Wonky Looking Love

I’m trying to get better at writing as a discipline and not just writing when I feel inspired – but bear with me as I find my new rhythm. And if you are here reading, despite my learning and inconsistency, thank you.

 Consider this an inspired blog.

Maybe it’s because of Valentines Day or maybe I’m just doing a series that I wasn’t aware of but we are learning how to love others still/again/forever.

“For the whole law can be fulfilled in keeping this one command:
“Love your neighbour as yourself’”
– Galatians 5:14

Sunday morning at church we heard from our lead pastor Joel A’Bell on loving others. He tied a beautiful bow around the thoughts of love being kind and patient and if we are not kind we are not being loving. If we are not patient we aren’t loving.
Because love IS patient, love IS kind. While we like the idea of this, we tend to find it more difficult to live out. He made a comment about how we love to highlight the parts of our Bibles that really resonate with us and maybe those we feel we are nailing in life. He also brought up an idea that has shaken a lot of how I see the scripture and people. He admitted that sometimes he’d love to highlight the parts of the scripture that he didn’t agree with or didn’t want to try for with a black marker.

I think everyone would admit that they enjoy highlighting what they feel they’re good at. I do – but when I focus solely on my strengths and what I’m good at, what I’m not good at REALLY starts to suffer and I become an extremely unbalanced person. What about scripture? What if we truly gave ourselves the freedom to look at the Bible highlighted black with the bits and pieces and chunks and sections that we don’t agree with? What if we took a marker to the parts of the Bible that are too convicting or hard to wrap our minds around?

When I focus only on my strengths in my personality – I become an unbalanced person. When I focus on the bits of the Bible that I love – I break my own theology and God becomes that much smaller, love becomes that much more distorted and what Jesus came to do becomes a nice story.

And what of my relationships? Family? Husband? Best friends? Acquaintances? How many people would I prefer to highlight with a black marker because they’re too convicting or hard to love? Maybe they just aren’t convenient to love.

So I mix my unbalanced personhood, with my broken theology and give what’s left to others.
But only some others, because the OTHER others have been written off.

But, if God is love – and love is in me, then love CAN’T just translate to my fluro-yellow highlighted friends, my quotable friends, and my Instagrammable moments in my marriage. It needs to stretch into my soft convictions and my difficult people to love. If it doesn’t, is any of the rest of what I offer my friends and family LOVE? Real Love?

What even IS real love?

Love it Patient.
Love is Kind.
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
Love is not proud.
Love does not dishonour people.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not rejoice at injustice.
Love DOES rejoice in truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
God is love.

And if God lives in me then I have to believe that I can outwork all of these attributes.

However, if I put a check mark by what is listed that I felt GOOD at… there would be less checks than black spaces. If I went even further and marked myself 1 out of 10 for the check marks… I’d probably be good at loving 4%.

I think we learn to love when we take time to figure out what any of this really means to us. I remember reading over this list thinking,
“What the heck does ‘love ALWAYS protects’ even mean for my relationship with my husband?”

Truly, I still don’t know.

I wish I had all the answers, but that would just be for my ego. I wish even more to do this journey with people; best friends and acquaintances.

What does it mean that Love always hopes? I think it means that I always have expectancy for the unseen best that is to come. I think LOVE means that I HOPE that for all people. Not just for some. It means that at the end of this I believe for you ALL who might read this,
I believe truth to find you, for genuine care to surround you, and for steadfastness in your heart to continue despite what you might be walking through.

I’m not very good at any or all of this, but I’m pretty good at writing – so lets do the harder stuff together. I love you the best I know how, and I need you for the rest of this.

 

“For the whole law can be fulfilled in keeping this one command:
“Love your neighbor as yourself’”
– Galatians 5:14

 

And a Happy New Blog

Guys, there isn’t a good way to intro my first blog back after a horribly long break.
I missed this. I miss you (probably). More to come (probably).
There is nothing like longevity to back up commitments so I decided to post my first blog back on 2 January instead of the 1st, because that seemed too eager.

In my last blog I announced I’d be starting degree in January – Well life has a way of happening and due to getting a visa sorted and settled I will actually be taking this semester off of studies to work and save and keep my track record of debt free education. I was bummed at first and really didn’t want to admit it to myself that it was a wiser decision to take some time off, but since then have realized just how good this will be for me and the people in my life. So, I’ll begin in July for another 1.5 years of study. It will still be a Bachelors of Theology with a focus of Biblical Studies. With that said, my intention is to publish a blog fortnightly. As always, these are downloads of what I am learning, thoughts, inspirational posts, honestly posts. They are hopefully the cheeky amount of me that you needed for your day and full of all the love I can give – that prayerfully points to something much bigger than myself.

