Archive for the ‘Life to the full’ Category

in the name of love

I have decided to retire ‘The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] blog after 14 good weeks.

With the pace of life at the moment the pressure to produce 5 specifically themed blog posts as well as what I passionately want to write has at times felt a little overwhelming and I hate producing sub par stuff. So I am wanting to put more time, energy and focus into my main blog, Irresistibly Fish and so encourage you if you are a subscriber of the Mash to head across there and subscribe to that.

In the meantime, if you are looking for something to read today, here are the three most popular posts on Irresistibly Fish that I would want you to read:

For those of you who are single [but also those of you who are married – it is excellent for you to hear this stuff!] these stories by some good friends of mine on their journey as single people [desiring not to be] has been such powerful reading and very popular – read and share away cos this is encouraging stuff.

I also did a Taboo Topic [rarely spoken about topics, in church and elsewhere] on Parenting young children when it’s not particularly been easy and this post by my friend Candi for some reason just blew up – people resonated with it, it got a gazillion shares and she has been invited to write and speak in places because of it which has been so exciting for me to watch. Read this one and also the one by Steve Wiens which got a lot of airplay and share it if you haven’t because you have friends with young children who desperately need to read these.

Thirdly, largely due to a comment and link I posted on this excellent blog post, ‘How I know my wife married the wrong person’ by Tyler Mackenzie, which became a four part [and growing] series, there was the series I ran a while back called How to save a marriage [before you need to] in which I invited something like 18 of my friends who are in strong marriages to share one or two things that for them are the foundation for a strong marriage.

Seems like relationships are what a lot of my readers are interested in but one non-relationship one [well not people with people] that I would like to recommend is the series called ‘Aslan Jesus’ that I have just started which is looking at aspects of Jesus that show that He is good, but definitely not tame. I am very excited about writing [and seeing written – have some guest posts coming in] this series.

In terms of looking back over the 14 weeks of ‘The Weekly Mash [and Peace!]’ the top blog that stands out for each day would be:

By far and away Cloud man for Monday – I am glad so many of you enjoyed this with me… gets me every time…

For Tuesdays it was surprisingly celebrity marriage advice [there you go again on the relationships!] with Ben Affleck and Will Smith.

No surprises that for Wednesday it was wife with nail in her head which sounds horrible but is just such a powerful thought-provoking piece that you have to watch and share if you have not seen it yet. Incredible and so hard to explain in a way that would make anyone want to watch it. But do it!

Thursday the top-rated post was the one I did titled John Piper and the three little pigs, but the one I want to put here is yesterday’s post ‘Time to let the church die’ as it hasn’t had the time to be read as much but no doubt will – an excellent article and an excellent video clip giving some strong prophetic voice to the church and the gospel message.

And lastly, Friday being my day, well interestingly enough ‘Blessed are the Geeks’ was the most viewed post for that day and it was all about the labels we put on people and so a really good read.

Thanks for being part of this experimental journey. And please come on over to Irresistibly Fish if you are not already there. There will continue to be humour and news-related posts, relationship advice and stories as well as spiritual hunger pieces and every day will in a sense be my day. As for this blog it is not going to be vaporised and so you can continue to catch up on old posts by using the day tabs at the top of the page which are archives for the whole journey. And as a going away present, if you feel up to sharing this post, then it will give access to a lot of great blog posts to your friends and fellow ‘Farmville II’ players on Facebook.

 

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burning churchAs this is my last Thursday post for The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] I decided to use both of the posts I had set aside for Thursdays to come because they are both so powerful. So there is not intrinsic link between the two except to say that maybe they both capture the heart of what this thing we believe is truly supposed to be about. The first is an article called: ‘Open letter to Church: Let it die’ which I’m sure prompted a lot of well-meaning people to chime in with angry comments without reading this first. It is an article by a guy called Aaron from the Cultural Savage blog page which in essence is saying’let that which the church is not meant to be about but has become, die’ – it really is a good read, but you really need to listen carefully to what Aaron is trying to say and especially hear the big CHURCH I LOVE YOU halfway through the piece:

http://culturalsavage.com/christianity/open-letter-church

Next up is N.T.Wright who I have sadly not been able to read much of yet but he is a name that comes up a lot and I respect him just from the little I know him and how highly recommended he comes from people I really respect. But this video clip of him was my first main exposure to him in which he talks about what the gospel really is about and it is a very powerful and accurate piece so really try and find for yourself the 13 or so minutes it takes because this is great stuff to hear and be reminded of:

