Archive for the ‘The World we live in’ Category

The way I view the world, there are three forces/people at work:

[1] God – I don’t believe He runs the world like a puppet master but I do believe He is involved – When someone becomes a follower of Jesus His Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us and directs, guides and prompts us and helps us to live a life that looks more like Jesus. I experience this in my life. Sometimes the voice of the Spirit is very clear and I really believe I am hearing from God on something and know how to act or what to say, but often it can be more subtle and sometimes I can feel like God is far away and distant. Because of the hugeness of God as I perceive Him to be, I have no problem with the fact that I do not fully understand how He operates or how He works – when He gets involved and when He chooses not to be. If He was able to create the Universe in a moment then it makes perfect sense that I would not be able to come close to understanding everything about Him. But I can have a picture of Him and as I spend time with Him and experience Him and learn more about Him so that picture goes.

[2] The enemy – The devil, satan, lucifer – once again I don’t really understand how the devil works but I do believe that God has an enemy who has some measure of power and is doing everything he can to thwart the work of God and take down people. Called ‘the father of lies’ the evidence is strong that there is a person or force in the world that is trying to move everyone more towards ‘the dark side’ – temptation, lust, violence, greed are a bunch of the tools of his trade and you just need to pick up a newspaper or turn on the tv to see the evidence of this.

[3] People – us. I don’t believe we are robots who don’t have free will and are living predetermined lives but that we have a strong measure of free will that influences how we live – the decisions we make and the actions we live out as well as the words we speak and how we act on our thoughts and inclinations.

So when it comes to how life happens, I believe all three people/forces are working all the time. God building His kingdom particularly through those people who follow Him; the devil doing anything in his power to thwart or uproot or break down what God is doing and to hurt and damage and destroy people as much as possible; and us living our lives while being influence by both good and evil and making decisions and learning and growing [hopefully] as we go along.

I had a friend at school who went for a bike ride on the night of his 18th birthday and was knocked over by a drunk driver and killed. A lot of people in situations similiar to those tend to blame God for what happened. “How could you take him like that?” But God didn’t kill my friend, a drunk driver did, when he made a really bad decision and then didn’t perhaps have the reaction ability he needed when he came upon my friend.

Some people have a ‘Whatever happens is God’s will’ approach to life, but I take issue to that as well. People dying is not God’s will, people being sick is not God’s will, abuse and divorce and rape, racism and sexism are not God’s will. They happen because we are in a broken and messed up world [brought about by our sin and disobedience or those who have gone before us] and so yes, God allows stuff like that to happen [a whole other discussion] but not everything that happens is because He wills it to. Holding a ‘Whatever happens is God’s will’ view to life often relinquishes us of the responsibility we should be having for our actions.

And so I do believe that everything happens for a reason in the sense that something or someone made it happen. Not necessarily in the sense that it has meaning and purpose and destiny. Sometimes things just happen because that is how we exercise our free will in that way. Which is why often the things that happen have the odour of crap to them.

Oh, and one more thing…

stupid

[For next week’s The Route of all Evil [And it’s NOT money!], click here]

[For last Friday’s Well maybe I SHOULD jump off that bridge, 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]

housepoop

So for this Tuesday I thought let’s do something a little bit different. The Beautiful Val [tbV] passed this link on to me and I just absolutely love this kind of stuff. Street art incorporating vandalism or brokenness or set structures into brilliant new creations. This is some kind of special gift and I really think you will enjoy most of these a lot. And it’s me so I had to use ‘Pooping Houses’ as the one I chose [“I didn’t like the others. They were all too flat.”]

So take a look at the rest of these here and if you have a link [because I would really love especially the Tuesday posts to be much more interactive as we share inspiring stories with each other] to a similar piece of street art that made you laugh or cry or sigh wistfully or just be completely amazed, then please leave it in the comments section. Thank you.