I also announced that I was getting married.
That didn’t change 🙂
Laina Davey at your service.

This semester I hope to figure out how to prioritise being a consistent writer and to trust my content, not because it’s the best in the world, but because you get to read my content with the lens of your life. In my brain that makes the perfect melody of community for you to get the most out of my thoughts. They’re worth more when you add to them. Please feel free to respond to my thoughts, leave a comment, leave a disagreement or a different way to see something. I’m here to learn. For the love, correct my grammar… I know I need it.

I feel like that’s what I’ve learnt most this year is that I just need people. I’m so thankful for my confronting friends that I’m surrounded with, just them living their life makes me work harder at mine. We sat with half of my connect group (small group or family group) and chatted about our “New Years Thoughts”, they’re kind of like resolutions but they’re more lax than “I will run every day” or “I will start going to bed at 9pm”. One of the sweet ones in the group simply said she wanted to love people more.

I was a little bit wrecked. My goals were all about…me. Developing myself while I’m not in school, reading, listening to podcasts, writing, reading more. She just wanted to meet more people and take care of them.

Eeek.

This is why I love connecting with VERY different people.

As if her comment wasn’t enough, our connect is also walking through the 19 Mercies retreat in the back of Brennan Manning’s “The Ragamuffin Gospel” (HIGHLY recommend) and I’m on day 8: The God who is love.

“Do you really believe that God is unchangeably, unalterably loving?”
– 19 Mercies

I’m still sitting with this question – I’d love to jump in and say yes! but sometimes the way I act towards God would admit otherwise. I want to have no separation from an ideal and true belief and what I live out as my beliefs.

1 John 4:7-20 (NIV, Emphasis added) “Dear friends, let us love ONE ANOTHER, for love comes FROM GOD. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them… There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.

Eeek.

Do I believe that God is love? Do I believe that He loves me? Is His love seen in me by loving others? If no – Do I REALLY believe that God is love?

I’m committed this year to love people with my strengths – I will love by giving myself and my learning to God and others. I LOVE to give to others, I love hospitality and feel that gift is straight from God because it isn’t natural for my personality to love people 🙂 Jesus sometimes has to remind me. But I am committed to loving people the way I know how. By learning, giving my heart and soul into understanding things and sharing them in conversations and writings. Over tea or sitting by the beach. Or both.

I’m also committed to loving people the way they understand love. Do you need a hug? I’ll get over myself long enough to show you care in the way you receive it. Are gifts your thing? Please allow me to be the thoughtful friend who remembers your birthday – or even remembers that it is a Tuesday and you are alive and deserve to be celebrated. Love unlocks things that are bound and I’m praying that this semester/year I learn what it is to give until I see people changed. NOT because of me… but because I can love because I know what it is to be loved… even with my faults.

 

I do love you much.

I pray blessing over your today, I pray the sunshine reminds you of the faithfulness we see in God. He is SO kind and SO loving and SO in love with you. 

Isn’t She Lovely?

I feel like I haven’t written a post in this style for a long time now, but something has been on my thoughts and floating around my heart lately that I thought I might share.

I’ve been thinking about Brides… 

**First I feel like I need to make an authors note to my parents and anyone who thinks they have the gift of reading between the lines to clarify that I am currently NOT betrothed. I didn’t elope. I’m not secretly planning some ceremony and picking out dresses.

Y’all chill.

I just have a LOT of friends in the old Facebook feed who are either having children, or on the path to make that happen (engaged/married). I wish I could fully understand what it is about bridal pictures that have everyone secretly creeping through the shots. We as a culture tend find beauty at its purest form when our friends get dressed in white and commit the rest of their lives to their loves.

I personally think that the reason brides are so stunning is the time they put into the wedding day. They carefully planned every detail, from trim and the flowers, to making sure crazy Aunt Sally wasn’t sitting next to anyone she could get into trouble with at the reception.

Brides spend hours picking out their dress, how they will wear their hair, what shoes they want and testing out what makeup style is most flattering. Finally, it all comes together in the moments sweetly exchanged between families, now forever united.

The result?

