Life according to…

Do you compare, compete or both? Do you look upwards or downwards? Do you look upwards from yourself toward people better than yourself, wishing that you had more, could achieve more, were more? Or maybe you look downwards toward those less fortunate than yourself thinking that your better than others. Your thought might be ‘at least I’m not like them’.

At the end of the day we all do it. We all compare and compete. Without over emphasising gender roles, men typically compete, and women typically compare. Men might compete in who is stronger, faster, wealthier. And women might compare physical looks, clothes, families. Of course, gender roles are never absolute… men will compare and likewise women  will compete.

And while gauging where we’re at in life isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, when we base our identity on these competitions and comparisons that we can become unstuck. We can fall into the trap of trying to progress through life by comparing and competing. You need a promotion at work in order to maintain your social status. Or upgrading your boyfriend for a more advanced model will help you improve your own popularity. What about getting a bigger house, or another investment property in order that your social status will increase with your friends. It’s almost like a role playing game where you have to grind and farm enough points to get to the next level. And if you don’t have the best level and stats then you might as well not even play. #shoutout to all the WoW and GW2 gamers. At the end of the day if your doing better than those around you, than life is good. However, if you’re falling behind and everyone else is kicking the goals, then life is bad. We can become slaves to this way of thinking. In fact, chances are you already are, or at least have been in the past.

The real danger for those of us who are Christians, is to start measuring our faith against those around us. When we start to compare our blessings with those around us it becomes a pretty shaky roller coaster ride that isn’t going to end well. ‘God answers his prayers, he must be a better Christian that I am.’ Or. ‘His children are always perfectly behaved, he must be a more godly parent’. Or ‘His church has more newcomers than mine does’. etc.

The Apostle Paul talks about two ways the people generally identify with the world. He uses two weird words. Flesh & Spirit. People are either living according to the flesh, or according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

The first, flesh, is all about people who chase things of this world. They go to all lengths to keep up with the Jones’s. Wear the best clothes, drive the best cars, have the best houses with the best swimming pools. They go to church to keep up appearances, they work hard to have more and more money, and they do all of these things to earn a better status. They indulge in food and drink. They chase whatever makes them feel good, incessantly pursuing self-glorification. At the end of the day, these people, choose to please themselves despite the cost.

The second way to live is according to the Spirit. These people chose to forgo fleshy indulgences and live a life that is selfless and aims to be altruistic (impossible be that it may). To live according to the Spirit means that the Spirit of God dwells within the person and directs them in a right way of living. These people are giving and caring and set their minds on the things that God considers important.

When all is stripped away, those who live according to the flesh are comparing and competing for the next ladder rung on the climb to glory. But those who live according to the Spirit find themselves ‘in Christ’ (Romans 8:1). And when one is in Christ they partake in His glory. Comparing and competing for glory becomes a nonsensical activity because when compared to the glory that comes with being in God the Son, all our own achievements pale in comparison.

Romans 8 is an outstanding scripture to reflect on in the light of comparing and competing as the world does opposed to living in step with the Spirit. Stop, and think about what the Apostle Paul might mean by the phrase ‘The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.’ (Romans 8:7)

You’ve probably heard the popular song, In Christ Alone, but maybe take a moment to listen to is again, and think about what it means to be In Christ Alone. What will it look like in your life to forsake the temptation to compare and compete in the flesh, so that you can truly be In Christ Alone.

Father of aborted child charged with murder…

So this has been bothering me for a while. Why is it that an aborted fetus is disregarded and incinerated as medical waste, yet a miscarried fetus is treated with human-like dignity?

Additionally, if you’re at fault in a car accident and an unborn child’s life is lost along with the mother’s… You are accountable for two accounts of murder/manslaughter.

I’ve been bothered that the value of an unborn life is determined by how ‘wanted’ it is by it’s mother.

Then I found this article. An American man has been charged by authorities for tricking his spouse into receiving an abortion via a pill.

The man is being charged with falsely impersonating a medical professional to attain the medication, and also with murder. He has admitted guilt and settled for a lessor punishment.

The agreement spared him from a potential sentence of life in prison on the original charge of murder under the Protection of Unborn Children Act.

Obviously what he did is wrong… But I can’t help but to think, why is it not murder if the woman chooses to take the medication. What if the roles were reversed? What if he wanted to keep the child and she didn’t?

How can governments be pro life yet pro abortion yet punish people for practicing it…? I’m confused.

Id like to tack on the end here a little about redemption. There’s a great book called ReDemption by Mike Wilkerson which is part of the ReLit series forwarded by Mark Driscoll. It talks about recovering from physical and emotional abuse. I don’t want to be the guy who condemns people for their choices. I am pro life and anti abortion, but I’m not the guy who sits back and judges people for their actions. If you’ve found this blog post and are struggling with abortion related problems, I’d really encourage you to give this book a read and see where you end up at the end. Many blessings.

Truth… Am I missing something?

WARNING: Underdeveloped rant: still thinking this one through… Help, I wanna know what you think!

Truth: “That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality”

So I’m interested in what people think about ‘the truth’. I reckon Christians need to trust science in a way that doesn’t inhibit development of the human race and atheists need to be open to the idea that they don’t have a monopoly on the metaphysical department.

So I’ve got a couple of assumptions about the truth.

