Sunday, 7 December 2014

See You Later

On the 6th of September, 2011 at 8.09 am, I published the first Jeans and Pink Jandals article called The Good, Bad and Ugly

Since then, I have published a little over 30 articles, full of thoughts, challenges, verses, quotes, and odd anecdotes.

The last 3 years have been massive learning for me. But I keep coming back to the same thing, a verse in my favourite book of the Bible, the 'Grumpy Old Man' view of life, 'say it how it is', 'don't mince words', 'wisdom with experience', the book of the Bible that is so honest it makes you nervously giggle, for fear that someone is being so honest and all of us may get offended.  Yup, you know I'm talking Ecclesiastes.  Chapter 1 verse 19 says "there is nothing new under the sun."

In a very loose way, I have viewed this privileged, to write and share with my family at Hope Community Church and with others interested enough to find this blog, as ministry.  But ultimately there are hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of Christian bloggers out there.  All with something to say, and 99.9% of the time it is nothing new under the sun.  The only difference is delivery, unless they are agitators, or diagnosable, then what they have to say is probably new to the general population, but perhaps not those in mental health services... What I am saying is that, in my lucid moments, what I have to say is not a lot different to the millions of other 'at home' Christian mothers blogs.  And I'm not having a go at them, I just don't see the need for everyone to have a blog, and so I think this blogger with nothing new under the sun to say, is going to take a break.  

Until next time, if there is a next time ....


Thursday, 4 December 2014

39 Christmas


Where I am living at the moment they make a big celebration of a child’s first birthday because it’s a big deal for a baby to make it to one year old.  When this milestone has been reached and the child has survived, they celebrate and in many cases that’s when they give them a name.  As each year passes, they have a unique way of telling how old they are. Instead of talking about birthdays they will ask how many Christmases you have seen. Just so you know I’ve seen 39 Christmases!

As I turn the calendar over to December 2014 and begin to focus on the next Christmas I can count against my age, the thought comes to me, I wonder if the more Christmases you see the more you wonder about the view. I should ask a wise old person like my Dad. He has seen 67 Christmases!  That’s a lot of tinsel, wrapping paper, handkerchiefs, screwdrivers and scorched almonds. I don’t want to sound sentimental, but I bet the view has changed over his life time of Christmases.

I apologise in advance, I really do, but I have to tell you that I find the whole palaver of western style celebrations at Christmas time really unappealing. I’m so sorry Christmas fans, I just find myself turned off Christmas more each year. In my conscious lack of enthusiasm, I lose sight of the real celebration at Christmas time, Jesus’ birth.  I find it shoved to the back of the window display nativity scene and drowned out by inappropriate, cheesy seasonal songs. 
This Christmas is my first celebrated in a developing country. I wonder at the impending differences comparing the two other locations I have experienced Christmases, in sunny New Zealand and in a traditional wintery England. In this country where life is literally about growing your own food and working hard to raise enough money to educate your children and hoping for a better future for them, I wonder what Christmas will look like.  I suspect it won’t look the least bit like my previous experiences.

I don’t want to strip away your tinsel before the 25th, but I do want to probe into why we do Christmas the way we do.  And is “because we’ve always done it this way”, a good enough reason? Maybe this year is the year to claim Christmas for your family and take it in the direction you want it to go, rather than going with the flow. 

Family traditions are beautiful memory makers for children, yet if you asked me what gifts I got for Christmas in 1998, I will have absolutely no clue.  If you asked me however who we had around for Christmas lunch that year, I could tell you.  When my siblings had flown the coop, my folks and I began what we called a “Waifs and Strays” meal at Christmas. This usually involved inviting around friends who didn’t have family locally, or didn’t have easy relationships with their families.  It was so much fun and we did this for a number of years. This was a very special way to celebrate Christmas as well as making some lasting memories. 

The first Christmas we were married, I was unwell for months leading up to Christmas and wasn’t able to work at all, so we had a very lean budget. Consequently my family received gifts of homemade garden art, which equated to stones being glued together.  It’s safe to say the artwork didn’t last very long, in fact, I think most probably broke before they even made it into the garden!

Christmas doesn’t need to be expensive, in fact it shouldn’t be expensive. Do you think the celebration of the birth of Jesus our Saviour should leave us in debt?  The whole point of His coming was to pay our debt, not make us feel that we should rack up a huge visa bill to please our family and friends. 

One year while we were living in the UK, we asked our family members to give to an Aid Agency instead of gifts to us. This actually felt like a really worthwhile Christmas present.  On our behalf, Marcus’ parents bought a goat for a family in Africa which had the potential to change a families circumstances for generations.

These are a few random things done to celebrate Christmas, yet I can still recall them and they mean a lot to me. It has challenged me to think about how we can ensure Christmas for our families is indeed memory making, rather than doing what we have always done because we have always done it.

As we mark off another Christmas, may we make it more meaningful for our family this year by taking some time to make it what we want it to be by making Jesus the focus. Jesus gave us the greatest gift through his incarnation, so it’s not surprising for us to want to share practical gifts with others to celebrate what Jesus has done.  The Magi began the tradition of gift giving. They gave expensive gifts but that doesn’t mean we have to.  I would hazard a guess their worship meant more to Christ than the gold, frankincense, and myrrh put together. 


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Jesus is Totally Human


Back in April 2014 I attended Theology Café at church, which looked at Easter and the identity of Jesus. For as long as I can remember I have heard that Jesus was fully God and fully human, but this particular evening brought about a discussion that caused me to see for the first time that Jesus is indeed truly human. Fully human just like me.  Now I realise that last sentence needs some more unpacking but bear with me please.

I admit I have always viewed Jesus as God in a ‘man skin’ but with the full God backpack of power, who cannot divorce himself from his God-ness and dips into his divine backpack whenever he has need.  It’s true he cannot divorce himself from his God-ness, but he can choose to relinquish the independent use of his power and rely on the Holy Spirit’s power.  Now this gets a little murky as it sounds more like rewording than anything, but in fact it isn’t.  It’s so very relevant to you and me personally. If Jesus chose to use only the power given to him by the Spirit of God and do only as the Father told him, then his humanity looks a lot like ours if we are followers of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit.