“You are the most stunning bride!”

“Simply gorgeous!”

 “The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”

I have a feeling that what sets apart the brides from everyone else that day is the preparation. I think brides are beautiful because they are prepared.

 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27

Scripture shows us some beautiful imagery of Christ and the Church being His Bride. I feel like maybe we also have a role to play in being prepared, and in that readiness I think we carry an attractiveness that the world wants. I think G-d shows up in the everyday things and I very much see Him in the holy commitment of matrimony. Brides have to prepare themselves, but we as the church have the blessing of trusting the bridegroom to be a big part of our preparation.

 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.  And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.  I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

Hosea 2:16-20

 

I hope I’m preparing the Church to be ready – I hope I’m adding to the attractiveness of knowing Jesus AND that I’m trusting Him when He says that HE is the perfector, He is the one keeping me in commitment and in preparedness.

There is so much of His story that I want all over mine and I guess that’s why I’ve decided to commit to this all these years. I know that if I join with the creator in a sweet exchange to be united forever that I will carry His name.

I will be His and He will be mine.

// I like the idea of belonging.

 

Happy Birthday

Hillsong College has been booming with end of semester presentations and performances lately, which has been great fun mixed with a little nervous excitement. The first year songwriters had their performance this week and as I sat at the packed out café and listened to their beautifully composed songs I began comparing (as you do). But it wasn’t a negative comparison or even a “me against them”. It was more reflective of my first year songwriting self – I began to wonder if there was a difference between my time before college, last year and this last weeks performances and the caliber of songs that I was producing. I think this was Jesus – because I am not this clever – but I felt in my heart that it wasn’t a measure of “are my songs better” but:

“Am I better? Am I better at being a songwriter?”

I got stuck on the thought that if I haven’t improved in my discipline of songwriting, then, I haven’t improved. I feel the same can be said of my character and life. I question a lot if I’ve changed much year to year being at a Christian Leadership college and spending most every day at the church. We are invested into almost hourly and are exhausted by the second week of school. It’s beautiful here and it is hard. This has been the most demanding semester I’ve been a part of and I have felt stretched and sometimes broken. I didn’t address my infrequency of writing this semester in my previous blog because I didn’t want to.

But just so you know, I KNOW.

In my questioning if I have changed, if I’m the same, if I’m different but revert quickly back to the worst of me, I again felt that drop of a discipline thought – If I haven’t improved in my discipline, I haven’t improved. I can’t actually gauge how I’m doing by how I feel because that changes every time I change my diet. If I don’t see my journals filled, if I have more books to read than books that I’ve read, If I have more abandoned coffee dates than friends then I am no better.

But tomorrow, I get to start a new journal, I get to start reading Joshua, I have a coffee date with a good friend and I get to choose to believe that He who began a good work in me will carry it out unto completion. I’ve learned more this semester than ever about getting into the Word of God and APPLYING it to my life. Technically there is a model to look at them, us, me – but that’s more of an in person conversation and it’s my blog so naturally I’m talking about me.

The Word of God is active and is most useful when it is USED. Of all my disciplines I pray this increases the most.

My life isn’t about the caliber of my accomplishments but the consistency of my growth – and I pray that yours never becomes about what you produce but the daily producing of fruit and great things to build your community and to grow you closer to Christ.

I love you all, Happy Birthday.

– Ignorance Is Bliss –

Let me rant a little bit, in the most loving way…
Ignorance is NOT bliss, it is a disservice to the community that you’re involved with. There is such a thing as a stupid question and I believe the demand to understand should be placed on us if we claim to be followers of Christ. I don’t sugar coat many things other than baked goods so please, if I haven’t offended you yet, follow me until the end with this one.

We are often told to be faithful with what is in our hands and to use what we are given, the weight that carries is outstanding – but the mantle should weigh heavy with us, we live in a generation with information at our fingertips and access to a lot of work that someone else had to labor over. We are blessed and FLOODED with facts, information and ‘life hacks’, but what are we contributing to those that we do life with?

We see generations filling up universities to seek understanding on theologies, science, law, public service, and many other topics that they willingly spend days and nights to absorb. WE as the body of Christ should be adding to ourselves because WE AS THE BODY of Christ are called to give of ourselves. How can we give useful, powerful and relevant thoughts if we are hiding safely behind, “oh, I didn’t know”.

I’m not saying you need to know everything in the world but turning up to your community with something to give and something to help grow others is a great place to start.

