re-emerging

21 June, 2006

I went down to my favourite coffee shop today, I try to get there as often as I can, to drink coffee and read and people watch and talk to God. I love sitting there and asking Father how I can participate in what He’s doing in the lives of the people around me. Most of the time He’s completely silent of course, but I refuse to to believe he’s snobbing me off, I expect He’s been busy keeping the world turning and sustaining all life. But I digress, (something new and different for me).

Today was great, I was sitting there reading A Church Without Walls (thanks Ken, loving it thus far!) and was talking to Father about Dandenong and he reminded me of a couple of ‘pictures’ He’d given me back in ’92 when I was new to the world of Christendom and was exploring relationship with God, and what it means to serve Him etc. I was finding meaning after a reasonbably void-of-purpose type existance, and was talking to him about Cornerstone and Dandenong and He ‘showed’ me, in his inimitable way, the following:

1. Me leading a bible study in a cramped second story unit in Dandenong, filled with totally ‘unchurched’ people.

2. A group of Christians who had committed themselves, their time, resources to serving Father by serving the people of Dandenong.

Back then I think I pretty much assumed these must’ve been for others, because there was no way that I could be a part of something like that, no way that He could use me to show others how much He loved them – afterall, I hadn’t at that point grasped His love for me (that didn’t happen ’till at least a good 4-5 years later, I’m really not that quick on the uptake).

Anyhoo, so today I’m sitting reading and He reminds me of these two images and what’s more, I felt His presence in such a way that I knew that if I looked up He’d be sitting next to me, He was that tangible! It was great! We ‘had a moment‘ together – and my heart once again remembered what it’s like to be touched by pure love and to be encouraged (in the literal: inspired with hope, courage, and confidence).

So, longer story short, Dandenong is very much back in the forefront of my thinking, and with all the other things Father’s being talking to me about lately,(all shall be revealed shortly) I’m, reasonably excited about the future!

On another note, being Wednesday, I had lunch with my two “Wednesday Friends” (although I have to admit I love them on other days of the week too). We’ve been meeting Wednesdays for a couple months now, and I love it! I love sitting down and talking about where we’re at and laughing and making plans and coming up with brilliant business ideas that generally fade to laughter, and basically care for each other. Another total blessing in my life. Love you guys!

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dandy

18 June, 2006

Went to Cornerstone tonight, got there early after visiting with Mum & Dad. We don’t ‘officially’ open till 7pm, but when I got there at 5:50 there were people waiting outside in the cold. So in we went and turned on the heaters and the urns and M and I had a game of pool. He won (of course) and I could tell he just loved giving me pointers, it was great. He’s a very sweet man with a serious speach impediment that makes it very difficult to understand him, but he has the best laugh ever!

Played another game of doubles with M as my partner, against P and Terry (a guy on our team). P was hysterical – excellent at pool, was telling us he learnt on the streets of Dandy (which in itself was funny cause he was so serious), but then added, witha cute little smile – “I guess I got a few tips in prison too” – then giggled. It was great! Too funny! (Ok, he tells it better).

‘K’ was in again, not in the least bit hostile tonight which was good, in fact she was quite the opposite, very helpful. She still hasn’t got her kids back though *sigh*. ‘A’ didn’t have his trolly with him tonight, said he left it at his ‘place’ – meaning the lane behind the Uniting Church *sigh*. I worry about him. He’s such a sweet man, and has an amazing faith.
‘T’ told me tonight that her 12 year old daughter ‘V’ will be going into care, she’s been sleeping around and drinking and hasn’t been in school for 2 months. I wish I had a house. I worry about the other 4 kids too.

I love this place, I love that all these people can come here and be accepted and loved. It’s such a mix of people! Played Uno again and pretended to be all indignant when ‘P’ kept giving me her Draw 4’s and 2’s – it was great. She loved it.

Last year I was in a conversation with someone who described the people at Cornerstone as ‘hopeless’, and I was dumbfounded – speachless in fact. It was clear that this comment was really based on ignorance, and perhaps a bit of ‘upper-class’ prejudice. Poor guy!

