Sunday, January 31, 2010

A prayer

Methodist Covenant Prayer
“I am no longer my own but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, 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;
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

Will worship

I've been thinking alot about the term that Richard Foster uses in celebration of discipline to refer to the way we go about spiritual disciplines. Often we apply the 'exercise' principle to our spiritual lives and we 'will' ourselves to keep some sort of religious code.. when in fact, that only adds up to 'will worship'. We actually start to worship our own ability to be disciplined. It's a tricky thing to get right... rather than a new chore - it needs to be an abandoned surrender... a giving up of ourselves - and yet it still requires some application of ourselves, our will - but instead of it being our accomplishment - it actually is more of our sustaining... so, some of the principles of will work - we have to apply ourselves... but the attitude and the motivation is different. Foster offers some great ideas and solid exercises to help. I'd recommend them to you as we all seek to fight against self sufficiency and the tyranny of the urgent in our daily lives - often spiritual disciplines are easily replaced by business and productivity that leaves us drained and empty. I've decided to work on the basics of spiritual disciplines this year - to surrender to the rhythm of God's grace.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pat Robertson was right - great article!

Pat Robertson Was Right
By Lakita Garth-Wright on January 20, 2010

Pat Robertson waxes prophetic on The 700 Club.

Haiti does have a long history of "dealings with the Devil." But not in the way the televangelist suggested.
Last week's earthquake in Haiti has turned the world's attention to this poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti was rocked to its very foundation by a 7.2 earthquake that decimated its capital city, Port-au-Prince, leaving countless thousands dead and millions more homeless, hungry, and in need of medical care. As much of the island is reeling from the recent devastation, without electricity and water, this is but the most recent disaster in a string of tragedies to hit Haiti's shores.

Over the past several decades Haiti has suffered famine, civil war, hurricanes, and floods just to name a few of its many unfortunate trials. And now the most devastating earthquake ever recorded on the island has the world watching and praying. Many of us are also taking crash courses in Haitian history in our need to know more about this Caribbean island that has suffered hardship after hardship. We've watched the reports from Haiti on CNN and Fox News, listened to scholars and commentators on NPR, and tried to understand the complicated story of this star-crossed nation. read more...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The booby trap

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) / Booby Traps
By definition, booby traps are disguised or well-hidden, victim-activated devices. The initiating object is going to be fairly obvious, as it is the object that the enemy hopes a soldier will interfere with in order to set off the trap. Booby traps rely on an unwary or distracted soldier touching or pulling a physical object (such as a war souvenir) or provide a too-easy access or simple solution to a problem (such as leaving only one door open in an otherwise secure building).

In an operational environment where booby traps have been used, soldiers must be trained to constantly question why things are positioned where they are or why the enemy might have left obvious routes open. The enemy will watch reactions and procedures executed when moving through an area. They will be looking for natural behavior and weaknesses in soldiers' drills. For example, in Vietnam, the Vietcong (VC) noticed soldiers liked to kick empty soda cans that were lying on the ground. It was not long before the US troops found that the VC were leaving explosive devices in empty cans lying alongside regular patrol routes. The devices were activated when the cans were kicked.

I was just talking to some friends about some of the justice issues surrounding youth in these times. One thing that keeps coming up is women. Equality should be an issue of the past - it seems women have been advancing on that front for years now - but inequality has discovered new strategies and seems to have made a comeback - particularly with women.
I've recently found out that Australia has the lowest rate of breastfed babies in the western world. That stat's a real shocker. It seems as though everyone is quite 'liberal' in this part of the world... but it turns out (after some studies/articles I read) that any place where women are highly sexualized breast feeding rates plummet. As a matter of fact the health nurse in my own suburb says that even more alarming are the plummeting rates of breastfeeding among mothers from other nations who have immigrated to Aus. It's tragic. It should be an alarm for women and men in Aus - sounding the need to fight against sexualisation and inequality.

It seems as though a male dominated society doesn't like the idea that breasts have other functions - proper functions, real functions - less romantic ones but essential to the nourishment and development of babies. It's a booby trap if you ask me.

There is another move about in the Christian world that champions inequality as a gospel standard. Obviously we read different books - because the gospel I read is all about equality and liberation - freedom and truth. If you'd like some updates on the equality issues in the christian tradition I recommend this website: Christians for Biblical Equality and if you need a refresher on some specific biblical texts I'd recommend Why Not Women? by Lauren Cunningham and David Hamilton.

Women, let's get to the front - it's time to deal inequality a good punch to the chin and send it to the ground. The war is raging and to the front we go. Join me.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

meditation, love and other things about life.

