Thursday, June 23, 2011

Walking & Praying in step with the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

(John 1:1-4 ESV)

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.

(John 1:14 - The Message)

Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalm 119:18 ESV)

We've read these verses often, a lot, and sometimes when they become so familiar they lose some of their sparkle. But, I think John 1, when we really think about it, really think about the consequences of these statements is truly magnificent. It shows that in the beginning, before anything, the word was already there, and when it was spoke, everything around us came into being.

The consequences of this are amazing, but one of the the most amazing ones is that we can now see his work all around us, we see all he has made, we see his word ring true, we /see/ the results of the word of God all around us, every day, every moment, and we can also read his Words in the Bible, and these words ring true because they look and sound familiar, they have a quality about them we can recogonise in the world around us. In his book, "The Pursuit of God", A. W. Tozer says:

The life is in the speaking words. God's word in the BIble can have power only because it corresponds to God's word in the universe.

After reading this, and thinking about these verses, it reminded me of Music. We can envision God's word as being like some kind of universal Chords being played all around us, all the time, and for demonstration purposes, here's how I think they would sound:

Prayer chord 1 by Jonphilpott

In music, things sound good when they are in harmony. Melodies get their properties from how the notes ring against underlying harmony. When we read the bible, it's like we are hearing a melody over the chord of God's word all around us. When we pray we are speaking a melody with these Chords, when we walk with him, we are grooving on this Chord, this ever playing, constant, wonderful Chord:

Prayer chord 2 by Jonphilpott

The Psalms 119 verse, helps me to remember to ask God to show me what going on around us, to see what he's done and what he's doing. To stay in tune with his Chord.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stop and Listen

Tony tells the story of a time when he was teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. He had just finished a lecture on theories of sociologist Emil Durkheim. After the lecture, Tony was followed to his office by a student who sat down and asked a rather trivial question about the lecture. Because Tony was tired and busy catching up on some details, he only half listened. He said he didn't listen as Jesus would have, or else he would have realized that the student had not come to talk about Durkheim. Tony answered the question in an offhand manner and then said, "Is that all?" THe student left Tony's office. He went back to the high-rise building where he lived, went to the roof, and jumped to his death. Tony realized too late that the student's visit was not to talk about sociology, but sociology was all Tony heard.

(From: Connecting Like Jesus: Practices for Healing, Teaching, and Preaching by Tony Campolo & Mary Albert Darling)

I have and hate to admit, I'm not as good of a listener as I should be. Sometimes it makes me feel awkward to hear others stories because I feel unable to help them for two reasons:

1. I fail to realise that listening IS part of helping them, not just physical action.
2. I don't always realise that the Spirit could be working here, and I should be trying to listen to person speaking and where there spirit might be leading.

This second point is interesting, since we come to realise that only Jesus can really help a person it's foolish to think we can do it in our own strength! After all, I couldn't help myself, he had to do it for me.

I guess the point is that when we become Christians we tend to think we all of a sudden have all the answers, we don't, but we can be a channel to someone who does, but will we be humble enough to let him?

I like the story Tony tells because it shows us, somewhat gruesomely what the consequences of not allowing ourselves to simply being a listener can be, but not just listening to the words, but listening to what their soul is saying.

So I ask you, are we really listening? What can we do today to listen better?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Everything that has breath.. #restoreunity.

Praise the LORD!

Praise God in his sanctuary;

    praise him in his mighty heavens!

Praise him for his mighty deeds;

    praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;

    praise him with lute and harp!

Praise him with tambourine and dance;

    praise him with strings and pipe!

Praise him with sounding cymbals;

    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD!

(Psalm 150 ESV)

We might not agree on the interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6, but as long as we're still breathing the same breath, Let's praise the Lord

We might not agree on this whole hell thing, but as long as we're still breathing the same breath, Let's praise the Lord

We might not agree on the whole gay marriage thing, but as long as we're still breathing the same breath, Let's praise the Lord

We might not agree on health care, but as long as we're still breathing the same breath, Let's praise the Lord

We might not agree on the sunday morning liturgy, but as long as we're still breathing the same breath, Let's praise the Lord

We might not agree on the King James thing, but as long as we're still breathing the same breath, Let's praise the Lord

We might not agree on that whole rapture thing, but as long as we're still breathing the same breath, Let's praise the Lord

Let's a agree to disagree and...

Praise the Lord!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jesus Goggles

 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ."
(1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV)

One thing I would love to own are Jesus Goggles.

