Thursday, 15 January 2015

Creativity not tragedy

What is the gospel? Is it simply an evacuation plan, how to enter Heaven and avoid Hell? Where should we get our understanding of the gospel from, only the New Testament? What if insight could be gained if we stepped right back to the very beginning?

Genesis 1:1-2 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Now I deliberately pause here before the announcement of light and the rest of creation. What do we have here? We have raw material and raw energy waiting to be formed and shaped and used for something good. This is where the Bible starts, with creativity, not tragedy. With possibility!
This is where the Bible begins, with possibility, with hope, a place where heaven and earth are in harmony and creativity is waiting to burst forth.

I believe that many followers of Christ have lost hope and become disheartened because they have never been presented with the wide angle view of the gospel and all they were left with was an evacuation plan gospel that had nothing to say about life here, now, today. It is my understanding that people tell stories they are captivated by, moved by, inspired by. When something gets under your skin it naturally spills out of you. I believe it’s time to wake up and see that we are standing on holy ground, that each moment counts, that people need you to be your true self.

The gospel is good news and we need to recapture that. I think we need to probe deep into our hearts and ask the tough questions and get to the bottom of why the gospel doesn’t bring us joy. I believe many have no joy from the gospel because they are afraid of the God behind it all. They are trying so hard to get everything lined up that there is no time for joy, or they just stuff it down and get on with their lives like everyone else.

Many think of sharing the gospel as telling someone that if they aren’t right with Jesus they will die and go to hell, I say the gospel is far more than that, the gospel is good news, so at its core it is about connection and communication. Our whole life should be gospel, every kind word matters, every thoughtful act counts, it’s all gospel. It's about taking the plunge into a new world Jesus invites us into, it’s about trusting that He is good, it’s about coming to life, and coming to terms with our life in every aspect owning our story and knowing that our story is woven into His story and can help others if we are open.

That I might save some

Paul wrote the following in Corinthians 9:19-23 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

He climaxes his statement by saying "I have become all things to all people  so that by all possible means I might save some."

Then he goes on to say "I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

The implication here is that if we don't become all things to all men (and women) then we are missing out on sharing the gospel and enjoying its blessings. What does it mean in 2015 to become all things to all men? What would the examples Paul might use today be, "To the liberals I have become liberal" "To the post-modern's I have become post-modern" From what it looks like to me Paul met people right where they were and He was not afraid to engage with anyone in any place. I think what we have tended to do is say "this is the gospel, take it or leave it" and when people leave it we just bracket them out and call them rebellious or whatever helps us sleep at night. Paul does something so fascinating in this text, on the one hand he acknowledges his freedom and yet he refers to himself as a slave, he was so compelled with the gospel he gave everything and he saw it as a joy. Perhaps we have been sold something far short of what Paul was referring to, perhaps we need to rethink our whole concept of salvation which to Paul was clearly more than just going somewhere better after death. Jesus described the Kingdom of God like a treasure, may we wake up and see the treasure that the gospel is, may we be so compelled with it that it would naturally overflow from our hearts, that we would take the time to become all things to all men and women, that we may win some.

Reframing the Gospel

If we could import Jesus into 2015 what would that look like? First of all who would He want to associate with? Where would He find His disciples? Who would be drawn to His teaching? Who would despise Him? What stories would He tell? What images would He use to speak of His kingdom? I wonder if there is value in pondering these ideas as it seems for so many the text of the Bible has become nothing more than nice ancient stories for an era long past. If we strip everything back to it's basics, one man with 12 disciples and a message for humanity which includes grace, love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, judgement and so on. Perhaps instead of turning the tables in the temple and throwing out the money changers he would be railing on big business and corporation much the same way as Russell Brand is (not saying He is Jesus haha). Would the work that he endorses be found mostly inside or outside of the church or would it even matter to Him, perhaps He would just affirm goodness wherever it is found. Would He rail against atheists as some in the Church do or would He find Himself agreeing with many of their sentiments (though it would be hard to be an atheist living in the time of Jesus haha) Who would be the ones crying out for His death?

