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Posts from June 2010

A church where you can bring your dog and order a beer

Prague: Nice gathering at Sir Toby's pub yesterday for church. We
brought our dog along and he wasn't the only dog. I really DO admire a
church where someone can bring their dog, order a beer, and sit on a
comfortable seat. Next week this church moves to Prague's newest
and greenest hostel/hotel
called Mosaic House. Their pub is about
10 times bigger. Plenty of room for more people.

Walter Wood from North Cincinnati Community Church was
invited to speak and, seated with his wife on tall, royal looking couch,
gave a good message on the church of Ephesus in Revelation. The
"lampstand" image made me think of Pentecost with all those
people-powered lamps with fire on their heads. I also thought of Jacob's
stone that was set up after his dream. Jacob poured oil on the top of
the stone. OIL! Lampstand! Are they all connected??? Hmmmm  . . the plot
thickens.  Give me an ecclesiology that starts with Genesis and ends
with Revelation.

Emerging Church Jello Begins its Wobbly Descent

Soooooo the emerging church jello plastered on the walls of historical memory by uninformed critics finally begins its slow, wobbly descent, revealing that not all that was said about emerging church leaders was accurate . . .  as I have been saying for a LONG TIME. Here's some quotes you might appreciate:

"I don’t attend an emerging church, and for that matter have never used the phrase in any of my books." Don Miller, "A Leader in the Emerging Church?

"We don't ever use that word" Rob Bell, answering the question "Is Mars Hill, the church that you pastor, is that an Emerging Church?"

"The term "emerging church" is normally applied to churches like these [organic, simple] and it makes sense that Rob Bell does not use the term to describe his community." Tallskinnykiwi 2007


"Saying that Steve Chalke is the most influential leader in the emerging church in the UK is like saying Borat is the most influential leader in Kazakhstan. Despite commonly held perceptions from the uninformed [according to, Borat actually IS the most recognized representative of Kazakhstan], it's just not true." TallSkinnykiwi 2009

Lunch with Christian Entreprenuer Mathias Schwender

Today I am in Prague and I just had lunch with Christian social entrepreneur and businessman Mathias Schwender, who joined up with New Yorker Chris Syvertsen to open up Prague's newest and most environmentally friendly hotel/hostel called Mosaic House. You may have read about it recently on the New York Times article "Green Hotel and Hostel Opens in Prague" or on TreeHugger, which I know you all read religiously.

Check out that mosaic on the floor - carefully restored to its original 1935 splendour, just like these two mosaics in the pub that represent art and business, side by side.


Interesting connection with Mathias's philosophy of mixing art and business.

So Mosaic House opened 2 weeks ago and there is a lot of buzz around here regarding this 330 bed hotel, filled to capacity today, and thus no room in the inn for our family. We were hoping to come on Sunday and road-test the new hotel for ourselves but are here early. Oopps.

Not to worry. Mathias and his lovely American wife Carrie have other places for us to lay our heads and they have given us a room at Sir Toby's, a hostel that Mathias started ten years ago. Since then, the hostel has become so famous in Prague that if you are single, speak English and don't know about Sir Toby's, you have no right to be in this city in the first place! Sir Toby's is THE hostel to stay at in Prague. Trust me.

Last year Mathais hosted us in another of his abodes - the Czech Inn, billed as "Prague's #1 Designer Hostel", which was a fabulous place to stay and delivers everything it says it does. As with all of Mathias's accommodating spaces, the hospitality is superb and you feel like you are among people that can really assist you to experience the city.

Mosaic House is a "hybrid hotel" that combines the best of both worlds - its a cool upmarket hostel with some fancy hotel rooms above for your not-so-traveled friends or parents who want a soft touch. Or  . . . its a four star hotel with uber-hip hostel accommodation below if you want to invite your kids and their friends and impress the whole lot of them. My kids were impressed!


Most impressive for my kids was the grey-water recycling room that was so cool it could have hosted its own DJ.


This is the first grey-water system of its kind in the Czech Republic. The entire hotel is very green - all kinds of devices to keep energy usage low.

Trees are a recurring theme throughout the hotel but luckily our dog didn't take advantage of them. He held on to the very end. Yes, that's my sexy wife. She wrote up her own thoughts on Mosaic House which she really liked.

Mosaic House has a restaurant and pub but not a communal kitchen  - a drawback for budding gourmets like myself. But if you want the real hostel experience then go to Sir Toby's. And if you want something beyond both hostel and hotel then Mathias has a boutique hotel for you to consider - Miss Sophies - but that's another story.

So, back to Mosaic House. Its quite a spectacle and Mathias is quite a person - a guy that is kicking butt in the the hotel-hostel business and at the same time maintaining a Christian presence in a city not usually known for its God-believers.

Tomorrow we attend a church that has been meeting at Sir Toby's but, starting next week, will meet at the pub in Mosaic House, under the leadership of Sasa Flek who you might remember from this blog as the "Scribe in Our Basement".

I asked Mathias about having a church meet in his hotel, the large number of Christians working there [but not exclusively] and his own philosophy of ministry. He said he just wants to live out his life as a Christian in his city by running a few good hotels and running them well. Quite simple, really.

