Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog Re-Invention... Coming Soon...

Looking forward to re-working this blog as I enter a new season of life as a church planter. Look for updates in the new year.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Earthquakes & Theistic Evolution

Understanding Genesis, the creation account, literal seven day creation, evolution, theistic evolution, progressive creation etc etc, has long fascinated me.

I find theistic evolution the most compelling theory of God's 'method' of creation and feel it does due diligence both to the biblical text and to science.

Of course this creates all sorts of issues that must be addressed in regards to death and pain and suffering and of course earthquakes.

BioLogos is one of my favouritte blogs to follow and recently offered a different perspective on earthquakes...here.

You Shall Not...

What does it mean to take the Lord's name in vain?

C Michael Patton offers some interesting thoughts on his blog Parchment and Pen.

Essentially he concludes that...

God was attempting to prevent the Israelites from doing the same thing. God was saying for them not to use His name like the nations used the names of their gods. He did not want them to use His name to invoke false authority behind pronouncements. In essence, God did not want the Israelites to say that He said something that He had not said. This makes sense. God has a reputation to protect. He does not want anyone saying “Thus sayeth the Lord” if the Lord had not spoken. All of you have experienced this. You have had people say you said something you did not say. This can be very damaging to your character. It is very destructive to your name. Why? Because it makes you out to be something that you are not. How much more important is it for God to protect His character? It is fitting that God would have put this as one of the ten most important commandments as the nation of Israel moved towards Canaan. It is his name (i.e. reputation) that is at stake.

What does this mean for us? Well, for starters we understand that the third commandment is not focused on something so trivial as saying “God damn it!” The funny thing is that while some people may never think of using that phrase, people all over the Christian religious landscape are breaking the third commandment every day, damaging the Lord’s reputation. “Thus sayeth the Lord . . .” “God told me to tell you . . .” “God says that if you send in this much money, you will be blessed.” I could go on and on, but you get the point. Using the name of the Lord in vain, I believe, means that you do damage to His reputation and character through false and unsure claims.

Therefore, think deeply before you say “God said . . .” Make sure that He has really said it. Don’t be flippant by trying to encourage a friend and say, “God is telling you . . .” If you are unsure, make your statement reflect your uncertainty. Saying “I think God is telling you to . . .” rather than “God is telling you to . . .” may not be as authoritative, but it will keep God’s reputation safe and keep you from breaking the third commandment.

I visit his blog occasionally and from time to time really appreciate his thoughts and insights

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thoughts on Christian Art

Here are some insightful thoughts on Christian art from Richard Beck. Well worth a read.

I particularly appreciated the thought that words on art lead to a Gnostic faith rather than an Incarnational faith, especially when the concept is taken further to include meals, retreats, recreational gatherings etc.

I also agree that words too easily distract from the subtleties, nuances, mystery and wonder of art and as Richard extends the thought to so many other areas of life. We want the meaning when at times there are many meanings and Spirit wanting to bring those meanings alive!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Guest Blogging for John Finkelde

I'm guest blogging for Pastor John Finkelde from CCC Hepburn Heights today.

You can check out the post and his blog here.

Pastor John is a great pastor and leader and will be speaking at our church conference, Increase, later in the year. You'll be inspired and blessed through his ministry for sure!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Biblical Armageddon Must Be Taught Alongside Global Warming

This link will take you to a thoughtful post by David Opderbeck on Through a Glass Darkly.

Well worth reading post and following the link in order to watch a very funny video.

Click here for post.

Click here to go straight to clip.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Good News of the Gospel

Here is a quick attempt at summarising my understanding of the gospel as simply as I can. My summary is full of Christian language and there is a depth of meaning underneath concepts like 'to live in Him (Jesus)' that could be unpacked further, as could terms like 'faith' and 'repentance.' A good exercise nontheless.

The world is broken but it wasn't always broken and it won't be broken forever; there is 'good news.'

God created the world good. The centre piece of creation was humankind created in the image of God. Humankind was created to love and worship God and to live in wholeness of relationship with each other, stewarding and developing the rest of creation. However humankind broke relationship with God by disobeying God and sinning. Humanity fell short of that which God intended it to be.

