Sunday, November 27, 2005

Inside Out

Inside Out by Larry Crabb (Alpha, 1998) is available as a book or cassette. The book has four parts which correspond to the four abbreviated points on the tape.

The four points are:
1. We need to take an honest look at our lives. The gospel needs to penetrate not just our outward behaviour but our inner motives.

2. We need to be honest about our disappointments and our hurts. We need to recognize that because we live in a fallen world with imperfect people, that we have been hurt in the past and will be hurt in the future.

3. We need to recognize that we have all sinned, not only in thought and deed but also by self-protective behaviour. We have not been the channels of love God meant us to be because we have been too busy protecting ourselves from being hurt.

4. We need to trust the Lord with our hurts and repent of our self-protective behaviour.

On the tape Larry says a great deal in a short space of time. I felt the need to listen to the tape several times to catch the full impact of what he was saying. The book goes into a lot more detail. I think both are good value as he raises some valuable issues that need to be thought through.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Psalm 119:65-96 - part 3

V.68 tells me that God is good. It reminds me of that song, God is all the time. It is an important truth we need to have well established in our minds because it is an area that Satan loves to attack when we are feeling down.

V.73 tells me that God made me and formed me, nothing was left to chance or accident. I am God's unique creation and v.94 tells me I belong to God. I have worth and value because I am His.

V.82 "When will you comfort me?" Sometimes I have to wait to see what God will do, but I can be enlarged spiritually in the waiting.

During this next week I'll be looking at Psalm 119 v.97-136. I'll post about it next Thursday.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A funny thing happened in the shoe store

I've been reading John Marsden's book, "Everything I know about writing" and he tells this very funny story. He was in a shoe shop trying on shoes:

"I was going through the usual routines when one tries on new shoes. You know how it is: you put on one, or both, then go for a test drive a lap or two of the store. I was doing that, and glancing down at the shoes to admire them, when suddenly I noticed a big swelling in the leg of my jeans, below the left knee. What could it be? Allergy to shoes? Cancer? I balanced on one foot and tried to look up my own leg, not easy when you're wearing jeans. And finally I realized. The night before, I'd taken off my jeans and jocks in one movement, the way you do. This morning I'd put on clean jocks, then yesterday's jeans. But yesterday's jocks were still in the leg of the jeans! And what was worse, they were slipping down a few centimetres with every step I took. In another half dozen steps my underwear would be sitting on the carpet of the shop. What could I do? Only the obvious thing: I ducked behind a rack of shoes and started groping up my own leg; again not easy when you're wearing jeans. Finally I made contact and pulled them out, and stuffed them quickly into my pocket. But as I did, I looked up. The women selling me the shoes was craning her neck from behind the counter, trying to make out what I was doing. I don't know whether she thought I was a shoplifter, or some kind of pervert who liked to wave his underwear around in shoe shops."

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Kingdom of God is a Party

The Kingdom of God is a Party by Tony Campolo (Word, 1990) is actually the first and only book I've read by Campolo. I think I have been a little put off his writing because I've seen him on video. I personally don't like preachers who shout, but that's ok because he doesn't shout when I'm reading his book!

We have many pictures or symbols for the Kingdom of God and Campolo adds another one "a party". He makes the comment that the New Testament begins with a birthday party, where angels sing and wise men bring gifts, and it ends in a wedding feast. In between times there is still much to celebrate despite the dreadful things that are happening in the world. Several of Jesus' parables regarding the Kingdom of God use the picture of a wedding feast, Jewish weddings are large celebrations lasting a week. It is this idea of celebration or "party" that Campolo uses. I wonder how that fits in with the image of God that we hold. A God who tells his people to stop work and have a party.

Tony Campolo certainly has some radical ideas on the funding of celebrations and the book challenged by thinking. Some of his ideas were new to me and I therefore found it very thought provoking – causing me to go searching through my Bible (not a bad recommendation for any book!). Yet I also found it encouraging to think that God wants us to take some time and money and celebrate His goodness.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Psalm 119:33-64 - God's laws part 2

V.36 Talks about choosing God's ways or selfish gain. Selfish gain creates self-centre people who are unhappy and difficult to get along with.