I would love to always see people how He sees them and then also be able to see Him in them. It can be hard sometimes. I'd like to be able to put them on and look in the mirror, too.

I would love to be able to see his finger prints in every piece of Scripture. I know they're there, but I don't see them sometimes.

Maybe one day I will.

Friday, April 29, 2011

why don't we believe the bible?

Why don't we believe the bible?

When Jesus tells us not to worry for tomorrow (Matt 6:34) why do we stay up at night? And we he says not to worry about what we'll eat or wear, etc, why do I think I need to be a millionaire to help that homeless lady and her son I saw earlier?

When Jesus says when two or more of us are gathered he is among us, why do we sometimes act like he isn't in the room? (Matt 18:20)

When Jesus says "I am in my father, you are in me and I am in you", why do we sometimes say "I feel distant from God?" (John 14:20)

When the psalmist says "I have called on you, for you will hear me", why do we sometimes feel that God is deaf to us? And why do we sometimes feel like our prayers are useless?

When Paul says "count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus", why do we still believe the lies of sin to feel good instead if embracing him? (Romans 16:11)

When Paul says "I did not come to you in words of wisdom, but I decided to nothing among you except Christ and him crucified", why do we feel that we have to rehearse great speeches and study apologetics to share your love with others? (1 cor 2)

When Paul says "you are a letter written from Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living god on the tablet of your hearts", why do we sometimes feel like we have nothing to share about you?

Why don't we believe you sometimes?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Psalms, Prayer Book of the Bible - Bonhoeffer

Here are some quotes from Bonhoeffer's book on the Psalms. I really love this book, and it has opened up the wonder and mystery of the Psalms to me, and learning that Jesus prays the Psalms along with us is most wonderful thought.

All these quotes are from Chapter 1.

Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one's heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty. No man can do that by himself. For that he needs Jesus Christ.

The disciples want to pray, but they do not know how to do it. That can be very painful, to want to speak with God and not be able to, to have to be speechless before God.

If one among us who is able to pray would only take the other along in his prayer, if we could pray along with him, then we could be helped!

If he (Jesus) takes us with him in his prayer, if we are privileged to pray along with him, if he lets us accompany him on his way to God and teaches us to pray, then we are free from the agony of prayerlessness. But that is precisely what Jesus Christ wants to do. He wants to pray with us and to have us pray with him, so that we may be confident and glad that God hears us,

The child learns to speak because his father speaks to him. ... So we learn to speak to God because GOd has spoken to us and speaks to us.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Healed for Easter

We've come to remember when jesus died and rose some 2000 years ago
But we might ask ourselves, so what? Who cares? Thats just a story! 
But this isn't a story, this event has changed history and lives, and especially my life.

800 years or so before Jesus came down to us, a prophet named isaiah spoke of Jesus, and he said,  "he has borne our griefs  and carried our sorrows" and "by his stripes, his wounds, we are healed"

You see, I used to suffer from chronic anxiety, one little worry and my body would shut down, I couldn't sleep or eat for days, and this would go on and on and on. Yet now it doesn't happen. Why? Because the real, risen, living Jesus bore this sickness, this anxiety on the cross 2000 years ago. This is why we remember jesus rising from the grave today, because in taking all this sickness and death on himself, and rising again, he defeated them and robbed them of it's power!

The same prophet went on to say "All we like sheep have gone astray;  we have turned--every one--to his own way;  and the  Lord  has laid on him  the iniquity of us all. " 
We are gods precious sheep, and on that cross Jesus took not only death and sickness, but he bore my sin and guilt, the things that kept me from god, so that we could come to god clean, pure and without blemish, and in the same way that jesus robbed death and sickness of power by rising from the dead, he robbed our guilt and sin of power, so we can approach him as sons and daughters and experience the life that he intended for us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bread crumbs and sticky notes

I still have the first bible bought when I became a follower of Christ, it's a raggedy 'message' bible, held together with duct tape, and I have fond memories of it. It reminds of the initial excitement of receiving this saviour, of the hope I had knowing I finally had someone who understood me, the joy of having years of guilt and sin lifted from me.

Yet when I open this bible the fond memories soon melt away, when I see my poor, sloppy underlining and illegible notes and when I read these notes I think to myself:

"was I really that stupid?"

And I quickly close the bible lest I embarrass myself further.

