Remembering the cloud of witnesses

The night Great-Aunty Pete died, she came to my mother on the other side of the country and said goodbye in a dream. After Lindsay died, he came to my kitchen while I was cooking dinner. In his life, he had intellectual and emotional disabilities; when he appeared in my kitchen, he was wise and mature and laughing. He told me not to worry about him anymore: everything was just fine. And I’m sure many of you have similar stories, where the dead have presented themselves to the living, and provided words of love and reassurance. Continue reading “Remembering the cloud of witnesses”

Leading out of weakness and not-knowing

Some days I feel utterly overwhelmed by what I don’t know. I don’t know how to plant a church. I don’t know how to run a Bible study. I don’t know how to include children in worship, and I don’t know how to disciple teenagers. I don’t know how to grow a congregation, or increase attendance, or begin a service while people are chatting or slowly drifting in the door. I don’t know how to free us all from cultural captivity. I don’t know how to truly serve the LGBTIQA+ community or other marginalised groups, or how to galvanize other Christians around climate change. I don’t know how to develop a five-year-plan nor write a sermon, and every week I walk the cliff edge of terror as I try to work the latter out. And as for truly loving and forgiving people: well, the older I get, the less sure I am of this as I become more aware of my frailty, sinfulness and hardness of heart. Continue reading “Leading out of weakness and not-knowing”

Taking on the mantle

Just as Elisha’s glimpse of God’s reality enables him to take on the prophet’s mantle, our glimpses of God’s kingdom empower us to become disciples. (Listen.)

I’m going to let you in on a secret: There are times when I hate being a grown up. Sure, I get to drive and spend money; but if I make a mess, I have to clean it up. When I drop something on the floor, I have to pick it up. If I do something wrong, I have to put it right. If I’m hungry, I have to cook; if I’m bored, I have to find something to do; if I’m lonely, I have to arrange a playdate; if I’m tired, I have to put myself to bed. When I see a job that needs to be done, it’s usually me that needs to do it. I know I look reasonably competent, but half the time I’m just bumbling around, trying to work out how to serve the church or write a sermon or love my enemy or do any of the other things I’m supposed to do. There are days when I wish a great big mother would drop down out of the sky and clean up my messes, bake me a plum cake, and tell me what to do. Continue reading “Taking on the mantle”

#37: Expect apocalypse: #40ways40days

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ (Luke 21:25-28)

When I started in Year 7 it was a bit of a shock to go from Primary School where we all did all our work together as one class in the same classroom to High School where each subject was in a different room with a different teacher and I did not know many other kids at the school. I found it extremely daunting to look at the year 12’s and I thought that I would never be able to pass Year 12 as the work was so hard. This was what terrified me and gave me anguish. Continue reading “#37: Expect apocalypse: #40ways40days”

Discerning the spirits: Six approaches

Many of us have had the experience of feeling driven to do something, barging off and doing it, then experiencing that sick realisation that it was not the right thing at all. Many of us have also had someone tell us that ‘God has laid it on my heart and …’; yet their words have left us feeling confused, anxious, coerced or manipulated. Many of us seem to lack confidence in discerning the spirits or testing whether a prayerful experience or prompt is from God; and as a result, many of us seem to mistrust or deny any spiritual experiences at all. And yet, we have faith that God works through the Holy Spirit and prayer: and so, rather than denying all such experiences, we must find ways to discern the work of the spirits, good and bad. Continue reading “Discerning the spirits: Six approaches”

#22: Seek first God’s kingdom: #40ways40days

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear … For it is the peoples of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.’ (Luke 12:22, 30-31)

I chose this passage because it speaks so much to the bundle of fears, hopes and desires we each grapple with, and need to come back to time and time again. This passage has been a game changer for Greg and I, and I am both grateful for it and struggle with it at various points in my life. Just before this passage there are contrasting stories. First, of a man who kept building bigger and bigger barns for himself, and who was ever more focused on securing his own wealth at the expense of and in the absence of others, which is contrasted with a story of the birds of the field who are provided for by God. Continue reading “#22: Seek first God’s kingdom: #40ways40days”

#19: Fear not/Be known: #40ways40days

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you, my friends … Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.’ (Luke 12:4a, 6-7)

To be known is like the sun shining on the ground bringing light and life to things that need to grow. Continue reading “#19: Fear not/Be known: #40ways40days”

#18: Shine your light: #40ways40days

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.’ (Luke 11:33-35)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness

That most frightens us. Continue reading “#18: Shine your light: #40ways40days”

Going deeper at work with Jesus

Listen here.

Close your eyes, and consider your workplace: the place where you put regular time and effort; the place which demands your experience and skill. It might your home, where you raise children, cook and clean. It might be a classroom, where you teach or learn. It might be an office, where you negotiate and communicate. It might be a garden, where you help things grow. It might be a courtroom, or a library, or a factory, or a studio, or a hospital. Wherever it is, whatever you do: consider your workplace. Imagine yourself there. Continue reading “Going deeper at work with Jesus”

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