28.9.20

Essential

 Essential

"I am essential!"


The preacher roars in his hundred dollar suit. 

His hundreds strong holy huddle of pew warmers burst into an applause of rapture as they prepare for the second offering. 

The TV channel switches to pre-recorded "Tele-Evangelist mode". 

The cheers echoe through the giant money making machine. 

Like an idol his image flashes across giant screens in the auditorium. 


As he speaks he suddenly remembers his brother across town.


In an old tin tabernacle the gentle shepherd speaks to his flock.

"I am not essential... Except the Lord builds the house the builders build in vain."

He says this while ministering in a soup kitchen as he serves the needy.

Later that day he plans to do food drops and work in a care home.

At evening prayers his prayer would be as he helped refugees at the docks and prisoners in the cells. 

Then at night he would minister on the streets as a practical pastor to the needy and outcast. Each moment of his daily life he shares in word and deed the good news of Jesus. 


As the popular preacher thinks about his friend he pauses and bows his head muttering quietly:


"I am essential, right?"


He looks at his text for today and trembles a little:


“Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of wickedness,

to undo the straps of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry

and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover him,

and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,

and your healing shall spring up speedily;

your righteousness shall go before you;

the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;

you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’


(Is 58:6 - 9a)


In a strange moment of epiphany he realises he has done none of these things. He has not chosen the correct fast. The giant of a man shaking falls on his knees. With uncomfortable tears an unsettling silence falls over his audience. The show is over. He doesn't hide behind the smoke machine, move the spot light, call the band on stage or even ask an elder to take over. The TV channel switches quickly to pre-recorded adverts asking for money to build a bigger auditorium and offers proverbial indulgences. Meanwhile he simply falls still. A long strange silence. 


Some time passes and he gently arises as if from the dead. 

"Today we must become His hands and feet in this world. Today we must become essential."


From that moment on he follows the passage he had read to the letter. He gives the poor shepherd his suit, helps repair his brothers tin roof, and joins in the works of mercy he had so neglected. Some of his audience have merely been that and abandon him, while others join the essential work of seeing God's kingdom come both in word and deed. 


When he asks his new lead Pastor at the tin tabernacle, who he fondly calls Shep now (short for shepherd) for advice the response is "Humbly take up the cross, put your hand to the plough, don't look back, become what you use to call essential. Preach, use words when you have to. Be His hands and feet in this world, a hearer, teacher and doer of the word - now that is essentially what is essential."


And that is essentially what he does. By God's grace alone he has faith alone in Christ alone for God's glory alone and becomes a doer of the word, a bearer of fruit. After all surely these are the essentials just as God is essential. 


He is essential. 

Essential. 



27.9.20

Cometh The Hour

Cometh the hour. 

Blow the trumpet. 


Send the beast back from whence it came.

Has the beast not had its fill? 

Consumer of souls, destroyer of worlds. 

Why must the beast have its day?


Send the beast back from whence it came. 

Turn back the tide, break the curse, free the world.


Blood and tears, weeping for the night, creation groans.


Calvary tree, earth shaking, stones roll, angels speak.


Ascension. 

Pause. 


Dark night of the soul. 


Send the beast back from whence it came.

Has the beast not had its fill? 

Consumer of souls, destroyer of worlds. 

Why must the beast have its day?


Send the beast back from whence it came. 

Turn back the tide, break the curse, free the world.


Heavenly chariots, trumpet calls, angels sing, swords to plows.


Casting crowns, royal robes, outstretched hand, victory whispers. 


Be still. 

Cometh the hour.



25.9.20

Stages of Grief

 Recently I saw an article about our need to look after ourselves as best we can at this time of pandemic and lockdown. It used Maslow's hierarchy of need to show this.


This got me thinking of another useful diagram from Social Science days. Kübler Ross's stages of grief. 

A grief doesn't always need to be as a result of a loss in the family or among our friend group. Grief can happen when someone you love walks out of your life, it can happen when abrupt changes happen at work and it certainly can occur when normal life is disrupted by a pandemic and government measures. There is a lot of arguments on social media and in the media at large around the topic of both the pandemic, the extent of it, and about the need or lack of need for lockdowns or restrictions. Watching all this going on we can observe not only that everyone has different opinions, but that not everyone is at the same stage of grief. An extreme example is someone interested in conspiracy theories (including both those for or those against lockdown etc) with no foundation or evidence may be considered perhaps as someone in denial. Someone who continues in that phase may be in deep denial. I've long argued that the stages of grief don't always come in the same order for everyone. For me personally it is all over the place. One thing that we need to realise for ourselves is that this is a grief so we need to be gentle with ourselves. We also may be at a different stage of grief or transitioning in a different order than others. Therefore let us be gentle and kind with each other.