This point makes me read the New Testament much differently than I did when I viewed Jesus as fully God with ‘human skin’. As Reverend Dr Andrew Burgess said at Theology Café in April, “Jesus walks out his obedience to God day by day, moment by moment. His obedience is perfected in his death.”

What Jesus went through in the garden of Gethsemane wasn’t easy, nor was it decided – until it was decided.  Jesus had to decide to obey his Father. Exactly when that was decided I have no clue, but you can’t deny he certainly felt the moment of obedience in Gethsemane.

‘A few hours after the foot-washing episode, Jesus wasn’t feeling much like sacrificing his life for humankind; “Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way , get me out of this. But please, not what I want, but what do you want?” Jesus found the source for obeying his Abba, in his Abba, not in his own emotional reserves. That’s a much better ending than … I was going to save the world … but then I didn’t feel like it.  Thank God, Jesus was who he was and did what the Father asked him to do’” Brennan Manning.

In that moment, Jesus felt the decision to accept the suffering and obey, by taking on sin and wearing it through death. If it was an easy decision, why did he sweat blood?  If it was easy, why did he ask his friends to watch and pray? If it was easy, why did he ask that if at all possible, could it not happen? Matthew 26:39 shows the heart of Jesus. And going a little further he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

Henri Nouwen writes, “Jesus didn’t throw the cup away in despair. No, he kept it in his hands, willing to drink it to the dregs. This was not a show of willpower, staunch determination, or great heroism.  This was a deep spiritual yes to Abba, the lover of his wounded heart.”

Hebrews 5:8-9 sums it all up, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
Jesus in his humanity said yes to the Father.  We in our humanity can also say yes to the Father.  Even in the face of the really hard stuff. Even in the face of things terminal. Even in the face of the unfair. If Jesus can say yes in the face of the suffering he foreknew, we can say yes in the face of the unknown.

Today that point made a difference. I had to deal with hard stuff and I could have chosen to metaphorically ‘pull the fingers’ at life and my struggles and give up, but instead I had to constantly remind myself that I am here and here is where God wants me. This reminder works most times, other times I have a tiny strop, but fortunately in most situations we get another chance to obey and surrender. Personally I can only do that because I know that Jesus faced the choice of obedience daily as I do.

Yes Jesus is God.  He is also human, like you and me.  If he can draw on the power to say yes, then so can we.  I hear your argument, but he was God, of course he has to be obedient in all situations, because he’s perfect.  But when we choose to argue this way, we degrade the humanity of Jesus. Fully man, fully God. Jesus could have come solely as God, but he didn’t.  Makes you think that maybe it was important to him that we knew he would understand us in our humanity. 100% God, 100% human.


Friday, 10 October 2014

The Scent of Love or Sour Faced Saints

I don’t know how many times I heard my mother say to me growing up “Stop frowning”. I guess I have a face that naturally rests in a frown or maybe it’s my thinking face, who knows!! Whichever it is, I can only hope my frown doesn’t get misread as ‘sour-faced’, for when I read Teresa of Avilias words “From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, spare us O Lord” I sheepishly say Amen. Spare us Lord from the ones who call themselves Christians yet delight in misery. Those who seem by compulsion to judge others. Those who develop a morbid enjoyment of ailments. Those who proudly pronounce how busy they are. Those who take it upon themselves to look down their noses at those who smoke, drink, fornicate or wear last year’s styles. Save us O Lord from the Christian who wants to remain aloof from the world, who seem to dislike or even hate those Jesus died for.  Save us O Lord from those sour-faced saints who find salvation in their disciplines, who love their rule based regimes more than the person in front of them in the supermarket cue.

In his book the Signature of Jesus, Brennan Manning writes “A life of love lived unpretentiously for others flowing out of a life lived for God, is the imitation of Christ and the only authentic discipleship. A life of service through unglamorous, unpublicised works of mercy is a life marked by the signature of Jesus.”

We are called to be Christ Jesus’ witnesses, to have his signature at the bottom of each page in our lives. If you only had one word to describe Jesus, it would have to be love don’t you think? And as followers of Christ, our call is to live like Jesus Christ. This is the major difference between followers of Christ and those who don’t yet know him personally. Our deep soul calling is not to succeed or gain wealth, it is a call to Love. Not that kindness will not be seen oozing from those who do not yet follow Christ, for some of these God has blessed with charity and grace of character even before they are called to love.

Love isn’t just being nice. It’s not being kind to strangers now and then. It’s not just being generous and smiling all the time, nor is it volunteering sometimes when a need arises. Love is unselfishly putting others before yourself. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”  1Corinthians 13: 4- 6. I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting a phrase in that passage that reminds us of the challenge to love others selflessly. The Apostle John says the same thing another way “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35.

This is hard and it’s not something you just happen to fall into. Love is a verb. It’s something you choose to do, which will mean sometimes being at places you don’t want to be, with people you don’t want to be with, doing things you don’t want to do which at times may be known as church.  Sometimes love, the verb, is sweaty, smelly, dirty, weepy, boring, tiring, and uncomfortable, but it’s never ever impossible! 

Brennan Manning continues to expound the signature of Jesus on our lives by introducing the possibilities of love in our daily lives of faith. “In our words and deeds we give shape and form to our faith every day. We make people a little better or leave them a little worse. We either affirm or deprive, enlarge or diminish the lives of others.” I actually found this idea quite liberating. When I wake up each morning, I am not called to love the whole world or even the country I am living in. I am called to love those I come in contact with.  Loving the one in front of you is powerful. Firstly it’s the very foundation of a faith community. Secondly it’s a powerful witness to those around us. 

Please forgive the following giant quote, but it’s a goodie! Again it’s from Brennan Manning’s book The Signature of Jesus which I have just finished reading. “In the Scent of Love, Keith Miller writes that the early Church grew ‘not because of the spiritual gifts of Christians -such as speaking in tongues - and not because Christianity was such a palatable doctrine but because they had discovered the secret of community’. Generally they did not have to lift a finger to evangelize. Someone would be walking down a back alley in Corinth or Ephesus and would see a group of people sitting together talking about the strangest things- something about a man and a tree and an execution and an empty tomb. What they were talking about made no sense to the onlooker. But there was something about the way they spoke to one another, about the way they looked at one another, about the way they cried together, the way they laughed together, the way they touch one another that was strangely appealing. It gave off the scent of love. The onlooker would start to drift farther down the alley, only to be pulled back to this little group like a bee to a flower. He would listen some more, still not understanding and start to drift away again but he would be pulled back, thinking, I don’t have the slightest idea what these people are talking about, but whatever it is, I want part of it.”