I’m assuming his context doesn’t allow him to see that just like him, they’re just people – ordinary fallen, broken, loved, content, struggling people who Father loves and asks us to also. And it’s really not that difficult when you ‘get’ how much you’re loved by Him also and that in his economy, no-one is without hope!!

Have I mentioned I love Dandenong? I went for a walk around there last Wednesday, walked the shops in the main street, and through the arcades – avoided The Plaza (large mall) though. There’s something very sad about Dandenong. It’s ‘dark’ and dank, and messy and unhealthy and there’s a hostility that hangs in the air – and, well, I love that place! I love watching Father at work in the lives of people there and really want to be a part of it!


more…

17 June, 2006
One of my all time favourite love songs to Father is “More” by Brian Doerksen… it almost adquately expresses my need/love for Him..

MORE

More than oxygen, I need Your love
More than life-giving food the hungry dream of
More than an eloquent word depends on the tongue
More than a passionate song needs to be sung

More than a word could ever say
More than a song could ever convey
I need You more than all of these things
Father, I need You more

More than magnet and steel are drawn to unite
More than poets love words to rhyme as they write
More than the comforting warmth of sun in the spring
More than the eagle loves wind under its wings

More than a word could ever say
More than a song could ever convey
I love You more than all of these things
Father, I love You more

More than a blazing fire on a winter’s night
More than the tall evergreens reach for the light
More than the pounding waves long for the shore
More than these gifts You give, I love You more

Copyright © 1994 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.


the love economy

13 June, 2006

I was listening to Don Miller do a book reading today, reading from chapter 19 of Blue Like Jazz, and thinking about ‘love’ and how easy it is to care about others, and not so easy to care about myself. Not that I don’t care about myself as such, because I do, now, but I never used to. But that’s not what I was thinking about, but it is what he was reading about.

I was thinking about the whole concept of the way we treat others, and our egos and the fact that mostly, well in my experience, we do the things we do because we think it’s ok to do them. I mean, who would do stuff, and say things to others if they didn’t think it was ok? Good and bad, but mostly the fact that we don’t consider the mean spirited things we say to be ‘bad,’ because if we did, we wouldn’t say them, or as Christians, these are the things we’d quickly apologise for and repent of.

But our egos are strange creatures, so fragile and really, we all just want to know that we’re okay, and sometimes it means that that comes at the expense of others.

We justify our actions, knowingly, or not, and I suspect for the most part it’s ‘not,’ because we do the things that will get us what we want. Often that’s just whatever it takes to make us feel better, whether that means making us feel right, or important, or better than the other person, or even making sure the other person knows ‘their place’ and they aren’t getting ‘ahead of themselves’. Over here (in Australia) we call it ‘tall poppy syndrome’, we cut them down to size. When really what I suspect we’re doing is making sure they (and/or others) know, that they aren’t any better than us.

Of course when I became a Christian, I was surprised at the amount of times when, instead of cutting me down, people would try to encourage me, then, when I finally started to get a hold on things, then, they’d cut me down, and each time I was completely surprised.

I’m not saying that as a complaint, more as an observation and really, it’s kind of funny, in that sad sort of way. Because what it says is that they really don’t get how precious they are, because, instead of flying, and making the most of everything God has given them (to give away), they’re tugging on the guideropes of the people around them and making sure they don’t fly too high above them. Silly really, when we’re all on the same team. Even sillier when I’ve been guilty of the same thing.

This brought me to another random thought, once again inspired by Mr Miller, and one I think I touched on in my previous random wafflings. The whole concept of the way we use love as a commodity, especially within our Father’s Church, although I’m certain this isn’t something purely endemic in the Church, but it’s there nevertheless.

It works something like this:

Someone agrees with us, or speaks well of us, or appears to like our company and we reciprocate, after all, who doesn’t like someone who agrees with us, or encourages us? These people are so easy to love, to encourage, to bless.

Then there’s another (or perhaps even this very same person) who disagrees with us, or calls us on our actions, or even questions our authority, or perhaps it’s just someone who is different from us, who doesn’t dress like us, or hold the same values as us, or is blatantly offensive in their language or dress or lifestyle, and we withhold love. We freeze them out, or ignore them, or talk about them behind their backs – starting rumours (for prayer of course).

