Monthly Archives: December 2011

Deeply humbled

I so regularly step over the line, flirting with being an insufferable know-it-all.

I talk regularly about theological issues as if I know everything.

So when my exam marks came back yesterday, I was thankful.

I didn’t do well.

It was a blessing. A deeply humbling reminder that I, at the tender age of 24, still have much learning and growing to do.

And it goes for all areas of my life. I am not perfect. I am not always living by the book. Not all my decisions are great ones. Sitting in this place, in recognition of my own imperfection, I think…. I really discover God. Well, God at least meets me there/here.

James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you”

The word humble there is translated to Greek as “Tapeinos” meaning to be of the ground, to make yourselves low as the dust, as the dirt. Now that is not to say that that we are dirty or rubbish, but rather it is like a churned soil. It is a state of the heart where we rest in acknowledgement of our own brokenness, hurt, misunderstanding, pride, and whatever else…

…It is almost as if we present a churned soil for the gardener to sow into – to plant seeds and bring life into being.

It is not our place to become perfect. But it is our place to let Jesus the perfect gardener plant life into our very hearts.

Blessings.

Stepping from piety into mercy

**quick note**

pi·e·ty [pahy-i-tee]

noun, plural -ties. – reverence for God or devout fulfillment of religious obligations:

Today’s blog gets a little interactive. Grab your bibles, and turn to Luke 10, and read through verses 25 – 37. Soak on it for a a few minutes. Then come back to this.

Here is a link if you need: Luke 10:25-37

It is easy to read this story and walk away with a casual sense of “I need to be more merciful”, but it actually goes a lot deeper than that. What this parable illustrates quite nicely is the dualism that we often place between our posture towards God and our posture towards others.

The priest and the Levite in this story both represent important people. As workers in the temple, they were required to uphold the law to the letter and held in high regard by those in the community. It is highly unlikely that a priest or a levite would have not helped someone, but if they touched a dead man there was a rigorous re-cleansing process (about two weeks) before they could resume duties. These men were not willing to take the risk of approaching this man in case he was dead, for fear of being unable to do what they were required to do. By all cultural standards these priests simply did what was expected of them.

Then we see a Samaritan. a man who has nothing to do with jewish people. Things between the samaritan and jewish people were pretty sketchy, and by all standards it wouldn’t have stirred the pot had a samaritan man left a (presumably) jewish man lying in a ditch.

Yet He doesn’t.

Here is a man who steps outside of what is expected. Here is a man who, in a moment, sheds the things that define his identity in order to break a barrier and love someone.

He meets the broken where the broken are at.

Begins to sound a little like Jesus.

Jesus, being the firstborn over all creation, the word that became flesh, steps into creation incarnationally and meets a broken humanity where it is at. He tends the wounds, provides shelter and nurses humanity back to health.

And I believe the invitation in this parable is to do the same. To blur the lines between our standing before God and our journey with the people around us.

We are far too concerned with our devoutness towards God. We gasp when someone swears, look down on those who drink, and somewhat secretly consider ourselves holy. Our identity gets tied up in the label “Christian”.

But it’s not a name. It’s a way of life. Jesus invites us to break down the walls, and to recognise that our own holiness is not greater than looking after the most broken person. Loving God is a profound opportunity to fall in love with loving other people. Perhaps if we stepped down from our piety, stepped INTO mercy, we would discover  holiness on Jesus’ terms.

“May you see that the way you love others IS the way you love God”

                                                                                       -Rob Bell

 

C’mon Son…

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“Never give up… Never give in”

Three things every leader should think about

Sometimes the most amazing God thoughts pop into my head when I am in the middle of a great conversation with someone over a wine or beer. Last night was such an example. I was discussing with a good friend the ups and downs of leaderships, and how in today’s highly driven world, it is not uncommon to see amazing, inspiring leaders burn out and more often than not, experience some kind of destruction through the choices they make.

I firmly believe that leaders need to take great care and discipline in looking after themselves to ensure they stay on top of their game. I want this blog to be an encouragement to leaders – pastors, youth pastors, managers, captains….whatever your role, I hope you will find a great richness in applying these “THREE S’s” to your life in 2012.

SABBATH We so desperately need to rest well. Whatever you do, please make sure at least one day is devoted to rest. Maybe that is golf, tinkering on your car, reading, gardening, taking your wife/husband/friend/sister/brother out for lunch, kicking a ball….anything. Furthermore doing things with loved ones only enhances the rest experience. Your work will be all the more fruitful for it.

STEWARDSHIP Please steward things well. Managing your time, talents, treasures and the relationships around you appropriately is the greatest message you can send to those you lead. You can spend all your time in meetings and planning systems and answering emails…But it is how you conduct yourself in your personal outworking that will bring inspiration to others. It also serves you with a personal sense of satisfaction.

SACRIFICE As leaders it is so easy to convince ourselves that we know best. I encourage you to sacrifice your ideas and agendas in order to seek God’s better agenda. Receive ideas well from others, listen and consider criticism constructively, and always allow what is expected to be challenged. Great leadership, I believe, is found in humility.

I hope you find some inspiration in these words. If I can in any way pray for you or if you would like to contact me to get an expansion on these ideas, please let me know.

Bless you guys, look after yourself as we head into this busy time of year.

Have we forgotten something?

Yes.

These past few weeks has seen me answering “how are you” with “oh man things have been crazy!” And they have been. My 40 hours a week has been sitting somewhere around the 72 mark, and I have been juggling more things then a clown.

And I see people all around me that do the same. Career driven. Sport-driven, money-driven, relationship-driven, we are slamming the gas pedal down and racing through life faster than we can handle.

When did you last press the brake down, pull over, and enjoy the view of where you are at?

In Genesis, we see God create, then rest. He bestows upon humans to be image-bearers. He calls us to create, and then rest. In exodus the sabbath is encouraged. It says “hey, you are valued for being YOU, not by what you do”. We see in the gospels the Pharisees become so rule driven that they in turn miss the point of sabbath.

Jesus steps in and invites us to participate in the grand movement of being the person we were created to be. To find joy and delight in life. To be replenished and re-energized in order to keep creating.

As we enter the most hectic time of year, Christmas, I encourage you to just stop. Pull over. Enjoy the view. Appreciate the things produced by your hands. Let a hug from a loved one linger. Let the sounds of nature speak to you and console you. Remind yourself that you are loved and valued. Find rest. Let the tension in life sink away. Do things that invoke peace in your heart. Spend time with a friend. Drink coffee. Laugh. Jump. Dance. Allow yourself to experience and live in moments of joy rather than trying to acquire it.

The best thing you can do to help your forward momentum in life is to take a break.

You deserve it. Don’t forget that.

By any standards…

“This is wrong. It’s just wrong.
We can do better than this.

WE SHOULD DO BETTER THAN THIS.”
– Justin Hall-Tipping