Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:12 (NIV)
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:12 (NIV)
I had a little trouble coming up with something for todays topic. It’s not that nothing makes me smile, but I wanted to pick something specific. See, a lot of things make me smile. Getting a solution for a problem at work so that something finally works the way it was intended – that makes me smile. Seeing weight loss each day as I weigh in on the wii, that makes me smile. Seeing my wife, my family, my friends happy, that makes me smile. I’m heading to my brother-in-law’s wedding today, and I’m sure that will make me smile. Seeing young people stepping out in their faith – that makes me smile.
I’m thankful for so much at the moment, and they all make me smile.
What makes you smile?
I did a lot of important things this year. From becoming a Senior Soldier in the Salvation Army, and starting the application process towards becoming a Salvation Army Officer, getting a job and starting working essentially full time (across three jobs), moving out of home, and probably most importantly of all – getting married.
It was a wonderful day in September, but I would rather talk about my super crazy week at the end of June, where everything fell into place.
The story to this week actually starts back in January 2010, when a week before the school term started, I got an email from one of the schools that I taught at saying that they didn’t have any students for me and my services were no longer required. That made things very difficult – the mental jump from three days to five days work was no where near as hard as the jump from tow days to five days. I started applying for jobs everywhere. I would apply for on average 15 to 20 jobs a week, but wouldn’t get even an interview. I asked my contacts, and got an interview for a job with the Salvation Army, but didn’t end up getting the job. I went for a job at the Uniting Church that I thought was perfect, but didn’t get that one either.
Through all of this, Liesl and I had started looking at houses, as our wedding was fast approaching and we needed to find a place to live. I went to look at this one place that was in a great location, with cheap rent. It wasn’t anything great, but I really liked it, and when I showed photos to Liesl, she liked it too. We did our sums and figured that we would probably be able to afford it, just. So we applied. We handed our application in on Wednesday morning, and Wednesday afternoon I got a call saying we’ve got the place. It happened so quick, and they hadn’t even called any of our contacts.
Then on Thursday, the next day, I got a call from the Uniting Church asking me to come in as the selected applicant for the job I’d applied for had fallen through. So Friday, in the morning we signed for the loan on the Bond, then we signed the lease and got the keys to our house, then in the afternoon I went to a short interview and signed my job contract. Within three days, I went from no house and little hope, to a house and a job. I moved in on Saturday (Liesl wouldn’t move in until after we were married), and then started my job on the Monday. It was really quite incredible.
And apart from getting married, that was the most important thing that happened to me. While it wouldn’t have been an issue, there was a big sense of pride in me in being able to provide for my wife – and working two days a week didn’t do that. So having that job now allowed me to be the provider for my wife, and be comfortable in our new house.
I went to Chrysalis over the weekend – it’s a three-day non-denominational Christian retreat for young adults that I’ve been involved with for a number of years. At the end of the weekend, I was exposed to an idea that I absolutely love – having Coffee with God. Continue reading
… And I’ve waited a long time, so great things are happening to me.
I’m sitting in Soto espresso, a coffee shop in Perth, drinking a coffee that tastes fantastic.
Actually, it would probably taste fantastic if they served me international roast, I’m feeling that good at the moment. Well, maybe not. International Roast is horrible.
Anyway, I’ve had a fantastic week that goes a long way to helping me forget the previous six months. Come back with me on a journey, back to January 2010. I’ve gone on holiday and am just outside Mandurah. I get an e-mail from a school that I taught violin at. It’s a week before term starts, and they inform me that they don’t have any students for me, and I won’t be required to teach in 2010.
Fantastic. Way to ruin a holiday. Knowing that a week out from term I was unlikely to find any work as a violin teacher, I turned my hand to looking for jobs in where I had experience – administration. “Surely, with two years experience as an administrative assistant, I should be able to find an admin job” I thought.
Or so I thought.
Three months in, and not even a glimmer. Not an interview. I eventually asked someone at the salvos if they had a job going, and there was a 0.6 position opening up. I applied, and was chosen for interview. “Fantastic! Finally a chance”
After giving what I thought was a really strong interview, I was really disappointed not to get the job. Like, super disappointed. Since becoming a salvo, I hadn’t missed drinking, but that day I really wanted one. I was strong, somehow, and had a coke instead, but it didn’t help the feeling. And I know a beer wouldn’t have helped either, but sometimes you feel like it can.
So back onto the search, and the jobs kept getting applied to, and I kept not getting interviews. My fiancée and I started to think about getting a house, and after finding one, was about to fill out the application only to discover that we didn’t really have enough to survive. We could make it, but it would be tight.
At this time, I was sending in about 10 applications a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. And still nothing. Until I found this job with the uniting church. It was a fantastic job, doing similar to what I was doing at the council of churches. So I applied, was accepted for interview, and then didn’t get the job. This time, I wasn’t so disappointed. I guess all the rejections had kind of made me expect to not get the job.
Eventually, my fiancée and I decided it was time to bite the bullet and apply for a rental. We found one we loved, and put an application in, not expecting much. How surprised we were to get a phone call later that day, telling us that we got the house!
My good news wasn’t to end there though. God had been with me all the time, and had a plan for my life. Later that day, I got a phone call offering my a job interview for a position at my old church. I accepted, but God had more in line for me, not just a job interview, but a job!
