Thursday, July 28, 2011

Homosexuality, family & scapegoats?

I don't think homosexuality is the way God intended it. For families.

But also, I don't think an abusive man who torments his wife and children is the way God intended it.
Neither is a selfish and damaged woman who can't fully love her children because she doesn't love herself.
Neither is a weak man who won't step up and take responsibility for his family.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Habit Forming.

The way you start out is the way you'll continue. It's hard to change.

For several years we have been living in government housing because as teachers we can get subsidised rent in the country. It's great to have such affordable living, and we were happy to compromise on the quality. We can overlook stains on the carpet, faulty plumbing and other little defects because it's so cheap.

Plus it also temporary. We were in the process of building our own band new house, so we were saving all the newness and the care for that. We stuck with our $10 garage sale couches because we knew we were going to be getting brand new ones eventually.

But we also didn't worry about taking too much care with the old stuff. It didn't matter if it got marks or scuffs. What's one more stain on the already dirty carpet. What does it matter if we go a bit longer between vacuuming or washing the floor. And forget working hard in the garden, or washing the windows regularly at all. We weren't careless, but we didn't give it the same level of care and diligence that we might a new house, or a house that was our own.

The problem is that for three years now, we have got into lazy habits. Now we have our own brand new house and we expect the care and perfect housekeeping to just switch back on automatically. We work hard on keeping our new house as new as possible, but it's difficult now. We're not used to it. And this house is bigger, and it's all very white and clean. It's an effort to relearn all the habits that we let slip away.

We treat lots of things in our lives like that. Not least of all our spiritual lives. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Familiar = True?

The other day I was walking down the hall way with a snippet of poetry going through my head - "Urge me away to bitter shadow. Always sweet love is one ache we need." I thought, I've heard that somewhere before, what poem is that from?

Turns out when I had been putting the shopping away in the fridge a few seconds before I must have glanced at the fridge door - which is covered in random groupings of words from our magnetic poetry kit. It sounds poetic, but it's not poetry. That group of words is sitting there in between "Read my cry you purple rain butt" and "Go cook rob in his moon bed". Funny. But not poetry.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The stones will cry out

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
 “I tell you,” he replied, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out. Luke 19:37-40

Don't let the rocks out do you! Don't let anyone tell you to keep quiet about our God!


Monday, July 18, 2011

They'll know we are Christians by our ________?

They'll know we are Christians by  our ________?

By our congregation size?
By our happiness?
By our prosperity?
By our fun youth group games?
By our professional standard of lights and smoke machines at church?
By our blog posts?

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Oh, by our love. Really? That's it?

We complicate Christianity a lot more than we should. We add a lot to the Bible in our minds and views and then end up reading it like it was there all along. I think because the enormity and of God is difficult to comprehend, so we like to give Him more boundaries and restrictions ang guidelines.

So then we underestimate it because we've tried to package it and present it so neatly. 

Like love. Seems so basic. And yet it's actually the most important and the most challenging thing of all.

I think that's why God likes to remind us of it so often.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing

 the greatest of these is love

over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind

Love your neighbour as yourself.

love your enemies

Above all, love each other deeply,

let us love one another, for love comes from God.

We love because he first loved us

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

God is love.

(John 13:34-35
1 Corinthians 13: 2 &13
Colossians 3:14
Matthew 22: 37 & 39
Luke 6:35
1 Peter 4:8
1 John 4:7 & 19
Romans 5:8
1 John4: 8)

It's simple. But He never said it was easy. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I am seoond - Bailee Madison

Last Saturday I posted the video of Brian Welch, the former lead guitarist of Korn, sharing his testimony. It was powerful and inspiring to see how God's love can rescue us from anything.

But sometimes people think it's exciting to have a testimony like that, to have something so dark to be rescued from so that we have something powerful to share.

This video from I Am Second, of Bailee Madison, is like the complete contrast to Brian's story. And yet it is no less inspiring and powerful.

Whatever our story, God uses us.Whatever your story, God will use it.

Visit I Am Second to see more video testimonies.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Think you might burst?

I remember getting back in the car after a Youth Alive rally, feeling pumped up and hyped like you do. I just wanted to talk about the night, talk about God, spout the joy I was feeling like a fountain. But everyone else was tired. It was late and we had to drive an hour home. Nobody else was talking. I remember sitting in the car staring out the window, feeling like I might literally burst... even in  a car full of young Christians, I felt like no-one else wanted to talk about God like I did.

I wonder if Jesus had other conversations. I wonder if some nights he was just like, "Hey, I've had a long day of healing the blind and the lame. Lets kick back and watch this episode of "The Real Housewives of Jerusalem."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Death, be not proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die. 
-John Donne
He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces... Isaiah 25:8

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  Hebrews 2:14-15

Monday, July 11, 2011

Put on a happy face?

Sometimes we think we've got to hide our sadness and keep on going. Sometime we think we've got to have it all together and not show any signs of weakness.

Once I heard a girl at school say, 'The guy said, "Being a Christian is the way to be happy". But I know heaps of happy people who aren't Christians.' Inwardly I cringed.

I think it's the wrong idea if we say "Be a Christian, it'll make you happy." Happiness is a subjective emotion based on circumstance. And God doesn't promise that our circumstances are all going to be happy ones. He doesn't promise we aren't going to have any problems or that life is going to be easy.

