Tag Archives: church sign of the week

Actions Speak Louder Than Like Buttons

It’s not so much a blog this week as a rant!

Like most people on Facebook I like people to ‘like’ my posts. It doesn’t destroy my life and equilibrium if I don’t get loads of ‘likes’, nor does it make my life better if I do but it is nice to see how many appreciate what I post.

BUT

(Did you see the big but there?) But, like the title says, actions speak louder than like buttons. We can press ‘like’ 1000 times on posts similar to the ones below but if we do nothing about it then we have wasted our time and energy.

As of 9am 6 people have liked this picture…

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And that’s great. I know most of them and I also know they will try and live out what it says.

4 people have pressed on this one…

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And I just posted this…

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All I want to say is

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN LIKE BUTTONS

Don’t just press it – live it!

Rant over.

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Let’s fight poverty not poor people

To all our politicians,

Let’s fight poverty not poor people.

My colleague came up with a great update to a parable of Jesus –

There was once a man who had a wide, brown country. In the 1850’s he threw open its doors and invited people to come in and share in the good gold there was. In the 1960’s he again threw open the doors and invited people from all over Europe to come and settle in this lucky country. In the 2010’s many more people came to that land, mostly by boat, and those who were there already said, “We’ve been here for years and these new comers want the same things as us, it’s just not fair.”

And the Traditional owners of that land just shook their heads.

I don’t think our Prime Minister has sung the second verse of our national anthem. I had to learn it for my citizenship ceremony, the government made me. Maybe he should take a little time to familiarise himself with it and then sing it to all his little politician friends instead of making up silly laws that go against the human spirit let alone human rights.

Mr. Rudd it goes like this –

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Now Mr. Rudd, may I politely suggest you sing lines 5 & 6 again –

For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share.

Unless I’m reading it wrong, there is no mention of Papua New Guinea. Not a hint of detention camps. Those boundless plains are Australian soil and i’m pretty sure they have room for a few Asylum Seekers.

Now before you go and label me naive or a soft, lefty, liberal do-gooder who doesn’t know what’s going on in the world let me say I know that not everyone who tries to get here by boat is a genuine political refugee. Some are just people looking to find a better life for themselves and their families, and if that is a crime then most of us who have immigrated here should be shipped over to P.N.G. and locked up.

Many of them, though, are genuinely seeking political asylum and as a welcome they get shipped off to P.N.G. and treated like prisoners.

The rest of the world is branding Australia as racist; the United Nations are saying we are in breech of many and various conventions on Human Rights; many Australians think we are just being selfish and are pretty sure the government can find a better way to spend $1.1 billion.

As many people see it, me included, the problem is not solely the Asylum Seekers. They are just people seeking to better themselves, economically or politically. We should be asking ourselves why do they want to come here?

Why? Because we have a better life. 100’s, if not 1000’s, of them are willing to pay all they have to known people smugglers and risk their very lives for the chance of settling on our ‘boundless plains”.

Why? To escape poverty and helplessness. To try and give their families some hope for the future. If we want to do something we should be trying to tackle the reasons for the boats not the boats themselves.

Instead of spending millions on new or expanded camps funnel those funds into international aid or overseas development – give people a reason to stay, a hope for their future. Then, maybe, the boats will go from here to there and we’ll see how they treat us.

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The Royal Baby!!!!

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Have you seen the fuss? Lucky you weren’t living in the U.K. It’s wall to wall there. They have only had 2 news stories for the past week – the Ashes and the Royal baby.

For obvious reasons we’ll ignore the Ashes but we can’t ignore H.R.H. baby George. He’s barely a few days old and already his life is mapped out for him. Which schools, which college, which regiment. I wouldn’t be surprised that in a cupboard somewhere dark, where nobody will stumble across it by accident, is the order of service for his state funeral. He is one special child.

But lets not forget that’s what he is – a child. 1000’s of children have been born this week and to most of those new parents their child is a prince or princess, the very centre of the world. William and Kate are experiencing what a lot of new parents are going through, the joys and the worries. The adjustment to life looking after a new little person.

Every child is special, every person is special. As we grow up and grow older we forget that. All those people we see walking past us everyday in the street or on the tram is special is someone, they have something that makes them laugh and something else that makes them cry. They have hopes and dreams, they won’t be the same as yours but they have them.

This week let’s try and make an effort to remember that everyone is special and treat them that way. Look at them as Jesus does, with eyes full of compassion and love, and treat them as “fellow passengers to the grave and not another race of people bound on other journeys” as Dickens put it.

And as we wish William and Kate and H.R.H. baby George every blessing, we do to all the other new parents of children born this week. God bless them all.

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160!

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The Melbourne Welsh Church is 160!!!!

So all I want to do this week is say a few thank yous.

Firstly to God. For all the blessings he has given to this church over the past 160 years and for the privilege of preaching and living out the Gospel in the heart of Melbourne, and also for the promise of his future love and grace.

To all those visionaries of 160 years ago who decided to open the church and who worked so hard to see the idea fulfilled.

To those who have worked, and still work, tirelessly for God’s cause here in so many ways, both big and small.