“For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes,
His eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly seen,
being understood through His workmanship
[all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made],
so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him]
are without excuse and without defense.

For even though they knew God [as the Creator],
they did not honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation].
On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking
[godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations],
and their foolish heart was darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God
for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man
and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles…
because [by choice] they exchanged the truth of God for a lie,
and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,
who is blessed forever! Amen.”
Romans 1:20-23; 25 (AMP)

I reckon, if a secular and broken generation can turn up and form an educated opinion about refugees, the election, war, trafficking, child soldiers, and come prepared for conversations in lectures and small group settings – we should all the more hold tightly to being an informed, dynamic, powerball of information and be a little more true to living life without excuse of unknowing. I don’t think we should be allowed that luxury.

“Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not understand;
Keep on looking, but do not comprehend.’
“Make the heart of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.
Isaiah 6:9-10 (AMP)

I wish I could say this sweeter but hopefully you know my heart.

Make educated decisions and share that education – not to persuade others to decide with you but to allow them a little more information to chew on and to change the environment you live in. A passionate generation is a dangerous generation if the change they are seeking is based on feelings and “well this is how we’ve always done it.” Change things for the better but know what is worse and why it is worse.
Learn to converse without judgements and learn to listen with grace.

Pray that I do the same.

Proverbial Regurgitation

Ok, I need You all over my today – I need more of Your love today and grace. I want to put you first in my actions and thoughts and I’m sorry for any time I’ve let anything come before You. Teach me to lean on YOUR strength Do something new in me today.

Proverbs 9 –
How gross is it that Wisdom and Folly sound the same? Both say “Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?” How appealing is that in the first place?

In the message version both lady wisdom and ‘madame whore’ call out but you have to listen long enough to make out who is speaking. I think too often we take the first great chance we get when we haven’t even distinguished if the Lord is in that decision. I pray that I’m getting better at waiting on the Lord but I think everyone is still on that journey.

G-d isn’t slow but He sure takes His time at being on time.

I don’t feel like I have some amazing story about this to make you wonder what I’m talking about and then tie it all together. I think it’s just some of the not-so-common-common-sense that I’m relearning as I jump through Proverbs again.

I’ve heard several thousand times in my life to read the Proverb of the day and I would sometimes and wouldn’t sometimes. This time that I decided TO read I used the Message version and have found some new life-verses for the semester. I could tell you, or you could read it for yourself and find something to hold onto.

Honestly, just spend time every day doing something that makes you better.

I love you all. I really do.

Am I Hipster Yet?

My housemate Krysia and I have had coffee dates every semester since school started specifically to discuss what we are expecting for the semester coming. As well as the ‘pre-semester expectations’ that we set up we have follow up meetings to see how those expectations went. I’ve had ‘themes’ and sentences impressed on my heart for the semesters that have tied with different scriptures that have carried me through the very crazy seasons that emerge at Hillsong College.

At the end of last semester as I was thinking about what I wanted for this semester it wasn’t an opportunity or to even grow in a particular area of college or church leadership. I simply want to know G-d more this semester than I have in a while. I want to focus on the Word like I haven’t in a while and spend time learning about the Lord. The songwriting and lectures and learning curves will happen and somehow everything will get done this semester that needs to, but my desire is more Jesus and more of the Word in my heart. 

On a recent trip home for my brothers wedding I inherited my dads Nikon camera. Short of having another ‘Daddy teach me’ blog I will say that trying to figure out how to use it today has made me realise a few things:

  1. Learning new things, and more than that, learning ALL about new things involves more reaching out to people who know more than it does you trying to just guess. 
         By this I mean, I went ham on Youtube tutorials for this specific model of Nikon and watched all the things. I didn’t rely on and can’t rely on myself and my thoughts on how the camera should work in order to take the best pictures but I SHOULD research and see how people have used it and how they’ve best figured out to take those classic hipster shots that get so popular on Instagram (shameless plug). But really, learning is best done in community and I don’t see how that differs to learning about G-d. We should be discussing what passages mean to us and the best that we understand how it applies to whom it was addressed to and to us. We should be reading and researching what the scriptures are actually saying and we should be giving them a chance to say it. 
  2. Learning involves time – but the learning goes quicker if you focus your time. 
    I’m the QUEEN at multitasking… and by multitasking I mean today I did laundry, watched youtube, did make up on half my face, finished my laundry and then washed my face, straightened 1/3 of my hair before I realized I didn’t like the texture of my hair so I washed it then redid the whole thing and blogged. I also took one photo I was proud of but it was with my iPhone. I tend to get bored halfway through whatever I am doing so it sometimes takes me a while.In other, more related words, sometimes getting to know someone or something intimately involves time given up to focus JUST on that thing or person. This is more just a reminder for myself of what is required for my expectations
  3. I would love to have a number 3 because 3 points is good but I’ve really said what I wanted to.