As a result we all have a sin problem that separates us from God, from ourselves, from each other and from the rest of creation. In and of ourselves we are powerless to deal with this sin problem. This sin problem is wrecking havoc on earth now and separates humanity from God partially now and promises to permanently in the future.

The good news is that God in his love sent Jesus Christ to rescue humanity from sin and to deal with humankind's sin problem. Jesus lived, died, rose from the dead and sent the Spirit in order that through faith and repentance all who respond to Jesus can be forgiven their sins and from sin in order to start a new life 'in Him.'

In Him we are restored to right relationship with God, with ourselves, with each other and with the world around us. We begin the process of learning to live as God always intended us to live and do this in the context of God's community, the church. The church is historical and global in nature but also an actual, tangible community that we commit and involve ourselves in locally.

As Christ followers live missionally and participate with the Spirit in God's redemptive work, faith, hope and love will begin to change lives and communities as the rule and reign of God (his kingdom) is established here on earth as it is in heaven. While God's kingdom will only be experienced in part now, and while Christ followers are not immune to the effects of the brokenness that exits in the world, Christ followers live in light of eternity, as sign posts to the truth that Jesus Christ will return and his kingdom will be established in full forever. Justice and judgement will flow throughout the world, creation will be restored and those whose faith and trust is in Jesus Christ will be judged righteous and will live in wholeness and restored relationship with God forever.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Big Story

This link will take you to a 3 minute clip of James Choung presenting the gospel with a marker and a single piece of paper. This is the kind of link you could happily e-mail to unchurched friends who may have questions about God confident that it would be helpful in your journey with them.

Watch it here.

What is the Gospel?

There is a great post and discussion dealing with the question 'what is the gospel?' on Scot McKnight's blog Jesus Creed.

It would be well worth you checking out the discussion.

Here is the link.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lots of Humans!

Ever noticed in your reading of Genesis 1 that God created lots of humans (male and female) all at once?

First time I've seen it from that perspective.

Mmmm. Lot's of really interesting implications...

Israel's Two Creation Stroies (Part 3)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Theology is More than Head Knowledge

I enjoyed this recent post by Lisa Robinson on the blog Parchment and Pen. She writes about how Theology is More than Head Knowledge and addresses the age old attitude about how we don't need more theology we just need more people walking the walk!

Well worth the read.


Learning theology is head knowledge. It is just obtaining information. Unless, we are participating in some form of ministry and downloading the information, theology is useless.

While I would wholeheartedly agree that the tangible outworking of our faith is important, I think the statement that theology is nothing more than head knowledge is a mis-statement and does a disservice to actively pursuing the knowledge of God.

Everyone is a theologian. Everyone has a theology of some sort – Everyone. Why? Because of what theology is. It is the study of God – theo (God) plus logos (reason, wisdom or thought). Theology is reasoning about God or “God-Thought”. It is how we learn about God and think about Him. To the extent that we are engaged in this task, is to the extent that we are thinking and learning about God.

Whatever methodology is employed to grasp the study of God, will shape how we think about him.

Shunning any type of theological study as just gaining head knowledge is saying that learning is not important and maybe even irrelevant.

Theology is practical. Theology is useful. Theology will be lived out, whether we participate in formalized ministry or not.

Theology is more than head knowledge – it is faith seeking understanding that should cause us to be reflective Christians that care deeply about the Christian faith enough to gather as much information as we can about it.

Grenz and Olson say it best,

Engaging in theology is finding answers to questions that arise in the course of living the Christian life in contemporary culture. Any person seeking to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in today’s world will encounter questions…[but] theology is not so much a set of pat answers to these and other similar questions as it is a way of thinking toward answers. The only alternative to honestly seeking answers is refusing to live Christianity in public and thus refusing to engage in discussions with questioning seekers. This alternative is hardly compatible with authentic Christianity.

Monday, May 3, 2010


You should go and buy the latest National Geographic. It is a special edition on water and the issue that a lack of water is to so many in the world. It is an issue that we should all be aware of and where possible should be a part of trying to solve.


