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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The End Of 2014....

I'm doing this one a touch ahead of time, but it should post up on New Year's Eve. I want to have a bit of a reflection on this year and some of the things that have happened in it, because it's been pretty incredible for me.

This year....
I've cried tears of joy.
I've shared stories with people I never knew.
I've made closer and quicker friends than I have in a long time.
I've learnt that as I am, I am a man.
A son of God.
A brother of Jesus.
A bride of Christ.
That I am pursued and loved by my awesome Father.
I've been able to grow closer to my brother.
I've been shaken by fear.
And I've challenged that fear.
I've been able to share from the deepest, darkest places.
And have people still smiling, and still loving.
I've made a CD, and had an album launch.
Didn't go how I'd planned.
Seems to be a pattern with God.
Got to be in a play.
Where I was depicting domestic violence and religiosity.
Got to write music for a musical.
Gotten so much further in my battles with addiction and temptation.
Been part of an awesome group of brothers and sisters.
Learned so much, all over again. From the heart, this time.
Been able to use it.
Been part of another awesome group, because one clearly isn't enough.
Studied at Bible College.
Joined a Christian band.
I've been impacted and changed by so many people.
Many of them younger than me.
Walked on the beach with God, quite a few times.
Lived dreams.
Wrote another album.
Broke a ukelele.
Saw the musical Wicked.
Been encouraged.
Encouraged others.
Had the privilege of sharing at my church twice, and another church once.
Had God come through for me more times than I can count.
Wrote poetry.
Got to share it with Church of Christ leaders across NSW.
Ran in the City2Surf.
Went to see Adam Hills.
Completely revamped my room.
Saw Mythbusters live on stage.
Celebrated my Great-Nan's 100th birthday.
And my Dad's cousin's wedding.
Went canyoning.
Painted a few rooms and chairs at church.
And so many more, probably a lot that I've forgotten....but hopefully that's most of them.

Thank you so much to everyone who has journeyed with me through this year; everyone who I've done life with. Special mention to the Impart, Navigate, Tops, youth group and Zaō crew, who have seen the best and worst of me and still loved me through it all. You guys are super-duper-awesome, and I've been so blessed to live this year with each of you. You are all an inspiration an encouragement to me, and teach me so much about who I am and who God is. Keep being awesome, and I'm sure I'll see you all again before too long :)

This year, God has really been making the move from my head to my heart. Next year is going to be a little different. But that's for another post....

Goodbye, 2014. You were awesome!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Shine The Light.

There's a movie/TV show from a while back called Dinotopia. Essentially, it's about this hidden island where dinosaurs still exist, and castaways over the years have built a society around them.
As part of their society, they have the Code Of Dinotopia. There are eleven codes, but the last one is broken off. Eventually, it's revealed that the code is "Find the light." And that is a bit of a theme throughout the movie. 

It also related in really well to the sermon at my church the other night. The topic was on Jesus being the light of the world; we've been going through Jesus' "I Am" statements recently, and this one was wrapping up the series. And our pastor talked a lot about how we are very much drawn to light; and in the same way, people were drawn to Jesus and what he did. Throughout the Gospels, you get the stories of people crowding him to ridiculous lengths. And, of course, light very much relates in to the Christmas story - the light of the star, the angel Gabriel, the host of angels - seems to be a theme. 
So that very much reminded me of this idea, "Find the light."

But I think that it goes a bit further than this. I think that this light can still be found in our world today; shining out from people that are living lives like Jesus did. They are shining the light; they are helping others to find the light, to see the light of Jesus. Just like Jesus said, "Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."

God calls us to shine the light, so that others can find the light. He will always be the light; but so that more may see the light, he asks us to shine.

So, this season, shine. Shine the light. 

Merry Christmas. :)

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Holidays! No, wait...

Just a quick one. There seems to be a growing political-correctness around the word Christmas. We've had Xmas for a while now, but now I'm hearing a lot more of the "Happy Holidays!" from people, particularly if they're high-profile and such. And honestly, I see it as a bit of a pity. I'm never a fan of political correctness in general - but Christmas? Seems like it's a bit far for me. You don't really wish people "happy holidays" any other time of the year. People know it's Christmas you're talking about. Why not just say, "merry Christmas"? I mean, for sure. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and for some people it might not have happy memories. But I don't think that should prevent people from using the word.

