the story of stuff

watch it here (worth all 20 minutes of your time).

Note: The scope of this thing is so huge, please don’t fault it for making sweeping statements – to cover what it does in 20 minutes, it has to make its statements as general as possible.

oh baby…

Now that we’re out of the 12-week ‘danger zone’, I can (happily) share that my wife and I (well, really just her!) are expecting a baby in late Jan / early Feb!!!

The little guy (we actually don’t know the gender – and might not choose to find out before birth – but I’m going with ‘boy’ all the way!) is about 5cm at this stage… :)

i heart the internet…

I mean…

really…

Don’t get me wrong…

the internet is great…

but the by-line for this online ‘friend’ site…

‘be who you wanna be’…

scares me.

Online Identity…

yikes.

I hope humanity doesn’t forget…

how to have a simple meal together…

sharing food…

sharing time…

sharing conversation…

sharing LIFE with each other.

That would be very sad…

a gentler universe?

Consolmagno has done it again…

Yet another poignant and wise article, helpfully navigating the intersection of faith and science…

Here’s a sampler:

…there’s the world of nature, the world I study as a scientist, nice and neat and well described by some beautiful equations, elegant in their simplicity. And there’s the world of human beings, strange fleshy bundles of ego and free will, who can sometimes be described in a statistical sense but who as individuals never cease to surprise you.

Read the whole thing here.

harder than it looks…

I’ve got a quick thought to share…

It’s easy to distance ourselves from people like Hitler and Stalin. We can’t imagine such horrible evils. I mean really, what was the rest of the world doing, right? Why didn’t someone stop him sooner? I guess they just stood by and said, ‘Who are we to say otherwise?’

While I’m sure it’s not a one-for-one analogy, many would say that the large number of modern abortions is comparable to the genocide of those days, and that the same thing is happening today, and still, the world stands by and says, ‘Who are we to say otherwise?’

Now, abortion is a huge issue and I’m not going to take the time to offer a well-nuanced and carefully phrased view, but what if this was actually the case?

One of the small, behind the scenes things that helped bring an end to the regimes all those years ago was people using their voice to let the world know about what was really happening, not what they wanted you to think was happening. (go out right now and watch the movie ‘Sophie Scholl’ – it’s incredible!)

My point is, they didn’t start by physically going in with guns blazing. Some had to make the difficult but necessary decision to not act then and there, but to wait and tell others that could make a bigger, more permanent difference.

What if abortion is a modern-day genocide?

Well, if it is, I think something needs to be done. But what? Try and get the law changed? Use brute political force? Fund Christian political lobby groups?

I think that’s not the wisest way. I think we’ve got to face the fact that the abortion issue, as horrible as it is, is only a part of a much more foundational issue – toxic and destructive human sexual values and practices…

Changing laws won’t last. It won’t help. We’ve got to do the difficult work of influencing people. Now. With grace and truth.

That’s my quick thought…

-d-

building for god’s kingdom

I won’t embarrass myself, but just know that I could share many stories of times I’ve done things ‘for’ someone and found myself eventually having to apologise and say, “Sorry, I was just trying to help!” However well-intentioned our actions may be, they can be un-helpful or even harmful. Even sincere people can be sincerely wrong.From age 11-18, I spent my summers working for my Dad in construction. I learned a lot about building in those summers, but I also learned about working with a team. When you’re building a house, you have to understand and appreciate the overall process in everything you do. You may have an idea that seems helpful by itself, but in the whole scheme of things can end up being unhelpful. It could make more work for someone else, cause confusion, or a host of other things. For example, I may see that some boards on the roof need cutting. By itself, this is fine for me to do. However, if someone else is already making preparations to do it, then one of us is going to be wasting time. Also, cutting boards on the roof creates saw-dust, which can cause people to lose their footing on the roof. What’s more, there could be a reason that the boards haven’t been cut yet – maybe on this specific house there is another design feature in mind.

Another example; I may notice that a stack of boards are on the other side of the job-site from where they are going to be used. I could save someone a lot of time walking back and forth by moving them closer. There could be several things I’m not considering, though. Maybe the area I would move them to is about to be used for something else. Perhaps moving the boards at all would just confuse the person who was going to be using them, etc.

As you can see, there’s a lot that can go wrong on a job site. Intentions may be good and effort may be expended, but sometimes with distorted results. You could think it was wonderful that you cut a lot of boards, but maybe they were supposed to be cut later or differently. You may feel proud that you solved an apparent board location problem, but maybe that was the best place for them in the long run. Perhaps you can think of similar examples for other environments.

On a job site, these problems can be easy to deal with. In fact, the longer a team works together, the easier they are to deal with. You learn to ask questions and think before you just ‘do’ something. You learn how to see the big picture. You learn to work together.

In church life, however, the things we do are often close to or at the heart of our very identities. The tasks that we perform are marks of our spirituality and if the tasks that I’m doing are thought by others to be contradictory to the big picture, then we feel that our very spirituality has been attacked.

