Saturday, June 15, 2013

Showing Love

I'm starting to discover that writing is very therapeutic. It's also very frustrating when the things in my head and heart seem to get lost in translation on their way to the computer screen. Most of the time I write my posts in long-hand first, then type it all onto the computer. But today I'm going to try something new, which is supposed to be therapeutic as well, and write this blog post straight onto my computer.....

Everyone wants to be loved whether we know it or not. That's the bottom line of human existence because that's the way God made us. We are made in his image and the Bible declares that God is love.
If love is missing from our lives the we are empty vessels.

Often, love is looked for in the wrong places.
Whenever we hear phrases like 'I want to belong' or 'I want to be famous' what is really being said is 'I want to be loved'.
Kids will actually use those phrases. Adults will just think them.

Here, in New Zealand, almost every young boy wants to be an All-Black. The All-Blacks are the worlds best Rugby team. The American equivilent would be like being at the top of the NBL or NFL. The players are household names etc etc.
Why is it that boys want to be All-Blacks? Some will tell you they love the game but others will tell you that they want to be famous. In other words they want to be noticed. They want to be adored.

They want to be Loved.

It's the same with all of us. We're wired to be loved.

Unfortunately, modern western society has fractured communities to the point that 'families' often now consist of one parent and a number of children.

I love the old saying that 'It takes a village to raise a child'. Too often parents get the blame when children go off the rails. 

The reason children go off the rails is because they didn't find 'love' on that track.

To show children (and adults) that they are valued and loved is the responsibility of the community they live in, not just the small nuclear family they live in. (They're called nuclear because often a bomb has gone off within them!)

Because communities in general are very fragmented nowadays, the door is open for Christian communities to step up and show the world what love really looks like. 

We make it harder to show love than it should be. Simply take an interest in people and use your talents.
If you're a mechanic, offer to fix a solo mums car.
If you can cook, do some baking for a struggling family
If you're a photographer, offer to do portraits for a family that can't afford it.
If you own a car, offer to take someone shopping who doesn't own a car.
If you're financially well-off donate to community organizations.
If you're you.........

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Bible 'Story'?

Back in April I wrote a blog post for Synchroblog about 'What if the Bible is a myth?'
When I wrote that piece my definition of myth was 'a fabrication', 'something made up', 'a story', or 'fiction'. In my head I had retitled the topic 'What if the Bible is a lie?'.

It turned out that I appeared to be the only person, that I'm aware of, who used that definition of 'myth'.
Most of the other participants defined 'myth' as 'containing fiction that conveys truth' (my definition).
I don't think anyone, who participated in the discussion, considered the Bible to be all myth, but some did allude to portions of scripture being fictional in order to covey truth.

Some of the 'controversial' passages that lend them themselves to being myth are-

The creation story. Did God really create the world etc in six days?

Jonah and the Whale. Did Jonah really stay alive for three days inside a giant fish?

The Flood. Did the whole earth really go under water?

I don't want to get into an argument about the literalness of the Bible and I'm not taking on a particular point of view.

But, in the case of the Biblical stories mentioned above, is God not powerful enough to have these things?

Or, to personalize the question in a contemporary setting,

To convey truth, would you make a documentary (truth conveyed with fact) or a fictional movie (possibly conveying truth with myth)?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Being Vulnerable

This post is part of Junes Synchroblog about ordinary courage.
Other participating bloggers will be listed at the end of this blog.

To understand what courage and vulnerability mean I strongly recommend that you watch Brene Browns Tedtalk here.

The dictionary meaning of vulnerable is, in one word, 'unprotected'.
But Christians are never unprotected.

Ps 125:2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds his people...

John 17:15 My prayer is not that you may take them out of this world but that you may protect them from the evil one.

Ps 37:28 The Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They are protected forever.

So, as Christians, the word vulnerable takes on a more positive meaning. It means to be open, honest, the 'real deal', not afraid to tell it like it is, genuine and authentic.
It's the opposite of 'fake'.

Prov 12:17 says 'A truthful witness gives honest testimony.'

So why does secular society so often see the church as not genuine, unloving and having a hidden agenda.

There are three reasons that come to mind.

1. We're not Wholehearted.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other... 
Rev 3:15

Jesus wants our whole heart so that we can be wholehearted.
Half heartedness turns people off. Wholeheartedness turns people on because it demonstrates passion and passion draws people in.
It's like when you haven't seen your best friend for a year and when you do you give them a massive bear hug. They know they're loved. That's what wholeheartedness does. It shows people they're loved.

By this all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35 

2. We perceive that God loves us less when we make mistakes.

Perfect love casts out all fear. 1John 4:18

We often fall back to living under the secular definition of being 'unprotected'. We fear making mistakes and in doing so we never make anything. Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations.
We can only do that effectively through knowing we're protected and knowing who we are in Christ and, as a result, we cast off fear and replace it with authenticity.

3. We fear being authentic because we don't want the 'world' to see our 'worldliness'.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness 1John 1:9

We fear that if people see the real us they will be turned off christianity. In reality the opposite is true. When people see our genuiness it creates connection. Without genuiness we end up pretending to be something we're not.
It happens within the church as well. We want to look good to those in our church communities. But we're afraid that if they find out you're a Harry Potter fan or you've read 'Fifty shades of grey' they'll think less of you.
But the opposite should be true, especially within the church. Genuiness and openness creates connection.
And, used correctly, that connection can be used to bring correction when necessary.
Without authenticity in our church communities sin can creep in and destroy relationships.
There have been many church leaders who have publicly 'fallen' because there wasn't an authentic connection within the members of that community.
The fear of being vulnerable can be used to hide sin in our lives.

In her Tedtalk Brene Brown states 'Vulnerability is the birthplace of love'.
Love is the core of Christianity. God is love. It's the core of His being.
To show His love to this world we have to be real.

If we are not the 'real deal', how will the world know that God is?

Here's the list of other participating bloggers this month.

This Is Courage by Jen Bradbury
Being Vulnerable by Phil Lancaster
Moving Forward Takes Courage by Paul W. Meier
How to Become a Flasher by Glenn Hager
Ordinary Courage by Elaine Hansen
Courage, Hope, Generosity by Carol Kuniholm
The Courage to Fail by Wendy McCaig
The Greatest Act of Courage by Jeremy Myers
Sharing One’s Heart by K. W. Leslie
All I See Is Rocks by Tim Nichols
What is Ordinary Courage? by Jennifer Stahl
Loving Courageously by Doreen A. Mannion
Heart Cry: The Courage to Confess by Elizabeth Chapin
It’s What We Teach by Margaret Boelman