Friday, 5 December 2014

An update & A poem

368 days ago, I wrote a post called "The little blog that could" which had a little poem and then an update. It turned out to become more like "The little blog that didn't", which I am a bit sad about, but also happy, as it shows how many new things I have thrown myself into that has taken up my time.

Anyway, the updates are almost exactly the same. I am going on NTE again, (hopefully this time I will write a post about it!), going on a road trip with friends, uni was some study + lots of fun, and yatter yatter yatter.

I wrote this poem because I had time on the train. I realised I do best when I don't try and be abstract but just tell it how it is. So this is my introduction to you.

An Introduction

I'm a tree by the river
Sustained by the giver
Of all things, and who brings
Life to the withered.

I'm a missionary liver
The gospel I deliver
To all things and who sings
Of Christ the redeemer.

I'm an alien and a foreigner
Don't belong in Australia
In all things and who clings
To the sure heaven future

I'm a son and a brother,
With a loving heavenly father
Through all things, He's the king
There is no other

Sunday, 30 November 2014

A Silver Forest

Ten thousand buildings make a lovely silver forest
The builders were impressed by this metropolis
No green to be seen except in mouldy corners
The sun never reaches those in lower quarters

The trains rumble underground, helicopters hover
And neighbours shout over the noisy bulldozer
Black suited creatures scuffle in a line
Swarming little coffee shops to fill up the time

Children scrape their feet on the burning bitumen
Playing hide and seek and chasing the postman
Cars toot their horns as soccer balls roll
Kicked into a constructed telegraph goal

A walk through a door to a dreamlike oasis
Cool air, pot plants, drinks overflowing your chalice
Large paintings and sweet music suggest perfection
But dear could you please shut the door behind you?!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Rejoice by looking to Jesus

A long post, basically just posting up my first talk I gave to my youth group last Friday. It was on Philippians 3:1-14. I hope it encourages you as much as it encouraged me to write!

Imagine if the Apostle Paul visited you today. What would he say? To be honest, I am pretty scared of Paul, he would be so angry at all the sin, all the cliques, all the selfishness. I mean, he called the Galations fools! He was pretty full on. But Paul in this passage we’ll see makes it clear that we are to rejoice! To rejoice!

It is essentially his last topic sentence of this letter. And like a good essay, it is building on what was already said before. Chapter 1 we see Paul is in prison for the gospel, and he is in partnership in the gospel with the Philippian church. In the gospel, Paul is also taking a courageous stand, that may end in death, but is all for the glory of God. Then in Chapter 2 we see Paul encouraging an attitude of Christ-like humility - which is putting others above yourself - in response to the gospel that Jesus did the exact same. These all culminate in his appeal that the Philippians “rejoice in the Lord”. But, aren’t all the things Paul just said previously pretty tough things to do? They require effort, sacrifice and oh, maybe even death. Brilliant. Where does the rejoicing come from then?

We’ll see that Paul is basically saying “Rejoice, by looking to Jesus” Keep that in your head. Rejoice, by looking to Jesus, as we see how Paul looks backwards, looks upwards and finally looks forward to explain his appeal to the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord.

Paul Looks Backwards
The immediate context of his urging for the Philippians to rejoice is actually in response to a danger in the church. We see Paul’s warning in v2. “Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.” The danger was that people in the church were reverting back to Jewish customs. They were looking backward to their life pre-Jesus, and actually going back to it.
Paul makes it clear in the next few verses the differences pre-Jesus and in-Jesus. (We don’t really ever get post-Jesus, we never go beyond Jesus). It’s there in your outline. Pre-Jesus – Boast in Self, as opposed to in-Jesus – Boast in Jesus. Some of the Philippians were boasting in their own good works to be right with God.

What does Paul do? Well, he looks back himself to where he was pre-Jesus. This is like his CV, a list of all his achievements.
v5 “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.”

Paul is totally boasting here. And if you were a Jew, you’d be super impressed. Paul is saying he is the closest anyone could be to being a good person. In modern day terms, he is like the Minister’s kid, who can recite the whole of John, who never complains about doing the dishes, who is in our eyes, perfect, especially compared to us. But Paul knows that we shouldn’t be comparing our good works with each other, we actually need to compare them with Jesus.

And so we get to our 2nd Point – Paul looks upwards.
Paul says we need to put Jesus into the picture, and that changes everything! v7 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” Straight after his immaculate CV, Paul says compared to Christ, everything on Paul’s achievement list is rubbish. His CV has turned out to actually be a criminal record, a loss to his personal standing. The almost perfect Paul says it’s all for nothing. Three things arise from that. Well, firstly, it gives hope to all of us who feel like we were never up to God’s standards in the first place, who have nothing on our CV, who know how far we are from God. Paul says none of that matters, every good work he has done to make him feel more confident in his goodness is just more rubbish on the heap.

