Why shouldn’t I, in this moment, be perfectly, blissfully happy?

It’s Saturday morning. I’ve slept in and I’m sitting in bed with my porridge and a cup of tea that is teetering on being tepid as I forgot about it while I was scrolling through Facebook. It’s still warm enough to be pleasant though, and as I raise it to my lips I look out my window to see birds fly behind barren winter tree branches. I hear them chirping and cooing and suddenly the question pops into my head: Why shouldn’t you, in this moment, be perfectly, blissfully happy?

It surprises me, because I don’t feel like that, but as I think about it, I have no reason not to. Right in this moment, I don’t need to think about the school marking I have to do, or the cleaning, or whatever pressures I may have in life. In this moment I am free to be abundantly content.

How many ‘this moments’ exist in a day? Hundreds of them; thousands even. I remember hearing once that anxiety and worry are almost always concerned with the past and the future. Rarely do we have anything to seriously concern ourselves with in this moment.

This truth can be liberating. As I drink my now-lukewarm tea, I am going to choose, for this moment to be perfectly, blissfully happy.

Do cultural norms overpower sexual attraction?

Sexual attraction is surely one of the strongest forces intrinsic to humans, but is it possible that the external force of cultural trends can suppress, or even eliminate it?

This is one of the tangents my year 12 class and I found ourselves on today during a discussion about themes of identity and family in a play we have recently seen.

We noted that, with the exception of a minority that feeds the pages of New Idea magazine, sexual attraction between consenting, adult family members, in Australia, is rare. We could be led to believe that this is because it is fundamentally immoral, but historically and cross-culturally this is not seen to be the case.

Marriage of first cousins is, in fact (and unbeknownst to me until today) legal in Australia, the UK and 19 states of America. It is however, highly stigmatized. My class and I noted that this cultural stigma is so powerful that if we were to meet and be attracted to someone, and later find out that they were actually our cousin, the attraction would immediately subside.

I found it interesting to read that the “practice of marrying your siblings is now archaic (not to mention extremely icky)” and I wondered where this ‘ickiness’ comes from.

Of course genetic concerns regarding procreation play a role in the social stigma, but I found it interesting to consider the idea that a person’s sexual attractions can be curbed or influenced by the trends of their culture.

 

When you’re wrong for getting it right

This is a post about champagne, which I know nothing about.

img_moet_chandon

It’s also a post about language, which I know a little bit about.

Ultimately, though, it’s about confusion.

As a non-alcohol drinker, I have learned to approach names with caution. While names like merlot, sauvignon blanc and cognac are easy to say when you know how they’re supposed to sound, there lies a gap between reading and pronouncing that is fraught with potentially embarrassing moments.

It’s this need for vigilance that made my ears prick up some months ago when I heard a friend pronounce Moët, ‘mow-ay.’ Feeling grateful that she’d just saved me from the embarrassment of every referring to ‘Mowett’, I determined to remember it.

Today, however, I happened across an article that informed me that Moët should be pronounced with a hard ‘t.’ First, because its full name is Moët et Chadon (and in French that means the ‘t’ is pronounced) but, more importantly, because the word is not French at all, but actually Dutch.

So Moët actually rhymes with poet, and I have myself a dilemma. To pronounce it correctly and have people around me think I’m a fool, or to say it wrong with everyone else? The solution is easy. I survived 30 years without having to say it at all; I can surely survive another 30.

But I’ll be a bit more compassionate to all those foreigners who keep saying Mel-bourne, when we all know it’s Mel-bun.moet-et-chandon-champagne-bottle-with-watermark

Do we even know whom we voted for?

2016-07-04 20.14.47Australia is awaiting the drawn-out verdict of our election. The probable hung parliament is an unsatisfying result confirming fears that Australians either don’t know what they want, or don’t have confidence in anyone to deliver.

A big part of the problem is that most of us don’t really know whom we’re voting for.

This became mind-twistingly clear to me chatting to both my ‘leftie’ and right-wing friends and trying to reconcile all of their opposing views based on contradictory evidence.

It was daunting to think that as an educated person, I had next to no chance of figuring out what would be good for our country. I wasn’t sure there was any information I could trust.

Were the candidates really whom their websites portrayed? Could party policies be taken at face value or were there hidden agendas that I could never support? Was there truth or merit in any media reports? Do any of us have any idea what is actually going on behind the scenes of our country in defence, or international relations or economics or anything?

