The moment God can’t wait to show me

Do you ever daydream about what it will be like to meet Jesus face to face? About what he’ll look like, and how you’ll react, and how you’ll feel?

Sometimes I do.

Do you think God does? I mean, does he imagine what it will be like to meet me?

I found myself pondering this question the other day, and what I got out of it is gold. Full of creative license, yes, but I still think true to God’s character, and therefore gold.happy-boy-1434104

See, God doesn’t have to imagine it. He’s outside time, so he can see it. He can visit that moment whenever he wants, and you know what? I bet he absolutely cannot wait to show it to me.

I mean, God knows me. He knows me inside out, but I bet he’s just chafing at the bit for me to know him. I reckon he’s like a parent, who just bought the most epic present for their kid, and who can’t wait to see their face on Christmas morning.

I think it fills him with the most bubbling joy. Just even the thought of how, in that moment, all my pain and sadness and the weight of this life will suddenly be blown away and that I, with one look into his face, will be consumed with the deepest fulfillment and most tremendous joy just because I’m meeting him… I think he gets the biggest kick out of that.

I bet he can’t wait to show it to me.

My new shopping challenge

bohemian-chic_19-130070 I always thought that shopping ethically meant wearing hippie linens and sandals and frequenting Oxfam.

I found it to be a bit of a moral dilemma. While I felt an underlying guilt over my vague knowledge of child and factory worker exploitation, I also didn’t see how I could commit to tie dye and scratchy cottons.

Then I came across Baptist World Aid’s ethical fashion guide, and the pieces started to fall in to place. They produce an annual guide that rates every day Australian brands on their labour rights and living wages. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that when I first came across it, I still thought it was a bit beyond me, but after quitting shopping entirely for a year, I began to wonder why I couldn’t make these changes.

I’ll be honest and say, I’m not yet committing for life. I’ve been tragically dependent on products that come to me via slavery and poverty, but I’m making a start. I don’t know if I’ll make a long-term difference, but I’ve decided that’s no reason not to try.

So this year, at least, I’m sticking to buying only from stores that have a green B rating or higher. That means boycotting Myer, Portmans and Valleygirl, and embracing Witchery, Sportsgirl, Cotton On and Kmart.

I’d love you to join me!

You can download the Baptist World Aid Ethical Shopping Guide here, or for a more comprehensive list (that rates on other things too) download the ‘Good on You’ app.

The sinister side of Times Square

20151224_213032Times Square is one of the most iconic locations in New York. I was there recently, standing amongst crowds so thick that police officers needed to be present at all traffic lights to ensure that the people didn’t mob the intersections and block all the cars.

The vibe was electric: noise; colour; excitement; thousands flocking to see this image of iconic America. As I stood there, I was struck by a sense of comic irony, which soon turned in to a kind of grave wariness. Times Square is more representative of America and the west than I had realized, and in a rather sinister way.

It stands, gloating, in one of the greatest cities in the world, as a shrine to capitalism and consumerism. As I gazed up at the bright lights, I asked myself suddenly, ‘What am I here to see?’

Thousands flock daily to Times Square to look at advertisements.

That’s all it is. Dozens of luminous billboards, sky high, telling us what we need and who we should be. And it’s a tourist magnet.

I think lots of us like to believe that we’re somehow above and immune to the advertising machine, but Times Square, to me, proves that we’re not. And the scariest thing? We waltz on in, take our selfie, and walk out… claiming all the time that we are not a pawn in the very hand that just moved us.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #14 – I did it!

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Today marks the final day of my no-shopping challenge. When I started at the beginning of the year, I was fairly confident it was doable and fully confident it would be painful.

I was surprised.

What I’ve learned most this year is that going without, when you already have so much, is not only doable, but easy. I can probably count on one hand the number of times this year that not buying something was actually really difficult.

Instead, this whole experience was liberating.

I’ve been challenged to live simply, to give more and to consume less. It sickens me how much stuff I bought that I didn’t need; how retail therapy was such a go-to thing for me and how stress inducing that rollercoaster of see-want-consume-see-want-consume is.

My strict no shopping days are over but I’m also determined to guard myself against ‘relapse.’ I’m a convert. Consumerism no longer holds me and I hope that I’ll live a more simple giving-focused life for many years to come.

My journey isn’t over. I already have a plan for next year’s project (stand by), but I want to put out this challenge:

Make 2016 your year of killing consumerism. I did it. You can too. All you need is to make the decision and you’re 80% of the way there.

What is the key to a successful ministry?

walk-of-fame-star_23-2147513560When we ask ourselves this question, we often ask it in the context of a success and fame driven world. While as Christians, we may not be wondering ‘how can I be great,’ but we often as not are wondering ‘how can my ministry be successful?’ or ‘How can I do great things for God?’

I’m not sure these are bad questions to ask, but as I was praying through this recently for my own life, I sensed God give me clarity on how to achieve success: I need to redefine the goal.

In my life, God must be the prize, not ministry success. The goal is to seek Him more; love Him more; find more joy in Him.

As I pursue God, I may find that he uses me for some great, joyous purpose. He may give me what the world defines as ‘success,’ but if He doesn’t? Who cares? I’ve already attained the greatest treasure.

Run the race so as to attain the prize, but don’t forget that He is the prize.

So… I wrote a book.