In other news, I'll be going away for a few days over Christmas. I'll probably do a Christmas post proper - but if not, then that's why. I'm also planning to do an end-of-year one, and a start-of-year one. So you've got those to look forward to :)

Monday, 22 December 2014

Throwing Out The Old?

A while back, I would sporadically have a look at some common misconceptions and myths surrounding the Bible, Christianity, Christians, God, etc. Thought I might have a go at doing that again every once in a while.

One that I heard recently, which I think can actually be a fairly common thought, goes something like this: "True Christians are supposed to throw out all of the Old Testament anyway, because Jesus said we're done with all of that." Essentially, saying that the Old Testament is no more than some interesting backstory at best, and has no relevance to how Christians are supposed to live today. There's a few reasons that I think this doesn't hold water, but firstly I'll have a look at why some people could see this as a legitimate idea.

Who It Was Written For
The Old Testament was written by, and for, the Israelite people. This is clearly shown throughout the books within it; and, as such, there are many references that only make sense in the time period. I talked about a few of those here a while back. There are lots of genealogies, lists of people, counts of things being sacrificed, rules and regulations specific to the Israelite people - none of which would have much immediate impact on our life today.

Jesus' Words
Jesus spoke about being the fulfilment of the Law (the Old Testament was commonly referred to in the Bible as the Law and the Prophets; the Law is specifically the first five books, also known as the Torah or Pentateuch); and many would argue that if something is fulfilled, it is no longer needed. There are also many times that Jesus seems to act in contrast to the Law; well-known examples include him healing people on the Sabbath, as well as associating with people that were 'unclean' - particularly lepers.

Paul's Words
There are specific times when Paul goes against the words of the Old Testament; for example, he says that new Christians do not have to practice circumcision. In one of his letters, Paul writes, "By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear." (Hebrews 8:13) This would seem to be saying exactly what this argument is putting forward.

Now, let's have a look at the other side.

Jesus' Words
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them." These are the words that Jesus spoke, in Matthew 5:17. And a number of other times in the Gospels, Jesus references the Old Testament; speaks about the importance of what was written there; and says that, "...until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." That seems to be fairly definitive. But let's keep looking, shall we?

Paul's Words
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul writes: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Here, Paul is talking about Old Testament scripture - the New Testament hadn't been written yet! And while there are many times that we can find Paul talking about Christians no longer being under the Law, clearly he still believes that the Old Testament is very important for Christian living.

Purpose Of The Old Testament
In the New Testament, both Jesus and Paul talk about the Law and the Prophets acting to point towards Jesus; they are the foreshadowing of what is to come. As such, the Old Testament can tell us about who Jesus is, and help us to see the reason that he came. The Old Testament also contains many standards for living that are still helpful to strive for today; the Ten Commandments are a good example of this.

The Verdict
So, we have a bit happening here from both sides. Paul writes about not being under the Law; yet talks about the benefits of Scripture. Jesus talks about fulfilling the Law; yet not being here to abolish it. And there are many things in the Old Testament that seem extraneous; yet many can also apply to our lives today. So where do we stand?

In the end, unfortunately, it gets a bit muddy. However, two things that I think can be definitively said are; Christians are not under the Law, but the Old Testament should not be thrown out. It still has relevance and importance today for people's lives. As to anything more specific than that - you'd probably have to go to a proper Bible scholar. But that's my look at it for now. Hopefully I'll be doing this more often over the next while!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Sorry it's been a little bit of time since my last post. Been a fair bit happening lately! But there was something in particular that I wanted to post about.

This year, there have been a lot of things that God has been making very real for me; things that I've gone from just knowing about, to really knowing and feeling in my heart. And then, hopefully, doing something about it, ideally! God doesn't want us to just rest with what we know is truth, but actually to live it. Pretty important.

And it's something that he's done again. You never really get used to it when it happens, it's always pretty incredible. But wow, this one knocked my socks off. (Strange expression, but anyway. It was good, okay?)

