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What the Church Hasn’t Learnt Yet

homeless1

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog.

I’ve written over 50 drafts all of which are unfinished, considered different ways to share ideas conceived in the most obtuse places and situations in my life, but the one idea that has stuck with me the longest over the last few weeks, is the idea that I probably know least about.

It came out of a conversation I had with the CEO of a mission organisation in New Zealand.

I’m unsure of how our conversation got to this point, but our meeting turned into a discussion about where the church is weak – and I can speak frankly about this because I’m a part of the wider church I’m talking about.

An idea came out of our discussions which blew my mind. It rocked how I see one of our (the churches) biggest shortcomings.

I do understand that for some smarter than myself this may be something that has been on the radar for quite some time, but in my world this idea really shook me for the first time ever. The idea came out of this story.

The person I was speaking with told me a story of when he and his church at the time had organised an outdoor event celebrating a special date in the history of the Christian church in his country. He told me they had planned the event with aplomb, plenty of seating for all guests and an airtight programme for the events proceedings.

The event started, members of the hosting church began to speak and everything was going to plan – until members of the public began to respond to the event.

People passing by stopped and listened, others heckled, others sat around those seated to participate in what was happening – and this was not the plan. The person I was talking to told me they began to panic. He told me as people began to respond to their event in ways they had not anticipated – they were not ready. They didn’t know how to respond to those who weren’t invited.

This struck a chord with me. I couldn’t help but be reminded of other situations I had experienced of churches being ill equipped to respond well to the – ‘uninvited’.

I’ve been to churches where the doors are locked if people don’t arrive to church on time (this also means the ‘uninvited’ are locked out too). I’ve been to churches where they’re more concerned with a smooth running church programme than embracing the ‘uninvited’ who walk in off the street wanting to know more about the love the church so boldly preaches about. I’ve even been in churches where the ‘uninvited’ have been asked to leave fearing more for the flow of the service than for that persons immediate need.

I’m unsure if this has been an issue in the churches history, but in my experience this is definitely an issue in the churches present.

In my experience – a large part of the western church (especially in the middle class) are still novices at responding to the ‘uninvited’. In our pursuit of ‘righteousness’ we’ve isolated ourselves, grown scared of the people and groups that we should be drawn to. Our concern has become more about the comfort of our 99, than the outright priority of the 1.

This has turned into a bit of a rant and to be honest I don’t even know where this piece is heading. All I know is that our admission as a wider church that we have been rubbish at dealing with the ‘uninvited’ could spark a real movement in making the ‘uninvited’ the priority again in our meetings, in our communities, in our lives.

Am I going crazy? Have I missed the boat or should someone be screaming at me DILLUSION? I’m not sure. But that’s the topic that has stuck with me most over the past few weeks. Feel free to add to this conversation if you think I’m nuts. Thank you for humouring me.

Rant over.

Image credit: http://blogs.psychcentral.com

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Inspiration Only Goes So Far

Peter Snell

One of the awesome benefits of my blogging journey so far, have been the stories I’ve heard of people inspired by my writing to dream again, to do something remarkable, to throw caution to the wind and risk failure for freedom.

So in the interest of not wasting anyone’s time, this post is not for the guys I have just mentioned. You guys can go back to dreaming big and doing cool stuff.

This post is for ‘the inbetweeners’ (and I’m not talking about the brit comedy) – the people who read my posts, tell me they are loving what I write, indicate their 100% agreement with it, and then go back to their day-to-day lives.

I find you lot frustrating – and possibly because in a way you reflect my own internal struggles to turn inspiration into action.

You see the thing with inspiration is inspiration only goes so far. Inspiration will get you to your race – but it won’t get you to your prize. It’ll get you pumped about what you want to do, but it won’t do it for you.

You see if you want to do something remarkable – you need to involve yourself in your dream beyond just being inspired by it. You need to lace up your proverbial Nikes, do your stretches and get beyond the starting blocks and into your race of turning your dream into a real life journey, possibly for all of us to witness.

Now this message isn’t for those who are content with their current situation. If what you dream about is where you are now, then congratulations, you are the envy of millions of people who want to live in their dream like you, or at least live in real pursuit of it.

