Archive for September, 2013

I loved the comment that appeared on my blog this week: Just a story I would like to share following on from the Fun Factory: Adam was saying to me today that when he went to the Fun Factory activities in the holidays that they told him about a man who lives in the sky and stops bad things happening to people and he couldnt remember his name, I told him it would have been Jesus, he said oh yes it was. I said that some people dont believe in Jesus and he said sternly: ‘Well that’s because they didn’t go to the Fun Factory isn’t it!’

If you’ve been to Fun Factory you’ll love Messy Church that is held at MVBC on the fourth Saturday of each month. The difference is that Messy Church is not just for kids. In fact, more and more I’m thinking it’s what church should be like. Kids and parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, teens and singles, all getting together to work together, play together, worship together and eat together. We do all those things in a pretty informal way and through it all we’re getting to know Jesus better.

In a changing world it’s important that we reimagine the church and look for new and different ways that we can gather together as followers of Jesus, and even as people who are thinking about what following Jesus might look like. Messy Church is one of those options that are available and I suspect we also need to think about other ways we can help people move closer to God.

I’m convinced that the church has served God well over the centuries, but it has changed during that time and needs to continue to change if our world is going to experience the good news of Jesus. I’m loving be a part of that change and looking forward to what may be around the corner.

If you want to get a picture of what Messy Church looks like, take a look at this video from our Grand Final Challenge on Saturday.

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Brene Brown on Shame

Posted: September 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.

 

People often want to believe that shame is reserved for people who have survived an unspeakable trauma, but this is not true.

 

Shame is something we all experience and while it feels as if shame hides in our darkest corners, it actually tends to lurk in all of the familiar places.

 

I am currently reading “Daring Greatly – How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead”, by Brene Brown. Many years of research into vulnerability led to an understanding of the devastating effect of shame on people and the realisation that shame affects everyone in some way.

In hundreds of interviews with people about shame Brown discovered one answer that came up again and again, when people were asked how they practiced wholeheartedness around sensitive and personal issues such as sex and intimacy where the issue of shame seemed to be so great.

The answer was honest, loving conversations that require major vulnerability. “We have to be able to talk about how we feel, what we need and desire, and we have to be able to listen with an open heart and an open mind. There is no intimacy without vulnerability.”

I’m sure I’ll have some more comments, as I progress through this book.

Whatever your preference in colours, this weekend in Western Australia has been pretty well focussed on the colour purple.

For those who read this blog who don’t live in Australia I need to explain that one of our state’s football teams, the Fremantle Dockers has got into the grand final for Australian Rules Football next weekend for the first time in its 19 year history. Even buildings have turned purple.

But it’s got me thinking a bit about teams. As much as most of us like our own company at some stage, we all have a basic need to live in relationship with other people.

Whether we’re playing football, going to work, staying at home, or going to school, we find ourselves working in teams and it turns out that it’s an essential part of who we are as human beings. We need other people to help us grow and develop, and the people around us need a whole lot of things from us.

I’m not a avid football supporter, but I did watch the big game on Saturday night and one of the things that was obvious to me was that while each footballer played their own game and was able to make a personal contribution to the game, their success was in how they could pass the ball on at the appropriate time to allow another person to take the ball a little further, and yet another person to kick the goal. There was no room for putting personal achievements ahead of the bigger goal of supporting the team.

I’m not completely ignorant about football. I suspect it was a part of the curriculum for boys to play football at Western Australian schools back when I was at high school, however, I was always put into back pocket, a position that I worked out was the safest place to put someone who was likely to drop a mark, couldn’t kick particularly well and couldn’t run fast.

However, while it was a position that was out of the way, and where I could do the least amount of damage, it still felt better to have a place on the team, than to be left out altogether.

There’s always a place on God’s team and what I appreciate most is that while some people are in prominent positions, and others seem to be hidden away, each member of God’s team is important and critical to the team. If we ever find ourselves in “back pocket”, it’s not to keep us out of the way, but because that is where God needs people with our particular skills, personality and strengths. Having the right person in the right place is good for us, and it’s good for the team.

If you want to find out more about this concept read 1 Corinthians chapter 12.

Six Words … We Need to Hear

Posted: September 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

God doesn’t love us because we earn it.  God loves us because we are God’s children. God created this world and everything in it—don’t you think God delights in it? Don’t you think God loves us at least as much as a good parent who delights in the activities of her children, regardless of whether they get everything right? 

This isn’t a performance-based relationship; it’s a relationship based on unconditional love and endless delight. We can breathe a deep and long sigh of relief because the pressure’s off. We’re not here to impress or perform; we’re here to revel in God’s delight.

If you enjoyed my post yesterday linking you to a blog by Rachel Macy Stafford on six words you should say to your children, you’re going to love this follow up post by Rachel Held Evans about six words you should hear today.

