Monks

joseph and family

Pit, Potiphar, Prison, Palace – working your way out of adversity for God’s sake

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I had the great privilege to teach a grade 2 Religious Instruction class this week on the story of Joseph (Gen 37-47).

  • How Joseph, as the favourite of his father, and the despised of his brothers, was thrown into a dried up well while his brothers decided whether to kill or sell him.
  • How following his sale to traders, Joseph was taken to Egypt (37:1-28) where he became the slave of a man named Potiphar.How in Potiphar’s service he worked so diligently that he was promoted to master of the house, before malicious lies (cue question from super intelligent grade 2: “What lies were they Mr Paul?” Reply: “Adult lies”. Question “What type of adult lies?” Reply: “Google it when you get home kids!”) resulted in his return to prison (39:1-21).
  • How despite these circumstances, Joseph took the decision to continue to serve and as the result of his heart, attitude and God’s favour, ended up in charge of the prison (39:22).
  • How in this context, he came into contact with Pharaoh’s former baker and cup bearer who were imprisoned and both had dreams which they couldn’t understand.
  • How, because of Joseph’s connectedness to God and his willingness to serve, he was able to interpret their dreams and ask them to remember him if they got out of prison. While this didn’t happen immediately, another 2 years passed with Joseph in jail, he was eventually remembered when the Pharaoh had an uninterpretable dream (41:1-36) and the cup bearer remembered Joseph.
  • How Joseph was able to explain, through God’s provision, what the dream meant to Pharaoh and outline a potential plan to deal with it’s consequences.
  • How at Joseph’s proposed plan, the Pharaoh recognised Joseph’s continued willingness to seek the common good and appointed him to this position.
  • How this enabled him to reconnect with and ultimately save his family as they came to Egypt in search of food in the midst of a famine.

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health check 2

A spiritual health check for Australia

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I recently attended a lecture by Alan Hirsch where he was outlining the work that he is doing in the USA, helping Churches shift towards becoming missional movements.

As part of his presentation he outlined that in the USA they have what he terms the 60-40 Window. What he means by this is that within the American population, 60% have no interest in connecting with the current expression of Church that is represented by 95% of Christian Churches. Consequently, while Churches strive to reach out to the 40% who might be interested, 60% of the population has been abandoned.  Read More

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Who is your Jesus and how is he shaping you?

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I was asked to do some searching this week and come up with some videos that explored the question of who is Jesus.

As I swam through the ocean of material that is the internet, I was met with a whole series of different images, ideas and suggestions. There were the obligatory random vox pops, the heavily evangelistic message clips and of course the plethora of skeptic/denier videos.

In the midst of all of this I realised, from each of the productions, that the image that was being portrayed was the product of the deeply held ideas and beliefs of their creators. Regardless of whether or not I agreed with the portrayal that had been created, this was how they saw Jesus and thought was best to communicate his life and ministry with the world. Each of these productions flowed from the worldview of the individuals putting them forward. And as I evaluated them, I realised that I too was doing the same, I was judging the worth of each insight on the basis of how I perceived Jesus.

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Don’t die daddy!

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“Daddy, don’t die today” is how every day is beginning at my house at the moment. As either my daughter, who’s 5, or I leave the house for the day. This is the mantra.

My response is pretty consistent, “I’ll do my best not to, but there’s no guarantees.”
And this is how my day began as I left the house on Monday to conduct the memorial service for a friend and colleague of mine who died, at age 40, from complications connected with her breast cancer treatment.

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Embracing love, releasing fear

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I found myself in a conversation with an older lady yesterday at work. After we’d discussed why she’d ended up in hospital, she moved the conversation onto all of the bad news, doom and gloom that is in the media at the moment. Young children accidentally run over, terrorist attacks in Sydney and now France, airplanes disappearing, being blown up or crashed by bad weather.
She expressed her fear at what was happening in the world and seeming lack of any way that these things could be combated.
I also recalled a conversation that I had with a friend of my wife’s towards the end of last year. She was travelling overseas without her family and, in light of all of the goings on around the globe had a very real sense of fear and dread about making the journey as she may never see her family again.
In a world constantly bombarded by news of the next horror or catastrophe, how are we to navigate the fear that sometimes rises within us that the next person to die could be us or our family? That our next journey might be our last?

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rose

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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pain

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

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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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summer

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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