Secondly, it humbles us who think we have our goodness all sorted. Oh, we’re from a good Christian family, a good school Christian group, a good church. But that is all pointless if you don’t have faith in Jesus. Those are good things, but they become bad if you rely on them, instead of Jesus. They become rubbish.

And finally, that gets us questioning, what is it about Jesus that changes the playing field so much? Why does looking to Jesus make Paul rejoice, even though it basically meant all he had worked for in the early part of his life was meaningless.

Well, that is answered in Verse 10 “To know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” Ok, everyone, you need to put on your seatbelts because this verse needs some serious unpacking.

First, to “Know Christ” That’s not to know about Christ or to know of Christ, it is to know him. Like you would know your parents or a friend. Paul knows Jesus, meaning he has a personal relationship with him. That might not seem so special, yeah, Paul knows this dude called Christ, but then.

“Know the power of his resurrection”. Woah, this isn’t some ordinary guy, he rose from the dead! And again, this is Paul “knowing” the power of his resurrection, and this isn’t the objective textbook “ I know the answer” kind of know. When Paul says know the power of his resurrection, he is basically saying “To personally experience the power of his resurrection”. How can he do that? Well this is where we have to answer the question, what is the “power” of his resurrection. What was achieved at the resurrection?

The answer? The defeat of sin and death. We as humans were under a curse for rebelling against God, and enslaved in the reality that because of our sin we would die. What Jesus achieved when he died and rose again was that we were free from sin and death, and could actually truly be right with God. None of this, us ourselves trying to be right with God nonsense, which never worked anyway. The power of Jesus’ resurrection is that it is the power to forgive our sins and make us right with God again. Paul is experiencing the amazing truth that his sins are forgiven and he is now right with God!

The “sharing in his sufferings” is the same idea, even though it might sound a bit weird, actually it’s another reason for great rejoicing. Basically, when Jesus dies, we also died. He represented us on the cross, so his sufferings, his punishment that he experiences, we also experienced, (although not physically). That’s the basis of the statement, Jesus dying on the cross for us. Here it is talking about it in the representative sense. If you don’t get the mechanics, don’t worry, the basic thing is that the punishment for sin is gone away because the death that it required to be paid has been paid by us, through Jesus who was our representative. And therefore we can now “Attain the resurrection from the dead!”

Maybe an analogy will help. Jesus on the cross can be described as the captain of the soccer team. The soccer team is all the Christians in the world. As the captain Jesus represents us. Say, our team did something really stupid, like score 20 own goals. The captain is the one who represents the whole team and resigns. Because the captain has taken that punishment, that team gets to play on normally, because the debt has been paid.

Obviously, with Jesus it is a little different. But basically, the point is that Jesus has the power to save. Look upwards because we are now seated in heaven with Jesus, because of the amazing power of the resurrection that we also personally experience if we trust in Jesus.

But not only are we looking at Jesus up in heaven, we are looking forward to the future here on earth, where we are working to be more like Jesus.

Which is our final point – Paul looks forward.

Paul knows that currently, he isn’t in heaven. Sadly, we aren’t in heaven either. Yes, we know Christ, we know we are saved by trusting in Jesus’ resurrection, but God hasn’t fully completed his work in us yet.
And that gets Paul excited. He looks forward to the future, even when he’s here on earth, where he knows with God’s help he will be moving towards completion in Christ, even though he knows it will only be finished in heaven.
I want to stress that THIS IS NOT A “JESUS SAVES YOU, SO NOW DO GOOD WORKS” message. I’ve got that capitalised in my notes. It is not! That is made clear as Paul says he is “forgetting what is behind”. He has left behind all his rules and regulations that make him right with God.
It comes back to “knowing Christ”. Paul has his eyes on the prize “in Christ Jesus” which means by knowing Christ Jesus, by being in a personal relationship with Jesus.
Paul knows we are not perfect now, but we still do know Christ Jesus. We are still looking at him. And as we look at him we will change. God will change us. With grace driven effort, we can change to be more like Jesus, whom we know. And as we change we rejoice, and we stumble and fall but God continues to mould us to be more like the final product which we will be in heaven, and which continues to spur us on.
To go back to the soccer team analogy, before, we were kicking own goals. Don’t continue to kick own goals! That’s just pointless. You can see your future, in heaven, knowing Jesus, so be transformed to be more like that final day, and rejoice!

