‘A story about two gardens’

Gethsemane-Jesus-PrayingI recently spoke at my church on Mark 14:32-42 ‘Gethsemane’ and I was asked to share it. So I thought I’d resurrect the old blogging days and make it available for any interested.

So here we go:

This is a story that’s really about two gardens.

This garden story is a response to the first ever garden story.
The first garden is where sin came in,
because man gave in.

The second, this garden story,
is the restoration story.
Where the human response to temptation and sin
is ‘not my will but yours come in’.

The first thing we can learn from this passage is that Jesus, like us, understands pain and suffering,
He is not on a cloud of ignorance, but literally sweating out of fear.

‘IF THERE IS ANOTHER WAY, TAKE THIS CUP FROM ME!’

Who has ever said something like that before?

But here is the second lesson and an incredible thing,
Jesus says, ‘not my will, but yours come in’.
In the place of great pain, Jesus submits to the will of the father,
even though he knows what that means,
he is fixed on the path laid before him.

Jesus shows us that we must lean on God,
because without his grace and guidance we are lost.
But to lean on him we must break down our own wall of will and let his in.

See in the first garden, the first people put their will above God’s,
they decided they knew best and there was no cost,
They believed the lie that they could actually do life like God.
Yet the cost didn’t only effect them, it cost us, it cost God.

Choosing their will above the creators, left a crater in nature,
but that’s exactly what sin does, it tricks you into taking something that was never yours at someone else’s cost.
Be it love, be it value, be it ambition
We take the beautiful things of God, and make them grimy and lost

But in the second garden, this garden,
when faced with the same choice,
Jesus chose to submit instead of walk his own way.
This, the second garden is where our salvation was truly sealed,
where a suffering Jesus decided to trust the fathers will.

And in that single act, broke the power of the first gardens crap and showed us that for all our selfishness, God has got our back.

So what can we take away from this?

That Jesus understands suffering, yes.
That we can trust him to understand how we feel when we suffer, yes.

But also that from the first garden to this day,
the biggest problem humanities faced, is our wills fighting to take first place.

The ancient yet ever present battle of
mine verses thine.
Of my way or his way
When deep down we already know who’s way, Yahweh’s

We make this choice everyday, but which will you choose?

The fathers will or yours be done?
Because when we say your kingdom come,
In the small things and in the large,
We must follow it through with his will be done.

A story about two gardens – Audio

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Dangerous memes and the attitudes they produce…

Dangerous memes and the attitudes they produce.

I watched a TED talk recently by Dan Dennett on the subject of ‘Dangerous Memes’ – a phrase developed to describe ideas transferred through words, rituals, gestures etc by Richard Dawkins. In the video the lecturer talks of the memes as toxic ideas that are not entirely bad but sometimes can become dangerous ideologies. He even argues that fighting for ‘freedom’ is the result of a meme. I felt his reflections where honest and I would be ignorant to say he didn’t have a good point…

I also recently red an article by Aussie Rugby player David Pocock who speaks of his faith in Jesus and desire to support the oppressed, including those who are ‘sexually oppressed’, as his expression of following Jesus. I felt his article was very honest and after reading it I did the usual ‘check the comments below’. For the record, checking the comments is never a good idea if you are passionate about integrity. People always seem to use the comments box to ‘get one over’ or rant at the writer and the other readers views. It seems that the comment box is helping bring to light what ‘dangerous memes’ are really out there.

I think the comment box has shown that sometimes we just don’t get it. We focus our fight on the wrong things, on making things kosher on paper (or blog), but we do not worry so much about whether it brings life and hope. We are NOT the judge, we are NOT above reproach, we are NOT better then anybody else. Yet it seems we get these ideas in our head, we hear them from other people and they resonate with our fears or stereotypes, and so we call them truth. Loosely link them to verses, abstracted from their contexts and because this idea is fully formed in our minds, to question them, well thats to question scripture, or God.

Did Jesus come to give us a set of ideas that we would retain as information, a sort of knowledge based STD? Or did Jesus show us a way of life that takes away the role of judge from a broken people and gives us all freedom to be like him, Loving God and Loving people, unconditionally? I think it’s the second and I think many would agree, but to be honest, the first is our default position in church. In the video a key example used of a dangerous meme is Islam but I wonder if he only uses Islam to give Christianity a break from being the obvious example of a dangerous meme.

Please don’t  misunderstand here. I still do not know where I stand on any of the issues raised in the video and the article and I am not advocating their opinions as ‘right’ over any others. What I am arguing is that anything good can be hijacked by our fears and become dangerous. If you are passionate about marriage today and struggle with the idea of homosexual marriage how are you going to react to it? Are you going to reject people, take a moral high ground and claim your idea is better, or are you going to love people unconditionally, be honest about your thoughts, but acknowledge them as thoughts and journey together to better understand the thoughts of everyone and their reasons?

