inward. Every week I encounter someone who is living out some very practical initiatives to help those on the fringes in our world.

This is why I love spending time with Darryl, because for all his shallowness and anger, he is hurting and burning for the poor, he loathes injustice. This is why I am listening to Tony Campolo every freakin day at the moment, because he is angry and frustrated about the Church's response to the needs of the poor, and he is frustrated at his governments social and fiscal policies. This is why I love the work of Urban Vision and UNOH. This is why I think Soul Survivor rocks and I hope will provoke a lot of discussion and action about the call for followers of Jesus to be active in pursuing justice, and looking to the needs of the poor both locally and around the world.

Guys like Darryl, Campolo, Ash Barker light fires. These people are modern day prophets reminding us that for the most part, we have forgotten the poor. These people spark the conversations and draw attention to the uncomfortable way that Jesus related to people, to the way that Jesus spoke, acted, the things that made Jesus angry, and passionate , the places and people where Jesus put his time.

The reality is that I cannot stand before God and plead ignorance to the cause of the poor, thanks in part to the guys I have mentioned. And I am acutely aware that my theory craps all over my practice. I am yet again very uncomfortable with what it means to truly follow Jesus...

Here endeth rant

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The theology of Movember

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 by Sam

And so it begins. Day one of MOvemeber, and it is set to be a stunner with a huge contingent up for it. You may notice that there is a bit of a shadow on my face already. Well that is because I forgot to shave last night before the big month, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that this will be the perfect foundation from which to launch the molestache. I am even thinking about going for the handle bars, but will wait for a good weeks worth of growth before I decide on that one.

I have being thinking about the spirituality of movemeber... and before you jump to the conclusion there has being too much wacky backy floating around the water supply in kapiti, hear me out. My theory is that most of the time I am wwaaayyyy too serious, and rightly so in most cases with a lot of the crap in the world, not to mention the church as we know it to get bugged about (and to blog about!). But at the end of the day, life is to short to be serious all the time, and I don't want to be part of any church movement that cant have a good long laugh at itself.
And so opportunities like movember are a God given gift where someone like me (and about half of NZ) can grow a bit of stupid hair, look like an idiot, and join a bunch of mates who are equally foolish to do this little adventure. My mo has produced a bit of joy in my heart, and hopefully my mates as well as complete strangers will get a good laugh out of it. And if there is anything we need in the world today, its a bit more joy.

What I love about Soul Survivor is the stated value that we "take God very seriously, but we don't take ourselves seriously". As you can imagine this has meant that Soul Survivor has got in a bit of trouble from time to time when shanadigans get out of hand. But I would far rather be part of a group that gets in trouble from time to time because the fun went a wee bit too far (mmm, or in my history... way too far but that is a story for another time)... than part of a boring, rule driven group that is lame and dull and is no flipping fun to hang around. So if you are at the festival in January, come prepared...

Game on folks

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