Category Archives: Christianity

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me who is the biggest fool?

I’ve tried to adopt a new philosophy in my life to be less judgmental of others. Sure the thoughts still come up, but rather than give them light I use them for reflection.

Mirror Image

The mirror on the wall forces you to look at yourself. To see your reflection, how you look on the outside to others.

Surely, that’s only a reflection. It’s but an image, the external view of yourself, not actually you.

But isn’t this how we judge others?

Just a reflection?

We see a situation, an event, a news story, an action, or behaviour and form an opinion based merely on a reflection.

You probably saw the trap coming – yet how often do we jump to a conclusion based on opinion rather than facts?

The Plank or the Speck

So rather than condemn or judge someone else, when I get the thought I look in the reflection.

I ask myself questions like why?

Why do I feel that way towards this person? Why does this evoke such emotions? Why do I judge someone else this way?

Then, I reflect, turn the mirror on me.

There’s a story in the bible which talks about removing the plank from your own eye before picking out the speck from someone else. (Mt 7:1-5)

Judgment should be saved for the mirror, a judgment of my own thoughts, behaviours, actions and outcomes.

Shades of Grey

It’s easy to judge someone else on the outcomes in black and white, yet for ourselves it’s shades of grey.

After all, we know what we intended. We know what we were trying to do.

We judge ourselves by our ideals yet too often others by the outcomes.

For me I’m trying something different. As I come across events or situations that irritate me I reflect first, look at them in the mirror – it’s amazing how it changes your perspective.

Christmas or Xmas

Christmas or Xmas … or Happy Holidays?

Confused ChristmasThis time of year always raises the same issues – is it Christmas or Xmas … or to many happy holidays.

The question of the wording, the celebration, being referred to as happy holidays is perceived to be eroding the meaning of the season – or as many put it: The reason for the season is Jesus.

Yet is this the spirit of Christmas? Is this why Jesus was born?

On the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus we argue over the semantics. We debate the way others choose to spend their happy holidays.

But you know what, if the reason for the season is Jesus then the real celebration should be love – joyous, happy, exuberant love for all.

Bridging the Divide

Rather than focusing on the cup half empty, rejoice in the celebration in all its forms. For if Hindus, Jews, Moslems, atheists and other non Christians can at least embrace the meaning of Christmas, namely love, generosity and giving – well isn’t that the first bridge rather than another divide.

To truly embrace Jesus is about love, love for the Father and for each other … if as Christians we spent more time focused on the bridge than the divide, then the true depth of the experience could much easier be shared.

Jesus came to find the lost, to heal the sick – not to participate in the festivals celebrated by believers.

I don’t wish to belittle the importance of Christmas, nor remove the significance of Jesus’ birth – but fighting, debating, arguing over the wording to me seems against the spirit of loving, giving and embracing all people – using the opportunity to build the bridge not to increase the chasm.

Happy Holidays – Enjoy Christmas

So to all have a happy holidays, for in that happiness is a glimpse that is Jesus, a warmth of the love that can be shared every day not just on Xmas day.

Yes, Jesus is the reason – and to celebrate the Christ mass season is to display the gifts of love, of peace, of patience, joy and be the lights that shine brightly on a hill by giving and loving not debating.

The Mockery of Marriage

The issue of gay marriage has been the centre of debate in Australian political circles recently, with MP’s forced to confront whether to legalize the union of a gay couple.

I’ve titled this piece the mockery of marriage, not because of the debate on gay marriage but that marriage has got to the point where the debate can even be had.

Marriage has increasingly Mockery of Marriage become a mockery over the past decades, with higher divorce rates, the legalization of de-facto relationships, single parenting becoming the norm and, now, whether gay couples should be extended the right to be legally married.

Marriage is for how long?

Then there’s the prenuptial, the just in case waiver – a statement from the outset that this may not work!

This year we witnessed a complete erosion of vows with Kim Kardashian – married a sum total of 72 days. It spawned a whole Twitter hash tag trend that lasted almost as long as their marriage.

Like it or lump it, these Hollywood relationships serve as role models. Stars have become the heroes of modern society – and, at least the publicized norm is, that all marriages are doomed.

The Sacrament of Marriage

I would love to take the moral stand on this issue, to shout out the strength of marriage as a Christian sacrament.

That marriage is a shared commitment between a man and a woman. That this sacrament is held so highly in esteem by society that it forms the backbone of our culture.

But this stand has been eroded, wiped out by the prenuptial agreements, Western media and the box office hits.

