Saturday, January 17, 2009

Check It

Hey All,

I know there has not been alot said on here lately. SO, i have decided to start a new blog about issues, whatever they are which you can all comment on.
So have a look and go nuts, also tell your freinds the more comments i can get the better.



Thursday, May 08, 2008

Psalms! "In the Pits"

Psalms are great poems of people being really honest with God.
I've had to re-write a few for Uni assignments and the process of doing so can be really helpful.
Here's an almost Dr Zuess type version of one.

Psalm 80
By a poet who's "In the pits".
From a nation that's "In the pits".
A nation whose neighbours sharpen their sticks.
A nation whose God just sits there and.. What? Knits?
A nation that waits for the hits and the kicks
All they can do is sit and sit, down their in the pits.

"We're falling to bits down here in the pits!"
O God can't you hear us?

He's not listening to them.
He's not listening to us.
He's deaf to the sounds from the pits where they sit.
Is He deaf to the sounds from the pits where we sit?

The pits where we sit.
Way down all alone, all alone in the pits.
All alone?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Easter Sunday 2008

In the last 200 years we have tried to kill Jesus again.

We tried.

We thought we’d buried him.

Placed him in a tomb and rolled across the stone once more.

We had nailed him with our superior reason.

Killed off the miracles.

Scourged him with accusations of irrelevance and obscurity in a modernised, evolved world.

We fed him wine vinegar on a sponge of softened parables and fluffy teaching.

Pieced his power with science and psychology.

We were left with nothing but a cultural hang up.

A cause of war.

The germ of hate and intolerance.

The stop light to learning.

The leader of a house of hypocrites.

We thought that was the end.

We placed atheist guards with weapons of titles and status to keep watch at the stone door of Jesus' tomb. Then went to bed thinking all had finally fallen silent.

Jesus was dead.

And the Church, his body was bloodied, broken and lifeless.

At least this is what should have happened.

Since the age of reason confidently declared ‘God is Dead’. We simply assumed we would see the slow death of Jesus and his Church too.

Well thank God, we were wrong.

Like last time we failed to keep him dead.

Jesus is alive.

Christ has risen... “He has risen indeed.”

He has risen and risen and risen and will keep rising no matter how many times we try to kill him.

Death has been conquered, once and for all.

Hell has been annihilated.

Jesus lives again.

The light that shines in darkness has not gone out.

Boundless love can never replace faceless reason.

The Christian God is a resurrection God

A God of life from death.

Christ’s body, the Church will not stand down and give way. 

It cannot be defeated no matter the torture it endures.

The Church will rise again and again and again.

So the executioners scream in protest:

“What went wrong”.

They try to rally the troops once more.

They write books declaring the ‘delusion’ of the world.

They scream out appeals to reason and sense.

And frantically find formulas that state the absurdity of a creator God who cares about everyone of us. 

They scramble to try and fill a void that has only one shape.

A shape they rejected.

Yet at Easter, Christians stand united and triumphantly declare, “Jesus lives”.

We loudly and unashamedly protest that the impossible is made possible.

Miracles happen.

Life is more that a set of predicable phenomena.

Love and hope and faith exist.

They come from Jesus.

And Jesus is not dead.

And we the Church are bearers of this faith, hope and love.

The Church is not dead.

The Church is alive again.

The world senses it has.

The crowds and officials sense it has.

The disciples sense it has.

And we ask how?

Christ was not risen by the power of his disciples, but by the power of God.

In the dead of night when all Christ’s followers were lost in their own misery. 

God raised Jesus, 

death was left behind.


It was not the result of the disciples properly researched 5 year action plans.

It was not from the establishment of a fully community negotioted vision statement.

And it was not the result of a fully coherent socially relevent yet biblically founded superior theology.

God raised Jesus.

At the moment when the disciples were at their spiritually and corporately weakest.

God raised Jesus and God raised the church.

However, some of us today stand at the entrance of the empty tomb and wonder what has happened, afraid to go in.

We wander the garden in tears because of what has happened in the past. 

Tears that cloud our understanding and hope. 

Like Mary, we blindly ask even Jesus himself ‘Where is your body so that we can give you a proper burial, befitting of they great body you once were.”

We crawl at the feet of the resurrected church and see nothing but a care-taker.

We wonder where the church has gone.

It is transformed beyond all recognition.

But Jesus stands before us all very much alive, calling our name and saying:

“Why are you crying?”

