Postcard Radio Blog

Don’t End Up Having Just Visited the World

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I had an interesting day yesterday, finding myself involved with two separate incidents, the death of a baby and a young adult.

In these moments I’m reminded of the fragility of life and the inevitability of death for all of us.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the importance of confronting death as I’ve been reading M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled and Beyond.

Quoting Senneca, Peck highlights that “Throughout the whole of life one must continue to learn to live, and what will amaze you even more, throughout life one must learn to die.” Peck suggests that this idea is about a “fearsome learning of how to consciously give up control of our lives when it’s approprariate to do so – and ultimately hand ourselves over to God.” This is the purpose of our life, championed by the inevitability of our death.

Yet our natural and ever increasing tendency as both individuals and a society, is to do everything to maintain and cling to control of our lives, resisting the opportunity to fully embrace life by denying and avoiding death.

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Wrestling With Pain

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I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a back injury but last night as I went to pick my very recently used footy clothes off the floor to deal with them appropriately, my back went.

It’s happened once before, about 2 years ago and as I felt the pain shoot through my back, the memories came flooding back of the slow, and literally painful recovery.

As my wife helped me find some drugs, heatpack and liquid medication, I just couldn’t believe that this had happened again. With a baby due in 6 weeks time and juggling work and school holidays this week, this was not part of the plan. Read More

Asking Questions

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I heard a fascinating interview this morning with Yo-yo Ma the renowned cellist, in the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett.

In the course of their conversation they found themselves discussing vulnerability and Ma made the statement that “vulnerability to weakness provides the wholeness of the world.” He suggested that our willingness to be vulnerable allows us to share fully in any given moment with another.

As they continued, Ma made the further statement that our willingness to ask questions reveals our willingness to be vulnerable and open ourselves to someone else’s stories and solutions to situations.

This made me reflect on my experience working in the “church world” over the last 20 years. More often than not, the conversations that were engaged in were the provision of answers, sometimes to questions that weren’t even being asked. Rarely were the nature of the conversations reflecting an openness and willingness to listen to and truly hear others stories and fully embrace a vulnerability that might allow us to be challenged and changed in the course of the shared moment.

I wonder how often this too is reflected in how we approach God.

We approach with the answers in mind, lacking vulnerability and a willingness to truly listen and hear alternatives from the heart of all that is. Our prayers of many words fill the air with the sound of our own voice. This draws me to Luke 18:9-14 the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. “God have mercy on me a sinner” prays the tax collector. The prayer of the truly vulnerable. The prayer of one who is truly willing to commune with the Giver of Grace and be transformed in the shared moment.

Imagine what our lives would look like if we lived into this faith? Vulnerable before God and humanity. Listening openly, willing to be changed and become the answer the world needs in flesh.

The Price of Faith

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I spoke recently at my cousin’s church youth service on a Sunday night. Being of the Uniting Church persuasion, they operate under the Common Lectionary so I found myself with the story of Jesus and the Canaanite Woman (Matt 15:21-28) to have a look at (last time I ended up with the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man! I think it might be a set up).

Do you recall the story? Jesus is out in the pagan regions and this Canaanite woman finds him and starts begging him to heal her demon possessed daughter. Jesus ignores her but this woman just won’t leave it alone and eventually the Disciples come to Jesus to complain that she is really ruining their feng shui and would Jesus just deal with her?! So Jesus tells her that he’s been sent to the lost sheep of Israel, imply here, “You’re not one of them so just go away” (that could be my occasional lack of tolerance for annoying people being imported there?). Yet she continues to beg and cry out, finally eliciting from Jesus “It’s not good to waste the children’s bread on dogs!” to which she replies seamlessly “Yes Lord; but even the dogs feed from the crumbs that fall from the Masters table.”

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Bringing in the Summer

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Much of the time when Jesus was on his preaching circuit he was telling people about “The Kingdom of Heaven.” A world of peace, love, joy, compassion, generosity, justice and so on. A world so priceless that people would sell everything to be a part of it. A world as powerful and transformational as a pinch of yeast in a pound of dough. And the good news Jesus preached was that this incredible kingdom – God’s Kingdom – is near, just around the corner, even making it’s presence known in subtle ways right now.

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Women and the Church

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I recently had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at another church, and in conversation with one of the elders afterwards (while sipping the usual Nescafé Blend 43 and eating an iced vovo) I discovered that they don’t allow women to preach. Now before I go any further, it’s worth making a very strong note that I am not going to lay out what I think on the matter in this very short article, nor give a theological treatise on the topic, nor is anything I say necessarily the perspective of PostcardRadio. My intention is just to open up the topic, so that you our intelligent readers can have the conversations, because I believe it’s an important conversation to have.

Now a few observations. First, without going into any of the details, it needs to be said that the culture in first century Palestine where the church first started is not the same as the culture of 21st Century Australia. With that in mind, the answers the New Testament church came up with to various questions (including this one) may not always fit as snugly in our world today. Whatever answers we come up with today (to any of the “how to” questions) need to reflect both the way of Jesus and the needs of our own culture. I’ll leave you to nut that one out.

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Support for Simple Churches

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I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with someone in the middle of a kids festival before. Strangely enough I’ve found myself in this situation quite a few times – twice even in the last week. The first time wasn’t planned though. It was meant to be a relaxing conversation with a friend at the peaceful Powerhouse cafe overlooking the Brisbane River. Turned out the Powerhouse was in the middle of their big school holiday festival. Look out for it next time if you’ve got primary-aged kids. Give it a miss if you want a quiet conversation. And maybe check the weather too, like we didn’t.

Still, in between dodging little kids with gluey hands and trying to stop the rain from diluting our cappuccinos, we managed to have a conversation worthy of the cheerleader tag. The gentleman I met with has been involved in starting a simple church group over the last year or so. When I say “simple church” I mean it doesn’t have organised services or paid staff. It’s a small group of people who are keen to follow Jesus and are flexible in how that might look for them. Actually, sometimes I wonder if “simple” might be a bit misleading. My church lately has been having quite a few of our Jesus conversations in amongst rain and gluey kids.

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Defining “missional”

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How would you define “missional”?  I would identify 3 characteristics which, combined, indicates that a person or a community is being missional.

Missional is Incarnational.  To be incarnational is to spend time with “sinners” (Luke 5:29 – 32 and 15:1); Jesus was present on a regular basis with people who needed God’s grace and love.  To be missional means taking the time to sit down with those who do not yet know God, to be involved in their lives, to participate in their activities, and to earn the right to share one’s own experience of life lived by faith in Jesus. To be missional takes time! Read More

Dancing with the Future

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I recently had a long conversation in my backyard with a bunch of my neighbours about how they ended up in the careers that they are currently in.

One guy told a vivid story about how he stumbled into a job straight out of school and had basically learned his trade on the job.  He worked away in the same job until something unusual would happen.  His boss would walk in and offer him a job in another city, or his company got bought out by another one and he got a redundancy, or even his wife wanted to move country and so he was forced to make a change.  In short he extolled the virtue of ‘taking life as it comes’, a sort of ‘wait for life to happen to you’ philosophy. Read More