Saturday, September 30, 2006

Christ-Soldiers? True or not true?

A controversial and slamming quote from Mick Duncan (Who Stands Fast). Can you read this and understand this to be how your life is lived and that of your fellow brothers/sisters? Or is this something you haven't considered? No judgement either way...just a challenge.

"My observation is that most christians live as though we were in peace times with little of their lives reflecting the characteristics of christ-soldiers in a war zone. Personal preferences rather than principles seem to dictate decisions. Discipline is a dirty word. Many a believer wastes many a night in watching stupid, soapies on television. As for prayer, what is offered up is a rushed five minutes at the beginning of the day or a tired few minutes at the end of the day. Weekends are for leisure and pleasure pursuits. Houses are filled with the latest and the greatest. A lazy lifestyle marks the modern believer".

to be continued...but please first share some of your thoughts

Monday, September 25, 2006

Honk if you don't have a car!

I'm going to try and convince you to get rid of your car...well at least use it less. why am I going to do that? Well, because it is absolutely liberating!! I haven't had a car for 4-5years now and its taken me that long to realise how good it is - i want you guys to find out in less time than it took me.

Not having a car is...relaxing. The stress of driving and of traffic and of accidents and of misdirection is gone. That constant state of rush is gone. When not using a car i am carefree - i feel like i am more in tune with this world and the people around me. Without a car you are truly able to be in that place - your not about to go - because you can't. Then there are the journey's there and back - much longer for sure - but this is valuable time. Time to unwind - maybe think and pray about where you are headed. And on the way home its time to unwind and debrief/reflect/pray about what took place.

Sure Public transport is sometimes frustrating - but the bad public transport moments are few - and they cannot compete with the number of frustrating traffic jams etc that driving puts you through. On public transport is time for reading, music listening, simply being with others.

Since 1974 the federal government has spent $43 billion on roads and only about $1.5 billion on public transport

Then there are the massive costs associated with running a car - you know what they are! roughly $4500 per annum for the average family.

Australia is the 3rd highest transport emissions per-capita in the world
23% of world greenhouse gas emissions come from transport

You don't realise how much of a slave you are to your vehicle until its gone. You don't realise how often it is not needed and a good walk or bus trip will add to your day.

But most of all - without a car - your life starts becoming centred. Centred around your community - the place you spend most of your time. Connections increease. Isolation decreases. Its good. Its real good.

These are my thoughts from my experiences - maybe give it a go and see what happens and then post a comment in response?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What if people could believe and feel heaven now?

When I hear Church goers constantly going on and on about heaven and hell, eternal life, and the questions like “is he save” or ‘has she been converted or “I wonder if he/her made it to heaven” – I shake my head in disbelief and shame. All these things, this obsession with eternity, the handing over of earth to damnation. Why do Church-goers have this total defeatist attitude? Sure there are some scriptural texts and theology around the eternal. But is it anymore scriptural and spiritual than the texts and theology about our existence here and now on earth?
Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God is happening all around us. Have we failed on one of Jesus most important talking points – that it has already begun. Eternal life begins now. Its no wonder non church go-ers don’t want a bar of what church go-ers try and offer – this reward of another life – its a fantasy compared to the suffering they are going through now here on earth. Its wistful…another reality I can go to after 80years of this place. Just grin and bear it we say. Because one day you’ll be richly rewarded in heaven. Fortune telling is what it is. People are already in hell. Why should they believe in a promised life when this one is so shit and not getting better. Church is simply trying to sell a fantasy life with a magic ticket called the sinners prayer.
So I say what if Church goers worked for a heaven on earth. This is part and parcel of the theology of The Salvation Army. What if people could believe and feel heaven now? Would this more truly help them ‘see’? Imagine a faith that was passionate for people’s lives here and now. That’s powerful! Is that not what we all seek now anyway? A life of meaning, goodness and true. Imagine if that was the type of faith church lived and preached. A positive life building message instead of an apocalyptic end times warning. Good news NOT bad news - its simple!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Love - always bloody amazing

A few of you may remember me talking to you about a young guy from our neighborhood who we helped celebrate a major birthday. This young guy came from a broken, violent and abusive family. Courageously he completely separated himself at a very early age from this emotionally, mentally and physically destructive environment in order to find freedom. This young guy also has severe physical health conditions and a mental health illness he is currently battling through medication. Aside from his housing worker and another older bloke, this guy has no one. It was our privilege to throw a small party, give him a small gift, cut a cake and share in his birthday. As tears and speechlessness welled up in this young guy (as he expected this birthday to go unnoticed), I knew this was a moment given that he will always remember.

