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I haven’t blogged for ages first I was busy then, I was sick and lately I’ve just been slack but after my experience a few minutes ago I felt a kick to pick up the pen…uhh the keyboard and smash out a few thoughts.
With Christmas on the way I’ve once again started to feel my mind at war.  Do I give into the cultural pressure to purchase everyone a present or am I too lazy to bother and do I just communicate to people it’s because I’m anti-consumerism when honestly this is only a portion of the real reason?
The last few years I’ve found myself going the middle road.  I’m too lazy/stingy to go shopping, I do want to buy people I love a present although I’m not prepared to buy them crap.  So for partly honorable motives and partly embarrassing ones over the last few years I’ve bought chickens, veggie patches and the like in a developing country and simply handed a card to the relative loves ones saying I’ve purchased them this item in their honour instead of giving them a gift.
It’s kept everyone happy, taken me one step closer away from 100% acting out of laziness and made me feel like I’m doing some good in the world.

Don’t worry I’m not a self righteous goody two-shoes there is some irony in this whole thing keep reading…

So about a week ago I recieved an email from a particular organisation that works with displaced people in Burma.  The email was announcing their yearly calendar was out.  The calendar contained pictures from the people they help and they said that all proceeds would go to the cause.  I thought to myself ahh this could be this year’s easy Christmas answer.  It’s justice orientated so will be good for my ego making me feel like a “better person” and I don’t even have to get off my butt to purchase it.  So I went to the site and hit “buy”.

A few days later I checked my letterbox and found a big white envelope containing what I thought was “yet another” magazine from this organisation a friend signed me up to receive the mails outs from so I tossed it in the bin.

Another week or so went by which brings me to today.  This afternoon I was sorting through emails and I noticed the receipt for the calendars I had purchased but realised I hadn’t recieved them yet.  I was just in the process of sending them an email to query whether they had been sent and it hit me, “that white envelope I threw out was from the same organisation I ordered the calendars from”.  I quickly ran down stairs to check the bin which had clearly recently been emptied into our skip (larger bin) out the back and it occurred to me if I didn’t want to throw away that 28 bucks I’d spent on the calendars I was going to have to go searching through the rubbish.
I pulled out one, then two, then three bag of rubbish but no luck so I jumped inside of the skip.  So I was standing in the skip digging around through all the rubbish then the irony of the situation hit me.
Here I am in bare feet inside of a skip wadding through piles of rubbish to find a calendar depicting children in dire poverty.  For a moment I felt I could really relate to these children and once this had passed I felt saddened as I realised the blase manner in which I purchased these calendars.  Again the sting of the reality of the poverty that is all around had left me.  I’ve always had compassion for those who don’t care about poverty when they have never experienced it but I must admit here I have travelled extensively through poverty stricken nations so my situation is quite different.
It’s sad to realise “still” how much of my life is about serving “me” and “my” needs and to admit how often I want to be seen to be doing the “humanitarian act” rather than actually doing it for the right reaons.

This Christmas I encourage you by all means buy the more socially conscious gifts but take a moment to think about “why” this is important and who you’re really doing it for.

Here are a couple sites to get you going the first one listed is the organisation I bought my calendar’s from.

http://partnersworld.org/usa/
http://www.tear.org.au/

So it’s been a while since I have blogged.  Some people tend to process things by blogging, I tend to talk about things with every man and his dog and then somehow expect I will blog about it once the issue has already been resolved in my mind, no wonder I haven’t written anything for ages.  I also get insecure about my poor spelling, lack of grammar or intellectual data to back up my many very general statements.

So…I have decided to get over myself, I don’t want to be an entertainer keeping everyone happy, I don’t want to register as one of the top 10 bloggers in the world, I just want to write a few things down, I want to add my voice to the other 240,000 or so other wordpress voices on the internet right now, I just want to take advantage of my right to rant,  isn’t that what a blog is meant to be about?  I thought so, so let’s get on with it.

For a long time now, say 3 or 4 months I have been stuck on the verse in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:10

10
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I’m not a theologian but I do know often in modernity we have tried to pull scriptures apart so much we have missed much the simple message.  Just taking this on face value  there are some pretty hefty implications to what Jesus is saying here.  If it wasn’t Jesus saying this I would be tempted to write it off, but this is actually one line in the rather short prayer Jesus told us to use when he told us “how we should pray”.

