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Monday, 26 January 2015

I Still Call It Home.

So, today is Australia Day. For those who aren't aware, I'm Australian. Living in Australia, Sydney(ish). Go back a fair way on both sides as Australian - I think nearly to the First Fleet on one side, with a convict who stole a watch. Think we had another who stole several lengths of rope.

I'm not particularly patriotic. For myself, I don't see the point - I didn't have any control over the country that I was born into. I'm quite glad that this is the country that I've been born into - there's a lot of great things about it - but it's not something I've really been able to do anything about, even if I wanted to. I still can't really move to another country (thanks, lack of job!) or anything like that. So for me, patriotism doesn't make a lot of sense. I think it's a pretty good country that I live in, in a lot of ways - it's got some beautiful wildlife and places, and we're a lot cleaner than some places out there. And a lot less crowded. We just have so much - space. It's kind of ridiculous. I mean, a lot of it is nearly uninhabitable desert, but you know.

But I think there are people who can be proud to call this their home. And that's people who have had the choice. People who have come here from other countries - particularly people who have come seeking refuge, seeking a place more peaceful than from where they came. When they come here, they have chosen to come to this place, because they believe it is better. Greater. And so, they are proud to call this place their home. And I think that's pretty awesome.

I also think that trying to keep people out of this country is just not Aussie. "For those who've come across the seas, we've boundless plains to share." This beautiful, massive space was made to share, not to try and keep to ourselves. Don't be so paranoid. People are people. Practice that good old fair go and mateship this Aussie Day, whaddya say?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Love Does - and it keeps on doing!

The book Love Does by Bob Goff is actually just a collection of short stories. Almost like Aesop's Fables, in a way (except real), they each have a bit of a lesson to them - to do with God, or love, or living. Particularly things that you can actually do, rather than just think about.

And there are some fantastic stories in there. Everything from the story of taking his kids to meet leaders around the world, to sneaking on to the set of National Treasure 2, to romancing his now wife, to flipping over his old Jeep and flying out the top. You'll be pulled in to each story, and taken by the reality of it. There's no airy-fairy here - it's all about things that you can do, because, as the title of the book says, love does.

Because of the short nature of the stories, it's great for those who aren't avid readers, who just want to read a bit at a time. That's actually a fantastic way to read this book. And if you want a little point to get out of each chapter - he summarises it very nicely in a short little sentence at the beginning of each story. One of my favourites is, 
I used to think being loved was the greatest thing to think about,but now I know love is never satisfied just thinking about it.
But then, I'm a little biased. ;)

This is an incredible book, and one that I've really enjoyed. I'm definitely planning on passing it on to other people that I know will enjoy it, and if any of what I've said here gets your attention, I think you'd enjoy it too. :)

As an aside, sorry I haven't been posting much lately. There hasn't been much to post about! Always a bit of a lull at the beginning of the year. But I think the last couple of years I've done a bit of a miniseries at this point in time, so I'm thinking I might do that again. Any ideas on what to do? I'm open.

Friday, 2 January 2015

On The Secularisation Of Religion.

I watched an episode of QI recently where one of the guests said that (he was speaking particularly in regards to America, but I think it can be applied to other places too) there had been a secularisation of religion - it focussed more on this life than the next, and it had become more of a self-help program than anything else. Just wanted to reflect a bit on that statement, and flesh it out a bit.

In Christianity, I'd say there are two major processes that happen. Salvation, and transformation.
Salvation is where you are saved from your sins. It's something that has already happened, because of Jesus' death on the cross; but individuals need to accept it as true in their life, and give their lives to God for them to be saved. At this point - you're going to heaven, and there really isn't anything that's going to change that. God's pretty awesome like that :) But Jesus also calls us to follow him - that's what giving your life to God is part of. And that's where the second one comes in.
Transformation is about your life becoming all that God meant it to be. Because this life is still important! It might be short, but it still matters, and you can still do great things with it. And God wants that for your life - and so you start on the process of transformation. And this is something that goes on throughout your life.

Now, Christians can have some different attitudes towards these two ideas. Some focus so much on the first that the second gets neglected; others focus so much on the second that the first gets neglected. But both are important, and both need to be present.

This 'secularisation of religion' that I mentioned before seems to me to be like an over-emphasis on the latter. It's a bit like - you're saved! Yay! Okay, now let's make your life awesome, and not worry about that being saved stuff any more, because it's all good now.
The problem is, of course, that's there are still lots of other people out there who aren't. And so it very much becomes more like a club pandering to its members, rather than inviting in new people.

I get the thought, though - it's very much a reaction to the Bible-bashers and turn-and-burn preachers a while back (though they're still around here and there), that focus so much on salvation, and barely touched on transformation. They were out there trying to convert people by the masses, sometimes scaring people into salvation, and then just leaving them there, because they were saved now, so it's all good.

Neither approach works. The former will leave everyone on the outside not wanting to come in, because they've been excluded; the latter will have everyone on the outside wanting to leave, because there's nothing to keep them there.

There needs to be a balance. And, by nature, people will probably be better at one or the other of these. I'm more on the transformation side of things, and I know people on both sides. But I think we need to do more work on figuring out how these two can work together and feed into each other, rather than being two separate processes happening in different places. Because I don't think that's healthy.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

....And The Start Of 2015.

Well. Again I'm doing this slightly in advance - I think that when this goes up I'll probably be sleeping, after just getting home from seeing a sunrise. I'm going with a few friends of mine from church to a really nice spot that should give us a great view of the first sunrise of 2015 :)

Sunrises are a bit special for me. Most people really like sunsets - and I like them too - but you see them every day. Most people don't see the sunrise. That's one thing that makes it special. I've also had some really great moments watching the sunrise come up over the water (one of the advantages of living in a spot where the coast is to the east), so that's another thing. And it also really symbolises to me a new start, a fresh hope, the beginning of something amazing and incredible.

And that leads me into this year.

This year, I think God is setting me a bit of a challenge. Well, a lot of a challenge, really. Last year - 2014 - has been a fair amount of me learning more about who I am and who God is, and making that transition from head to heart. There will still be more of that, I'm sure, but there was quite an intense period of that this last year.

But this coming year, I think he wants me to go from heart to hands. There's been a whole bunch of things - from what people have been saying, from what I've been reading, from things that have been happening - that have really been pointing clearly to God saying, "Okay, so you've learned a lot. Now, what are you going to do with it?" As a friend put it nicely recently, he's calling me out on an adventure. And no, I don't know exactly what it looks like. In fact, most of it I don't know. At the moment, work is up in the air; I've had an idea for a ministry, but I don't know if it's going to work; and there are a lot of other things that have been shaken around recently, that have left a fairly big question mark over 2015 and what it holds for me.

What I do know, though, is that he wants me to start doing something. He wants me to be active. He wants me to be living. He wants me to go on this adventure with him, and take risks; take leaps of faith, and not be sure where I'm going to end up. To not always have everything planned out in my head beforehand. (Because even when I do, he seems to still surprise me.)

And it's easy for me to write this. It really is, writing is quite easy. But living it - that's going to be a lot harder. And therein lies the challenge. Thankfully, I've got some pretty awesome people around me that seem to be good at giving me an idea of what to do. Also reading a fantastic book at the moment called Love Does (look it up if you don't know it) that's giving me a fair bit of insight and inspiration. And God's with me.

So, life? Look out. I'm coming.