For people of Faith here is some bible verses for overcoming grief. Context is important of course, but these verses may be useful when used well for you in your personal walk. 

23.9.20

Advice During An Infodemic

 


As some may know I have long had a love hate relationship with the internet, particularly social media for a very long time. FB fasts during lent just don't cut it anymore. Years ago I watched a documentary about how addictive social media is and that has proven true time and again. After watching a documentary recently by former social media staff about how we are the product my fears were confirmed. Something has to change. I have been working on a semi detox of late. I have reduced interactions (admittedly I go to the extreme opposite at times). I have reduced use of Insta, I no longer have it on my phone, and set it to private for friends and family only. With FB I have reduced my friend list to just family. Primarily I plan to make it functional only. A place to share family photos and occasional updates mainly. I no longer allow notifications on my device except works WhatsApp during work hours only and messenger/texts. I am trying hard to comment less on things that bug me and just overall stop helping the algorithm machines that control us all. How successful I will be in this semi detox only time will tell, but during this infodemic it seems necessary as much for mental health as anything else to take measures. My only advice without being preachy is take measures to protect yourself and others. They don't need to be the same as me. They can be not as extreme or more extreme as you please. Of course you may already be doing something to limit the tyranny of social media over our lives. I came across the video attached from the WHO that also has some advice during this time and here is another link of myth busters.

22.9.20

An Anabaptist Vision

Follows in the way of Jesus, inspire others in the way of love.


Hope | The world as it is, isn’t the world as it will be. 

God intends the world to be a place where all relationships are made right. Jesus, through his life, death, resurrection and ascension, empowers all people to live as signposts of a better world. God reconciles us to God's self as the beginning of God's renewed humanity and world. This is good news. Our lives as they are, aren't our lives as they will be. Christ is our hope!


Inclusion | Communities of love offer embrace, not exclusion.

There are no prerequisites to love. God loves us before we ever could love God. And that is what we are invited to image to the world around us. We refuse to let anything get in the way of relationship, insofar that it depends on us. If you are human, you belong... 


Peacemaking | We practice nonviolence and contend for others.

Making peace is what God did through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. This peace extends to individuals, human communities, and all of creation. At the personal level, Jesus taught us that nonviolent resistance is part of the vocation of his followers. His vision of peace sparks revolutions of love. As followers of Jesus in a divided and violent world, we are committed to finding nonviolent alternatives and to learning how to make peace between individuals, within and among churches, in society, and between nations.


Transformation | Knowing and following Jesus makes us more human.

If you want to know what it looks like to be fully human, look at Jesus. He, the "second Adam" as the Apostle Paul would say, is the prototype of what God intends humanity to be. So, the more we know and follow Jesus, the more we become Christlike, the more we become truly human: the image bearers we were always called to be. Jesus is not opposed to our humanness, but invites us to flourish into the fuller version of our God-given humanity. The Bible sometimes calls this "sanctification."


Mystery | Ancient faith fosters wonder and refuses to put God in a box. 


The church in the twenty-first century is part of a narrative that goes back 2,000 years. As we read the Scriptures, we commit ourselves to doing what we can to interpret and apply the texts with first century contexts in mind. But the story moves forward from there. The church throughout the generations, with its ancient practices and postures, is our story. And yet the church is just one chapter in the story of God, one that started in creation and will reach its culmination in the renewal of creation. We co-create the future as we partner as actors in the Divine drama. The God who guides this compelling narrative is bigger than any categories or ideas with which we try to entrap the Spirit. We worship a God who leaves us in awe, and accepts us in our doubts.

(shared here with kind permission from Pangea Church)

21.9.20

Children of Abba

 A devotion originally written for team forum at work with slight adjustments. 

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:14)

Children of Abba lift your eyes to Him.

He knows our hearts. He is Father. We are sons. Heirs of His grace. 

He knows we work hard in trying times. He has known days of toil. Days of labour. 

He knows we get burntout at times. He wept over Jerusalem and in the garden. Jesus wept. 

He knows our tiny mustard seed faith faulters at times. He knows what it is to be tempted. Yet He endured. 

Our childlike hands must join His as He guides us to safety.

Become childlike not childish. 

Our weakness will fade like mist as His strength becomes our strength.

Become childlike not childish. 

Our Abba, Our Father.

Lift your eyes to Him. 

15.9.20

Ancient Books

Good books are ancient trees that put down roots deep into our hearts. Well read and well learned good fruits blossom.


Beautiful trees

Old and even ancient 

Oracles of truth

Knowledge chambers for the heart

Stems grow into blossoms


Falling leaves

Autumn's clock

Like fading pages

Literature of a different kind


 - DTH