He showed me that he could do the impossible. And that was something that I'd always known he could do; you know that God is a God of miracles - and not just in Jesus' time, but with people here and now. But often, you don't see that many yourself. You see some things that are pretty darn incredible, don't get me wrong. But this is the first time - I'm pretty sure - that he's done something that I would have called impossible. In me. I'm pretty sure that at this point, younger me wouldn't recognise me any more. In a good way, but, you know. It's pretty incredible.

Yes, I'm being damn mysterious and vague again. I'm sorry. Hopefully not for too much longer - but God doesn't seem to be in the habit of showing me his calendar, unfortunately! So I guess we'll see. But yeah. It's pretty awesome :) So I just wanted to write about that.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Power of Expectation.

So, I haven't mentioned this before (I don't think), but I'm part of this awesome band/ministry called Shalom. Joined them earlier this year - they've been going for a few years now. Essentially, they needed a new keyboardist, and the drummer and the bassist (both of whom I knew from my church) thought of me first. Which is cool. We basically go round to churches and events and play our songs, bless people with our music. Pretty awesome.

This morning, we had a gig at a church that was having an anniversary. So, lots of food, which was cool. But that's not what I'm writing about!
The pastor there was finishing up a series called "Expecting God to be God". It was guessed it....expecting God to be God. Haha. It was really good, and there were some great things that spoke to me quite specifically.
Fast forward then to this evening, when I was doing the sound desk at my church. We were gathered together for prayer before the music team started practice, and Paul (worship pastor at our church), was talking about how Ryan (youth pastor) had been talking about expectation at some point, and was wondering about what we expected when we came to the service. More expectation....
Then the communion talked about expectation! We have a quick five-minute talk before communion, where people are pretty free to choose what they want to talk about - we've had everything from readings straight from the Bible, to people using medical ideas as metaphors, to people bringing up props to use. All relating back in to communion, of course. And this time, he was talking about the expectation leading up to Christmas - and then linking that back to communion and the lead-up to Jesus' death.
I think that Ryan may have actually mentioned it in his talk as well, but I'm actually not sure now....Paul may have just mixed the two talks up. Possible.

Anyway. Expectation was a bit of a recurring topic, as you can see.

For me, I've always been a person who tries not to have expectations. Particularly of people. Because I've found that people are fallible, funnily enough. So I don't set expectations. I have hopes - which can often be ludicrously high, I'm that sort of person - but I don't really have much in terms of expectations, I don't think. But I think God is really challenging me to not apply that over to him as well. Because people might be fallible, but he's not. And so he doesn't want me to just hope in him. He wants me to trust in him; have faith in him; expect him. Expect that he's going to do something, expect that he's going to come good on his promises, expect that he's going to be there for me. And act on that. Not just wait around, expecting him to do everything for me. That's just silly. But expecting that he's going to be active in my life - and wanting to be active in his as well, I think. That's important.

So yeah, just wanted to share that with you folks. Just a quick aside - I've been on an unofficial part-hiatus for much of this year. That's now done, so I'll probably be posting somewhat more regularly/frequently now. More the latter, at a guess. But yeah :)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Little Moments.

Like snow randomly happening while you're on a bushwalk.
Or watching a sunset out over the valley and ridges below you.
Seeing the sun rise over the water, standing on the beach.
Falling asleep under the stars in canoes.

Finding our own leap of faith, even if it was a touch too big.
Stepping from rock to rock around a lake, balancing things in our hands.
Playing songs and sharing stories together in the middle of a shopping centre.

Dancing away from you at the beach, giggling like a schoolgirl, getting caught by the waves.
Tears falling down my face, tears of joy and relief, as I am comforted.

Touching your hair for the first time, and feeling it within my fingers.

And yet, these are only the beginning....

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A Storm's A-Coming.

A storm's a-coming.
Thundering, raging.
You can hear it, see it, smell it, feel it, taste it.
Hear the rumble.
See the flash.
Smell the petrichor.
Feel the cool.
Taste the dampness.

A storm's a-coming.
The atmosphere is electric.
The wind is chasing the clouds across the sky.
It whips through your hair -
Calling you, calling the wild.
The dangerous.
Will you come?
Will you surrender to the storm?

A storm's a-coming.
The power is more than you can live with.
The torrent is surging, and you can't keep it inside.
You have to release it, and the light rushes forth.
Bursting, blinding, coursing, brightening.

A storm's a-coming.