God with us

16 June, 2010

I’m reading through Ezekiel and am up to chapter 34. You know, the one where God tells off the shepherds off Israel for looking out for themselves and then tells off the flock for doing the same.

Anyhoo, His remedy to this is the promise that one day, He himself will shepherd his people. He will search them out, He will establish them and He will personally provide for them. How? Via his servant David. Jesus himself takes up this theme when he calls himself The Good Shepherd (Jn 10).

Now, I’ve read this passage many times. But today, here’s what took hold of my heart and made me smile…

Ez 34:24
“And I the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.”

A prince among them. With us. As one of us. Now that, right there, the Lovely Word, is beauty.


burned out by religion?

27 February, 2010

Jesus…
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

– Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Isn’t that just beautiful? The answer to our weariness is to turn away from all the religious requirements placed on us, and to walk with Jesus. To let him show us how to really rest. To let him show us how to do life. Let him teach us “the unforced rhythms of grace”… what an incredible turn of phrase!

I can hear the love in his voice. He’d only just been lamenting the response of towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum for their response to the things Jesus had done in their presence. But, he knew where they were coming from! He understood their predicament. They were steeped in religion. Steeped in the law. They were so intent on doing their utmost to please God by adhering to all the requirement of their religion, that they completely missed God, himself, in their midst. And Jesus’ answer? He stops to pray for them, and then invites them into a life of rest. With him. In short, he loves them. Oh the great pleasure he must’ve felt in taking the burdon of religion off of them!!

Of course, they didn’t all ‘get it’. Some did, but most didn’t. Understandable of course, I mean, they didn’t get that Jesus was God, their Creator, living life with them inviting them into a better way of doing life. He’d come to save them from their burdensome life of trying to please him… and yet, for some reason, we remain attracted to religios observance and performance.

I suspect it’s primarily about our sence of right and wrong. For, while we know that we’re “saved by grace”, we still, deep down insist upon our own unworthiness and attempt to correct this injustice by doing our utmost to behave in all ways worthy.

Unfortunately, moden Christianity provides us with a plethora of ways in which we can [and must] do this. Attendance, service, tithing, worship, mission, Bible reading, studying, conferences, witnessing, meetings to organise meetings, social programs, and even prayer are all carefully scheduled into our days, weeks, months and years. All the time with us insisting, to a world that knows better, that “it’s not religion but relationship“, and… we believe it.

And Jesus says…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”


the inciting incident

13 February, 2010

It’s been a long time since I blogged, mainly because it’s been a long time since I last felt that I’ve been able to put my heart into words.

Today however I feel that I can. Earlier this morning I was listening to a recent God Journey Podcast in which Wayne & Brad were talking with their friend Chris DuPré entitled First Love.

Chris was telling his story, and was saying how he found himself in the midst of a group of people that were “…talking about Jesus again.“. He didn’t mean in the sense that we discuss theories about Jesus, and the things he said and did when he was here on earth, but in the sense of knowing him.

Oh my, how this caught my heart!

When did we stop talking about Jesus? When did we replace this with programs and systems and meetings and theories and principles and theologies and organisations and denominations and institutions and movements and spotlights and… self?

It tires me.
It wears me out.
It makes me sad.

Where I really want to be, is in the midst of a those who are once again talking about the real Jesus. The real Truth. The real Light. The real Way.

Jesus, the lovely One.

For a long time now I’ve had in my heart a desire to blog along the lines of “In Search of Dad’s Church“, but I kept putting it off, kept pushing it aside. Knowing that some will be [willfully] offended, and knowing my total lack of desire to enter into that conversation with them. I’m so tired of it. So very tired.

However, today, and for as long as it needs to be, this will be the theme of my blog. I am now, and have been for a long time, in search of Dad’s Church.

In search of people who are once again, talking about Jesus.


lovely

27 September, 2009

From forever the Word existed
And the Word was The God
And God was the Word
He was from forever in relationship/communion with The God

The Word
God
Life
Light
Flesh/Man
Giver of Grace
Gives of Truth
Revealer of God

Lovely One.


the way to the father

8 September, 2009

A word of warning. My blogs tend toward repetitiveness. That’s mostly due to the fact that I’m obsessed with getting to know Jesus and the Way he did life. As such, I spend a lot of time in the Gospels, and this is often reflected in the things I think on and write about. Hopefully though, it’s not so much boring repetition as it is me “getting” something new.

Having said that, I’m making my way through the book of John again. It’s definitely my favourite Gospel. I love the extra material in John that’s not in the other gospels, I love the way he talks about his friendship with Jesus, and Jesus’ relationship with the Father. In short, it’s lovely.

Here’s what’s caught my eye this time around. It starts with the incarnation. “The Word” (which, by the way is always used in relation with Jesus, not the Scriptures – but that’s a whole other bugbear of mine) became flesh and dwelt among us.

