God Really Turned Up Today

Just a brief rant to say, we really need to stop using this expression.

I don’t know how many times lately I have heard people speak of their Sunday service and use this expression to describe how ‘totally awesome’ it was – another overused term… Come on people…

I think while we all know its theological nonsense, at another level we seem to believe it. If we feel the music is especially inspirational, or the sermon a real cracker, or if people are getting healed etc etc then we are convinced that God was definitely present.

If the singing is lame, the sermon puts you to sleep and there is no drama whatsoever then has God really not turned up?

I think my biggest issue with the phrase is that it removes the responsibility from us to be engaged and focused and puts it on God to create some fireworks. It also suggests that some churches have found the key to ‘making God dance’.

Personally… I think God turns up every week. (Its kinda hard not to when you’re God.)

Some days we notice him. Some days we give him more space to move. Some days he just does stuff irrespective of us. But he’s there – whether he likes it or not…

Life and Soul

DARK SIDE OF THE LENS from Astray Films on Vimeo.

One of the things I am most passionate about these days is helping people get clarity on who they are and what they are doing with their life. It actually really disturbs me to see someone scrabbling around aimlessly, or just marking time in life because they simply don’t have any sense of drive or passion.

I don’t get that.

Today at our church community I was teaching on this subject – of living with purpose – running the (unique) race marked out for you, calling people to live from the centre of their identity and be the ‘best you’ possible.

I think I know what this is like and I certainly do know how rich I feel when I reflect on the fact that I get to spend my life doing what I love and people even pay me money for it.

I used this clip as I reckon it just encapsulates so much of what it looks like when a person is fully alive and their soul is shaping their work. I think it is beautiful, poetic and inspiring.

Today we looked at ‘living with purpose’ and in a couple of weeks I will be finishing by looking at how we also live with passion and perseverance. I tend to think that passion flows out of purpose and perseverance is ultimately what sorts those who make a difference from those who simply turned up.

Stupidity on Steroids

I’m looking at you Target…

This weekend Danelle, Ellie and 7 other girls from our church community head off to Bali to get involved with some of the work that is going on in orphanages over there. As they go they take as much good second hand clothing as they can carry to give to those who have very very little.

Danelle also sends clothing over with anyone who is going to Bali and the front room of our house (that in most homes is a home theatre!) is now a Bali storeroom chock full of the next batch of stuff to be sent across.

Yesterday we got word that Target were disposing of several hundred women’s singlets that they had been unable to sell. They were ‘tipping’ them in a skip bin… And not just tipping them but slashing them to ribbons first so no one could use them or bring them back for a refund.

They were told of the Bali project and asked if they would be prepared to donate them – clean new clothes – to people with very little – but the answer was ‘no’.

Not their policy…

What a bunch of knobs…

What can I say but its a clear case of stupidity on steroids…

People Who Are Customers

Just last night I was pondering the people I have come across this week in my work. We call them ‘customers’, but really they are people – with real lives and hopes and fears and problems.

When you see customers its easy to do a job, perform a service and move on to the next customer. When you see a person you have to take notice and wonder about that person and their life. Its easier to deal with customers, but more rewarding to engage with people.

I don’t think its been an unusual week by any stretch, but it began with the pensioner who told me about her breast cancer and how that had changed her life. The next day I was working for the woman who had been divorced 3 times and who went to great lengths to tell me she didn’t need a man around. Ironically 4 of us blokes were working on different projects around her house that day…

The next day was a local bloke my age who had just been diagnosed with bowel cancer and had to excuse himself regularly from our conversation as all was not well. As we talked I discovered this news had shattered his life and changed everything for him. I stopped in on the grandmum who’s daughter had died tragically and who, in the absence of a father was now ‘mum’ to the 5 year old child left behind .

