Saturday, November 28, 2009
Well, the Salvos are in the thick of the fight this weekend.
As we gather to celebrate a hero (General Eva Burrows) and commission some fresh warriors to the front we are also taking a stand at the largest Sexpo in Australia (70,000 people expected) and get this, they are simply in the venue next door!
There's been alot of media interest and a lot of colourful, online chatter about our venture. And, to be honest - I understand the tension.
I'm not a fan of the sex industry. As a matter of fact I believe that the results of their efforts (whether they realise it or not) are women and children and men enslaved, exploited and diminished. Society ends up paying a huge bill - not to mention the cost to the next generation. To be so completely convinced of the evil nature of such an 'industry' makes it difficult to be present in it. Except one thing.
My participation is rooted in the belief that light belongs in the darkness. It's the same reason why we visit brothels and pubs and rooming houses and dark alleys and houses condemned. It's the exact same reason why we take groceries to swatters and serve up soup to violent youth in the early hours of the morning. It's not to approve of their behaviour - it's to offer a way out.
I don't believe we have the luxury to stand on the sidelines and wag our disapproving fingers without getting our sleeves rolled up and dirt under our finger nails. One of the best titles Jesus has is 'friend of sinners'. He's with them. And I'm with Him - so what choice have I got? He hates sin - but he loves people... and somehow, we have to do the same.
So in the messiness and tension of this weekend, a celebration of saints and an invasion of Justice - I see Jesus. And like Joshua's vision before Jericho He isn't taking a side - He's taking over! May He be glorified and may we all be transformed through our obedience to His call. God's kingdom come.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Great article in the Age...
Today is White Ribbon Day, a perfect opportunity to ask ourselves what we can do. And the first step is to acknowledge that the poor behaviour towards women that seems so prevalent among our footy stars is a reflection of Australia's bad behaviour in general.
At least one in three Australian women at some stage experiences violence at the hands of a man. Violence outstrips obesity, smoking, drink-driving and breast cancer as the leading contributor to death, disability and illness for women in the prime of life. These women are our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our girlfriends, our colleagues and our friends. And whether we are aware of it or not, every one of us knows a woman who has suffered the appalling effects of violence.
By virtue of being raised a man in our society, most men will have contributed to the problem in some way over the years. I can think of countless times in my own life when I've laughed at sexist jokes, for example, even when I felt uncomfortable, just because I felt too small to speak up. Or when I've seen friends or colleagues disparage their partners and been too embarrassed to say anything.
I've known people who were living in situations of abuse and had no idea what to do, and consequently did very little. And I admit that at times in my life, I've behaved in ways that fell somewhere on the spectrum between insensitive and scurrilous, ways that have been hurtful to women I love, and excused that behaviour on the basis that, well, that's what men are like, and it didn't really mean anything anyway.
But it does mean something. Every time I behave that way, I am supporting the belief that men have rights and privileges greater than those of women, or that somehow men have a special place in the world that isn't shared by women. It doesn't mean that I beat my wife. But for many men, that belief is the basis of the notion that it's OK to beat your wife, that it's OK to run your partner down, or to treat women merely as objects of sex. Because those forms of abuse are all based on the notion of male power and privilege.
And it's that notion we need to change if we are ever to change the statistics. Until now, we have tended to deal with violence against women after the fact, through our police, our courts, our hospitals and women's refuges. It's a constant mop-up operation. read the rest
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
I used to run for calorie control - that's how I started. Then one day, after running for some time, my watch broke. I almost didn't bother going for the run - thinking that if I wasn't counting and comparing and adding up the calories burned that it wouldn't count.. I went anyway and somewhere on that run it happened. I started to love the run. Not just the benefits, but the actual running... I started to hear the music (you know, chariots of fire) - I started to see the scenery and fall in love with the creator - I started to pray... not contrived or a list memorized - just free form praise and thanks and vent and well, time spent with my love. It's sweet. Now, it's a discipline that drives my prayer life... so the last few months have been difficult finding a new rhythm. Today I got the clear from the doctor that I can run again... and so I did. It wasn't a full stride, olympic venture.. just a short run, studded with some walks - but it was an old friend, a healthy reminder of the way God made me and a good time with God.
