Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Getting Ready For Christmas Day

From early in November to the last week on December
I got money no matter … me down
Well the music made me merry by the solid temporary
I know Santa Claus is coming to town
In the days I work my day job
In the nights I work my night
But all comes down to waking on last day
Getting ready ready for Christmas day

I got a nephew in Iraq
It’s his third time back
But we’re pretending .. again
With the luck of a beginner
He’ll be eating turkey dinner

Somewhere .. in Pakistan

Getting ready oh we’re getting ready
For the power and the glory and the story
Of Christmas day

If I could tell my mum and dad
That the things that we never had
Didn’t matter we were always ok
Getting ready ready for Christmas day

Getting ready oh we’re getting ready
For the power and the glory and the story
Of Christmas day

Luke 2:3-20
Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Worship Fully: the antidote to self-absorption

Go all in, right there in your neighbourhood...

Romans 12
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Somebody has to say it.

Jeremiah 7:1-3
The Message from God to Jeremiah: "Stand in the gate of God's Temple and preach this Message.

"Say, 'Listen, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship God. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel's God, has this to say to you:

"'Clean up your act—the way you live, the things you do—so I can make my home with you in this place. Don't for a minute believe the lies being spoken here—"This is God's Temple, God's Temple, God's Temple!" Total nonsense! Only if you clean up your act (the way you live, the things you do), only if you do a total spring cleaning on the way you live and treat your neighbors, only if you quit exploiting the street people and orphans and widows, no longer taking advantage of innocent people on this very site and no longer destroying your souls by using this Temple as a front for other gods—only then will I move into your neighborhood. Only then will this country I gave your ancestors be my permanent home, my Temple.

Let's get actually moving into our neighbourhood, instead of constantly driving out of it.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The happiest people of all have good relationships with others. Other people matter.

It all comes down to this: whose flesh are you touching and why? Whose flesh are you recoiling from and why? Whose flesh are you burning and why? Daniel Berrigan

John 13:1-17
Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.

Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, "Master, you wash my feet?"

Jesus answered, "You don't understand now what I'm doing, but it will be clear enough to you later."

Peter persisted, "You're not going to wash my feet—ever!"

Jesus said, "If I don't wash you, you can't be part of what I'm doing."

"Master!" said Peter. "Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!"

Jesus said, "If you've had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you're clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you're clean. But not every one of you." (He knew who was betraying him. That's why he said, "Not every one of you.") After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.

Then he said, "Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as 'Teacher' and 'Master,' and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other's feet. I've laid down a pattern for you. What I've done, you do. I'm only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn't give orders to the employer. If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Living in thanks.

Live simply
Love generously
Care deeply
Speak kindly
Leave the rest to God!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

How 'bout you?

I am a failure at prayer. I would rather show someone my checkbook stubs than talk about my prayer life. I would rather confess that I am a rotten godmother, that I struggle with my weight, that I fear I am overly fond of Bombay Sapphire gin martinis than confess that I am a prayer-weakling.

To say I love God but I do not pray much is like saying I love life but I do not breathe much. The only way I have found to survive my shame is to come at the problem from both sides, exploring two distinct possibilities: 1) that prayer is more than my idea of prayer and 2) that some of what I actually do in my life may constitute genuine prayer.
Barbara Brown Taylor

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

God's Advent Conspiracy...

Slow down, take some time to get a renewed vision of what God really undertook with the birth of Jesus.

Why not take this journey with some of your neighbours leading up to Christmas?

Ephesians 1:11-12

It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

Monday, 22 November 2010


Galatians 6:2-5
... one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Be a good neighbour, help each other out. Life can be very gnarly & bite you when you least expect it...

To become a disciple means a decisive and irrevocable turning to both God AND neighbour. David Bosch

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Have some fun this festive season!

...so the annual problem for kids of our nations is finding a good way to spend it. All set! Let's do this thing! LIKE MAYBE...

Turning our beds into dual toboggans and sliding down the ski jump tower. Building a snowman the size of colossal or giving a Yeti a shower. Staging a snowball fight with giant catapults and snow angles that really fly. Rocking a Christmas Carol, wrapping a giant present or just shoveling the drive!

Well, that can't all be fun. As you can see, there is a whole lot of stuff to do before school starts next year. So stick with us 'cause we're gonna spread some Christmas cheer! Stick with us 'cause all of us are gonna spread some Christmas cheer!!

Pious 3:16
Thou shalt not have any fun, nor shalt thou smile in all thy days.