V.45 (see also v.32) "I will walk about in freedom". Imagine playing basketball or football without lines or without rules, it would be a nightmare. The boundaries actually help us to enjoy the game. Likewise God's laws are designed to help us enjoy life and within His boundaries we have heaps of freedom.

V.50 "Your promise preserves my life" reminds me of a song we use to sing: "For all that You've promised and all that You are, is all that has carried me through". God's promises strengthen us and keep us going in the tough times

During this next week I'll be looking at Psalm 119 v.65-96. I'll post about it next Thursday.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Thriving as an artist - part 3

Finished reading Thriving as an artist in the church and it was an interesting read. Though not quite what I was expecting. It is, of course, American and so Rory Noland writes from the perspective of big churches with a large staff. Nevertheless much of what he said was to do with an artist's attitude and would apply wherever you live.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Psalm 119:1-32 - God's laws

Interesting that I began reading this psalm after having read Tab's essay where she talks about the law. This psalm mentions the law a lot or alternatively statutes, precepts, decrees, commands as I was thinking about this it occurred to me that these things help us to know the character of God. Also I think it helps us with discernment if we know God's law, that is, God would not lead us to do something against His character. This seems to come out in vs. 2 & 10 connect knowing God's law/commands with seeking Him.

I was thinking recently about the fact that we are strangers on earth ("And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth" Hebrews 11:13) and this is also mentioned in v. 19. where perhaps the thought is because I am a stranger, I am in need of God's direction.

During this next week I'll be looking at Psalm 119 v.33-64. I'll post about it next Thursday.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Thriving as an artist - part 2

Finished reading chapter 3 - coping with rejection and failure where Rory Noland discusses amongst other things the statement: "Always do what God wants you to do and let someone else do what you want to do" and quotes this interesting testimony from Henri Nouwen which is in Nouwen's book, The Road to Daybreak.

"My trips to Latin America had set in motion the thought that I might be called to spend the rest of my life among the poor of Bolivia or Peru. So I resigned from my teaching position at Yale and went to Bolivia to learn Spanish and to Peru to experience the life of a priest among the poor. I sincerely tried to discern whether living among the poor in Latin America was the direction to go. Slowly and painfully,I discovered that my spiritual ambitions were different from God's will for me. I had to face the fact that I wasn't capable of doing the work of a missioner in a Spanish-
speaking country, that I needed more emotional support than my fellow missioners could offer, that the hard struggle for justice often left me discouraged and dispirited,and that the great variety of tasks and obligations took away my inner composure. It was hard to hear my friends say that I could do more for the South in the North than in the South and that my ability to speak and write was more useful among university students than among the poor. It became quite clear to me that idealism, good intentions, and a desire to serve the poor do not make up a vocation."

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Thriving as an artist

Just started reading, Thriving as an artist in the church : hope and help for you and your ministry team by Rory Noland. I hadn't heard of him before this book but apparently he has written a previous book called, The heart of the artist. So far I've read the introduction - it's not easy being an artist in the church; chapter 1 - how to keep your passion alive ; and chapter 2 - five relational skills every artist needs. I think it is going to be a good read.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Psalm 109 - Being honest

David is a most striking example of someone without pretence. He was never afraid to tell God exactly what he was thinking and feeling. Here we find David telling God exactly what he thinks should be done with a "wicked and deceitful" person and it is not pleasant. "May his days be few … may his children be fatherless … may his children be wandering beggars … may a creditor seize all he has … may no one extend kindness to him … may his descendants be cut off … may the iniquity of his fathers be remembered … may their sins always remain before the Lord …" (Psalm 109:6-20). Yet God describes David with these words: "I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart, he will do everything I want him to do." God can handle our temper tantrums, our overwhelming depressions and any other of our emotional states, freely giving us His grace to meet all the circumstances of our lives.

Over the next few weeks I plan to look at Psalm 119. In the past I have found myself rushing through this psalm because it is so long. I thought it would be good for me to take some time over it, so this week I'm going to look at v.1-32

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