And to those who have worshipped God and found the love of Jesus in our little building.

I say thank you and God bless you.

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Judge less, love more. #Gospel

And so I bring up the same theme again….

Why?

Because so many people don’t get it!

Take a look at the pictures below – when you look at them ask yourself what you see.

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Let me tell you what I think God sees…

Picture 1 God sees a person whom he loves and wants the best for

Picture 2 God sees a person whom he loves and wants the best for

Picture 3 God sees a person whom he loves and wants the best for

Picture 4 God sees a person whom he loves and wants the best for

Picture 5 God sees a person whom he loves and wants the best for

Picture 6 God sees a person whom he loves and wants the best for

Picture 7 God sees people whom he loves and wants the best for

So what did you see?

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Knowledge and wisdom

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

I love silly bits of trivia like this. I collect them, write them down, read them and laugh time and time again. I’m easily pleased.

This one makes me think though – knowledge and wisdom are two very different things and I think that I’d rather have wisdom than knowledge.

For example – there are people who know the rules of competition ball room dancing and take part enthusiastically, then there are those who know the rules of competition ball room dancing and are wise enough not too!

The Bible is full of little pearls of wisdom –

Ecclesiastes tells us – A living dog is better than a dead lion.

Proverbs reminds us – Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?

And – If you find honey, eat just enough-too much of it, and you will vomit.

There are loads more – what gets me is that there are so many Christians that don’t get the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

The Bible makes it very clear, time and time again, that wisdom is a very precious thing. If you read this blog regularly then you know I’m not one for quoting endless Bible verses but here’s just one to show my point – Proverbs 16:16 “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”

I know how to build a bookcase, with doors that open automatically and a working light. I read the instructions online. I’ve got a list of everything I need from the wood to the motors. I have absolutely no intention of building it. It would be terrible, I couldn’t do it! Even with all the tools and time a plenty I would mess it up. I’m wise enough to know that.

So why do so many Christians, who really know their Bible, not have the wisdom to see what it says. Not long ago I heard a ‘famous’ (we’ll use that term lightly, he’s someone the media goes to to get a scandalous quote) Christian say that the Bible says that God hates Australia because of all the Asians living here. So, if I understand that statement correctly, God hates Australia and Asians and told us this, in the Scriptures, way before Asia or Australia were discovered. So for millennia there was a passage in the Bible that mentioned Asia and Australia and nobody knew what it was talking about. That’s also about half the people living in the world God created and he hates them, it’s also most of the pubs and eating establishments in London! He’s quite selective this God of his. I don’t want to follow him – to me that’s the wisest course.

And then I read what the God I follow says is wisdom – James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.

Not a mention of hatred of Australians or anyone else.

So knowledge of the Bible is one thing

And the wisdom to understand it is something else.

I pray for both.

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Australians : the comeback champions?

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This guy, nice guy, quite popular, he dies. All his friends are upset. He’s gone but never quite forgotten – not long later he makes a miraculous comeback. In church that’s the story of Lazarus, in politics it’s Kevin Rudd.

There is another story – these men, tired, from all the running are finally found in a field. Certain defeat looms before them, then their captain looks around and says, “Do nit be afraid. There are more with us than against us” as an army of loyal supports appears.

In the Bible that’s the story of Elisha in 2 Kings 6, in sport it’s Queensland taking the State Of Origin field in Brisbane last night.

Last one – a warning to the British and Irish Lions from the prophet Micah

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.”

Watch out for Kurtley Beale!

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Yes Jesus loves them!

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The hardest thing about following Jesus is loving the ones he loves.

We all have them, at work, at school, in our circle of extended acquaintances – those people we just can’t get on with. There is usually no real reason for it, just a sort of a ‘like’ block – you just don’t like them and they (usually) don’t like you. It’s no one’s fault, it’s not a result of a fight or argument, it’s what people call a ‘personality clash.’ You can still be polite but you just can’t bring yourself to like them.

But you’ve got to love them.

Racism is something I have never understood. I really can’t make out why the colour of your skin can make you more or less worthy, more or less a person. It’s something I just don’t get. Maybe it’s my upbringing (although in a small town in North Wales in the 70’s they weren’t many people who didn’t have my skin colour), maybe it’s the people I’ve met along the road, I don’t know but I just don’t understand the racist mind. I would go as far as to say I hate racism. I hate what racists stand for, what they believe, their narrow minded view of humanity. I want to hate the racists too.

But I’ve got to love them.

Pedophiles! To quote most of society – they are the scum of the earth. Especially the ones the trawl for and then train young children. The very thought abhors me. Our justice system cannot be too harsh on them – there is NO justification for what they do and I hate the thought of even one free to continue their evil ways.

But I’ve got to love them.

Westboro Baptist Church, The ACL and various other bigots. I hate what they stand for, I hate the fact they use the name of Jesus to justify all their very unChristlike behaviour. I hate that they have influenced the media so much that most people think that every Christian is just as bigoted and hate filled as they are. As institutions I loathe them – but the individuals that make up those institutions –

Well, I’ve got to love them.

