Churches and Public Toilets

Church Public Toilet

Without being crass, but I was in a public toilet recently and I couldn’t help but think to myself “This is the way that many people treat church”

How can you say that?

Well it’s like this… People come to a building and the do ‘their business’, they dump their trash and they get rid of anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
They might be lucky to be in a public toilet that plays music, however the station that’s playing isn’t really to their liking.
They complain about how uncomfortable the toilet seats are…
They come, they do their business and leave… and they’ll hold on until next week when they will do it ALL over again.

In fact the only people who come into the toilets to do anything else are the cleaners and maintenance staff, who often struggle to keep put with the amount of people who enter while they try and keep them feeling like this toilet is a place to come back to.
Some toilets even have a trust of people – volunteers who help with the upkeep of the toilet and who have a heart for the community the toilet is in. Often they don’t even have the power to change much within it.

OK… so it’s a metaphor and like almost all metaphors there has to be a point where the similarities stop, however there is enough for us to think, ‘Is this the way we should be treating what the Bible calls “the Bride of Christ?’ or ‘ do we really get OUR role within the church?’

How often have we been guilty of just coming to church and ‘dumping’ our problems on God, complaining about the music that is being played, complaining about how the temperature isn’t to our liking, the seats are uncomfortable and the list goes on?
But I wonder, if we ARE the church, then should we be seen as the maintenance staff and volunteers of the trust rather than the people using the facilities?
Wouldn’t this change in mindset stop us from thinking that church is “Just a Sunday thing”?

I mean, what are YOU doing for the church?

But I’m too busy… I’m not qualified… I’m (insert excuse)
How easy is it for us to come up with excuses for only doing church on Sunday in a “you serve me” capacity?

Church was never about just meeting on Sunday… in fact church was always about a gathering of people, a movement.

Friends of mine recently said “What does your church do that points to God?”
When you think of church in those terms “What do I do as part of church (the movement/gathering of people) that points to God?”
My lifestyle?
My daily interactions?
My work?

Church is an idea that is SO much bigger than just a meeting on Sunday… and a building…

How do you look to view your church?
Are you the cleaners?
Or are you just coming to church to dump on God?

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‘When Nothing Created Everything’ – By Joe Carter

English: Planet Earth

Planet Earth

Is this what we are forced to believe if we chose to not believe in a God Who created everything?
Here’s a story by Author Joe Carter of how we could tell our kids

Here’s how the story goes…

In the beginning was Nothing, and Nothing created Everything. When Nothing decided to create Everything, she filled a tiny dot with Time, Chance, and Everything and had it expand. The expansion spread Everything into Everywhere carrying Time and Chance to keep it company. The three stretched out together leaving bits of themselves wherever they went. One of those places was the planet Earth.

 

For no particular Reason—for Reason is rarely particular—Time and Chance took a liking to this little, wet, blue rock and decided to stick around to see what adventures they might have. While the pair found the Earth to be intriguing and pretty, they also found it a bit too quiet, too static. They fixed upon an idea to change Everything (just a little) by creating a special Something. Time and Chance roamed the planet, splashing through the oceans and sloshing through the mud, in search of materials. But though they looked Everywhere, there was a missing ingredient they needed in order to make a Something that could create more of the same Somethings.

They called to their friend Everything to help. Since Everything had been Everywhere she would no doubt be able to find the missing ingredient. And indeed she did. Hidden away in a small alcove called Somewhere, Everything found what Time and Chance had needed all along: Information. Everything put Information on a piece of ice and rock that happened to be passing by the former planet Pluto and sent it back to her friends on Earth.

Along Come the Otherthings

Now that they had Information, Time and Chance were finally able to create a self-replicating Something they called Life. Once they created Life they found that it not only grew into more Somethings, but began to become Otherthings, too! The Somethings and the Otherthings began to fill the Earth—from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the sky. Their creation, which began as a single Something, eventually became millions and billions of Otherthings.

Time and Chance, though, were the bickering sort and constantly feuding over which of them was the most powerful. One day they began to argue over who had been more responsible for creating Life. Everything (who was forever eavesdropping) overheard the spat and suggested that they settle by putting their creative skills to work on a new creature called Man. They all thought this was a splendid plan—for Man was a dull, hairy beast who would indeed provide a suitable challenge—and began to boast about who could create an ability, which they called Consciousness, that would allow Man to be aware of Chance, Time, Everything, and Nothing.

How Man Got His Beliefs

Chance, always a bit of a dawdler, got off to a slow start, so Time, who never rested, completed the task first. Time rushed around, filling the gooey matter inside each Man’s head with Consciousness. But as he was gloating over his victory he noticed a strange reaction. When Man saw that Everything had been created by Time, Chance, and Nothing, his Consciousness filled with Despair.