“Who are you looking for?”

Let us open our eyes and see the risen Christ.

Let us hear our names and rise to meet the risen Christ.

Rise and believe.

Let us hear the resurrected church call our own names...

Then we will believe.

Then we will have faith once more.

Or, let us like Peter and the beloved disciple look deep into the empty tomb.

Let the sight of folded grave clothes and boxed up hymn books transform us.

The Church, Christ body is not dead.

We are very much alive, growing and changing, feeding the world and on the move.

Christ is risen.

They tried to kill him again.

But He is alive.

Grace and Love conquered reason and skepticism.

Hope conquered despair.

Light conquered dark.

God’s mystery conquered human understanding.

Truth and faith conquered modernity and hypocrisy.

Forgiveness conquered a hardened heart.

and humility conquered individualism.

We tried to kill Jesus once more.

But by the power of God. 

Christ is risen

He has risen indeed.

Today, like Mary in the garden, we see and hear our Lord, saying:

“Now go and tell my disciples”.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The ‘C’ of lent, Christ Crucified

6 weeks: A B C’s of lent. Attitudes, Behaviour and Christ Crucified, For this time we’ve been calling us to do something a bit more life changing than giving up iced coffee. This lent we have talked about taking off what gets in the way of God and us and asking God to dress us up in the A’ and ‘ and now C’ that would begin to look like that abundant life Jesus talked about.

This is the last week of the series, next Sunday is Easter, today is Palm Sunday. Take off our wrong image of Christ become captivated by Christ Crucified.

OS trips,

Arrival at a different city.

Nicole and me have a special ritual...

Palm Sunday is about a certain arrival into a city which is nothing like the welcome Nicole and I had in Europe!

Let me set the scene.

The time is about 30AD, the place is Jerusalem in the Middle East. Jerusalem is the big capital of Israel, the country of the Jews. Its the political, the spiritual and the cultural capital for the Jews. Their entire history as a nation, as a peoples is tied up in this city and the big focus is the Temple of this city. This is where the God of the Jews, the foundation of the Jews is worshipped and the temple is where its all at.

For the Past 3 years there has been this guy from the hillbilly North who has been wondering around with a bunch of followers doing stacks of remarkable things like healings, miracles to do with food and wine!, driving out deamons, and controlling the weather. He apparently has this amazing gift of the gab. Saying things with a boldness and cutting edge truth that no-one has ever done before. His followers seem to increase everyday and just a few days back it has been reported that this guy has actually raised someone back from the dead by merely going into his tomb and shouting ‘Wake up dude’ (‘Lazarus, get up”).

And right now this guy, with all his followers and a great crowd of people supremely interested in seeing this man they call Jesus Christ, are about enter the big capital Jerusalem. The air is thick with sweat and excitement. Anticipation of something/anything worth writing home about is in the air.

Jesus gets closer,

He orders a donkey from nearby.

The disciple put their cloaks on the beast for Jesus to ride in on.

The crowd and the noise start to swell. People are pulling of their cloaks and spreading them out in front for Jesus to walk on. Some people get the bright idea of pulling trees down and waving them about and putting them over the cloaks. Suddenly a whole stack of palm branches appear and are being waved about. The noise begins to turn from a soccer match rabble to an audible chorus of sound. The people are shouting verses from an old Psalm: “

Hosanna “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest ”. Hosanna. (God save us)

Picture of ‘Triumphant Entry”. What’s wrong with this picture?

Palms and the Maccabean Rebellion

Selucid Dynasty (Greek/Syrian) Antiochus IV in 169 and 168 BC looted the temple to finance war campaigns, and outlawed Jewish practices like circumcision and not eating bacon. Then made the temple a temple for Zeus and sacrificed a pig on the altar!

Rebellion started, guerilla warfare, laser skirmish style.

164 BCs Judas Maccabeus entered temple took it back and rededicated temple, put in some palms. Palms became an icon of the revolution. Palms were held high when they eventually took over the citadel of Jesusalem. The coins that the Jews printed after this had palms fronds.

About 100 yrs later. The Jews lost power of their city again to the romans in 63BC. Now made a Roman province and Rome (big foreign occupying power) put in their own king to look after Jerusalem. The Jews not happy again. (Eventually led to a Revolt in 66 AD which they lost badly and Rome kicked out most of the Jews and completely destroyed the temple, as predicted by Jesus).

