Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kingdom Values

I was exploring the call of the Kingdom on our lives and how that is reflected by living differently than the world. Counter-cultural is the term. And why is it so hard?
I suppose the biggest reason that stops the gospel from permeating all of our lives (finances, living arrangements, standard of living, where we live, how we act, what we buy etc...) is the big cultural assimilation. We've assimilated. Christians have swallowed whole the lie of this current culture that comfort, individual success and wealth are the keys to happiness.
Despite the fact that statistics reveal it's a sham we persist in believing the cultural lie of media/advertising and the rich and the famous...idolising their lives and their standard of living. Even Christian parents seem to be more concerned with safety and normal standards (meaning an upper middle class lifestyle) than with identification with the gospel and the poor.
Anyway, the question is if we aren't called to live among the poor in an incarnational lifestyle HOW do we identify with the weak, the poor and the marginalised... because at the heart of the gospel is at least an identification. So how do we do it?
This is the question to answer with our lives. a few ideas?
invest in a relationship with someone who isn't like you (different colour, different economic background, different faith)
invest in a community project (neighbourhood) that is economically depressed
start with knowing your own neighbours
leave willful ignorance behind and trade it in for informed realism, coloured with kingdom hues of justice and hope
start hanging out with unbalanced people
take some risks for Jesus...
protest something - just get used to the idea of being counter cultural and finding your voice

just a few ideas to get started... but learning to live against the common culture is a difficult journey. there is no doubt that assimilation is the path of least resistance and in our case great comfort... but not for long. There is nothing satisfying about serving the god of mammon. So come on, join the revolution. To hell with poverty.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Love and Truth

I've been reading John Smith's classic book (the latest edition) Sharpening The Cutting Edge. It really is worth a read. In it there is a quote by Amy Carmichael that was really helpful to me as I reflected on the incident of the apology a few days ago now.

"If I am afraid to speak the truth lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, 'you do not understand' or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying peace, peace, where there is no peace; if I forget the poignant words 'let love be without dissimilation (be sincere)' and blunt the edge of truth, speaking no right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love." -Amy Carmichael

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

helping prostituted persons politically incorrect...

An appeal from the Saltshakers organization I received today reads like this:

News - Discrimination laws #3

We are saddened to note the following headline on the web over the weekend...
" Sex workers win apology from Salvation Army after threatening protest on Red Shield Appeal "

As part of this years Red Shield Appeal the Salvation Army had prepared advertisements with stories of how they had helped people. An advert in last Friday's Telegraph newspaper in Sydney told the brief story of a male prostitute who had been helped out of prostitution.

The Scarlet Alliance, which represents the interests of prostitutes nationwide, were upset by the ad and threatened to issue a ‘red ban’ on the Red Shield Appeal which was launched Friday. They claimed the ad was "capitalising on DISCRIMINATION against sex workers".
The Salvation Army issued an apology and said it would not use the advert again!!!!! It would appear they were afraid it would affect their appeal receipts.
The liveNews web site contains a video of the apology

How absurd this whole issue of discrimination has become, when prostitutes can blackmail a Christian organisation and accuse them of discrimination for telling such a story.
Note that the story did not even directly attack the SIN of prostitution!

Yet, on The Scarlet Alliance web site, they have a picture of the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence", men dressed as Nuns, and a "naughty nurse" at Mardi Gras 07. They are clearly discriminating against the Catholic church and nurses!!
They also have a section titled, " Internet Viewing For Whores and Whore Lovers"!
One Goal of Scarlet Alliance is "To promote the civil and human rights of past and present sex workers [prostitutes] and to work toward ending all forms of discrimination against them".

Prostitutes 'rights' now appear to supersede the right of free speech and the 'right' to tell a HAPPY story of someone leaving such a degrading lifestyle.

Frankly, I think William Booth would be very disappointed to know that the organisation he founded had given in to such ridiculous provocation.
If this capitulation can happen when exceptions are in place - What next?
Action - Please write to the Salvation Army

Please write to the Salvation Army - commend them for the work they do and for tackling the issue of prostitution.
Express your concern that they were blackmailed in this way but that you are disappointed that they removed the ad and apologised for speaking the TRUTH.
Point out that this sets a terrible precedent that will affect any other Christian who dares call sin a sin in this nation.
They may not retract their apology but we could suggest it.

Prostitution destroys lives, marriages and families. Many prostitutes are drug addicts. Either because they are prostitutes and the drugs hide the pain or they are users trying to make enough to pay for their habit.
They need our help.
At the same time society needs to be reminded that prostitution is neither healthy nor moral.
Peter Stokes
Executive Officer
Salt Shakers
03 9800 2855

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Transforming hope.

If you haven't been keeping track of the controversy surrounding Barack Obama's honourary law degree from Notre Dame it's quite interesting. Jim Wallis from Sojourners has a blog on it that's worth some thought.