No, this post is for those in the space between ‘I’ve been inspired to pursue what I dream of’ and ‘I’ve started making moves turning my dreams into my reality’.

Inspiration may be the birth of your dream – but it’s beginning to live out that dream that really gives it life.

So if you’re one of those people who has been following my writing, and have been inspired by words that have been given to me for you to hear – I dare you to take the next step in making your dreams real. I dare you to leave inspiration in your wake and to pursue what’s been placed in your heart for all of us to benefit from.

That’s a part of why I started this blog. As this blog develops, you watch part of my dreams unfolding. My hope is that as you journey beyond inspiration, I will also have the privilege of watching and applauding your dreams unfold as well.

Photo credit: enricovivian.blogspot.com

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Review: The New Lorde Album – An Instant Classic

Lorde

I listened to the new Lorde album, Pure Heroine, over the weekend. New Zealand, I think we may have an instant classic.

Now I’m mindful that I may be a little biased by the fact that I am a patriotic Kiwi and Lorde is one of our own, but evidence for this album’s substance (get it substance) is found in the quality of the work, not my opinion – and judging by how Lorde comes across in her interviews, I think she and her team would have it no other way.

The album from start to finish intrigues you. Lorde invites you into her mystery that gradually unfolds throughout the album but never becomes fully realised. The album is like a piece of music that takes you on it’s journey that doesn’t reslove back to it’s root chord – a space where Lorde and her team have us right where they want us.

And musically, there’s so much to love about the album.

Lorde’s vocals and music are refreshingly unique. In a world of pop princesses who lack differentiation, Lorde’s sound has the world trying to figure out exactly where she fits – and I believe that’s exactly how Lorde and her team would have it. If people can’t decide where Lorde fits in the music industry, she remains out of the box, unlabelled, uncompartmentalised.

Some have tried to compare her to others in her music peer group, saying her sound is similar to artists like Lana Del Rey, but I think this minimises just how unique a sound Lorde has. To me, Lorde and her team have done a great job in beginning the crafting of a new sound which is why people are getting so excited – people want to join a new journey, one of new discovery,  of fresh potential unlocked – and in this 16-year-old from Auckland, New Zealand, people have found just that.

The drums on the album are something to behold. Simple but intricate. Understated but full – still artistic in nature, understanding that music can be found in the empty spaces of pieces as much as in the full bass lines and deep drum loops.

The production and songwriting on the album is also quality, meticulously measured, ordered in a way that best reveals the mystery Lorde and her team want the world to be part of.

It was difficult to choose my favourite tracks on the album (and to be honest I think this may change as I listen to the album more) but I would have to say my favourites on the album at this stage are Buzzcut Season, White Teeth Teens and Ribs. All very different, all great in their own artistic ways.

For me, this album goes down as one of the best albums to come out of New Zealand in recent memory with Lorde being one of our (New Zealand’s) most interesting artists. Her worldwide appeal is, and will be, birthed out of what makes her unique and that’s what really excites me about her and her music.

If this is the debut full-length album project, it’s frightening to think of the heights, and audiences, Lorde and her team can reach with their sound more refined, realised and shared. And the world eagerly awaits how that will play out – but in the meantime Pure Heroine will provide plenty of mystery and food for the soul until that time comes.

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7 Reasons Why New Zealand is the ‘Bestidest’ Country in the World

anaura-bay-is-a-beautiful-place-for-a-holiday-gisborne-new-zealand+12876276759-tpfil02aw-18318My name is Jesse.

I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and grew up in Onehunga and then Orakei. I am married to the beautiful Jennifer Jayne. My mum is Abigail Boyce, and my dad is John Kaafi. My mountain is Maungakiekie. My river is Wairoa River in Auckland.

I have always loved New Zealand – Aotearoa is home.

For us that live here, we know our land holds something special – but for those that don’t, there is a large misunderstanding of why Kiwis have such an affection for our homeland.

So for those who don’t know much about New Zealand or for ex-pats missing the place they’ve forsaken for this season in their lives, here are 7 reasons (or reminders) of why New Zealand, Aotearoa, is the ‘bestidest’ country in the world.