Somehow, these bodies of ours are connected to our soul - for me, this is good news. And today I'm celebrating the outdoors, the sweat, the burn and the time with Jesus. Hebrews 12 is a good text to consider...
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Saw Chicago (the musical) last night. Good times.
Great music... some provocative ideas to be sure - but a fantastic parody on the shortcomings of the legal system and celebrity culture. It got me to thinking... the reality of celebrity culture eats away at equality and fair-play... most of us buy into the myth that WE are the exception - not anyone else. We are fine when we are getting special treatment but cry 'foul' when someone else receives a hand. In the end, it boils down to our sinful nature. We are inherently selfish- the only way to deal with it and the reality that makes 'un-grace' a constant companion in our culture is to repent (change our MIND, and the direction of our lives) and ask Jesus to make us new. He can. His life was a celebration of making ordinary people special - it was an extravagant display of grace... he poured it out - even on me. The last post (by U2) is a lyrical reminder of what Love has done to us, the world... opening our smallness to His greatness... giving us a way into the humungous nature of God's love...
I'm going to try and practise Grace like that today - I'm going to defy celebrity culture and recognize the divine calling of EVERY person, I'm going to try to celebrate the possible and advocate for those who have been forgotten - and, all. that. Jazz...
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Malalai Joya: The woman who will not be silenced
Enraged by Taliban oppression Malalai Joya became a women’s rights activist, and after the US-led invasion, took on the new regime as an MP. But speaking out has come at a cost. She tells Johann Hari why death threats won’t stop her exposing ugly truths about Afghanistan. read the whole story
She's got some serious guts. Speaking of women with guts - check out this australian woman who dares to challenge current consumer culture for the protection of our young girls. Here's a sample of the article challenging the sexualisation of young girls:
'[The] pre-pubescent girls in this ad ... are portrayed as music video skanks,' the mother of three writes scathingly at mamamia.com.au.
Freedman quickly explained why her blood boiled so quickly at the sight of the ad. She was in the midst of reading Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, edited by Melinda Tankard Reist. It is a sombre new look at 'how we are eroding what was once the sacred space of childhood with a bombardment of appalling imagery and sexually suggestive ideas'.
The effects of such advertising on girls is well documented. In addition to Tankard Reist's book, recent books on the subject include The Lolita Effect by M. Gigi Durham, So Sexy So Soon by Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne and What's Happening to Our Girls? Too Much, Too Soon — How Our Kids are Overstimulated, Oversold and Oversexed by Australian researcher Maggie Hamilton.
Let's work together to make a better world for our children.
Speaking of which - you may want to check out the Asia Pacific Breakthrough Summit - a rare event being held on December 2nd and 3rd to generate commitments and mobilize resources towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals 3 and 5.
To compliment and support the conference proceedings taking place indoors, we will be hosting a free outdoors public event in Federation Square on Wednesday December 2nd. The focus of this event is education and grass roots action and will link faith communities, schools and the general community in our efforts.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It is now high time to apply to the 2010 session of Saved2save Training School, starting in January 2010.
S2S can be viewed as a training resource for the front-line people, the pioneers in God’s Kingdom. We are looking for those who, beside their ordinary work, want to give their time towards building God’s Kingdom. find all the info at this website
I highly recommend it.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Amanda Hart posed for the Herald Sun who featured an article on our decision to run a stall at sexpo in Melbourne later this month. After about 6 radio interviews I'm getting the idea that it's a hot topic. If you have the time please go the Herald Sun article and enter your opinion on their online pole about if it's appropriate for the Salvos to be present at Sexpo. Just for the record we are operating a stall at Sexpo for two reasons:
1. We want to stop human trafficking. We will be featuring Stop The Traffik and awareness and education around human traffickng for sex. What better way and to who better than sexpo to spread the word!
2. Jesus. Where people are gathering who are hungry for meaning, purpose, intimacy, love and an alternative lifestyle - what better crowd to offer the answer? Jesus is the only way to fill our empty souls... Jesus loves porn stars is a New Testament with a testimony... check it out at triple X church...
