Why has God made Himself known to us?

a-sky-full-of-stars_426-19320899Have you ever really thought about the fact that God does not need anything beyond himself? This wowed me this week.
Not only is God completely self-sufficient, but He is completely happy in and of Himself.

He does not need our love
He does not need our approval
He does not need our company, or companionship or wealth or knowledge or advice or help.

He is the very definition of complete.

So why are we here? Why has He made Himself known to us? Why does He desire for us to know Him?

I think it is because creating and giving are completely within His nature. He created, because He is a creative God, and when He looked at His creation, He knew that knowing, loving and being in relationship with Him were the greatest and most fulfilling things that He could ever offer us.

So He wooed, He spoke, He gave and He loved, so that we could experience fullness of joy in Him.

God creates because He is a creator. He gives because He is a giver. He loves because He is a lover. We love because He first loved us.

Sometimes you need to know how insignificant you are

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Ever been told you’re awesome? If you’re Gen X probably; if you’re Gen Y, definitely; if you’re Gen Z, daily.

It’s the catch cry of our culture. When you preach that God is dead, you need a heck of a lot of self-esteem boosting to make you feel like there is any purpose in life, so that’s what we’ve done. We’ve made it our job to ensure that young people know just how good they are; that they can do anything; that there’s no one better than them.

When I grew up I was shocked at how deeply I fell into melancholy when I found that mindset challenged.

I was flying by Mount Everest.

Those Himalayan Mountains are the biggest things I’ve ever seen, and as I flew over them I was conquered. For my whole life I had been the conqueror. I was human. I was the top of the food chain. The world was my oyster!

Those mountains weren’t.

As I looked at them, I knew with absolute certainty that I could never climb them. I knew that many who had tried still lay there entombed in the ice, and, more than ever before, I knew I was very, very small.

And I was gutted.

But what a good thing it was for me to be reminded that my glory is very small. I had to remember that there is One who is infinitely bigger than the mountains, and my identity must be found in Him.

The Gift of Death

The gift of death is, paradoxically, the gift of life.

One of my beautiful students asked me the other day, why God would create such beautiful people, only to let them die.

garden_of_edenIt’s a fair question, but it’s one limited by lack of information, because if we understand the fullness of the Bible, we can understand the gift of death.

When Adam and Eve were in the garden they were free to eat from the Tree of Life. They were going to live forever in the bliss and beauty of what God had created.

The right to eat from the Tree of Life was only taken from them after they sinned. Because living forever under the curse of sin was never God’s plan for anyone.

Adam and Eve both died a physical death, but it was not a tragic one. Physical death was one of the gifts that God gave them, along with the redemptive death and resurrection of His Son, in order for them to enter into eternal life.

Death can be a great tragedy, but only when it takes a person who refuses to accept God’s gift of life. For those who have life, it is the beautiful gateway out of an existence marred by sin.

The anti-butterfly effect

UntitledYou know why I often find it so hard to make decisions? It’s because I have this innate fear that I could somehow screw up my life. It stems from something called the butterfly effect.

We all know it. It’s that idea that the smallest decision could potentially have life changing consequences.

What if I don’t go to that party and the love of my life was there?

What if I drive through the back streets instead of the main road and someone runs a give way sign and hits me?

What if I take this job over that one and it makes all the difference in my career?

What if I go on a mission’s trip?

What if I stay home?

What if I marry him?

What if I don’t?

We so often live in fear that our lifelong happiness could hang on our next decision.

But guess what?

It doesn’t.

We’ve been doing a series at church about decision-making and the will of God, and as I was sitting there one night I was struck by the amazing reality of what governs my life.

It’s the anti-butterfly effect.

I can’t screw up the end game.

And my happiness isn’t dependent on circumstance.

Sure I can make dumb decisions and they can have consequences, that’s just common sense, but I can’t screw up my life, because my life is hid in Christ.

He is my anti-butterfly effect because He’s promised to work all things for my good.

Men, if you want to help women with their body image, stop weighing in with your opinions.

Most men genuinely want women to feel happy and comfortable in their own skin.

Most decent guys hate the way the media screws with women’s minds, making them feel like they just don’t measure up to the ever-elusive ‘ideal.’

Many men want to help, but as soon as they open their mouths they get it wrong.

scream-mouth-background_23-2147492625The other day I read a great piece of writing by Tina Fey articulating the exact proportions of different body parts that today’s ideal woman is supposed to have. It was refreshing because it enabled women to see how utterly ridiculous and unattainable all of these combined features were.

In a beautiful moment of eloquence, women around the world were united.

Until…

Enter the man.

Bless him. He wanted to be encouraging. He wanted to point out that not all men want that ridiculously unattainable ‘ideal.’ So he picked out two features, named them, and said ‘Ew.’