Yesterday, this young guy helped led our worship time after dinner. The changes in this young guy are brilliant, a face glowing instead of depressed, conversation instead of silence, reason to literally get out of bed and leave a lonely house . I am always, always amazed at the power that acts of love can bring. You just never know when an act of kindness or unprompted love can help a person turn around and begin to see Jesus. That’s what its all about. My challenge to you is to do something for someone that they totally do not expect and watch a small miracle happen before your eyes…it will amaze you everytime…

True Community

The below is a discussion I led at a cafe with a group known as Rough Waters. The topic is True Community.

Community These Days

q.) when you hear the term Community – what comes to mind?
- Community is a loose term these days
- The destruction of previous forms of community
o Tribe > Extended Family > Nuclear Family > Single parent > Single
- Disconnection of previous places of community
o Land > Rural town > City - Industrialization and Modernity (for work have to move to cities – now leading fragmented lives of different places and suburbs – transport availability – communication increase means you can find out before where your friends are at rather than rely on local place)
o Few Geographic communities out there (Neighborhood non existent)
- So with the loss and destruction of community and the places of community this has led to seeking new forms and places of community

Q.) What are some other ‘new’ forms and places to replace the old communities?
§ Workplace (eg. netball teams)
§ Sporting clubs
§ Interest Groups
§ Internet (virtual comm.)
§ Fitness centers
§ Shopping centers (walking groups, food court, movies, doctors etc)
§ Book stores (Cafes incl.)
§ AA, NA, Grow
§ Political / ideological. based groups (eg. greenpeace)
§ Churches (eg. cell church)
§ Schools (eg. parents clubs
§ Theatre Groups

- Community is now a brand – a selling point
- People seek it – for we are a people who need it
- Lack of it leads to things such as depression / isolation / breakdowns etc

True community is not…

§ Living in same house
§ Sharing possessions
§ Eating together
§ Reading scripture together
§ Worshiping together
§ Sharing money
§ Talking
§ Mission together
§ Exercising together
§ Discussing, planning
§ Playing in same footy team
§ Spending time together
§ Sunday mornings together
§ Drinking coffee together
§ Shopping together
§ Working together
§ Living in same suburb

- It is not any of the above
- these assist to create true community and are outworking of community. On their own they are not community

True Community is…
- A heart connection (mine to yours)
- For followers of Jesus it is even more…it is an acceptance and acknowledgment that Christ is in you and Christ is in me (an understanding that we are connected through and to God)
- This is what community is about – genuine love for one another (eg. sometimes you can feel when groups of people have really found community – the love they have for one another)

Q.) When have you felt true community (eg. family, work)?
Q.) Who was it with?

- This heart connection doesn’t just happen – it requires a WILLINGNESS
- If there is one thing to take away its WILLINGNESS
- All true community comes out of a willingness

GIVING AND RECEIVING – A willingness to do one of these

By You > to Give (I want to be in this person’s life, therefore I will give my time or this is someone I want to be around)
By You > to Receive (People will target you – they will give something of themselves and it is up to you if you receive it or not – eg. phone call, coffee, time, email, invitation)
Also God…can bring about this about

Q.) Think about that particular connection…Why / how did it happen?
Q.) What did you give / receive
Q.) What were your willingness levels to have a connection

PROBLEM – Of Duty vs Love
- Often we do things out of a sense of duty – like go to work or church and fail to experience or give genuine love
- A genuine love to get to know one another
- A genuine love to get to know the people who come to our places
- Not saying we require to spend large amounts of time with each other – that is not True Community as we discussed earlier – its about the quality of love you bring (you can spend 4 hours with someone – and still not experience a connection with someone – eyes shut – heart shut – focused on yourself and not what you can give or what you can receive)
- Not just talking about lovey dovey stuff (connections occur in variety of ways)

PROBLEM – Of Expectation of Community
- We often expect to have our every needs filled by each other
- This is not community – this is divinity
- We as a community cannot met all of each others needs (only God can do that)
- Cannot carry each other (who carries the carrier)
- No. we walk side by side in the same direction
- If one stumbles we stop and help them out (lend a shoulder to lean on for a while)
- In fact it is good to have some space
- STORY Henri Nouwen calls this holy ground – wherever we go – we are not separated as the ground between us is connected through God
- Sometimes we feel more connected when apart or away

PROBLEM – Sometimes easy sometimes its hard

Common interest friends VS Little Interest Friends

1. Common – these you give much and receive much and life is good
2. Little interest – you don’t want to receive their stuff they give (its weird) / give little or your gifts are rejected
- Often you reject what they give (this stuffs up the connection – creates tension in the connection – in some cultures its bad to reject gifts – an insult – think of what happens to the community between giver and receiver)
- Feel like you have nothing to give or don’t want to
- Even a little WILLINGNESS TO receiving or giving is enough to create community with this personIt can be done – problem if you surround yourself with these people – but you cannot ignore them (especially if part of ‘official’ community)