As I watched the election count ‘barracking’ for the party I thought I wanted to win, a friend jokingly reminded me that it probably didn’t matter anyway:

Whoever the Illuminati want to get in will get in.

Let’s hope that’s not the case, but either way one thing is still true: God knows who will get in, and whether the world goes to pot or not, He’s got the end game covered.

Have you ever wondered if this Christian gig is the real deal?

the-sower-sower-with-setting-sun-1888As a kid, I never questioned my faith. I remember telling someone when I was a teenager that my salvation was the one thing I was most sure of in the world.

If you asked me that today, I’d probably give a similar answer, but my adult life has been far more fraught with questions and doubts than the decades before.

I guess it is inevitable that as we see more and more of what the world and its intellectualism have to offer, we question what we once knew.

I have had enough years now to explore the claims of my faith, and I have never found them lacking. Time and time again the Bible has stood up to the most rigorous of testing and my God has always proved Himself faithful.

And yet, still, I find myself wondering from time to time: what if?

It is during these times, that I am often inspired by Elisabeth Elliot’s quote: “Lord, I have said the eternal Yes. Let me never, having put my hand to the plough, look back. Make straight the way of the Cross before me. Give me love, that there may be no room for a wayward thought or step.”

It’s kind of like a marriage covenant. I’ve made my promise, and there is security in that. So, with my eyes fixed on Jesus, I continue the race, knowing that it is really the power of God and the strength of His promise that keeps me.

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.

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.

Why was the blood of animal sacrifice a ‘pleasing aroma to the LORD?’

blood sacrificeI’m reading Leviticus. It’s tough going. There are rules and regulations listed in extreme detail, and a lot of directives involving the blood, fat, meat and regularity of animal sacrifices.

My housemate told me that she loves reading the Old Testament because of what it teaches her about God’s character, so I’ve been really focusing on what I can learn about who God is.

He seems to like blood.

The picture of God as presented in Leviticus appears demanding and somewhat brutal. How can the God I know and love have been so keen on the constant offerings of blood and flesh, to the point where he considers it a ‘pleasing aroma?’ It seems sadistic.

So I’ve been praying and meditating, and last week God gave me something powerful: It shows his abhorrence to sin.

So often I just ignore sin in my life. But God really hates it. He cannot abide it. There is absolutely nothing good or worthwhile in sin.

God doesn’t like death either. He created a world without it. But death has in it one redeeming feature that sin doesn’t have. Justice.

In the disgusting brutality of the shedding of blood, there was something good: The pleasing aroma of justice, which covered the stench of sin.

God was willing to endure the death of animals, and even of His own son, so that the sin of humanity could be washed away. It was not the smell of death that pleased God, but the smell of atonement.

What if God hadn’t told us what happens after death?

corridor-sky--hallway_19-104567My Nanna died last week. She was old, and it was not unexpected, but still the quiet, grey cloud of grief has hung over me.

On the evening after her funeral I sat quietly at home, not sure what to do with myself. I read my Bible and just sat, feeling sad.

After a while I looked at my heater, glowing red and warm and I felt suddenly grateful. I knelt on the floor and thanked God. For the heater and for the many other blessings in my life, including my Nanna: who she was, and how long she was given to me. Not everyone gets their Nanna for 29 years.

I thanked God for looking after her, even now. For cherishing her soul and filling her with joy. I thanked God that I could trust Him with her.

Suddenly I realized something deeper to be thankful for: God’s revelation of the mystery of life after death. If He’d said nothing about life beyond the grave, he could still be trusted. Heaven would be real whether we knew of it or not. God would still be good, even in His silence. But He is not silent, and what comfort that brings us

I don’t blindly trust God with my Nanna, I trust him having been told exactly what will happen to her. Death will have no victory; she will be raised and given a new, imperishable body. This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Will you speak out for people entirely unlike you?

locked-green-door_434-19316046I’m half way through reading ‘I am Malala,’ the famous book by the Nobel Prize winning girl who spoke out for education and was shot by the Taliban.

It gives a lot of insight into the lives of Pakistani peasants in the decades following the September 11, 2001 attack.

Malala’s father was a man who courageously spoke out against the Taliban, holding truth above cowardice. Malala records that he used to carry the following poem with him in his pocket. It is by Martin Niemöller, who had lived in Nazi Germany. It has really challenged me.

First they came for the communists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me,

And there was no one left to speak for me.