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Showing posts from 2013

Why I am a Christian

How many of us have really given the title of this blog too much thought? 
Not, why I'm a Christian but why you are, or why you're not (and why you are what you are, if you'd ever go so far as to label yourself at all). Personal faith, like personal politics, isn't part of polite conversation and so we rarely get to know what makes one another 'tick' but I'm interested to find out.
My assumption is that most people don't think they have a faith or at least that most people probably wouldn't describe themselves as 'religious' (what a ghastly word!). 
Now I may be being unfair in saying this next bit but my observation is that most people live their lives with a 'if it seems good and works then do it' philosophy informed by a 'if the majority of people around me agree then it must be right' mentality. It makes sense that my faculties are to be trusted (doesn't it?) and that if the majority believe something to be right the…

Clifford

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Last week when the Storm hit (although after what's gone down in the Philippines can we call it a storm? a draft, maybe) I had the misfortune of losing a fence post. I am not DIY, so I invited a friend over to help with the repair. I put on my old jeans and practised my standing-around-examining-it-noises with sufficient 'hmmm's and 'interesting's. Truth be told, neither me or my friend knew what we were doing and it was only a matter of time until our incompetence was exposed.

In walks Clifford.

My elderly neighbour's son happened to be visiting that morning and he joined us in the garden where we were attempting this repair. He's a practical man is Clifford. It must have been clear that we had very little idea. He started by sharing his opinion with us, which turned into using our tools to give it a go himself, which turned into giving us the right tools we needed, which turned into doing the job himself while we watched on. He demonstrated, we watched, …

Wrong. 3 Years On

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Every year on this day (the day of his funeral) I like to post some tribute to my dad who died of prostate cancer, not to be morbid or to make you sad but to celebrate his life and give thanks for the joy and love of life he gave me. 
So much has gone on in three years, so many things have changed and new experiences been had. It seems so strange (though this isn't the right word) to think that my dad is no longer a living part of these changes and experiences. It all feels so, well... wrong. I can't find a better word to describe the feeling other than plain old wrong. 'Wrong' when said with some force, through gritted teeth (spoken from the gut with some gusto) goes some way to convey the feeling I mean. My mum and I were discussing only yesterday how this 'wrongness' really only produces unresolvable anger if we're not careful.
We all live, rather foolishly, not ever giving any thought to the eventuality (and inevitability) of our death and for many of …

Transformation by separation

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Reading recently about early Christianity and the development of the Jesus' movement into what we now know as Christianity I was provoked and challenged by the devotion of the early Christians. They were faithful to Jesus to the point of not only being misunderstood and slandered but also rejected and executed.

The early Christians, it seems, understood in a way we don't that they were a holy people a 'called out' people. A people, as 1 Peter 2 puts it, 'for the Lord's own possession'. It was clear to all in the church that their primary calling was to Christ and if that meant isolation from the culture, so be it. Devotion to their Lord against all the odds (and against all the laws) was what they were called to and as a result a chasm opened up between Christians and the populous. They met in secret, worshipped an invisible god (hence were hated as 'atheists'), held 'love feasts' attended by their brothers and sisters (some of whom were al…

It Matters

James 5:16

It's not a Bible verse that's spoken of too much but it's important nonetheless. We live in a day where almost anything goes and in an age of increasing anonymity and lack of accountability. I can look at what I want to, when I want to. More and more we're encouraged to behave like mini chiefs in a fiefdom. We're told we can order our worlds without any real concern for a wider family or community; that you are number 1.

You are king
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.                                                                                          -- James 5:16  It's important we take this verse seriously. Important not only because of a Christian's call to be part of a community, but important because of the nature of sin.

We like to think of ourselves as free to be and do whatever we please but Jesus tells us that 'whoever sins is a slave to sin.' John 8:34

Sin enslaves

My…

dm: initiative

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Disciple making involves several 'i's. If we truly believe that our calling as Christians is to both be a disciple of Jesus and to make disciples of others then it ought to affect the way we do life and the way do church. I'm passionate about us doing the Christian life together in a new way (which is really the oldest way around).

Several 'i's of disciple making are: initiative, inconvenience and intentional. Let's have a brief look at each one in turn:

Initiative

No one can live the Christian life for you and being a disciple is not a passive activity. By its very nature it involves an ongoing process of following and learning. Jesus told his followers to 'go and make disciples' and indicated the ongoing nature of being a disciple when he told them to do this by 'teaching them to obey all that I have commanded.' Teaching them implies an ongoing learning and applying and living out.

ed=dm means that 'ed' (every disciple) is to take init…

Young Leader:

On Tuesday I'm sharing in a seminar at NewDay for 10mins on a couple of valuable lessons I've learnt as a young leader in the church. It got me thinking and since 10mins disappears faster than a sneeze, here's some things I consider significant (in no particular order).