7 Reasons Why New Zealand is the ‘Bestidest’ Country in the World

1. Because in New Zealand, New Zealanders know what ‘Bestidest’ means

Here we have our own lingo. The real Kiwis understand it, the rest of the world wonder what the heck we’re talking about. ‘Bestidest’ means ‘whatever you said, but better than that’ and was a word we used or heard at primary school, along with ‘meanest’, ‘oosh’ and depending on where in New Zealand you’re from ‘ow-fulla-baye’. There’s plenty more lingo where that came from – but that’s just a taste.

2. Because to New Zealanders, the start of this post means more to us than just an introduction

In New Zealand, we believe that you are not just you. You are a part of something much bigger than yourself. You are a product of those who came before you and you’re closely connected to the land that’s around you. We don’t always introduce ourselves like this but knowing this is important to us.

3. Because in New Zealand, the people are ‘too much’

The other day on my walk to work I stopped and had a conversation with a stranger about the glorious weather and day ahead overlooking the Wellington waters from one of our mountains just by the CBD. Those conversations happen a lot. The people here are friendly and we look out for each other. That’s our people.

4. Because in New Zealand, we have the most gorgeous country in the world – bar none

I’ve done my share of travelling, but New Zealand is God’s country. Our whole country is a coastline, lined with glorious beaches and bays and in-land we’re surrounded by gorgeous mountains, lakes, rivers and bush. Summer’s here are about more than the weather – its about connecting with our land and connecting with our people. Hard to match that in any other part of the world.

5. Because in New Zealand bombs are a good thing

Here in New Zealand, whoever does the meanest bombs is the King of the river, lake, waterhole or pool they just did their bomb in. A bomb is jumping into water and trying to make a ‘meeean’ splash. To us it signifies fun, artistry and relief from the sun, not what other countries think bombs are. I think other countries have got it wrong.

6. Because in New Zealand, lifestyle is king

In New Zealand, we place a high level of importance on lifestyle. All kiwis know that in December and January, our country pretty much shuts down. We’re all at the beach, in bachs, down at the river and spending time with family and friends. This is who we are.

7. Because to New Zealanders, Aotearoa will always be home

All points here have their outliers, but the majority of our people know exactly where they want their life journey to lead to – ultimately back home – where the land is plentiful – where the lifestyle can’t be matched – and ultimately where our heart is.

So that’s just 7 of the many reasons why Aotearoa is the best country on the planet. This is why all us Kiwis love coming home.

This is why New Zealand is the ‘bestidest’ country in the world.

Bring on summer.

P.S. If you think of other reasons why Aotearoa is the bestidest, keen to know your thoughts. Chur

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Why I Write

Street poet

In regard to blogpost writing, I’ve had a rough last week or so.

The past few days have seen me write thousands of words, engineer and re-engineer hundreds of incomplete sentences and paragraphs and spend hours exploring real-life stories against truths I believe the world needs to hear.

All these actions work toward crafting that brilliant blogpost, the one with enough substance to impact the next person that reads it, who will positively impact the next person they interact with, and so on.

But this week, it just hasn’t been clicking.

I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s the change of season, maybe it’s the other projects happening in my life beginning to impact my ability to order my thoughts – I can’t quite put my finger on it.

But one thing I do know is this – my latest rough episode of blogging has not left me discouraged.

It’s because the reason I blog goes beyond clocking up large numbers of readers to follow my writing (though I am extremely humbled by the number that do) or the encouragement I’ve received to continue sharing my thoughts in this way (though this encouragement is appreciated).

The reason I blog is because I have a conviction that I am part of a group of people seeing the world differently for us, who have the capacity to share what they see, believe or hear from angles the world has never seen before.

I believe all of us are part of this group in some measure. We all hold something (or some things) that the world has not seen, heard or read about yet, until you’ve painted, played or written them for us.

And this is why I am not discouraged.

My belief that I hold pieces of writing within me that the world hasn’t read yet, and needs to hear, far outweighs my feelings of anxiousness when I can’t string two coherent words together within a timeframe I define.

I know I hold messages that need to be heard. And I know that my readers hold things that need to be shared too.

So for those reading my writing, I apologise for the delay between new blogposts. This piece is a little insight into my last week.