UntitledSome of you have been faithful followers of my blog for a couple of years now, and you may have noticed that my posts have become a bit less frequent over the last year.

It’s because I was writing a book.

It has been my absolute privilege to have co-authored the book PURE LOVE – Pursuing Purity in a Sex-Obsessed World with my senior pastor, Timon Bengtson.

We are so excited to be able to present the Christian community with this resource that takes an honest, biblical look at many aspects of our sexuality and that calls Christians to a radical standard of purity.

As a high school teacher I am so passionate about helping to inspire and equip the next generations to live out their calling to not only glorify God with their bodies, but also to be freed from the enslavement of sexual sin to discover the joy-filled life that God has for them.12071576_10153360242288143_1168645822_n

If you live in Australia and would like me to personally post you a (signed or unsigned) copy of the book, I can do so for AU$20.30.

If you live overseas and would like a copy, you can purchase it on Amazon or Book Depository or download it from Kindle.

Would love to hear from any of you who would like to read it or have already read it!

God bless you as you seek to exalt Him in all areas of your lives.

Love Sarah

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #13 – We want beauty for ourselves

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I’ve been thinking about why it is that I used to shop so much, when I’m actually completely fine without it. It’s as though I had this consumer instinct inside me that just needed to possess. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much this permeates all of our lives.

We’re not content to just look… we want beauty for ourselves.

I think this covetous instinct dates back to the beginning of time, but it astounds me how it has exploded in recent decades. It’s not just about buying; it’s about capturing. Why is it that half of us travel the world, seeing it all through a camera lens? Why is it that we record concerts and speeches and sermons? Why is it that when I see something beautiful in the shops, I feel such a desperate need to possess it?

Is it fear? Are we afraid that if we don’t hold on to things, the beauty will be lost? Why can we not just stop, look, appreciate and move on? There’s enough beauty to go round.

P.S. I wonder if I could go a whole year without taking a photo? Just a thought…

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #12 – ‘Groceries’ is a broad word

I’m five weeks off the end of my no retail challenge. I think I’ve learned a fair bit. I’ve given up a lot, but I also know I’ve exploited a couple of loopholes.

This weekend I bought a tree – a mandarin tree. And yes, I justified it as groceries. I mean, that’s what it will ultimately turn into, right? What’s $40 now when in two years I’ll have all the free mandarins I want?20151025_170005

I do think it’s justifiable, but I could have tried harder. I could have found out how to cultivate a tree from cuttings (is that even possible?) or grow it from seeds. I guess that’s the difference between me doing this challenge as a challenge and doing it as a necessity.

I can look for loopholes and excuse myself for buying things under the banner of groceries. I really have no idea what it’s like to live pay check to pay check and not be able to afford a new dress. I’ve gone without by choice. I can’t presume to know what it’s like to go without by necessity.

I hope I’ve learned more discipline. I hope I’ve learned to live simply and not gratify my lust for shopping. But at the end of the day, I have to acknowledge, that really, I’m still a rich girl who can afford to look for loopholes.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #11 – Reclaiming the joy of shopping

Fashion, Freedom

My birthday is at the end of the year, and as I’ve found things I liked this year, I’ve kept them in mind as possible birthday presents.

It’s been like being a kid again, in those days when the anticipation of getting something would drag out for months, either until I saved enough money, or until my birthday came.

Today I bought some things for my parents to give me for my birthday. I’d had my eye on them for about 4 months, so I knew I really wanted them, and then today I discovered there was a sale at the store.

It had been so long since I’d first seen these items, that I knew they could be sold out and they were no longer listed online.

I actually prayed on the way. I prayed that if God wanted me to have them they would be there, and that if not, I would be content in that.

It was all there. And all 60% off.

For the first time this year, I bought something for myself (though I won’t actually ‘receive’ it til December.)

I couldn’t believe how it felt. No buyers remorse. No guilt. No feelings of excess. Just a real joy that I haven’t felt since I was a kid, after having saved for something for months.

My going without has returned to me a more pure form of shopping joy.

 

If you love Harper Lee, don’t read ‘Go Set a Watchman’

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If Harper Lee wanted to destroy everything good she did in To Kill a Mockingbird, I’d say Go Set a Watchman was a massive success. But I’m afraid it may be an even greater tragedy than an author self-destructing.

I wish I could un-read this novel, and it’s not because it was a terrible sequel, it’s because it caused me to doubt every character that was great in one of the best novels of all time.

Had Go Set a Watchman been a genuine sequel I could have dismissed it, but it allegedly wasn’t. Apparently it was Harper Lee’s first novel. After being rejected by publishers, Lee went away to write the prequel, To Kill a Mockingbird. In doing so she created one of the most heroic, moral characters ever written.

Go Set a Watchman gives us an insight into the ‘original’ Atticus, and he turns out to be a disappointing shadow of the man we thought we knew. Reading through Scout’s eyes, once again, we find ourselves wondering whether, like her, we had seen Atticus incorrectly all along.

There is only one way in which Lee is redeemed in my eyes and therein lies an even greater tragedy. She never wanted this book published.

Harper Lee, the unassuming, silent, reclusive, now elderly author, has possibly been manipulated and betrayed by money-hungry publishers.

As one writer put it, tragically “Our Boo Radley [has been] dragged into the light.”

Don’t read this book.