Saturday, 20 November 2010

Revenge is sour.

Your ego is bruised, your pride is hurt, and now you are mad as hell! You have just been humiliated, and you don't like feeling foolish.

What are you going to do next?

Some will plot for years to avenge their hurt.

Don't become a prisoner of hate. Choose a different path.

War will end when they love their children more than they hate us. Golda Meir

Allow your forgiveness instinct to kick in.

Luke 6:35-42
"I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."

He quoted a proverb: "'Can a blind man guide a blind man?' Wouldn't they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn't lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.

"It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Friday, 19 November 2010

If happiness is what you're after, don't look for it.

Matthew 6:25-34
"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Brokenness is more than the tough circumstances of our life

The great weakness in the North American church at large, and certainly in my life, is our refusal to accept our brokenness. We hide it, evade it, gloss over it.

We grab for the cosmetic kit and put on our virtuous face to make ourselves admirable to the public. Thus, we present to others a self that is spiritually together, superficially happy, and lacquered with a sense of self-deprecating humor that passes for humility.

The irony is that while I do not want anyone to know that I am judgmental, lazy, vulnerable, screwed up, and afraid, for fear of losing face, the face that I fear losing is the mask of the impostor, not my own!
Brennan Manning

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

God calling you to serve? Get an accredited ministry degree online. Apply for free.

That headline was on a pastor's blog - something is very wrong with that idea.

Forget about fake credentials.

Most of us are so disengaged from ourselves & our neighbourhoods—stressed, depressed, overworked, and so on—that we fail to see signs of life, signs of God's presence.

Want to get into ministry?!

Try walking across the street.

Rake a neighbours leaves. Shovel their walk.

Say, "Hi."

Invite a neighbour over.

Take some freshly baked cookies to the family that just moved in.

Go canvassing door to door for a local charity. (or a political party!)...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Go walking in your neighbourhood...

If you breathe regularly then you can do this.

"A lack of energy often results from inactivity, not age." Mayo Clinic

What signs have you seen lately of God’s grace in your neighbourhood?

1 John 4:20-21
If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Finding God in the Midst of Life

People seem willing to look all over the place for treasure. They will spend hours launching prayers into the heavens. They will travel halfway around the world to visit a monastery in India or to take part in a mission trip to Belize.

The last place most people look is right under their feet, in the every day activities, accidents, and encounters of their lives.

What possible spiritual significance could a trip to the grocery store have? How could something as common as a toothache be a door to greater life?

No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about the spiritual life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it.

The treasure we seek requires no lengthy expedition, no expensive equipment, no superior aptitude or special company. All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need. The only thing missing is our consent to be where we are. Barbara Brown Taylor

Where is your altar in this world?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

What is Sunday for?

Growing up I loved Sundays. We'd usually have a great breakfast of bacon & eggs. I'd watch NFL (or other sports) with my step dad & then later in the afternoon play football or baseball with my friends.

It was always a great way to prepare for heading back to school. (And in later years for back to work).

Hanging out in my neighbourhood with friends was pretty sweet.

I gotta be honest, going to a 'Worship Service' hasn't always evoked the same thoughts & feelings as the Sundays I just wrote about.

Quite often the experience of 'going to church' is like a giant vacuum cleaner sucking us out of our neighborhoods into a foreign environment where we conspire to figure out clever ways to trick our friends who we left behind in our neighbourhood to come to.

Maybe its just me...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

is it outreach week?

I guess Lassie didn't know it was 'outreach week' at her church. Otherwise she would have helped.

Forget the stupid idea of 'outreach week'.

Learn to love your neighbour.

Get off the couch.

Get active in your neighbourhood.

“The great wisdom traditions of the world all recognize that the main impediment to living a life of meaning is being self-absorbed.” Barbara Brown Taylor

"When the shadow of Jesus' cross darkens our space, when pain and suffering intrude our secure, well-regulated lives are blown apart, when tragedy makes its unwelcome appearance and we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own heartache, when courage flies out the window and the world around us suddenly seems dark and menacing, self-pity is the first, normal unavoidable, and probably right reaction; and we only exhaust ourselves further if we attempt to suppress it.

Human experience has taught me that there is no effective way to fight self-pity. Sure, we can spiritualize heartbreak, camouflage our emotions and tap dance into religiosity. But such bravado is a denial of our humanity, and furthermore it does not work. we are not spiritual robots but sensitive persons...however there comes a time when self-pity becomes malignant, seducing us into self-destructive behavioral patters of withdrawal, isolation, drinking, druggin' and so forth. We simply ask for the grace to set a time limit on our self-pity.

