Archive for August, 2013

Happy Fathers’ Day

Posted: August 31, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Happy Fathers' Day

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ImageLast night I attended the launch of the amazing new website for “All We Need is Right Here”.

This is a brilliant community initiative to support the various communities that make up the Shire of Kalamunda.

Using the principles of Assets Based Community Development, All We Need is Right Here is seeking to:

  • identify and celebrate the personal, organisational, cultural, physical, business and networking assets, capacities and passions of communities within the Shire;
  • map, link and promote these assets and passions to enhance community connection, community involvement, social capital, resource sharing, volunteerism and networking; and
  • identify opportunities and initiatives for connected people, places and things to create positive community outcomes across the Shire.

The website covers the wide range of people, things, groups and events that exist within these local communities and provides opportunity for neighbours to link up with each other. It’s a great resource.  Congratulations to the team who have been involved in putting it together.

I guess at the heart of the website and the whole “All We Need is Right Here” project is the recognition that people need people, and the more we can do to encourage people to connect with each other in meaningful and fulfilling ways, the better.

All we need … is not just a great website … but hopefully it’s one of the ways we can begin to build healthy local communities and neighbourhoods.

ImageI have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

Today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

As a Baptist I look back on this speech with pride because Martin Luther King was not only a Baptist minister himself, but was the son, grandson and great grandson of Baptist preachers and his commitment to social justice stemmed from his Baptist heritage and belief in religious liberty.

Religious Liberty is one of the distinctives of the Baptist movement and is one of the reasons I call myself a Baptist.

Martin Luther King had much to teach the world 50 years ago, but I fear that the lessons are still to be learned today.

On this special occasion it is worth spending a moment reflecting on King’s words and asking what we need to learn in Australia in 2013.

Read the speech here.

Image“Monday now the weekend” is the headline in The West Online today. The advent of Sunday trading in Western Australia and the possible extension of Sunday trading hours in the not-too-distant future means that for many Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days of the weekend and the relaxation time is Monday and Tuesday.

The article says: “Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the number of Australians working on weekends has been on the rise, with almost one-third of working people doing some form of weekend work.

Of course, this is not really a new situation. In my research into early Baptists in Western Australia I recall the efforts of great Baptist preachers like William Kennedy and FJ Miles in the Goldfields over a hundred years ago carrying out a very public campaign against Sunday sport.

The Biblical commandment to remember the Sabbath Day has a very practical basis. I have no doubt that many of the health problems, and particularly mental health problems, that we experience today are compounded because we have not been taking the time that we need to rest, and in that time of rest, to reflect on our Creator and his goodness.

But let’s put that to one side for a moment, and consider how the church, which traditionally carries out the majority of its public activities on a weekend, should think about the changes that are occurring in our society. How do we address the issues of corporate worship in a society where traditional time patterns are now impacted by a fly-in fly-out lifestyle?

I don’t think those societal changes necessarily  require us to stop meeting on Sunday and instead to call the faithful to worship on Monday, but perhaps there is a time and a place for considering some alternative and additional opportunities for people to seek solace from the rush and bustle of life in order to meditate on their Creator.

We’ve been studying Hebrews on Sunday morning and next week we are coming to a verse that says: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”

If the world in which we lives makes the meeting together of Jesus’ followers too hard, perhaps we need to think of ways that we can make it possible. Any ideas of how we can encourage each other in this?

 

ImageI was fitted with a new pair of glasses last week. They’re multifocals so I don’t have to keep taking my glasses on and and off all the time. When I am eating a meal I can look at the food through the bottom part of the glasses and the food is in focus, and when I look up through the top part of the glasses, the person sitting opposite me at the table is also in focus.

Such a simple change, yet the results are so profound.

Significant events can come out of small incidents. I think Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody said something like that in 1991 when they wrote the protest song, From Little Things Big Things Grow.

This week try saying hello to someone in the shopping centre that you may have otherwise walked by without acknowledging. Give someone a phone call to see how they are going. Drop a card to someone who needs encouragement. Talk to your neighbours.

Who knows where those little things will lead.

Nasty or Nice?

Posted: August 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

ex-ceedDepression is such a relatively common illness; there is no shame in it. The challenge for many men is to find safe and healthy ways of acting out their inner turmoil. For women, simply expressing their inner turmoil in a safe environment, and finding validation, is often the key. Self-acceptance helps both men and women.