Sometimes I don’t know why I post stuff on my blog that just belongs in my journal.

Thank you if you’ve read this – and if you will just pray that I focus and get what I’m expecting this semester. Love you all.

 

“Z Best Is Yet 2 Come”

So, I’ve been reading the Bible lately as previously stated in my last blog. I’ve finished Exodus and started reading all the introductory information on Leviticus (the avoided book) which is extremely helpful in creating expectation on a previously perceived “boring book”.

Exodus has been helpful in opening my eyes to more of the details of our story as Christians. For example, you have ‘The Exodus’ (the exit or leaving) of the children if Israel out of the land of Egypt and of slavery. THE PASSOVER – which I couldn’t write enough about – full of symbolism and justice that makes me cry when I think about it. The Israelites were to take a pure, spotless lamb once a year for their passover feast and slaughter it and place the blood of the lamb over their doorposts to be safe from the judgement of G-d. GUYS. Jesus, our pure and spotless lamb spilled his blood over that tree at Calvary to forever cover the price of our sins so that judgement would be replaced with mercy in our lives.
I cry. I weep. I write blogs about it. 

The Law was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai and then immediately broken (literally and literally) by the people sinning downstairs and when Moses threw the tablets to the ground in a hissy fit of justice-rage. But, Moses was given reminders of the covenant promise of G-d redeeming His people and Moses reminded G-d of His own promises as well. We see redemption over and over in this narrative.

The BEAUTIFUL and precise instructions were given to our main man Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle (The Holy meeting tent that the Lord decided to dwell in so that He could be with the children of Israel and that they could worship Him in). Peoples hearts were overwhelmed with gratitude and generosity and began to give to the building of the temple to where they had far more than they needed. The Lord showed his compassion to this group of people by sending His Spirit (end of chapter 35) to equip His people with SKILL to complete the building of the tabernacle.

I find it reassuring to know that the Lord doesn’t always EQUIP the CALLED but He equips those in the line of His COMMANDS. We find two men here in chapter 36, Bezalel and Oholiab, along with others in ‘whom the Lord put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary… in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded’ (v.1 ish). We see no reference to the Lord speaking directly to them and telling them that they are ordained to build this sanctuary… We just see them in the path of a need that the Lord was going to accomplish. By being willing to help with whatever, they were equipped by the Holy Spirit to be useful.

G-d I want to be in line of your commands. I don’t have to be ‘called’ but I do need to be available and I trust that in my availability and being where You are that You’ll equip me for whatever YOU have commanded on the earth.

After all of this is said and done in Exodus it leaves me with such a reassured ease as I try and read Leviticus. You see, I know the end of the story and the completion of the prophecies in the New Testament. I know of the New Covenant and our immediate access to G-d and the lack of all animal sacrifices I’ve ever had to perform in my life. I can look at the Israelites wandering the desert and think, “The best is yet to come! Just hold on and keep believing!”

This all ended up rolling through my head as I made my way downstairs
to see our house sign say “Z Best Is Yet 2 Come”.

I think G-d often smiles at me, I feel it when I’m laughing at myself after ‘ah-ha’ moments come and I realise how blind I am without the guidance and revelation of the Spirit. I was reminded of the expectation I’m bringing to Hillsong Conference. I was reminded of MY story with Him and how much I’ve grown in the last 5 years. I was reminded of all the prayers that I’ve prayed and still pray and the ones I’ve forgotten that I asked for. I think G-d smiled at me and reminded ME that The BEST is YET to come…
I can look at the past all day and mentally help those people in hardship and tell them, “Wait, your story isn’t over” but in looking back and reflecting I can sometimes forget that the Lord is looking at me saying the same thing.

Moving into Hillsong Conference ISN’T same ol’ same ol’. Starting another semester with a whole flock of new students isn’t same ol’ same ol’. Each and every service and chapel isn’t the same… it’s progressively THE BEST.

