Thanks be to God…

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship … they came to Philip … with a request, “Sir,” they said, “we would see Jesus.”’
John 12:20, 21

The world was looking for Jesus; a larger crowd than the disciples ever imagined.

wheatfield
Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds…

 

… The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.” John 12:23-26

 

classic loaves and fish
Later, when Paul wrote about resources for service he used Jesus’ imagery of planting and harvest; for disciples of Jesus in any time or place this applies
to the whole of life not just possessions.


‘Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously… And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness….Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.’

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

plate of bread and fish

 

Whether it is the offering of a few loaves and fish or the offering of a life the miracle is always the work of Jesus who is, alone, the indescribable gift of God, the bread of life for all who believe in Him.

after obedience…

Utmost
First published in 1927, ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ has been a staple of daily readings for Christians ever since. Sometimes challenging to cherished theological views it is always, at least in my experience, equally challenging to cherished sins and struggling disciples. 

Here is July 28th’s reading (with empasis added),
‘After obedience-what?’.

‘We are apt to imagine that if Jesus Christ constrains us, and we obey him, He will lead us to great success. We must never put our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end.

What is my dream of God’s purpose? His purpose is that I depend on him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process-that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.

God’s training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience. What men call training and preparation, God calls the end.

God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present; but if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.’

From Oswald Chambers, ‘My Utmost for His Highest’

lost for words…

NYT Crossword Doco

‘Wordplay’ is a  2006  documentary directed by Patrick Creadon.
It focuses on the world of crossword puzzles: those that construct them, those that love to solve them, those that compete in the annual Crossword competition in Stamford and also on Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword since the early 1990s. Shortz actually has a university degree in games and organized the first crossword championship in 1978.  I recommend it.

 

 
It’s not just the dawning of the digital age that will spell the death of print media!

My world was shaken earlier this week when the publishers of Brisbane’s ‘Courier Mail’ newspaper made at least two incredibly poor decisions. First, they meddled with my crosswords, then they tampered with my comics; madness!

I might cope with the cuckoos in the crossword nest eventually though I have my doubts.

Blondie3
But the comics?
Come on fellas!
You are supposed to be literary men but you can’t find a place for Blondie and Dagwood?

 

C and H Calvinball


At least you have left the best!

Calvin and Hobbes may just help me cope; they know what it’s like to live at odds with a hostile world!

 

 

Phantom

As far as I can see the only winners in this whole schmozzle are the dwindling few, the greying legion, the denizens of fast-approaching dotage; the ‘Phans’ of ‘The Ghost Who Walks’ -The Phantom! Now they may follow in his jungle tracks daily AND  enjoy a retracing of all his spectral steps, in colour, at the weekend!

Glenn Barrett, how did you manage this one?

Mysterious discipleship…

living sacrifice‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’ Romans 12:1

God accepts living sacrifices and transforms them into disciples for his Son.

 

When we look at that boy whose lunch Jesus made sufficient to feed a crowd it is not the boy, but his lunch that is most significant; without his lunch the boy was just another hungry mouth to feed. Jesus is life for the crowd, broken and sufficient, a miracle.
That it pleases him to be offered in his disciples is a mystery.

It’s tempting to see ourselves in that boy and suggest that we ought to offer ourselves to Jesus for his use in meeting the need of the crowd, so that he will take our meager resources and multiply them, making them sufficient for his purposes; but our life is his life, our gifts are his gifts, the fruit of his spirit at work in us and there is nothing meager about them.

plate of bread and fishJust as Jesus knew the miracle that was waiting to be revealed in bread and fish he knows the miracle that is waiting to be revealed in us. Just as he received the bread and fish he will receive us and reveal the miracle inside; himself.

In Romans,Paul appeals to us that by the mercies of God we will present our bodies, to God, as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable; he says that this is our spiritual worship.

We shouldn’t mystify this too much.

When the willingness is there, we will find that Jesus is waiting, that he already has in mind what he will do with us just as he already knew what he would do with that bread and fish.

When, in quiet, simple, even wordless prayer, we give ourselves up to him, he is ready to give thanks for us and to make us useful in offering him to the crowd.

This is worship. We worship him in all our distractions and trials, tests and failures, joy and pain, with acts of humble service. There is no worship without discipleship.

…bread and fish?…again?

classic loaves and fish
When Jesus was about to use one boy’s lunch to feed five thousand hungry Galileans, one of his disciples, Andrew, skeptically asked, ‘What good are these amongst so many?’