When called to be Christ’s witnesses, we are called to speak of the One who loves more than life and consequently to love more than we are capable of in our own strength. Let’s start a revolution together! Rather than Christians being thought of as those who wear sandwich boards shouting about damnation or those with cruel eyes and sour-faces peering down noses at the unworthy ones, let’s be known for our love. The revolution starts with us as we love each other in such a way that people conclude “I don’t have the slightest idea what these people are talking about, but whatever it is, I want part of it.

No sour faces now looking like you have just chewed on a lemon by mistake, but faces reflecting love, the love of God in Christ. This gift he has given us, reflected in gratitude and love to others, gives off “the scent of love”.





Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Red Letters


I recently purchased a tiny Bible for carrying around easily.  To my delight it was a red letter edition.  Red letter editions are brilliant and I’ll tell you why. It’s because they make the words of Jesus stand out, in red. I guess that’s pretty obvious really, since that is the main purpose of the red letter edition!
During a recent sermon, when I was unable to understand what the preacher was saying as he was speaking a language I am only just starting to learn, I was reading through John.  The red letters jumped out at me.  Jesus’ first quoted words in John are “What do you want?” John 1:38.  Good start eh?  The second words were “Come, and you will see.” John 1:39.  This is simple, yet I think it’s profound. 

The book of John is all about love.  John even calls himself ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ John 13:23.  I think John was onto something and that’s why this first quote of Jesus is very revealing. He was the one whom Jesus loved.  It took him until chapter 13 to call himself that, as John recounted the Last Supper, straight after Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet.  But it’s only After chapter 19 that he increasingly uses this term.  So why did it dawn on him that he was beloved by Jesus then?  He had been following this man for years, why at this time?  What happened in chapter 19 to convince him of Jesus’ love for him?  Should I tell you, or shall I see if you are curious enough to look it up for yourself?

“What do you want?”  I wonder if John, inspired by the Spirit of God was revealing to us our deep need, through his own personal experience. It was at Calvary that it dawned on John, he was ‘the one Jesus loved’.  Don’t we all want to be loved? Isn’t that why we try so intensely to make ourselves appealing to others?  Isn’t that why we tone down our opinions, add to our interests, bend our beliefs, dramatize our story so we fit in?

Henri Nouwen said, “Only when we claim the love of the crucified Christ with heartfelt conviction, the love that transcends all judgements, can we overcome all fear of judgement.  When we have become completely free from the need to judge others, we will also become completely free from the fear of being judged.”

It took John seeing the Son of God, washing feet, then hanging on a cross for him to claim the love of the crucified Christ.  What will it take for you?  In the words of Brennan Manning “Define yourself radically as one totally loved by God.  Right now. As is. Not to be left like this, certainly, but just as certainly never to be loved, valued, cherished any more or less than you are in this very moment because God’s love does not depend on you.”  John didn’t do anything to realise Jesus’ love, Jesus did. 

This leads to the next red letter quote “Come, and you will see.”  What will it take for us to come? What will it take for us to see?  I’m not sure I have an answer, I’m merely posing the question.  They say in Alcoholics Anonymous that the biggest hurdle is admitting you have a problem.  I think the biggest hurdle in our faith is admitting we don’t appreciate and claim the love of Christ for ourselves.  We do know about it, or know of it, but I’m not convinced we really claim it. 

I think we all need to hear the words of Henri Nouwen, “All I want to say to you is, ‘You are the Beloved,’ and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being – ‘You are Beloved’.”  You may need to re-read that.

The penny dropped for John. What will it take for us?  If only we could talk of ourselves as ‘(insert name), the One Jesus Loved’. 

Do you want to know, understand and feel the deep love of Jesus? Do you want the love that satisfies the longing within us to gain the approval of others, a love that voids acceptance by the world’s standards?


Jesus invites you to ‘come and you will see.’  Come into the presence of the Saviour, take time to rest in his presence.  Imagine, if that helps, Jesus sitting next to you. Zephaniah 3:17 says “He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  To me this speaks of an intimate moment of being drawn into the lap of God, and having him comfort you with a lullaby, as you rest in his great arms.  Put yourself in a posture of receiving God’s love; curl up in his lap, clear a seat beside you, do whatever draws you into a place of savouring his love, knowing you are His beloved.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A Pharisee Like Me



I’ve never really had too much interest in world religions.  I’ve had friends who were Atheists, Agnostics, Catholics, Bahai and friends who came out of the Mormon church but I’ve never really been that interested in other faiths. Well at least not enough to read up about them too much. The closest I’ve come is getting annoyed at being visited by the Jehovah Witnesses week after week. Not quite annoyed enough to find out what they believe, but annoyed just the same.
Now that I am living in a country that does not have its foundations or laws based on Biblical truth it makes it quite an interesting place to think about these things. Even if western countries deny who God is, they cannot erase the history of morality and the footprint of God’s laws from their past. 

So here I am, living in a historically ‘animistic’ country recently converted to Christianity. This shows itself in some ways and not in others. Meanwhile I’m loaned a book called Unveiling Grace by Lynn Wilder.  This is the story of how a family found their way out of the Mormon church.  I wouldn’t have purchased this book, but after reading in advance ten of my boys up-and-coming home school books, I thought an adult book might be on the cards.  So I started.  I was riveted from the first chapter.  But as interesting and enlightening as the book is there was one thing that really struck me.  It was the legalism, the trying to earn your way to Heaven that permeated the book.  Sadly as much as I desire to do God’s will and work as a sign of my love for Him, I fear some of the time I am doing so with a subconscious thought of earning my right to go to Heaven.

Lynn Wilder looks back on her 30 years in the Mormon faith and concludes, “All day long I worried, perhaps not consciously but unconsciously, if what I was doing was the right thing.  I worried whether each decision I was making throughout the day was moving me closer to being good enough to be accepted by Heavenly Father.”  Even as she talked about all that was entailed in being ‘good’ as a Mormon, I was pierced in my heart. I may know the one true God, but I still find myself doing the very thing she highlighted. I try earning my way into God’s good books. I try to be good by weighing up if I have done all I should today, if I am reading enough, praying enough, doing enough, even surrendering enough, and repenting enough.