So, the Word who was always with God, from forever, and who is and always has been God, the Creator of all things, the one who stretched out the heavens and put the stars in their place. This spiritual being who was without limit in anything He could do…. became flesh. Became human. He voluntarily limited himself by stepping out of eternity (as it were) and into our time, in the form of a little helpless baby. He (God!) chose to grow up on this earth and walk about and get dirty and deal with the broken humanity around him. In this man, Jesus, dwelt the the fullness of God. The God.

I love the way Thomas Merton put it in No Man Is An Island,

“Jesus is the theology of that Father revealed to us.”

How perfect is that!? It’s so true. If we want to get to know the Father, all we have to do is look at the Son. Jesus of course said as much, when he was talking to his disciples recorded for us in John 14,

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

The first part of this quote is one of the more controversial statements that Jesus made, and is often quoted by his followers as proof perfect as to why what they believe is superior to that of someone with another faith system. It can come across as divisive and arrogant (yuk!).

The thing that’s struck me about this over the last couple days is that it’s not in anyway said in an arrogant manner. I think Jesus was just placing an invitation before those listening, because they didn’t get that he was in fact God. They didn’t understand that He was the Father. That God himself was sitting with them talking, just like he used to do in the Garden with Adam & Eve. God was present. The disciples of the day just couldn’t make that kind of leap of realisation.

Jesus is the only way to the Father because all that he is, and all that he does and all that he says is the heart of God. The Father had been trying to call us back to himself for the previous 6000 (?) years… but we kept running and hiding. Our shame wouldn’t allow us to dare to come before God. So he came to us. Jesus shows us the Father.

That, right there is what fires my heart. God is indeed knowable. God does indeed love us. He isn’t scary and fearful. He’s everything that he always said he was, and Jesus reveals this glory to us in a way that we never got before…

Exodus 34:6 says,

“And Yahweh passed before him and proclaimed, Almighty Yahweh is:

Merciful (compassion that moves to action)
Gracious (favour toward us)
Longsuffering (not touchy or overly sensitive, slow to anger)
Abounding (lavishing) in goodness (mercy)
Abounding (lavishing) in truth (trust worthy, faithful)
Having/Maintaining/extending mercy to thousands
Forgiving iniquity/wickedness
Forgiving transgressions/rebellion
Forgiving sin

That is why Jesus is the Way. The Way to the Father.


blog much?

5 September, 2009

Spring is springing quite well indeed here in Melbourne, Australia and I feel like I’m starting to find my way out of some wintery doldrums. I’ve missed the warmth of the sun and being able to get out and walk and ride my bike away from the cold winds.

I’ve been using my inside-time to some advantage though. Reading [& coffeeing] a lot. I made my way through Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” (NT), in both written form and listening to it the car as I drive about. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m quite looking forward to going back to my NKJV though, it’s like family.

At the moment I’m re-reading though Jim Petersen’s Church Without Walls: Moving Beyond Traditional Boundaries and enjoying his insights while thinking through what it is to be Dad’s Church.


highlights of 2008

29 December, 2008

Here’s my answer to my friend Sarah‘s invitation to do a top 5 list for 2008…

ben & zo’s wedding – it was absolutely a complete joy to see two of my friends marry, and the bonus was that the whole thing was a lot of fun!  Once again (and continually, many blessings upon you both)!


the great trip of ’08 – May this year saw me and 2 friends take off for a trip to Europe and the States.  I’m going to cheat a bit on this one do a top 6 moments of the trip.

  • Revisiting Dublin, Ireland & catching up with friends in Northern Ireland. 


  • Paris – absolutely lovely!


 

  • England, reconnecting with family and friends and getting to revisit some much loved locations.

 

  • New York – a big surprise for me, I wasn’t particularly all that excited about the prospect of visiting NY, but I completely and utterly fell in love with the City and will definitely return, one day.

 


 

  • Seattle – This was special!  I had the privilege of meeting up with some very special friends and it was wonderful.  

Thanks again to Barb & Doug and family  for making room for us, and thanks to Sarah, Caz & Dwayne and family, and Gina for making the trip to Seattle.

 

 

  • Los Angeles – and in particular meeting up with my friend Holly and her family.  Thanks again Holls, for having us stay!  

… and of course Disneyland, a place built for kids that definitely brought the little kid out in me!


turning 40 – which wasn’t any where near as bad as I expected it to be, I’m actually really loving being 40!  Thanks to a bunch of family and friends who helped me celebrate the occasion with a bit of a party.

 


bike riding – I’ve had an absolute blast this year getting out and bike riding in and around Melbourne, and really enjoyed a weekend away with my friends Zo & Rach.  I even bought myself a new bike for my 40th, and it’s been so much fun!



getting to know Jesus – this has been an ongoing relational discovery over many years of course, but I think this year has been particularly exciting as I’ve been more deliberate about getting to know the Way Jesus did life with the people around him, and learning that who I am means more to him than what I do and relaxing in that.  It’s been lovely.

Of course there’s no photo that could accurately depict what this is about, although each of the above ‘highlights’ for me have definitely been blessings from my heavenly Father, and so fit this quite nicely!