Waving palms when Jesus entered was like saying ‘Yeah we have our next warrior King who is going to wage war against these oppressive Romans and give us back our city by force’. Waving palms was Jewish code for rattling their swords and pickaxes! Or shooting off their rifles!

So what’s wrong with this picture? The crowds have got Jesus sooo wrong! Jesus was not going to be their champion superhero to save the day and sweep out all the baddies with firebolts from his fingers. No!

Jesus was there to be crucified, to be killed without a fight as a common criminal. In just 5 days this same crowd will be calling for Jesus to be crucified. Then Jesus, the great Messiah will be killed by his own people like a common criminal, tortured to death, for the sake of the worlds sins. 3 days later, its Easter Sunday, he will conquer death and appear to his disciples, feeding them fish and teaching them about what has happened.

And the reason WAS freedom, just as the crowd wanted on that palm Sunday. But not the Mel Gibson style “freedom” where people can go back to their comfortable way of life. But an inner freedom, freedom from sin, freedom from passing blame, freedom from guilt and freedom to live in the full and wonderful radiance of God. He was bringing peace to the world, an inner peace. Not war and selfish bloodshed. Jesus was calling us to be real and honest with our greatest needs. This was far more confronting for the Jews, even more so, was the fact that this freedom and peace was going to be available for the Roman oppressors AS WELL as the Jewish special people!

Now ultimately this is far more reason to celebrate and cheer than the prospect of another bloody war!

If Jesus was a Superhero, saving us from the baddies, we are never changed by that experience on the inside, Sure our circumstances change but as a person we are the same just waiting for the next superhero to come along to save us from the next baddy. It’s really just an unuals form of running away from the real problems. Just like the Jews who waved the palms, If Jesus came to kick out Romans, how long until the next army comes in to take over? Would anyone be really transformed by that experience?

If we forget about the palms and the Superheros we are left with Christ crucified, who transforms not our circumstances but our inner most being - we are changed (as the song says) from the inside out. So instead of magically solving all our problems Christ Crucified actually forces us to confront ourselves and deal with real issues.

By dying on the cross, then coming back to life the message from Christ crucified is that when you are reborn in Christ you become a child of God. We matter!

So once this transformation begins in us we can confront ourselves honestly and not be disgusted, instead we can be full of joy and thanksgiving. Because God is changing us, transforming us, replacing our worldly attitudes, and our worldly behaviours with kingdom attitudes and kingdom behaviours.

This is what we need to be excited about on palm Sunday.

Christ entering Jerusalem was the final culmination of his exhaustive and wonderful ministry. The next week is rollercoaster ride of emotion, leading upto the eventual death on a cross and glorious resurrection. The point of Jesus entering Jerusalem is ‘Christ crucified’, giving everyone, including you and me now! peace and release. We are no longer captive to our bad choices that lead us further and further away from goodness. Captive to the sorts of Attitudes and Behaviours we wish we didn’t have. We add the ‘D’ of lent turning from captive to captivated.

Captivated by Christ Crucified.

What would it look like for us to be captivated by Christ Crucified?

4 examples:

Mary’s annointing of Jesus. She came in amoungst all these important and powerful men, knowing she’d be hissed at and riducled and called a whore, YET she still emptied her life savings of perfume onto Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair. An act of love and intimacy that Jesus said would be remembered for all time. Mary was Captivated by Christ crucified.

Paul: A man who was transformed from a legalistic arrogant murderer of Christians to become one of the most inspiring lovers of Christ, the world has known. Read this: Phillipians 3:7-10. Paul was captivated by Christ crucified.

Jacob from big week out. One message, and one message only, which he would tell to leaders and kids and anyone else who would listen. That Jesus died on te cross so that my sins could be forgiven and we can live, refreshed in Christ. This guy was not a big emotional pot of tears, and he didn’t consider himself much of a public speaker, but everytime he talked about what Christ had done for us he would almost well up with glorious praise and thanks. Jacob is captivated by Christ crucified.

Tony Eldrige: who lectures on preaching and designing worship services, but who’s favourite part of the service, the part he lives for is the bit at the end of the prayer of confession, Minister says “Through Christ crucified your sins are forgiven, Thanks be to God” “Oh yes, thanks be to God”. Tony is captivated by Christ crucified.

Be Captivated by Christ Crucified.

This is my cry for us this palm Sunday.