She goes on to say “I did not realise that evaluating my own righteousness was self-centred. I thought I was honouring Christ and the Heavenly Father according to the Mormon gospel. But this worldview is self-centred, and this is why I had to constantly think about myself and my behaviour to determine where I stood. I was thinking about me all the time. Plus I gave myself credit for being able to stave off sin. This groundless belief was toxic to my soul, blinding me to the many sins I did have.”

I’m not sure if you are feeling uncomfortable right now.  Safe to say I was when I read this. It reminded me of something Brennan Manning said in his book A Furious Longing for God. I’m paraphrasing because I borrowed the book and no longer have it.  He said something like, if I could go back and do life over again, I would not waste a minute contemplating how my faith walk is, nor comparing it to others around me.

I do this.  Do you?  Do you, like me, waste time thinking about how much better you could be doing? What else you could be doing? Whether you will ever grow in your faith like … them? What you could be doing to surrender more? How you could go deeper in your relationship with Christ?  Do you, like me, do your best to be good enough?

“History tells us it’s not whores, thieves and pagans who find it most difficult to turn from self-reliance; it’s devoutly religious Pharisees who feel they have nothing to turn from.”(Brennan Manning, Posers, Fakers & Wannabes, Unmasking the Real You).

I’m not suggesting you are a Pharisee, that would be hugely judgemental of me, but I’m telling you I am. If I spent half the time I use to contemplate whether my own efforts have been good enough and instead spent that time praying, or enjoying time with God, the striving for goodness would be gone and the presence of God would be enjoyed, because in the end it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus. 

Have I been sucked into some false doctrine about works?  I was raised memorising Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is be grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourself, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” So it’s not my theology that’s misplaced, or totally wrong, it’s my interpretation of my own self importance.

How natural it seems for me to strive, in my own strength, for what I desire in my faith.  This is the mandate for all other world religions. Work at it and you may be good enough. It seems to be that the gospel of grace that Jesus gives is the only free gospel, yet we can so easily turn it into a gospel of works. What a slap in the face that must be to Jesus.  We take all he has done and make it ‘not enough’, and we add our efforts and make it all about us. 
I don’t know the answer to this inherent human problem. Maybe we start by throwing off the self-imposed pressure to read more, pray more and do more.  Let us allow ourselves the pleasure of time with God as we amble, wander, walk, run, or rush through our day, knowing that what Jesus did was enough and all he wants from us is for us to turn our face towards him.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Knowledge is Power

Yesterday I discovered that cockroaches seem to break in half quite easily. This was not something that was high on my list of things I wanted to know. I’m still not certain whether this is a common occurrence or just yesterday’s phenomenon.  My theory of “break in half cockroaches” will no doubt be confirmed one way or the other before the week is out.  Sometimes circumstances leave you knowing something you may not have wished to know in the first place. Many of us have had times in our lives when we would have wished to not know something. You will have heard the common saying, ‘knowledge is power’. Perhaps we assume that’s a good kind of power, but that isn’t always the case.

Some of you will now know more than you wanted to about your blood, after a diagnosis of diabetes. Others of you will know more than you ever dreamt would be necessary after a prostate or cervical cancer diagnosis. Some of you will know the heart breaking feeling that you would have never believed possible after a relationship betrayal.

Knowledge is a powerful tool as we scour the internet and become “experts” overnight in the condition we are suffering with. Having said all that, I wonder sometimes if we would be better off with a little less knowledge. Before you hold up your hand in horror at such a “un 21st century like” comment, please hear me out!

John 3 verse 16.  When I say that verse do you yawn, mentally move on, roll your eyes – literally or figuratively, or do you feel the warmth of God’s love spoken so plainly in those words? It is the most quoted bible verse on the planet, and for good reason. It’s the gospel in a nutshell.

“God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” (CEV)

There is a real danger that we can so often hear the wonderful news about Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, that we become immune to its personal power in our lives and the old adage that “familiarity breeds contempt” starts to ring true!

When Jesus said that God loved the world so much, he wasn’t just talking about the great population mass of the world, but he was actually talking about you, specifically you, little old you. God loved you so much that he sent Jesus. And we hear it over and over again and it becomes old news far too quickly and not the good news it really is.

I think the ironic thing about these verses in John is that Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, the Pharisee, from the group of the religious elite, those schooled in the Torah. I often despise the Pharisees when I read about them. They were the ones who convicted Jesus. They were the ones who ignored the gift from God. They were the ones who knew the text, but not the man. Isn’t it often the way? We despise in others what we ignore in ourselves. I find that uncomfortably true. 

Do you think the Pharisees read so often of the prophesied Messiah that when they came face to face with him, they were desensitised to the one they were searching for?

Have we so often read the truth of God’s astounding love for us, that we are desensitised to the reality of it in our lives.

God loves you. He sent Jesus. Jesus chose to die and I don’t mean some hygienic, sanitised sort of death. I’m talking powerful, foreknown, painful to the point of excruciating sort of death.  For you! For me!  We cannot allow ourselves to be desensitised to the power of this knowledge. We need to feel it, because Jesus did and knew he would from the beginning and did it anyway.

Join me in repentance.










Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Ultimate Pension Plan


Some movies leave a lasting impression don’t they. In my case that would have to be “Les Miserable”. Others leave one-liners that last in the memory, like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. Still there are others like “The Princess Bride” that fit well into both categories.

In “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” character Sonny Kapoor says "Everything will be all right in the end and if it's not all right, then it's not yet the end". I love that quote, as do many others who have seen this movie (not recommending the movie, I just like the quote!!)  Why do we all love it? Probably because it brings HOPE.  