This is a little harsh, but would those who have homophobic tendencies be racist in the time of slavery? No you say, but I’m not so sure, if society rejects something, it is easy to reject it, if society accepts something it is easy to live within the the social norm. As followers of Jesus we are called to be the light in the world. The light is not a fire that burns the darkness it is a gentle warmth that eradicates it.

I wonder what you think? Watch the video and read the article and then ask yourself this question: Do I stand for what is right when I fight things or do I have some dangerous memes in my closet?

I know I have some.

Links

Memes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

Dan Dennet Video: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_dangerous_memes.html

David Pocock article: http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2011/12/02/3382170.htm

Heaven, Hell and the fate of everyones earthly life if you miss the point.

Hi.

So Rob Bell writes a book, loads of people attack him, another load of people attack the people attacking him, then another load of people choose to join in on the side of which they are most comfortable; and then a smaller group of people sit in the middle of the two camps and try to draw on the different points being made by the different camps of thought, whilst trying to remind the people in the camps that whether you agree or not with the different thoughts, disagree in love (I love these people so much, because of them we are avoiding some pointless divisions based of theological preference).

On ‘Love Wins’ and the ‘responses’
I’ve read the book, I don’t agree with everything written. I’ve read the arguments for and against, I don’t agree with everything written. However I must admit I am drawn to support team ‘Bell’ more then team ‘Hell’ (see what I did there?). Not on the basis of what is being said by that camp, but on the way in which it is being said. It would seem that the biggest issue of the people against Bell, is based around the fact that without Medieval interpretation on Hell there is nothing to fear. I may be wrong here, but the responses to Bell seem to be so focused around the need to keep an image of Hell that is fire filled and full of suffering in a human understanding of the word, for the ‘naughty people’ who don’t say ‘I accept Jesus into my heart’, come to church and tithe etc. What would we do if we couldn’t scare people to love God?!

I joke. sort of. The problem is both camps use the bible, both think the bible has all the answers (to varying degrees) yet they don’t agree. I wonder if this is what happens when we forget the Bible is a book of God’s interaction with HUMAN people, whom are trying to interpret the ‘unfathomable creator’ to the creation. Here I would like to point to revelation where John is basically struggling to describe what he sees… Maybe the answers we are looking for on Hell, are not as important as the mission that God, in my opinion, is calling us into.

Whats really important?
So Hell, eternal (literal medieval, dante stuff) or not (literal Gehenna), there is a choice. To step into the story of God in which we were created for, which is about the way we live and the way we speak and most importantly the way we love, or to reject it which is to live in Hell, now and until who knows (because we don’t fully know, sort of like a cloudy picture in a mirror…hmm I’ve heard that before). And as Bell says:

‘We are free to resist, reject, and rebel against God’s ways for us. We can have all the hell we want’

So what should we really focus on?
Good question. How about following Jesus. Living a life in which all our ways reflect Jesus to the best of our abilities. Speaking truth over people. That God is Love, that God wants to spend this life and forever with us, bringing out of us the potential He put in us, and that we can reject it, but we will regret it, because this God made us and our very being is from him, to reject it is to reject life.

Does that sound ok? I think that if we (regardless of what camp we sit in) would just focus on the above, maybe the world wouldn’t see such an ‘ugly bride’, but the Church of Jesus. I often think we like to talk about this stuff more then do it and it often feels like people talk about it instead of doing it. The Church is Gods best plan for the world. 2 Billion people claim to follow Jesus in this world. Thats 1/3 of the world. 1/3 of the world believes Jesus is the answer to all that is wrong in the world; like poverty, like injustice, like rape, like cheating, like unethical banking, like debt, like abuse, like living for money, like consumerism, like dodgy politics, like selfish gain….thats just a rant list, you know all the rest. There is 1/3 of the world’s population, who if they really practiced what they preached, we would see more then a few charities doing good, we would see every person get the chance to have the best life God wants to give us all, BECAUSE the CHURCH would not spend so much time huddled in the changing rooms chatting about it.

I know this isn’t easy and I fail at this because I am selfish, I am lazy, I like the easy way, but thats not what we are called to, we are called to carry our cross, which I would argue isn’t just our failures, its the failures we see and can change. I want to take this challenge seriously and although it is hard, it is our role on earth. Not to scare people away from Hell but invite them into the life of Heaven, through our actions and then words, through seeking where the spirit is at work and stepping into it.