And right at that moment he stopped being helpful. Because while the complete package is rare, the individual features are not, and all of a sudden, millions of women were told that their ‘rock hard abs’ and ‘narrow hips’ (in this case) were ‘ew.’

Good try.

Let’s get some things straight. Women come in all shapes and sizes. Men like different shapes and sizes. Now let’s stop talking about that, and engage with each others’ minds.

Because it’s not all about the bass, or the treble… it’s about the heart and the mind.

Please teach your children about unconditional respect.

I’m sure that one of the most horrifying moments for a parent is when they hear their children parroting them and suddenly realize what they sound like. I can sympathise.

But there’s one thing I’m hearing from kids that goes beyond simple parroting; it highlights a core issue about what we’re teaching the next generations about respect.

See, they think that in order to give respect, favour has to be earned.

That’s just not right.thumbnail

Last week I was teaching my German students about the formal and informal versions of ‘you.’ I gave them an example: “If Tony Abbot came to our school and needed directions…”

I couldn’t even finish my sentence without yells of ‘elephant ears,’ and ‘we hate him.’

They’re 13 year olds. They can’t vote for another 5 years and I’d be willing to bet they know next-to-nothing about politics. They’re parroting what they’ve heard their parents say.

What I want to know is, can the parents hear themselves? Can we hear ourselves? Those kinds of comments aren’t about exerting our right to have a political opinion; they’re about slander and bullying.

What kind of values are we teaching our children when we publicly malign and disrespect the person in the highest position of power and authority in our country?

Is it any wonder that teachers and police officers and parents themselves aren’t receiving the respect they deserve?

Some kinds of respect are unconditional.

The Pain of an Unfulfiled Life

624265_93192944No matter how awesome your life is, you know the pain of unfulfilment. You know what it’s like to be sitting in that dark, lonely place, with the aching knowledge that something is missing from your life.

It hurts.

Most of the time you get over it. You move on and focus on other things. But it will be back.

Is that a bad thing?

What if this life wasn’t meant to fulfil you? What if the depths of your soul and your personality couldn’t be fulfilled by material things, or even by people? What if your dreams were never going to be in reach?

Could you be ok with that?

I think I could. But only if one thing is true: Only if this is not all there is.

Because if this is not all there is, then my temporal fulfilment no longer matters.

If this is not all there is, then this is not my only chance at happiness, and maybe I can be willing to give up that which I cannot keep, to gain that which I cannot lose.

Should Christians really ‘focus on the family?’

I don’t know the answer to this one, but I do have some questions, and I’m interested to know what people think.

If you’re like me, and you’ve grown up in the western church, you’ve probably noticed a huge focus on the preservation and upholding of the traditional, often nuclear, family model. We consistently have reinforced that Family is important; Family must come first. We even have a conservative political party named for this very idea.dollhouse-family-portraits_2749316

But I’m starting to question it. Maybe it’s because I’m 28 and single. Maybe it’s because I realize that the only reason I’m not alone at Christmas is because I live in the same city as my parents and siblings. Maybe it’s because my heart hurts on mothers day and fathers day and at Christmas when everyone goes off to celebrate with their neat little nuclear families and I see others left to feel the gap; to feel like they don’t really fit in a world made for poster-perfect families.

Don’t get me wrong, family is important. Marriage is sacred and children are a blessing, but somehow I feel like the Bible offers us something better than the nuclear family. I feel like maybe the New Testament wanted to change our focus to the Church family; to turn from the nuclear to the community; to cultivate ‘all together’ rather than ‘us separately.’

If ‘focusing on the family’ means that some just can’t fit in, aren’t we getting something wrong?

It’s not the worship songs that are the problem…

599799_56053393‘Yuck, she’s singing to God as though He’s her boyfriend!’

Have you ever felt this way, or had anyone else say this? I remember some years back going through a stage where my friends were heavily critical of any song sung to God, that could just as easily had the singer’s boyfriend or girlfriend’s name inserted into it.

As I’ve been doing some research lately though, on the messages our world sends to single people through music, I’ve begun to realize that maybe it’s not the worship songs that are the problem.

Here are some lyrics from popular love songs:

Ellie Goulding sings “I need your love. When everything’s wrong, you make it right.”

Alicia Keys croons “nothing in this whole wide world don’t mean a thing
If I ain’t got you with me baby”

And Whitney Houston says: “I have nothing… if I don’t have you.”

The great tragedy that all of these songs have in common, is that they’re putting a human relationship in a position of pre-eminence. They’re worshiping the created rather than the creator. They’re expressing that they have no greater need than the man in their life.

The problem is not that we insert God into this frame. The problem is that He was ever taken out in the first place.