I was reading one of the blogs I subscribe to a while ago and the blogger said "Our Employer has a pension plan that is out of this world. It will be worth it in the end!" (I would love to give credit, but can't remember whose blog I read it on)


My dear Dad became a pensioner recently. For the past year he has slowed up some, but now that he has nearly recovered from the surgery on his spine, he is not really slow any more. What we love to tease him about is the fact that he is a pensioner, well at least according to our government’s statistics he is anyway. Whether he feels like it, acts like it, or looks like it, he's a pensioner. Some of us just do not like to think about the inevitable pension plan, while others plan not to stop what they are doing anytime soon. I totally agree. If we are still breathing then we have a job to do. Not so much for an employer, but definitely for our Saviour.  


Our eternal pension plan comes, not when we reach 65 years old, but when we are called home to heaven. Until that time we have to conclude that we are still here because we need to be and we have a job to do.  As we work in response to His love, we can cling to this truthful hope. In the end everything will be alright. In fact better than alright, it will be mind-blowingly astounding. What hope and confidence we have in knowing that whatever we face in life is good in the hands of a good God. If we trust that Jesus is the Son of God who chose to come into this world to show us His unwavering love and grace, to save us from the consequence of our own independent choices and sins. If we believe this and live our lives following his truth, not just in word but in deed, then we have hope for the ultimate pension plan, eternity in the presence of a Holy God. Not just as adopted sons or daughters, but co-heirs with Christ Jesus our Saviour.  

I don't remember any teaching of Jesus that spoke of focusing on self, just taking your 'ticket' and waiting.  Jesus spoke about serving, loving, going, making, doing, being, teaching, disciplining, growing, working with a focus on others, not self.  So how do we live life following Jesus? There is no three point plan or success mantra. Simply put, if you want to live a heartfelt, totally fulfilled life, you need to change your thinking from how to who. Instead of focussing on how, first focus on God, the sovereign Father, the sacrificial Son - Jesus, and the powerful Spirit - the Holy Spirit. Then comes the how. PRAY.  Pray God will change you. Pray God will move you. Pray He will convict you.  Pray for revelation.  Pray for compassion.  Pray for His love to be worked out through you. If we live our lives for God then nothing is wasted, not even the random conversations or things we thought were insignificant. In fact absolutely nothing is wasted when we live for God. It is then that our focus is on the eternal rather than the material. Even the hard times are of great value, ultimately worth “gold” in heaven.  


As fun as great lines in movies are, they have nothing on the truth of God's Word.  Movies entertain us, God's promises and purpose give us hope for our present and our future.



Monday, 19 May 2014

Dot to Dot

I wonder if there is anything better than those dot to dot moments in life.  You know the ones, when things connect to form a picture.  Out of seemingly random points comes definition, clarity, in unmistakeable design.  The dot to dots of life.

The page took shape one weekend when the dots starting joining, first with a verse I had never read that way before - dot.

Chapters in a book someone else was trying to read, but I kept stealing glances at every moment I got - dot.

A Womens' conference DVD that was shown earlier in the week at an evening I couldn't attend. A friend had borrowed it and together we were catching up on watching it - dot.

Poignant conversations that expand on thoughts lingering from earlier in the week - dot.

The final dot of the weekend brought all the dots to explicit clarity, the sermon at church Sunday morning - dot.

The picture was beautiful and sacred.

Thank you Lord.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Convinced about Jesus

Some days I think about the hugeness of the universe and the vastness of our world and wonder is there another earth like planet out there, in another solar system.  As these thoughts tumble down the warn path in my brain, I become overwhelmed, and doubt creeps in.

I don't freak at times like this, I just push doubts aside and chant repeatedly to myself some Biblical mantra like, Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth."

Not a bad way to combat doubt. The Bible is called the Sword, it seems an appropriate weapon to draw. Jesus quoted scripture when he was tempted.

During a recent sermon something dawned on me, I don't have to believe in all the mind blowing concepts that cause a sense of overwhelming. I don't have to believe in creation, I don't have to believe in eternity. The Bible doesn't call me to believe in grace, or mercy or forgiveness.  I am not required to believe in one earth in the infinite vastness of the universe.  I am not required to believe in the overwhelming nature of omnipotence or omnipresence.

This particular sermon gave an overview of the book of Luke, chapters 1-9, the doctor and disciple whom the book is named after, leads us through, 'carefully investigated' details from the 'beginning', so that the person he is writing to has certainty of the things he has been told. (verse3-4).  In the first 9 chapters of Luke, the teacher identified groups who do not know who Jesus was.  The Pharisees did not know who Jesus was (Luke 5:21), the crowds didn't know who Jesus was (Luke 7:49), even the disciples ask the same question, who is this man? (Luke 8:25).

Who is Jesus?

The first point of the sermon was 'We need to be convinced in who Jesus is'. Luke spends 9 chapters convincing us of who Jesus is.  That is quite a lot of convincing.  Why?  Because the Bible says; "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" Acts 16:31.

So when the old abductive thinking becomes fuzzy logic, I can quit trying to figure out why an all knowing, all powerful being would bother creating this tiny yet beautiful earth and all these self absorbed persons in it.  Sounds depressing right?  And it is, if I don't know who Jesus is.  If I'm not convinced about the details of creation, it's ok.  If I'm not convinced about one earth, it's ok.  If I'm not convinced about the details eternity, it's ok.  My only need is to be utterly convinced about who Jesus is.

Jesus.  A man, who is like no other man who has ever lived.  A man who is God, the Son of the Most High God.  Who is the Most High God? I wonder if He is a bit more of a mystery, so much so His chosen people didn't even say His name. But this Jesus, sent by His Father, he chose to come to earth, as a tiny baby, vulnerable and having to learn what all babies have to learn, how to get fed, how to walk, what is hot, what is cold, what bites, what's wet, he had to learn it all. Him, who was active at the creation of the universe, (John 1:1-3). His place was at the Right Hand of the Most High God, and he became a tiny baby.  He chose to experience this world, this life, as we do, and worse.  He knew what he was getting himself into, and he chose to do it anyway.  His teaching was hard to swallow, still is, if we are willing to admit it.  He didn't preach every Sunday on love.  He is love, but his message isn't, well not the way we think of love, it's not about what's in it for me.  His message was, follow me.  It will be hard.  You will hurt.  You will be rejected.  It will cost you.  If it doesn't, then you are not really following me.

Jesus. God who became a man, who told it straight, straight to the heart, our heart.  Why?  Because his was broken and our faith will restore the broken.

