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opening the Gay Marriage Can of Worms


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Gay-Marriage

As a Christian, as a follower of Jesus, as a human being, could I… would I vote for Gay Marriage…

Can of Worms – Once we open it, more than what we expect will come out.

In the past whenever the subject has come to the forefront I’ve kept quite on it, didn’t think it was my place to say anything, that I could add anything to the conversation…

or maybe realising if I did it would change things… not being willing to live with the repercussions.

 

I understand this subject & surrounding issues are close to many peoples hearts, so before your knee jerks I’d encourage you to read the Disclaimer, leave a comment, send an email pillscoffeeheresy@hotmail.com

… or say a prayer.

 

Why now? I guess of late I’ve been asked a lot, I’ve found myself in several conversations, I’ve found myself.

I guess of late I’m happy to wear the fallout.

By no means comprehensive, here are some thoughts on Gay Marriage, pros, cons, thoughts on cons, thoughts on thoughts… thoughts on the worms that crawl out of the Can.

 

My Cons list

I wouldn’t vote/support Gay Marriage because… If I did it would/may change various peoples relationships with me, may change the level of involvement I’m able to have  with various groups/organisations that I really enjoy working with…

may lead to my being labeled & boxed in, any contributions on any other subject ignored because of thoughts on this one…

may cause myself or people I care about to endure unnecessary harassment… may cause the trolls to come out from under the bridge.

 I’m selfish.

Really, when I think about it that’s the only con I have… selfishness. None of the other cons stack up for me… and selfishness, I don’t want that to be a part of me.

 

Thoughts on Cons

Gay Marriage will make a mockery of marriage – lets say it does, wouldn’t that just lead to a case of the pot calling the kettle, “black”. We have a few 1000-yrs head start on making a mockery of marriage, a divorce rate indistinguishable from those who don’t attend church, scandal after scandal that seem as dependable as the changing seasons.

I’m protecting the institution of marriage! – no you’re not, most likely you don’t like change (if the sanctity of marriage is a legitimate concern read the section below “marriage & marriage”).

gay_marriage

Seriously, read some sermons around the time of the civil rights movement, “if God had wanted the abomination of inter-racial marriage he wouldn’t have created the separate races”.

The Bible clearly states homosexuality is wrong – to be honest it’s not that clear to me… and that’s besides the point, let’s say you believe homosexuality to be wrong, choosing to oppose Gay Marriage won’t mean there are less homosexuals, just more who are angry with you. You can’t “law” people into the kingdom, you just create barriers & resentment.

In whatever context someone is in it should have salt & light, and love & hope breathed into it.

 

Thoughts on thoughts

It’s culture shaping Church & the Church should be shaping culture – look at slavery, look at civil rights, at women’s rights, women’s suffrage, child labor… there have been Christian leaders at the forefront of those movements and we claim them with pride. But we do so without realising that they were the minority voice within the church, that the majority of Christians were indifferent, apathetic or straight oppositional to those changes, that the church as a whole has never been an early adopter. That the reason it is so shaped by culture is that the majority is indistinguishable from culture. That the only time we seem to engage with culture is when we feel our position of comfort slip away – left longing for 1950’s white-middle class-America.

 

Thoughts

Humanity – On couple of occasions my life has been touched by suicide & back in the day this would have led to being buried upside down, discarded or in an unmarked grave. I have a friend whose mother is buried in a grave separate from the churches because she had a child out of marriage. We have a dark shameful history of treating people as less than human, as lives not worth remembering, or celebrating.

We do the same with marriage.

You’re allowed to & you’re not. You’re love is to be celebrated & yours shunned.

Less than human.

 

Marriage & Marriage

Have you ever watched two people have a conversation about what they believe is the same thing, but each is talking about something different? Simultaneous comedy & tragedy.

Marriage is the same.

There is the cultural understanding of marriage  – two people committing to each other, to love for life.

There is a biblical understanding of marriage –  of God being involved, of symbolism/embodiment/reflection of trinitarian relationship, of Jesus/church, of  promise/hope/Resurrection, echoes of Eden, of covenant…

these two ideas of marriage aren’t the same, you don’t unwittingly stumble into covenant…

A marriage between two friends male/female who don’t believe in God bears no implication of marriage in the biblical sense…

the same for a marriage between two males who don’t believe in God.

It doesn’t help matters that most Christians couldn’t tell you the difference, and it’s interesting we don’t protest our straight-atheist friends getting married, we celebrate with them.