In his latest post Steve Wickham provides a useful starter to a discussion on the difference between depression in men and women. Well worth a look.

ImageWhen I travel down the six lane highway that is Great Eastern Highway, leading from the Perth airport into Perth City, Western  Australia, it is hard to remember the roadworks that disrupted the highway for many months while it was being redeveloped. But back then it was hard for people to imagine what the highway was going to look like, and there were plenty of complaints at the time about the disruptions to traffic, the cost to business in the area and the general frustration of having to negotiate multiple signs and detours that controlled where and how we could travel.

When I read the Old Testament sometimes it seems confusing, excessively detailed, and often frustrating. But perhaps it is useful to see the events of the Old Testament as roadworks in progress.  God had a master plan to bring his Kingdom to earth through Jesus and everything that occurred leading up to Jesus was a major worksite preparing the way for what was to come.

The Great Eastern Highway redevelopment required a lot of detailed work. With extensive services, including water, power and gas, running underground, no work could be carried out without careful planning and preparation to ensure that the job was done well and the final outcome could be achieved successfully. In the same way, the detailed preparation that we see in the Old Testament was part of the blueprint that was necessary for God to achieve his purposes for humanity.

Take, for example, the details that were given in relation to the building of the Tabernacle. There were instructions about the materials that were used, the colours, sizes and shapes. We may well scratch our head over the level of detail, but the writer to the Hebrews describes this as a copy or shadow (perhaps a blueprint) of what was to come.

The Hebrews writer said: “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.” If the final outcome of the roadworks is superior, the preparation and planning – the roadworks – had to be carried out with detail and care.

For me, it’s helpful reading the Old Testament as a major roadworks exercise. Everything was done for a reason and while the detour signs may not always make sense, they were part of Gods’ blueprint for the future – every part of it pointing to Jesus.

Does this illustration help in your understanding of the Old Testament?

Whose Kingdom?

Posted: August 5, 2013 in Uncategorized
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ImageWell, the election has been called and we have just a month to make up our minds who to vote for in the September 7 Federal election.

So, how do we decide?

The ABC have got off on the front foot by making available a website called Vote Compass where you can answer some questions and you will be told how close your views sit in relation to the three major parties, the ALP. NLP and Greens.

I did the questionnaire and was provided with a pretty graph that probably confirmed my views on various policies, but didn’t necessarily help me to know which way to vote. The problem was that it insinuated that because I had certain points of view, the party that fitted closest to those views would be the party I would vote for. There was no consideration of the fact that I may want to vote for a local member rather than the party leader, or that I may have some other criteria that would help me make a decision.

Yesterday my Friend Andrew Hamilton posted under the heading of Flat Beer or Stale Bread and suggested another way of addressing the issue, that is more thoughtful than simply using an online survey.

Hamo says there is one theological lens through which we can look to assess the merits of the different political parties:

That lens I believe we need to look thru if we are vote according to the priorities of Jesus is the lens of the Kingdom of God. The Bible wasn’t written with 21st century western democracy in mind.  Nor was it written for first century imperialism. None of these human forms of government are to be seen as what God ultimately hopes for. They are our best attempts to keep a world in order and keep a society healthy and functioning.

Hamo says that if we are envisaging a world formed by God’s rule then we will ask questions like:

  • who best looks after the poor and needy both here and around the world?
  • who will best work to develop a righteous and moral society?
  • who is truthful and honourable in the way they lead?
  • who best calls us and envisions a way to look after the created world?
  • who will best uphold the values of a just and fair society and foster healthy relationships between people?
  •  who will promote strong family as core to the health of a society
  • who will see human rights as a central issue
  • who will protect the rights of the powerless
  •  who will seek peace and healing as ways of resolving conflict and who will avoid war and bloodshed?

We may have other criteria that we would want to add, but I think this is a useful starting point to help us in our decision. The point is that while we may say that religion and politics shouldn’t mix, the reality is that if our faith means anything it should help us in making decisions about how we vote, as much as it helps us in making decisions about our relationships, our career, our church, or our family.

Jesus’ advice was to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. I think that is our starting point.