Monday, May 30, 2005
For some time now I have been plagued by a feeling of uneasiness.
It isn't stress, nor is it depression. In fact the closest thing I can liken it to is the dance floor.
You know those evenings when you reach your chosen club, keen to crack some serious moves and take the glory as the crowd looks on but as you advance onto the polished floor the DJ hits a song that completely sucks the breathe out of your dancing sails. It could be 50 cent, or some poorly remixed version of Joe Jackson and immediatley you feel out of place. You start to shake and groove but the music becomes a restrictive master and you yearn for some Rock Lobster or Young MC!
Last night our preacher spoke on the practicalities of Romans 6-8.
What things we have taken to the grave and what we have allowed to live.
Who is our master?
I realised that my master isn't Jesus. Sure, on my 'life form' I would write down Jesus as my boss, just like a vast majority of Australians casually tick protestant on their survey forms. But I have far to many addictions to actually claim Jesus as master. There are far too many others crowding the space Jesus should take. And as I sat and listened I knew that these were words God wanted me to hear. Loneliness has seen me cling to anything that I can get my hands on as I desperately try and stop my fall into no-mans land.
I know what needs to change. I can feel the beauty of living by faith and listening to Jesus as boss. But it is not a reality yet. For too long I have been dancing to the wrong tune and now I understand why I feel on the outer.
Jesus on the other hand plays a different tune. It's easy to dance to because it allows us to move the way we're created to.
"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness."
Monday, May 23, 2005
As I took my seat in the upstairs room of the Camperdown Buddhist Library I must admit things felt peaceful. My feet were naked of shoes and the 'healing power' of insense was hanging in the air. It was only a few minutes before Sister Yeshe Chodron addressed us.
Sister Yeshe is one of the only Buddhist Nun's in Sydney and at 27 I was interested to hear what she had to say about "Finding true happiness".
On the whole, she had some great things to say. She preached against the mad materialistic obsession we find ourselves in. She encouraged us to slow down to save our sanity and urged us to embrace the present moment rather than focussing on the past or trying to over plan the future. All good things to hear and to put into practice.
But as I sat and listened what I soon noticed was the lack of any real hope. She seemed to be striving to achieve happiness in the hear and now, in the current moment but I couldn't work out if she was actually going anywhere.
None the less, I loved the evening. Too often we Christians preach against other religions, but the closest we've ever come to them is a Josh McDowell book.
I didn't go to take notes, but I didnt go to throw stones either. I just wanted to hear what she had to say....and I love the smell of insense.
Sunday morning I started AND FINISHED the Sydney half marathon. As always the first 10kms were run far to fast, leaving me in a world of pain for the final 11kms. My lack of training resulted in an akward looking shuffle as I wobbled across the finish line, but to be honest I couldn't care less. It's been a while since Ive actually had a physical challenge and it was an absolute winner!
This morning my elephant legs are not letting me forget that I abused them on the weekend.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
If you read yesterdays post and wondered why it cut out mid sentance.....my mistake. But its been fixed this morning, so all is well.
Just a quick note to say that in 4 days (sunday) I am running a half marathon here in Sydney.
My 3 month training programme went out the window...3 months ago. I'm a little scared. I hate the thought of stopping for a walk.
4 days to go.
"not that we desire the old life but that we dont desire the new life enough."- Larry Crabb.
There is one question that haunts me.It hasn’t always haunted me, primarily because I never understood its calling, but now that I’ve been given a glimpse I fear that I can no longer ignore it.
To what extent do we give our lives to the Lord?
That is the question.
I don’t ask this question from the classic bible class, sermon style angle for I already know the answer. Jesus provides it in Matthew 37 – “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind…..and love your neighbour as yourself.” When we become a disciple of the Lord we give him our whole life, every nook and cranny and hold nothing back for ourselves. We come to trust in him not just for our salvation but also the very essence of life for we know that he has given it all to us. We come to realise that he has not just given us life now, but has secured the eternal Kingdom of God (Luke 12:32) as the place of our destiny. And it makes complete sense that in the light of such a gift that we love those we come in contact with.
I know this, I know it, I’ve taught it, preached it and read commentaries on it and yet even with that answer firmly planted in my mind I am still haunted by the question, To what extent do we give our lives to the Lord? It haunts me not in theory but in practice. Do I love God first and foremost? And do I, in a day-to-day reality, love my neighbour? On one level I can answer yes but the words of Jesus still leave me uncomfortable. He distinctly commands us to sell our possessions and give to the poor (Luke 12:33) and he urges us to rely on God for our many and varying needs rather than trying to punch our own weight (Matt 6:25).
One of the most surprising verses that the Lord has recently turned my attention to is Galatians 2:10 . Paul expresses his joy of finally meeting the disciples and of their blessing upon his Gentile ministry. The one piece of advice they give to Paul is “to remember the poor”. I was thrown back by this. When the actual men who had spent every day for 3 years with Jesus give a final piece of advice its surely going to be something that reflects the very heart of their master and it is “care for the poor”.
I don’t care for the poor.
I support 2 sponsor kids who’s monthly payment has rarely been a burden to my bank account…..and that’s it! Tick the “care for the poor” box and move on to something else. But now for the first time I don’t feel I can do that. Supporting CCF is a great thing but if that means I now feel free of any other responsibility to the poor then I reflect more of a Pharisee than a disciple. And the problem is that its not just with my treatment of the poor that I am challenged. The way I spend my time, the way I treat my friends and the way I treat my family all come under the spotlight. I could go on…
And so I am left haunted by this question of faith. In response to it I hear 2 voices. The first is loud and constant, it tells me to be responsible and reminds me that it is foolish to give up everything for Jesus. “How will you support your family?, What kind of education are you going to leave for your children? What sort of responsible husband will you be?” Every single one of these questions have come at me from within the church, from my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.The second voice is quiet, although I must admit more recently it has started to slowly raise its volume. It suggests that perhaps Jesus words are true and can be taken on face value. It gently nudges me to release my grip on money and security and tighten my hold on prayer and the meditation of Gods word.This morning as I type these words I can hear both voices clearly and I am genuinely confused as to which to listen to. I can’t label either as obviously not from God, so what do I do?