The next day, I got a phone call from the Uniting Church, saying that the person who got the position I applied for earlier didn’t work out, and they were as good as offering me the position pending an interview the next day.
I of course accepted, rescheduling my planned interview time just in case it didn’t work out. I needn’t have worried, after going over the new job description, they offered me the job, and I now start on Monday.
So, in less than a week, I have gone from working two days a week, wondering how and where we were going to live as a married couple, to having a house to rent, and a job which takes me up to full time equivalent! I’m so incredibly happy that I even wrote this long blog post all on my blackberry while sitting under a heater at soto’s getting slightly uncomfortably warm.
And with that done, I think I’ll go, have a bit of a walk along beaufort st, before picking up my fiancée from work (whom I now work close to, three days a week) and start a wonderful weekend moving into our house!
I was driving to work today, and an odd thought came into my mind. The thought was of priorities, and how we can often have very different ones. One example came to my mind about different priorities my fiancée and I have. I studied music at Uni, and hence have a very different perspective of rehearsals than my fiancee. We’re in the Songsters at my Corps – a choir that gives a message during the morning service. We rehearse each Wednesday, and sometimes, my fiancee has a slightly “less professional” attitude than myself. Where as for me, I can’t stand being late for a rehearsal, let alone missing one without a valid reason. If it were up to me, I would be arriving at least 15 minutes before the rehearsal was due to begin, where as my fiancee would prefer to arrive right when it’s due to start.
My priorities during rehearsal are also somewhat different to those sitting next to me. I pay attention, sing, run through my part in my mind when the conductor is working with other parts, and stop singing when he requests. Others will muck around, not pay attention, and continue to sing for a little bit after the conductor has finished. We have different priorities, based on what we have experienced.
How do we reconcile different priorities between each other? Also, how do we reconcile when our priorities are different to what God’s priorities are? Continue reading
Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
Today I attended the funeral of my friend’s nanna. Toni Lenthall, as I knew her (she had many other names) was a wonderful woman, who lived to the ripe age of 94 (though she would argue in her last few months that she was 100), and despite showing the signs of age, still kept a quick wit around her up until the end. She loved sport, but also in the later life would attend WASO concerts with Tricia, her daughter. To this end, I chose this reading and musical offering. Toni left a mark on my life, and I still know her better as "nanna" than Toni, and it was a great privilege to play the music at her funeral today, including Comfort, Comfort by Robin Mann which quotes this text. I couldn’t find a video of that, so Handel will have to do (a most acceptable substitute). So this post is for Toni – who taught us that you support your team through thick and thin (shame the Eagle’s couldn’t get up over the Dockers on Saturday, maybe next time Toni!), you love your family, and that no matter what, if you want to do something, you can do it and not let any social norms stop you in your tracks.
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no–one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting on men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (NIV)
This song was playing in my car as I arrived at Church this morning. A little while ago I got tired of all the CD’s in my car, so I threw them all out (they were compilation disks that I’d made a while ago) and replaced it with a CD full of Christian songs and hymns. I really enjoy driving these days, as I’m always getting a little bit of praise and worship in a time which would otherwise be dead time. This hymn is one of my favourites, and reminds me of the amazing love that God has shown us by sending his son. As a reflection, I’m just going to post the lyrics, with some formatting for lines I like, but the song really says it all.
How deep the father’s Love for us,
how vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch his treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon his Shoulders.
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes Lord,” he said, ̶you know that I love you.
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to hem, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. II till you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
I’ve heard a few different interpretations of this reading. Both deal with why Jesus asks the same question three times. One suggests that it is balancing out the three times Peter denied Jesus, while the other went on the translation of the word Love – we have one word where as the Greek/Aramaic languages had many different words for Love. But for me, I’m liking the call. When Peter says he loves Jesus, he is told to feed his lambs, take care of his sheep and feed his sheep. When we say that we love God, likewise we are also called to feed the lambs, that is to bring people to Christ (young Christians), to take care of his sheep, that is, to provide those that are already Christians with resources to further their relationship with God, and to feed his sheep – teaching those who call themselves Christians about the wonder of God’s love, because we can never be reminded about it too many times.
This is a wonderful arrangement of the hymn “Spirit Song” – I love this hymn, especially the chorus: “Jesus, O Jesus, Come and fill your Lambs” and this line in the second verse: “O give Him all your tears and sadness Give Him all your years of pain and you’ll enter into life in Jesus’ name.”
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Psalm 23 (NIV)
Perhaps it’s just because I haven’t been paying as much attention as I should have been, or perhaps it’s because I got complacent thinking I knew this psalm, but I can’t remember having ever noticed the last two verses of this reading. It’s really inspiring. I especially love the line “my cup overflows.” It’s something that I’ve reflected on a bit recently, and has been a continuing theme at Floreat. “God is more than enough.” When they raised $12,000 at their fete up on last year’s $7,000 – “He is more than enough.” The more I discover about my wonderful girlfriend, the more that makes me love her – “He is more than enough” When I worry that I might not be able to put together a sermon for the upcoming youth service – “He is more than enough.” Trust in the Lord, and what will happen? “… goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
What a wonderful setting of the 23rd Psalm. The 6th movement in John Rutter’s Requiem, a musical setting of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, it was completed and first performed in 1985, but this movement was originally written in 1976 as a separate anthem. It’s got a wonderfully calm setting – the oboe playing its wonderful pastoral role, and some wonderful harmonic painting.