So, this year I've started out trying to celebrate the discipline of meditation... and I've been camping out on 1 Corinthians 13 - committing it to memory and meditating on it's meaning and application in my own life. That's the trouble really. I'd rather meditate on love without application - 1 Corinthians 13 is THE love chapter - read at most weddings and celebrated as great literature/poetic and romantic - the problem is application. What I've found is that the kind of love that the Bible talks about it pretty much impossible for me to do. Actually it is impossible. the only way I can live a life that looks like the Love in 1 Cor. 13 is by letting Jesus love in and through me. My love runs out quickly. My own love is rude and self seeking - it boasts, is proud and obnoxious, it envies and keeps a long record of wrongs... etc... but the love talked about in the passage is not mine - it's God. God is love. And if you'd like to know what God is like - read Paul's definition of God in 1 Cor. 13. God is patient. God is kind. God does not envy. Is not proud. Does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
This is an interesting thing for meditation - substitute the word love for God. Chesterton suggested that what you think about God is the most important thing about you. I know I often think God is different from who I've found Him to be. He is kind. I've always thought Him to be judgmental or defensive - but He is not... He is patient and He doesn't keep a record of wrongs. Who knew? God is love. The greatest revelation of God is love. I was listening to a preach that suggested one of the great features of Christianity is how it can take open attack and criticism and still respond with love. Ravi Zacharias suggested that any other faith wouldn't be able to respond in that way - but Christianity (in it's truest form) is a revelation of God's character - LOVE. So maybe the Beattles had it right? Perhaps RENT's suggestion is my new year's ideal - I'd like to measure my life in love.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Holiness - spread the word...

It's sanctification day - this is the remembered day when Samuel Logan Brengle (a big holiness teacher) got holy. He had an encounter with God that left him good. I recently talked to some young people who gathered for a holiness weekend retreat and asked what they thought of about the concept of holiness. I shared that when I was young I thought holiness was synonymous with religious... that it was about rules, and external conditions and boring lives etc...
They said they had never heard of it.
They said they had never heard of it. Wow.
I often wondered how in the Old Testament a whole generation can grow up without knowing the powerful reality of God's presence when their parents and grandparents were right in the thick of it... this is how: One generation rejects something out of ignorance or apathy or indifference or misunderstanding or lack of personal encounter or experience and then never mentions it again. Holiness meetings turn seeker sensitive and no-one mentions the idea that we could live without sin because it may cheapen grace and make people feel guilty if they do sin.. we stop talking holiness because we aren't really holy and it just feels hypocritical...
The thing is I've met many holy people. People who are completely sold out - no compromise left in them - they are submitted fully to the Lordship of Christ and they are the most fun, free and abandoned people I know - they live adventurous lives - they life full and large. I want what they have and here is the news if you haven't heard it before.. I can have it and so can you. You can completely surrender to the Lordship of Jesus and live a fully abandoned, holy life. Revolutionary?! Let the Holy revolution begin in you and then spread the word.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

the future of our children

We had the dedication of my youngest son last week. In The Salvation Army we 'dedicate' our children to the Lord, a.k.a Hanna with Samuel. It's kind of a cool tradition since The SA is close to a Nazarite order and that's what Samuel was... there is a call of Salvationism that runs counter-culture in todays world. Steve and I decided to use an older version of the ceremony because there have been some interesting changes in the wording and the content itself.
Conspicuously missing are things like:
protecting my child from harmful influences (including wealth and finery) and not withholding my child from hardship or suffering for Kingdom advance.
Those promises are simply not in the latest dedication ceremony. Weird. Or is it? Perhaps we've become conformed to the culture of our world. Think about it - the world would suggest that happiness is found through wealth and that finery is what we deserve... most of the Western Salvationists I know have more entertainment money that most of the world has for food. As a matter of fact I think these days in most Corps it's a badge of honor to collect more and more people who are wealthy - like James (in the New Testament) suggests, it is easy to favour the rich.

To say you are willing for your child to suffer or face hardship for the gospel is akin to criminal behaviour. It's as though we think God's ultimate desire is my personal happiness, or to make my life into a Hallmark commercial (a.k.a the American Dream). Meanwhile, God's ultimate and greatest desire is the salvation of the whole world. A bit bigger than my small life and family.
Should we succumb to an individual perspective and a happiness that neglects the majority of the world? It's as though we agree with the notion that somehow we deserve to be filthy rich while the world suffers. It's as if we agree that somehow we CAN withhold our children from suffering by giving them wealth and expecting them to be happy. If wealth were the recipe for happiness then western world depression and suicide rates would not be skyrocketing.
We've got to start listening to the Spirit of God again for our standards and for our families. I'm agreeing with a counter-cultural revolutionary stance that I will protect my child from wealth and not withhold them from suffering... not because I want them to suffer - on the contrary - I wish them every deep blessing... but because I see something larger is at stake... my children belong to God and He is much more capable than me at determining the best course for their lives. I relinquish my control for His wisdom and guidance. That is a trade up - by the way.

I want my children to understand that to obey God is the only kind of wealth worth seeking. I want them to understand that we live in a big world and that they have been chosen to be part of it's salvation. I want them to see and know God and as a result of that knowledge to be able to join the revolution in telling others about a Love that is an answer to this culture's bankruptcy. I want them to understand that even in the valley of death there is a provision that is eternal. Catherine Booth used to tuck her kids in bed and tell them, 'you were born to change the world'. Now, that's the ceremony that will ensure the best future of our children.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Years...

I read the introduction to Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster yesterday... some great reminders about how spiritual disciplines work... Foster takes the opportunity to suggest that willpower alone is not enough to change a condition of the heart. Spiritual disciplines are less about external measures to clean up your life... and more about a deep surrendering to the rhythms and words of Jesus. These patterns of behaviour foster a deep reliance on God's presence in our life - this sort of dependancy is a requirement for freedom and often the last thing we do. This year I'm aiming to be more surrendered to the beautiful song of God's great Grace through spiritual discipline. I'm NOT going to simply add commitments to my already busy life... but take some time to reflect and follow - to breath deeply the pattern of God. This is the aim. I'll keep you posted.