We do this for many reasons, we may not want to encourage the person to be near us, or we may wish to teach them a lesson, or we may even attempt to ‘starve them out’ – if we shut them out long enough, they’ll come around to seeing things our way.

And of course, our heavenly Father knows all about our defective egos and so sent His son to point us in the right direction. His answer to this is recounted in Matthew 5:44-48 when Jesus gave his ‘sermon on the mount’ (or as Dallas Willard puts it ‘discourse on the hill’):

“But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! You must be perfect – just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”



And so comes perfection, not self-proclaimed, or dragged out of others but true perfection, perfection that comes from living in His love. The kind of perfection that means we don’t need to hear from others how wonderful we are or listen when they tell us we’re not worth knowing, and we don’t need to reciprocate in like, because we know that the glory and love that our Father pours into us is all we really need to live the kind of life He has for us, the kind that allows us to love freely and unconditionally, the kinda that allows us to pour His love and grace out upon those around us.

The kind of life that frees us up to commit to others in love, regardless of all the junk that life throws at us. Even regardless of the words (both good and bad), because really, what matters most, is how we love each other through ‘this sea of hope and faith and lies’.


living ‘in love’

5 June, 2006
Went to mow the parent’s lawn today. It was weird having Dad out there hobbling along with the wheelie bin for the cuttings. It reminded me of when I was a teenager and used to do Nan & Pop’s lawns. Dad has become his father *sigh*. I’m still not overly keen on this whole idea of parents aging.

Speaking of which, I remember driving to College one day back in 1996 and seeing an elderly gentleman making his way along with his walker. Me being the smart one says to God – “See!! There’s something you never experienced! Old age!!” to which he promptly replied “Terri, I’m the one they call Ancient of Days.” Touché. I laughed.

I was listening to Dallas Willard this morning speaking on “Finding the Kingdom of God Now“. He’s a wise man that one. I love listening to him speak, it’s like listening to a friend of God. Nice. He said that “our aim is not to do the things that Jesus said to do, but to become the type of people who do those things naturually.” I like that. It is the point I expect.

I listened to “The Great Divorce” (CS Lewis) the other day which is basically about the same stuff, about becoming the type of people that can bear to be in Heaven. Lewis also talks about being in Love, which lead me to think about what it means to be in Jesus… in Lovein Jesus. Existing within Love. Nice.

While mowing the lawn I was listening to one of The God Journey Podcasts entitled “Accept no Substitutes” in which Wayne says “the problem is not that the system, or whatever the thing that we’re depending on exists, the problem is that people don’t know Jesus real enough, so that the system or whatever isn’t needed” meaning that often we’re looking for ‘some-thing’ (church, leader, pastor, community) rather than Someone. Brad goes on to say that he believes that if we let Him, “God will take us through a period of perhaps ‘loneliness’ so that we stop looking to find in others, what we’re ultimately supposed to find in Him.” Then, we can share that with others. Otherwise this stuff becomes idolatrous, we look to others to be to us, what only God can be. We need to realign our orientation.

I love it. It let’s others (and ourselves) ‘off the hook’. Our expectations of others and their’s of us become superfluous. We stop looking to others to ‘be God‘ to us, and allow them to live their lives seeking Jesus while we live ours doing the same, together. It frees us up to love others for who they are rather than what they can do for us. It also prevents us from using ‘love’ itself as a commodity (as Don Miller says in Searching for God Knows What), we will no longer withhold love from others because they’ve let us down or not fulfilled our expectations. We’ll be free to love them unconditionally. Nice.

It also means that there are no longer any excuses for our own shortcomings. We can’t blame others for not teaching us/spending time with us/praying for us etc etc. It puts the emphasis and responsibility of our own discipleship right back where it should be – on us.

Our relationship with Father isn’t something that we should be depending on others to cultivate for us. It also means that we have to start reading the scriptures for ourselves, spending time to hear God’s voice for ourselves, finding time to worship him in song for ourselves – basically be deliberate about our faith and not rely soley on an institution (i.e. Sunday services) to further our relationship with God.

Wayne & Brad finish by saying… “There is no substitute for enjoying a life with God.” To which I add – Amen!