Friday, April 30, 2010

On 'Quiet Times'...

Dallas Willard on 'quiet times'...

My main problem with “quiet time” is that I want my whole day to be quiet. I don’t go into quiet time to be something that I have and then depart from into “noisy time.” No, my main business is to make the whole day “quiet time.”

So, given the day, I may have an extended time of the study of Scripture or prayer, but that depends upon which day it is because some days, I simply can’t do that. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. There would be something wrong if on those days I took a vacation [from being with God], but I don’t do that. Jesus said He would be with us always, and that’s the center of what I try to do. I try to be with Him.

I have other periodic things like fasting. I try to fast some period of time each week and do longer fasts periodically. Then, of course, worship and all of the things that we might think about on a periodic basis, but my objective is to have the Lord always with me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Creation; More Options Than You Thought?

It may or may not be a surprise to you but bible believing Christians actually have a number of options when it comes to understanding Genesis 1 and 2 and how God created the cosmos. I'm open to a couple of the options as being more legitimate than others but there is one that makes most sense to me. Most biblical scholars are the same; they'll have a theory that will resonate with them and their study but will hold it lightly and graciously. There are of course biblical scholars in each of the various camps that refute all the other options as illegitimate, so it is still a contentious issue. Recently two of the church's foremost Old Testament scholars had to resign their positions in their respective seminaries over their beliefs and speaking out about the issue.

Here are five options, two are obviously not tenable as Christians. The other three are not necessarily contrary to scripture.

Special creation - the belief that the universe and life suddenly sprang into existence at the word of God. Most often this theory reads Genesis 1 and 2 as literal creation accounts.

Progressive creation - the belief that God instantaneously created new forms of life, but periodically over 100's of millions of years.

Theistic evolution - or similarly evolutionary creation, the belief that God created the cosmos through and by means of evolution. Evolution is a natural process within God's creation.

Intelligent design - the belief that certain aspects of the universe are best explained by an intelligent cause. Here though the source of the design is not defined and is not defined necessarily as the Christian God.

Evolution - that after a big bang the world evolved out of nothing into its reality today through random and natural selection.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Post Lent Post

In 2009 I discovered Lent and in 2010 participated in Lent for the first time ever. I look forward to 2011 as I found the experience spiritually profound and meaningful.

I gave up all drink other than water for the 40 days. No juice, milkshakes, fizzy, wine, coffee etc.

I was constantly reminded of how much I have and how little others and was challenged to continually look to be salt, light and a lifting hand.

I was reminded of Jesus and his strength, determination and passion. First seen in his 40 days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness and finally seen at Easter.

I listened to the 5 week Lenten series on the book of Jonah that Rob Bell and Shane Hipps preached at Mars Hill.

I was challenged that God is not always wanting to rescue us from the storms and the fish but rather to rescues us from ourselves in the storms and the fish.

I was impacted by the reality that God is everywhere. Constantly and always at work by the power of the Spirit outworking his plans of redemption here on earth. God is there in the darkness though we may not at first perceive it, outworking his plans and purposes.

That which I thought I couldn't do without,
I soon discovered I could do without.
That which I craved to have back,
I soon discovered I didn't need back.
That which I thought added colour,
I soon discovered was only enjoyed because colour was already there.

I trust that if you observed Lent this year you found in some way a freshness in your walk with God.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Easter is Getting Closer

Easter is getting closer which obviously means Lent is drawing to a close. If you have been abstaining from something for Lent (I've gone without any drinks other than water, no coffee, juice, fizzy, wine etc) it is tempting to start thinking 'finally, it's nearly over.' I understand the feeling! At the same time though it is important for us to remember that while we in a small way find solidarity with those who go without by choosing to go without, they don not have the luxury of simply choosing to re-engage. I'm blessed to soon be able to drink coffee again. Many do not have the choice for coffee, or milk, or coke or even access to clean drinking water. As you re-engage with whatever it is that you set aside thank God that you are able to. Thank God for his blessing on your life. Commit afresh to standing for justice in the world and on behalf of those who lack so much.

