Posts Tagged ‘God’

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Christmas Time Devotionals

November 23, 2010

Christmas Themed Devotional Readings: https://darthmaulmakesmesmile.wordpress.com/tag/Christmas-2008/

In 2008 I wrote a series of 28 Christmas-themed devotionals, beginning with https://darthmaulmakesmesmile.wordpress.com/2008/11/24/christmas01/.

At the time, I wrote:

I thought I’d take some time out to share a few thoughts on Christmas in the month to come, as a sort-of non-denominational pre-Christmas Advent devotional and musings column. I hope that it brings you some light, inspiration and excitement as we remind ourselves of the true meaning of the festive occasion.

I believe it is still relevant and hope you will consider reading it as part of your spiritual journey during December.

The devotionals incorporate Bible scriptures and links to further readings on related topics of faith.

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Captivating

September 14, 2010

Today I picked up an “old friend” of a book – John Eldredge and Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating (2005). I simply can’t recommend it enough. It is one of the (sadly) very few Christian women’s books that I have read, and re-read, and been transformed by.

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Article by Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

September 4, 2010

Hipster Faith | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

Good article that I just read.

My questions of late have dealt with a lot of this stuff. Yes, I appreciate the sentiments expressed by what this article calls ‘hipster Christians,’ but as someone who travelled in the opposite direction: from outsider to following Christ: I am troubled by what I see as merely fashionable rebellion.

Do we need to be any of this? Do we need to be worldly tattooed conservative semi-rebels who pretend we’re cool because we swear in church and wear tight jeans? Do we need to be ultra-conservative somber perfect politically right-wing killjoys? Do we need to go hear shock jock preachers who purport to hold the real answers for a postmodern world and be manipulated into thinking that we are somehow less narrow minded and less judgemental and more like Jesus now?

Why can’t we just be ourselves and let Jesus shape us as He has intended?

Church and Christianity in general have been a source of significant disappointment for me in recent months. If it weren’t for the shining example of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, not to mention my love of the Bible and the close friends in whom I see Christ’s hands and feet, and the intelligent individuals with whom I’ve discussed theology and apologetics, it would be very difficult for me to remain in church.

I have so much more to say on this topic but haven’t yet worked out a way to articulate it, so I’ll leave it at that. This university essay won’t write itself. I will try to return to this issue after higher priority work is out of the way; though I suspect that it is an issue that won’t leave me in the first place.

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Christian Apologetics Resources

September 1, 2010

1 Peter 3:15-16 reads:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as LORD. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

(New International Version, http://www.biblestudytools.com/1-peter/3.html)

Knowing the impact that Christians who follow this instruction have had in my own life, I have sought to follow it as closely as possible. To be able to “give an answer” when I can. Perhaps my reputation for doing this spread  a little amongst my fellow churchgoers, because I have found more and more recently that I get asked a lot of questions. Admittedly, my response often resorts to a line that I taught to members of the Bible study groups I used to lead: “I am not sure I can answer your question, but if you really want an answer, I will try to find one.”

Usually, when trying to answer people’s genuine questions*, or at least set them in a helpful direction, I generally refer them to one of several websites. In light of a recent increase in the number of questions I’ve been asked, here follows a list of the websites I have found most useful in helping fellow believers consider possible answers to their faith dilemmas.

* Genuine questions from genuine open-minded seekers, as in, not questions for the sake of being irritating!

I list these with the clear understanding that no apologetics ministry is infallible, and that all statements of faith must be measured against the Word of God (the Bible). I am also a  firm believer in academic freedom-of-thought, where all views deserve a reasonable voice in discourse.

If you have any suggested apologetics links, feel free to list them in the comments boxes. Be aware that more than one or two links will probably result in your comments being filtered for moderation / spam!

Creation Ministries International (Australia)

Creation: Frequently Asked Questions (Australia)

Creation Magazine (Australia)

Leadership U

Master Books

Every Student

Alien Intrusion (Australia)

Christian Answers

Josh McDowell

Institute for Creation Research

Probe Ministries

Archaeological Diggings Magazine

Ancient Days

Tekton Apologetics Ministry

Messiah Comes

Koorong Books – Academic (Australia)

Biblical Hermeneutics (Australia)

Kevin Conner E-Store (Australia)

RZIM

There are many, many books available on apologetics topics. Some books that I have read and found helpful are:

More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

In Six Days edited by John F. Ashton

The Creation Answers Book by Don Batten et. al.

Jesus Among Other  Gods by Ravi Zacharias

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Books: A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch

July 23, 2010

A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch (2005, B. Spackman, UK: Piquant)

I’ve been reading this excellent book on and off for a few months. Each time, I am once again amazed by its intelligent exploration of Christianity and the arts (and kitsch). It’s very challenging, too, and there’s a good chance that a lot of Christian readers might even feel insulted or uncomfortable by the text. Not that feeling bad is a problem: sometimes the truth hurts! It has taken me so long to read, simply because it is so big, so deep, that I can only absorb it in small doses. However, it addresses several important issues of Christianity, and I highly recommend it.

It is for anyone who has ever stopped to ask about the meanings (both overt and hidden) behind Christmas card imagery, Jesus statues, graveyards, motherhood and Mary, Christian t-shirts, Bible verse embroidery, multimedia presentations in church, church buildings, What Would Jesus Do? bracelets, icons, relics and several other similar areas. The insights regarding Christian art, particularly in the pressure upon artists to deliberately incorporate deliberate Gospel messages in their work, is especially important. I have enjoyed the process of being confronted by this powerful illustrated text.