The Church gave marriage over to culture a long time ago, there is no renaming or trying to reclaim it, but of understanding. Understanding that to a faith community marriage has deeper implications than our cultural understanding. Realising that cultural marriage isn’t an attack on that of faith or vice versa. That both are beautiful, have significance to their communities & are to be celebrated.

 

Judgement – If when it’s all said & done,  and I stand before God & I’ve gotten this wrong, I know I will have erred on the side of Love, and that is something I can live with.

 

 

Ultimately I can’t think of anything more beautiful than two people committing to each other, to love, to journey through life with…

that is cause for celebration, be they straight, gay, religious, coloured, rich or poor…

whether it’s a ceremony of commitment to each other or of covenant with God…

Love is to be celebrated.

holding-hands

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In God We Trust?


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ingodwetrust

If there is one word that summarizes my journey of late it’s Trust, so the following post from Peter Enns “Why I don’t believe in God anymore” is very timely for me. Believe in God? – sure. Trust? – that’s a little harder at times… sometimes a lot harder.

 

I don’t believe in God anymore. I used to, though.

This is a choice I’ve made. “Belief” in God connotes–at least as I see it–a set of ideas about God that may, if time allows, eventually make their way to other parts of my being.

The older I get, making sure all my “beliefs” of God are lined up as they should be loses more  and more of its luster. I see the Bible focusing a lot more on something far more demanding: trust.

Try it. Which is harder to say? I believe in God or I trust God?

I see a huge difference between “I believe in a God who cares for me” and “I trust God at this particular moment.” The first is a bit safer, an article of faith. The latter is unnerving, risky–because I have let go.

You’ve all heard of the “trust fall.” There’s a reason they don’t call it a “belief fall.” Belief  can reside in our heads. Trust is doing it, risking it. Trust is humility, putting ourselves in the hand of another. Trust requires something of us that belief doesn’t.

When God promises Abraham that he will have more offspring than the stars in the sky, translations of the next verse conventionally say that Abraham “believed” God. (Genesis 15:6)

“Believe” isn’t the right word there. “Trust” is. The Hebrew word is the same one we get “amen” from. “Amen” is not a social cue that grace is finished and it’s time to eat. It is the final word in the prayer: we’re done talking now, Lord, and we now move to trust.

God promised an old man a lot of kids. Abraham trusted God to come through. That is way harder than believing. Believing has wiggle room. Trusting doesn’t.

The same thing holds for the gospel. “Believing” in God–or even having “faith” in him–doesn’t cut it. At least the way these words are used today.

Beliefs can be collated into a “belief system”–an intellectual construction of what sorts of things are right to think and not think about God. Followers of Jesus, however, are called to do something much harder.

Jesus tells a famous story about why those who follow him need not worry about anything. Don’t fret about how much you have, what you wear, or what you will eat. Don’t worry. Trust. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Jesus illustrates the point in what at first blush seems rather off topic–at best marginally helpful. He tells us to consider the grass of the field and the birds of the sky. Look at them, Jesus says. They’re doing just fine and they don’t worry for a second.

Of course they don’t worry, Jesus, because they are–if I’m not mistaken–grass and birds. Grass doesn’t have a brain and birds are skittish little things that fly into windows. These things aren’t really relevant, Jesus, because, you see, by definition, Jesus, these things are incapable of worry.

And when you put it that way, you can see the profound point–and challenge–of what Jesus is saying: worry should be as impossible for us as it is for grass and birds. His followers–if they get it–should be as incapable of worry as insentient grass and bird-brained birds.

“Believing in God” doesn’t get you to that place Jesus is describing here. Belief leaves room for worry. Trust explodes it.

What a way to live.

The older I get, the less interested I am in believing and the more I am in trusting. That takes a lot of practice. In my experience, God seems more than willing to provide plenty of opportunities.

 

Peter Enns “Why I don’t believe in God anymore”

 

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heart laid bare


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chalk_outline_by_arucardpl-d5rdazs

i fell for you hard, dove straight off the balcony, chalk outline on the ground of where my heart used to be…

i need to write, don’t  know where i’m going with this, normally i have an idea or i’ve put some thought into it, don’t know if i’ll even edit or publish it…

i’m just going to write.