To imagine we are right there just outside Jerusalem with Jesus about to enter. Imagine we lay down our cloaks but we don’t grab those palms, instead we take up our crosses and stand in awe, captivated by what Jesus is about to do for us. We have the advantage of hindsight. We know what Jesus is doing. We shout out

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest ”.

So this Palm Sunday as we finish our lent series, lets all cheer Jesus for the right reasons.

The ‘C’ of lent, The Cross or Christ Crucified

For the past 4 weeks we have been looking at the ‘A, B, C’s’ of lent. We have looked at Attitudes and Behaviours, with the idea of getting naked, or discarding certain attitudes and behaviours that get in between God and us. Then putting on or dressing up with attitudes and behaviours that God calls every one of us to have, to lead a truly good and holy life.

Now we get to the last two weeks, the big C of lent. Remembering we are leading up Easter can anyone guess what the big C is?

The Cross or to be more specific “Christ Crucified”, so its probably really two C’s. This phrase comes straight from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. 1 Cor 1:23 “Christ crucified”.

Christ crucified is the crux of Christianity, its the big crucial moment of all four gospels, in fact there is about as much written in the gospels about the events of Jesus death then there is about his life. The word ‘Crux’ is from the the latin word for cross. So when we say the crux of the mater is blah-de-blah. We’re actually saying “Just as the cross is central to Christianity, so is blah-de-blah central to this project!”.

So we’re starting to get the idea that this ‘C’ of lent (Christ crucified) is pretty big and important. In fact I could say that in the ABC of lent, CC is VVIP, OK?

When we think of Jesus Christ, what image do we have? Do we think of the Jesus that Thomas met in that locked house? The resurrected Jesus who still bears the scars of his crucifiction, the nail marks in his hands, the deep gash in his side? Or do we think of another sort of Jesus? What about when we pray? Which Jesus do we like to pray to?

[Talladega Knights]

Tonight this sermon is about stripping away our nice sanitary image’s of Christ and focussing on Christ crucified,

The Christ who died and rose again but still bears the marks of his crucifiction today. This is the Christ written about by Paul, and the Christ we meet at the end of the gospels.

So why is Christ crucified so important to us?

Well, we could each do a PhD on the subject and not finish answering the question, but ask anyone who’s just finished the Nicki Gumble Alpha course and the answer is that ‘Christ died to save us from our sins’, or as the KIDMO memory verse goes from John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Even though this message is well known, as Jono told me during the week, today most of us find this message offensive.

Even though this is a message of the power of God, life for all, a message of ultimate love from God for us, a message of release from darkness into light!

(As it says in the bible reading) In the wisdom of the world it is a message of foolishness, extreme offense.

Christ crucified, the Jesus we find at Easter is to be glossed over and wrapped up in pretty, coloured foil, delivered to us by the easter bunny, consumed and forgotten about, along with delicious frozen hot cross buns, within a week.

Why is it that we want to gloss over or even completely ignore Christ crucified?

You see the message that “Christ was crucified and died to save us from our sins” implies that we are all sinners, we have all done wrong things, some scholars would say we have all done things that bring evil into the world. Phil once defined sin as acts of ‘un-love’. This is the offence, how dare someone accuse me of doing wrong!

I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing really wrong with me, apart from a bit bad luck and bad timing, ‘I’m doing ok thank you very much. Sure I may have made a few mistakes but deep down I’m good person’. In fact don’t we think this of most people?

To call someone or even our own self a sinner who needs saving seems just a tad too offensive.

Mistake. Its a funny word. Why do think we use that term ‘mistake’ when we’re really talking about sin?

To call something a mistake, is to treat as something we didn’t really mean to do, just one of those things, not really anything to do with me. We use mistake in place of choice. I think its symptomatic of a much bigger problem in the world. Which I’m going to explore now. The ‘Not My Fault’ problem.

The culture of blame where in Australian society, responsibility has been replaced with a new much more clever attitude to life: When in doubt, blame someone else and sue for compensation.” has a swag of terribly depressing stories of this type of attitude gone stupid!

Here you find stories not just about Americans but Aussies too:

eg. see other notes

This ‘Ill sue you” culture is just one example of avoiding responsibility.

People use to get upset with the idea of God being a pupperter and were the puppets, but amazingly people these days are are quite happy to admit they are "made" to do things:

by their genes,

by their parents,

by their drugs (I did not sleep with that girl, "unless of course I was drunk at the time"),

by some superior being and,

by TV,

and by other people.