[For last Thursday’s Jesus rose from the grave [and you can’t even get out of bed] click here]

derekwebbDerek Webb is a musician who sings about issues of faith, life and love and i really enjoy his music [and his crazy personality] and recently invited a section of the public to get involved and help him create the music video for his latest song which is titled ‘I was wrong, I’m sorry & I love you’ and which you can listen to over here. 

It’s a great song. And Derek did tell me that when life calms down a little [although not sure that will ever happen for someone like him] he will write a guest blog post for me on those three phrases and I very much am looking forward to the possibility of that.

But for this week’s relationship post I wanted to simply mention them, draw your attention to them and ask you if those are phrases you use in your relationships?

Being married, that is specifically the relationship I think of first, but this can apply to any relationship you are in with people you care about.

Do you ever say “I was wrong”? This is so huge. SO SO HUGE. And so neglected. And so damaging when it is. I’m also not just talking about saying the word ‘Sorry’ because I think some people use that word as a ‘Get out of jail free’ card replacing any actual kind of acknowledgement and responsibility for the hurt they have caused. Ah, I said the word so all good. No, have you actually really repented and meant it? Are you truly sorry that you hurt this person? Are you going to choose to live life differently so you don’t end up doing it again in the same way? I just realised I dived straight into the second one but they are so completely intimately linked.

Do you acknowledge wrongdoing on your part? Do you follow that up with genuine repentance? “I’m sorry.”

And then more than just the words again, does your life after that point echo the sentiments behind the third phrase, “I love you”?

Because once more those three words can be so empty if they are not backed up by a life commitment. If you love me do it differently. Do it better. Or possibly much more importantly, if I love you then what do I need to do differently, better, so that you feel loved? So that you experience love. Not just the feeling of love, but the reality of being loved.

It is a 1 Corinthians 13 type love that says and means that ‘I was  wrong, I’m sorry and & love you.’

‘4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.’

It’s a great song [been stuck in my head the last few days] so watch out for the video. And #cough the blog post, Derek #cough.

paintedcity2

This is a story from a while ago that caught my attention.

‘Make a city beautiful, curb corruption. Edi Rama took this deceptively simple path as mayor of Tirana, Albania, where he instilled pride in his citizens by transforming public spaces with colorful designs. With projects that put the people first, Rama decreased crime — and showed his citizens they could have faith in their leaders.’ 

If you have time to check out the TED talk that introduced me to him, check it out.

But if not, then simply read the article which talks about how this Albanian mayor brings art to politics. The colours on the buildings may not look so amazing in themselves [to me, anyways] but it’s when you see the new building held against the picture of the old one that you see just what a difference it makes and then when you hear/read the story you get an idea of how transformative this is.  Have a read.

‘Edi Rama has been in politics since the start of the 21st century, but before that he was a painter. It was this deep affinity for light and color that informed Rama’s time as mayor of Tirana, when he literally painted the town … every color. Rama is best known for the removal of government kiosks all over the city, thus cutting down on endemic bribery, and for the establishment of a modern new reception hall for citizens with paperwork requests. Rama’s administration also demolished thousands of illegal buildings, removed hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete from riverbanks, and planted thousands of trees and bushes all over the city. Rama continues to serve as a leader of the Socialist Party of Albania.’

He asked me for a compromise. I said, ‘No. Compromise in colour is grey. And we have enough grey to last for a lifetime.’ Edi Rama

paintedcity1

[For last Tuesday’s Hey dude, Were’s my husband’s bike click here]

I was going to ask my friend Robert Martin for permission to reblog this recent post he did looking at a Jon Foreman song that is almost straight out of the Old Testament prophets, but which I imagine still holds true today. It contains the following verse:

I hate all your show and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show
Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stomp on my ears when you’re singing ‘em
I hate all your show

And you can go and watch and listen to the rest of it here if you want to.