Henri Nouwen once wrote:
"Your life is not going to be easy, and it should not be easy. It ought to be hard. It ought to be radical; it ought to be restless; it ought to lead you to places you'd rather not go."
The apostle Paul once wrote:
“But you, man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”(1 Tim 6:11)
I am asking, I am seeking and I am knocking. Please Lord answer.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
"Anyone for coffee or tea?"
So the last week has seen a halt to the duel end burning of my candle. Its so hard in my job to work out when your doing the right amount of work. But none the less this weekend was the first free one in a while. To celebrate this, the following are 5 proofs that my weekend was everything that it could have been:
1. Pizza, beer and footy Friday night.
2. Surfing with dolphins Saturday morning
3. Saturday afternoon housewarming where I was 'set up' with a 70 yr old bird.
4. Family lunch Sunday and the first mothers day in which I had prepared the present b4 the actual day!
Let me for a second explain point 3. Because i feel a comment like that can't go unexplained.
It had reached the point in the house warming where I was really thinking of leaving. Every party has a natural flow, wave like in motion, and using this analagy we had hit white wash. However simultaneously as I was kicking to keep my head above water there was a knock on the door and a bunch of 6 old folk stumble in the room. This you would imagine would be the final nail in the social coffin, the killer rip that pulls you under and drowns you of conversation. Yet, I could not escape. Due to the host not being around I felt some pressure to wine and dine (in a coffee and tea kind of way) the oldies until he returned. As they sat down there was a strange shift of breeze, the waters calmed and the swell picked up. I'd never met anyone this old who was this much fun. Before 2 minutes had passed one of the 'old birds' had enquired to my relational status. On revealing my singleness, she quickly piped up that her friend (sitting next to her on the couch) was also single....and looking!
In sheer shock I was left with nothing to say, you know those moments when you crawl frantically though your mind to find something meaningful to reply with, but every nook and cranny is swept clean. And so after standing awkwardly for a few seconds I retreated to;
"..anyone for coffee or tea?"
- trumped by a 75 year old.
I guess old folk are really just smart young people.
below is a photo my bro took on his new digi camera. I love candles, what else can I say?
Thursday, May 05, 2005
6:30 I met Steve at the steps of the Sydney Art Gallery for an invite only viewing of the Archibald finalists and winner. On arrival we were given our name tag and a little bag of goodies, then ushered downstairs to the larger than life artworks and the equally exciting waiters carrying round trays of free beverages.
Everyone was in suits, having just arrived from work. Luckily, Steve had given me the heads up on this one, so I too was suited up and may I say - fitted in perfectly.
This is the otherside. Catching the train into the city, dressed up like I was important, standing looking at artwork with other people who thought they were important and enjoying the world of business freebees. However, after my first beer I suddenly realised that these are not 'my people'. I don't catch the train into the city each day, suited up and destined for level 15 of some important building. I'm a school teacher. And as quickly as it came, my feeling of importance drifted and before long exited the building.
Here's the point: Who cares whether the people in that room last night were important or not, it doesn't matter. The fact is the business world looks after its people. I realise that many have to work long hours for this, but at least in return there are free lunches, artwork showings, and a few junkets here and there.
No matter how hard I work as a teacher, no one gives a rats arse. There are no 'retreats' or work dinners or anything that provides any feeling of importance.
None the less, last night for a total of 5 minutes my self importance batteries got a brief charge, which were desperatley needed considering I am about to head off to the school cross country tournamnet.
Stand all day directing children who are scarily unfit around a course in the middle of no where...this does not count as a junket!
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
- Thoman Merton
Monday, May 02, 2005
- Where's this wave rave? Or did I get all dressed up for nothing?
- Everyone else is doing it....so why can't I?
- Why is Ben Lee trying to learn 'nothing'? and how do I get it?
- These could be the good old days
- 3 easy steps to finding universal happiness.
Much like Cortez slaughtering the Spanish, this morning I embarked on my own journey to 'destroy the demons'. And so with rifles cocked and cannons aimed, I slept in a little, drove to the beach, swam the pacific ocean and took refuge at Bacino's with their famous scrambled eggs, a few flat whites and the sydney morning hearld......hmmm good.
My demons arose from 20 days of work with not a single full day off. So for some time, Monday 2nd April had become my horizon and it felt good to finally allow its trade winds to take and push me to the point of relaxation and emotinal redemption. Even though my board stayed dry due to lack of waves, I still embraced the body surf and as I bobbed up and down I realized that these really are 'the good old days'. It's that strange equation; take your current life sittuation add 5 years, lose a couple of friends, gain a couple of friends and all of a sudden your current sittuation becomes 'the good old days'.
Think about it: come 2009 you will look back on today and reminisce.
So stop whinning about your current sittuation and embrace it, because these are the 'good old days'.
The return leg of this mornings journey saw me at Victory Music, picking up the new Ben Lee album. Its got flowers on the cover and has alot of talk of some American Taoist Healing Center and a certain Master Nan Lu?
I'm not sure about Nan Lu but I certainly recieved some healing this morning.
"Be still and know that I am God". Technically I was bobbing but that's close enough, isn't it?