Christian, turn the cheek on Facebook

Today I woke to news of another terror attack, this time targeting Christians as they celebrated Palm Sunday in Egypt.

It is tragic and frightening and naturally created an emotional response in the Christian world.

We live in an unprecedented time in which a person’s opinions and responses can be publicly proclaimed through social media, and it makes me wonder… how are we using it?

I question sometimes, as I see Christians around the world taking to Facebook as a soapbox to remind the world of our rights, whether we’re getting it wrong.

I was reminded yesterday of Jesus’ command to ‘turn the other cheek;’ of the promise of persecution and of the cross we all vow to bear. What happened in Egypt is a human rights tragedy, but I wonder whether the response of Christians stems more from fear for their own future safety, than from a true understanding of what it is to live the Christian life.

Christians in Australia have experienced peace for generations, and we must admit that we have sometimes used our high and favoured position to look down at, and isolate others. Now, as the tables turn, we take to social media and condemn those who are against us. Maybe it’s time to turn the other cheek. Maybe it’s time to take up our cross with the meekness of our Saviour and use any words we have to preach His Gospel of salvation, even to those who persecute us, rather than asserting our rights.

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What kind of man are you attracted to?

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As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came across this picture. It says “The Gospel calls us to ‘man down,’ more so than to ‘man up.’ There is no masculinity without a core of humility.”

I’m not a man, so technically it doesn’t apply to me, but something about this hit me hard. Is that kind of man acceptable to Christian women?

Over the last year I’ve had the privilege of speaking to women on several issues of sexuality. One thing that has often grieved me is the way in which women are afraid that if they don’t dress in a certain way or act in a certain way they won’t be attractive, even to Christian men. Too many men, even in the church, have very secular standards for the type of woman that they want.

This quote, however, made me question things from the other side. As Christian women, what are we attracted to?

Sometimes, when I think about the qualities that make a Christ-like man, I have to ask myself ‘would I have even liked Jesus?’

So many Christian women, myself included, have adopted the world’s standards of what makes a man attractive. Instead of being attracted to humility, we are dazzled by arrogant confidence; instead of respecting dignity, we are obsessed with charisma; instead of godly, we want cool.

How important is it that we do not ask men choose between attracting women and following Christ?

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 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.

Why prostitutes had an advantage with Jesus

382805_10150412644633143_1558372632_nSome time ago I watched a documentary by Louis Theroux about legal prostitution in America. What surprised me about these women was how broken they were. There were no pretenses. They are who they are and they know it.

Sure they have attitude and sass, and a lot of bravado, but once you get them talking, deep down, it’s not something they’re proud of.
It made me realize what it was that caused Jesus to hang out with them in preference to the religious elite of the time. While the prostitutes were under no false illusion about who they were and their need for a saviour, the rest of us spend so much time thinking of ourselves as good and trying desperately to cover anything that cracks the facade. The prostitutes of Jesus’ time knew they were seen as the scum of the earth, and came to Jesus in humility, recognising their true place before him.

Jesus had a lot of time for these people. And their humility was their great advantage. As He said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” It is our great disadvantage that many of us who think we are morally healthy by the world’s standards, are dying of pride on the inside, while the humble are receiving Jesus’ forgiveness and grace.

Should we teach our kids to ‘grow’ the fruits of the Spirit?

out-in-the-fall-3_21264535This is a question that I’ve given some thought to, but am yet to come up with an answer for.

As Christian parents (I’m not one, but they do say it takes a village to raise a child) it is our responsibility to raise our children with moral values and a fear of the Lord. Few would dispute that, but how far do we take it?

As a child, I learnt all about the fruits of the Spirit. There were diagrams and songs and colouring in sheets; juicy apples and pears and bananas all with a word attached: love, joy, peace…

These were all character traits that we knew we were to cultivate, but as an adult I can’t help wondering… have we missed the point?

Are fruits of the Spirit things that can be taught, or are they traits that grow in us purely as a result of the Spirit?

If we teach our children to exhibit these things, are we wisely training them in the way they should go, or are we creating little people who know how to look good on the outside, but whose hearts have not been changed?

Is it our moral responsibility to reward them for ‘Spirit filled’ behaviour and discipline them for ‘fleshly behaviour,’ or should we be focusing on teaching them the Gospel and letting the Spirit grow this fruit?

I’m really not sure. What are your thoughts?

What if you got to Heaven… and God wasn’t there?

