Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quick Word: Being Faithful

Catch my quick word every Tuesday morning, just after six, on New Zealand's Rhema.

Ophs!  I didn't get myself together to record this week.  They've play a repeat though I don't now which one, so here's a random 'quick word' from early in the year (pre-blog)

I’m going to sound a bit like I live in a click, but bear with me, because I want to talk about something I heard on New Zealand’s Rhema.  It was at the end of last year when The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie was released.  Peter from One 2 One was talking to some guy about C. S Lewis and the guest described him in three words – Imaginative, Rational and Faithful.  Wow, what a way to be described!  And it got me thinking, how would people describe me?  And, more importantly, how would I want them to describe me – because there’s no guarantee it would be the same thing!  I like the idea of being thought imaginative - I mean if daydreaming was a paid career I’d be there! - rational is probably not me at all but the word which stuck with me was faithful.  Oh to be described as faithful!  I want to be faithful, faithful to God, faithful to my husband and family, faithful through hard times and faithful to what I value.

But I’m no Enoch.  Enoch is most famous for the fact that he walked faithfully with God.  In Genesis 5 we read “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”  What a way to be known and a way to go!  No, I’m more of a Peter – in the past I’ve passionately exclaimed that I’ll stick with God, or a friend, no matter what!  But if things started to not go my way, or got a bit hard, I was out of there.  I’ve had to ask God’s forgiveness for these times of unfaithfulness and I owe apologies to past friends for my unfaithfulness as well. 

I’m lucky though.  I’m young and, God willing, have time to develop a spirit of faithfulness.  And it starts with inviting God through his Spirit to make me more like him.  Is it worth the effort?  I think so.  Galatians lists faithfulness as one of the fruits of the Spirit.  And I want it to be on the list of words that people use to describe me too. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blogging: A Quick Word

Catch my quick word every Tuesday morning on New Zealand's Rhema.

Note: I wrote this for radio a few weeks ago - just before starting this blog!

Despite, or maybe because of the fact that I worked in online media I’ve tried to keep a small online footprint.  No facebook, no twitter, no blogs.  But people suggested a blog, and I kept imagining interesting things to post on so I started this.  If you would've asked I’d have said my hesitation was because of privacy, copyright etc etc but if I was truly honest there's really just one reason I hesitated – would anyone read it? Numbers matter to me.  Talking to myself online seems just as embarrassing to me as being caught talking to myself in person.  The thing is, everyone I’ve talked to about blogging has said the same thing – it only works if your not motivated by who’s reading and what they think! 

I guess what they are trying to tell me is that what motivates us, whether we want to admit it or not, effects the outcome.  If I am motivated by my reader when I write a blog post I’ll be less true to myself, the very thing which makes blogs so interesting.  I’ll also be more persuaded to quit if I don’t see anyone actually reading it.

 It’s also gotten me thinking about how complex our motivations are.  Do I pray because I want to talk with God, or because I am scared of what he might do if I don’t?  Did they get married because of love or because of what people might say if they didn’t?  Did we put that bumper sticker on to send a positive message or to look good to other Christians in other cars?

In Colossians Paul gives advice on motivation to people with good grounds to do the right thing for the wrong reason – slaves in Christian households.  He says –

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.  Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”

- Colossians 3 v 22 - 24

I’m not a household slave but, like Paul says in the beginning of Romans, I am “a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God.” I need to remember that motivation is important because Christ can see it.  And as a Christian everything I do is really in service to him.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Prayer: A Quick Word

Catch my quick word every Tuesday morning on New Zealand's Rhema.

I saw an article in the paper a few days ago about a couple with three children, three boys.  They really wanted another child and were going through IVF to get it but there was a catch…they wanted a girl.  They wanted a girl so badly that when they fell pregnant with twin boys they aborted them. 

I felt horrible.  I couldn’t shake the sadness at what that said about how they valued life.  But I also felt helpless.  I disliked, really disliked, this situation, but what could I do about it?  I didn’t know the people.  I couldn’t speak into their lives.  It was in Australia so I couldn’t even petition my government or health system to disallow such a thing.  I could do nothing about it.  Why, I wondered, did God give me a heart to care about this situation if I was useless to do anything about it?

Of course, after thinking this way for a little bit it hit me – we are never actually useless.  There is something we can always do.  Something powerful, effective and immediate.  We can pray.  James, like many others in the Bible, tells us to pray.  He says:

 “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.  Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.  Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.  Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.”

- James 5 v 13 - 18

I think when I worry about what I can do and forget to pray I’m saying something very sad about what I believe.  For the subtlest of God’s intervention is always going to be more powerful then the greatest of my actions.  This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t act if I can of course!  But in our global community there are many things that will touch our heart but which we will be too removed to do anything hands-on about.  So when you read the paper today look for one story that moves you and pray for the people involved.  Pray for God’s wisdom in their lives, for God to stir Christians in their lives to action.  To convict them.  To encourage them.  Whatever is suitable.  For through prayer we can bring God’s kingdom to earth, today.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Northern Exposure: A Quick Word

Catch my quick word every Tuesday morning on New Zealand's Rhema.

In an episode of 90's quirky comedy, Northern Exposure, Joel the protagonist is gently reminded that though he has gone to many a dinner party in his adopted Alaskan village he has yet to throw a dinner party himself.  So Joel does.  People politely ask what they can bring and he doles out half the menu.  The party is a complete failure.  Joel doesn’t understand until one of the locals tells him that though it is polite custom to offer to bring something it is rude to accept.

It’s pretty much the opposite here, in NZ.  I remember that after watching that episode I decided to turn down offers to bring something when inviting people to dinner or lunch.  It was a disaster – kiwis can’t it seems turn up empty handed and we ended up with fresh bread or bottles of wine that were totally unsuited to the meal but had to be served. 

I guess what works in one place, won’t work in another.  To get it right we need to know our context.  It’s like that when talking about God to people isn’t it?  It’s not that the gospel changes, but the words we use, how we talk and even when to say something at all is different when we are talking to theologians, others Christians, seekers or hard core atheists.  Paul tells the Colossians in chapter 4 to –

“5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

As Christians we worry about relativism – the idea that truth and ideas can be different to different people.  But I think that this fear has sometimes resulted in us thinking that context is static, that if there is one hope, one faith and one baptism that must mean there is only one way to discuss it.  But I think that if the message of faith is the dinner party then we don’t want to ruin it by misunderstanding the customs of the guests.