31/08/2009

Broken

Category Random
Somehow I think I've completely broken my blog. Perhaps I'll need to start again, but that seems like far too much work. Of course it is probably the easiest thing, to just leave everything I have here behind and start with a clean slate. After all this blog is mostly just the mindless musings of someone stumbling along a path, heading into the future hoping that everywhere I go a little bit of God's Kingdom will been seen (which is also what I'm looking for)!

17/08/2009

Pagan Churches

Category Church
Church is a puzzling and perplexing issue for me. It seems to promise so much (in terms of living in a full life in community), but not always deliver much other than programme and busyness. I know there isn't a perfect church (so I'm not looking), but how did Jesus life, the injection of the Holy Spirit and the 1st church in Acts.

There is within me a deep seated dissatisfaction with church as we know it (that hour or 2 on a Sunday that sometimes has injections through small groups during the week). For whatever reason (perhaps it is my unwillingness to be completely honest and transparent with people, even close friends), it just doesn't seem to be that full like Jesus lived and is referred to in John 3:17.

Yesterday I took a moment to read the blog of Danielle Strickland and found the following:

I've been reading PAGAN Christianity - a book by Frank Viola and George Barna - a great read on the origins of most of our western church practices... if you are stuck in normal church structures (the need for a building, a service on Sunday, a message by a 'pastor' an ordained clergy etc...) this book is an important read ... Basically the authors are making three points:

1) A great deal of what we do in church today does not come from the New Testament.
2) Much of what is practiced originated out of Greco-Roman customs and traditions (paganism, not Judaism), and/or human-made inventions.
3) Many of these practices actually hinder the church from being what God designed her to be.

The over-arching question the authors seem to be asking is: Do the practices of modern institutional churches reflect a God-ordained/inspired development, or are they a departure from it?


Read the full blog of Danielle's here and her other posts on this. Perhaps I'm not alone in feeling this way and maybe, just maybe there is a way forward in 21st century western civilisation to live a full life while being salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? Matthew 5:13 MSG

16/08/2009

The Law is an Ass

Category Random
I think I'm going to go somewhere with this, so stay with me ...

Here in New Zealand the law is about to change making it illegal to use you cellphone to send a text message or talk on UNLESS it is via a handsfree kit. Personally I think this is a daft change and a classic example of daft legisalation which won't make much difference. The top reason accidents occur is because of a distracted driver. The most common distractions for drivers are:

- Looking at scenery (there is quite a lot of that here in NZ)
- Other passengers or children (some passengers are more distracting than others)
- Adjusting the radio, cassette or CD player (better add iPod these days)
- Reading the newspaper, books, maps or other documents
- Using a cellphone

So what impact is banning a cellphone going to have on accident rates? It would seem like there it isn't going to be much! Heck people in the car cause more problems, and the stereo (something some people invest thousands and thousands of $$$'s in) are a factor in more accidents than cellphones. But, you know what, we'll ban them!

Now the fascinating part about this to me is that from what I've read, it is talking on a phone (unless it is handsfree) and texting that are going to be illegal. What if I'm using my cellphone as a GPS unit? Then what? They're not illegal to operate while driving a car. And what if I'm looking up an address on the Internet (from my phone), that doesn't appear to be illegal either ... Perhaps the legislation is that cell phones can't be used at all while driving.

BUT ... other passengers or children cause more accidents than cellphones ... so we'll ban cellphones UNLESS you're handsfree ... isn't that like inviting someone into your car to distract you? After all you will be talking to them!

The law is an ass, and this legislation seems daft to me. No law will bring about the change we need, the change of attitude and habits we have towards driving and cars.

13/08/2009

Leadership Style

Category Church Random Work
Is someone's ability to lead affected by their personality? What I mean is if there is a personality clash between two people does it mean one can't be led by the other?

It would seem to me that their are two main leadership styles: do as I say and do as I do. In some cases people blend them both together. Now one of these styles should be unaffected by the personality of the leader (or anyone following them). When a leader just does what needs to be done and sets an example and the benchmark through action then personalities should have little impact.

However if a leader has the do as I say style then personality will pay an enormous part in the success of the team. Why? Because I can't hear what you're saying because of the way you're acting. Our actions always seem to say more than our words ever can. Saying to someone having a hard time, "I'll pray for you" is good. But turning up to walk with them in the situation, or having them over for a meal says more.

What kind of leader are you? I'm the kind who blends both ... I like to think that I do things in a way that inspires my team to work smart, work hard, and produce quality results. But sometimes (all too often) I get tired, and lose sight of our destination so start just telling people what I want and how it should be done without doing it myself or demonstrating how to do it.

12/08/2009

A 2nd hand faith

Category Church
A lot of my thinking and reading lately has really focused on the personal relationship we can have with God because of Jesus. There is a part of me which doesn't get how if we're created by God we could ever become separated from Him, but that is a question for another time! At this stage I'm OK with the fact I need Jesus so I can live a full and free life.