Everyone, it seems, has an excuse for bad behaviour - even serial adulterers, who can exchange their guilt for pity via "sex addiction".

Why do we do it? Why are we like this?

Why do we have culture of blame?

I think there’s two things:

1) Consequence of sin

Sin doesn’t just go away, if we ignore it or try and blame someone else! Just like our rubbish, it never disappears, but can clog up other parts of the world and create dumping grounds of extreme ugliness that can be seen by satellite. There are consequences, and it will catch up with us eventually.

My high school friends (Milan and Melanie). Seriousness of sin, there are consequences, for these friends of mine it has killed their life.

Cause and Effect

When it comes to sin or if I put it ‘injustice’ everyone would have this feeling that someone ought to pay. There needs to some consequence. If someone has stolen my new iPod, someone needs to pay. It’s Newtons law of motion: cause and effect. The trouble with current culture is that most people aren’t willing to accept that consequence, hence they try and shift the blame until someone pays. Ideally that someone is big, successful, influential and rich.

The herion addict who stole the iPod, blames his parents, his parents blame the school he went to, his school blames the pub and pokies down the road for supplying kids alcohol, illegally which lead to other drug-addictions,the pub blames the government for not providing enough protection for young people, the government hires clever lawyers to pass the blame again but secretly blame America for bringing their hip-hop culture to our shores etc etc..

Trouble is this isn’t really dealing with the real issue, it just ends up spreading more lies, more deceit and creating more rubbish for the world. It’s a vicious cycle: we sin, there are consequences of that sin, we don’t want these consequences so we try and pass them onto others, using blame and compensation, this just spreads and increases the original sin. Sin begets more sin.

Eventually, By not wanting to deal with the consequences we end up becoming slaves to our sin, captives to our ever growing rubbish pile.

The bible is pretty clear on what the consequences of sin are for us. Isaiah 59:2 Sins separate us from God, Read the story of Adam and Eve somtime and see the blame that goes on their, lauhgable, and the consequences.

[Genesis: Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, God said: eat from any tree but the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat it you will surely die.

As soon as they ate, they try and cover their nakedness, Gen 3:7-13, they try and hide, then they blame others. And then God in his love and justice, doesn’t do what a weak parent would have done ‘Ohh look okay it was a bit of mistake, and it was really the serpent, so lets just pretend it didn’t happen and count that as warning 1. Okay?’. God can’t ‘pretend’ it didn’t happen when it did. The fruit was eaten and things had changed.]

Sin in the bible always changes something. [For Adam and Eve the consequence of that was banishment from the garden, and death].

2) The world doesn’t know how to handle accepting blame.

Just like the world is struggling to handle its own mountains of rubbish. We don’t know how to handle accepting something as my fault, yes it was me, I did wrong, that is my sin, I am sorry. That is offensive!

We can’t stand the idea that it is ‘my fault’. Instead of standing tall, being honest with our sins, we run away and when cornered we blame. We are too scared of what the consequences of admitting guilt might lead too.

It seems like the world has forgotten the reason for the cross. We have forgotten that Christ died for our sins so that we finally have way of dealing with the consequences and we no longer need to blame. We can finally stop running and be honest!

We have remembered the baby Jesus but by glossing over Christ crucified, we have forgotten the only way we can actually deal with the horrible feelings inside that say ‘actually, yes, that wasn’t a mistake, I chose to do that, that was me’.

Lets go back to the text in 1 Corinthians:

It talks about the Greeks looking for wisdom and the Jews demanding miracles. They were both looking for the wrong thing. They were saying:

Greeks, look Jesus you’re really clever and we’re pretty clever too, soooo lets get together and work out how we can turn our pretty good life into a really cool life!

The Jew’s were saying look we’re in a spot of bother at the moment, as these Romans have kinda come in and taken over our city and dropped poo all over our once happy way of life, what say you do a little shebang-bang higgerty piggerty and get rid of them all for us? You know Moses parting of the red sea type stuff?

Trouble is they both forgot they were talking to Christ crucified. Jesus wasn’t interested in worldly wisdom or saving the Jews from the Romans, he was concerned in saving the people from themselves, in bringing them back to God, not away from the Romans.

This passage says that both Jews and Greeks and struggled with the same things we do now. They saw themselves as essentially good people, not in need of much change. They didn’t look to Jesus for salvation from their sins, they had hardly done any, and if they had it was someone else’s fault (eg. the Romans). They were in the age of wise men and philosphers, the age of intellegence. They’d didn’t need Christ for saving their sins but for his miracles and wisdom.