A Great Wedding – #1 Box Office Hit

Happy Marriage at the Box OfficeAndy Stanley covered this well in a series on dating, posing the question how enjoyable would a box office hit be if it were based purely on a happy marriage?

Would you pay $20 to see that? I can see it climbing the box office charts now.

The Marriage Eulogy

I am not here to take a stand against gay relationships, nor single parents, nor prenuptial agreements, nor the farce that was Kim Kardasian’s marriage, nor Hollywood’s portrayal that the best relationships are those out of wedlock.

No, this is the eulogy for the Christian sacrament that was marriage … the sacred rite that brought a man and a woman together as a public announcement that they will spend their lives with each other – till death do us part.

After all, marriage was the coming together of man and woman to become one flesh, to share that and form families. No matter what laws you bring in, some things remain a physical impossibility.

So we allow gay marriage, we continue the trend of prenup’s, increasing divorce rates. We even sit back and watch, support, the soaps and reality TV shows that erode our social institutions, encourage greater moral decay .. so what’s next?

Where do we draw the line?

At what point does our society make a stand?

Are we to just sit back and allow this social plunder? Increasingly violent shows, more decadent music videos, the sexualisation of tweens, reality shows that portray marriage as entertainment?

I have no right to judge the love one man may feel for another, nor two women together – I have no right to judge why a couple divorces, I have no right to judge another’s use of a prenup.

But I do have the right to stand up for what I believe. That the Western marriage is founded on Christian principles and that we hold those to be the sacred bond between a male and a female (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:7) and that these vows are taken as a lifelong commitment and made on oath under God.

The Scents of Church

When you think of Church what comes to mind?

Church PewsFor some it may conjure images of the traditional Catholic or Anglican cathedrals associated with Europe – stone buildings with wooden pews, stained glass windows and an organist plugging out traditional hymns. Pillars of the Earth sort of stuff steeped in tradition and dogma.

Or maybe it’s of a priest or minister stood atop a dais preaching at their congregation messages of doom and gloom. Or long drawn out sermons delivered in a monotone and the ensuing dread of falling asleep.

So when you think about church or religion, what are the senses that come to mind? What are the smells, the tastes, what do you see or hear when you think of Church?

To get in the mood check out Kana’s blog on a modern day collection plate!

Is it Ok for a Man to Cry?

Can you cry? Will you allow yourself to cry? Or do you feel that suppressing emotion is more manly? When is it ok for men to cry?

OK to cry

A response to Jermaine Donaldson’s post When Can A Man Cry. Jermaine explores when it’s ok for a man to cry. He uses the example of Michael Jordan on winning the Larry O’Brien trophy – tick. Sporting hero crying, yep that’s ok.

A Man Can Cry if

The image above from the trenches in the Korean war? Hey that must be a tick. Again, war hero – right?

How about crying at a funeral for a loved one? Achieving your own sporting highlight? Are they ok?

Sure most will give ticks to these … what about the birth of your child? On your wedding day? A baptism? Are we still on safe ground?

Let’s move where it’s a little more shaky – is it ok to cry during a movie? Like the Field of Dreams? We’re still in the sports realm at least. Braveheart? War. How about Dead Poet’s Society? Sorry, but I’m shedding a tear or two!

I commented on Jermaine’s post that I cry regularly, which it’s probably more apt to say I don’t try to stop the tears when they come. I started to think what events or things have made me shed tears recently?

Top Tear Jerkers

Brisbane VolunteersFirst up I remembered the devastation in Australia earlier this year, where Brisbane was hit by the worst flood in 40 years. On January 15 I remember being glued to my TV with streams of tears as I watched the clean up effort get underway. Dubbed Salvation Saturday, 22,000 Australians both locals and interstate travelers converged on Brisbane and surrounding cities to lend a hand. It was an amazing response to a natural disaster and seeing people bond together regardless of race, beliefs, gender, status was overwhelming.

The other vivid memory for me where I literally wept was watching The Passion. I challenge anyone to watch that and not be moved. I sat alone in front of the DVD and pressed play. I remember starting it again as I didn’t expect it to kick off where it did. The next 127 minutes were nothing short of gut wrenching. For those afraid to cry watch that movie. For if you believe to be a man you don’t cry then check out what Jesus went through and then look at John 11:35.

Should A Man Cry?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me I have learnt that bottling my emotions until they explode hasn’t helped. I believe to have the courage to shed a tear when you are moved takes more strength than keeping up appearances.