Chance immediately saw a solution to the problem and took the remaining materials she was using to make Consciousness to create Beliefs. When Chance mixed Beliefs into the gray goo, Man stopped filling with Despair and started creating Illusions. These Illusions took various forms—God, Purpose, Meaning—and were almost always effective in preventing Man from filling up with Despair.

Nothing, who tended to be rather forgetful, remembered her creation and decided to take a look around Everything. When she saw what Time and Chance had done on planet Earth she was mildly amused, but forbade them to fill any more creatures with Consciousness or Beliefs (which is why Man is the only Something that has both). But Nothing took a fancy to Man and told Time and Chance that when each one’s Life ran out, she would take him or her and make them into Nothing too.

And that is why, children, when Man loses his Life he goes from being a Something created by Time and Chance into becoming like his creator—Nothing.

Why my friends frustrate me, annoy me and get under my skin … (or …how I’m growing thanks to my friends)

Friends

Friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isn’t it funny how you make friends?
There seems to be no real rhyme or reason to it.
Some are like you… some are not…
Some are for a short time in your life… some are for life.

There is no real scientific equation that can be proven that if you followed it would guarantee that you will have a true friend for life… sure there are always words and phrases that people use when they talk about friends… Loyal… trusting… support you… are there for you… have got your back… Are always there for you… etc.
And when I look at my closest friends a lot of these phrases are true, but there is something that surprised me as I looked closer at my friends… it was the things that I admired about my friends… it was the things that frustrated me about my friends… and the things that made me stronger because of them.

If I was to describe myself I would use phrases like:

  • Big Picture
  • Impetuous
  • Breaks rules
  • Curious
  • Likes to play/have fun
  • Expresses
  • Emotional
  • Takes risks
  • Imaginative
  • Creative
  • Talks a lot
  • Feels
  • Vision focused

It starts to paint a picture of someone who is creative and always on the go…
My brain is usually pretty full of new an creative ways to do things for people, express myself and communicate.
However it also paints a picture of someone who maybe isn’t as grounded all the time as I maybe can be.

So I sat down and looked at my closest friends… and it was actually amazing to see how the people I valued the most were people who were almost the exact opposite to me.

My closest friends were:

  • Logical
  • Factual
  • Neat
  • Reliable
  • Planners
  • Grounded
  • Listener
  • Controlled
  • Reduces risks
  • Goals and objective focused
  • Efficient

And I wondered why I kept getting frustrated by them on one hand… and drawn closer to them with the other.
And when you look at the two lists it doesn’t take much to notice it’s because we go about the same tasks in a totally different way...
We look at things differently…
We fulfill different parts of the same vision or job.

Where I would be used to come up with an idea… I’m not the best person to follow through with the idea, that’s where people like my friends excel…
While I think about things in big picture form… my friends are all about the detail.
While I am being emotional about the people… my friends are looking at the facts

It’s frustrating sometimes because they will sometimes tell me something and I’ll be like “Darn they’re right… AGAIN”

But there is this real sense of Iron sharpening iron… my closest friends have free reign (within reason) to tell me the true as they see it… they can pull me up on things that they think I may be lacking or neglecting… they can be truthful even when they know it may be something I may not want to hear.

But here is the thing… I trust them so much that they have permission to talk into my life… and as a result I have learnt so much from the closest of my friends

I said to one friend not that long ago how much I admired them and the things that they have shown me… but I was surprised when they said to me how they had learnt from me the art of “looking to the left and the right when moving forward…” and it made me think… “Yes this is what about true friendship is about”

There is a verse in the Bible that is often used at weddings:

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (New Living Translation)

You see it seems to me that we are to join with other to help minimise our weaknesses… and maximise our strengths.
If I was with someone who was to much the same as me… I wouldn’t grown anywhere near as much and I certainly wouldn’t have someone with me who helps me where I am weak.
Or to use the famous quote from Jerry Maguire “You complete me”

Because if you look at my two lists above… my closest friends literally complete me!

We’re two sides of the same coin.

 

 

Faith isn’t passive …

Now That's What I Call Faith

Now That’s What I Call Faith

It’s been starting to frustrate me how people talk about faith as something that ‘just happens’ but the more I read the Bible the more I discover that God often requires us to step out first… and at THAT point God comes and takes over.
Faith is a VERB… a DOING word.

I’ve heard it said “If God wants it to happen it will” and while that is true, it seems that we still have to do something to prepare.
It seems to me that God has placed dreams in our hearts for a reason… and it may be days, weeks, months, years before we see the fruit of that dream… but it must be in our heart for a reason.
Right?
So what are you doing to prepare?