Pastor Brian Houston coined that phrase for our church but I’m just starting to REALLY GET IT. It doesn’t matter if your last week was crap or the best thing ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re still sitting in emotional slavery waiting on deliverance or you were just given everything you’ve been asking and praying for. THE BEST is still to come.

Hillsong Conference is another opportunity that we as college students have to refresh and serve our hearts out – I pray that our expectation is heightened and that we follow where we feel the Spirit is leading. I pray that we end up in the path of the commands of G-d and even if we don’t feel called that we begin to accept the equipping of the Spirit and move forward knowing we have what it takes to change something. I pray that no matter how difficult it is, or how tired we become that we don’t lose sight of the BEST that is still coming. I pray that no matter how amazing and life-changing it is for us that we realise that there IS STILL more.

Many of those reading this aren’t college students here in Sydney, Australia and to those I pray that your jobs come through – I pray your children come back to Christ or find Him for the first time – I pray that you are set free from emotional bondage of an abusive partner – I pray that you see a little bit more hope in your situation but also that you know that even in the beautiful times, the birth of your children, the promotion at work, the marriage of your best friends… that there is STILL more.

Thank G-d for hindsight and THANK G-D that I don’t know everything.


The Exodus and Leviticus links you find in this blog are from guys called
‘The Bible Project’ – They summarise the books of the bible along with explaining other key topics in a comic sort of way that keeps us creative types entertained.
Check them out.

Just Cause

Amos 5:21-24
(NIV, emphasis mine)
“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

One of my classes this last week focused on Worship and Justice. We looked at what these two have to do with another and what expectations have changed since scripture was written up. I was shocked to discover the call in the Old and New Testaments to the leaders and governments to keep justice in the courts – be fair to the widow, orphan and poor. We have to assume these warnings were written to 1) keep them on track and 2) clean out what was already bleeding through the culture of oppressing those who couldn’t support or even defend themselves.

We as students were given different portions of scripture to look at: what it meant to the people it was addressed to, what it means for us as a collective body of Christ and what it means to us individually. My group looked at Exodus 23. I’ll summarise it for you…

  • Don’t lie about people
  • Don’t pervert justice and lie in court
  • Be fair to poor people in court
  • Be kind to your enemies property
    • Not JUST to them but even their stuff
  • Don’t take from the poor just because they are poor
  • Don’t oppress a sojourner (don’t beat down, put down, dishearten, suppress a visitor, companion, inmate, visitor, lodger, different nationalities, different religions, refugees)

When we as a group looked at what it might have meant for the Israelites we assumed maybe they had corruption in the courts and were probably exposing heaps of poor people because they thought they could get away with it. We assumed there were crooked people who were so wrapped up in the culture of slavery that they had just been delivered from that they were treating others as slaves. Granted, that’s what they knew to do but it still wasn’t just or fair. We assumed they were treating people less than what they would want to be treated like and that they were disregarding taking care of people who didn’t belong to them.

Then we moved to a harder question – What does this text mean to us as the body of Christ?
How do we take on these scriptures in the Church?

 We talked about Public Justice (How society treats and manages others),
and Private Justice (How I treat others and manage myself to benefit others).

So the public justice level around this passage would look more like how many Christians are educating themselves on the elected ‘in-charge’ of our governments and nations. Are they contributing to who is in the courts and even becoming those who are in the judges in courts deciding what is fair for all? Are we as a local church involved and benefiting the community around us? Are we investing in families and defending those trapped in Domestic Violence? Are we doing all we can to find homes, clothes, food, and clean water* for refugees and flood victims alike?

There are many more things the Church COULD be doing but there are loads of things that fall more on the individuals that make up the Church that we should probably be looking at.

Private Justice –
The hardest and most confronting question of all that we addressed is how this all applies to me? How do I treat others?

This was the hardest one to speak out loud.

