Friday, January 7, 2011

Goodbye for now

Last week I asked my readers to let me know how often they'd like to read a post from me, and I told you I'd post the results this week. The vast majority of readers said they'd like to see me post once a month.


Meanwhile, I've been reassessing where I need to spend my time. This year I'll be doing some further study that will demand a lot of my time. So I've decided to call it quits, for now at least.

It's been fun dabbling in the blogosphere over the last 18 months or so. Thanks to all of you who've been following, reading and commenting along the way. I'll leave the site here because there are some useful links that you may like to use. But I won't be posting anything more.

So it's goodbye for now from Find God Down Under.

All the best,

Steve

PS - you can still talk to me on Facebook ;-)

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Survey

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New page on my blog

There's a new page on Find God Down Under that you might like ot check out, or point your friends to.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Who? Me?

I wonder if you've ever seen something like this situation: Mother of 2, enjoying a little peace for a while, says herself "Aah, the kids are so quiet - hmm...maybe a little too quiet..." She searches the house and walks into a room to find some sort of mischief going on. One child is up to their armpits in something they shouldn't be, and the other is standing back engrossed in the action. The culprit, being preoccupied, doesn't see Mum come in and carries right on with the deed. The spectator, being all eyes, reacts instantly to Mum's arrival: "Mummy, look what Billy's doing. It wasn't me!"

Sound familiar? Like me, you've probably not only seen that sort of scenario, but you've been in it, right?

I was reading a story in the Bible yesterday that sounds a LOT like that. And no, it wasn't set in the Garden of Eden. Adam wasn't the only one who liked to shift the blame.

Mark Chapter 14. It's Jesus' last night on earth, the night before he faces the cross. He and his disciples are sharing their last meal together and he uses the opportunity to make a few points - important points that he wants the guys to remember. One of them comes in verse 17: 

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me." They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me." Mark 14:17-20


This was not a small thing. This was not like saying "one of you will gossip about me" or "one of you will forget my birthday". To betray a person is to deceitfully work against someone who is counting on your support. But more than that, this was to betray the Messiah, the One who every Israelite could only dream might appear in their lifetime. One of these 12 men who had come to believe that Jesus was that Messiah, who were his intimate friends (Jesus twice mentions the fact that they were eating with him) would now do the dirty on the him. This was big.


The disciple's reaction - all 12 of them - was just what mine would've been: "Surely not I?" 11 of them were amazed and upset that Jesus would suggest such a thing, and Peter's attitude had not changed a few verses later when Jesus predicted that the disciples would all abandon him. Peter was adamant: "Even if all fall away, I will not." (v29). But he did. And so would I.


I wonder why Jesus included all of them when he talks about being betrayed. Why didn't he just say "Judas, I know what you're up to"? Even after they all react, he repeats himself. "It is one of the Twelve," he insists.


I think Jesus is using the betrayal by one unfaithful man to make an important point to the remaining faithful men. In effect He's saying "take a long hard look at yourselves. I want you to realize that it might've been you." He wants his disciples to understand something about themselves, and that is that they are fallible, they have within them the same potential for evil that Judas has, and that they need to be on their guard against it. Unfortunately Peter didn't get the point straight away, and consequently had to eat his words later after denying that he even knew Jesus.


It is Jesus' love for his disciples that lets them squirm for a while, so that they will learn this important lesson about themselves.  It is also his love that forgives Peter later (see John 21 v 15-19). He's just that kind of God.

You and I need to learn the same lesson. We have this potential for sin always ready to pounce if we drop our guard. If we're smart, we'll learn it by watching the mistakes of men like Judas and Peter and avoiding them. But I'm not that smart. I've learned it the hard way, by saying "surely not I" and later finding out I had underestimated my potential for sin.


Which way will you find out?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Slippery Slope

Well it didn't take long. The new Greens Federal MP, Adam Bandt, has won support for his motion in parliament, a motion that represents an important step towards the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia. He, and the independent MP's who got the motion over the line, have only been in office since August. But we now have an undisguised look at his agenda. It's about a lot more than saving the trees.
 
I don't mind telling you it makes me both sad and sick at the same time.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moving on

I'm not looking forward to going to church this week. I suppose some people could say that about any given week, but not me. It's not that I hate going to church, by any means. But I'm not looking forward to it this week, because it will be the final Sunday for us at this church.

Carmen and I will be saying goodbye to a church family that we have grown to love dearly over the last decade or so. We'll soon be moving into a new house in a new location, and we've decided to find a church closer to home.

Even though leaving makes me sad, something that makes me sadder is seeing people thinking they are Christians, who never really connect with a church. (I've often heard the bold claim "you don't have to go to church to be a Christian.") They see themselves as a visitor, or a customer, whose role is to receive something, to consume goods and services. That approach makes it very easy to leave a church, or to go "church hopping" when the church's doesn't seem to meet their needs or expectations.

I think the Bible gives a very different picture of the church and the roles of individual believers.
"All the believers were together and had everything in common." (Acts 2 v 44)
I get the impression that these people didn't just visit occasionally. Nor did they simply show up to see what they would get this week. They shared their lives together. And it's that sharing, that "fellowship", that makes being part of a church so wonderful. During our time at The Grainery we've done a LOT of life-sharing. Let me give you a few examples:

  • We've lost count of the babies we've seen added to the family.
  • We've seen kids grow into adults, fall in love and get married and have kids of their own.
  • We've felt the pain of a family lose a young mum to cancer after the birth of their 4th child.
  • We've been looked after through hectic periods when our son was seriously sick in hospital.
  • We've been loved and helped when our own lives felt like they would fall apart.
  • We've seen people become Jesus-followers and find joy in serving him as part of a church family
  • We've enjoyed worshiping together, having meals together, praying together, working together, giving and receiving advice together, resolving conflict together, crying together, laughing together until it hurt and generally being a family.

And that's what makes it hard to leave. If you haven't experienced this kind of fellowship, then you're missing out, and there's no need to.

"You don't have to go to church to be a Christian." Maybe. But you have to go to church if you want to be a healthy one. What sort are you?