It’s no different from today. We seem to think we need Jesus more for his clever ethical teaching and his miracles then we do for saying sorry to about our sins.

Part of the foolishness of the cross is it provokes us all to say “Yes, it was my fault”.

Here’s the good news!

Christians don’t have to play the game with the rest of the world.

We have a way of dealing with our big mess-ups which are our own fault. AND it doesn’t involve spreading the mess further or escaping from the truth or even a lawyer.

Christ died like a common criminal for our ‘mistakes’. Christ finally, once and for all stuck his hand up in the midst of our hypocrosy and said ‘I will’, I will take responsibility for the actions of my beloved brothers and sisters. Even as we hurled insults and whips and stones at him he said, ‘Forgive them Father for they do not know they do”.

What we now are called to do is to face up to this Jesus Christ, the Christ that was crucified, and say “Yes Lord, that was me. I did it.” We say it honestly, with humility and remorse and with full knowledge of the proper consequences of our actions.

These consequences can be seen in the marks and wounds of Jesus, just as Thomas discovered himself. Someone has to take responsibility for the rubbish. And praise God, that through the wonderful love of God, Christ in pain and suffering releases us from the weight of that responsibility.

Take seriously and honestly our sin. Talk to Christ crucified in prayer and say “I’m sorry for this big mess up” Do as the tax collector did in Luke 18 v 13. that Jesus once spoke of who stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven but beat his breast and said. “God have mercy on me a sinner”.

Then because of God’s great love for us, we are forgiven through Christ crucfied. The consequences are dealt with, our burdens are taken away and we are finally free to live the life God created us for.

But let’s remember the consequences of our sin are dealt with by Christ crucified not the baby Jesus, or the Ninja Jesus, or even the good moral yoda Jesus. Its the Jesus that died and rose again. So if we ignore this Jesus, then we’re also saying ‘Yes’ to carrying around more and more rubbish, we’re saying ‘yes’ to being trapped in the blame game and we’re saying ‘yes’ to the consequences of our own injustices. But start talking to Christ crucified and we’re saying ‘yes’ to God’s love, yes to dealing with our rubbish, and yes to bringing light and life to our world.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

so tell me

whats been hapening for all of you out there in church/blog land?
how has lent been? i am wonderin if people have really stuck to their lenten disciplines or if they have just been a bit to hard. Personally i have never given anything up for Lent, its not that i don't want to its just that i have never seen it as an important part of my spirituality. But what do others think? any comments any suggestions for me?