What's next for Mathias? Although he has his eyes set on equipping social entrepreneurs in Africa, and perhaps popping up a hostel or two down there, and a Christian retreat center in Prague, I am kinda hoping he will launch an uber-cool camping ground for people with campers and tents. Like us.

Previously on TSK: Come and see my Prague, The Gospel According to Czechs, Photos of Prague from last year's visit.


OK - you have been expecting me to say something about the New Zealand's spectacular undefeated appearance at the FIFA 2010 World Cup . .  and here it is.

Paraguay could not beat the Kiwis.
Slovakia???? Nope!!
Not even Italy, the defending world champions, could beat the Kiwis.

That's because the KIWIS ARE UNBEATABLE!

And for my English friends, who are still licking their wounds after their frustrating draw with USA, and narrow win against Slovenia, may I remind you of this . . .

Telegraph's embarrassing prediction [Nov 1999] "Although celebrating only their second appearance in a finals tournament, New Zealand's collection of lower-league players is unlikely to pose any real threat at World Cup 2010 . . . Telegraph verdict: Only their second World Cup Finals, they will struggle to gain a point in South Africa and would appear to be the whipping boys of any group with their collection of journeymen and lower league players. . . "

Whipping boys, ay ???. . . I DON'T THINK SO because nobody  . . ..  NOBODY . .  not even the world champions . .  whipped the Kiwis! They are unbeatable AND undefeatable! As I said.

Final word from Nat King Cole who has been watching the games from the heavenly grandstands and just appeared in a dream to tell me something:

Thanks Nat. We hear ya!

NZ also shook things up by bringing the first female team doctor in the 80 year history of the FIFA World Cup.

And speaking of unbeatable kiwis, did you know my cousin Genevieve runs New Zealand's most unbeatable and undefeatable food blog? Its called Genevieve's Cuisine. Genevieve, in case you given to NZ trivia, is the daughter of my Uncle Neil McGough, unbeatable symphony conductor, and the man who gave Kiri Te Kanawa her first break into the music industry.
According to Kiri's biography,  "Her first break came in 1962 when conductor, Neil McGough, auditioned her for the Maori musical, Unwane. McGough said: "She got the job after three bars", and released an album which converted her into "a new musical star"."

When I was young, Uncle Neil listened to me attempt to play the piano but he wasn't NEARLY as impressed with me as he was with Kiri's musical talent. He didn't even ask me to sing for him. I guess we can't all be unbeatable and undefeatable Kiwis. Some of us are just ordinary Kiwis. But the world needs some of them also.

"Out of the Doldrums"

I just posted a new banner and called it "Out of the Doldrums". Its from a photo we took last month while driving through Tirana, Albania. These old communist apartments were all grey and horribly depressing, as they still are in many countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. But a new generation of post-communist Albanians are finding their own voice by painting wild patterns and colours that are transforming the dull buildings [and their lives?] to something very VERY FUNKY! 


Tirana-apartments-albania Tirana-bulding


I hope other cities will follow their example. I hope I will follow their example. I could use a little more funky-ness right now. God prevent me from getting old and boring. 

Jarrod McKenna, a voice downunder

Jarrod McKenna, my mate from Western Australia, gets interviewed by Mark Tronson. Worth a read. Snippet:

"Christians have an under pinning belief in justice, this is at the core of Jesus' teachings. Christians from the 'generic gospel devotional books' know instinctively about justice issues, whether that be climate justice, human trafficking, peace or whatever, they meet, deep down in the soul of the believer.

The vision of the Kingdom of God that Jesus taught tackles these difficult issues, and it feels right when these are honed in on by Christian activists. There comes a sense deep down of peace, and justice, the joy of the Lord as in Psalm 14.

God's grace empowers Christians, we are the salt and the light. This is a Christianity with frightening strength as it comes straight from the Word. Serving the community by helping the forgotten, the marginalised, the outcasts, Jesus is found here. Loving such people is, “Taste, the Lord is good”.

Although others refer to these dynamics as the Emerging Church or the New Monasticism” it is really taking Acts 2 and Acts 4 as a way of living. Jarrod McKenna said that their cell group of 14 people decided to adopt this life style and now live in fellowship, sharing with one other and seeing each one's material needs are met."

35 Things About Moishe Rosen

I found out recently that Moishe Rosen died on 19th May at the age of 78. He was the founder of Jews for Jesus and someone who made new ground in the idea of contextual evangelism, especially in the area of Jews who follow Y'shua.

Last time I saw Moishe was a J4J event in San Francisco in the 90's where I remember him explaining vividly to me a special banquet they had hosted a few years earlier and why it wasn't perfect. He was a powerful, winsome and occasionally obnoxious man. He loved Jesus and loved the church. He loved telling people about Y'shua, especially Jews. He will be missed. More on Wikipedia.

You can read a few posts from his blog, including a really wonderful and honest post by Moishe called "35 things about me".

22.  I love to eat.  There's not many foods that I don't like, and I can look forward to eating a certain meal in a certain place for weeks.

23.  I don't like being fat.

24.  I love to travel to faraway places, and meet people who are different.

25.  I hate traveling aboard airplanes, where all of the seats seem custom made for small children.

26.  I like reading very philosophical, historical novels like War and Peace.

27.  But I don't like long books.