Archive for July, 2014

Some great stories on pages 6 and 7 of this month’s Advocate…

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PilgrimConsumerism, according to Wikipedia, is a “social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-greater amounts.” Consumerism has become a way of life for us to the point that those of us who live in western society really don’t know anything else. More than ever we become discontent very quickly.

Whether it is the car we drive, the cereal we eat, the supermarket we use, the church we attend, the clothes we wear, or the computer we use … it doesn’t take much for us to be looking over the fence to see if the grass is greener in someone else’s backyard.

You’d think this ideology of consumerism was just a product of the industrial revolution, but references in the Bible to contentment suggest that the desire for something bigger, better and prettier has been around for a very long time.

This morning I talked at church about the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians and used the theme, Joy in Community. Paul was in prison in Rome at the time and was writing to a church at Philippi in eastern Macedonia. Despite his own circumstances Paul expressed joy at the church in Philippi and all it was doing. He noticed that a couple of women in the church, key people who he described as fellow-workers, had a difference of opinion, but he called for gentleness in dealing with this issue, and it seemed even this didn’t stop his sense of joy.

What I found significant is that Paul seemed have a very lay-back approach to life. He called for gentleness, appealed for the disputing women to get together and sort out their issues, he reminded the people of the presence of Christ, and told them not to be anxious. Paul was a pretty serious person but on this occasion, at least, he seemed to be keen to help the church to take their foot off the accelerator.

One of the things he had to say to the church was that he had learned “the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  In a consumer society that sounds like a secret worth knowing. Paul went on to let his readers in on his secret: I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” It seems that his trust in Jesus gave him the capacity to appreciate what he had and to enjoy his circumstances without getting anxious.

It took me back to John’s Bunyan’s allegory published in 1678 called “Pilgrim’s Progress“. Without telling the whole story, the key character, Christian, is carrying a heavy burden on his back and in his search to find a solution to his problem comes to the “place of deliverance” where the straps that hold the burden on to his back are released and the burden rolls into an open grave.

John Bunyan’s allegorical story about “Christian” was the same as Paul’s: Consumerism and all the other pressures of modern life are like a heavy backpack that create constant anxiety. By throwing that backpack down at the foot of Jesus’ cross we can be released from anxiety and experience peace and contentment.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 7.37.00 pmWell, after many years of procrastinating I have finally published the biography of my dad, “He Speaks Our Language”. My Dad, Wilf Douglas, passed away more than 10 years ago and prior to that I asked his permission to write his story, so it has been a long time coming. We had a fantastic time yesterday with many people from all walks of life coming together to honour dad’s life. It was particularly nice that my brother John from Tasmania was the MC for the event.

The highlight for me was to interview Noongar elder, Myrtle Yarran (pictured left, above) and Wongi elder, Laurel Cooper from Kalgoorlie.  Amongst other things the book tells the story about how Myrtle’s dad, Bob Mead taught my dad his first Noongar words nearly 80 years ago. Dad went on from that humble beginning on a dusty track at Badjaling in Western Australia’s wheatbelt to play a significant role in preserving Aboriginal languages in various parts of Australia.

Keith Truscott the Pastor of the Mt Zion Aussie Indigenous Church in Perth spoke about how Dad had taught him Pitjantjatjara and introduced him to his cultural roots, and the first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives, Federal Member for Hasluck, Ken Wyatt AM officially launched the book.

It’s been a great privilege to be able to write this book and tell a story that has been waiting to be told.

Hopefully the book will be available on Kindle at some stage, but in the meantime it is available at Koorong Bookshops and online at the website of the publisher Ark House Press.

DSC00608It’s taken a while for me to get to this post, but after a very busy week Robyn and I needed to take a break. Fun Factory was a fantastic week of kids activities at Maida Vale Baptist Church. Featuring the theme of Circus, we had a wide range of activities, crafts, music and fun. One of the highlights was about 30 people from the church who volunteered for the week, even being brave enough to dress up in circus gear. Thanks team.

Joe Bolton from Suitcase Circus came along and taught us all a whole range of circus tricks; we were amazed at the magic tricks of a magician, wowed by the creativity of a balloon artist and learnt some moves from the Fit2Cheer team. It was also good to have Old Macdonald’s Farm there one day.

Thanks to all those who came along for the week, helpers and participants alike.

Now, sit back and take a look at the video.

circus1

Fun Factory is one of the big events of the year for Maida Vale Baptist Church. It’s taken a lot of planning and preparation, especially by Robyn Douglas who is the Children and Families’ Worker at the church (that’s my wife, of course). This is our seventh year of running Fun Factory. For the first time this year we took online registrations which was a really successful way of preparing for the event.

Our theme this year is circus and I’m looking forward to seeing the variety of dress-ups for our brave helpers. To keep up with what’s happening during the week check out our Facebook page.

Got to go and get my clown gear on ….