Monday, February 25, 2008

24.2.08 Behavior – those things we need to take off. Malvern@6

Tonight in our series of the abc’s of lent we are talking about behavior.
Remember clothes – its these behaviors that we take off. And the behaviors that we put on that really matter and its what others see. We communicate Jesus by what others see, they see our attitudes and they see our behavior.
Comes after attitudes because often our attitudes (or what we think) sets how we act. Not always but mostly.
Here are some descriptions I found on the internet of behavior as seen by employers;
· "Since my last report, this employee has reached rock-bottom and shows signs of starting to dig."
· "His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiosity."
· "I would not allow this employee to breed."
· "This associate is really not so much of a has-been, but more of a definitely won't be."
· "Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap."
· "When he opens his mouth, it seems that this is only to change whichever foot was previously in there."
· "He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle."
· "This young man has delusions of adequacy."
· "He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."
· "This employee should go far-and the sooner he starts, the better."
· "This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot."
Behavior is an indicator of what is going on inside us. It tells us what people think about a certain circumstance. So for instance when you go to a crows port match you don’t even need to see any colures all you need to do to find out who barracks for who is to watch the behavior.
Behavior is very important in our culture. We often use such phrases as unacceptable behavior, dysfunctional behavior, bad behavior, erratic behavior. If you continue in what society says is bad behavior sooner or later you are going to end up as a guest of her majesty for varying amounts of time. Society see’s behavior as a reflection of who you are.
Now when we turn our attention to the bible there is a whole lot more for us to think about. God understands that behavior is something that sets us apart and something that is important for us as followers of Jesus. The Bible then is actually very explicit with behaviors and has things that are important for us to be mindful of. The Old Testament was full of behavior requirements, so for instance the ten commandments and all the deuteronomic law and the livitical law. This told the children of Israel what God expected of them as a holy people and a people who were meant to reflect God. Now this didn’t work to well as humanity soon found out that will power alone is not enough to produce good behavior. Much of our behavior is socially set so, when the children of Israel saw other nations doing strange cultic practices they just wandered away and were easily seduced into ungodly behavior. And God wasn’t happy!
But you see something happened when Jesus came. Jesus did a work in our hearts that allowed us to have more than just will power to overcome our behavioral issues. Jesus gives us a new heart. A heart that is assisted to follow God. Now I need to talk with you about this at great length but not right now! All I need to say is that Jesus actually gives us the tools to change our behavior. No longer do we have to just rely on our will power but we are at full liberty to ask Jesus for his help. Jesus does this through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I can only tell you this because he has been doing it in mine!
When I encourage you to pray, I am not just suggesting that you should only pray for the sick people in the world or world poverty. But what I want you to do is to open your heart to the work of the Spirit and pray for yourself that you might now where the HS is wanting to change you into the image of Jesus.
And this really is the bottom line when we talk about Behavior as a Christian. Our behavior is modeled on Jesus and nothing else. In fact we must reject anything else!
Tonight I want to suggest 3 things that we need to take off. 3 overall principles that are important for us to grapple with in living with integrity and uprightness. 3 behaviors that we must deal with if we are to be a Jesus person. Now a Jesus person is someone who lives life like we are intended, they live life in the way we were made. This isn’t something that I have just made up, but something that is tried and tested by thousands of generations who have followed Jesus and who have found meaning and purpose beyond that of anyone else. This is not an easy way to live life, actually if you want an easy way then don’t follow Jesus. Do something else, wrestle a tiger or compete in a marathon or read the entire internet. Following Jesus is like what the hilltop hoods say its the hard road. And when we come to behaviors its an obvious indicator of whether you are on the hard road or not.
First let me read the important bits from psalm 1.
Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 they are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
The psalm tells us three things in the opening verse about behavior. So lets work our way through them.
The first behaviour has to do with what the bible says is “walking in the counsel of the wicked”. Now I am sure that doesn’t make much sense to you but just give it a moment, because its actually quite obvious. When you walk with someone its like you share the road with them, essentially you go the same direction as they do. So for instance your mum says do you want to go for a walk with me means literally that both of you are going in the same direction. Unless your mum says you go to the video store and I will go and get some milk, she is expecting you to go with her in the exact same direction. Try and do otherwise!
Now, if you are a follower of Jesus how can you go in the same direction as people who are not? If you follow Gods plan for your life then how can you be in harmony with someone who just wants to do their own thing all the time?
Have you ever tried to walk with a dog that has wanted to go another way? Have you ever had a dog on a lead that wants to go off all the time to the side sniffing and smelling crossing the path in front of you! What happens is that your legs become tangled up in the lead and you end up falling over!
This is what will happen to a Christian who tries to follow the same course of a non Christian.
What I am trying to communicate to you in this point relates to the direction of your life and the behaviours that are associated with that. There are forces trying to pull you towards a different way. The drag of culture on your life should not be underestimated. Culture has a huge influence on your behaviour.
We are strongly influenced by the direction of society and the trends that we see.
So immediately that tells us we cannot act and behave the same as everyone else around us. We don’t follow advice that seems right for everyone else. If you follow Jesus then you are different than the rest. Its not enough to be a nice person. Nice people don’t always walk Gods ways.
So what does this look like?
· We should not have common morals – God calls us a holy people, that means we act in a right manner, we get our morals from the new testament and not from desperate house wives or Nova – you know what I mean (maybe another day I will speak at some length on this)
· We do not have an ordinary emphasis on money.
· We treat people differently – we don’t use or abuse or manipulate, we are careful with our words.
· We eliminate the attitudes of fear, or despair or unthankfulness.
We take off the walk of the person who does not follow Jesus in order to put on the one that does. Our actions reflect who we serve and not culture.
The second thing that the psalm says to us is this” Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners

So the Psalm says that we don’t stand in the way of sinners. Again this sounds complicated. But lets thing about it like this, Not only do we not follow in the direction of everyone else but we don’t make it our habit to reside in a place where un-Christlike behaviour is endorsed. This is about the habits we foster in our lives and the people we let form those habits. Now I am not saying that we should give up our friends that don't hold to the same world view that we do. I am not saying that at all. Actually I am saying the opposite. Be with your friends, hang around them, love them support them enjoy them, go to their parties, laugh when they get drunk, and tickle their babies.
But what I do think the bible is saying is be careful of their influence in your life.
Let me illustrate it like this; when you were growing up your mum and dad would have set the agenda for your life (well mostly). So by and large you thought like they did, the things that were important to them were things that were important for you. In my upbringing books were important. Go into my office now and you will see it full of books – I love them. I love them because I was taught to love them, my parents influence rubbed off on my. The same is true for the company you keep. If you are not careful their priorities will become your priorities.
Suzie and I have been on a health kick for about 12 months; our kids have imbibed that and are now very discerning when it comes to putting things in their mouth! Its amazing the influence you have over people.
As followers of Jesus we need to analyse and be real about those influences our company have on us. We have to put off like a coat those unhelpful behaviours that come from the friends we keep. We need to stop letting their lives influence ours.
Now for some of us this means we actually need to find new friends. But for most of us we need to stop following our friends advice that leads us away from Jesus. The bible says ‘Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil for good’. In other words you are the ones who should be influencing your friends. Now again this is not something that you have do to alone. The HS give us the energy to do this and to make this happen in our lives.
The behaviour that we need to take off looks something like this;
· All our friends are watching a DVD or internet that we know is not healthy for our Christian life. We should leave.
· Our friends are involved in something dodgy.
· There is constant backstabbing and pulling down of a member of the group when they are not there.
· The group picks on one person all the time.
· The norm is to drink heavily, smoke strangely, drug stupidly and drive recklessly.
You know what I am talking about. Don’t let that behaviour pull you down, because it ends up in nowhere road. Take those practices of. By the power of the HS be the positive influence.


Finally the Bible says
Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

So the last image the bible gives us is sitting in the seat of mocker. Again we need to think about this one. I think what it means is that we don’t resign ourselves to our fate. What I suggest by that is if we have some bad behaviour in our life. Some things of which we are aware, we don’t just let them sit and ignore them.
God calls us to so much more than where we are presently – and that is true for all of us. We don’t let ourselves remain in bad behaviour. We don’t sit with it, we don’t just let it all happen around us, but we get up and do something about it. Now some might say well that’s easy for you to say Jono but it’s a bit harder for me. Well, you know each of us have our own struggle in our own particular area. But this is one area that we have to really work hard at getting off.
Behaviours that have been part of our life quickly become habits. And habits are hard to shift.
But if you want to be a mature person then you must deal with the destructive habits of your life. If you want to develop and be the person that God intended then you have got to stop making excuses and get rid of the negative behaviour that is dragging you down.
You see God does not want us to be passive but to be proactive about our spirituality! He calls us to be involved in the world and to bring about change, not to sit in a place of self pity and denial. God wants to use you with his mission but not when you have all this negative stuff going on inside of you. The things of culture and the influences of our friends can cause us to be crippled to the things of God. But God says I have given you the gift of the HS but its up to you to want to change and move and mature.
So what exactly am I talking about, well let me name some that I think are a problem;
Some of us have made a habit out of drinking that will get out of control.
Some of us need to stop thinking about ourselves so much and begin to see what other needs there are in the world.
Some of us need to get our use of language under control
Some of us need to stop making excuses about why we are what we are and get on with it.
Some of us need to stop spending on ourselves.
Some of us have to take responsibility for our own actions.
Some of us need to be consistent in our devotional life (every day) and faithful in our worship (every week)
A man walking through the forest saw a fox that had lost its legs, and he wondered how it lived. Then he saw a tiger come up with game in its mouth. The tiger ate its fill and left the rest of the meat for the fox.
The next day God fed the fox by means of the same tiger. The man began to wonder at God's greatness and said to himself, "I took shall rest in a corner with full trust in the Lord and he will provide me with all that I need."
He did this for many days but nothing happened, and he was almost at death's door when he heard a voice say, "O you who are in the path of error, open your eyes to the truth. Stop imitating the disabled fox and follow the example of the tiger."
Sometimes there are more tigers here than in the Indian jungle. Its time we got up and got going.
Let me finish by saying this.
Behaviours come at a variety of levels. But its time to get wise to their impact on our lives and to behave more like Jesus. Jesus is the right way to live life. The right way to act, the right way to be. Remember you are a child of the king, its time to throw off all those things that aren’t consistent with that.