So am I just a big wimp? Too tapped into my feminine side? Or proudly masculine whether displaying all types of emotion? How about you? Can you cry? Will you allow yourself to cry? Or do you feel that suppressing this emotion is more manly?

A Crown of Splendour

Back when I was a wee boy, well about 15 actually – so I should say back when I knew it all and had an answer for everything – our family travelled to the UK.

We were off to see our extended family after about a 6 year gap since leaving London.

Far out, two paragraphs just to develop character! Anyway, one of the most vivid memories of that trip was meeting my uncle, Eamon.

The thing was Eamon, at the time, was probably hitting late 40’s and what stood out was this awesome mass of silvery grey hair. As soon as I saw it I thought to myself I want one of those!

The Crown of Splendour

Seriously, since 15 years of age I’ve waited patiently to go gray. To sport a head of silver – the crown of glory! In fact a favourite bible verse is: Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. (Proverbs 16:31 NIV)

Now the irony of all this isn’t that, as I’ve entered my 40’s, I’m completely bald – rather I’m yet to see a single gray hair. I thought I’d had enough worry, enough experience to earn maybe a few grays by now but no. Not one. Not even in other regions!

The Era of Anti Aging

In this era of anti aging; botox, facelifts, miracle creams, potions and elixirs – I seem to be one of few who still look forward to my next decade, rather than long for the one (or two) just gone. While others are seeking medical cures for this disease known as aging, well I’m wondering where are my grays.

Sure I could buy some hair dye, fashion myself a gray mane, but it seems like it’s cheating.

The Dying Bunch

Why is it we shun aging so avidly? We avoid displaying our laugh lines! We don’t like to mention our age. Is it our fear of the inevitable? The destination of life that’s common to us all? Or, like me, are you concerned that maybe you’ll get to 50, 60 and still not have a gray to show for yourself.

So needless to say I’ll continue inspecting and rejoice when I’m finally granted my crown of splendour! The gray silvery mane atop the aging head with the increasing laugh lines.

Sex Attention

Sex sells … but is it selling us short?

We all play different roles in life and one of mine is dad to a seven year old daughter. At this age she is still innocent and currently unaware of the sex driven culture that awaits her. That said, she is already watching music videos, keen to hear the latest pop songs and wanting to fit in with friends and the social norms – I can’t help but wonder where it is all heading.

Mal Feebrey of ONE80TC tweeted to look out for a documentary called DreamWorlds 3. The YouTube link points to the first of seven parts that make up this fascinating insight into the music video culture and more broadly its impact on society.

sex sells

I’d never considered the ramifications of this barrage of images until I recently listened to a podcast series by Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church called New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating. Though introduced as a series for singles the themes apply equally to married couples or those already in a relationship. I would encourage everyone to give it a go.

Another great podcast that addresses this is part 4 of a series by Robert Morris, called The Purity Test.

DreamWorlds 3

The DreamWorlds series starts with a great opening scene from Video Killed the Radio Star, the first music video ever shown by MTV in 1981 (a personal fave when I was growing up).

MTV, Rage and the Saturday morning video shows were all part of my culture, and doubtless part of many others through to today. What I hadn’t appreciated was the influence, the stereotypes and the behavioral attitudes that were being embedded into my psyche.

What started as relatively inane references to music and sex has become so tightly linked that unless they are completely entwined then a female artists music just won’t sell.

Think about it, how many women break into the pop culture without showing off a lithe body and supporting female crew?

Regardless of talent, song writing ability.

Sure there will be exceptions, but isn’t that the point … it’s an exception.

The Fuel of Desire

Another video, War Zone, shows the simple act of walking down the street becomes a dash for survival. That may sound overly dramatic but only if you’re male!

Having been part of the fuel I am slowly watching my daughter enter the fire.

It concerns me that in but a few years my daughter’s wonderful childish character, her whole being, will be reduced to but a few body parts. That I, as a male, have supported this cultural behaviour.

A Cultural Shift

So how do we shift our culture? How do we redefine the rules? How do we raise not only our daughters but our sons to appreciate women for their their whole self not just the external features? That music videos, references to women as hoes, whores and property isn’t acceptable? How do we truly achieve equality?

Women’s suffrage earned women the right to vote and run for office. What movement will earn women the right to respect? The right not to be treated as commodities?

Having traveled so far from the commoditisation of humanity in the last century it pains me to see us so rapidly dehumanising women in such a short space of time.