I grew up in a westernised, bible belt, mostly white’ish people culture. But I also grew up with the news… I knew what areas of Tulsa (and now Sydney) to avoid if I was alone and I rarely ever walk in a park without looking over my shoulder. I grew up with a fear of homeless people because at no point do you know if they’re going to rape you, if they’re mentally unstable, if they’re in a very real sense ‘battling their own demons’ or how they would react to a conversation. But my fear grew out of judgments that began when I didn’t take the time to look them in the eyes as I walk by them on busy Sydney streets. My very judgments dehumanised someone with a story. I wasn’t being fair – I wasn’t being just – I wasn’t being anyone who remotely resembled my Saviour. Jesus, who took the time to look a naked woman in the face and tell her that He held no sins against her. Jesus, who when Himself was oppressed by the government didn’t fight back with entitlement or ‘rights’ but instead STILL SHOWED LOVE to all. I know much this last paragraph makes me seem like an ignorant… dirtyword… but this was my honest heart condition.
My ignorance turned into judgments that disguised itself as fear so that I could neatly sweep it all away as, “I’m just protecting myself”.

Am I saying single girls should stop at every homeless person and strike up conversation? No, that’s not what I’m getting at… But maybe just get involved and start to add humanity back to those around us. Maybe just start to learn the faces and names of those we equate with statistics and numbers.

My thought is that we are already a pretty passionate generation – I think that there are specific desires that are unique to individuals. Where our Private Justice comes in is EDUCATING ourselves on the issues of our hearts and GETTING ACTIVE in those areas.

Some of your hearts are absolutely wrenched for the homeless, some want to take care of the elderly, some have a resolve of adopting, some are desperate to help stop domestic violence, some of you can’t sleep at night because you’re broken over those still enslaved in sex-trafficking.

Great, I hope something breaks your heart – I hope you let yourself cry sometimes while praying over these neglecting issues that Christians love to talk about but sometimes never DO anything about.
But, OUR G-D… the one who CREATED JUSTICE calls us also to be just

The Lords desire is more for justice and fairness than for one more ‘Christian’ to write Him one more song, or worship Him one more time for all they have. He wants us to give to and restore those who DON’T have.

So after you forgive me for being a little too honest again, find one of the links throughout this blog and research, get involved, be the just cause… just because.

All The Little Pieces

I will likely always be my worst critic, which means you’ll likely be your own as well –  So I’m going to attempt to be less critical and judgmental because we subconsciously do it enough for everyone a few times over.
I didn’t post last week for a few reasons:
1) Friday seemed to throw its own surprise party and didn’t tell me about it, so it wasn’t until viewing the remanence of it on Saturday’ Facebook feed that I realized I had failed to post, or even realized that it was Friday. Life does that.
2) I was having a cute little whinge about why the heck I feel called to write when others are better, others are more noticed and others will probably have a wider reach. That got corrected real quick.

So what do I do with that?

The point of this site is to share my weekly “Jesus Story” or the things I’m learning so that I document being in Australia, at Hillsong College, and continue to develop the craft I feel passionate about (because Lord knows I suck at doing it with pictures). I share my story because I have decided that all of my story is going to be apart of my ministry. That usually looks like being sold on the idea to share, sharing, being happy about myself and then discouraged, wanting to quit and then being graciously reminded of my passion. Sometimes I feel like if I walk away from this I wouldn’t know what else to do – not walking away from this blog, but walking away from sharing.

So this week, after wanting to give up and walk away I sat in a chapel with Catrina Henderson, our school Principle and a brilliant woman in love with G-d. She spoke about jig-saw puzzles and puzzle pieces – I couldn’t possibly regurgitate all of her information on here the same way she did, but I will tell you what stuck out to me.

She talked about the need to be who we are called to be, because we FIT inside of this beautiful family and puzzle by not trying to be someone else. We also help others fit when we are ourselves. If one puzzle piece tried to be a little bit different it would actually cause the pieces around it to be misfits as well and would cause an even bigger issue. We give freedom to those around us to be the most confident and feel the most at home when we ourselves just BE who we need to be. When we live inside of our callings, when we operate inside of our grace zones (our areas where we excel because we are actually good at what we are doing), when we post every week to learn more about ourselves than to see how many reposts we can get.

We actually grow in general when we become more natural to ourselves. 

One of the most impacting things I heard out of this sermon was the call to not only take our place, but to remain there. Being a blessing to others requires more than just turning up sometimes to fill our roles. Being a blessing to others requires the day in, day out consistent giving of ourselves – our FULL selves.

Thinking that people need me more when I am myself is such an odd thought for me to wrap my brain around. I don’t think I’m often NOT myself but I don’t think about how much more I contribute to life when I am fully me and I remain fully me and inside of what I’m passionate about and called to do.

I deeply appreciate and love each one of you, even if I don’t know you or don’t know you well. I love when you are fully you so I think maybe I just need to work on allowing myself to be fully me.