Golden-CrownHave you ever asked yourself whether you’d still want to go to heaven if God weren’t there?

I’m really not into rap, but I just can’t go past this song by Shai Linne:

“Would you be satisfied, to go to heaven, have everybody there in your family that you want there, have all the health and restoration of your prime and everything you disliked about yourself fixed, have every recreation you’ve ever dreamed available to you, and have infinite resources and money to spend, would you be satisfied…

… If God weren’t there?”

This question hits me pretty deep, because to be honest, there’s a big part of me that thinks I would be satisfied; there’s a big part of me that looks forward to and longs for heaven because of all of those things.

But that’s not what I want for my life, nor for my eternity.

May it be my ever increasing desire to say along with Linne and King David that:

“I don’t wanna go to heaven if God is not there.

Whom have I in Heaven but You (nobody), And earth has nothing I desire but You. My flesh and my heart may fail, however – the Lord is my portion forever… forever… “

I’m having to remind myself this week that my hope and my treasure is not in a place or in things, but in a person. Heaven is not heaven without God. May He be the sole desire of my heart.

I luv ya, but I don’t love you.

Valentine-Bokeh-Heart-Shaped-Light-Background_thumbThe English language has one word for love. And let’s face it, it’s a bit of a problem.

How do you express that deep feeling of loyalty and affection towards someone who you do not feel romantic love for?

Why is it that you can laugh and say ‘I love you’ to a casual friend, but you have to wait for weeks, or even months to say it to someone who you truly do love?

Us Aussies have come up with a solution. It’s a poor one at best, but it get’s the job done. We preserve the beauty of the phrase ‘I love you’ for more special occasions or instances in which it won’t be misinterpreted. I love you is for family or lovers or close friends. For everyone else, the you tends to slide into a ‘ya.’

‘Ya’ has a powerful impact on the phrase. It makes it acceptable. It expresses appreciation and affection, with out the weight of confession. To add the abbreviated word ‘luv’ allows us to shelter behind the missing letter. Love? Now that’s a strong word, but luv? Yeah, I can do that.

So to everyone out there: I luv ya… but let’s just leave it at that.

Life Begins at … Singleness

1079363_26838634Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty: Life is pretty tough until you grow up and meet your prince charming and live happily ever after.

With a steady diet of classic fantasies, is it any wonder that countless girls grow up believing that life begins with the meeting of that perfect man?

While the Disney princesses may not have been forefront in my mind, it’s certainly the attitude I tended to have during my teen years. Romance, love and marriage were going to be a given for me. If I’d known I was going to be 28 and still single, I’d have died (in a teenage drama type way.)

I lead a fabulously rich single life, and I wouldn’t take any of it back, but isn’t it a shame that it took me until my mid 20s to decide (and yes, it largely had to be a decision) that life didn’t start at marriage?

Before that, my mind was far too consumed with how and where and when I was going to meet that perfect person. I felt like I couldn’t possibly know where my life was headed until I met them. I felt a bit like I was in a holding pattern.

Eventually I woke up to the reality that life begins at singleness. I wasn’t supposed to be hanging around waiting; God had a plan for me.

His plan means my life is going somewhere whether there’s a man involved or not. And it’s a great life.

How do You Know … if You’re in a Relationship?

handheld-relationship_2349450Seriously? Really? How is it possible not to know?

I know this is what most of you are thinking, but you may be surprised. Surprised by how many couples go through a confusing, un-defined stage in which their ‘relationship’ somewhat resembles a sailboat being skippered by a hare and a tortoise.

There is one saving grace in all this: Facebook. We all know ‘it’s not official until it’s on Facebook,’ but sadly some couples didn’t even know it was official until their other half put it on Facebook.

Do you really want this stale, blinking social media site (that we all simultaneously love and loathe) dictating the course of your relationships?

Of course not!

There is one simple answer to this problem. Call me old-fashioned, but it really works in clearing up muddy relational waters. Guys, you have to ask her.

Like, properly ask her. Not down on one knee for goodness sake, save that for later, but make it very clear that you would like her to be your girlfriend. Not as a statement; as a question.

Since you may only get one shot at it, make it a good question. Not ‘so, should we make it official?’ or ‘should we put it on Facebook?’ but an actual classy ‘you’ version of ‘will you be my girlfriend?’

You may get away with casually moseying into a relationship without having to go to all this effort, but chances are she’ll remember that you never really asked her out. Or even worse, she may not realize that she’s your girlfriend at all!

See also: How do you know… if it’s a date?