Hope without Him

As I sit down to write this post, I’m trying to remember the last time I wrote. What was I feeling? Where was I? What did I write?

Without knowing, I’ll push on.

Today’s post has been prompted by a message from my Church’s senior pastor. During a sermon which if I was honest, was not all that inspiring, Pastor Paul paused and said:

“Imagine life without Jesus. Life would seem pretty meaningless am I right?”

He didn’t pause for an answer, in fact I don’t know if he gave it another thought as he continued with his sermon and references to the sand slowly passing through the hour glass to his right. I, however, failed to concentrate on anything else.

How would my life be different without Jesus?

Sure, I love him, I think he died for me on the cross and his love can conquer all but in my day to day life … what’s his role beside a quiet word at night? The reality both shocked and saddened me.

Fast forward 24 hours and I’m sitting in a living room with a group of friends so close, their family. What better audience to ask the question of – maybe I shouldn’t be upset with myself … What if Jesus didn’t exist?

There faces read confusion before love poured out. I would miss the holy spirit, joy and peace … without Him, I couldn’t find hope.

What’s life without hope? Nothing

So I pause, as the long hand moves passed 11 pm and thank the Lord for Jesus and a reason to move past the fear and suffering in our world. To live in hope hope that He will come again and all will be made good.

Christmas come early

“There in the stores already” she was shocked, if not a little disgusted.

It was like she’d shown up for a sale, unintentionally skipped the line and was then was put out that eager shoppers who had lined up for hours were already in the store.

Christmas … how can the first signs of such a joyous season filled with disbelief and anger?

I admit, the gap between Easter and Christmas, the two defining Christian holidays seems to grow smaller each year. I also admit that may have something to do with my age and the inclusion of two small humans into my family unit.

Speaking of those small humans, aged four and two, they can’t wait for Christmas. The sooner the better and the longer it lasts, the better it will be. There’s something said for capturing the wonder our dear children hold.

I may be living in a dream but why aren’t we happy to see Christmas?

Think about it. Jesus was born. This is an epic time!

Forget the mass produced candy canes (which no one really likes but tolerates when taped to a corny Christmas card), advent calendars stuffed with preservative laden chocolates and canned snow marketers actually expect people to spray on their window regardless of the 35 degree heat during Australia’s December. The longer this stuff lines our shelf the larger our opportunity.

Embrace the cliches, welcome the carols … celebrate the life of Jesus for months not days!

Follower or fan

I’ve always considered myself a Christian.

It sounds crazy when it is put  in writing but when I think about it, it is mind blowingly crazy. I believe that God, the creator and king, sent his son in human flesh to show us all first hand, how to live and to love. I also believe he was killed an innocent man to take away my sin and that miraculously, he rose three days later.

I believe that death could not hurt him, I believe that his ‘way’ is ‘truth’ and through him, I believe we have ‘life’. That makes me a disciple … doesn’t it?

I began a study series with a group of my closest friends cum family last night on Francis Chan’s book, now movement, Multiply. Francis asked the same question I did above, “Do you consider yourself a disciple?”

We we took a look at the dictionary definition …

Disciple: a follower or pupil of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.

… I was confronted with what I have now accepted as truth. I am not a follower of Jesus but a fan of his work.

The disciples of Jesus followed him like the plague, they were never far from him physically but hang on each and every one of his teachings. They strictly obeyed his command to share the good news with the world and as a result, became more like their teacher and leader with each day.

In contrast; I go to church most Sunday’s, pray with varying levels of motivation and periods of time in between and find myself leaving my faith out of conversations (rationalised by saying that I’m trying to spread his love in relationships) rather than adding it in … every chance that I get.

“Like a Jesus groupie?” someone asked.

“Not even” The truth hit hard. “If Jesus were a band, I wouldn’t even be at his live shows.”

Can you remember the last time you laid an hour down for the Lord? I don’t even want to mention laying down a day, week or year.

As it turns out, I am a massive fan of his work, I really enjoy hearing about what he is doing and from time to time I’ll tell others of my ‘favourite band’.

I still consider myself a Christian but also a fan who wants to get closer to his idol.

Three words for 2013

Chris Brogan, editor of “WORK BETTER, BE BRAVE,and Tell Bigger Stories” and CEO of Human Business Works thinks of three words to concentrate his efforts every year. He refers to the process as, turbo charged goal planning. 

“The concept of the three words is like the path. Think of a word that gives you the HUGE picture, not the small picture.”

Seeing the impact the concept has had for Chris, and now, many more. I thought I’d be crazy not to give it a go.

Despite the fact January as almost entirely passed, and I haven’t chosen any of my ‘directional words for 2013″, my first isn’t tardiness. Being punctual, is something one can not hold on to too tightly when you have newborn at home.

Enough, here’s my three…

Grateful Grateful. For my life, that’s every breathe. Not just the ones that come post workout, but my waking moments, those short breaths while stressed and the long deep snores while sleeping. Living in such a blessed surrounds, life is too often, taken for granted.