My first thought is “that’s cool Jesus has told us to expect God’s will to be done on earth to the same degree it is done in Heaven” but then my second thought is “what is God’s will exactly, will I even like it?  Would it disturb the stability I have created for myself?”
All in all I recon it’s a good thing, how can it not be?  A loving merciful God wants to see His will, His Kingdom, functioning here on earth not just in Heaven (despite what you may have indirectly learnt in Sunday school, or Christian education classes God isn’t just trying to save us from ).

So it follows does it not that if there is no fighting in Heaven (where ever that is anyhow) then it’s possible to have no fighting here on earth, if there is no sickness in Heaven then it’s also possible to somehow have no sickness here on earth, and if there are no tears in Heaven then there are a myriad of other things that God doesn’t want here on earth (all the things that make people cry).  I don’t know exactly?  I don’t get it. I have been churning this stuff over for a while, and reached few conclusions, maybe that is why this question/thought process has ended up in a blog.  I don’t necessarily believe God’s will is ever going to be fully functioning in this life but I do feel inspired to pursue more of his “Kingdom coming” which is going to mean understanding more of what exactly his Kingdom is.  One thing I have learnt is it doesn’t look anything like the Kingdoms we know, it’s one that advances through subversive measures, by peace, not violence using love as it’s fuel.

The Gospel of NO

Personally I have no recollection of ever not following Jesus & believing in God & I have never done that whole backsliding deal.  So as a kid at school & especially as a teenager at high school I always defined myself as “the Christian kid” in reality I have since learnt others dindn’t define me that way.  I wore the right clothes, road a skateboard & swore often enough & that’s all they really cared about.  I have often wondered though why so many Christian’s drfit off track during high school & post high school but slowly I’m starting to get it.
Looking back the version of Christian worldview I carried though highschool was a pretty restrictive one & I don’t think I am unique in this regard.  I can now see the miracle of the Holy Spirit that I didn’t throw in the towel or at least live with the condemnation of a life of deliberate hypocrocy as many do.
So often as people of faith we follow what Mark Sayer’s calls in his book the “gospel of no”, I definately did.  During highschool I used to walk through the days feeling I had the roar end of the deal because I followed Jesus.  Jesus being in my life meant no smoking, no fighting, no getting drunk, no randomly kissing girls & definately no sex before marriage.  When all of your friends are doing it may be possible to walk the straight line as I was for the most part but it didn’t mean I wasn’t imagining what it would be like to just hook up with a girl, or try a cigarette.
In John 10:10b it says Jesus came to give life & life to the fullest this aint a “gosepl of no”.  I have heard it said that at the end of time we will be judged for all the good things God put on the earth for us which we didn’t enjoy, I don’t take that a literal but it’s an intersting thought.  In the public arena despite this whole “Emerging thing” Christianity is still seen as an outdated & rigid set of beliefs which carries a heavy set of do’s & don’ts.
The irony is Jesus loved to eat, drink & spent a lot of time speaking of freeom.  Jesus also practically went about freeing people from all manner of things including physical disease, inner turmoil but also religiosity, he came to free us from the “gospel of no” following Jesus is by no manner about what we can’t do.  He calls us friends not plebs, the Gospel is about the fact that through him we can learn to live how we were created to live, in total & utter freedom.
So I’m over focusing on the no’s they have faded into the shadow’s as I am consumed by the fact I know I am loved & all the things now available to me in Christ not to mention I have joy which is fairly constant.
My Father used to tell me growing up that when he gets to Heaven he will drive Ferrari & you know I think God would be alright with this.  The Jesus I see in the Bible is one who says yes a lot of yes’s a lot of which are actually too confronting for us to take him up on not to mention he partied/parties a lot harder than I do.  Following Jesus is serious, but it’s definitely not boring.

Myers Briggs

Just took yet another version of the Myers Briggs personality test.  The provided the HTML so I thought I would post the results.  I always come up as either ESTJ, or ENTJ.  This is the website is used this time
http://similarminds.com/jung.html

ESTJ – “Administrator”. Much in touch with the external environment. Very responsible. Pillar of strength. 8.7% of total population.

Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

This morning (which was now actually a few weeks ago) I decided to rebel…  I thought I would turn what I am told is meant to be a “quiet time” into a “loud time” & took the opportunity to worship my God & scare off a few demon’s as the same time by living up my voice to a bit of “Haste the Day”.  Actually I did even dance a little (but please let that stay just between us).