 

they say it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all, my mind sees the truth in that… my heart would tell you to go  **** yourself – yeah, it’s a little raw right now.

falling for someone  leaves you feeling like you’ve woken from a daze, feeling alive for the first time instead of drifting through lifes haze. if love is living i haven’t been living lately, even though I’d claim love motivates me.
when i opened up my heart & gave someone unrestricted access it made me realise how cautious & guarded i am, keeping people at arm’s length or allowing them to only see certain parts of me…what i choose, what i think you can handle, maintaining the status quo because it works for me…

and when you’re with someone where you feel completely free to be who you are it makes you realise how trapped you are with others, unconsciously buried under the weight of expectation, culture, diplomacy, heritage, family, friends, the burden of leadership or influence…who you think i should be.

amongst the many things i’ve taken from lifes recent ups & downs, one is that despite the risk of pain i need to let more people in, that unless you’re free any sense of freedom is just illusion…

that love isn’t arms length but an embrace… that i cant really love without letting people in.

 

so seeing as my heart is semi-splattered on the pavement we might as well leave it there… welcome to my heart laid bare.

broken_heart_3_1680x1050

 

there’s two things i’m passionate about…

christians being christian,

and the least (the poor, marginalized, oppressed, brokenhearted).

following Jesus should be simple, Love God, Love people…

i aspire to love furiously, be recklessly generous, to challenge the bullshit (let’s call it what it is)…

disillusioned, disheartened, sometimes it gets the best of me, i fail time & time again,  sometimes i fuck up monumentally. that confident calm collected me you see, it’s smoke & mirrors, nothing to do with me. sure i know who i am, i know who i am in God… but i’m still flawed, still battle-scarred… still battling.

I struggle to find my place, i can’t buy into to the materialistic American dream or the kiwi one of chasing & trading experience. i view life as being bigger than me, that what i have is to bless others, so the God thing fits… except i don’t really  fit in a church, in which if i’m honest its dreams and aspirations don’t differ much from everyone else’s… except eternity…

and while we’re on that lets deal with it. Heaven & Hell, that’s a choice?!…

about as much freedom of choice as me pointing a gun at your head, “love me or i’ll pull the trigger”. is it really love if its coerced or it’s because of what i can do for you. when church songs are sung “we love you(God) for who you are”, the words make liars out of most of us because it’s about what we can get or avoid…

but that’s the repackaged gospel we’ve been sold, robbed of the depth of our faith the pulpit often used as a rallying cry against current events, but if we’re honest its less about smacking & gay marriage and more about maintaining the status quo… state & religion. the cry of protest you hear is more a death rattle, the last gasps as church & state are separated, winding back the clock to pre-Constantine… which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just taken 2000yrs to get there, this kingdom thing was never meant to be established through politics & power plays…

but how we live.

as much as we claim the rights to Love, if i hear another fear driven altar call – “if you walk out of here & get hit by a bus where will you go?” – i think i’ll throw myself under it.

maybe we should spend less time arguing biblical inerrancy & more on solving poverty, less time defending an entire literal reading & more on taking this literally, “love thy neighbor”.

Love God, Love people.

i’m not perfect, never claimed to be, I don’t live up to the ideals i aspire to, nor am i the solution… christianity doesn’t have all the answers cause i’ve still got questions, it wont solve your problems because i have a bunch of them.  christianity isn’t the rock stage-bright lights-popstar preacher, tugging at your heartstrings with one hand while the others in your pocket. and christianity isn’t that heterosexual male decrying the abomination of same-sex marriage to shore up his own fears & insecurities… because it’s no longer “pc” to rally against blacks & women.

God isn’t a genie in a bottle, there are no 3 wishes… even if we pray like its so. Jesus isn’t Tony Robbins – come to self-help-christ & live a life of wealth & success,  and christianity ain’t a crutch for me… well at least 97% of the time.

This faith thing isn’t blind or dumb, if anything in its simplicity it complicates things… or at least i complicate things as it challenges me.

following Jesus isn’t easy, it’s not just a sunday thing no matter how much i want it to be, constantly wanting to fit it into my compartmentalised life yet it demands all of me.

And this “Love” thing isn’t what we’ve sold it out to be, dumbed & numbed  down to “nice”. nice-jesus asks of us to be nice, friendly hellos & plastic smiles, teaching moral obligations instead of following, enslaving instead of setting free. Jesus’ love was revolutionary, look deeper into the culture & settings of all too familiar stories & see how scandalous his interactions with others were. look at our culture, settings & how we do “love” – we’re scandalous for the wrong reasons.

 

 

i guess it’s just as well nothings beyond redemption, the church, the world…

me…

we could all do with a little more it.

so here’s to pain & growth, living & learning,  the mountain highs & valley lows, the journey, to living free, letting people in, to following & stumbling on the way, to challenging the status quo, to dreaming, to hope…

and to trying to be a little bit less of a hypocrite each day.