The first Rachel (I know, it’s confusing having some many Rachels) who I quoted in my post yesterday talked about her experiences in learning how to tell her children: I love to watch you play. Rachel reflected on how she took the pressure off her children to perform, by simply acknowledging how much she enjoyed them.

The second Rachel responded to this by reflecting on how God sees his children. So often we feel that we are under some pressure to perform or to seek God’s approval, when all we need is the assurance that God loves us dearly and we need to hear him say: I love to watch you play … or …

I love to watch you eat and drink and dance and explore and worship and pray and get out of your car to move that poor little turtle out of the road…not because you do any of these things perfectly, but because you do them as my children.

ImageSometimes there are things we should say to our children, and things that we probably don’t need to say.

Rachel Macy Stafford says it beautifully in this blog in which we talks about how she learned to say six simple words to her children, and the powerful impact these words had.

I could think of many occasions when I encouraged, guided, complimented, and provided suggestions for improvement. Did that make me a nightmare sports parent? No, but maybe sometimes I said more than was needed.

Read Rachel’s blog here and be surprised.

One Body

Posted: September 15, 2013 in Uncategorized
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open handsThis afternoon we visited a vacant shop in the main street of Kalamunda with about 50 other Christians of all denominations across the Shire of Kalamunda to conclude a 40 hour prayer vigil.

The event commenced on Friday night with a combined churches prayer dinner which was addressed by Graham Power from South Africa.

Over the weekend, even into the wee small hours of the night, people have dropped into this temporary prayer retreat, a cold and rather drab venue on a very wet weekend, to spend time together or alone in prayer for our community. I have to admit I took the daylight option.

This afternoon, as we gathered together, people from a variety of churches and denominations prayed for each other as the local pastors laid hands on them and prayed for God’s Spirit to fall afresh on the people of our local community.

It was a significant event as we acknowledged the unity that can be achieved through Jesus. It was significant in that we came from churches where there are different forms of worship, different theological views, and different forms of church polity, yet the focus of that hour, and the 40 hours before, was on Jesus.

It’s moments like this that affirm the words of the Apostle Paul:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Embrace the Shake

Posted: September 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

Thanks to Steve Fogg for alerting us to this great video. Phil Hansen talks about how he embraced his weakness to discover some new opportunities for creativity. His message is “think inside the box”.

ImageOne of my favourite places in the whole world is a spot at the southern-most tip of Ningaloo Reef where I first experienced snorkelling.

As you step off the white sand into azure waters you look around at a beautiful world of cloudless skies and pristine coastline, but when you put your head under the water, you touch another world.

The scenery above disappears as you are immersed into a world where bright coloured fish dart around between multi-coloured coral, massive schools of colour flash by as larger fish dodge in and out, apparently unaware of a human floating above them in awe of their busy community.

It’s a world that is as far removed from the world above the surface of the ocean as you can imagine.

Jesus told many stories about ordinary people doing ordinary things, but he prefaced the stories with the curious phrase: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” There was a sense in which Jesus was giving people the opportunity to get a glimpse into another world – a world that was very different from what they were used to, but was still only a breath away.

We become familiar with life as it is, whether it is an exciting, fulfilling, enjoyable life we lead, or one in which we regularly experience sadness, rejection, hurt and fear. But just a breath away is another world of incomparable beauty.

Entering the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus spoke about, doesn’t require us leaving the world in which we live, but by holding the hand of Jesus we enter into a brilliant experience of fulfilment, hope, and life that eclipses and transforms everything we know.

Are you ready to put on your snorkel and dip your head under the surface?

ImageLast night we went to the airport. We weren’t going on holiday, and nobody was flying off to distant places. We went to the airport so our two grandsons could see the planes. It reminded me of going to the airport when I was a child, except then you could lean over the railings, and smell the avgas and hear the noises.  Now you have to look through a big pane of tinted safety glass.  But we still saw the planes … and the trucks … and the buses. An airport is a busy place.

In a busy world, it is so important to take time to smell the roses, look at the planes and find other opportunities to experience the simple joys of life. It’s important to appreciate family and friends, and it’s great to go to an airport with no intention of going anywhere … just to look at the planes with children who get such joy from simple things.

Through the pressures of life and the times of worry, it’s worth being reminded of the practical words of Jesus:  Consider the ravens, he said. God looks after them, so won’t he look after you even more?  Do you think that by worrying you will add an hour to your life? Not that you’d want an extra hour, because you’d probably just fill it up with more worrying. The last bit was my words, not Jesus’!

Consider the wildflowers, Jesus said.  They don’t fuss around being busy all the time, but God cares for them and he’s going to care for you even more.

Take time for the simple things in life: listen to the birds, look at the wildflowers, go and watch the planes landing, and give thanks to your Maker.