People are watching us. They are not, as we might suppose, looking to see us living in perpetual happiness. That is fake. They are looking to see real people, with real hardships and real weaknesses - and they will then see the acceptance, belonging and redemption that comes from God in the midst of this. And a real, true joy. 

Don't put it off; don't frustrate God's work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we're doing. Our work as God's servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all

2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (The Message)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Am Second - Brian Welch

Brian Welch, former lead Guitarist of Korn, talks about how he came to follow Jesus.

Wow. This was powerful.

I Am Second

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Light and Dark

Light and dark is a common image in the Bible.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 What fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

If you have a candle and a dark night, you can do this, or you can take the trip with me in your imagination....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chosen, Called by Name

I have a memory of childhood. It's strong and indelible, but at the same time fuzzy at the edges and dream-like as some childhood memories are, floating unmoored to context and circumstance. I can't even remember how old I was, or what I was doing there.

I remember being a big, dark room. It was full of other kids and we were watching a live show about outer space. Like all shows for kids, they called for crowd involvement. Lollies were handed out for answering questions and a few volunteers were called to go up on stage. They got to act in front of a blue screen that made it look like they were flying in the milky way on the video screen.

I wanted to answer a question and get a lolly. No-one picked me. I wanted to volunteer and get to go on the special video. No-one picked me.

It's my earliest memory of that feeling, "Why will no-one choose me? Why don't I ever get picked?"

Monday, July 4, 2011

Growing up too fast

I grew up too fast. I was impatient to be an adult. Ever since I was little I used to daydream about being an adult and living an adult life. I invented in my imagination a little city of mini-houses where my friends and I all lived like little families and pretended we were grown ups. I had a a mini plastic ironing board when I was young, and then migrated to the real iron to press hankercheifs and tea-towels. I longed for it more than just a child playing house for fun. I was keen to be my own independent person as soon as possible.

Moving out of home at 17 showed me that being an adult wasn't everything I had imagined it to be.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Guest Post on SCL

I'm a big fan of SCL and pretty much all things Jon Acuff.

One day I had an idea and thought, "This would be a great Stuff Christians Like post. I wish someone would write it."

There's a quote from Toni Morrison that goes, "If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."  Maybe the same goes for blog posts.

So I wrote it and I sent it, fully expecting never to hear anything back...why would I? I'm just an amateur blogger who hasn't been doing this long enough to get a clue....

So when I received an email back from Jon one day telling me he liked my post and it would be a guest post on the site - well, if you'd seen me you would have thought Jesus himself had just sent me an email.

A feeling that was difficult to convey to my husband.

Me: "You know stuff Christians like. That guy in America. And he's like a speaker and stuff too and lots of people read his blog...I sent in a post and I thought nothing would happen but he just emailed me! I'm going to have a guest post on Jon Acuff's blog!"

Him:"Oh... cool....I don't get it."

Me:"A guest post! On Jon Acuff's...just trust me, it's big!"

Bless his heart, he's my biggest fan but trying to explain that the whole blogging thing can be more than a hobby in one garbled, excited monologue was obviously not working. I called my mum next.

And then I freaked out.

I've made a few comments on the SCL blog before and that alone has brought a bit of traffic to my site. What's a whole post going to do? My site's not ready. I'm not ready. What was I thinking?

I've just read Jon's book, Quitter, and when I got to the part about appreciating the time of invisibility because it means you can make mistakes while no one is watching, I got a little bit nervous. I'm pretty sure I've got plenty more mistake-making to do.

It's not like I'm not expecting to sky rocket to success here and bask in the eternal fame and glory. I'm far too humble for that...

But, seriously, if anyone clicks through from that post to here, I want them to find something worthy of their time.

If you are reading this from that guest post you must have found it at least mildly entertaining. So thank you so much for that!

But you are probably now wondering, who is this person babbling like a star struck noob?

You can check out the About Me tab up the top for a bit more info, but basically I'm at the beginning of what I hope will be an exciting adventure into writing and youth ministry.

If you hadn't already guessed from my use of the word 'mum' instead of 'mom', I'm from Australia. I live in a little town in South Australia. And I have what some might call a little life. But I also serve a big God who encourages us to expect big things.

I was a high school English teacher, and have now switched tracks to work as a youth worker/chaplain at that same high school. That has been amazing, and I feel slightly guilty because I think God has been using the job to teach me more than I'm helping anyone else!

I started this blog to record and express the things God was teaching me in my life and to share that with anyone else who was looking for encouragement.

If that was all it ever was, and my only reader was my mum, I would have been happy. But God has a way of surprising us even when we hardly believe in ourselves yet.

I hope now that you've made the effort to come here you can go away feeling like it was worth the trouble. And hopefully worthwhile enough to come back again!

Thank you so much for reading. And thank you, Jon Acuff, for sharing your platform with guest bloggers like me, and for using your God given gifts in inspiring ways.

Have you ever got an 'email from Jesus' - an opportunity that was unexpected, frightening and exciting all at once? Yours might be bigger than one guest post on a blog, or it might smaller. Anything from God holds unlimited possibility.

Let me know about yourself, and share your own blogs and sites below. I'd love to get to know you too!