Love God. Love people.

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faith restored


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love hip hopSept’12 I started a post entitled “dear Hip Hop” it was an open letter to the hip hop industry… mainly lamenting at what it has become.

You see for me, nothing displays more lyrical genius, creativity, grit, realness and truth, than hip hop at its best. I’m talking Tupacs “Changes”, DMX “the Convo” and more recently “Dead and Gone” from T.I.

The flip side being there is nothing worse than bad hip hop… and there is a lot of bad hip hop. All I seem to see is bling, rims, bouncing rides & booty popping, to the point where what was a sign of  “success” has to be financed before you’ve made a name for yourself and is now a sign of legitimacy. As if shiny soft porn videos can polish up that junk you refer to as lyrics & make it legit.

Not every song needs to be deep and meaningful, I have nothing against an entertaining fun track, and I get that it’s an industry, a machine pumping out a formulaic cash generating product to the masses…

But hip hop was never about formula, cash, or the masses. It was raw & real, and people listened because they identified with what you were saying, not because they “got-off” on your videos.

And don’t get me started on “christian” hip hop, with a few exceptions (Lecrae, Rapture Ruckus) it’s just mimicking what’s mainstream,  you claim to follow the God of creation, can we please get a little creativity then, not just replacing gang-drug-b!tch-ride references for ones deemed holier…

“preachin’ the word, like a drug dealers, slangin; holy rock on the curb,
eyes blurred off the holy ghost…”

 

 

I was about to lose all faith in hip hop when I heard this the other day. Faith restored.

 

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light


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If church is something we are, what might that look like? Let’s take a brief tour from the beginning…

IMG_3459creating…

IMG_3473

earth, light, trees, man…

IMG_3474

lions…

IMG_3480woman…

IMG_3488Woman!

IMG_3495humankind in the image of God…

IMG_3501shiny temptation!

 

fast-forward in the story.

IMG_3502

God chose a couple…

IMG_3506and said he would make them into a great nation, whose decendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky…

IMG_3509they would be blessed, and be a blessing to all the world…

IMG_3512they would look after the poor,

IMG_3513the refuges,

IMG_3516and the widows…

IMG_3521they would worship God and be a light to the other nations.

 

more fast-forwarding…

IMG_3524Boom! a savior expected, arrives in an unexpected way…

he gathers a raggity group of followers.

IMG_3528 Not only does Jesus die for our salvation but shows us what salvation looks like, lived.

IMG_3532Jesus taught about Following & Love & Lordship & Salvation &  Kingdom & Gospel & Light…

IMG_3533leaving his followers with the Holy Spirit, he says GO… into all the world.

IMG_3542And if we step back & take it all in we see Image, Blessed to Bless, caring for the Poor, the Refugee, the Widow, Loving the Least, true Worship, Gospel, Salvation,

we see Love,

we see Light.

 

This is the people of God.

This is following Jesus.

This is Church.

 

This is explosive…

 

IMG_3545IMG_3547

 

 

 

 

 

but we like to compress…

 

IMG_3549

IMG_3555

we like to put things in boxes…

IMG_3556

and if Christ says don’t hide your light under a bowl…

IMG_3561how well does it shine under a box?

IMG_3563

or…

IMG_3568a box-shaped building.

 

If your light only shines in a service, who even sees it?

 

Where does your Light shine?

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dark night of the soul


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When your faith has no room for doubt, then you are just left with—religion

 

The following is a excerpt from a post entitled “Why it’s good to doubt God”, it can be found in full here.

 

Sometimes things happen in our lives—it may be one big catastrophe or a line of smaller things that pile up—and you start having a lot of doubts. At first, when you have those disruptive thoughts, you try to push them to the side, hoping they’ll just go away, before God notices.

They don’t and he doesn’t.

So you feel your faith in God slipping away—and it is unsettling, disorienting, and frightening to watch that happen. You doubt that God cares, that he is listening; you doubt that he is even aware of who you are—that he even exists.

In such a state of doubt about God, you feel like there is clearly something very wrong with you.

“Maybe I’m not smart enough. Maybe I’m a faker. Maybe I haven’t memorized enough Bible verses. Maybe I need to go to church more often.”

Whatever it is, you’re doing something wrong. It’s all your fault.

And so we do the only thing we have been taught to do. We do everything in our power to get out of that state of doubt as quickly as we can. For some, if doubt persists, they live lives of quiet desperation, ashamed or afraid to speak up. Others simply walk away from their faith.