O Lord who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen. The Collect from the first Sunday in Lent from an old Church of England Book of Common Prayer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hello Handsome!!!

This is my son Romeo Alexander Thomas McAuley trying on his outfit for his aunty's wedding in a few weeks. Hot stuff and proud as punch!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Sometimes some things in life are just 'aaaarrrggh.' You can't nessasarily describe what 'aaaarrrggh' is and you can't always put your finger on why things feel 'aaaarrrggh.' Things are just 'aaaarrrggh.'

Perhaps you feel 'aaaarrrrggh' about something today.

You may be frustrated, confused, annoyed, feel confined, lack the clarity you want, have lost a peace that you had, trying to move quicker but you can't, trying to slow things down but you can't. You might be bored or tired or at the end of your tether.

What to do?

1. Talk to someone you trust.

Even if you can't articulate exactly what is going on talk to someone you can trust. They might be able to help you articulate your 'aaaarrrggh.' They may have some words of wisdom. They may be nothing more than a listening ear. Often talking is enough to ease the 'aaaarrrggh' though. Verbalising things can bring clarity and can bring a sense of order or peace.

2. Talk to God.

Pause and pray. Read a Psalm. Give your 'aaaarrrggh' over to Him. He can handle it. Ask God to guide you in regards to why you are ill at ease. Is God trying to teach you something? Is God trying to get your attention? Is God trying to get you to do something? 'Aaaarrrggh's' are not necessarily a problem to be solved. God is their with you in the midst of your 'aaaarrrggh.'

3. Move.

Not move city, just relocate yourself temporaraily. Go to the gym, go for a walk along the beach, go for a swim somewhere, go for a run, get a coffee, have a beer. Change your context externally for a 'selah' moment but also change the context of your thinking. Get lost in a novel or a sports match, or playing with your kids, or sailing a boat, or fishing. Don't think about your 'aaaarrrggh.' Get caught up in some other aspect of life. Your 'aaaarrrggh' is not likely your whole life.

4. Keep going.

Don't let your 'aaaarrrggh' stop you, hold you back, cause you to drift, relax or sit down. Keep going! Keep pushing forward, taking ground, living the dream, building the Kingdom and allowing God to build your life. God leads us as we walk far more often than when we sit.

5. Aaaarrrggh's don't last forever.

You'll get through.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Which Experts?

Do you ever find yourself needing the input of an expert? The reality is that we all do, if we are honest, if we are wise. Which experts though? There are so many and when it comes to issues of faith and theology, at times the experts seem to contradict each other massively. Who can you trust? Which expert(s) do you go to? Do you just 'Google' your question and hope some blogger or website might solve everything for you? How though can you trust the website or the blog? Do you just get a book from the library or buy one on Amazon? Which book though there are thousands?

One man's expert is another man's fool.

Here is how I do my best to find expert input that I feel I can trust. I write in relation to issues of theology, Christian faith, biblical interpretation, Christian ministry etc, but I guess my method would work across disciplines.

First, I contact the most knowledgeable person in regards to whatever this particular area of enquiry is that I know personally and trust openly. Who in my world would I perceive to know or understand the most about this issue at stake? Who is my expert? I approach this person and ask them what they think about the issue at stake and learn from them.

Second, I ask them who they would trust as an expert that I could glean more information from, either through personal contact or through a book or paper that they might have written. I'm trusting this person in regards to their own thoughts and also in regards to who they would trust and look to as an expert on the topic at hand. Normally my expert has two or three experts to recommend.

Third, I make contact with the expert(s) that my expert has recommended. This contact is most often via a book or a paper they have written rather than personal contact. At times though I have contacted a recommended expert personally. When and if I can make successful contact with this next level of expert I again ask their opinion (or read it in a book) and also ask who they would recommend looking for input from (usually you can do this by reading footnotes or the bibliography in their book). E-mail some authors though and they'll happily e-mail you their recommended reading if you approach them.

Fourth, I have another level or layer of opinion I can now look to if I still feel I don't have satisfactory answers, insight, opinion and perspective on an issue at hand.

