Some Labels Are Hard To Get Completely Rid Of!

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Are you stuck with a label or two?

What are they?

How do you feel about them?

What do they say about you? What do they say about how you are perceived by some others? What does this say about the people who keep it on you?

What could you do about the labels?

Will you?

What habit will you develop for managing your labels?

Reflect on God and labels.

What Bible verses speak to you about labels?

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Human Disobedience              Read Genesis 3

..That’s not true. You will not die. God said that because when you eat it, God knows you’ll become like God yourself.

There’s always someone who knows better than God.

There’s always some one that wants to play God.

There’s always someone who thinks they don’t need to follow God’s advice.

There’s always someone who thinks that this must apply to someone else but not them.

Reflect. Consider. Pray. Respond – do a creative response or illustration of your own to say something about the Genesis 3 story. Then reflect on your image/creative response and listen to what the Spirit says to you.

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Psalm 13, Prayer and God’s Timetable.

Expect delays 1 side

Psalm 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, etc   Prayer.

God has God’s own timetable. But God can be flexible!

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Rotten Fruit of the Humans. When the Fruit of the Spirit is Spoiled.

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Galatians 5 v 22 But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these.

The fruit of the Spirit can spoil.

It’s rotten, when humans engage in spiritual abuse in the name of the Church, or worse, in the name of God.  Love turns to hate then. Joy becomes despair. Patience is replaced with frustration. Kindness is used intentionally as a manipulative tool to trick people in to giving you what you want. Goodness is gone and evil prevails. Faithfulness is just a vague and shunned memory. Humility, of course, is stomped on by pride. And self control is shoved aside to appease our human desires. Have you seen it? The rotten fruit?

Rotten Fruit. I wonder. Is that like pedophile priests?

Is it like when the church pretends it didn’t protect pedophile priests, pretends it didn’t keep giving them appointments in churches where they would have access to young people, pretends they supported the victims when they didn’t? Rotten fruit. Jesus wept.

Same goes for the Education Department, Scouts, Police Force etc back in the day of course. Lots of Rotten Fruit.

I wonder, is it like when people pretend the church or the government were solely responsible for the stolen generations, when the truth might be that the masses of the day were in favour of the approach? Focus the guilt elsewhere, rather than own our share of it? Convenient dishonesty and passing the buck? You know, Adam told God that Eve made him do it.

Is it like when powerful lay people or ministers in the church terrorize, control, manipulate, bully and dominate the people. And also when they are allowed to get away with it for years. The same applies for the volunteers or leaders in any organisation or collection of people where there is a disempowerment of others, for that matter. Rotten fruit.

Is it like when we advocate for justice in big social issues on the world stage, because that makes us look cool and meanwhile we ignore the hard, real, bad stuff in our own back yard, or our own lives. Pretentious righteousness? Rotten fruit?

Is it like when we have worship leaders who act like they are rock stars and develop a huge fan base ? Is it like when we say we value young people in the church and want them there, but don’t invest prayer, time, relationships, ministry and money in them? Is it like when we decide we can’t afford ministry staff because we have to pay off the loan on the building project which was going to be a multi-functional building that would be great for worship and great for the local community to use, except we never actually invited the community to use it?

And as individual Christians, is it like when we think, giving in is being kind? Or when we manipulate love to get sex? Or when we mistake happiness for Joy and get mad at God because God hasn’t delivered? Is it like when we can’t experience peace and we have no patience because we always want more and more and we want it right now! Maybe it’s like when we act like morals and character are kind of old style discipleship things that don’t apply any more and we try to do the works of Christ with out doing the work of being like Christ ?

Rotten fruit! Where are you seeing it?

Is it like when I act all high and mighty, like I probably am right now, thinking I am being prophetic, finding fault all around me, with others, but not removing the log in my own eye?  I don’t know! I can’t even tell! I can’t see it!

Maybe what is called for, is for me to get on my knees and beg God to have mercy on me for I am a sinner.

Come kneel with me if you need to.