In many ways this reminds me of some Holiness debates going on these days.
The purity of holiness is not contaminated by being 'in' the world... that's where it belongs. Light belongs in the darkness... holiness is infectious and as a holy people we can enter into 'unholy' places without fear and without compromise and bring a holy Jesus with us... who can transform us from the inside out.
Years ago a drunk man stumbling into a drop in I was running in an inner city asked if the 's's' on my uniform meant 'sexy soldier'... now, I think he may have been on to something! ;-)
If you want to join our efforts we welcome any prayer support you could offer on the last weekend of November.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
20 years today that the Berlin Wall was torn down... East and West Germany were finally united after years of oppression and separation. it's incredible what has happened in history. Like the iron curtain many people found it impossible to believe that communism (at least the eastern block sort) could so suddenly collapse... read some classic escape stories here for evidence of people's desperate plea for freedom. I was privileged to be in East Germany shortly after the wall was removed - it was still very clearly a different world at the time - economics and social segregation had created it's own wall. The same was true in Russia.. again, I spent almost a year there shortly after the fall of communism.. yet the residue of communism existed still - fear, oppression, judgement, etc..
All this leads me to wonder about the residue of the enemy in our lives. We were walled in by fear, death and sin... and Jesus really knocks down that wall and invites us out and Him in... a free world... but I wonder about the marks... the scars... if we are technically free - but afraid to enter the fullness of that freedom. I want all the walls removed. Let's live in a spacious land like God promised... let the only scars remaining be the ones on His body for us. And let wholeness, freedom and peace (shalom) reign in and through us... tear down the wall.
I'm praying that a united Germany would be free from the spiritual and social walls of it's past and enter into the fullness of God's spacious and abundant life through Jesus.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
We Christians profess to have in the Gospel of Christ a mighty lever which, rightly and universally applied, would lift the entire burden of sin and misery from the shoulders (that is from the souls) of our fellow man - a total remedy for all the moral and spiritual woes of humanity. We all profess to believe this - Christians have professed to believe this for generations - and yet look at the world, look at so-called "Christian England and America." The great majority in these nations utterly ignore God, not even making a pretense of remembering Him even one day a week. And then look at the rest of the world. I have often become so depressed with this view of things that I have felt as if my heart would break. I don't know how other Christians feel, but I can truly say that "My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Thy law." (Psalm 119:136) And because it seems to me that this dispensation compared with what God intended it to be, has been, and still is, as great a failure as the one that preceded it...
just a taste of Aggressive Christianity (a book of messages from Catherine Booth - a Christian hero). read more here.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
well, I can't really get past it. I've tried to relax a bit a just enjoy the fun of melbourne cup day celebrations... but I find it an incredible source of discomfort... last year Australian's spent 217 million dollars on Cup day. 217 million dollars on cup day. two hundred and seventeen million dollars on cup day!! now, at the same time there is a boat of impoverished and very hungry indonesians off the coast of Australia and we aren't sure that we have the resources to help them. Wow. They are now embarking on a hunger strike to try and get the attention of our nation but someone obviously forgot to tell them that we are awfully busy right now... betting on horses and buying extravagant clothes and hats and drinking ourselves into oblivion - too blinded by our own excess and greed that we can't help a boatload of poor people... God help us. God help us. God help us.
If Jesus' parables are right we are in some serious trouble on the other side of eternity. God help us.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Some of the 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers onboard Australian Customs ship the Oceanic Viking have threatened to kill themselves rather than go to Indonesia.
Speaking to the ABC from a phone hidden from customs officers, the asylum seekers pleaded with Australia to give them a new home. read the rest here...
Asylum Seekers and how we receive them will remain a major justice issue in our future (and our past). Jesus once asked a question about who our neighbour is... I think these situations are opportunities to answer him. How's your hospitality these days? Ever consider hosting an asylum seeker family in your corps/church? You may be surprised to learn that The salvation Army's history is well rooted and experienced in helping migrants find new opportunities and possibilities - including community and support and new family... perhaps we could be digging that old well for new opportunities to share the love of Jesus with those in need... just thinking.