my minds journey

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A reflection

The previous post is written in the first person, but I have set myself in the shoes of a man who knew Jesus. A Pharisee who life was changed by his interaction with an incredible man named Jesus.

A reflection

Stunned. Is the way I feel right now. Completely puzzled and slightly riddled with regret. I guess I should explain...

You see I have always believed in the Messiah, always thought that he would come and save us. There has been too many that have come and gone, seemingly lacking in what the Messiah should be. One such man has left me confused.

At first I thought him heretical, his spoke against all the laws I spent my life upholding. Everything I that I valued he seemed to dismiss. He was amazing, no doubt that he could draw a crowd and certainly create some sort of commotion. He was a quick thinker too, always had an answer. Never seemed to fail our testing. I think that drove most of us into frustration. Everything I valued he turned up side down.

I waited for a conquerer, someone to overthrow the evil rulers and restore righteousness to our land. I waited for the mighty Messiah to save us. I lived righteously, I claimed purity, I thought myself a decent person just trying to uphold my faith.

I stood by as this man mocked the rules I so carefully followed. I stood by while this man told me that people like me would not see the kingdom. Well, that riled something inside me. How dare this man claim holiness yet behave so unholy. He never slipped up in his words, but the challenge was constantly there. He kept grinding away at the same old tune. He spent time with the sinners, those who hadn’t even tried to follow the path of righteousness. He stopped in at my mates house once, told us that we who sat in places of honour would be moved to places of shame. He messed with my head something shocking! I’m just an honest man trying to live a life of faith, a decent man who has earned certain privileges and blessings in this life. Yet he lifted those below us and praised them for having great faith. He told those sinners that they would be sitting in the kingdom of heaven.

Yes he made me mad, in fact he made me furious. I wanted to right him of as a madman like so many of my friends had done. Yet there was something about him, a sense of power, of authority that I could not shake him off.

But something had to be done. He couldn’t go on like this. The poor and those sinners could not have faith like us, they could not be holy like us. Obviously they were poor for a reason, sin no doubt. Righteousness could not be lowered to allow these people in. This man was watering down everything we stood for. These people had to admit there sin and bear the consequences, they had to change, to become like us if they wanted to be holy. Why should the last be first? I come before God leading a righteous life, and thankful that I am. Why should I thank a slave for serving me? It is their duty. This man was challenges everything that I valued. Every part of my culture. Everything I had know from my childhood about the way the world works. He could not continue this way, he would destroy our faith. Those poor souls who followed him, they only encouraged him by hanging on his every word. Shame for them. Did they not see the craziness of what he was doing. Someone had to stop it all. Someone needs to stamp out those who drift away from holiness and and lead others into sinful places. It could not go on any longer.

I was nervous that night, I knew we had to do what we had came for. Yet there was still that hint of power in this man and that made me nervous. We managed to swede one of his disillusioned followers into helping us. We walked up the path and came upon him in the garden.

His other disciples leapt to his defines. Fear shot through me as one of them drew his sword. Before I knew it my ear had been sliced off and was lying on the ground. My knees grew weak and I felt slightly dazed. He stepped closer, I cringed. He picked up my ear and lifted it to my head, I squeezed my eyes tightly closed. Not sure what to expect. He was angry that we had come at night. I felt managing sensation and when I opened my eyes, it was healed. My ear, healed. He had healed me, the enemy. He didn’t even fight now. He just followed. Something sunk inside my stomach, I lingered as the others lead him away. That power was real to me that night, it had been more than a slight feeling, it was an overwhelming sensation.

Maybe he was the Messiah. Maybe he was of God. For I had never know such a feeling before. But if he was God’s messenger what does this mean? What about everything he said? His words turn upside down everything I have ever know, ever believed in. What am I to do?
I feel liberated yet still slightly threatened. Can I possibly live the enormity of what he asks? How can I not?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

a couple of interesting quotes

"I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it's because we don't dare them, not because we don't entertain them. It's because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult." - Shane Claiborne

A scene from the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe....

Lucy is about to meet Aslan, the lion, and she asks, "Is - is he a man?"
"Aslan a man!" said Mr, Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion - the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he- quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King. I tell you." (C.S Lewis, The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe).

Let us not think God is safe, let us take comfort in a God who is good.