I've found that this method of research I guess you could call it, yields a wealth of wisdom but at the same time wisdom that I feel I can trust.

I receive the input of someone that I personally know and trust.

I receive the input of experts that they respect and trust.

I receive the input and advice of a third level of expertise, my expert's expert's experts!

In reality though I don't often have to go that far. Normally the 2-3 resources that my expert recommends will be all the help I need.

Sound reasonable?

The only catch is that everything really hinges on your expert, the person that you know and respect personally, that points you in the right (hopefully!) direction right at the start. You want to make sure you have people in your world that are genuinely wise and knowledgeable (not comparatively to your indoor cricket buddies) but actually respected in their field.

Get that right and away you go, get that wrong and away you go as well, only potentially in the wrong direction.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Ancient Practices

Having already read Fasting, I have just finished reading The Liturgical Year, a second book in a series called The Ancient Practices; and I loved it!

The series is edited by Phyllis Tickle and is an 8 book series on spiritual disciplines.

“Religion, wherever it is found, is more than a system of untethered beliefs. Rather, it is an intricate, interlocking lacework of physical laws, intellectual assumptions, and spiritual values that, held in common, are both the faith lived and its perpetuation,” remarks Tickle. “This series of seven volumes and an overarching introductory one is a reverent, grateful, and unabashedly Christian celebration of that heritage which has been with us from the beginning and will be with us until the end.”

The series begins with an introductory book by Brian McLaren (which I haven't read yet) and then follows with 7 books on different spiritual disciplines. Well worth reading. I'm trying to decide which one to buy next and devour?

In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson

Sabbath by Dan Allender

Fasting by Scot McKnight

Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher

Sacred Journey by Charles Foster

The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister

Tithing by Douglas LeBlanc

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Favourite Poem

I don't read a lot of poetry, or any actually. I do come across poems from time to time though in other books I read.

This would be my favourite poem by a million nautical miles though.

‘Tis the Set of the Sails - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life:
‘Tis the set of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
* Are your sails set?
* In what direction are they set?
* Do you blame the wind or ride the wind?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why I Fast - Part 3 of 3

Today's Lenten reflection was on fasting so a good time to complete this little series.

I fast for lots of reasons, the following already mentioned...

* Fasting is an assumed biblical practice of Jesus' disciples
* Fasting is the most appropriate response to certain sacred moments we experience in life
* Fasting reminds me of how much I have
* Fasting focuses my heart on the hungry and the poor in this world
* Fasting urges me to resist consumerism, materialism, and greed
* Fasting saves me money which I can give to organisations working with people trapped in poverty
* Fasting reminds me of that which God has already spoken to me about
* Fasting is a tangible, physical, touch, taste, feel way of out working my faith (well not taste).
* Fasting is an expression of repentance, the turning from one way to another.
* Fasting affirms the reality that one cannot live by bread alone.

Here is a little more...

In life we must be prepared to give up some things if we intend to get things that are even more important. We understand this in regards to saving. The same is true in our spiritual development. Through fasting we chose to give up and focus on the pursuit of that which is more important than food. When we fast we pray and reflect and pursue God. Bodily comfort must not be allowed to soften the search for spiritual fortitude - Joan Chittister. Through fasting we embrace the reality that life is not about permanent and continual self-satisfaction. We learn to control our bodies and thus condition ourselves for control in more challenging situations. We master self-conquest and we become aware of what is truly necessary in life.

In sum...

I fast for a number of reasons. I don't always find it easy. I get hungry, but that's not really the hard part. Going without food is relatively easy. What's hard is choosing to go without food. Why am I doing this? Does it even matter, make a difference, do anything in my life? When those questions come I reflect on the many reasons that I fast. At different times different reasons stand out and I am strengthened in my resolve to follow Christ and live counter to the way of the world. It's only one way, but nevertheless it is a way in which my inner faith begins to truly be outworked in life. It aims my life in a different direction, in a Kingdom direction.

At times I'll fast longer than a single day but at present the rhythm of a regular weekly fast is significant in my life. I eat on a Wednesday and then not again till Friday. Another way of doing this could be to miss dinner on a Wednesday night through until having dinner on a Thursday night. That may be slightly less daunting.