But then I figured he has already done that and it reminded me of a man who influenced my life a lot and that is a guy called Keith Green who my favourite and most life-transforming book [after the Bible] No Compromise is the story of. If you haven’t read that book, I can’t encourage you enough to.

I have never been a fan of people calling songs or books or other people ‘anointed’ because of the certain understanding of the religious jargon that goes with that definition largely in the circles I have heard it used. But there are at least two of Keith’s songs which just connect with something in my spirit and a number of lines just smack me in the face every time I hear them [in the best of Godly prophetic ways]. If you have a lot of time then you can seek out the other one, which is his interpretation of the story of the Sheep and the Goats which you can find here, but the one I want to share with you is this one called ‘Asleep in the Light’ – listen to the words and hear the passion and feeling that Keith pours into them [this video comes with bonus Spanish subtitles so forward it to all your Spanish speaking friends] Just listening to this again has struck a chord in me [and a future blog post] about how comfortable we’ve made the Gospel in so many ways so that it almost doesn’t have to affect us at all:

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
Cause it’s asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you’ve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can’t even get out of bed

I hope this challenges and changes you. I hope this challenges and changes me once again.

[For last Thursday’s Definitive Guide to Insulting the Creator, click here]

When the beautiful Val [tbV] and I finished our time at the Simple Way, our bossman Darin suggested this wooden artwork, that  a friend of theirs could put together for us, with some words that we had spotted on the Book of Facings, as a farewell gift, and we jumped at it.

These words are powerful and are a covenant of who we would like to be as a family and the kind of home environment we are working towards, both for ourselves and for the many people we hope to extend hospitality to who will come and stay with us, and, for a short or long time, become a part of our family.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Some of these are definitely easier than others.

But all of them are valuable to us.

And it feels like we’re making progress on a couple of them.

This list is not all-inclusive by any means, or even close to. But it is populated with words, experiences and principles that we value and want to chase enthusiastically after.

Ah, wait, I’m doing it wrong. I said WE WANT TO CHASE ENTHUSIASTICALLY AFTER! 

[That’s better]

We didn’t come up with this list, so you are welcome to borrow them and embrace them. Even come up with some of your own.

So let’s hear from you then… What are two things you would add to this list if it was in your home?

[For last Wednesday’s Search for MEDS: Married, Engaged, Dating, Single, click here]

leftovers or your best?

‘Those who oppress the poor insult the Creator, but those who are kind to the needy honour him.’ [Proverbs 14:31]

Tweet from my good friend, Sean du Toit that I saw this morning as I logged in.

And it’s the part of Christianity many of us don’t gravitate to quite as quickly. Give me worship [me], good teaching [me], fellowship with my friends at church on Sunday [me], weekly small group meetings [me], encouraging promises from God [me] and eternal life [me, and maybe you if you live right] but turn the volume down just a little when you start focusing on the looking-after-the-poor aspect if you don’t mind.

But James, the brother of Jesus, had quite a lot to say about our treatment of the poor as well in chapter 2 of his letter:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Even earlier on in that chapter, he encourages us not to discriminate, with a reminder that it is usually not the poor who are the ones giving the rest of us a hard time:

1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God.Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.’

In fact he ends chapter 1 with this verse:

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

While it doesn’t mention the poor specifically there, it is understood that orphans and widows would have been among the poorest of the poor, because not only do they not have money, but they don’t have anyone to look after them either. Worthy religion is the type that makes sure that they are well taken care of.

Which brings us back to our original Proverb and the writer is pretty specific about the implications of not treating them well. Here are two other translations of the same verse:

You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;
    when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
    but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

I think it’s pretty clear. And I’m sure none of us are looking to insult or show contempt to our Creator and Father God. But let’s be honest for a second – those people who really needed to hear this stuff more than likely stopped reading at the first mention of the poor…

For those of you who didn’t though, there was an article that Val linked to yesterday on the Two Cents blog page that takes this question to a whole other level for those of you who employ domestic workers. Moving the discussion from the point of “good enough” to actually “good”. We would love to hear your thoughts on that one, having been reminded of these words in the Bible.

Can it really be ‘Good News’ before it is Good News for the poor as well?

[For last Thursday’s The Same Question, click here]