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I started uni today. Table Spirituality. We will be exploring the spirituality involved in food and relationships around the table. Finding God in those routine and taken for granted practices of life. I am really excited about it, it sounds fantastic, I can't wait to get into the class.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A time of sharing

Church was great this morning. Great because people shared parts of themself and their journey with God.
I was so proud of the young people for sharing and participating this morning!! It really is fantastic to hear what is going on for them and even more fantastic that they shared with the wider church community! What an encouragment!!!
It was also great to hear from other people in the church and to find out how God is talking to them.

I came away from church feeling like the church as a community had connected with each other and God, a real buzz!

So anyway, will chat more later. Just going to leave a quote from Ghandi:

"There is enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed!"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Gerbra Smiles

Liam picked me up from the station today (as he usually does) and he had a beautiful bunch of gerbras for me.
It was so nice!! It really made me smile! It's amazing how much a little thing like that can make you feel so good.
But I think in this situation its more the fact that the flowers are just another way that Liam shows me that he loves me and that is what makes me smile!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I was wondering today. Why do I have a bias to the poor? What is it that draws me to care?

My passion to study Social Welfare was motivated by a desire to help others, those who were ignored by others.

I tend to feel more compassion for the one who has few friends or struggles through life.

When I think about society I am upset that those in lower socio economic parts of community are not supported - but pushed further into the ground.

When I think about the world abroad I am saddened at the poverty. I am upset by the number deaths caused by things like dirty water and lack of sanitation and hunger.

When I read the bible all I can see is Jesus compassion towards the poor. He spent most of his time with them. Most of the miricales recorded are Jesus interaction with those overlooked. He praises the poor for having great faith, while the religious leaders do not understand.

So where is it that I developed this perception?
- I guess my parents share some of these attitudes and have past them on to me.
- The church I grew up in often talked about caring for others and regularly supported 'causes for the poor'
- My study at University only deepened my thoughts on this
- My time doing ER for the Salvation Army
- My placement at Anglicare and Bridgehaven (allowed me to see people fighting circumstances that I'd never seen firsthand)
- My trip to India was a huge influence on this



I heard the following on the news this evening:
"We live in a global community, what happens around the world effects us here."

I thought it was a funny thing to say... They say it in a context of terrorism to install fear into our minds. I ask why isn't it said in the context of world poverty!

You know what else is funny, You see the add for Foxtel - "an affordable price at $39.99 a month"
Then the add for World Vision - "save a child for just $30 a month"

Which one do people chose most often? life? or entertainment?

Just something I was considering...

Monday, July 17, 2006

I tell you there will be no sign!

Jesus said that to the Jews. They were waiting for a sign, something big to give them guidance. And the Son of God, says to them, there will be none!!

Mark preached on the story in John about the man sitting beside the pool, wanting to be healed. But he was to slow to get into the water. Anyway, the challenge was not to sit beside the pool waiting for something to happen. It was a challenge for me. I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for something big, maybe I should stop sitting beside the pool and just jump in.

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I am reading a great book at the moment, "irresistable radical" or something like that. He made an interesting comment about helping the poor. Lots of people give 'token' help to the poor and this is commened. Yet people who talk about sacrificing comforts in an effort to identify with the poor and truly understand the struggles they face are laughed at!

What is James talking about if not this in Chapter 1:9-11.

Why are we scared of giving something of ourselves, something of our material wealth?

Also check out James 1:22-25, we can't just hear this radical word and do nothing!!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Why doesn't God sms??

So silly question I know.

Sometimes I find it so hard to hear from God. I know don't what is my own bias. Even when I talk about this with others I wonder what bias they have. Especailly when I feel God is challenging me outside my comfort zone. How do I know what is me saying no (cuz the challenge is too hard) or yes (because it seems appealing) and what is God saying yes or no?

Sometimes the things I feel challenged to do just seem way too overwhelming!! How do I discern whether it is God crazy or whether it is melissa crazy? (Cuz I know what Jesus did was sometimes crazy, I know what John Wesley and William Booth did was sometimes seen as crazy)

Let me use an example....

When I was getting married to Liam, I felt like it was definately a God thing (something I still believe) - yes people around me confirmed this, but if they hadn't - would I have listened? Those people knew a lot more about what marriage was about than I.

There has been times during our marriage when I have just gone, "Wow, I'm in way over my head, marriage is so much harder than I thought!" Not to say that it hasn't been a good experience and later strengthened me and my relationship with Liam.

