Archive for November, 2013

We participated in a great activity at Messy Church on Saturday night, creating a web that filled the whole room.  We then pinned prayers to the web and reflected on the way in which God hears our prayers, no matter how messy the situation in which we find ourselves. Take a look at this video showing the results of the evening’s activity:

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IMG_0119I opened my window this morning and was greeted with the amazing site of a corner of the church car park covered in purple from the flowering Jacaranda tree. Jacarandas are out everywhere you look at the moment, and I think it is a beautiful site. The purple-blue flowers create colour and life and for a few weeks add a different perspective to the local environment.

By the way, did you know that Jacarandas are a native of Brazil?

As beautiful as they are Jacarandas will probably bring complaints from people at times because of the mass of flowers that cover roads, footpaths, gardens and driveways. They get in gutters and stain driveways and are a right pain in the neck.

How we view something like the Jacaranda flowers is probably the way we will view a whole lot of other things in life. You might call it the “glass have full/glass half empty” concept.  Do we look on things around us cause for thanksgiving and praise, or do we only see the problems and the disadvantages.IMG_0120

Reality says that you need to take both into account. It’s important to identify the problem rather than deny it and pretend it doesn’t exist, but then we need to find a way to address it and look for solutions. If we get stuck in our problems they leave us with more than the jacaranda blues.

I love the Psalms in the Bible where the writers often express their fears, complaints, and grudges, but go on to praise God for his goodness and love. The language of praise is incredibly effective in lifting you out of your blues into a new place.

For a few weeks in late Spring and early Summer I figure it’s worth enjoying the Jacarandas … and it’s always worthwhile lifting your spirit in praise.

 

  • Jacaranda (normamartiriphotography.wordpress.com)

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How’s this for a confusing set of statistics?  Earlier this week The West Australian reported that Australia may be the best place in the world to live since it had topped “the good life index”.

A comparison by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of the richest and fastest growing countries ranked Australia the No.1 nation on a range of indicators.

The How’s Life? study went beyond economics to areas such as life expectancy, hours worked and pollution. Australia was among the best in every one. Australians have a high level of disposable income and increasing household wealth.

They enjoy one of the longest life expectancies at above 83. With the Americans, New Zealanders and Canadians, Australians had the highest proportion of people reporting good or very good health.

Australia has low homicide and assault rates and Australians are likely to say they are satisfied with their life.

But today’s West reported that we’ve got some big problems with stress. According to a state-of-the-nation survey commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society (APS), Australians overall report declining wellbeing and increasing stress. The article goes on to say:

They also have more depression and anxiety symptoms than those revealed in the 2011 and 2012 surveys.

Younger people are the most stressed and people older than 66 are coping the best, according to the online survey of 1548 people, 999 of whom are employed.

Workplace issues include a lack of feedback, unclear expectations and not feeling valued.

Employees report significantly lower levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of interest in their job compared with previous years.

While most employees feel physical injuries are taken seriously, only 50 per cent feel supported with mental health issues, according to the survey, released to coincide with national psychology week.

They also have more depression and anxiety symptoms than those revealed in the 2011 and 2012 surveys.

Younger people are the most stressed and people older than 66 are coping the best, according to the online survey of 1548 people, 999 of whom are employed.

Workplace issues include a lack of feedback, unclear expectations and not feeling valued.

Employees report significantly lower levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of interest in their job compared with previous years.

While most employees feel physical injuries are taken seriously, only 50 per cent feel supported with mental health issues, according to the survey, released to coincide with national psychology week.

OK, how do we work that out? We live in the best country in the world, but our stress levels are increasing.

I talked at church yesterday about the time that Jesus asked his disciples for a quick trip across the lake and took the opportunity for a quick nap. While he was asleep a sudden squall hit the lake and the disciples, who were fishermen and no doubt, highly competent sailors, got themselves into a lather, and woke Jesus up, claiming that they were all going to be drowned.

Jesus queried their faith, but in my opinion, it wasn’t to do with how much faith they had. Rather, it was about where their faith was directed. Everything fell apart when Jesus was asleep, which suggests their faith was directed towards their own skills and to a Jesus who was awake and standing up. They fell apart because they thought he wasn’t “on the job”.

But Jesus wanted them to know that he was trustworthy and could be trusted, even when he was asleep. In the best country in the world, it’s time we directed our faith, no matter how weak it may be, towards the One who can be trusted in every situation. I’m sure that no matter what experiences we may have and how stressed we may become about those experiences, Jesus can be trusted to help us through that situation.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

ImageSaturday morning was the time I remember as a child, going on errands for my mother. I would have some money in one pocket, a carefully detailed list in another pocket and I would hop on my bike and ride to the shop to buy whatever mum required.

I was proud to be have been sent on this errand, not only because I had been asked to do something useful, but because it gave me a sense of independence and achievement.

“Being sent” can be a very powerful experience not just because of what we are doing for the person who is sending us, but in the way it empowers us as we meet the needs and requirements of the sender.

John’s Gospel, in the Bible, says a whole lot about God as a “Sending God”. Throughout the Gospel there are 26 references to God the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit as one who sends, and Jesus constantly referred to himself as having been sent.  What that says to me is that it is part of God’s nature to be a “sending God”.

And the sending of nature of God was evident in Jesus when he said … “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.

As I reflect on what it means for me to be a follower of Jesus, I am reminded of proudly riding my bike to the corner store on Saturday morning, the list in one pocket and the money jingling in the other. Doing what Jesus wants in my life is something I can do with a knowledge that I have been sent by the creator of the universe on an amazing errand.

What’s more, he’s given me the resources for the job in one pocket (the Holy Spirit), the list in the other (the Scriptures), and the independence and authority to fulfil his requests.