[For a look at next Tuesday’s Hey dude, where’s my [husband’s] car?, click here]

[For a look at last Tuesday’s stories ranging from a rapping air steward to Horror author Stepehen King’s take on faith to a bold and kind gesture from X-Men’s own Patrick Stewart, click here]

This is the second news post from today but it was too good to make you wait a whole week for. This is some school high jumping taking place in Kenya. And answers the question, what do you do when you can’t afford to buy a mat? Land on your feet of course:

As well as this story of how a mosque in the Uk avoided a major conflict by inviting the protesters in for tea, biscuits and a game of football.

So many positive uplifting stories happening around the globe. Do you have one to share?

[To see next Tuesday’s inspirational stories of Stephen King, Patrick Stewart and that air steward, click here]

[To see today’s earlier post on why terrorists should not target marathon runners, click here]

 

boston marathon finish line

The Boston Marathon bombing that happened on April 15th this year [ironically on Patriot’s Day] was a senseless tragedy, but I remember reading one line that really inspired me. It was along the lines of how marathon runners are the worst people to attack in an attempt to disrupt spirit as they are the epitome of people with spirit, pushing their bodies often to breaking point for the sake of crossing a distance they could have much more easily driven by car.

So when I saw this week’s story online, it did not come as much of a surprise but it was still completely inspiring and hopefully a symbol of hope for many people who might otherwise be living in fear.

Basically on Sunday, May 25th, thousands of runners and bombing victims took to the streets to run the last mile of the Boston Marathon, including many who had not been able to complete it on the day of the race and many who just joined in simply to support the cause.

One of those people was Rosy Spraker who had received her medal in the mail, despite not finishing the race, but said that before Sunday she had not felt able to wear it yet:

‘”Now I feel like I’ve earned my medal,” Spraker said, beaming, after she crossed the Boylston Street finish line, encouraged by a cheering crowd. “I wanted to run for the victims, for freedom, to show the world that nothing is going to stop us.”

“Somebody that thinks that they’re going to stop a marathoner from running doesn’t understand the mentality of a marathoner,” said her husband, Lesley, after he placed the medal around Spraker’s neck.’

You can read the rest of this inspiring news article here.

[To catch today’s BONUS news edition with the Kenyan high jumpers and the friendly mosque, click here]

[For last Tuesday’s medley of stories concerning bacon, environmental awareness street painting and ban on singing God songs, click here]

Again, this week’s clip is one which has been doing the rounds and so a lot of you will have seen it – what is important to take in with this clip though is the heart behind the serious message it contains. So yes, really funny, but also really not. Hopefully the encouragement for us all to think a little harder about our interactions with others and how we sometimes need to be a little or a lot more sensitive. Here is ‘What kind of asian are you?’

[I would love to hear if anyone had any epiphany moments while watching, or just comments or thoughts in general]

For those who already have seen that one, here is a little bonus clip from the geniuses [geniusi?] who gave us           the ‘I shipped my pants’ advert:

 

[For next Monday’s Blending Poverty out of Africa]

[To take a look at last Monday’s I could just eat you up, click here]

tornado

Earlier this week a tornado  swept through Oklahama, killing a number of people and leaving a mass of devastation in its wake.

Within a couple of hours of the disaster, well-known speaker and author John Piper tweeted this verse:

“Your sons and daughters were eating and a great wind struck the house, and it fell upon them, and they are dead.” Job 1:19

There was a huge uproar about it. john the piperHow could this public figure and follower of Jesus be so insensitive, especially in the face of all those families who had lost love ones. People started retweeting, blogging, statusing and having conversations about what an evil act John Piper had committed.

Only problem [which I found out a couple of hours after hearing the initial story and having my own emotional response] is that there were two tweets that were released simultaneously and the second one was the following verse in Job which reads like this:

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.” Job 1:20

‘Job 1:20 not only comes in the direct aftermath of a storm, but also holds out hope and comfort to Christians directly affected by tragedy today, reminding us that trust in God and worship of God are always right, even when we are kneeling in tears in the rubble left by a tornado. Job wept and he worshipped. God’s sovereignty over his suffering provided the basis of his grounds of worshipping God in the suffering.’ [from the blog post ‘Those Deleted Tweets’ by Tony Reinke]

Huge problems can arise when we share information that is true [John Piper did tweet Job 1.19] but is not the Truth [it was not the full story – something was taken out of context to produce a message vastly different than that which was intended]. And it caused [or maybe more accurately ‘influenced’] a lot of judgement and condemnation from a whole bunch of people [thousands] who were given falsified information.

