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.

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)