Prayer

Prayer. It is something I commit to daily with my daughter, it’s part of her bed time routine. But, before you commend me for being such a good Christian father, I must share … I often do not pray. I have been given the amazing ability to talk to my creator and lord, still I am silent. This silence leaves me without direction, as a result, I am lost.

Words

Words. An unusual choice for someone actively writing a blog posting, I agree. But something that will motivate, inspire and hopefully create a lot of joy in 2013. I find peace while I write. It doesn’t have to be much a handful of words on a note to a friend is all it takes. I don’t want to downplay the significance of successfully articulating a thought. Heavens knows I have far more off paper than on.

So there’s my three words. In prayer I will be grateful, and of fruits will be written her. Finding sense amongst a senseless world.

This year, Chris has chosen Walt, Ender and Monchu (I’ll let him explain). Find your three words, and direction for 2013. Share your words in the comments below, discuss them with a friend or yell them out a bus window … whatever you do, commit to them, make them work in your life.

SENSE

Mayan I’m crazy too

The world may end in just over nine hours.

You’ve obviously decided to read on regardless. I must say, I’m surprised. I’d call my writing entertaining at times and possibly even enlightening but never would I suggest my writing to be the last thing on earth I read!

Each key stroke should be urgent, they could very well be amongst my last actions of this earth. But alas, my fingers move effortlessly across the keyboard … without a worry in the world.

Thousands of people are flocking to ancient Mayan sites around the globe, paying tribute to their God’s in anticipation of the end of the world.

I repeat, the end of the world may only now, be hours away.

Again, you’ve chosen to read on. And again I’m surprised, maybe you’re just as crazy as I am!

Not only are those flocking to Mayan sites worshipping their God’s, for some reason, they are expecting contact from aliens.

There’s even been rumours of a spaceship coming to pick up those chosen to survive the apocalypse! Get this though, you’d assume the aliens would be interested in the smartest  strongest or most healthy humans … no, it’s a first in best dressed scenario, crazy right!?

Do people really think some sort of alien life form will appear from the clouds taking on board the people they met forming a group to re populate a new world post apocalypse?

mayan169-408x264They line the shoreline in Byron Bay, hands wide and lifted up … ready to welcome visitors from out of space. This scene will be repeated all round the globe in the coming hours and, as the time of predicted apocalypse draws near, their passion will increase.

If you’re anything like me, your first thought would have been … what a bunch of crazy’s!

Surely, any sane person would reject the teachings of the Mayans and be looking past the 21st of December, by 4 days anyway. It is then they’ll celebrate the birth of their King.

Born of a virgin mother and lived a perfect servant life, only to be killed by those he was meant to lead. This king didn’t fight his death, but welcomed it as a price to save a broken world.

Their king, (aka Jesus) rose from the dead and ascended to heaven to be with his father who sent his spirit to live in us all. One day he will return and once again, bring judgement to this world. Until then, billions of people (including myself) follow his teachings to the best of their ability… the passion of those people, just like the Mayan worshippers is building to a crescendo.

worship_service

Come December 25, churches will be filled with believers joined by folk looking for a hit of Jesus joy or a stamp on their get out of jail free card!

Who’s the crazy one now!?

That’s the thing about faith. It’s belief in what you cannot see. It’s crazy and beyond all explanation … yet amazingly life altering. It’s a force more powerful than any other and one, I am not willing to let go of.

I believe a man was born of a virgin mother and died to save this world. I know it’s crazy that he rose from the dead … but he is the man, who’s life I seek to model.

Meanwhile, the twitterverse, known for it’s craziness is filled with #endoftheworldconfessions including “I let the dogs out” and I “pooped my pants in high school”.

SENSE

Between vulcan squats and vomiting

It was somewhere between vulcan squats and throwing that I realised I had it all wrong. It was Tuesday, the first day back at work after a long weekend and, the first day back at gym after a week off.

Let me interrupt my own post for a second, this is a change of pace from my previous post. My previous posts have been about the rest of the world, this one is about me. Previously I’ve tried to find sense in others, today I discuss my severe lack of sense.

The week off had taken it’s toll, my arms hung loosely from the shoulders, the ache already set in, and despite my feet being firmly planted on the ground head spins caused me to stumble.

There I was. A twenty nine year old man, husband and father, swaying in front of the mirror.

I typically add Christian to this list but in my dazed state, I was questioning. Do I actually believe?

I’d had a week off gym and been planning for this day. I’d committed to not only a heavy gym routine but a new diet. I was keen to start, so much so, my wife is surely sick of hearing about it. In contrast, I haven’t prayed in over 3 weeks.

My mind drifts back to Sunday, I’m singing the words “here I am to worship” while proudly declaring “How great is our god”. Fast forward 48 hours and I’m standing in front of the gym mirror doubting the extent of  my faith.

A drink of water, I stupidly thought, that’s what I need. Let’s douse these silly thoughts…Hydrated, yet not satisfied; still ultimately confused.

I pay money to come here to exercise, I spend 4 hours a week here. I show up daily in my lunch break  I change, sweat, shower and rush back to my desk. I’ve researched workout routines and treat muscles aches as a sign things must be working.