As always, I read something that sums the situation up better than I've ever been able. We've probably all heard the expression, God has no grandchildren (Abraham on the other hand does), but do we have a 2nd hand faith? And if we do have a 2nd hand faith is it actually capable of producing a real relationship with God (the point of Jesus coming) or does it make us robots who are simply mechanically reproducing an action that has zero value (except for maybe a feel good factor - which has zero real value anyway)!

Straight from From "Your Own Jesus: A God Insistent on Making It Personal" by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns with Tim Luke thanks to my Zondervan Daily Inspiration supscription (click here to signup) here is that thought I didn't have, summing up what I was trying to think!

Recently, I've been learning some hard lessons. First, I can't forge spiritual transformation or growth. I'm not the Holy Spirit. I can teach biblical truths and try to reach people through song, but I can't make someone listen or even care -- let alone change. My responsibility is to tell the truth in love as God grants the opportunity.

Second, many of us believers, even longtime members of the body of Christ, have genuine faith but parasitic practices. Sometimes our only experiences with God have trickled down secondhand from the lives of more mature believers. What we know of an authentic walk with God actually belongs to someone else -- it isn't grounded in our own experience of God.

Is your walk with Jesus Christ characterized by personal faith, personal prayer, personal study, and personal disciplines? Or do you get by with the overflow from more mature Christians? Do you have your own Jesus?


Do I have a 2nd hand faith?

11/08/2009

Leadership

Category General Work
Leadership seems to be one of those odd matters where everyone has an opinion on what makes for good leadership. But we often actually get confused and can't define good leadership, rather we can identify and enunciate bad/poor leadership. I've often heard Bill Hybels (I think it is him) quoted, everything rises and falls on leadership.

This is a world changing statement and shouldn't be underestimated. Put that into the context of a church and things can quickly fall apart. Someone thinking they're providing good leadership is seen by someone else as providing, well bad leadership. This results in them leaving and seeking somewhere that they believe there is good leadership. Sometimes all they're doing is looking for somewhere that the leadership doesn't have the traits of bad leadership they have identified.

So what does good leadership look like? I'm really not sure, but it seems to me that great leaders polarise opinion and leave many people behind. They see and communicate very clearly where they want to go, why they need to be there, and how they're going to make the journey. BUT THAT ISN'T ALL! They willing to reconcile people into the vision and accept that the destination is more important than the journey. Getting to the finish line is paramount. How you get there is irrelevant.

Do churches have good leadership or are we stuck in a rut doing things the way we think they're meant to be done? Are they building expectant relationships or just setting expectations (see yesterdays post for an explanation of that)?

10/08/2009

Expectancy vs Expectations (The Shack #4)

Category Books
Rather than try and put what Wm. Paul Young wrote into my own words I thought I would quote from The Shack again today. The entire essence of the gospel message seems to be caught up in this paragraph. The definition seems to blow apart the mainstream thinking around church and relationship with God ... Well to me anyway!

... if you and I are friends, there is an expectancy that exists within our relationship. When we see each other or are apart, there is an expectancy of being together, of laughing and talking. That expectancy has no concrete definition; it is alive and dynamic and everything that emerges from our being together is a unique gift shared by no one else. But what if I change that expectancy to an expectation - spoken or unspoken? Suddenly, law has entered into our relationship. You are now expected to perform in a way that meets my expectations. Our living friendship deteriorates into a dead thing with rules and requirements. It is no longer about you and me, but about what freinds are supposed to do, or the responsibilities of a good friend.

It is plain to see so often I have turned expectancy into expectation. Expectancy is filled with excitement and freedom like when you're a kid at the circus - you don't know what is about to happen but you're loving every moment of it, even the scary ones where the trapeze artist falls or the guy sticks his head in the Lion's mouth! Nothing ever lasts long enough and yet the next bit is just as good or better. Expectations don't seem to lead to that feeling of excitement and freedom, they tend to lead to either being disappointed or being a disappointment.

I want relationships filled with expectancy, not expectation. With N ... with my boys ... with my friends ... with the creator of the universe. I want to live each moment in excitement and freedom not knowing what is coming next. I want that feeling I had as a kid at the circus where I'm scared of what is coming next and yet falling off the edge of my seat waiting for it to happen. I want a life filled with expectancy!

08/08/2009

A Graceless Body of Christ? (The Shack #3)

Category Books
We're so keen to be right, so obsessed with defending the tenants of our faith and pursuing God we become legalistic and theoretical in our approach to relating to God. I'm surprised by some of the articles I've discovered about the book The Shack

Surely there is unity when we collectively press in to know God more, and make Him known. Surely we have to conceded that where an analogy of a sports team serves one group of people extremely well it won't communicate anything to another group. Similarly a largely mechanical illustration will engage a different group and alienate yet another group.

Why is is so often my way, or the highway? Why am I so judgemental as to consider that my view is the only correct view? Here are some links to just some of the articles posted about The Shack:
emilygracewriting.wordpress.com
onlygracealone.wordpress.com
mynameisveronica.wordpress.com
markmynell.wordpress.com

06/08/2009

Truth

Category Bible
Today is a complete re-post from the Zondervan Daily Inspiration I subscribe to. It isn't always inspirational but sometimes one pops up that captures some of my thoughts more succinctly than I seem to be capable of. Take this one ...