What does lie within my power is paying attention to the faithfulness of Jesus. That's what I am asked to do; pay attention to Jesus throughout my journey, remembering his kindness." Brennan Manning

Friday, 12 November 2010

What are you holding on tight to?

Luke 18:18-30
One day one of the local officials asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?"

Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don't you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother."

He said, "I've kept them all for as long as I can remember."

When Jesus heard that, he said, "Then there's only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me."

This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.

Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God's kingdom? I'd say it's easier to thread a camel through a needle's eye than get a rich person into God's kingdom."

"Then who has any chance at all?" the others asked.

"No chance at all," Jesus said, "if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it."

Peter tried to regain some initiative: "We left everything we owned and followed you, didn't we?"

"Yes," said Jesus, "and you won't regret it. No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children—whatever—will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!"

Thursday, 11 November 2010

True courage

Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, don't exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Rope for the climb...

Ephesians 3:20-21
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

as the deer

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

Where do you go to meet with God?

Monday, 8 November 2010

Live your faith. Share your life with the neighbourhood.

What if we all had as a neighbourhood goal: NOBODY LIVES UNLOVED.

What would that ask of us?

Are you prepared to act?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Who are the people in your neighbourhood?

Matthew 9:9-13
Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, "Come along with me." Matthew stood up and followed him.

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?"

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."

Saturday, 6 November 2010

What you do well - even very well and successfully - may not fit with your value system.

I want to build relationships and challenge people to act on their faith and values to create healthy communities.

What do you REALLY WANT to be about?

Zechariah 8
A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

"Old men and old women will come back to Jerusalem, sit on benches on the streets and spin tales, move around safely with their canes—a good city to grow old in. And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing—a good city to grow up in."

"I'll collect my people from countries to the east and countries to the west. I'll bring them back and move them into Jerusalem. They'll be my people and I'll be their God. I'll stick with them and do right by them."

Friday, 5 November 2010

faceplants happen

Job 2:10
We take the good days from God—why not also the bad days?

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Neighbours from Hell: Revenge is a Sweet Game

Yes, there really is a video game by that name!! The player creeps around their neighbors house performing tricks upon the unsuspecting resident.

How many of us have wanted to that before?!

'Loving our neighbours' was never predicated on it being easy! I think Jesus was aware of potential challenges that would arise...

Give up searching for loopholes. Look at those whom Jesus has placed you around. Look closely, empathize with their situation, and then REALLY BECOME their neighbour!

Luke 10:25-37
A religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. "Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?"

He answered, "What's written in God's Law? How do you interpret it?"

He said, "That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself."

"Good answer!" said Jesus. "Do it and you'll live."

Looking for a loophole, he asked, "And just how would you define 'neighbor'?"

Jesus answered by telling a story. "There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

"A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I'll pay you on my way back.'

"What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?"

"The one who treated him kindly," the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, "Go and do the same."

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

'nuff said.

Matthew 15
"Listen, and take this to heart. It's not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up."

Peter said, "I don't get it. Put it in plain language."

Jesus replied, "You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don't you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That's what pollutes."

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Ever feel like Adam Smallbone?

"The more God loves you, the better your PA system." (from 'REV')

Perhaps instead of asking ‘How do we attract people to what we are doing,’ we should ask ‘what is God up to in this neighbourhood?’ and join those things. (Al Roxburgh)

If we enter community because of our own choice, we will stay only if we become more aware that it was in fact God who chose us for this community. It is only then that we will find the inner strength to live through times of turmoil.

Is it not the same thing in marriage? The bond becomes truly deep when husband and wife become conscious that they were brought together by God, to be a sign of love and of forgiveness for one another. Parker Palmer writes,

'Community is finally a religious phenomenon. There is nothing capable of binding together willful, broken human selves except some transcendent power.'
Jean Vanier

Monday, 1 November 2010

The way in is the way on.

A person with the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue; he is devoted to God Himself. You always know when the vision is from God because of the inspiration that comes from it; things come with largeness and tonic to the life because everything is energized by God. Oswald Chambers

The only reason for being Kingdom-people, for being Jesus’ people, was that the forgiveness of sins was happening; so if you didn’t live forgiveness, you were denying the very basis of your own existence. N.T. Wright

1 Corinthians 1:8 – 9
God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.

These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.