Either way I'd encourage you to think about fasting. NOT in order to get something though, but rather as perhaps and appropriate response to something that God is doing in your life.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why I Fast - Part 2 of 3

Appreciating that scripture points to fasting as something that Christ followers do and appreciating that as reason in itself to fast, why else would you fast? What are some rational reasons for fasting because at times (especially when you are fasting) it can often seem irrational? For me there are a number of reasons.

1. Fasting is the most appropriate response to certain sacred moments we experience in life.

Fasting is that which is done in response to a sacred moment of some sort. One experiences some sort of sacred moment (a burden for something from the Holy Spirit, conviction of the Holy Spirit, challenge of the Holy Spirit, call of the Holy Spirit and so on) and the most appropriate response is often fasting.

I’ve long felt the stirring and prompting of the Holy Spirit, in many different ways, in regards to so many in the world oppressed by injustice, trapped in poverty, dying from lack of food and clean drinking water. At the same time I’ve been greatly challenged in regards to issues of consumerism, materialism and greed in my life and in the western world. There are a number of ways in which I have responded and continue to respond to this such as changing my spending habits, adjusting my lifestyle, purchasing ethically when I need to purchase, giving more to projects and organisations that are dealing with these problems. As well as these things fasting is a natural response, especially a weekly fast. Each week I remember these issues even though I’ve moved on from the occasions where I particularly felt the Holy Spirit speak to me.

As I fast, in a small way I identify with those that are hungry and poor. In a small way I stand against consumerism and materialism. In a small way I stand against greed, gluttony and the lust of the flesh. In a big way though these issues remain on the forefront of my mind and are not forgotten as fads or ‘once upon a times.’

Scot McKnight describes three potential phases in regards to fasting.

A - Sacred moment
B - Fasting
C - Results

He describes fasting as a movement from A to B, not a movement from C to B. In other words we respond to the work of the Spirit by fasting rather than responding to needs or results we need in life and so fast in the hope of achieving them.

I have come to the conclusion about fasting; when the grievous sacred moment is neglected and instead we focus on the results, fasting becomes a manipulative device instead of a genuine Christian discipline. Scot McKnight

When people tell us they are fasting our question should be, ‘in response to what?’ rather than ‘what do you hope to get out of it?’ Scot McKnight

2. Fasting integrates the immaterial with the material.

I fast because it is a tangible, physical, touch, taste, feel way of out working my faith (well not taste). The Christian life is not simply and inner life of belief, an inner spirituality disconnected to our physical life. We are embodied beings. Prayer, faith, trust, repentance are all spiritual/physical immaterial/material realities. Fasting helps me to actually ‘live’ my faith.

Fasting is a tangible way of expressing and feeling repentance, the turning from one way to another.

Fasting is a tangible way of affirming one cannot live by bread alone.

Fasting is a tangible way of expressing hunger and thirst for God.

Fasting is a tangible way of identifying with the poor and developing God’s heart for the poor.

Fasting is a tangible way of denying the flesh and maintaining discipline, resolve, inner resolution and strength in your character.

For me, along with tithing, the practice of Sabbath, and other disciplines, fasting is a real life action, initiative, discipline, rhythm and way of living that ensures my inner convictions and Christian values and beliefs are continually established as reality in my life rather than so easily forgotten or overcome by the values of this world.

More to follow...

Gift & Grace

The more we know of life, the more we know that all we have is gift, all that we are is grace.

Thomas G. Long - Preaching from Memory to Hope

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why I Fast - Part 1 of 3

Lent is a traditional time for Christians to fast so I though it an appropriate time to share why I fast and hopefully encourage you to practice fasting.

Fasting is something I used to do a lot. Not long fasts, but for a couple of years I went every Tuesday without eating. After a while however I grew a little bit disillusioned with fasting. I wasn’t really sure why I was fasting or what it was supposed to achieve. My understanding was that Christians were meant to fast and that fasting would probably ‘take your relationship with God to another level’ and/or ‘bring God’s blessing and power into your life.’ This didn’t seem to be happening and I was just plain confused as to why I fasted. I stopped fasting for a few years but maintained throughout that time a real interest in fasting.