 

 

When we fret over our resources for discipleship we must remember two things.

  • First, that Jesus himself is the bread of life, broken and multiplied for our crowd.
  • Second, that Jesus himself lives in us equipping us to share him with our crowd.

What about our feelings of inadequacy as disciples?

Certainly it is not Jesus who is inadequate, regardless of the world’s doubtful looks.

The crowd heard Jesus claiming to be this bread from heaven and they asked, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know. How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven?’ John 6:42

What seemed inadequate turned out to be the stuff that miracles were made of.

Life comes in plain baskets. 
Life comes in a carpenter’s son from Nazareth.
Life comes in a man dying the death of a criminal, broken on a cross.
Life comes in us. 

When anyone looks at bread and fish, who sees a miracle but Jesus?

It is a miracle that Jesus still sees today.

shiny jarsRemember, Paul wrote that God loves to use the weak things of the world to spread the good news about Jesus because it means that people come to put their faith in the power and love of God, rather than in the ones who present him to them.

 

“He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God; that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:28-30

Are you discouraged in your discipleship, feeling inadequate, ready to give up?

Maybe that boy appreciated his lunch but what if he had thrown it away? What if he thought it was not worth the effort; a poor lunch, not what he wanted? What if, in a tantrum, he fed it to the birds, or quietly buried it?

What if he had known when he set out from home that day that he carried a miracle?

No disciple is adequate except for this, that we carry Jesus with us every day.

‘…but He is not…’

UtmostFirst published in 1927, ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ has been a staple of daily readings for Christians ever since. Sometimes challenging to cherished theological views it is always, at least in my experience, equally challenging to cherished sins and doubts about the goodness of God. 

Here are some excerpts from July 16th’s reading titled,
‘The Notion of Divine Control’.

 

‘How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?’ Matthew 7:11  ‘Jesus is laying down rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit. By the simple argument of these verses He urges us to keep our minds filled with the notion of God’s control behind everything, which means that the disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek…there are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him.

God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not;
He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not;
He will appear like an unjust judge; but He is not.

Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things strong and growing.
 
Nothing happens in any particular unless God’s will is behind it, therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.

Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. ‘Ask, and it shall be given you.’

Blind squirrels…and cricket selectors…

‘Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.’

Whichever great American delivered this rare insight to the world we can be pretty sure he didn’t have Australia’s cricket selectors in mind; I doubt that he knew them.

AgarAs an outsider looking in (but aren’t we all?) he could be excused for thinking that the brilliant, unexpected, batting success of Ashton Agar for Australia in the First Cricket Test against England at Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire is just one more piece of evidence in support of his conclusion about blind luck (not Ashton’s, the selectors’).

You can find out eleven things you may not know about Ashton Agar here  

I am guessing that the selectors knew at least some of this before they chose Ash (surely they didn’t just pick him on the basis of his name?) to become Australia’s 434th Test player.

I should come clean regarding my prejudice against one of the selectors, the chairman (if indeed this is still the title; one thing Australian Cricket appears to be good at is word games).

John_Inverarity_001I am a 60 year old QUEENSLANDER and still get the shakes when I hear or see anything remotely to do with John Inverarity; a legacy of his seeming ability to always score centuries for Western Australia against QUEENSLAND. Can’t find the stats but I am sure it could not have been as many as I recall.

 

Andy BichelOn the other hand, his co-selector, Andy Bichel, is one of my all-time favourite Australian and QUEENSLAND players so I guess it balances out.

 

 

Rod_Marsh_2012_006Rod Marsh, also on the panel, played for Western Australia too but as he proved an effective stopper for Dennis Lillee’s pace bowling at Test level he deserves some leeway I suppose; he must know something about the game.

 

 

BoofAnd Darren Lehmann, new national coach (finally) at least batted like we all wish any Australian would (aggressively) and proved by coaching QUEENSLAND with success that he should be heard, I suppose, when it comes to selection matters (time will tell how long Darren’s memory is when it comes time to replace Brad Haddin).

 

At any rate; thanks John, Andy, Rod and ‘Boof’ for your brilliant selection of Ashton Agar and for your part in, blindly or not, providing one of my most enjoyable experiences as a (sometimes reluctant) supporter of Australian cricket.

Go QUEENSLAND!   State of Origin Three, the Decider; Wednesday 17th July 2013!