I think, talk or act exercise each and every day. But speak to Jesus, my saviour in a very sporadic way.

There was nothing spiritual about my sudden urge to get to bathroom, or was there…it’s Jesus who begs us to rid ourselves of our old ways.

For anyone that has ever vomited you’d understand the empty feeling but mine was definitely more than just physical. I had a whole that only he could fill but I needed to ask him. Jesus won’t fix all your problems unless you want him to.

For the first time in weeks I prayed. Thanking him for my life cleansed me more than any post workout shower ever will.

Its Friday afternoon now as I write this post, I’ve completed this weeks four gym visits and my diet hasn’t slipped. Jesus and I talk daily and I enjoy every little bit

I was working out more often than praying, it’s no wonder I felt sick and was heavily swaying.

SENSE

You cannot hide from truth

10, 9, 8….3,2,1. Ready or not here I come. 

I already know where he’s hiding, he’ll be behind the toy chest in his room, feet sticking out beside the bed. He hides there every time. Making my way down the hall, floorboards creek under my feet. Where are you? I ask, my pace is slow.

I check under the bed and feint disappointment when he’s not there. Behind the door and in the cupboard, the same sequence plays out.

If his clearly visible legs aren’t enough, his excitement that gives him away. A giggle or shift in his position is enough. THERE YOU ARE, I act surprised as I pull away the chest.

You can’t see me, he screams, covering his eyes in a last ditch attempt.  He’s in full light yet he denies that he can be seen. Sounds like a silly childish act and it may well be, but it’s one that is often repeated in our adult lives.

We all believe that we are living in the real world, we’d be ashamed to admit to living in a dream. For me, there are some days I wish I was living in a dream world. There’d be no pain, no suffering and justice for all… but that’s just a pipe dream right?

Wrong, it doesn’t have to be that way. Ghandi said it best with these famous words. “Be the change you want to see in the world”

The truth is, reality scares me daily, but the more I think about the more scared I become. I cannot bring myself to face the full brunt of it. Most days I’ll shut it out completely, far more comfortable in my own world and on the other days, I look at it through squinted eyes.

A man of many words, known best for his musical ability showed his wisdom with a few choice words. Elvis defined truth to be like the sun. You can block it out but it aint going away.

Truth and Light

You wont find many arguments for myself or others that it is far easier to live in a bubble, with blinkers on or in extreme cases, with your eyes shut. You will however find plenty of opposition if you suggest this as the best way to live.

What are you avoiding in your life…there’s a good chance you’re living in a dream world. Have you dealt with the pain you experienced earlier in your life? Are you open to the world’s plight? Take the shields from your eyes, it’ll hurt, it’s going to be bright but the long term goal is peace. Understanding will come.

I understand we all will have different beliefs and “truths”, both perceived and comforting but I stand today to say…

There is only one absolute truth in our world and that is love. 

I don’t mean the soppy love expressed in reality TV nor the love shown by husband and wife. This love transcends that as it does one final kiss on their deathbed. This love comes without conditions. It has no known limits and incomprehensible power. This love is pure as it is purposeful.

Love is God

SENSE

The priority fountain

Life is but a series of fleeting moments, once one passes you cannot get it back. It’s our priorities that determine which of these moments we chase and cling to most tightly.

Priorities, we all have them. Whether they are physically written (the list writers here just gave a little fist pump), memorised to a tee, concious or sub concious, our actions will reflect them.

A good friend of mine has theory to manage his priorities. I like to call itThe Priority Fountain. It’s built on the champagne fountain but he’s not a drinker so his priorities are far from champagne.

The champaign fountain is a series of tiered champaign glasses, assembled so that when liquid is poured into the first cup it naturally over flows into the cups below it. I have only seen it once in person but believe they were popular some time in the 70’s or 80’s at weddings?

Back to my mate and as far as I know that patent hold to The Priority Fountain theory. His “liquid source” is God and his first cup is his faith, the second tier cups represent his family. When the cups on this tier fill his “liquid source” flows onto his close friends and so on. 

What do your tiers represent? Struggling to find the answer, here’s a hint. Think back over the past week and where your time has been spent. More often than not this will represent your priorities.

Your tiers are sorted out but what is your liquid source? Also know as your motivation and the fuel on which you live.

Like my good mate, my source is my God but you may not be the same.

If your fountain is assembled correctly and the liquid is flowing freely, there shouldn’t be any problems. Life should make sense but I’m guessing your life, like mine lacks sense at times. Either your fountain is flawed, your source isn’t substantial or like me, you’re effected by the world that surrounds you.

My heart breaks when I see a child that’s unloved. A parent’s priority should be to care for and nurture that child, yet time and time again I see fatherless families and direction-less youth. My heart breaks the same to see the elderly suffer loneliness. Society has turned their back, treating them as a burden rather than part of community. Where are people priorities when these folk sit alone almost as if  waiting to die?

We are not only responsible for our own priorities but those of our community. We all have a sphere of influence, be the change you want to see

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