‘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

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

Spotting real tangible growth

God and the Young People

“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
Amos 5:21-24

Ouch. Sometimes when we read scripture we just have to stop and re-think how we are doing this Christianity thing. I love Church, I love festivals and cool God slogans (one of my all time favs -‘GSUS, more then a chord’) and I must confess that noisy music with some ambient lights and some profound lyrics like ‘oooh oooh oooh’ really excite me and make me feel great about being a Christian. But is all that stuff what following Jesus is all about?
According to Amos, God just isn’t interested in that stuff as much as we are. Sure we can glorify God through that stuff, but it is a very small part in Gods plan. What excites Father Gods heart is to see his people being little Christ’s where it really matters- in our ‘living it’.

This is what has been on my heart as the youth worker. Father God, let the young people know what it is to be a true follower of Jesus, if the traditions are getting in the way, scrap them. When I first started at Cairns I would always worry about numbers on a Sunday morning and began thinking through how to get young people into the doors. I thought, ‘maybe if I preached more or enticed them with sweets and maybe even money that will do it and then as soon as they get through the door BAM, God will reveal himself and they will love Church and come every Sunday’. Seriously, I really thought that! and I must confess I did try coaxing some young people in with the sweets thing, but realised as time went on that my perspective was all wrong. God reminded me that if I really wanted young people to meet him, then I had to truly show them His heart and not just parrot the same old ‘right answers’.

We over complicate things really. What is on Gods heart is simple, he wants his people back and he wants them to look like Jesus in the everyday. To be more concerned about their neighbour’s welfare then whether or not they should go to church on sunday. To put scripture into practice and not just into memory. So what should we do? Scrap Sundays? of course not, it’s the body gathered. Change it so that it doesn’t look like the contemporary culture from the 80’s, yeh maybe someday…But its not even about that. It is simply about getting our hands dirty again. Doing the stuff we so often talk about on sundays–being the light God has called us to be (Matt 5).

Now we have arrived at the reason for my rant.
I’m excited! Because God is moving in the young people I work with and they are growing into mighty fine followers of Jesus and action has been the catalyst. From what I have seen the young people understand what following Jesus looks like when they clean up some single mums garden they don’t know from Adam, but knowing it just might making a difference to her life. They get it when they spend a week serving in orphanages and the most powerful message is not a ‘God slot’ preached but simply holding a little boy that even in Europe seems to have been abandoned by government and worthless in society. They get it when they can fight for the things that are on Gods heart, like justice and fairness, equality…you know the kingdom stuff.

So if, like me, you have been worried about how much the young people are growing when they seem so disengaged with traditional Sunday morning ‘church’, then ask them what they are doing instead and if they are getting their hands dirty with God. Why not ask them what they think is on Gods heart. I think, you’ll find something is happening and its spot on… And when you find that out, give thanks!

You know what grinds my gears…

Today I finally finished listening to a talk by Mark Driscoll (American Pastor) and I am SO glad its over. Throughout the talk Driscoll was arguing against the movement known as ’emergent Church’ and subtly attacked the theological studies of a number of writers, such as Rob Bell and Brian Mclaren. EVERYONE has the right to express a view on someones theology but how it is done is CRUCIAL.

If you have a bit of time to hear the talk out you will notice that the way in which Driscoll preaches makes you feel bad about the second cup of tea you had this morning! Its subtle but manipulative. Also if you listen to his comments on the writers he is critiquing there is a clear misrepresentation of what was said in the first place. A good example of this is his view on Rob Bells question about Jesus being of virgin birth, Let me clarify. In Velvet Elvis, Bell asks the question ‘what if Mary wasn’t a Virgin…’. Now this sounds bad, however in context Bell is asking us ‘was not Jesus life more significant then his Birth’. Bare with me on this, Bell goes on to say he believes the Bible is Truth and that Jesus was born of Mary and that is Truth, but the whole purpose of Velvet Elvis is to ask the question is Jesus still relevant to a world that desires facts.

Now my point in this blog is not to play the attack game but to ask you all to READ things for yourselves. The bible states in 1Thessalonians 5:21 ‘Test Everything. Hold onto the Good’. So test everything. Which ironically is the point of Velvet Elvis. The Truth will out and no question will cause the truth to break so when you are told to not question what ‘the bible says’ or ‘tradition’, remember this verse.

J- Out