Perhaps we need to Reframe the gospel to connect with people here, now, today, perhaps we need to wake up and see that the ground we are standing on is holy. I believe that each of us has a story to tell and the story of our lives is connected to the overarching story of the gospel. We each have our part to play in enjoying the story and inviting others into it too.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

We will be forgotten

It's not a nice reality to consider but it's true, someday we will all be forgotten. In a strange way it puts everything in perspective, when we zoom out and see the bigger picture it's humbling. We live on a planet, where every conflict, every love story, everything that has happened in human history has happened on this pale blue dot we call earth. Our time is short, so what are we going to do, or rather what and who are we going to value. When you really break it down all we have is each other, all we have is this moment. Maybe Heaven and Hell have less to do with locations that we are heading for and more to do with the disposition of our hearts, what I mean is maybe Heaven is when we are open handed about life and appreciate it for what it is, and maybe Hell is when we get clingy and greedy trying to hold onto things that are ever fading away.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

For the brokenhearted

So in my first blog I mentioned briefly about suffering heartache, I thought that it may be helpful for some to talk about that a bit more. It is a very delicate subject and can be a place of pain for many people, I can’t be the only one that has been through it. Perhaps this is me just wanting to get some things of my chest, either way I hope someone finds it helpful. I believe that human’s ability to love is the highest quality that we possess and perhaps the most mysterious. To love someone who doesn’t love you back can be devastating and even hard to process, I know it was for me. You see in this other person a world of infinite possibility and they don’t feel the same way, soul crushing! For me in my experience I have learned to be grateful for the pain that I have been through, I know that it has given me empathy toward others and it has helped me see God’s love for humanity. The Bible says that God is with the brokenhearted, I believe that to be true. True love is setting someone free and I know it took me a long time to do that. Letting go is never easy and sometimes we need to grieve for people even those who are still alive, we need to grieve the loss of relationships sometimes and own the fact that things may not ever be the way we want or hope. We need to keep loving people even though it hurts sometimes, if we give up on love we just become another cold and cynical bystander.

Sunday, 11 January 2015


Today's blog is a very simple one, I just want to convey my love and gratitude to my friends and family who keep me on the straight and narrow. There have been so many people in my life that have given me space to grow and make mistakes and I just want to share how thankful I am. I know that people reading my posts and blogs don't always get me, to be honest I don't get me sometimes. I tend to be a bit of a deep thinker. I just want my life to count for something, I want to be significant in some way. My hope is that as I continue to write that people will be encouraged. I have contemplated walking the other way when it comes to faith but I realize that I can't, I see order and beauty in the Universe and I see hope and salvation in the cross. I see values such as kindness and forgiveness as key to this life, I am grateful to those who have shown me such things and much much more.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Why I'm Almost Agnostic

Growing up I was taught that we know God exists because we see intelligence in the universe. In the same way a painting has a painter, and a building has a builder, creation has a creator. So the argument is made that an intelligent being is needed to create an intelligent universe, but then if you back up and ask where did God come from, we run into all kinds of problems, we find ourselves firmly in the realm of speculation. The thing is this doesn't bother me in the slightest, I don't see it as a negative. I see it as an indication that we are all operating on faith no matter where we stand, some people believe in the beginning God, other people believe in the beginning nothing.

There is a wonder and mystery to the universe whatever way you look at it.

I'm struggling at the moment to hold onto my faith, it sometimes feels like I'm clinging to my religion and my religion is punching me in the stomach. I can see why some people go the other way when it comes to faith. When we forget that it IS faith and try and prove it to people to the point where faith isn't required, that is when things get ugly. I choose to live my life based on the idea that love, grace, and forgiveness, among many other things matter. I believe (have faith) that how we live matters, that the universe is on our side.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Why can't you just think like me?

The world would be much easier if everyone just thought like me, don't you agree? (see what I did there haha) The truth is, in my life at least, that most of my pain has come from me trying to convert others into thinking and seeing like me. To be fair to myself other people have done the same thing to me, we all do it (I believe) to some extent. I have been trying lately to deconstruct the beliefs that I was handed with the ones that are actually mine, it's proving quite hard and I would say borderline impossible. So if part of our DNA is made up from things we were handed then how is anything our fault, I mean this idea that we are all totally free individuals with free choice seems to me a myth. Maybe humanity would progress and grow if we lived with more of a community focus in mind. It just seems that this idea (which is all it really is) of individuality isn't working to a large extent. We see all kinds of examples in society where community breeds beauty and creativity, from sports teams to orchestras, life works well when we work in a team.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Pale Blue Dot

We live in a crazy universe, I'm only learning now to appreciate this reality. Growing up we were taught "God did it that settles it", though I may still believe that to be true I feel like I really missed out on the wonder and awe of the universe. It is sad the way that religion and science have been put in the ring together as sparing partners. I don't think that they are aiming for the same goal, science is very good at answering "how" questions, how does this work and so on, but religion or faith (or even philosophy if you prefer) is good at answering the "why" questions, why are we here etc. Even if you aren't religious you still have questions that science can't answer, it will never answer as it's not equipped to, questions like "Why do I feel so alone?" "Why do I love my children more than my own life?" or even simple things like "Why do I enjoy music and the arts?" It's humbling to look at how big the universe is in comparison to us on this tiny pale blue dot we call home.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Refusing to split the world