Iron sharpens iron. The familiar and oft quoted proverb goes; as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Instrumental to my growth as a Christian has been key relationships with friends and mentors. As a young Christian just starting to take my first steps into faith I had a number of people come along side me and input into me. Four people will always be dear to me in this respect. Andy Chev my mentor and friend (and best-man at my wedding) was the first person to mentor me in an intentional way. We'd meet regularly for catch ups and coffee (and Pro on the PlayStation) and I'd get a chance to air my doubts/frustrations/sin/desires/concerns and he'd listen, challenge, correct, answer and…

ed=dm

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In the New Testament the most commonly used word to describe a follower of Jesus is a disciple. There are 7 different titles given to explain who/what a Christian is but disciple out ranks them all for sheer volume of usage. The word is used as a formal noun to refer to the twelve apostles but from Acts onwards it's used simply to mean any number of people who are part of the church: Acts 6:2 'the twelve summoned the full number of disciples...' 6:7 'the number of disciples increased greatly'. It seems that 'disciple' is the word of choice to refer to any average Joe-saint or christian-Christian.
If you're a follower of Jesus (or the Way), a Saint, a Christian, a brother/sister in Christ, or one who 'calls upon the name of Lord' (or whatever you like to call yourself); you are a disciple. A disciple is a student and an imitator and as such we are, each of us, called to imitate and learn from Jesus. In Matthew 28 Jesus makes an incredible claim to…

Honour: up, IN

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the second in a three part blog series on Honour (Up, In, Out).

Honour yourself:

After honouring God comes honouring ourselves. The logic is basically that since we ought to honour the things that God honours and since God has honoured us, we also ought to honour ourselves.  To honour something, we said, is to treat it with the worth or value that it deserves. A significant way that we honour God is by valuing and giving worth to the things he values and considers worthy.
The creation account in Genesis reaches its poetic crescendo with the creation of Adam and Eve. Up until this point in the narrative God calls everything he's made 'good', but once he's finished with making man and woman it says: 'God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good.'
The Bible says that God made man and woman in his 'image and likeness'. It's not that God looks like a man but that we somehow in some unique way represent him on the Earth more than anythin…

Honour: UP

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Part 1 of a 3 part blog on honour: Up, In, Out.
In 2001 on the American Antiques Roadshow a startling discovery was made. A blanket that for many years had sat on the back of an old rocking chair was valued in the region of $350 000-500 000.
The owner had thought it was simply a family blanket, passed down a generation or two but in actual fact it was Navajo Indian.  It once belonged to a man named Kit Carson, a famous frontiersman and Indian fighter. 
The blanket was extremely valuable but for many years its value wasn't recognised, it was overlooked.
I think that deep down all of us believe that if we search long enough we'll unearth our very own rare antique and become billionaires along with Del Boy and Rodney. Oftentimes people refuse to throw things away. Who knows maybe one day they'll be the ones with a gold chair when the music stops.
The truth is that we can all miss the value of something. Whenever we throw something away there's always that part of us that …

A Life in Ruins: Demolition

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I am a ruined man, I see it now.
I was going to make movies, appear on television, be famous, work 'in the industry'. I was ahead of my curve in this regard, volunteering at a young age for television crews, studying in college before I'd yet finished school. I was in contact with local television companies and writing my own scripts and bringing them to production. I wasn't very good but I was young, I was learning, I had time. That was what I was building, that was where things were heading.
Now, all my aspirations and pretensions to greatness have gone. All of my plotting and scheming and all of my 'when I grow up I'm going to be...' has come crashing down.

I see that now.
I am a man held captive, a man in chains; and yet as a man I've never been more free, never felt more liberated and complete. I have known God the Father, Son & Spirit and although I still fight and wrestle with feelings of fulfilment and contentment I know that I am ruined to…

Don't Zone Out - Appreciate

Today at dinner.

I sat eating my food (I was hungry) and in between mouthfuls I was spoon feeding Zach his sweet potato (regularly enough to stop him whining, irregularly enough to enjoy my own dinner).

I was quiet, I didn't feel like talking - I was tired, I wanted some 'me' time. I sat thinking about how I really ought to try and make conversation, but I didn't; I just sat indulging in my own thoughts.

After Riley had eaten his food I went to the freezer and got him a ice pop. Amy was making Zach laugh and so I took out my phone to record a video of it.

As I started recording and Zach giggled, Riley let off some wind (loud enough for us all to hear). I turned the camera on him and we all fell about laughing (like at the end of an episode of Peppa Pig except without the falling over). Afterwards Riley wanted to watch the video back over and over and over again. It was funny.

Around this time I found myself 'back in the room' and engaged again with family life.…

The Little Legalist

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So... I'm going to start using my blog to try to capture moments as they happen in family life. Riley's starting to come out with some classic lines and I don't want to lose them. Sometimes I'll blog them with explanations and observations, other times it'll just be the quote or moment as it happens.
To kick things off (with a blog I'm sure my wife would roll here eyes at - yes I can see that from here) - here's a theological  observation from something amusing that happened recently.
The 16thC Reformer John Calvin once said that the 'default mode of the human heart is toward religion.'

I take that to mean that we are, all of us, hard wired toward a works-based-righteousness approach to life. Whether religious or not we learn quickly that the way the world works (or at least the way we think it ought to work) is that nothing comes for free and everything needs to be earned.
There's no such thing as a free lunch.
Tit for tat.
This is why the Chris…

Influencers 1.

Some nuggets of gold that hit the mark in my heart and made a real impact. I'll start with one from the Bible. In a letter written to a group of Christians, Paul says:
Ephesians 2:20 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Every time I read this verse it transports me. I can remember so clearly where I was. It was during a regular time of Bible reflection that I came across it. I was stumbling my way through Ephesians each morning, journalling my reflections on the bits that stuck out to me when I reached this verse one morning. It was at the end of one of my times, I had to be going to get ready for work but I couldn't leave. I felt as though I had been scaling the outside of a ship trying to board it and this was the moment I got a leg over the railings and suddenly I saw before me a huge ocean liner to be explored. This is a verse to build a life around. I could plumb its depths a long time and still …