Saturday, March 10, 2012

If you missed it...

If you like being weeks or months (or maybe even years) behind the rest of the digital world like I am, then this summary of things I've come across recently is perfect for you.
  • The most annoying was asked a year ago by Sammy Adebiyi on 'How Much Does God Weigh?', but maybe it needs to be asked again.
  • Similar theme, and more questions to ask yourself from Kim Walker (of Jesus Culture).

A few things that were on my blog:

And pretty sure you can't have missed this... Invisible Children and Kony 2012. But if you are wanting to know more, Rachel Held Evans has put together a great list of resources.

There is a lot of opinion flying around about this. In a nutshell, my opinion is that some awareness and action is better than a lot of ignorance and apathy, even if flawed. Awareness and compassion counts for a lot.

What's yours?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Love with action

I remember watching a man on TV speak about the organisation he founded, a non-profit organisation, caring for thousands of orphaned children around the world. I don't remember the name of the man or the name of the organisation, but what he said stuck with me.

He spoke about a child who died in one of the homes they supported. The organisation provided extra money to the orphanage to cover the funeral expenses and more. And yet four days later the child lay, dead, on a table. No one buried him.

It wasn't their responsibility, they said.

Sometimes it's not a lack of money that's the problem. It's the attitudes. No one buried the child because a dead child wasn't important to them.

The way to change the world doesn't lie simply in the redistribution of wealth. It starts with us; it starts with our hearts.

That's why it's so heart breaking when people have the attitude that one person can't make a difference, so why bother trying. Because it's not the money they don't donate that's the problem, it's that pervasive apathy.

Change the attitudes, and the money follows. Change our viewpoint, and the redistribution of wealth and resources will naturally follow.

What's your viewpoint? What's your attitude? It starts at home - how you treat the people around you, how you view the sick, the weak, the struggling, the lost. If you live all year thinking only of your own happiness and comfort and then send off a cheque to some far away place and think you've done your 'bit' - think again.

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18

Make Lent about more than giving up chocolate. Make Easter about more than eating chocolate. Make your life about more than your own happiness.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4

If the love of God means anything to you, what are you going to do about it?

Monday, March 5, 2012

'Your best life'

"Your best life". I hate that phrase. I've seen it as the tag line for churches, and I hate it. Because everyone is looking at that tag line, and I just know the life they are thinking of. They are thinking of this earthly, temporary one. They are thinking 'how do I get my best life, right now?'

Is that really your best life? Is this best part of your existence?

As Christians, why aren't we looking past the physical to see what our 'best life' should really look like?

I've been wrestling with decisions lately that have made me really contemplate what living my 'best life' looks like - and I'm finding that sometimes the best life according to Jesus is going to look like craziness to other people. How do you explain to a world fixated on having and earning and gaining, that I'm taking time - unpaid, financially unprofitable time - to study the Word of God, to sit at the feet of Jesus, to live in faith that what I'm sowing into right now, though it's not putting money in the bank, it's going to pay off so much more richly? How do you explain that?

Well, you can't really. People are going to think you are wasting your time. They are going to wonder why you seem to be just sitting there when there are things to be done.

I guess it depends on where you are sitting. If you are just sitting down in front of the TV, well, they're probably right. Why are you just sitting there?

But if you are sitting at the feet of Jesus - if you are truly waiting on him and letting him lead you no matter where it takes you - then you have 'chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from [you].' Luke 10:42

Other things to look at:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Inner beauty vs Outer beauty. Is it one or the other?

I like clothes. I like make up. I like doing my nails.

In doing this experiment of Project 3:11, this shopping fast, this is one aspect I keep thinking about. I like all that stuff - is that wrong? 

Consider 1 Peter 3 -

'Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.'

I think a lot of people look at that verse and feel like its telling us to not think about those things, about 'adornment'. And so either we feel guilty because we took half an hour to do our hair this morning, or we feel high and mighty and decide other people should feel guilty because of the colour of their lipstick or number of shoes in their closet.

But something to notice about that verse is that Peter is not actually saying 'Don't wear nice clothes' or 'you're a sinful, vain person if you like jewellery.' 

He says your beauty should not come from those things. Don't focus on the outward appearance as the source of your beauty, as the thing you value most highly in being a woman. Your beauty 'should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.'

The emphasis here is more on what values you adhere to. In his time, women braided their hair ornately and this is what he was referring to - are you just doing that to your hair because it's fashion, because you are thinking about how others will view it, because you are wanting to fit in with what the world thinks is beautiful?

It is ok to like clothes, to like dressing nicely. It's ok to like physical beauty. I mean, look at the world. Look at a sunset sky - I think it's safe to say God doesn't hate things looking beautiful!

Even when the Bible uses the word modest in relation to dressing, it is a word that means 'becoming' more than it means 'sack cloth from neck to ankles'. 

It means not showy and flashy. It means not dressing to draw attention to yourself about how well off you are or how much money you have. It's about not dressing or living in a certain way just because everyone else does, or it will make you look 'in' if you wear this or buy that brand.

That's the problem - it's a slippery slope. It is very easy to find yourself focusing more and more on the outward as a large portion of your value, even if it started out innocently.

And that's why I started this experiment. Not because I think it's wrong to buy clothes, but because I wanted to check my attitude. If shopping was making me focus more on the outward appearance, if it made me worry what others thought of my fashion sense, if it made me - even for short periods - consumed with my worth based on appearance - then it was something it wouldn't hurt to give up for a while!

And what is any fast but a time to refocus on what really matters - God. To remove those things that are getting in the way - like shopping and buying new things to help me feel better - so we can actually deal with the emptiness we all sometimes feel. To actually take a look at my inner-self without the layer of emotional make up.

And I actually have had much more fun with making my own looks from what I do have. I can't care if they are old or out of fashion because I have no other options, but I kind of like it that way.

So don't feel guilty if you like clothes. Not everyone needs a shopping fast. Inner beauty does not mean throwing out all your mirrors. 

But it can't hurt to take a look inside and check that you are actually working on that inner beauty, and not covering it up with all the things the world says makes us beautiful and valuable. 

You may not be so admired by people if your clothes are out of season or you don't have the right brands. You know those people in the fancy shops who you feel like are looking at you like you don't really belong there...well, they probably are thinking that. But while people will often judge our worth by what they see, God values our hearts.

I'll take what God thinks of me over what a girl in a shop thinks of me, any day.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The difference

I missed my devotions the other morning.

I had started doing them every morning - just a short one, 10 minutes sometimes. But I was starting every day with one. And then one morning people were in our house, I slept in too late and so I went into the day without doing it.

What difference would 10 minutes make?

But it did. The day went differently. I didn't realise it until the day was almost over, and I was thinking back, wondering why I felt different today. Agitated and less at peace.

Nothing in particular went wrong - in fact it was a fairly easy day, and probably less went wrong than other days. But I was different. The way I felt about the day was different.

I didn't realise it until I missed that one day, but since I had started doing devotions every morning, a small inner-peace started going everywhere with me.

It's not like I never read my Bible or prayed before, but I'd never done it consistently. And I didn't start my day with it.

It makes a difference.

Just a thought...