I read through the Bible and I see miracle after miracle where the person had to ‘step out’ first before the miracle happen…
A few examples are:

  • The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land and God commanded the priest to step into the river (Joshua 3:8) – it wasn’t until they had stepped into the river did the river part.
  • Jesus asked the staff to fill the jugs with water and take them to the head manager of the house before the water turned into wine… not only did the staff know they were taking water to the head of the house but they knew it was from the place where the people got water used to clean their feet.
  • Mark 16:20 says people went forth and preached everywhere… with signs following
  • God told Joshua that he had given the City of Jericho to Joshua… however they still had to walk around the walls 7 times in faith before they saw the miracle happen.

It seems that the Bible is FULL of stories where God asks us to step out in faith first, and then the miracles happen.

We shouldn’t just pray about our dreams… we should act on it.
Act as if God is going to deliver on his promise.

Now let me give FULL disclosure!

  • We don’t want to put God in a box and say “This is the only way that God works miracles” because our God is certainly bigger than anything we could ever believe or imagine.
  • This is NOT some “name it and claim it” scheme. You see it HAS to be in the will of God.
  • It’s not about getting God to give us what WE want.
  • It’s not about working hard to prove anything to God, in exchange for a miracle

So don’t just pray… because if our prayer isn’t accompanied by acting then there is a good chance we won’t go anywhere. It’s about putting feet to our faith or put another way:

“After kneeling down, we need to stand up and step out in faith” – Mark Batterson

I like that…
I once heard Pastor Francis Chan use the analogy of cleaning your room. He says:

“When  my daughter comes to me and I say to her “Go clean your room” she knows better than to come back and say
“Hey Dad I went away and memorized everything you said… you said to me ‘Go clean your room’ ” …
She’s also not going to come back and say “I remembered what you said and I can tell you now that I can say ‘Go clean your room… in GREEK’
Or “We’re going to get our friends together every week and we’re going to study what it might look like if I was to clean my room.”

It doesn’t work does it?We have to at some point we have to step out…
Do you believe that God has planted that dream in your heart… do you know in your knower, that this dream is from God?
Then after you pray… Stand up… and step out in faith.

 

How would I know you love me?

Love for Arts

Love 

So I’ve been thinking about how do I show, my friends, my family my loved ones I love them…
And also how do the people I love show how they love me?

I posted the question on Facebook and got a few different kinds of answer from Gifts to kisses, from doing things for me to neck rubs, spending time together and even telling me “I love you”
There are even websites dedicated to it… one of my favourites is http://www.5lovelanguages.com a great way to find out what way you like to be shown love (there’s a simple 3 minute test that is really handy to have done).

For the record they way I like to be shown I’m loved is in this order:

  1. Words of Affirmation 

  2. Quality Time 

  3. Receiving Gifts 

  4. Acts of Service 

  5. Physical Touch 

In fact it’s often a combination of the top three for me  that really get me going.
I like to be told I’m doing well, that I’m loved, that I’m appreciated… communication is BIG for me.
However I also love being able just to ‘hang’ with my loved ones, just to talk… just to be there with them just laughing goofing around, we can even sit in silence and I would be happy with that, in the knowledge that my friend is spending their quality time with me.
And finally I love people giving me stuff but here’s the thing… it could be a piece of string or a pebble or a leaf… it really could be anything as long as someone has put the time into thinking why they have given me this gift.

And so from the above list I would usually show I love people in the same way… the way that I love to be loved.
That can be hard because, well we’re simply not the same… we’re different. The way YOU show you love someone isn’t the same way that I show I love someone.
It’s handy knowing what someones ‘love language’ is, and when you know what spins their wheels it makes things a lot easier… If I like to be told “I appreciate you …” but my loved ones like me to give the hugs, then it’s really easy for me to say to them… “I tell you I appreciate you all the time”
To which they reply… “yes but you never SHOW me you love me!!!”

So if you don’t know what someones love language is where do you start?

The answer is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Now you see this verse a lot in weddings… but it’s actually a really good view on relationships in general.

Love is patient… it means there’s no hurry “One Day …” I’ll wait for you…

Love is Kind… why be mean or nasty or  talk behind backs, what does that achieve?

Love is not jealous… I’m going to support them in the time they spend with other people

Love NEVER gives up… it’s seems so easy just to throw in the towel sometimes, however sometimes we just need to work through things.

Love never loses faith…

Is always hopeful… even when things look far from it

You see it’s not just about marriage… or  just about our friends… it’s about relationship.

In fact Jesus made it even MORE clearer than that.

He said this:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35

So I guess at the end of the day our job is to LOVE one another…

The Bible even says “Love your enemies”

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Day …

One Day (created by Chris Geldard)

One Day (created by Chris Geldard)

One Day …
T
wo simple words but they seem to be so packed with meaning.

