Religion & Spirituality

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death & oranges


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There wasn’t anything I wanted for Christmas (as you may have previously read), but as the day drew near there was something I really wanted to do…

green-funeral1

A couple of days ago we buried my Grandmother. I heard stories of how she left a pretty well-to-do life in England & came with my Grandfather to New Zealand after the War.

They roughed it a while,  getting electricity one Christmas. Another highlight was finally getting a washing machine & not having to do it by hand. Eventually moving into a house my Granddad built, and continued to build while they lived in it.

 

It’s a world so far removed from today, where kids move out of home & HP/finance their way into having everything in an instant that their parents took a life time to accumulate.

 

I have a lot of happy memories of that home…

it was always more than a house.

 

Orange

Recently I was reading about a farmer who lived in the American Midwest during the 1930’s. He would get an orange for Christmas.

That was all.

He moved to California and on smelling all the oranges from the orange groves, thought he was in paradise.

 

So when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I eventually replied with, “an orange”.

I wasn’t sure if my request would be taken seriously, after all its summer & we live in a different time and oranges are in abundance. I have heard of some people still getting an orange, normally followed by much grumbling as that leaves less space in the stocking for sweets.

I’ve never had a Christmas orange. This morning I received five.

 

On a morning normally  dominated by the frantic tearing of Christmas paper, before quickly discarding & hurriedly moving onto the next, as if Santa would take the still-wrapped ones back at any moment…

cutting-oranges

I instead opened & slowly ate an orange.

Savoring every moment, being thankful for what I have,

for friends & family…

thinking of Christmas day without Grandma…

thinking of a farmer who moved to California & thought he was in paradise…

this christmas morning was paradise.

 

adventures, Uncategorized

’tis the season to be getting


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Money-Box-Package-e1350515549776

“what do you want for Christmas?”

nothing.

 

nothing? Yep, there is nothing I want… how strange.

 

But alas it takes no more than a quick visit to the mall or peruse through the Christmas mailers to fill my head with wants, ’tis the season to be giving getting after all.

Their is not much giving anymore.

If we’re not getting for ourselves we’re getting for others so that we may in return get. Or sometimes it’s a simpler transaction, just an exchange of cash, “go buy what you want”.

 

We give poorly, my mum is in Cambodia on a short missions trip with her school, so much of what was donated was junk, easier to donate than take it to the dump.

Even in our charity we keep the best for ourselves

So it’s on this rainy summers day I find myself with the time to do something I’ve wanted to do for a while, to help resist that consumerist-christmas urge, to downsize, to give.

 

 

WP_000742I pulled out all the clothes I hadn’t worn in the last couple of weeks and proceeded to sort & bag most.

Aware that we often give our leftovers, unwanted & junk, I chose to show no bias to those sentimental favorites…

I said sad goodbyes to C-web & MJ college jerseys, football favorites and items put aside deemed too special to wear.

 

 

Sometime after 25 T’s, 15 tops/jeans, jerseys, shorts, shoes and hats… I lost count. My goal was to give away 75%, I think I came close to that.

WP_000743

17  bags later & it was off to various clothing bins & stores.

I didn’t do this to earn brownie-points with God or because I believe in some sort of cosmic karma, to earn kudos from friends or show you what a good person I am…

it’s the opposite, I’m not.

It’s because I so easily give in to the impulsive buy, the want it-need it-latest greatest and must have. This is my way of trying to resist that.

It’s because I believe in a God that has given so we may give… not so I can continue to get.

This is my confession, while others have suffered without, I have lived in abundance.

What I want for Christmas…

                                                        is to give.

 

 

 

blogosphere, Uncategorized

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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News, Uncategorized

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.

 

 

poetic, Uncategorized

Communion


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Some would say I have participated in a lot of communions but a lot of communions I’ve never really participated in.

Sometimes I’d connect with God, sometimes I’d be bored.

Sometimes my mind would wander – what’s for lunch? and who I’ll hang with after.

Sometimes I’d sit in silence, while on the inside I’d want to jump for joy for what Jesus has done for me.

 

Sometimes I’d just feel bad…

Bad for not feeling bad enough, for not feeling thankful enough, for not feeling anything at all…

sometimes I’d just feel numb.

 

It’s easy for communion to become stale & cold, a box to check, something to get through,  we do it less & less & when we do it, it is often preempted by a short emotive message trying to break through our hardened hearts to get us to take notice…

and years of sitting there head bowed in guilt-ridden reflection to do anything else would seem disrespectful, when maybe the most respectful thing we could do is to stand & raise our glass & say “Cheers!”, thank you Jesus for this life you have given so I may truly be living!

 

So maybe you’ll “ching” glasses with your neighbour,

maybe it’ll be a time of quite reflection,

maybe all you’ll manage is a, “God are you real?…   I need help”.

However you choose to engage with what Jesus has done,

let it be real for you,

let it be honouring of God,

I pray you have the freedom to engage with a God who came to set you free.

 

 

 

This is something I did for a communion I took recently.