25
May
16

Ambition

I can only remember having two ambitions when I was growing up. The first was to become a Beatle.
The group’s early hit “She Loves You” was a big favourite of mine as a six year old.

The second was to be a script writer.
In the latter years of primary school I regularly wrote short scripts to be acted in class, most of which were rewritings of TV shows or films I’d recently seen. Thanks to a visiting student teacher, some of them even made it the “stage” in front of the class.

Neither of those career ambitions was fulfilled.

Sadly John, Paul George and Ringo split up before they could add me as a fifth member of their group, and my writing ambition got lost somewhere on the road of practicality.
I suppose my upbringing didn’t prepare me to take the risks that would have been needed to become a writer. I could only see a similar path as the one taken by my parents: get a secure job, get married, have a family. A writing career wouldn’t easily fit into that scenario, and more importantly, I was never disciplined enough to make it fit.

From my early 20s onwards, another complication came into my life: committed church involvement.
I even gave up a Personnel Management course at college because it clashed with mid-week church meetings
That effectively killed a career direction I could have had, but sparked a desire to be a professional minister.

While I knew I didn’t have the temperament to be a pastor, the idea of being a “professional” preacher was very appealing. Despite a long standing fear of public speaking, I loved having occasional opportunities to preach and for the first time I felt comfortable speaking to a large group.

Thankfully God pulled the rug from under my misplaced feet, with the resulting shakeup eventually leading me to recognise the gulf between my experience within the church system and a biblically compatible life of discipleship.

Now isn’t THAT is an ambition we should all have?
To live a biblically compatible life of discipleship!

When I look at what that REALLY means, it seems like the Beatles and scriptwriter paths might have been easier options – but then I need to remind myself that it’s not an ambition I, or any of us, need to face alone.
HE works WITH us.

“…work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.”

(We work out and He will work in).

24
May
16

Exploitation

A couple of weeks ago I wrote comments on my blog regarding an article written by David Servant advising Christians how to vote.
He was advocating what I call a “one issue” assessment of candidates – where the candidate’s views on abortion were the sole deciding factor. It’s a view I don’t support because it makes too much room for exploitation.
It’s easy for candidates to profess a stand against abortion (and increase their “evangelical” support”) when they know they’ll never be in a position to legislate against it.
I believe there is more wisdom in viewing the WHOLE policy package, through which we get a better idea of candidates and their REAL agenda.

Today Servant has posted follow up teaching where he answers some of the objections I made on my blog. Sadly I see him merely writing in favour of some of the worst political attitudes promoted by American politicians from the far right*.
stealingThe way I read it, he compares taxation with theft and suggests that the unemployed are merely lazy (or at least implies that a large number are).

lazy

 

I see a degree of irony in one of statements in the quote above, about “people who want to hold slaves… who want others to work so that they don’t have to”.

Surely such a description more aptly describes the wealthy who increase their (sometimes inherited) riches NOT by working themselves, but by using others to do the work for them while paying them as little as possible, even if it’s less than a living wage.

 

Servant also suggests that such low wage jobs are only a temporary situation that people use as a stepping stone to better paid jobs.
What those views don’t take into account is the fact that many are working multiple jobs and STILL can’t make a living wage and will never have the opportunity to move into better paid jobs that don’t actually exist.

Personally I find those kind of attitudes cater to making the rich richer but do nothing to create opportunities for the underprivileged to survive and lift themselves from poverty.
The idea of “trickle down” has been proven not to work by the clear evidence of the ever-growing inequity between rich and poor. While there are probably a few exceptions, for the most part the rich DON’T use their wealth to benefit others, even their employees who help to create that wealth. Those employees are too often an expendable resource, easily cut to “increase” productivity and are  the first to be sacrificed when a decision is made to reduce costs.

Personally I find those kind of right wing attitudes offer more encouragement and support to the worship of mammon than the worship of God.

_____________

 

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court.
Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong.

 

See here to read my previous post on this topic, where I express my original concerns about Servant’s voting advice :
https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/4149/

__________________________________________________

* The views of American politicians isn’t my concern – but how professing Christians respond to those views IS; especially when those views and the politics behind them are presented as representative of Godly ideals.

16
May
16

Eurovision 1944

The Eurovision song contest was an annual TV event in my family’s house when I was growing up in England. Maybe partly because we had only two channels, later reduced to one when the tuner on our TV set broke.
It was an earlier, less consumer driven era when people of my parent’s background were careful with their money, so repairs or replacement were out of the question.

After moving to Australia in the early 70s, Eurovision was consigned to memory – no longer relevant or accessible. By the time Australian TV started to broadcast it I was no longer interested in the kind of music it featured.

This year, for the first time since leaving England, I chose to watch most of it; because of the presence of Dami Im as a contestant from Australia (apparently Europe’s newest state).

Gloria and I have followed Dami’s career from her first appearances on Australia’s X Factor, where she was expelled in the early stages due to forgetting the words of her song, on to her readmission to the competition, and finally through to her victory in the final.