So as I am starting to see the world with new eyes I am learning to see humanity in a new way. Before everything fell apart I split the world into nice neat categories and that helped me make sense of the world, it also meant that I never really stopped to turn the focus on my own beliefs and actions, I was exempt from examination. Religion is a great system for splitting the world which is why I think that it does us good once in a while to look at what people outside our religion are saying, hold up a mirror so to speak and see yourself in truth, the truth should have nothing to fear. When you stop splitting the world you become in some sense an enemy inside your own camp, people don't often like self critique and most religious systems are just built on affirmation so you go to church to hear what you already believe, nothing changes. As I said in earlier posts for me it was when the system wasn't affirmed, when disruption came, then new ideas could flourish. It has been well said that often our last experience of God is the biggest hindrance to our next experience of God. I believe that nothing is wasted, all the pain that we go through if we stay open is not for nothing, I get why some people close up, life is hell sometimes and often we can find ourselves in survival mode just trying to get by. Many have been hurt by church expressions due to all kinds of things including splitting the world into "them" and "us". Someone once said if the church could ever get back to love alone you couldn't stop it, someone else also said the church used to be known for the way they love one another, now they are known for the way they shove one another.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Supplies for the road

The process of rebuilding has been a hard and long one with many difficulties along the way. I have had times when I was prepared to throw it all away and just give up, on myself, on everything. Sometimes it feels too painful to deal with, too painful to even look at. We all find supplies for the road, some people find it in relationships, others food or alcohol, others even in God. We're too often afraid of facing what lurks inside of us, so we don't stop, we just keep going and going so that we don't have to confront our own darkness. We are scared that if we dive in and see whats there that we will get lost in some endless abyss. I have found relief in alcohol, food, and many other things along the way, and I get why people go down those roads. I used to think that people did all the things they did because they were "evil" or "bad people" but having been down those roads myself I have met people who are simply lost and looking for somewhere to call home. I think that the human race has been longing and looking for that place they can call home from day one. For now we are wanderers, wondering where to go, and what it's all about. I know for myself I want to learn to see the beauty in those around me and appreciate people right where they are, I've spent so much of my life trying to change others and myself perhaps it's time to start enjoying the journey.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Going on a journey

It seems to me that life is a journey, one day we are basking in the sun and the next we are crashing against the rocks. I think it's fair to say that most of us like a life that is comfortable and easy, however the life we get is not always the one we asked or hoped for. Pain happens to us all and what we do with that pain shapes who we become.

My life started out with fairly humble beginnings, I come from a broken home which is typical of many families in this day and age. It never really bothered me, it was all I knew. I am a twin so from time to time I found myself comparing my life to my brothers and feeling like I came up short, he was always the out going one, carefree or so it appeared from the outside. As you grow older you realize that nobody gets a free pass, we all have our cross to bear.

We grew up very religious and went to church every Sunday, I can't think of a time in my life that I didn't believe in God it was never an option or rather never considered. Believing in God gives you a sense of meaning and purpose and that feels good, you feel like you have been put on the earth for a reason. Through my teens my faith was very strong, so strong in fact that I went out of my way to create opportunities to share my faith with others, even complete strangers. When the worldview that you hold to says that there are only two options at death you find yourself pretty serious about letting people know how they can avoid Hell and Damnation.

So this way of seeing the world held up for a number of years and felt good, as I say having the certainty or at least perceived certainty that you are right and people who don't agree are wrong brings you a great sense of moral superiority.

It was the pain of a severe mental breakdown coupled with severe heartache that caused my whole world to fall apart. Everything that I knew was called into question, I suffered the complete loss of belief in the things that I was so sure about, it was just gone. It felt like I had to rebuild my whole life again and the rubble from the collapse was not going to suffice.

I began to have questions such as "Why Me?" "Where is God?"

This painful and horrific situation sent me on a journey where I had to be prepared to let it all go, it's been well said that pain has a way of making us more honest. I had to own the failure, I didn't have to like it but I had to acknowledge it. This is part of my story, part of my journey.

There may be people reading this who no doubt have their own painful story to tell, wherever you are at with it know that you are not alone and that whatever you have been through or may still be going through you can own it without it defining your life.