But now I look at the notes fondly, because despite my lack of 'good' theology (whatever that means) at the time, I see that it's the first journal of my discovery of a new world, a world created by the God who won't define himself simply for me but simply says 'I am!', and I see myself as I still am, fumbling around in this great and complex book, trying to follow the bread crumbs that Christ has left for me, and finding the hand written sticky notes he's left for me on rocks in the desert and seeing my initials he carved into a tree.

When I see these notes, as silly as some of them are, I remember the way it felt when I first discovered these things, when I first felt the urge to use a felt tip on the thinnest most porous paper known to man to remind myself of something that seemed spectacular at the time and I hope to always have this feeling whenever I enter this 'world of the word', that it would never feel mundane or too familiar, and that I would keep finding the bread crumbs and the sticky notes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blessed be the poor [in spirit]

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:2-3

On my commute to work, I often see homeless people, and I try to help them out when I can, either with some food, or some money, but I often feel like it wasn't enough, I feel like my actions are not good enough, and this sucks.

I started to think about why it sometimes disturbs us to see the homeless, to see poverty and see these people suffering, and it occurred to me that it's because sometimes we see some of ourselves in these people.

Allow me to explain.

Our money defines a lot of who we are. It decides what kind of clothes we buy and wear, and therefore our exterior image and the initial impressions we make to people, it defines where we go, for example, if we have $$$ we eat at mortons, not so much - sizzler, it defines where we live. Our money is almost like a shell around us, things that need to be moved in order to get what's really inside of us.. our soul and our spirit.

So when we see extreme poverty, the homeless, the broken, we can see the vulnerability of the human spirit, what a man looks like without the shell of our money and our position. What would you look like?

So this gets me thinking to what Jesus says here, the poor in spirit. We're blessed, or perhaps, able-to-be-blessed, when our spirit isn't surrounded by a shell that we think defines us, but is open fully open to him.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ho! Ho! Ho!

I love this:

Two men Come Down The Same Chimney

A young man in his mid-twenties knocks on the door of the noted scholar Rabbi Shwartz. “My name is Sean Goldstein,” he says. “I’ve come to you because I wish to study Talmud.”

“Do you know Aramaic?” the rabbi asks.

“No,” replies the young man.

“Hebrew?” asks the Rabbi.

“No,” replies the young man again.

“Have you studied Torah?” asks the Rabbi, growing a bit irritated.

“No, Rabbi. But don’t worry. I graduated Berkeley summa cum laude in philosophy, and just finished my doctoral dissertation at Harvard on Socratic logic. So now, I would just like to round out my education with a little study of the Talmud.”

“I seriously doubt,” the rabbi says, “that you are ready to study Talmud. It is the deepest book of our people. If you wish, however, I am willing to examine you in logic, and if you pass that test I will teach you Talmud.”

The young man agrees.

Rabbi Shwartz holds up two fingers. “Two men come down a chimney. One comes out with a clean face, the other comes out with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

The young man stares at the rabbi. “Is that the test in logic?”

The rabbi nods.

”The one with the dirty face washes his face,“ he answers wearily.

“Wrong. The one with the clean face washes his face. Examine the simple logic.The one with the dirty face looks at the one with the clean face and thinks his face is clean. The one with the clean face looks at the one with the dirty face and thinks his face is dirty. So the one with the clean face washes his face.”

“Very clever,” Goldstein says. “Give me another test.”

The rabbi again holds up two fingers. “Two men come down a chimney. One comes out with a clean face, the other comes out with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

“We have already established that. The one with the clean face washes his face.”

“Wrong. Each one washes his face. Examine the simple logic. The one with the dirty face looks at the one with the clean face and thinks his face is clean. The one with the clean face looks at the one with the dirty face and thinks his face is dirty. So the one with the clean face washes his face. When the one with the dirty face sees the one with the clean face wash his face, he also washes his face. So each one washes his face.”

“I didn’t think of that,” says Goldstein. It’s shocking to me that I could make an error in logic. Test me again.”

The rabbi holds up two fingers. “Two men come down a chimney. One comes out with a clean face, the other comes out with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

“Each one washes his face.”

“Wrong. Neither one washes his face. Examine the simple logic. The one with the dirty face looks at the one with the clean face and thinks his face is clean. The one with the clean face looks at the one with the dirty face and thinks his face is dirty. But when the one with the clean face sees the one with the dirty face doesn’t wash his face, he also doesn’t wash his face. So neither one washes his face.”

Goldstein is desperate. “I am qualified to study Talmud. Please give me one more test.”