  1. There can only be one truth.
  2. What people believe doesn’t change the truth.
  3. The way people talk about the truth doesn’t influence the facts behind truth.

Almost everyone I know is really passionate about seeking ‘the truth’. Yet people who have found what they think is the truth are ready to stop investigating all the possibilities. Some Christians who develop a belief in God instantly close off the possibility that the world might hold compatible truths. For example at a time when humanity had an underdeveloped understanding of the universe Christians developed a sound theory that the Earth was flat. This was very far from the truth, and it was people who were pro-science who discovered this was in fact not the truth. Mankind is much better off for the discovery of a spherical Earth.

Likewise my experience with atheists is once they come to the understanding that there isn’t a personal God they instantly close off the possibility of a higher spiritual being. At this stage the fact is that it is impossible to categorically prove that there isn’t a spiritual being who created us. Why would anyone who is pro-truth totally write off the possibility of a spiritual aspect to our being?

Just because you’re a Christian it doesn’t mean science is going to destroy your faith . While at the same time scientists need to accept that they really can’t explain everything and still have a ton of unanswered questions about how the world/universe works.

[EDIT: I just thought I’d add as an after thought, the reason I’m passionate about this stuff is not to convert atheists or bully Christians to be pro-science but I have a desire for our whole community to rally together and accept that while there is only one truth, your perception of that truth doesn’t mean that you can make life difficult for others.]

Is the Bible anti-gay? So what now?

On Sunday (24 February 2013) we asked the question “Is the Bible anti-gay?” as part of our “Got Questions?” series.  We opened up the Bible to let it speak for itself. 

A young woman (who we won’t identify) from our church community asked if she could share her story, with the hope of encouraging others.  A big ‘Thank You’ to this young woman – thank you for sharing your story. 

Here it is.  We hope you find it encouraging. 

http://www.ridgeviewcc.org/?i=14040&mid=1000&id=396096

“I first came to Creek Road through a friend who was coming here at the time. I was a bit wary of going back to church. I had already had a bad experience at a previous church, which had been very judgemental of me.

You see, at that time, I was in a homosexual relationship with another woman, and had been for three years.

My previous church had told me that I was not welcome there unless I changed. However, Creek Road seemed different, and over the next few months I started going more and more. Often I would sit by myself on one side of the church, and a group of girls noticed. They would come and speak to me, and over time, we became friends. These girls are now my best friends.

Creek Road was different because their approach was one of being welcoming and loving towards me. There was not a sense that I needed to be ‘fixed’ before I could come to church. They accepted me, and encouraged me to seek out God and find his will for me.

As I joined a growth group, and became part of Young Adults here at Creek Road, I slowly began to open up about my past. I felt more comfortable talking about my life with people I knew would not reject me.

I went to several Growth Groups before settling into an Adult Growth Group last year. Just recently, I shared my story with my Growth Group in the hope that it would encourage them to continue to treat people with love.

I am a Christian. I am no longer in the relationship with the girl, and she has visited church at Creek Road on several occasions. It is my hope and prayer that she will become a Christian. 
 It is thanks to God’s redemptive power that my life has changed so radically.

Last Sunday’s bible talk was immensely encouraging for me to hear. Steve spoke about the sexual brokenness experienced by everyone, and he didn’t single out gay people as being the worst offenders. Instead, he made it clear that none of us are in a position to judge others.

I wanted to share my story today to encourage others who may be struggling with this issue to reach out to people they trust – maybe your growth group. 
 I want to encourage people that this is not something you need to struggle with alone.

Recently I returned to my previous church where I had been rejected. They were happy to see that there had been some big changes in my life. I’m glad that my relationship with that church has now been restored.

The love and support of God’s people here at Creek Road has played a huge part in these changes occurring in my life. God has given me the strength to talk about this difficult subject in the hope that it might change other people’s lives, too.

I know I can safely say that if I had been treated with judgment and rejection at Creek Road, I would never have come back to church again.”

Praise God for how He has worked in this young woman’s life. 

Please pray for her that she would grow in her understanding of God’s love for her. 

Please pray for others who struggle with sexual brokenness. 

Please pray for us as a church, that we would always be a community of love, grace and acceptance – introducing people to Jesus.

Question 10: Who, What & Where are God & Jesus?

We’ve made it, the final installation in our Got Questions? series. In this short interview we meet Jackie. A young women who has found Jesus. Tell me what you think of her incredible story.

 

Click here for a 20 minute bible talk that answers the question… “Who, What & Where are God & Jesus?”

Question 5: Can there really be just one true religion?

Hey there, this video is an interview with Keryn who has had a long journey to find Jesus. Keryn is from New Zealand and grew up with family who were Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Keryn asks the tough question: “How is the God of the Bible the one and only true God?”

 

If Keryn’s story of coming to know freedom in Jesus in the midst of other religions interests you, a 20 minute bible talk on the same topic can be found by clicking here!

Question 4: Is the Bible anti-gay?

John works with kids from the streets of Brisbane and has at times been challenged to think about and share Jesus’ views on sexuality. In this video John is winsome, compassionate and loving. John asks the questions: “How is the Bible’s take on sexuality authentic?” and “Is the gospel for homosexuals as well?”

 

If John’s message challenged you, provoked you or led you to ask questions regarding the bible’s perspective on homosexuality, you can check out a 20 minute bible talk asking the tough questions by clicking here!