If you are looking for some australian news the scandals surrounding the rugby, footy players and their sexual habits is endless. The latest article suggests the best thing they could do is adopt a brothel. Apparently sexual assault isn't so bad if it's done to a prostituted woman. Yet another reason that legalized prostitution is de-humanizing and a scar on society. I've yet to meet anyone who will admit outloud that they feel some women are less equal than others... but I've met a lot of people who support that kind of action with their lives and policies. I'm refusing to budge on equality for every woman - call me an irritant if you may but I can't let it go.

I'm not sure when we (Christians) began to be so conformed to the world's ideologies that we forgot about transforming our minds with the Good news of the gospel... I know the world promotes the idea that 'sex-work' is the best some women can do, and drug addiction is a disease that people will just have to learn to manage and some kids are destined to live lives of crime, violence and economic hardship their whole lives based on early behaviour. BUT I DISAGREE. I don't get my good news from the world - there is far too little of it there for any sustaining power anyway. I get my good news from the gospel and God is clear on this - ANYONE who is in Christ can become a new creation. That's right, it's the power of transformation that the gospel holds and even when I feel overwhelmed by the odds and overcome by the darkness and disbelief of generations, and even when academic humanists snub their noses at my very primitive system - mocking my faith. I Hold Fast. I'm not letting go. I'm not letting go in spite of my own pride telling me that conformity may be the future, I'm not letting go despite the hard journey of holding out for transformation on a day to day basis when faith is dim, I'm not letting go - because I know the gospel is true. I've witnessed it in enough lives (mine included) to believe everyone deserves a chance at hearing some real good news. Bring on the transformation.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

operation 58

I'm excited about this generation's hunger for justice. The last two nights were Operation 58 in the Eastern Vic. Division. Operation 58 is the brainchild of Rowan Castle in Southern Australia - it's about a worship gathering and lifestyle of celebrating and living out Isaiah 58... it involves great worship, speakers and pigs (what could be better?)... and the last two nights we camped out on child labour and slaves that make our stuff (cool documentary on sportsnight about children in India making our soccer balls). You can check out the speak here if you missed it. And if you are interested in being part of the solution to child labour than why not celebrate Fair Trade fortnight and spread the word. You may want to check out this company Etiko (who provide, shoes, clothes and sports balls that are fairtrade and who are lovers of justice).

Friday, May 15, 2009

RMIT becomes the first Victorian Fairtrade University TODAY!

Fairtrade continues it's good news spreading with the announcement today of RMIT University going fairtrade. This will be the first Uni in Victoria and the second in all of Australia. This announcement is one of many (consider the 80 University campuses in the UK who have declared themselves fairtrade already!) but we are on our way... don't you want to be part of making the world a different and better place? It's no accident that students who are discovering these slavery and impoverishing practises are the ones insisting on changing the way we do things. Makes me think we should all begin to approach our workplaces, communities, churches, schools and invite them to make a difference in the world by going fairtrade. The rush is on for the first bank, first school board, first Corporate charity etc... check out fairtrade for more info on how to get involved.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pope enters minefield of Mideast politics

JERUSALEM — The question of whether Pope Benedict XVI would dare enter the minefield of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was answered within minutes of him touching down in Tel Aviv. He indeed dared, calling for a Palestinian homeland. Not using the political phrase “two-state solution” — he’s a pilgrim not a politician — but saying “a homeland of their own, within secure and internationally recognised borders.” Welcome news to Palestinian Christians, but they’re a tiny minority. Many Palestinians wonder what difference a spiritual leader can make if leaders of the United States and much of the international community haven’t managed to accomplish much yet. read more here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Auto-Tune the News #2: pirates. drugs. gay marriage.

very clever use of music and current events...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

A little Vanier for today...

The value of efficiency, power, money and pleasure have become all-important in our world today. They tend to eliminate the values of compassion, humility and presence to the powerless. The mass media nourish and encourage this vision rooted in force, in which exteriority and appearance are more important than interiority and being. We constantly need people to remind us of where true inner freedom and peace are to be found.

People who are less capable intellectually, who cannot fend for themselves, are endowed with sensitive hearts. They cry out for love, for recognition, for heart-to-heart relationships. They could change the world if only we would listen to their cry, open our hearts, and discover that we can only be healed by love.

Jean Vanier (founder of L'Arche- In 1964, through his friendship with Dominican priest Father Thomas Philippe, Vanier became aware of the plight of thousands of people institutionalized with developmental disabilities. Vanier felt led by God to invite two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to leave the institutions where they resided and share their lives with him in a household in Trosly-Breuil, France. He named their home L'Arche. From this original community in France, 130 other communities have been founded throughout the world in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North and South America.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

10 Most Important Faith Moments...

To commemorate President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office, U.S. News & World Report documented what it considers to be the "10 Most Important Obama Faith Moments."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

interesting photo campaign...

I was thinking of another shot with SA soldiers spartan like holding up the shields... something celebratory. After all - we are about Good News.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fairtrade Fortnight.

Don't miss it! A great opportunity to promote fairtrade in your school, workplace or community.
Great resources available from