But the point still stands those who were married had a much greater knowledge about the committment I was about to make. Their wisdom was valuable in my discernment.

So I think now as I look ahead at my life and its direction, what do I hear? Which voice is really God speaking?

Don't know if this makes any sense, its just my minds journey, and funniliy enough that isn't always easy to understand.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Judge Melissa

You know a show that I hate Judy Judy!! I fine it so annnoying, the people, the Judge especially - I find her so mean.
Anyway... I step back and realise how judging I am. I find it really hard not to judge, even though I know I shouldn't.
I especially find it hard not to judge others when I care passionately about something, or I believe that my opinion is obviously the right one! (**tongue in check**)

Just lately I have been reminded how often things are made worse by our "judging." So often we judge people we know little about, but I think we also judge those we know quiet well. Funny thing about that, we may not always beaware of everything that has happened is happening to that person we "know" so well, yet we readily judge their behavior before we gather all the facts.

It's a challenge to me to stop and be slow to judge, to consider the person as a whole.

The thing is in the church we are good at setting boundaries, people "in" and "out" are judged accordingly. I struggle with this concept of "in" and "out" because I feel as Christians we are called to be holy and need to uphold that calling. So to do that we have to be accountable for our behaviour. But I also think that we need to be inclusive of all, and realise that means accepting others as they are and not necessarily askign them to change. As a youth leader, I feel some responsibilty to hold our young people who have chosen to commit their lives to Christ accountable for that choice. I also want to help them grow closer to God and want to encourage them in that. However, I feel sometimes that this can come across as judgmental or exclusive.

Where is the line between living a life of holiness and encouraging one another to do the same and just being legalistic? Maybe this is clearer to others, in my mind at the moment it is kind of blurred. I have some idea but would like anyone's thoughts on the issue.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Barbie Dolls

So I read this article in the Sun written by one of the readers about Barbie being a bad role model for young girls.
No new revelation, I know. Buts it leads me to ask the question again. Why are our children being asked "If they like looking hot?" Why are children dressed like mini adults (not talking about small pants and jackets- I'm talking about girls in magazines wearing make up and clothing that is clearly not for their age). What do our children see on TV, in the music video shows, (even lots of ads), if not sexualised images of girls and women. We have to stop teaching our children to be sexy skinny models and start showing them how to be healthy children who grow into healthy young girls and wholesome women.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What! the rich miss out!

My response to the article in this weeks onfire (vol 7 No. 12) - "Does the Salvation Army's focus on the poor mean the needs of the affluent are ignored"

Don't even get me started. If Jesus wasn't here to advocate for the poor and the outcast, what is it all about.

I'd just like to throw back one point.

Of course the rich need Jesus!!! Maybe if they had Him we wouldn't find ourselves in a world with so much poverty.

Mixed Emotions

Well the last 24 hours have been made up of mixed emotions....

Last night after bible study I was feeling pretty bad, because I thought I had been too harsh. I wasn't regretting the message I wanted to get accross because I felt God nudging me to say it, but I thought I had come across in a judging way. Well, God showed me that he will get the message across even through my uneliquent phrasing. I was happy to read some of the young people's blogs and hear how God had encouraged them through what was said at bible study. So I was happy!

We won Netball, and had a really fun game, again, HAPPY!

Then this morning I had a call from my Dad to tell me that my Nanna had passed away. I felt sadness and relief.
Sadness because whenever someone you love leaves there is grieving.
Relief because I had seen her on Sunday (I don't see her that much, she lives in Traralgon and the last two times I visited Traralgon I didn't get to see her), I was so glad that I got to see her again, just one last time.
Relief because she was sad and now I hope she will be happy, with my poppa.

I don't know if you can die of saddness, but in some ways I feel like she did. She still smiled and laughed, but since my poppa died she had lost the spark of joy that I knew before then. I said to her on Sunday, "Nanna, Are you happy?" She just gave a funny laugh, I knew she wasn't. It was hard to see her sad and I felt so powerless to change that. Now I feel like she can be happy.

Nanna was a lovely person. I remember her warmth and smiles, her kisses her hugs. The beautifully knitted toys she made up, her cosy house which she shared with us. Mostly I remember her love, she really cared about us. She had that love that only a Nanna can give. So I pray that I will remember her always and never forget the wonderful things she brought to my life, I hope I can remember her warmth and be inspired by her.