Surely, doubt is the enemy of faith, right?

To have faith means you don’t doubt, right?

Doubt is a spiritually destructive force that tears you away from God, right?

Wrong.

 

There is a benefit of doubt.

Doubt can do things spiritually that nothing else can do.

Sometimes we think of our faith as a castle—safe, comfortable, familiar. But what if God doesn’t want us to be comfortable and safe? What if comfortable and safe keep God at a distance?

Doubt tears down the castle walls to force us on a journey.

Doubting God is painful and frightening because we think we are leaving God behind, but we are only leaving behind the idea of God we like to surround ourselves with—the small God, the God we control, the God who agrees with us.

Doubt forces us to look at who we think God is.

If we’re honest, we all think we’ve God figured out pretty well. We read the Bible and maybe memorize some of it. We go to church a lot. Maybe even lead Bible studies or something.

We’re doing great, and God must certainly be impressed.

It is so very easy to slip into this idea that we have arrived—that we really think we’ve got all the answers and that we almost possess God.

We know what church he goes to, what Bible translation he reads, we know how he votes, we know what movies he watches and books he reads. We know the kinds of people he approves of.

God happens to like all the things we like. We feel like we can speak for God very easily.

All Christians who take their faith seriously sooner or later get caught up in that problem. We begin to think that God really is what we happen to think he is.

God is the face in the mirror…

 

You can read more from Peter Enns here.

 

There is a God we want and there is a God who is. They are not the same God… the turning point of our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want and start seeking the God who is.

– Patrick Morley

 

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2 years on: inside the numbers


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I’ve been informed my blog theme isn’t “click” friendly, meaning you can read posts without having to click your mouse lots.

Which is good for you, apparently not so for me.

You see, I’m informed that lots of “clicks” are a good thing, that there is a man (or woman) who counts all the clicks, categorizes & compiles them, to what end I’m unsure. I think I need a certain amount to level up or achieve global blogging dominance.

Here’s a look inside the numbers of the last year of blogging & life.

 

1) One is for Nike & Mike, say it ain’t over. The most read post over the last year. One is for December my best month, you barely beat out October.

One is for the first year I haven’t been involved in youth leadership for a while. It’s been incredibly freeing & life-giving

2) Two is for 2 years, happy 2nd birthday blog. Two is the amount of Stephen King books I’ve attempted to read.

3) Three is for funerals unexpected. I’ve been to more this year than the rest of my life. Death has a way of throwing things into perspective.

 

52) Fifty-two is for the only number from the counted clicks which caught my attention. People from some 52 different countries have visited this blog in the past year, some places I’ve never heard of.

That is humbling.

Perhaps the person who counts the clicks lives in one of those countries, my guess is its Moldova.

25) twenty-five is for “gladiator pills”. The amount of times that search term has led someone to this blog. It’s a sex enhancement pill. I guess if you’re counting clicks on a non-click friendly blog you have to find something to pass the time.

 

0) Zero is for 0%, the amount “clicks” motivate me. Zero is for the number of Stephen King books I’ve finished reading. In his book On Writing, Stephen says he writes for an ideal reader, that his ideal reader is his wife. My ideal reader isn’t my wife. Zero – my number of wives.

I guess my ideal reader, is me. Well maybe different versions of me, I write to the old me,  5 years ago me, 10 years ago me, know-it-all-me, fundamentalist-me, pastors kid me, dropped out of church me, searching me, knowing the rules but not Gods heart me…

or the me I see in others, the church raised christian schooled middle-class westerner with Sunday school smarts & clichéd answers, who knows about God without knowing, who can quote Jesus without ever following.

 

x) Unknown number is for the amount of people you influence each day, each week, each year, the amount of people you shine a little light on & share a little love with.

Where does your light shine?

 

Thanks for another year, thanks for reading, for the follows, comments & emails.

Love God, love people, follow Jesus.

 

 

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Judah 1993 – 2012


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death’s a bitch. sometimes life is shit.

 

today i’m not strong enough to support others in their grief… i need to be alone with mine.

I can’t bring myself to sing “all is well with my soul” because it’s not…

and I think that’s ok.

How Great is our God”...  yeah I can do that one, even though it hurts & it feels like it’s just in my head.

my heart wants none of it.

 

bright spark. breath of fresh air. accepting. cheerful. you were your own person. you “lived exuberantly” and you “loved exuberantly”.

I saw so much of Jesus in everything you did.