When she was entered as Australia’s contestant in Eurovision we wished her well, and wanted to see her performance as compared to the other contestants.
It was exciting to see she was the leader after the first round of scores were tallied and only slightly disappointing when she was tipped into second place by the eventual winner, Jamala of Ukraine.

While we thought Dami far outshone the majority of the entries, I felt the Ukrainian’s passionate performance of her very personal song 1944 made her standout.

The song raised some controversy as it centred on Russian atrocities in WWII that affected her great grandmother. Some saw the song was actually addressing Russia’s current relationship with Ukraine, and should be banned according to Eurovision’s policies on political songs. Adding to that controversy, the Russian entrant had been favourite to win the competition but was pushed into third place behind Ukraine and Australia.

Here is a video of the winning song.

Jamala – 1944 (Ukraine) Live at Semi-Final 2 of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest from nonamenko on Vimeo.

06
May
16

Ask For a Fish and Get a Snake?

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?(Luke 11:11-13)

Here we have the wonderful promise of a gift, available to those who ask. And it’s not just any gift; it is the gift of the Holy Spirit Himself, given by the Father.
But how many actually ASK for that gift and expect to receive? And how many merely assume they’ve already been given and have received the gift, despite a lack of asking and despite a lack of evidence of the receiving?
Would the Holy Spirit come into our lives without being noticed?

The effects of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers are illustrated throughout the book of Acts and also in Paul’s letters, such as the familiar chapters 12-14 in 1 Corinthians. If we have received the Spirit, shouldn’t we be experiencing and displaying something similar?

Fire

Sadly the promise in Luke, quoted above, has not only been ignored by many, it has also been misused by a growing number to justify some very strange practices and ideas that don’t have a biblical foundation. The assumption they make is that they couldn’t experience anything not of God, if they’ve been seeking manifestations of the Spirit’s work.

I’ve come across several people who have quoted those verses to “prove” that the strange things they accept are ok, including one local pastor whose church had experienced the appearance of gold dust during one of their meetings.
While I saw problems with his confidence in the legitimacy of that experience, I also found it difficult to challenge his assurance based on the fore-mentioned promise, until I found examples of when man’s error and disobedience had led to God giving something other than what had been expected.

This is one example related to some people who assume they’ve been exercising Spiritual gifts :

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

I see another example in 2 Thess 2:

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie

Those verses show we have a choice, and that choice relates to a “love of the truth”. Without that “love of the truth” we will be susceptible to delusion and ultimately God Himself will be the sender of that delusion.

In the case of present day charismatics, they need to consider, whether it is REALLY the Holy Spirit they are seeking. Or are they seeking manifestations and experiences being promoted by their teachers. They also need to consider whether they desire the truth MORE than those manifestations and experiences. Are they willing to seek the truth by searching the scriptures themselves and testing those teachings, manifestations and experiences?

Returning to the promise that opened this article, I think other parts of scripture make it clear: if someone refuses to love the truth, God may give something much worse than stones, serpents or scorpions.

05
May
16

Why are evangelical Christians supporting Donald Trump?

The unholy marriage of “evangelicalism” and the Trump campaign.

From ABC Radio.

A double divorcee who’s boasted about his affairs is almost certain to become the Republican nominee for president. Donald Trump has won with the support of about a third of self-identified evangelical Christians…

Listen to the 11 minute audio here:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/religionandethicsreport/why-are-evangelical-christians-supporting-donald-trump/7383170

http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2016/05/rer_20160504_1740.mp3

onog

04
May
16

Celebrating Jackie Hamill: Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory

Last month I provided a link to an article I’d posted several years ago about Jackie Hamill, a friend of mine who lost her life in the service of the Lord, after being taken hostage by prisoners in the Philippine jail she was visiting to share the gospel.

Cheryl McGrath, a regular visitor to my blog has written a very good article about Jackie here:

https://ishshahsstory.com/2016/05/04/celebrating-jackie-hamill-joy-unspeakable-and-full-of-glory/

29
Apr
16

Remembering Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan

Today marks the first anniversary of the killing of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran at the command of the Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Their lives were ended at 12.25am on 29 April 2015.

From ABC Radio

Remembering Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were convicted drug smugglers but in the 10 years leading up to their deaths, they completely reformed. Andrew became an ordained Christian minister inside his Bali prison. Myuran expressed his growing faith in his art.

On their journey, they were accompanied by two extraordinary couples: Salvation Army chaplain David Soper and his wife; and the Rev Christie Buckingham and her husband Pastor Rob Buckingham of Melbourne’s Bayside Church. Rob Buckingham became a friend of this program, where he was a voice of reassurance in dark times.

http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2016/04/rer_20160420_1750.mp3

sukumaran-1024x576
Illustration from here:
https://news.artnet.com/art-world/australian-artist-ben-quilty-seeks-mercy-for-bali-nine-236980

Also see story here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2015/11/11/myuran-sukumaran-gq-artist_n_8526004.html

and here

http://reprieve.org.au/news/reflections-29-april-2015-executions/




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