And then yesterday I got a call from Betty, an 80 year old woman who lived the last 25 years in Two Rocks and worked most of her life as a barmaid. She’s a tough old stick and knows more swear words than most blokes. As we got talking, she told me (thinks) she has 11 kids, but one was murdered. She went to tell that story and the tragedy of a wasted life. It was still pretty raw.

Its not always easy to treat customers as people, because it is more time consuming and when you’re a task oriented person with a lot of stuff to get done in a day it can slow you down, but if we called to be salt and light in the workplace then maybe this is just one way we can love those people we come across.

I offer these thoughts because I often hear people saying they make no impact for the gospel in their workplace. Usually by that they mean that they haven’t presented the 4 spiritual laws to anyone, led them to Christ and got them to join a church, but that’s a pretty narrow take on how we can be the people of God in the world we live in.

Perhaps slowing down, taking a genuine interest, asking questions and then listening is as good a way of demonstrating the presence of Christ as any…

Good Conversation

Francis Chan steps away from a megachurch to pursue a place of more obscurity and more faithfulness to what he believes God has called him to. Mark Driscoll asks him some good and tough questions about whether we have to take the ‘downward mobility’ route to pursue holiness or if we can be sanctified while in the flow of an affluent life.

There are some excellent questions tossed around by some good minds. Worth a listen.

I know I grapple with similar stuff and wonder if we would actually be better disciples if we were less affluent. But then I don’t see that it is God’s wish for anyone to be poor and needy either. I guess what disturbs me most is the glaring disparity between the wealth I have and the poverty in other parts of the globe and the relatively small difference I make to it all.

Yeah I know – quite bleating about and just do something…

Turning a Corner

I remember working with a pastor who used to use that phrase a lot. In what was a tough church situation he would always be telling me that this week we ‘had turned a corner’. Then he’d tell me the same a few weeks later. I eventually realised he was right. We did turn a lot of corners and were pretty much going in circles. I don’t know if he felt that way, but it certainly looked that way to me.

Anyway this is a little more positive in that after a pretty bad tennis elbow injury I think I am on the mend and it looks like that I’ll be able to get thru summer and keep working. Very happy about that…

Its interesting how these challenges cause you to think differently about your world and over the last few weeks I have been considering many options to make the future more viable.

I guess the obvious one is to go back to doing something non-physical ala teaching, but its not one that engenders any passion in me at this stage – and I’ve got to feel some energy for my work or its a waste of time. Then there was the thought of just hiring blokes to do the work – and possibly even expanding and developing the business – all the while losing some control over the quality of the work… Nah… That was never my intention when starting so it would be a reluctant move, but one I would look at if completely stuck.

I have considered buying a dingo and truck and just changing hats altogether, but the capital outlay puts me off and I don’t really want to build a business from scratch again at this point. Perhaps when we are debt free again I might do this but more for the fun of it rather than as a necessity. I like the thought of a new challenge but now just doesn’t feel like the right time.

I have intentionally chosen to keep my business a one man affair with casual help when required. I advertise selectively and try to only take on jobs that I want. Some of my quotes are a tad obscene because I don’t want too much work and some jobs are not worth the effort. Lately I seem to have hit the right marketing balance for getting 3 days a week of work and I’m pretty ok when I have slow weeks as they are opportunities to take it easy or have a short break. Part of the reason I want to keep this current set up is that I get great physical benefit from the hard physical slog and have no need to do any fitness work. Lugging 220 big wet slabs of turf around today was as good a 3 hr workout as you will get anywhere!

It has also been good to have some decent workers to get me thru the last month, and while I haven’t backed off too much in my own intensity, I have been very conscious that everything I do with my right hand hurts. Its only been two weeks of physio though and already the difference is noticeable. I am able to grip things again. My biggest apprehension lately has been shaking hands with someone because that causes some real pain, but I think I’m going to be able to do that again soon!

So hopefully I will be able to strengthen up and make it thru summer with a bit of casual help. And from there hit a steady pace again. I imagine this business will have a life span, but for now I love it and don’t see myself making any big changes… very grateful to be healing up.