So, Paul’s final point, to “rejoice in the Lord” well, it comes from looking to Jesus. Where you see how fruitless it is to rely on your never good enough good works, especially compared to the 100% certainty of salvation found in Jesus’ resurrection. Looking to Jesus, knowing him as your saviour and Lord means we will change. God will change us. But we look to Jesus and see how good he is and we rejoice in that change.

So , I urge you to Rejoice in the Lord, by looking upwards and onwards to Christ. Let’s pray. 

Heavenly Father,
Thank you that we can rejoice. Thank you that we can know Jesus, and know the power of his resurrection, that has saved us from sin and death. Pray that you would change us as we look to Jesus. Help us to rejoice, by looking upwards and onwards to Jesus. In his name we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


I am hungry at the moment. It's only 11:30 in the morning, I ate a normal breakfast of Sultana Bran at 7 am, and even ate an apple half an hour ago, but my stomach is still left wanting.

Last Monday, I was on the exact same schedule, exact same breakfast and I was going fine. Even without an apple. 

I was probably more mentally engaged last week, talking to a friend for 2 hours about life and university assignments and different denominations/cults of Christianity; that might explain it. Today I am trying to focus on actually completing a uni assignment which still seems out of grasp, I look at the screen, then my hands, then the screen again, but all I'm really looking at is my stomach. Staring back at me. It is the one controlling me. Not me. 

It's not even real hunger, its totally fake. I know it is. So I want to beat it. I have more rations of food in my bag, which is just underneath my seat, within reach. I could have a stale but filling, cold hot cross bun in my hands within seconds. In my mouth, into my stomach, up back into my brain within minutes. The energy threading through my blood, into my hands, my mind, back into focus over the next hour. 

I haven't really been reading my bible regularly for the past couple of months. I do have time, I don't have structure. I do have resources, I don't have the will. I do have the need, but I don't have the hunger. 

I have been fasting for days at a time, getting weaker and weaker, and even the time I do spend becomes quick hits, jelly beans, or bits of popcorn, instead of a huge serving of lasagna, layered with biblical theology, a right understanding of context, proper application into my life. 

I'm even learning how to cook. I've just finished a preliminary theology certificate in Biblical Theology. I starve myself to feed the kids as Kids Church, at youth group, in my small group, at bible study. That's not how God's word works though. 

Because, firstly, it does work. Without it I am losing to worldly influences. I need the Bible to fill me up, so that I don't waste my appetite on things that will never last. 

Secondly, have I misunderstood the reality of grace? Unlimited, overflowing, amazing, grace? Reading God's word is a joy that God shares with everyone. It's not something that is limited, finite. That's the opposite of infinite. 

I am hungry for God's word. I better go read it now.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Weekend Away

On an Autumn colour Friday evening, 
Our bible study weekend away convening

Lemon meringue pie for a birthday,
Cooked in community, shared with Christian family

Sand kicked up in a morning beach run,
Swimming in God's bath tub with the rising sun

French toast, man-cooked with apples and honey.
Yellowing our teeth, filling our tummy.

Shopping, sleep and ticket to ride,
Hanging our busy-soaked lives out to dry.

Pizza for dinner, it's a winner.
Chewy, a mix of flavours, like our group with different behaviours. 

Chinese Pictionary, our creativity spent
Albert weeing in Sarah's bed.

Eurovision, each act bringing more laughs, 
Waiting for Mauboy and the Aussie Galahs. 

Driving home, back into the world,
But our experiences we'll never forget, they were just swell!

Friday, 21 February 2014


If you have known me for awhile, you might have noticed that each year I have some favourite words that I like to use. Especially when it comes to describing my relationship with God, since He is so infinite and awesome I end up each year find new things I get fascinated about him.

For the last few months that word has been "glory". I guess it was sparked by a poster advertising an upcoming camp which described humans as "glorious dust". I was just so blown away how puny humans, my sinful self, my meaningless dustful existence becomes "glorious" because of God's grace.

With this word "glory" in my mind, I've begun to look at many things from a different angle. For instance, in December I went on Mission to Narribri (which I did not end up writing a summary as promised in my last post). There I was struck how a country church of farmers and what some people would class as second-rate citizens (although I am definitely not one of them, they are amazing people!) becomes a place filled with God's glory.

Sharing the good news becomes a glorious exercise, as my heart overflows with God's grace and bursts to share it with others. Singing Christmas carols becomes a chance to praise God's infinite glory. Kids church leading turns into an awe-inspiring task seeing little children understand God's glory. Even day to day life becomes a testament to God's glory that flows to me through what Jesus has done on the cross.

God's glory, his glorious presence, his glorious creation, his glorious salvation plan; all so graciously allowing humans to be a part of, so we can experience that glory too.

That's why glory is my favourite word right now.