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mark twainThis is not a new phenomenon.

‘In 1897 a journalist was sent to inquire after Twain’s health, thinking he was near to death; in fact it was his cousin who was very ill. Though (contrary to popular belief) no obituary was published, Twain recounted the event in the New York Journal of 2 June 1897, including his famous words “The report of my death was an exaggeration” (which is usually misquoted, e.g. as “The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated”, or “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”)’ [from Wikipedia]

This has happened a lot in recent years.

Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy both fell victim to internet death report hoaxes, as did Adele, Hugh Hefner and Oprah.  Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise [both deemed to have fallen off the same Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand while climbing, in 2006 and 2008 respectively] met with the same treatment, while ‘RIP Justin Bieber’ was trending on Twitter last year

Two other high profile cases of getting it horribly wrong were these:

Margaret Thatcher: Text-message reports of Baroness Thatcher’s death caused a stir at a Canadian political event, and officials in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office were preparing to issue a statement of condolence, until it was determined that the deceased Thatcher in question was actually Transport Minister John Baird’s cat [She died earlier this year, on 8 April 2013.]

As early as 1992, and I remember hearing these when they came out, widespread rumors circulated that falsely claimed singer Bobby McFerrin committed suicide. The rumors intentionally made fun of the distinctly positive nature of his popular song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by claiming McFerrin ironically took his own life.

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Forward this message and Bill Gates will give you $5000, Steve Jobs will give you the latest Apple computer and [insert store name here] will give you a FREE voucher for [insert amount of money here].

Do you know anyone personally who ever got the money, the computer or the brand clothing? You don’t because they do not exist.

In September last year I wrote a fictitious reply to the Nigerian widow who had given me $2,000,000,000,000,000 of the money her dead president/king/minister of this government department had left to her [as the only means by which she could get it into the country – for some reason it had to pass through the bank account of someone who had never heard of her before?] which you can read here. All very funny until I heard from one of my very close friends [who is not an idiot] who had followed up a similar request and sent some details because of the whole “what if it is true?” lure. And so these things are really catching people.

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‘That person you’re sharing a quote from on the internet, alongside the picture of them, may not have even said what you’re saying they said.’ [Abraham Lincoln, 1855]

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googleThe list goes on. From the simple consequences of giving out personal details and inviting a deluge of spam, to causing grief or major concern to family and friends when a death rumour goes viral, to the very possibility of character and ministry assassination that can occur, this is not to be taken lightly. We need to be more responsible with how we handle information or the appearance of information.

And it is for the most part quite simple. Whenever I see something offered for FREE on Facebook or when I heard news of something so huge it seems unbelievable or if there is cause for the slightest bit of doubt with any new piece of information I receive and am thinking of passing on, I go to Uncle Google and type in the words of the thing [eg. Bill Gates free laptop] and the word ‘Hoax’ or ‘Scam’ and it is usually quite easy and quick to see whether it is or not. It is that easy. I doubt you will catch it every time but for the most part this simple practice will have your back and will save you embarrassment and the possibility of fueling an unnecessary fire.

In this world of rapid information and the viral forwarding of it [through retweets and status updates, likes and shares] it requires us to be a lot more aware and alert. Otherwise we quickly become part of the problem.

And in case you’re not completely convinced yet, here is some extra reading to give you a more clear idea of what I am speaking about:

[1] Titled ‘Top 15 Hoaxes of All Time’ this article lists a number of the popular Facebook and beyond stories that caught a lot of people.
[2] This more Facebook related one details ‘Top 10 scams and hoaxes on Facebook you should recognise in 3 seconds.’

How about it? Have you ever been caught out by one of these false stories floating around the web? Have you passed something on that you later found out was fake?

[for next Friday’s Presence vs Presents, click here]

[for last Friday’s Passing it Forward challenge, click here]