Who is Jesus?  Are you convinced of his man the Bible talks about, do you like the nice bits?  Do you want to hear the passage, 'Come little children unto me' (Matt 19:14), but feel a little queezy over the passage 'Eat my flesh, drink my blood' (John 6:56).

I fear that we, the church, have turned Jesus into a white middle-class mediocrity, instead of the Holy One of God. If you baulk at that sentence I would challenge you to read Follow Me by David Platt.

Who is Jesus?  He's not who we have made him.  He is who the Bible says he is.  He will not bend to the will of humanity, just like he did not over throw Rome, as his followers had hoped. He will not be the person I want him to be, because he is God and even my best desires of who I want him to be will be hidiously lacking.

If I am to be convinced of who Jesus is, I need to know him.  How do I know Him?  I get to know him through time, and understanding, he is the God Man the Old Testament points to, and the New Testament tells of. He is radical, truthful, understanding, powerful, tender, passionate, socially unacceptable, Man, common, honest, exquisite, anti-religious, gracious, forgiving, generous, perfect, God.  Are you convinced of who Jesus is?

If the concept of time and space cripple you, look to Jesus.  If the macro and micro of this Universe make you dizzy, look to Jesus.  He not only created time, space, huge and tiny, he entered into it. God Man.


Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Christian Family Resources - Part 15 - Kingdom Series

Over the last few years, I have come across some great resources for families, churches, small 
groups, mentoring, or self-study. 

Introducing: Kingdom Series by Chuck Black




This series had my 9 year old hooked.  Line and sinker.  As the books went along he could recognise the characters who paralleled those of the Bible.  The story is full of action and adventure, love and friendship.  The sword fighting was certainly a big hit, not for it's gore, as the was none, just masterful swordmanship.  

The whole series run through the Bible, from Genesis to revelation, from the fall to eternity.  It is a gripping series.

I confess, I read through many of my eldest boys books to make sure they are appropriate, however after book one, I was into these books and nailed them all in a week.  They were that infectious.  Possibly not the best written work I have read, but very captivating, and like me, most 9 year olds are not literary critics, they just know what they like.  We both liked this series.

I would highly recommend this series.

Monday, 31 March 2014

An Action Word

It's meal time, and one self professed chatterbox in our family prefers to talk instead of eat, half way through our meal, we notice he's not even touched his. Out comes a line from a song.  I'm not sure everyone does this in their families but I have from when the boys were very little. I like to live by the line Dave Dobbyn sings "the less said, the more sung.", so I sing an instruction to the chatterbox. "A little less conversation, a little more action." Thank you Elvis. The meal proceeds.

A little less conversation, a little more action. Psalm 40 has been my dwelling place over the past few weeks.  Definitely worth a read, so are any of the Psalms really, in fact the whole book is good.

When reading Psalm 40, I had a bit of a 'lightbulb' moment, when I realised David, who wrote this psalm, used words like 'put' and 'make' in front of the word trust.  Have you ever noticed that?  'Put' and 'make' are verbs, doing or action words.  Which in turn, makes trust the act.  Psalm 40 verse 3 says "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD." Then verse 4 goes on to say "Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust".

Perhaps your assumption, like mine was that trust is something given, or conjured up, or grown over time. But these verses seem to come at trust from a different angle.

I'm going to get all 'Strong's Concordancey' on you for a moment. Because not only can we view trust as an action, but the Hebrew words used in each verse for trust is different. Bare with me, this is kind of interesting. We can see in verse 3 David uses the Hebrew word batach, meaning "confident , sure, bold or careless" Then in verse 4 he uses the word mibtach meaning "refuge, security, hope or assurance".

This stood out to me, let me paraphrase these verses and see if I can show you what I mean. I'll start part way through verse 3 and only the first part of verse 4.  Here goes;

Many will see and fear, and put their confidence and boldness in the LORD.
Blessed is the one who makes the LORD their refuge, security, hope and assurance.

Trust is a word we often use in our church lingo. Forgive me for saying, but I'm just not entirely sure we understand all that these church words mean half the time.  Trust isn't a celestial, spiritual word, it's actually practical. Trust is giving over to another, it's an act, it's actually nearly a physical action, taking something and putting it in a new place.  Or taking something and making, moulding it into another.

Our challenge as a church today is not to come up with more programs to try tempt people into our buildings, or to entertain them while they are here.  Our biggest challenge is total surrender of our trust.  As Simon Guillebaud says in his book  More Than Conquorers, "So the purpose of  total surrender is that our lives will honor him and point others to him...to bring us to a position of such weakness that we are malleable and available to God to accomplish his purposes for his glory"  He then goes on to quote  John Wesley's "Covenant Prayer"

"I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will,
Rank me with whoever you will.
Put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you,
Or laid aside for you.
Exalted for you, or brought low for you.
Let me be full,
Let me be empty.
Let me have all things,
Let me have nothing!
And now, O Father,
You are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant I am making on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen."

Total surrender is trust.  It's laying down our own agenda, putting our faith, what we actually depend upon, onto God.  Taking what is most important to us and laying it, putting it, offering it all to God, no matter what happens, knowing that God is in control.  That is trust.

Sometimes it's easier to speak about such things, rather than do the doing of such things.  I guess that is where we need to get our Elvis on, and sing to ourselves, "A little less conversation, a little more action."





 





Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Parental Understanding

When the day begins or proceeds exactly the opposite from what you had hoped or imagined.

Perfectionist suffers from the fatality of failure, 1 equation wrong wrote the epitaph, death and destruction of his will to try, his will to be taught, trained and moulded.

Perfection + mistake = the homicide of trying. Which in turn became a genocide of love, goodness, joy and peace in the home. Destruction of this kind can be contagious when all are weary and vulnerable.

How can I allow a small body to alter the atmosphere. My buttons get pushed when 9 year olds tell me how to parent with noted observations of how other mothers parent. The ugly comes out in me. He can not see the big picture of who he will become and how today makes a difference.

I hold my head in your hands and wonder how it became this mess.

Then when trying to calm my soul, it just happened to turn up in my inbox, today of all days this ... sometimes all it takes is understanding and a different perspective.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Friday 5 - UPDATED - The Shack, by William P Young

It's been ages since I've shared a favourite on a Friday.