THE NOW REALLY IS ABOUT THE NOW AND THE NOT YET, THE NOT YET IS NOT YET, THE NOW IS NOW, SO LETS FOCUS ON THE NOW….AND THE NOT YET.

So if you disagree, bless you and I want to say I love you anyway and I will encourage you to use whatever understanding you have of Heaven and Hell etc, to love this world into the new one, the revelation 21 stuff!

Shalom.

Blogging, how I fail at it and those that do not…

I’m not going to lie, I ain’t to0 good at the blogging thing…

Going by the blogs I dip into, it would seem, that to be a good blogger you must commit to at least one blogging session a week. It is fundamental to have a blogtastic timeout in the week to share with the world all the important things you are currently thinking about. Using this as a template…I am a pretty crap blogger.

I am joking of course, blogging shouldn’t be become a job – unless it is a job. Blogging is about expressing yourself, your thoughts when you want to, not because you have to! But as I haven’t written a blog in ages, I thought I would drop you some links of people I have been following (not literally) so that you too can enjoy their musings like I have. So here’s a few:
Continue reading

Lunch time snack – Pete Rollins

Hi Friends,

A good mate of mine posted this video on his facebook account and I wanted to share it all with you as I have a lot of time for this philosopher and enjoy his books. So if you have a break, have a watch and have a think.

Pete Rollins at Calvin College

I welcome your comments but please be integral 🙂

‘Absolutism (the idea that something has all the answers) and Relativism (all answers are valid) have one thing in common. They stop us thinking for ourselves’ Rollins

Reflection on the Mystery of God

Hi Friends,

So I haven’t blogged in a while which sucks so I thought I’d share a recent session/reflection I did on the mystery on God. Feel free to use it or ignore it. I don’t mind!

The ‘M’ factor
Recapturing the mystery of God

There are many things that we as people can predict, like the results of eating badly, drinking to much, not revising, or running in front of a car; but should this human skill of reason be used when it comes to understanding who God is? and if so how much should we rely on our reason? People still over eat, drink to much, fail exams and take a trip over a land rover. So even the best results of our reason are not perfect, yet we can so easily fall into the trap of claiming we who are not perfect can fully understand perfection. Its a bit odd and very unreasonable really… To think we can put God in a box and presume he will stay there. The Catechism states that the ‘Chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever’ and whether you like the catholic church or not, I think they hit this nail on the head. Do we have to know everything about something before we can enjoy it?

We are all guilty of this, even the most holiest of youth workers (that is a joke). To question, search and dig for understanding and worth, is part of the way we were made and I would like to suggest that is one of our most fascinating attributes, but is it really going to work on God, can we fully know God?

What am I not saying is that we cannot know God or better put that we can’t trust the Bible, quite the opposite! The Bible is full of stories that show us snap shots of what God is like and most importantly, we have Jesus! Through whom we see God in action still today with hands and feet and a cheeky bit of whit (maybe thats just in my mind). What the bible isn’t is a text book of answers. It is full of answers but it draws you into the journey not the exam room. The difference? the journey doesn’t stop, the exam ends and you forget everything about it. the journey is exciting and energizing whereas the exam is daunting and a means to an end.

Paul is often made out as the person who knows it all, he is the most dominant writer in the NT and is very good as making things tangible, ordered and simple to understand. The problem is he has this little rant in Corinthians 13 which I love because in amongst his practical letter to the Corinthians he basically says, but its not even about what you know its about how you love; because we don’t know it all, we can’t know it all, but we know love and we can do love:

‘We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.’

(Corinthians 12-13)

Part of our gift as humans is to develop and make something simple extremely complicated. Take the wheel. One bloke made a circle, someone imagined putting two together to make a cart and now we have space ships! Things you think you ‘know’ for a fact now, may change and develop and what you would fight for now may seem absolutely crazy in the future! you just don’t know, until the day Christ comes and all is restored. But as Paul makes clear until that day, you can have faith that God is good, otherwise he is not God, you can hope that Revelation 21 is the end game otherwise life is meaningless and you can love, which is the perfect expression of faith and hope and humanities greatest God like characteristic.

Get some head space:
1. Are you excited or scared by the thought that faith is a journey not an exam?

2. Paul says above all things we should love, what is your capacity for love, when someone says the phrase ‘Unconditional Love’, How does that make you feel?

3. Whatever you answered to 1 and 2 spend some time praying into it with God.

  1. – He wants you on this journey and if scripture is anything to go by God is gracious enough to walk it through with us.
    – Read Luke 24:13-35

Hope this was insightful!

Shalom.