In the same way that simply ‘doing stuff’ on a job-site is not always the right thing, in the church also, simply doing things just because we can doesn’t mean that we always should in view of the big picture. Could it be that sometimes we may be just ‘moving spiritual boards’ around the job-site when we need to be cutting them according to the plan and installing them where they go, etc.?

In the world of construction, corrections have to be made. The workers have to accept it, grow, learn, move on – and most importantly – get to building the right way! At least in some ways, it is no different in the church. We’ve got a job to do. Let’s keep the big picture in mind. Let’s communicate with one another. Let’s not take advice too personally. Let’s grow. Let’s sharpen each other, making us sharper tools in God’s hands. Let’s get on with building for God’s Kingdom.

jesus, the rebel prophet

The prophet of all prophets, Jesus, had a message that was… well… to say the least… uncomfortable for many of his day. Exactly as James would describe God later, Jesus ‘opposed the proud’ and gave ‘grace to the humble.’

Jesus was well aware that prophets weren’t usually ‘popular’ people. His own home crowd rejected him and when he called them on it (Luke 4:24), they tried to kill Him (4:28-29)! Also, He wept over Jerusalem, recalling how they had killed prophets and stoned others sent to them (Luke 13:33-34).

Religious people had Jesus killed.

He blatantly discounted their ideas, rejected their assumptions and rebuked their practises. Even their evangelism! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Now you don’t hear that verse at many evangelism meetings, do you!!??

What made Jesus such a rebel?

I think He made such great rebel because He was the ultimate expression of what a prophet was – and prophets stirred up messes. Prophets (Jeremiah, Elijah, Joel, Hosea, Malachi, Ezekiel, Micah, and John the Baptist – who Jesus said was the greatest) told the people of God to get their act together and be the people they are supposed to be.

Let’s take the ‘evangelism’ passage for a great example. Almost all of the 8 ‘woes‘ in Luke 23 are followed by ‘hypocrite‘ or actor, or fake (what would we do to someone who called us fake?). Read the whole passage. Jesus nails them for: not doing what they have others do; showing off; treating gold and sacrifices as more important than the temple or altar; and much more.

Verse 23 provides a nice summary of what His problem was with them. “…you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin (herbs), and have neglected the weightier matters of the law (the law of Moses, or Mosaic Law): justice and mercy and faith.” They had focused on the commandment of tithing so much that they didn’t even want to forget their spices! – but they missed the themes of justice, mercy and faith that run right through the law! Then, using the ‘cup-washing’ analogy, Jesus goes on to say that if you concentrate on these important things first (cleaning the inside of the cup), then the other things will fall into place naturally (the outside will be clean).

What connections can we make for us today from this passage?

Perhaps the prophet Jesus would have a few harsh words for some of us. How would we take them?

Perhaps there are things we do that equate to washing the outside of the cup…
Perhaps we sometimes need to hear harsh words…
Perhaps listening to rebels can be a good idea…

changing our thinking about change

Change.

It has happened.
It is happening.
It will happen.

Spiritually, It has happened…
If your faith is genuinely in Christ, you are not what you once were. There are many passages in the Bible that talk about this. Jesus had a conversation with Nicodemus about being ‘born’ a second time. (John 3) Jude writes about ‘the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.’ (Jude :3) Peter writes to Christians about not forgetting that they have been purged from their old sins. (2 Peter 1:9) John agrees by writing that Christians ‘have passed from death to life.’ (1 John 3:14) A particularly well-known verse is from Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17. ‘Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.’
This transformation is complete in the lives of believers. It is as secure, steadfast, unchanging and solid as God’s nature. You can count on it! The tough thing is that it’s a spiritual change. We can find it hard to trust what God says about us when our circumstances are staring us in the face! That’s why we need to remind ourselves and each other so often!

Mentally, it is happening…
With our spiritual transformation behind us, we are then called to grow in our understanding of who we are in Christ. Peter told the early believers to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ (2 Peter 3:4) Another popular verse about this was again written by Paul to the Roman Christians to ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ (Romans 12:2) The tense of this command is continual. A literal translation might be more like ‘be being transformed’ or ‘be continually transformed.’ The entire Bible is filled to the brim with passages talking about growing in our understanding of God’s love and grace.
This is not about just getting more head-knowledge. When you get a chance, read 1 Corinthians 1&2. Paul has some pretty strong words there about relying on knowledge. What God wants is not for us to know lots of things, but rather to know Him! Head knowledge causes our minds to puff up, but heart understanding helps us to grow up!

Physically, it will happen…
We look backwards at our spiritual change, commit ourselves to the current process of mental adjustment, and we also wait and hope for the change which is yet to come, which is physical. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 about the bodily transformation that awaits all believers. Our bodies will be free from disease, pain, or weakness and unhindered by the effects of aging. Paul may well have had this in mind when he said that to live was Christ and to die was gain!

Let us remember our spiritual transformation with gratitude, grow in our mental grasp of that transformation, and yearn for the day of the final physical transformation!