He groans, though, when the rabbi lifts two fingers. “Two men come down a chimney. One comes out with a clean face, the other comes out with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

“Neither one washes his face.”

“Wrong. Do you now see, Sean, why Socratic logic is an insufficient basis for studying Talmud? Tell me, how is it possible for two men to come down the same chimney, and for one to come out with a clean face and the other with a dirty face? Don’t you see? The whole question is "narishkeit", foolishness, and if you spend your whole life trying to answer foolish questions, all your answers will be foolish, too.”



(Disclaimer: I saw it in the youtube video first, Then I went to look for the source.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

There is a sense in which the Scriptures are the word of God dehydrated, with all the originating context removed -- living voices, city sounds, camels carrying spices from Seba and gold from Ophir snorting down in the bazaar, fragrance from lentil stew simmering in the kitchen -- all now reduced to marks on thin onion-skin paper. We make an effort at re-hydrating them; we take these Scriptures and spend an hour or so in the Bible study with friends or alone in prayerful reading. But five minutes later, on our way to work, plunged into the tasks of the day for which they had seemed to promise sustenance, there's not much left of them -- only ink on india paper. We find that we are left with the words of the Bible but without the world of the Bible. Not there is anything wrong with the words as such, it is just that without the biblical world -- the intertwined stories, the echoing poetry and prayers, Isaiah's artful thunder and John's extravagant visions - the words, like those seed words in Jesus' parable that land on the pavement or in the gravel or among the weeds, haven't take root in our lives.

Eugene Peterson, Eat this Book, p88.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let all things be done.

The New Testament simply does not speak in terms of two classes of Christians -- "minister" and "laymen" -- as we do today. According to the Bible, the people (laos, "laity") of God comprise all Christians, and all Christians through the exercise of spiritual gifts have some "work of ministry." So if we wish to be biblical, we will have to say that all Christians are laymen (God's people) and all are ministers. The clergy-laity dichotomy is unbiblical and therefore invalid. It grew up as an accident of church history and actually marked a drift away from biblical faithfulness.... It is one of the principal obstacles to the Church effectively being God's agent of the Kingdom today because it creates the false idea that only "holy men," namely, ordained ministers, are really qualified and responsible for leadership and significant ministry

(Howard Snyder -- The Community of the King [IVP, 1977], pp.94-95).

(Lifted from Building Up the Body -One Man or One Another?)

This brings us back to one of my favourite verses, the one I quoted yesterday:

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

(1 Corinthians 14:26 NIV)

We shouldn't expect that our edification (building up) should come from our Leadership alone, but it comes from all us. The NIV puts it nicely here, "Everything must be done so that church may be built up."

Again, we all have the ability, the gift, the indwelling Christ, and the responsibility to build up those around us. Who? You. Me. Thou. Ye.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ye are an Epistle.

To those who feel like they have no place in the body, to those who feel like they have nothing to offer, to those who feel "far from God", I would like to share something with you.

For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

(Ephesians 2:18-22 ESV)

I believe what Paul says here stands on its own. As believers, saints even, we all have access to the Father through one spirit. We are all built together as a house for God. Sometimes, I know, it feels like it's not us, its all those shiny people, the pastors and teachers, but no, its us, all of us.

And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

(2 Corinthians 3:3 ESV)

And given this knowledge that we are all a dwelling place of the Lord, his beautiful bride, joined into one flesh, Paul also shows us that we are a letter from Christ to others, that Christ has written his signature in your heart with his spirit. We all have some message of Christ to share with others, those among us. Who does? You do, I do, we all do.

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. .... Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

(1 Corinthians 14:26-33 ESV)

In this same theme, Paul shows us that when are together, we all have something to contribute, not just your designated leader at the time. How do we know this? because of the above! You are a habitation of Christ, you are a letter from Christ, written on your hearts, from the very core of your being. And why? "Let all things be done for building up." Your message from Christ can build up those around you, yes, you.

Now forgive me if you feel I am stretching this a little too much, but where as I believe some are given the gift of prophesy, I believe that because of the above, because we have the Christ dwelling within us, that he has written his message upon our hearts, we all have the ability to prophecy of Christ, the living Christ that dwells within all of us, to share some aspect of his character, of his love, of his greatness to, those among us.

Interestingly, in ye olde king james english, the letters almost use “ye” to address us, and "ye" isn't "you", an individual, it's Y'ALL, all of us, not a chosen few. All of us.