If you enjoy reading my writing and want to see more of it, be encouraged in this: I know I hold written pieces within me that can change the world, and that is why I write. That is why I share. That is why this pursuit continues.

That is why I am not discouraged. The right words will come. And when they do – I’ll be ready.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scootervagabond

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My All Black Team Prediction for the 2015 Rugby World Cup

RWC2015In some ways it seems like the 2011 Rugby World Cup was not that long ago.

It doesn’t take me long to conjure up the emotions I endured on that World Cup Final night as our All Black warriors tackled to a standstill to end our country’s 24-year World Cup drought. Oh what a night.

With the first game of the next World Cup scheduled for September 2015, somehow we are already at the halfway point between Rugby World Cups (man that went quick). So at this halfway stage – it is a great time for All Black enthusiasts like myself to begin to dream about how our team will take shape in the games premier showpiece.

This piece is not about how the All Blacks will fare in the 2015 Tournament – it’s focus is more on the players making the right noises in the New Zealand game to be selected for that All Black team to defend our Rugby World Cup crown.

The All Blacks completed a dominant year of results in 2012 as World Champions only dropping the one game and have yet to taste defeat after six tests in 2013 (including tests against France, Australia and Argentina). Some older heads of the New Zealand game are still making the right noises and Steve Hansen has introduced some exciting new talent who have shown real promise.

So based on these considerations, if New Zealand make the 2015 RWC Final, the team that I believe will be selected to run out onto Twikenham to defend our Rugby World Cup crown on that afternoon, will be:

15. Ben Smith

bensmith

In 2015, Ben Smith will be ruling the roost from the back. He will be at the peak of his powers come tournament time taking his kicking and running game to another level. This will be a close race with ‘Izzy’ but ‘Ghost’ will make every post a winner from now till the tournament cementing his place as the 2015 All Black first-choice fullback.

14. Julian Savea

‘The Bus’ will be making big noise as a player in 2015. Savea will give the All Blacks that power game they’ve utilised so well over the years. He has already scored 13 tries in 13 starts for the All Blacks. Potential superstar of the game.

13. Conrad Smith

‘Snakey’ will return from his sabbatical rejuventated ready for one more tilt at World Cup glory. He continues to lead our backline defense with aplomb and remains a cool head amongst a backline brimming with instinctive players.

12. Sonny Bill Williams

043085-sonny-bill-williams

If you caught SBW’s try assist on the weekend for the Sydney Roosters you would probably have come to the same conclusion that I did – SBW is far from done at the top levels of rugby, regardless of code. I’m picking him to terrorise defenses again, in union, in what will be his second Rugby World Cup tournament.

11. Cory Jane

Can you really go past this guy? I’m sure when opposing teams see his name on the team list they immediately put a strike through the words ‘aerial game’ on their strategy list. He’s the safest thing we’ve seen in the air in years. He also turns the impossible into the delightful with ball in hand. He’ll still be mesmorising defences in 2015.

10. Aaron Cruden

The future is here. Thank you Dan Carter for your wonderful service to New Zealand rugby but the 2015 Rugby World Cup will be Aaron Cruden’s time. Now back-to-back Super 15 Champion first five and still with a 100% winning record in tests he has started, Manawatu’s finest will be our best player to direct All Black traffic from the pivot at the 2015 tournament.

9. Aaron Smith

Continues to grow from strength to strength. Has shown that he belongs at this level and after back-to-back performances outplaying arguably the world’s top halfback (Will Genia) there are signs that he too may have it in him to be the worlds best come 2015.

8. Kieran Read

Possibly the most uncontentious selection across all enthusiast team lists for 2015. A natural leader and ball player, has all the markings to be in that top bracket of all-time All Black greats when he hangs up his boots.

7. Richie McCaw

His swansong. The Big Engine that always could. Will silence the doubters again. The G.O.A.T. Easy selection.

6. Steven Luatua

Steven_Luatua53

Will be a star of the game in 2015. A glimpse of a new prototype/hybrid rugby footballer, a player with the work ethic, graft and strength around the ruck fringes who can seamlessly take position in the backline as a great passer, runner and decisionmaker.

