Starting somewhere…

I beg your deepest pardons for my mental hiatus this semester so far. As appropriate for living in Sydney I feel like this semester has been a riptide of activity and if I’m being very honest I just got discouraged and didn’t want to write. I’ve been learning a LOT about leadership and wondering how I actually fit in all this – not surprisingly I have more questions than ever but enough peace to match it. 

I have a few ideas for upcoming blogs but for today it’s just a simple apology to whoever looked forward to my weekly blogs and a step back into the direction of discipline. 

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.

Why Commitments Are Hard

…because there is always something else to do.

Well, fiddlesticks and what the heck?! It’s been two weeks since I posted which is a record in my blogging world. Which isn’t in any way the records I want to be setting.

There has been a massive shift in schedules as we bring the semester here at Hillsong College to a close and with that – an odd lack of desire to write, based solely on the question rolling in my head of, “Why am I doing this?”

A few scene setting facts:
1) I started doing whole30 like 3 weeks ago, with a few planned-in cheat days it’s actually still going really well.
2) I started a reading plan for the whole Bible in 6 months a week ago. I got 20 chapters behind at the beginning of today (but I’m caught up and ready to continue into Exodus tomorrow)
3) I have a goal to publish a blog every week
4) Laundry

Whole30 has a few wonky rules that I don’t agree with because the program cuts out some healthy things as well as all the bad stuff. But, overall I’ve felt incredible and fully awake during the days (I even gave up coffee*). I started this 30-day challenge because one of my flatmates (whose name will remain anonymous) told me she was doing it. In my experience these things are always done better with people so I volunteered to do it with her. Only she lasted long enough to do a whole3 which she decided would then be a ‘dirtythirty’ as she MOSTLY followed the rules but sometimes didn’t. But I kept to it wondering over and over, ‘wait, why am I doing this? I was supporting someone who is now not even doing what I was supporting her in‘.

I read 20 chapters of Genesis today. It started off by just reading 5 chapters one day instead of the 7 on the list, then it was getting behind because I was reading commentaries with the chapters. All of that moved to only reading a chapter yesterday and boom – I read from Jacob and Esau through their family trees and past all the incest and deceit to Joseph being hated, sold and restored as second in command over Egypt. I wont lie to you and act like the perfect Bible Student and say I loved every bit of it. My thoughts were echoing that of the questions around my dietary choices… ‘why am I trying? I haven’t read the Bible cover to cover in ages and now I’m shoving it in during conference, break, traveling and a new semester?’

It’s Sunday the 26th of June. I SHOULD have posted the 24th and before that on the 17th. But life happened in the worst kind of way and my questions got the better of me, ‘Why am I doing this? Does the internet need one more blog from the opinion of a young adult just trying to inspire people to live their dreams?’

No, we very much don’t need one more blog in inspirational-opinion form encouraging those who read to go after something. But that’s not why I’m writing this now.

I had a whinge and was reminded of a message that I forgot I wrote myself,
“Write as if no one knows your story… write like no one will every know.”

You see, I write because the questions can’t dictate my commitments – they can come (because they WILL come) but I have to build grit into my personhood that looks at doubt and says, ‘fiddlesticks and what the heck?! You have no bearing here’

and then JUST DO IT.

I forever have at least one more load of laundry to do.

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.

Spoken Word of Sorts

God it’s been too long since my last breath
I’m still too far away from my deliverance
And I’m sorry that I’m here again
And I’m here again – And I’m here again
They say of me – God’s forgotten him
I’ve been forgotten, yes – but something in me sees that
You bless and you cannot bless the fatherless so you’ve adopted us and it means
You HAVE to SEE
So pardon me if I refuse to believe that You don’t see me

Yes – thunder roars in heavenly response to my suffering
And all of the sudden it’s like You’re finally listening
I will praise You when my enemies tease
I will praise You when You don’t look like King

Pause – Breathe – Think about it
Because when you get it…
You’ll have to shout about it

I sleep and wake because You sustain me
And when I rest I lie there soundly
No enemy shall prosper because
Your shield surrounds me
Your glory crowns me
Your salvation owns me and
Lord, YOU know me
You see me
You love me

Pause – Breathe – Think about it
Because when you get it…
You’ll have to shout about it

My feet have been found in a foundation of You
My faith has been stirred and even those faithless – returned to learn a little bit more about the freedom from fears that you bring
In the midst of my end you see
You see me
You know me
You restore me
You love me

So bring me back once more to belief
Because although I am sure
I am sure that I need to see
That you are a father and that you are for me

Pause – Breathe – and I’ll be on my knees


This thought was based on Psalms 3 and heaps of commentaries to accompany it. It was a pleasure and a challenge to write because at the time I was dealing with my own discovery of just how incorrect I can be in my views. I realized that I have trouble treating the Lord as Lord when it doesn’t seem like He is ruling much of anything. I begin to disassociate Him as King of Kings and Lord of my life when I perceive Him to be taking a back seat and coasting in my life and leading me (you know, because somehow I deserve Him to always be giving me answers).

This was confronting and correcting and I couldn’t have been more honoured to have been asked to delve into these scriptures. My natural first response after finishing this was, “Dude, how cool would that be if I wrote a spoken word for EVERY Psalm!?”. You can tell I get excited easily.

But until then, this is here now 🙂 Enjoy!