You may have heard them used in every day conversation:
Used to describe a sense of laziness “I’ll get round to it one day…” or “He’ll get round to it one day!”
Used to describe excitement for the future “One day we’ll be married…” or “One day we’ll have kids of our own”
Or of hope “One day I’ll get to Paris”

You see they’re just two words, but they’re packed full of so much meaning.

However when you say something like “One Day …” to a Christian and it seems to change EVERYTHING for them.
I posted a picture I made simply saying “One Day …” on it and posted it to my Facebook page.
Almost immediately someone replied underneath it “We will all be in heaven, praise The Lord!”
You see it seems to me it’s more than just a pipe dream “Oh well, one day…” it’s knowing that what God has placed on your heart he has placed it there for a reason. We need to hold on to those dreams that God has placed on our hearts… and pray over them… keep them in our thoughts… why?
Because by doing that it keeps us on our knees… it keeps us depending on God… because we know that without God we can’t make them happen.
Remember Joseph? You know the guy with the  coat of many colours?
God gave him dreams that seems far fetched… dreams of his brothers bowing down in reverence to him.
I understand why his brothers were a bit jealous of him (especially as his father Jacob already made it clear that he was the favourite!)

The point is… God placed the dream in Josephs heart, there wasn’t anything that Joseph could do about it but have faith that God has given him that dream for that reason.
What you have to remember also is it wasn’t easy for Joseph… he was sold by his own brothers, he was made a slave, he was thrown in prison and waiting to die, before God started to unravel his plans. In the story of Joseph it talks about him having God’s favor upon him it’s even retold in Acts 7.
It sometimes seems that we’re going through a whole lot of pain and anguish for nothing… but Gods favor is upon us when he has placed a dream in our hearts that only he can fulfill.

That brings us back to “One Day …” it brings us back to having faith in God who has a plan far greater and grander than we could ever think of, and because of that it means that we have to stay humble and focused on God because we can’t do anything to make it come to pass apart from being obedient to him (the Author of Life).

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see – Hebrews 11:1

One Day …

One Day …

One Day …

 

If Jesus is dead… (or “Why I like butterflies … “)

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. – 1 Corinthians 15:17

Paul is quite right… If Jesus had not been raised to life, then our faith is useless… or to put it another way:

If Jesus is dead then Christianity is dead.
It’s pointless… worthless…

You see without the Resurrection of Christ, there is no saviour or salvation, no forgiveness and no Resurrection hope for a life in eternity.
You see the resurrection of Christ is one of the foundations that Christianity stands on. Without this Christians are just fools who are putting their trust in a dead man.
Now some people might think… that explains Christians PERFECTLY, fools worshiping a legend or folk hero however there are a few things that set Jesus apart.

One of the keys proofs for me of the authenticity of it (if you want to put it that way) is the reaction of the disciples.
You see after his death the disciples ran away, they hid… they fled and that makes sense, if they could kill Jesus what would it mean for the rest of them?

However that all changed after the resurrection… after the resurrection they were bold… they died for their faith.
What would it take for a group of scared and frightened men and woman to make a complete turn around and be willing for them to die for something?
They certainly wouldn’t be willing to die for something that they knew was a lie… and all but one of the disciples died for their faith in a resurrected Christ. If it was a lie (and they knew it was a lie) then it wouldn’t make sense for them ALL to be willing to go through some of the pain that the apostles did.

for example:

Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.

John was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he miraculously survived.  The Apostle John put into prison was later freed and returned to serve as a bishop in modern Turkey. He died an old man, the only Apostle to die peacefully.

Peter, was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross, according to Church tradition, because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die the same way that Jesus Christ had died.

You see there was a cost.

For me the biggest thing to convince me was the transformation of Jesus’ brother James… he went from someone who was so totally skeptical of Jesus, but after the resurrection become a firm believer.
This is astounding for a number of reasons.

  1. What would it take to convince you that your brother was the son of God?
  2. Would the turn around be worth dying for (James was thrown of the highest point of a temple and then was also beaten to death when it was shown that he survived the fall)

It seems to me that the resurrection did something to the early believers… it seemed to transform them… change them.
And the great news is that the same resurrecting power does the same change in us.

Just like a caterpillar thinks it’s the end of the world… it then is transformed into something new… something different… a new creation.
The old life is gone… the skin is just a shell… a new life has been born again… and we see the beauty in the butterfly.

That’s why I love it when I see a butterfly… it reminds me that there is more to come… it reminds me to have faith in what I can’t see or know or understand fully… because this is just one chapter.
Death isn’t the end… it’s not the ultimate enemy… death to your old life for Christians is just the beginning of new life.
A new chapter has begun… and it ends with eternity.