Sunday, August 31, 2008

Aiireland, London and Norway

Well, it seems that I haven't updated this blog in quite some time. My humblest apologies.

What's been happening over the past few weeks? I flew from Washington to Dublin - and somehow or another an hour delay on the US end made for a five hour delay in Heathrow airport. I couldn't get an earlier flight because my luggage was already checked through for the later one - and then once I got in, the luggage was left behind in London anyway. I quite dislike Heathrow airport. It all just seems so messy.

But it was cool being in Dublin, because it meant I got to see Steve, Trudy, Libbeth and Jordi again, but perhaps overshadowing them was the fact that Matti came along for the ride too! We were doing a kids club, and I got to meet a bunch of other cool people who were helping out also.

Here's a photo that basically sums up the awesomeness of the time:

And here's a photo of the most brilliant shop name in the known universe:

Heh, it makes me laugh every time.

The kids club went really well, the kids certainly seemed to enjoy themselves, and they memorised some good verses and stuff. Matti and I spent a few days reading through Romans, which was really quite helpful and insightful to read through as a pair rather than by oneself. I also got to read a few excellent books, which I've sent back with the Aussie guys for you to have a browse if you feel like a good read.

Speaking of good reads, I'm currently reading "Humility: True Greatness" by CJ Mahaney, which is excellent. I'm also investigating the doctrines of grace, which has been quite humbling and a real eye-opening journey for me. I'm turning into a Calvinist, watch out.

After Ireland, I changed my flights so that I could spend a few days in London/Ipswich with the rest of the guys. Because I was with a bunch of girls, I got to have the Hugh Grant tour of London - which basically says that if Hugh Grant was filmed there, then you have to see it. Also got to watch the second half of Timon of Athens in the Globe, which is about as authentically Shakespearean as they come. Now I can say I've done it, and be a true English/Drama teacher.

Currently I'm in Hamar, Norway, hanging out with my mate Stian who I've been chatting to over MSN since I was 13 - seven years, and we've finally met. It's pretty cool, but mega expensive here. Getting the chance to catch up on a whole bunch more reading and podcasts and all round learning stuff which is very exciting.

Should find out in the next few days where I'm off to next - won't share all the details now, but just be praying that the university will let me do correspondence study, ok?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Giving back to the generous

I don't have time to do a full entry as I'm just in an Internet cafe in Ireland...

But I got to pay back some generosity! Bob Kauflin said that I could take some stuff in to the church and they'd send it home for me, which saved me a lot of money. So I took a bag in, and Kyle was there (I'd met him a few times), and he jokingly said he'd only do it if I gave him a copy of The Nugget and The Castle (some guys from Perth had shown him them and he thought they were the funniest movies ever).

His face was absolutely priceless when I told him I actually had a copy of The Castle in the car, and went out and gave it to him! He was stoked. So now I feel like I've repaid a little something to the Sovereign Grace guys - only a little though!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sovereign Grace

Man, those guys are generous.

I was at the WorshipGod08 conference (at Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland) from Wednesday to Saturday, and it was freaking awesome. Got so much good stuff out of it, which I'll have to reflect back over notes to share with you guys. But the greatest part about it was that it was a mixture of great theology about worship and actual practical application.

The conference was based on the Psalms, and one of the main things I got out of it came from David Powlison - that because Jesus is the God-Man, not only is He the person being beaten, rejected and scarred in the Psalms, but He's also the faithful God who delivers from trials and persecutions. He truly can relate to our situations, and He truly does deliver us from those situations. We have a great God!

Because I was by myself, I ended up introducing myself to a bunch of people and hanging out with different groups, and somehow or another one person would lead to another, which would have me hanging out with a bunch of different Sovereign Grace pastors, many of which were on stage or writing half the songs on the CDs.

The culmination of this though came on Saturday, when I was chatting with Bob Kauflin (see the side-bar for his fantastic blog, he's been mega-influencial on me). It would appear that being Australian says to people over here "I've come a long way, therefore you need to spend time with me", it's quite a good badge to have! Anyway, whether it was my Australian-ness or just my all round coolness I'm not sure, but he invited me back to his place for lunch after church on Sunday, with a few other guys from the conference.

I was flipping stoked! I expected to maybe chat with the guy for ten minutes, and was now being invited back to his place to spend the afternoon with him! And what's more, "a few other guys from the conference" ended up including Tim Smith (the worship pastor at Mars Hill Church (with Mark Driscoll, who was the only "guy I want to be when I grow up" that I didn't get to meet on my trip, coz he's hanging out in Australia at the moment))!!! My jaw was pretty much agape at this point, being that I was now hanging out with TWO of the worship pastors from my TWO favourite American churches.

And that wasn't all, one of the other guys was Drew Shirley, the guitarist from Switchfoot! We reminisced about Hunter Harvest and how cool it was. Bob got everyone to have a few group think sessions about the direction of where Sovereign Grace was/should be heading, which was really surreal and massively humbling. Man, that afternoon was flipping awesome.

Also met some cool people from California, a few others from Sovereign Grace and another Aussie bloke and his South African wife who are currently living in Dubai.

But back to the generosity thing. Throughout the conference, the attendees were given three books for free, two lunches and a dinner for free, all the free water and "soda"/"pop" you could drink, and donuts on the last day. That wasn't all though.

One of the pastors I met up with over dinner (that Pat Sczebel shouted me, what a good bloke. He was Canadian) had just finished from the pastor's college, which I've been really keen on checking out. So he showed me through the offices and brought me to a bookcase, which had all of Sovereign Grace's self produced resources (such as Josh Harris' books, their CDs and all of CJ Mahaney's books ('Living the Christ Centred Life' and 'Humility' among others)). He said that everyone who comes to the office for the first time gets a free resource, so I got a copy of "Sex isn't the problem, Lust is" by Josh Harris, because "Humility" had completely sold out at the conference.

Anywho, then after talking with Bob Kauflin, he put me on to one of the Big Five, who I met up with on the Saturday afternoon (named Pat). This was extremely helpful for me, and he told me all about the college and we talked about my calling to ministry and how everything works and all sorts of stuff. He asked me whether I'd seen the resources shelves, and I replied that "Yeah, I got my free book, that was awesome".

Pat raises one eyebrow, and says "You got one book?"

He then proceeds to lead me out to the shelf, and plucks one of every CD and one of most books off the shelf, and shoves it into my hands. "Anything else you don't already have?" he asks, so I grab a few extra books, and comment that Humility wasn't there, which was the one I really wanted. So he enters the office of one of the financial bigwigs and asks if he has a copy of Humility - checks the cover to make sure it wasn't a personal signed copy (it wasn't) - and then hands it to me.

Man those guys are generous.

This post has already become massive, and I haven't even told you about meeting some of the Harris'! Long story short, I met Alex Harris (co-author of "Do Hard Things" which I'll send home to you guys) which was really cool. Then Gregg Harris, the dad of Josh, Alex and the lot of them sat down next to me and another guy I'd just met, and it took a second to click in who it was.

He was fantastic to meet, if only because if you've ever (like me) wondered how these young Harris guys can accomplish so, so much for the Big Guy, just spending five minutes with their dad pretty much instantly explains it. A very, very Godly man who puts everything into his kids. His advice for us was that fathers need to "Get a life", and then "Include their kids in that life". Good advice.

So much more to reflect upon and write about, but I'll leave that for another time. I'll leave you with this photo of all the stuff I got (three of the books I bought, but for half the price I'd have gotten them in Koorong!)