As Christians, we can't live by what we feel or go off our gut, because it is rotten (Philippians 3:19). We have to live by truth. God has been constantly reminding me lately that his Word is truth. And truth is truth. It doesn't only become truth when we start believing it. Truth just is - for everybody everywhere and at all times.

I try to rest in that fact and not in how I feel about it or what it means to me. Who cares what the Bible means to me? We need to know what it means. That's where I have to allow God to redefine my thinking. He tells us in Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. What always gets me about this verse is he's telling believers we still need to be transformed. It means I have a saved spirit but I still think with a lost brain, and slowly but surely my mind has to be transformed.

From "Your Own Jesus: A God Insistent on Making It Personal"
by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns with Tim Luke

05/08/2009

Translations (Galations #2)

Category Bible
I'm amazed at the different meaning you can get from the bible just by reading different translations. It would seem to me that it is vitally important to read a bible that is in language you readily understand. This can make it difficult as many people are very critical of some translations and paraphrased versions of the bible.

For me, I often need to have things said several different ways before I can really grasp the meaning of what is being said. Language has an emotive context that is dependent on your experience of the words being used. That means that for me to really grasp the meaning of what is being said I often need to hear it from several different sources.

Take Galations 2:21 and work through four different translations; KJV, NIV, AMP, and MSG.

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

[Therefore, I do not treat God's gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.


The point of todays post? Laws can't help me live a life worth living. I need Jesus! And he came to help, to put the world right again ( John 3:17) and what better place to start than with me?

04/08/2009

The Shack #2

QuickImage Category Books Bible
The Shack is a really good book to read. It has an unbearable aspect to it BUT this is critical to the story that unfolds and the message of the book. N wasn't going to read it because of what the story is about but I convinced her it was well worth reading. We both admit crying at different points in the story and both think it was an excellent story to have read. I've already started blogging some of it (the bits which really stuck out to me), but I'm going to continue that over the next couple of days.

There is a really good chapter in the book about judgement (I'll spare you the setting and the leadup as I highly recommend you read the book). However it transpires that Mack (the main character) is asked to judge God. At first Mack is unwilling seeing how futile it would be. However Mack soon realises that juding God is exactly what he has been doing (slight paraphrase to condense the book):

Isn't that your complaint, that God failed you and your child? That before creation God knew that your child would be brutalised and yet still created them. And then he allowed that twisted depraved soul to snatch your child from you and despite having the power to stop him? Isn't God to blame?

Seems like a common complaint to me. Seems like we're all to willing to take whatever good God has given us then blame him for the bits we don't like. It also seems to me like we misunderstand freewill. Maybe (just maybe), as my 3 boys grow up I'll get a better understanding of freewill as they start to become young men independent of N and I.

Maybe we need to get a holistic understanding of Romans 8:28 (Amplified) all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good or (Message)we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

03/08/2009

Cadets #2

Category Bible
Last night I went to SAJChurch.com to hear my cadet friends lead a church service and preach again. This time it was his turn to preach and her turn to lead. It is interesting how much can go wrong and yet the congregation be blisfully unaware! Speaking with them afterwards I became aware of some 'musical challenges' that I was totally unaware of during the service. In fact even after having them drawn to my attention it was obvious that they had no impact on the service flow or impact.

The message followed on from the previous one in Philipians 2. This week the focus was on verses 12-16 (taken from the Message here):

What I'm getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you've done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I'm separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You'll be living proof that I didn't go to all this work for nothing.


There was a good structure, background, and take home points in the message. More than that though the whole story of the bible was brought into focus. Where Paul was referencing Moses and the Israelites got highlighted. Comparisons to others of Paul's letters were also made. All in all the message left you with a solid understanding of what Paul was saying and what it means for us today.

What sticks with me is provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Do we do this when we're at church in the pews or when we're living our lives in the community? It would seem Paul really did know Jesus and His teaching well, Matthew 5:13 Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

02/08/2009

40th Anniversary

Category Family
Today is my parents 40th anniversary. WOW! I don't even know what 40 years alive is like (funny that) much less 40 years of marriage. They are an example of commitment and a decision to love each other every day.

Maybe through them I can begin to understand God's love. God's love is unselfish and isn't dependent of our behaviour. He loves us just the same regardless of what we are (or perhaps aren't) doing.

On the other hand human love is selfish and often withheld when someone is misbehaving or absent. We love because we think someone is worthy of our love. When something happens that makes them unworthy we withdraw our love - Selfish love.

God loves regardless!

My parents have modelled God's love in their relationship with each other (and us boys). Congratulations and go for another 40!

01/08/2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Category Family
Today is my Dad's birthday. Many people know my Dad and value his faithful friendship. However I suspect that none value it higher than I do (except perhaps my Mum)! He is a great friend who shares some of my loves (coffee and motorbikes to name just 2).

Hopefully in the years that lie ahead, I will develop a deep friendship with my sons similar to what I share with my Dad. Happy Birthday Dad, I love you.

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