Last year after talking with a number of people about fasting and reading a couple of books on fasting, I was re-inspired to practice fasting again. Scot McKnight’s book Fasting was particularly helpful as were conversations I had with friends who were committed fasters. Since October or November last year I have been fasting regularly again; this time every Thursday. I eat on Wednesday as per normal and then not again till Friday break-fast.

This time round there are a lot more ‘whys’ surrounding that which at times feels like a crazy ‘what.’

Let’s begin with Matthew 6:16-18

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

The first thing to be mindful in regards to fasting is that it is something that you do before God not before others. Fasting isn’t something that you use to emphasise your superior spirituality to that of people around you. Fasting is something personal. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it with other people and let others know you are fasting etc. Just make sure your not using your fasting to somehow place yourself above others or ahead of others. It just doesn’t work like that.

I’ll get more into why I fast in my next post, for now though, my first reason is that Jesus assumes his disciples will fast. In Matthew 6 Jesus talks about how is disciples are to give to the needy, pray, fast, store treasure in heaven, and not worry. All of those things are characteristics of the lives of those that follow Christ. So for me fasting is just something that Christians do. Next time we’ll get into some more of the ‘whys.’

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lent 2010

Next Wednesday (17th Feb) the Christian season of Lent begins. Literally millions and millions of Christians around the world will begin to observe the season of Lent.

Lent is the 40 period not counting Sundays that leads into Easter.

It is a season and period of time that is used to reflect on what it means to follow Christ and to resolve a fresh to live as a Christ follower in the world.

It is not so often observed in Pentecostal churches but is something we are encouraging our church to embrace this year.

In order to help you do this I’ve ordered in some Lenten Reflection booklets that have been prepared by World Vision that are available to anyone who would like one this Sunday morning.

Lenten Reflection Booklets
How the booklets will work... Basically there is a page for each day of Lent in the booklet. Each page shares a couple of thoughts and gives you the opportunity to reflect on something to do with your Christian walk.

Genius is not in the thoughts the booklet provides but rather in your willingness to pause and reflect and be open to the Holy Spirit speaking to you in regards to that which the booklet encourages you to contemplate.

A Time of Abstaining

As well a time of reflection Lent has traditionally also been a season of prayer, fasting and giving. Some churches observe a schedule of fasting on certain days though out Lent. Others focus more on charitable deeds and giving, especially in regards to the poor and their need for food, clothing and finance.

We’re not having any set times of fasting throughout Lent but would encourage you to consider fasting as you feel led and also of abstaining from something for the season of Lent.

Always Lent is a time of giving something up for a season. Meat, alcohol, sweets, other types of food, television, hot showers, watching sport, your cell phone, Facebook etc. Obviously the intention is that you abstain from something significant for you.

Throughout Lent I’m going to only drink water. No alcohol, no coke, no tea, no coffee, no juice, energy drinks, no milkshakes, no nothing other than water.
The significance of this is that it reminds me of how basic my needs really are, the goodness of God in that I have acess to fresh clean water, and the reality that while I am going without and having water, millions in the world literally do not have access to clean drinking water at all.

- I find in humility I am grateful and thankful before God for his blessing
- I’m mindful of so many who have so little
- I save money on what would otherwise be spent on other drinks which I can give towards helping others have water

So if you are going to celebrate Lent, I’d encourage you to think about what would be meaningful for you to give up.

Lent is also a time of prayer. Especially with a focus on repentance and the need for God’s grace and love in our lives.
It’s a preparation period leading into the celebration of God’s marvellous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians.

Lent may not be something you have ever heard of or observed in your Christian walk. It may be something a little different from what you have experienced before but it may also be something you would find particularly meaningful and fresh in your Christian faith.

Why don’t you join with me and millions of other Christians around the world and participate in Lent this year?
For more info on Lent click here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why I Tithe

I heard some people talking the other day about whether tithing is a New Testament command or not. It got me thinking about tithing again and about why I tithe.