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The Pot of Grief and the Hot Truth of Death

The Pot of Grief and the Hot Truth of Death

A friend has died.

We dip the cup of suffering into the deep well of who we are.

We draw out some of our selves and commit it to the Pot of Grief.

The Hot Truth of Death is before us.

Our friend has died.

One day, it will be our turn.

We are all going to die.

As the Pot of Grief connects and rests on this Hot Truth, emotions and wonderings swirl around, tumbling over each other, taking turns to bubble to the surface.

Anger, denial, sadness, regrets, fears, shame,  happy memories, appreciation, compensations, acceptance, faith, the hope of heaven, the confusion of a loving God in the midst of a horrible death, anger, denial, the comfort of a loving God who is with us whatever we go through, acceptance, sadness, round and round.

We dip the cup and draw from the boiling pot, and drink the heady mix of confused emotions.

It scalds all the way down and becomes a new part of who we are. We are different.

Somehow the after taste is bitter but with hints of sweetness.

Faith, hope and love endure.

As much as the Hot Truth of Death glows and calls for our attention, before long other truths beckon too.  Mundane truths.  Beautiful truths.  Ordinary truths.

I have to go to work tomorrow. There’s a report to get in. I have to get something from the shops. The sky looks beautiful today. Our family is coming over on the week end.  What’s for tea tonight? We will see them again in heaven. They are free from their suffering at last. Where did I leave the car keys?

The grief has been incorporated into who we are. It comes with us as we do our tour around daily reality. It circulates with us too as we slip into the ethereal. It nods and shakes hands with our beliefs, hopes and questions.

We remember our friend. Life goes on. Both these things become good.

Life goes on.

That’s a glowing truth too.

Life is good – mainly – for me.

I have loved ones around me.

I have worthwhile things to achieve.

I will die one day.  But not yet.  I will catch up with my friend in that better place. Not yet though.  I have good things to do still.

I will choose, by discipline and effort, to live this life to the fullest.

Tom Kerr

Read John 11 v 1 – 53  Reflect on the compassion, the capacities and the cost involved in this story.

Reflect on the disappointment that Mary, Martha and others had because Jesus hadn’t been there for them in the way they had hoped. Can you relate to that disappointment?

Reflect on the fact that in the end, Mary and Martha were given what they wanted in ways beyond their imaginations. Jesus turned their sorrow in to joy.  Can you relate to the experience of feeling that Jesus had let you down – but then he eventually came through for you?

Jesus asked a great deal of his friends by holding back from coming to them on their timetable to help them. It pushed their trust in him. What do you make of that?

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Ministry

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What is ministry?

What is service?

Is there a difference? How do they intersect?

What’s the role of compassion in ministry or in service?

Read 1 Corinthians 12 v 4 – 11

Then, 1 Corinthians 13 v 1 – 13

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Prayer life with Barnacles.

Prayer abandoned. Lost at sea. Sunk.Given up for gone. Forgotten. No longer in communication.All washed up. And yet here it is again. Washed up means it’s in reach again. Could it possibly still work?photo phone with barnacles

Why might a person give up on the discipline, the struggle, the joy of prayer?

What might reinvigorate a person’s prayer life?

What experiences have driven you to a prayer burst in your life?

When have you found it hard to pray?

Reflect on Luke 8 v 40 – 56  The woman who reached out to Jesus with a touch. No words. No manners. No demands. Just a desperate need. How was that a prayer?

When the messenger came and told Jairus his daughter had died, how did that change the situation and Jairus’ expectations of Jesus?

Can you think of a time of your own desperate reaching out to Jesus, when you just didn’t have the words? How did things work out or not work out in that situation? What did that do for your faith?

Can you think of a time when you thought your situation progressed beyond hope and there was nothing Jesus could possibly do there?  How did things work out or not work out in that situation? What did that do for your faith?

You might like to a search on passages about prayer from the New Testament.

You might like to flick through the psalms and notice the range of emotions from ecstatic joy to outright frustration shown in the prayers here. Why do you reckon the cranky prayers are included in the Bible?

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