5. Sam Whitelock

A workhorse in the tight and around the field. Will be an automatic selection. He also brings tournament experience (will be his second RWC tournament).

4. Brodie Rettalick

A throwback in locking circles, will be a great asset for his hard edge and tenacious style. Will have grown into the role and will be firing on all cylinders come World Cup time.

3. Owen Franks

‘The Pitbull’ will be a 70+ test veteran of the game by the 2015 RWC Final – at the ripe old age of 27. Will still be a force in the game and possibly just hitting his straps at the tournament. Scary thought.

2. Dane Coles

Like Owen, Dane will also be 27 years of age but at a totally different point in his career. Yet to cement a place in the All Black squad at the moment, Dane has revealed glimpses of his ability with ball in hand. With Andrew Hore and Kevin Mealamu turning 36 in 2015 the tournament may be a bridge too far – so Dane, you’re next in line.

1. Tony Woodcock

Will be 34 years old, that’s only 28 in ‘Propping’ years. This would be Tony Woodcock’s final test for the All Blacks. The best loosehead on the planet at the moment, will have the fire to make one last statement before heading back to the farm in Kaukapakapa. An unassuming legend.

The Bench

16. Andrew Hore / Kevin Mealamu – hoping one of these two can still provide us with impact from the bench

17. Charlie Faumuina – explosive runner, good scrummager

18. Luke Romano – powerful, great work ethic

19. Liam Meesam – strength, impacting ball runner

20. T.J Perenara – quick, great passer and decision-maker

21. Dan Carter – one of the all-time greats

22. Israel Dagg – you’ve seen what he can do

Potential bolters: Tom Taylor, Ryan Crotty, Brad Shields, Benji Marshall, Ardie Savea, Frank Halai, Ben Afeaki.

So that’s my 2015 RWC Final team prediction.

Keen to know who you think will be making noise come 2015 RWC time.

Exciting times ahead. Go the All Blacks.

Photo credits: Richie holding cup – www.stuff.co.nz, Ben Smith – uk.eurosport.yahoo.com, Sonny Bill Williams – www.foxsports.com.au, Steve Luatua – www.superxv.com

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Don’t Sleep on Benji.

And so it begins.

I’ve been an Auckland rugby supporter for as long as I can remember and it’s been a decade since I’ve been so excited about a new signing. Benji Marshall – stand up.

Benji is the most exciting thing to happen to Blues Rugby since Rupeni – in my opinion – and the anticipation of seeing him in Blue has already got my blood boiling – 6 months before the start of next Super Rugby season.

I’ve heard a lot of, not necessarily negative talk about Benji’s arrival – but a lack of optimism that I think someone of Benji’s pedigree warrants.

People forget so easily the impact Benji has made on Rugby League and Rugby across both codes.

He is the first of his mould of athlete in the professional game. Small-town Aotearoa (Whakatane stand up) is choc-full of young kiwi’s with a similar ‘touch’ skillset to Benji, but it was Benji who took that skillset to the bright lights of the NRL for the whole world to see.

Will we ever forget that try from Benji’s breakout in the ’05 NRL Grand Final? Was that his peak? Nope. The ’08 World Cup Triumph, the ’10 Four Nations Crown, he was the 2010 International Footballer of the Year. Surely that’s his peak?

See that’s the thing with class – it’s those that have it that generally call time on it, not us.

Tigers-Benji-Marshall-july-2013-GETTY-IMAGESBenji brings to the Blues an other-worldly skillset, the professionalism of someone who has remained an elite athelete, in the top echeloen of his sport, for over ten years and a sense of loyalty and leadership that can only positively influence Blues players including emerging stars Charles Piutau, Steve Luatua and Charlie Faumuina.

In my eyes, the signing has success written all over it.

The only remaining question is if Benji can take the next step into the All Blacks.

Well – Benji has honourably captained both club and country. He is a Rugby League World Cup Winner, Golden Boot Winner, NRL Premiership Winner and Four Nations Winner. For those who think the All Blacks is out of his reach for him, I want to leave you with the great words of the Back-to Back NBA Champion Houston Rockets Coach Rudy Tomjanovich…

‘Don’t EVER underestimate the heart of a champion.’

All the best Benji. Welcome home.

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