Haste the Day-When Everything Fails

I can see it comin’ on the horizon
Sky turning black, it’s raining down
Can’t move my feet, cannot be shaken
Not movin’, I’m standing strong
I’m standing firm
I can’t be moved
I’m standing so firm
I can’t be moved

[chorus:]
I will stand
I will stand
When everything falls away
I will fight this war forever
Or until I die
I will stand
I will stand
When everyone falls away
I will fight this war forever
Or until I die

All these things coming against me
I have the choice to fall or fight
I cannot be moved
You give me the strength
Help me fight, help me fight
I’m standing so firm
I can’t be moved
I’m standing so firm
I can’t be moved

I couldn’t manage to upload the track so just inserted this “youtube vid” the irony is that I haven’t watched the vid as youtube is blocked here at YWAM because of lack of bandwidth.

This year of 2008 for me has been one of grasping the fact that as one pursues true spirituality they bump into many paradoxes.
Sometime ago I was having a conversation with a friend & we were discussing how we were going with various things.  When we came to the topic of humility they said what I coined as the quote of the day “Yeah, I am doing pretty well with humility”.  Immediately we both laughed at the irony of the statement.
I think this conversation highlights well a common struggle in our understanding of humility; it is definitely one I am still wrestling with & have been doing for many years.
So what does the Bible have to say about it?
In James is says
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
And in Proverbs
Humility and fear of the LORD bring wealth and honour and life.

So from reading scriptures it is easy to see the high plato God puts humility on yet sadly it is something so little talked about, at least in the circles I move.  Why is that?  I mean if it says in the Bible that humility can bring wealth then why are we not hearing this more in “get rich schemes” or even incorporated into the “prosperity doctrine”?
One reason for this I believe is that humility can’t be faked & unlike many other things we pursue it’s not generally something rewarded well for by man.  Unlike feeding the hungry, preaching, getting a promotion or even writing blogs not many Kudos are given out for those reaching higher (or maybe lower) levels of humility.  Actually from my experience those with the best hold of humility within my life have often been overlooked for years until “God lifts them up” as the scripture says.
So this brings me to the reason for my post.  Just this morning I was speaking to a good friend about this topic, a 70 year old lady who lives in my community.  The discussion over this topic was brief but impacting & covered the fact that as I have already said “there are many people who manage to get into great positions of authority whilst seemingly having a great root of pride in their life”.
To be honest it freaks me out that this can happen especially when scripture shows God doesn’t exalt the prideful so it must be us doing that.  What I am realising more & more is that humility not charisma nor leadership ability is what is required to bring positive change in the world.
So today I pray humility not pride will rule in my life & yours if we honestly desire to change the world for good to the glory of God.


So last night before bed I once again picked up “God Politics” to try & keep plowing through.  There are so many good books I want to read & being I am a slow reader it take a real concerted effort to get anywhere, plus
I swear the paper or something of this book must be thinner it’s taking me ages.
So I was reading last night the chapter where Jim Wallis is talking about “Micah’s Vision for National Global Security”.  Once again he was quoting stats & making very legitimate comments which I already knew or agreed with.  So I turned onto page 198 & read

“Almost half of the world – three billion people – now lives on less than $2 per day, and one billion people live on less than $1 a day”.

After reading this for a second I thought “yeah I know this & it’s real bad” & then I thought once again.  So essentially half of the world is living in “extreme poverty” & in that moment it hit me like never before.  For a moment I had to put the book down & compose myself, discovering a tear was rolling down my cheek.
-I thought about the fact that just today day I had received my $30 mp3 player case which for one billion people of the world they would have had to spent their whole months income to purchase.
-I thought about the fact if I had a friend who was hungry I would buy them a meal & it would “make a difference” & in the same way I could/should at least buy a meal for someone whom I haven’t met who is also hungry.
-I thought about the amount of time & money I spend buying cd’s & finding little gadgets to eBay to buy.
-I thought about the street kids I had met in Calcutta only a few month earlier who I found out were literally earning $2 per day.
All of a sudden the excuses that “I can’t really make a difference financially so why really try” faded away & I repented.
It’s a difficult revelation to realise (in my heart) that me working as a volunteer in Australia (at the very bottom of the rung financially in this country) is so many multiple times richer than half of the world.
I am still not sure what I am going to do, it’s a journey & God needs to do a lot more with me yet.  I know I already to quite a few things but the fact of the matter is I could do so much more & that is the point.

I don’t want to just appease my conscience by making random financial gifts, it needs to be a real sacrifice.

I hate when this happens because it’s so humbling but I also like it because I know deep in my heart when I have a revelation of my brokenness & how much I need God he has so much more freedom to work through me, at least for a while till I become self absorbed again.

Today please don’t just read again that 3 billion people of the world are living in “extreme poverty” & say “Oh yeah I already knew that I wish I cold do something about it” because you can do something.

Peace