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!

Life Update

“We’ll smile at the sound of silence”
Staple, Sound of Silence – Of Truth and Reconciliation ’05
((one of the few bands I cried about when they broke up))

I wish I could link that song for you all but unfortunately you’re only option is to find the full album on YouTube and skip to the song… or listen to the entire album which may do you just fine.

I didn’t mean to carry on posting fortnightly and I can assure you this isn’t the new norm- Last week was the final push to get to and through songwriting performances for this semester. They went well if you ask me. I wrote a song about a prostitute (Gomer – Hosea’s wife… from the Bible) and much enjoyed my typical minor chord fashion.

This week has been wonderful! It’s school break so everyone has been posting pictures of their travels and adventures and I’ve enjoyed minimal going out, minimal make up, and minimal stressing about what is coming next. I got a random road trip to the Blue Mountains —blue.JPGand I purchased a bucket of apples for $10. I found out a few tidbits about myself I think I forgot

  1. Nostalgia is refreshing – The group I went to the mountains with all listened to Underoath in their lives and so we had a good throwback to our teenage years and listened to heaps of screamo songs.
    1. A. Apple sauce smells like fall to me and will always remind me of my family, even when I didn’t actually grow up going with them when they could go apple picking.
  2. Clean laundry and clean hair ALWAYS make me feel better. Nuff said.
  3. Quiet and empty places creep me out and I also love them.

Now, can I change topics and remain pretty honest? I’ve put off writing my book this entire break because I’m a big scaredy cat. I LOVE going alone to cafés and sitting for ages but the thought of sitting alone with my thoughts to work towards my book (which my goal is to have written and ready for editing by July) sounds like an awful experience.

I’m really good at boundaries and I tend to say ‘no’ when I need to for things and social events but I’m stinking at setting a boundary to write every day. Even when and especially when I don’t feel like it or think I have anything to say. But you can’t edit what isn’t there.

Also, I don’t like random blogs or abrupt endings, unless they are done well.

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.

Jesus Is ESL

 

In class we were given the assignment to come up with a 2-minute explanation on some scriptures as they relate to pastoral care. I’m bias but my class did incredible with their findings and presentations. One person in particular, Gabe – a Brazilian man who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for the last year and a half – always has some of the best thoughts on Jesus, the Word of G-d, or life in general. I love hearing him speak his heart, even though he doesn’t have perfect English he expresses himself clearly and always seems to change my perspective about whatever he is talking about.

Gabe is ESL (English as a Second Language) so not only has he braved moving across the world to do college, he is also succeeding at college in a language he didn’t grow up with. After Gabe spoke I leaned to my very American friend and wondered, “Dude, what if we spoke Portuguese?” he sort of chuckled at my inquiry but I continued, “Seriously, Gabe is THAT intelligent and wise in English – but we don’t fully KNOW the guy and his personality because he has to limit himself to our (sometimes terrible) language.”

I’m limited in fully understanding Gabe because I don’t speak Portuguese, and I can only imagine how much more of him and his personality I would see if I did.

((If only we could speak his language…

All at once as the Lord does, He reminded my heart that the same is true of Him. G-d didn’t create the heavens and earth in our faulty English nor does He actively continue to communicate His personality inside of our limitations. The limit on understanding G-d’s language falls in my court. I began to wonder what parts of His personality I was missing out on because I hadn’t taken enough time to learn the language of heaven. I haven’t sat long enough to fully enjoy who He is and what He has to say.

I think the language of heaven is love and kindness. I believe the language is justice and peace. I long to know more of WHO my Saviour is and the only way I can think to do that is to invest into learning what He is saying.

This language doesn’t equate to a Biblical Greek or Hebrew uttering – this equates to an international, intercultural, interdenominational, intergenerational cry to the Lord of Hosts saying “Holy, Holy, Holy”. And although it may sound different from the different voices we have on the earth I believe there will be a resounding understanding of who HE is and not what WE are saying.

I want to sit and know the parts of G-d’s personality that I’m missing. I want to stretch my understanding and tune my ears to His voice, His language, His love.

“When God went out against Egypt, he established it as a statute for Joseph.
I heard an unknown voice say:
“I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud…
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.
“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”

Psalms 81 (NIV)

 

 

Worship – Worth and Response

Could it be that I took the time write a 7 minute spoken word on worship?
Could I construct that much of a presentation and explanation of heavens touch on earth and keep it theological enough to get competent?
Yes I think it’s quite absurd because sometimes spoken word is hard
But when I think of worship and begin to praise it becomes clear that no day will come when I will ever run out of what I could say of His glory. Worship is our story living and breathing inside of His and anything I could ever say will never be enough for what is and that is HIS worth – and my response.

I had to opportunity to present my take on worship for an assessment the other day. I researched and found that one of my beliefs is that: Worship is an awareness of His worth and our response because of that.

Jesus is the author and prefecture of faith; He is the only one worthy to cover the cost of my sins. He was literally the only one whose personhood was worth enough to pay for what I’ve ever done or will do and that alone will always be enough.

So what are the different responses?

Sometimes our response is posture – sometimes it’s turning up to the house of G-d even and raising your hands even when your heart is broken. I remember having to go through a series of nudges from G-d that had everything to do with my posture. I lived through a season that was engulfed in fear, to the point of me being emotionally and spiritually paralyzed. My first calling in that season was to simply move. Move from where I was back into the house of G-d and trust Him and the people in my life. Then I felt like my next response was to jump – arms open in surrender and in a free fall into His goodness and love. Then I finally felt the conviction to learn how to get on my knees. Jesus taught me how to sit with Him as you do with a close friendship or a parent and child in conversation. My worship in that season was posture because that’s all I could give.

The Bible talks about worship and the framework that has been set for our year as worship students here is from Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Our worship and response to G-d includes mindsets.

In the season of being fearful of my past and future, my cries to G-d to stop anxiety was worship. My cries to G-d to stop insecurities is worship. I was allowed to ask G-d to set my mind on things above and not on earthy things and HE accepted that as worship.

Another response is to live inside of community and letting that be your worship

Acts 2:42, 46-47 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”

G-d has gifted us with this beautiful response of living inside of a community and allowing our lives inside of that to turn into praise and a life of worship. Do you trust your community and pour enough into it that you can let your meals and coffee dates be worship unto G-d?

My final thought is something I learned from a friend in the states that changed my practice forever.

My friend Taylor makes journals, beautiful journals by hand with the most incredible looking leather and super hipster rope to keep them together. He learned to make these at a retreat and in that as well learned about TRULY treating your craft as your communion with G-d. He allowed his discipline become worship to G-d and set his mind on Christ as he would work. I had heard it before to the point that I was numb to the thought of living your entire life as worship to G-d. Romans 12 explains this beautifully in the Message version:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”

Sometimes our response is communion with the Spirit – sometimes this bleeds into our craft, our discipline, our practice and our passions. We have the chance to let our mundane be worship if we let it. 

So, my response to G-d’s worth and what He has done is worship in position, mindsets, community and craft.

Lord, help me everyday to be aware of the opportunity I have to praise you in the middle of my ordinary life.