By now you’re getting the idea I hope. It may be a difficult concept but you should be catching on –

Murderers – hate what they do – but I’ve got to love them

Wife beaters – hate what they do – but I’ve got to love them

Most politicians – as shallow as a dried up pond – but I’ve got to love them

Homophobes – all people are different, get over it – I’ve got to love them

English rugby fans – I don’t hate them but they are a bunch of misguided, self righteous, know it alls – but I’ve got to love them

I could make the list a very long one and after each category I would have to put – but I’ve got to love them.

This is what makes following Jesus so hard. It is not an easy option, it does not make you a soft person. It is one of the most difficult things imaginable – Jesus calls us to love the people that every fibre in our being is telling us to hate. Those that we consider the lowest of the low – there we are called to love. Those who hold the complete opposite views to us – we are called to love. Those who would use terrorism to wipe out what we believe in and stand for – we are called to love.

They are all children of God, they are all loved and valued by him. We may not see their worth but he does. If one person counts, then everybody counts!

It may be hard for us to understand and even harder for us to do but we are called to love everyone.

And loving them means we should try and show them what it means to be a follower of Christ – that they, who ever they are, have value and worth. That Christ died for them as much as for us and that they, too, can be accepted. We may not like what they stand for, or what they do but we should love them, selflessly, as Christ does.

Oh, following Christ is far harder than not following him. Jesus is not selective – he loves everyone.

Now I take strength in the fact that Jesus never said we have to like everyone, just love them. That I can try to do….

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Accordions

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Accordion to a recent survey, replacing words with the names of musical instruments often goes undetected.

(Ignore the spelling mistake – the perpetrator has been punished!)

Did you see the error in the sign? (Not the spelling mistake.) Did you notice the musical instrument? Read it again – did you see it this time?

If you missed it how many other things do you miss every day? Things that are familiar or unwanted become almost invisible to us.

Years ago, when I was a minister in Wales I dressed as a homeless guy and sat in front of the church on a Sunday morning. I made exactly £1.27 in the hour before worship, most of it from people who didn’t go into church. NO ONE who went into the service spared one moment for the homeless guy outside the gates of their church. I was totally invisible – the accordion in our sign.

The accordion is a great metaphor for the lost of society. There are very few people who like the accordion as an instrument and even played well it is not a glamorous one. You are not going to impress the girl next door by saying, “I pay the accordion, you know.” The accordion is best left alone…see what I mean?

Do we see the big issue seller on the streets of the city? The homeless person sitting outside the library? The person with a disability on the train? Do we remember the hidden asylum seekers in the camps? Our world is full of accordions – and it was these people that Jesus showed are the most important. He spoke to lepers (unheard of in his time), he dined with tax collectors and ‘sinners’ (simply just not done), he spent his time with prostitutes (and not in the way everybody else did) and walked with outcasts, the lowest of the low. The individuals most people miss are the ones Jesus made a beeline for – the accordions.

As Christian people, well, just as people we should take more notice of those around us and think of the accordions in the world.

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Jesus is a Melbourne Rebel

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Jesus was always a rebel.

Today he is a Melbourne Rebel.

It’s hard for us to understand just how much of a rebel this man from Nazareth truly was. His message was so revolutionary that he was killed because of it. In a time when there was segregation at every turn, Jesus accepted everyone. In a place where women were seen as processions, he treated them as equals. To those who were shunned by society and the church of the day he went to dinner, shared a drink and enjoyed their company. He took the norms of society, upended them and showed what true love of humanity is. He spoke out about oppression, injustice and freedom.

We have nothing to compare him to – he was more of an activist than Bono or Sir Bob. More concerned with the state of humanity than Mandela or Tutu. More radical than Lady Gaga and more than a rebel than anyone I can think of.

Jesus was a true rebel! He was unique – he was special.

Now as we are talking of special – let me tell you about a group of special rugby players. Once every 12 years there comes a special tour, the Lions come to Australia.

The British and Irish Lions arrive and, for those of us who love rugby, it is the most exciting of tours. The best players of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the odd one or two from England join together and take on the ‘provincial’ teams from around Australia and then the might of the Wallabies.

This week the Lions play the Melbourne Rebels. It is, without doubt, the biggest game in the short history of the Rebels, a chance to face the greatest touring team that only visits once or maybe twice in any players career. The Melbourne Rebels are so far the underdogs that it is impossible to imagine an scenario where they can beat the Lions.

Now I read in the Bible that Jesus was always for the underdogs of society. Therefore, I say, today Jesus is a Melbourne Rebel!

So, as he is everywhere, he and I will go to the game and cheer on the Rebels. We will watch them lose (he tends not to do miracles in sport and he did help Brisbane over the weekend it seems) and we will enjoy the spectacular game.

Jesus the rebel will watch the Melbourne Rebels and then ask us to be as rebellious as him. Love the unloved and unlovely, see all as equals and work for a better and fairer world for all.

True rebels!

In the same way we cheer on our rebels at AAMI – listen for his voice when we show loyalty to his rebellion –

“C’mon Rebels!”

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