I thought I would share with you why I believe in, practice personally, and encourage others to tithe.

First of all I think that the New Testament provides overwhelming encouragement for the Christian to tithe; to give 10% of their income to their local church. However I don’t think that this encouragement is found through particular passages to do with tithing but rather in a broader appreciation of New Testament teaching and the gospel narrative.

Therefore to me: tithing is a logical discipline in response to other convictions.

Tithing is a rhythm, a practice, a discipline, that in a tangible way reminds me of my convictions and aligns my living to my convictions, keeping my heart focused on ‘his will be done’ rather than ‘my will be done.’

I believe that the New Testament...

· Clearly expounds the value and importance of the local church. The church is a community, the church is a ministry, the church is to be light and salt in the world, a witness and an outreach which by the power of the Spirit exists to extend the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. At the same time the church in the Western 21st Century context is to a degree a ‘service provided’ and requires funds to operate. Because I believe so much in the local church I give to the local church. My heart is in the local church and my finance follows.

I believe that the New Testament...

· Promotes togetherness and that together as believers we are the church and are called to together build, finance, resource and be the people of God. Together we give to fund the work and ministry of the local church. The tithe is a way in which all can contribute together.

I believe that the New Testament...

· Makes it clear that all we have belongs to God. Our finances of course but also our time, gifts, talents, abilities, passions, affection, devotion. All these things and everything else is God’s. Not a percentage of, but them in their totality.

Methodists, among others, have always taught "tithing," giving 10% of whatever we earn to the Church. Their founder though, John Wesley, was opposed to tithing. He thought 10% was simply too little to give to the work of God and might create the foolish illusion that 90% of one’s money is one’s own! It all belongs to God. I conquer in that we should not allow tithing to create illusions regarding the rest of our finance and resource.

I believe that the New Testament...

· Teaches that Christian’s are to live counter to the way of the world. In the face of consumerism and materialism Christians are to practice simplicity, sacrifice and generosity. We are to put our faith in Jesus Christ not in our finances.

I believe that the New Testament...

· Highlights the practice of tithing as admirable and worthwhile. While at the same time emphasising that it is entry level and there is far more to generosity and Christian living than just the tithe. We are to seek justice, equality, shalom. We are to do good works, minister to the poor, bring hope to the hopeless.

With all of this in mind, for me tithing is and obvious practice of massive benefit to my Christian walk. Tithing is a natural and essential part of my Christian faith.

Tithing is a rhythm, a practice, a discipline, that in a tangible way reminds me of my convictions and aligns my living to my convictions.

Through tithing I take first steps in supporting, believing in and getting behind my local church, its ministry and work in our community and in the community.

Through tithing I partner with other believers who tithe and share a common practice with them which unites and brings us together in commitment to the way of the Kingdom.

Through tithing I take first steps in ensuring that I live out my belief that all I have is God’s, is for God, and belongs to God. I practice putting my trust in Him rather than possessions.

Through tithing I stand against consumerism and materialism and practice sacrifice, simplicity and generosity.

Through tithing I continue a practice that has been alive in many churches for hundreds of years, a practice that when removed of manipulation and grounded in freedom is life giving, life changing and kingdom expanding.

Why do you tithe? Why don’t you tithe? Got questions on tithing?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hello 2010.

It's good to be back into the year after a wonderful holiday. Some of the highlights included pulling a 1.5m Blue Shark out of surf with bare hands, a murder 3 doors down from where we were on holiday, running up Mount twice in a row, 85% in first M.Div exam, two zoos, time in Orewa, time in New Plymouth, 4 great reads nailed, all rust on 1967 HR fixed, in water 30m from pod of killer whales, got on tv @ Twenty20, good times with kids and Lisa, caught up with brothers Radler, Summer, and Black.

Am looking forward to blogging again and as always hope to be regular but promise nothing. I suggest you just subscribe to feed and then we can all relax.

I look forward to posting soon on why I tithe, why I believe it is essential we understand ourselves as embodied beings, and on well... I don't know... other really exciting stuff.