We had the privileged of sharing a meal with two very interesting gentlemen on Wednesday night. Russell Thorp coordinates GC3, a New Zealand missions organisation as well as Ooi Chin Aik, known as Chin, an evangelist, itinerant speaker, theologian and author. What an interesting and inspiring evening with two very knowledgeable men. Russell, having connections with Laidlaw College in Auckland, noted we had the novel, The Shack on our bookshelf.  He suggested we listen to a link from the Laidlaw website from theologian Baxter Kruger and author of The Shack, Paul Young.

The Shack appears to be a very controversial book. I have read it probably 4 times, I try read it every year. not because it is particularly well written, but because it challenges my thinking. It is a novel, so fiction, yet for me, it opens  up the possibilities of who God is, removing the box I have placed God in, giving God the space to repossess the inviting, divine, mystery that He is.

http://www.laidlaw.ac.nz/latest-news/an-evening-with-baxter-kruger-paul-young

I haven't had time to listen to this yet, so can not censor it for you, but from what Russell said about the evening, it tells the history of how the story of the The Shack came to be, if you have wondered about this book and have been hesitant to read it due to offered opinions, then this testimony may give you perspective you need to pick The Shack up and read it, or to stop wondering if you should read it and be content to walk away from it. You decide.

UPDATE: I have listened to these talks, they include very little about the book The Shack.  I would be cautious in recommending others listen to the link above, unless you have a good theological filter to sift the raised thoughts through.  I'm not saying don't listen. I could easily remove this link from my blog, but in the interests of challenging and thought provoking material these talks are up there.  They are just not for the faint hearted in their faith. I described to my husband, that my reaction was 'cautious intrigue'. Some of the question raised in these talks really tapped into a deep place of my own doubts in faith, this is a good thing, as I think sometimes we feel something is awry but at times we don't know exactly how to put it into words, or we push the feeling down, not knowing how to address it, so tend more towards ignoring the difficulty of it. This can look an awful lot like an ostrich hiding it's head in the sand, which does not equate to wisdom.  

I need to listen to it again, and probably again. I don't know if I agree with this theology since I've only listened once and can't say I understood all they were saying.  At times I liked what I heard but then struggled to accept it as it wasn't referenced to the Word of God enough to reassure me.  Other times I could see where they were coming from, and others I wasn't on the same page.  So if you like challenging theological discussion and have been discipled and equipped enough to work through some highly challenging and controversial theology, then I encourage you to listen, if not maybe avoid for now, or if you are really curious find a spiritual mentor to journey with you in this.







Thursday, 13 March 2014

Growing up in joy.

I was talking with my 16 year old niece recently.  She is studying psychology at school, so we have another thing in common, she loves psychology and I'm a nutter, actually I love psychology too.

We were pondering yesterday; at what point do human beings loose that sense of carefree, joy, silly, fun-loving, excitable, crazy love for life that children have? Is there an exact time, or phase or cause for becoming more mature and socially appropriate?

This lead me to think on what I encourage my boys to tone down due to social appropriateness. Clearly there are some things children need to learn not to do, e.g playing chase in the Mall, picking their nose in public, or holding their private parts, no one wants to see that.  But do we curb personality too much in the name of character training.  Must all behave the same?  Are we not created uniquely, so shouldn't we retain that uniqueness?

I have one son, who is the fizz when you undo the lid on a soft drink bottle, he is bubbling, effervescent, bursting, and sometimes gets up your nose.  He requires as much if not more training than his peers. However I do not wish to squash his personality for the sake of his character.  Personality is God given, character is a learnt blessing.  Who am I, as a parent, to change or stifle what God has designed. I have no answers, only that we need to hold in tension the responsibility to train and the beauty in God's creatively designed little people.

Parental influence is not the only thing that robs us of our carefree joy of life. Life is hard, and as each day passes, children get closer to their first major disappointment, or hurt.  Parents can again make all the difference. We can teach our children to chose joy, while they know it naturally, it's intrinsic and primal, we can teach them to recognise it, and value it through thankfulness.

Most adults envy the joyful, carefree life of children.  Wouldn't you want to grow up retaining the joy of childhood? As parents we can foster this joy by guiding our children in their personalities, understanding God made them unique for a reason, yet also in community, so to respect other. Teaching our children to be thankful for what they have, rather than always wanting what they don't have.

Joyful, carefree living is not irresponsible or immature, it's understanding who we are in Christ, and giving Him thanks.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Waiting



This time last year Marcus and I had returned from a visit to Papua New Guinea with a clear call from God. We had just said yes to taking up a voluntary position over there. We expected it would be a matter of a few months and we would be packing up our home and saying goodbye to friends and family before moving countries to work. Becoming cross-cultural missionaries is a good thing, right, although it's never an easy thing leaving a comfortable culture and moving to a highly volatile one. We knew it would be hard but the call from God was clear.


For many the call to the overseas mission field is a call to sacrifice, often involving isolation and hardship. Some I know have prepared and waited years and years to go after they were called. Some wait endlessly on Government departments for visas. In our case only 12 months have elapsed but it feels like forever! December 2012, we were called. January 2013, we visited. February 2013, we were invited and said yes, and now it's February 2014, and we are still waiting.

We have lived in a state of limbo for the past 12 months. Drawn to a place we want to be and where we believe God wants us to be, makes the waiting all the more difficult. Our mission agency's policy is not to pay bribes, as they feel called to be counter cultural to the corruption that exists within the developing country of PNG. I totally agree, in theory, but in practise, I just want to get there! I really don’t want them to pay bribes either, but this waiting is hard!

As the journey started, we were so full of excitement at what 2013 would hold, but after months of not hearing anything and knowing this official 'tick' we are wanting from the government is only the first of many, the excitement started to wane. Our expectations went from 8 weeks to get there, to months and months of excruciating waiting. Our friends who have been there, smiled and told us this is good training for life in a developing country; learning patience, understanding corruption, knowing nothing happens in a hurry. The waiting was our training ground.

With our call still fresh and our excitement waning, I searched in my concordance to see what the Word of God said about ‘waiting’. What I unearthed was food for a hungry soul and hydration for drying lips.

Many of us have had times in our lives where we have had to wait, consoling ourselves with the truth that God's timing is perfect.  We grab hold of verses like Habakkuk 2:3 "For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay."  We trust that God's timing is neither early nor late. We can trust Him to answer, as Psalm 38:15 says "But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer." I guess we can just get a little impatient sometimes.

Why the waiting then? Surely it's a good thing to go to a developing country as missionaries? We are needed in this role, in fact they want us there yesterday. But still we wait.

There is that old adage that says 'good things take time'.  Just because something is of God doesn't mean it's going to happen tomorrow.  Just because God has called you, doesn't mean He's in a rush.


I can see how this year has been used by God to grow us spiritually. Isaiah 40:31 says "but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."  

What are you waiting on? What have you waited on? Can you see the Lord working as you waited?  Maybe you are right bang in the middle of a call from God. You feel He has planted a dream or desire in your heart and you are in a rush to serve Him. That's not a bad thing. God loves it when we are obedient, but trust Him with the timing. It's hard to 'be still' or 'wait patiently' when we long to serve God with our lives.

You may have had a call to change jobs, yet the right one hasn't come along yet. You could have been called into ministry, yet the right opportunity hasn't come up. Maybe it's a matter of being called out of something, yet no one is there to replace you. Perhaps you have been called to pray for the salvation of someone ... 12 years ago, and still you wait to see the fruit of your hearts cry for that loved one.  It's not easy to wait, especially for the good stuff.

Psalm 37:7 says it so serenely "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him".  If God has called and you have said yes, you can rest in knowing He's not twiddling His all powerful thumbs. It may seem like nothing is happening, but things are moving, because the One who created heaven and earth is working His will in your life.  Don't waste the waiting, by longing for what is to come. Keep that as your focus, but learn all you can while you wait. Psalm 27:14 says "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"

Our call is to obedience and as the Word says, we wait for the appointed time. We can trust Him, as the LORD is the author of time. The fact that we are told not to fret, but be patient and hope in Him, doesn’t make it easy, it only makes it do-able.


Psalm 62:5 says "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him."


Friday, 28 February 2014

A Life that Tastes Like Christ

Some folks are blog readers and will search daily for a good read.  Others are selective, know exactly what they want to read and subscribe.

I subscribe to only a few blogs and don't read them every day.  But today, this one got me.

Hungry for Christ

Don't pass it by, this is just too important.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Compartmentalisation



Generation X'ers are an interesting bunch aren’t they? They were born in the years between 1961-81 and one of their characteristic is that they generally prefer not to be categorised or put in boxes (including the GenX box!). I'm one of those types.  Funnily enough our western culture actually seems obsessed with categories and boxes. Let’s take music for an example. You can enjoy a wide range of different genres, including Choral, Pop, Country, Jazz, Death Metal, Liturgical, Christian, Bluegrass, and a whole heap of others. If by chance the band you enjoy doesn't exactly fit into one of those categories, then there is always Alternative, to ensure that everyone has their own little box to fit in. Okay, what about friends? Have you ever heard others describe people as their work or school friends, rugby mates, church friends, Uni mates or any one of a number of other social groupings? Interesting isn't it? 

Life seems full of cubby holes and boxes and often without realising it I have been sucked into a life of compartmentalising and putting things and people in boxes. I have a hunch that you may have fallen into the same trap.  

You know that feeling when you read something and it stands out as if it’s been coloured in highlighter yellow?  Then a week or so later you read something else or hear something where the same point is reinforced again. Recently I read somewhere about how we have desacralized so much of our lives by categorising the sacred and the secular. Simon Guilliband, in his book More Than Conquerors, honestly approaches this issue by asking the fundamental question to all Christians. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ? Here’s the highlighter yellow bit!

"It's not the case that God matters more than everything else, so nothing else matters in the light of him. On the contrary; because God matters infinitely, everything else matters much more in the light of him."

I think many Christians in this culture have been sucked into thinking we have at least two compartments to our lives, our church life and our work life. The major problem with this way of thinking is that church is deemed sacred and work secular. Western culture is only partly to blame for this way of thinking.  Churches have also contributed hugely although possibly unintentionally. Guilliband says "the term ‘full-time Christian worker’ is a misnomer, as all Christians are full-time." Do we inadvertently think missionaries, pastors, and maybe elders, are the 'workers for the Lord', and say builders, lawyers, nurses, and mechanics are not? Honestly, do we even if it's just a tiny bit? If we are following Christ, we can't stop following him during our work hours because if we do this will give way to work being something separate and detached from our faith.  

Mark Greene identifies the danger in this way of thinking, "the impact on Christians of effectively robbing their work of spiritual and ministry value is to produce a sense of guilt.". He goes on to say, "the working Christian comes home at the end of a fifty-hour week and thinks, I haven't done any evangelism. I haven't done any ministry. I'm not serving God. I must make time outside work to do all these things, otherwise I'm not leading an obedient Christian life.” And so he or she then proceeds to either fill up their out of work time with multiple church commitments or their life is pervaded with a sense of guilt.

Isn't life busy enough without adding more guilt induced activities?  Your job is a key part of your ministry. Yes I know you get paid to do it, but even people in the Bible had jobs. Jesus had a job. Do you think that Jesus wasn't following the Father when he was a carpenter?  Do you think Paul wasn't following Jesus when he made tents (Acts 18:3) with Aquila and Priscilla to support himself? Why must our work be separate from our faith?

1 Corinthians 10:31 makes a very fundamental point, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Eating and drinking are basic needs, so if even those are to be done to the glory of God, then why shouldn't our work, even if we get paid for it? Colossians 3:23 goes even further by pointing out, not only do we work for God's glory, following Jesus as we work, but also we are to "work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."  So basically, we all work for God, missionaries and plumbers alike and we all work heartily, because if we are following Jesus, he is our example of integrity in all we do; church, rugby, fishing, coaching, parenting, skateboarding, hunting, and work. Even work.

If we are following Jesus with our heart, our mind and our strength, then all we have to do is think on where we express our heart, where we use our mind and where we exercise our strength and follow him there. Do what he would do. Say what he would say. Love as he would love.


Life isn't about boxes, it's about just the opposite. It's about freedom from the constraints of our culture. Following Jesus in every aspect of our day is an invitation to a fuller life. De-construct the boxes. Lay your life flat and allow what you do every day to be for God's glory.