I just wonder how I can get all the Jesus bumper sticker types at my church to read it! (Before you ask, I do not have any Christian bumper stickers on my car. My theory is that, unless I’m a brilliant and consistently courteous, careful driver, I probably shouldn’t be turning people off Jesus by inadvertently irritating them. What is it with the crooked parking, lane-cutting, unexplained sudden braking driving habits of people with ‘Fear God’ bumper stickers*, anyway?!)

(Links accessed 23 July 2010.)

More information:

http://www.amazon.com/Profound-Weakness-Christians-Kitsch/dp/1903689139/

http://orders.koorong.com/search/product/view.jhtml?code=1903689139

http://word.com.au/details.aspx?ProductID=546404

http://piquanteditions.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=10

*generalisation for humourous purposes only

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Following Jesus – 5 – Dehydrated Broccoli

October 12, 2009

Genesis 2:16 “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden…” NIV

Genesis 9:3-4 “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything… But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.” NIV

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” NIV

Food… ah food. What an incredibly divisive thing it can sometimes become. No doubt there will be a touch of hmm… irony? Probably not the correct term… but I write as a long-term vegetarian, so if I complain about people making a big deal out of food, it may well seem hypocritical. Sorry if it comes across that way, because that’s not my intention!

Here’s a quote from a book I read recently when researching for a university assignment: “The world now features more overweight than underweight people… This absurd situation is led by the US, where over half its citizens are clinically overweight. It possesses more people on diets than ever before, yet ever-more overweight people, too. Obesity-related illnesses and deaths, often brought on in major measure by gorging on oversized fast foods and drinks, are a major drag on the nation’s economy. In certain countries, fatty foods could eventually cause as many additional premature deaths as from AIDS. The UK has proposed a “fat tax” targeting obesity-related foods such as burgers.”

(From: Myers, N. and Kent, J. (2005). The New Gaia Atlas of Planet Management. London: Gaia. P. 67.)

That was published in 2005; the last I heard it was we Australians who top the list for fattest nation on the planet. Not a proud title, to be sure. I can’t find a straightforward statistic on that, unfortunately.

So, here we are: fat, diseased, obsessing over diets. What does this have to do with being a Christian, you may well ask? As the above Scriptures say, God is the ultimate creator and source of food. The Bible shows that, in the beginning, humans were given “green plants” to eat. As history progressed, and God interacted and intervened with His creation, food was often a part of His instructions – animals as food, but without consuming blood in Genesis 9; Leviticus detailing a lot of rules regarding food; and the New Testament exhorting us to not worry about what we eat, because it’s not the main part of life. God does not ask us to separate the physical and spiritual realms (which is, I believe, an aspect of Gnosticism). He created our bodies, with all their fascinating functions and purposes.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” NIV

However, it is certainly a significant issue. What made me think of it was when I caught a clip on a tv show recently, where the presenters were hailing the ‘newly discovered’ health benefits of broccoli. Then the presenters debated – and I hope it was a joke, but it probably wasn’t – how to get children to eat this magical new form of cancer-preventing, life changing broccoli. The solution was to dehydrate, powder and turn into tablet form a kind of broccoli that children will actually eat. Like I say, I hope it was a sad joke – but the way people around me talk, in their day to day lives about food – one would think that vegetables can only be consumed in tablet form.

Now, perhaps my family is a bit odd. We are vegetarians, after all. But my young children eat broccoli without a fuss. They also eat myriad other vegetables and fruits. We certainly don’t need to give them vegetables in tablet form. They eat all sorts of things – last night (as I write) it was fresh olives, avocado, mixed vegetable patties, and a slice of wholegrain bread. No powdered vegetable tablets. No ice cream or milkshakes or other junk. Just a mixed platter of mostly fresh foods.

Sometimes I wonder if our attitudes to food reflect the way we view the rest of our life. I am sympathetic to the philosophy that food is becoming bland and homogenised and too sped up. Where is the time to enjoy the variety, the flavours, the time spent with family and friends over a good meal?

Instead, we seem to be looking for a quick fix, an easy way out. Stuff down that fatty hamburger and soft drink and appease the guilt with a powdered broccoli pill. We look for cures for terrible diseases that may well be prevented through lifestyle changes. We consume more than we need while millions are dying from starvation throughout the planet. It’s not a surprise that “gluttony” is considered one of the seven deadly sins. It encompasses the concept of complete lack of self-control combined with a withholding of possessions from the needy.

Now, I offer no simple solutions to this. I am not a nutritionist nor a social scientist (not yet!). But I do offer a couple of ideas based on what seems to be working for my family:

a vegetarian or (in the case of some family members) mostly vegetarian lifestyle

eating a variety of different fruits and vegetables

eating plenty of grains – not just wheat, but rice, polenta, rye and many more

including legumes / beans in our daily food intake

sitting down together at the dining table for all meals

trying to allow the time to prepare meals

being aware of seasonal produce

buying local, where possible

not telling our children that we don’t expect them to like broccoli!

ensuring we have a deliberate source of  B12

not leaping on fad diets that promise ‘instant’ weight loss

walking or exercising regularly

switching off the tv

menu planning in advance – and trying something new

incorporating many different styles of cooking – we aren’t interested in tofu substitutes for meals normally consumed by white, middle class Australians, we are looking to try often natural vegetarian meals derived from a variety of cultures.

These aren’t just health options; they are also, we hope, beneficial for the environment – which encompasses the dimension of seeking to help our fellow humans by not destroying the world just to get a fast food hamburger. It also inspires compassion towards God’s creatures. Hmm. That’ll do for now. I’m hungry…

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Following Jesus – 4 – The Name

October 5, 2009

Jesus – what image comes to mind at His name? In my childhood, it meant that white guy hanging on the cross statue in our Church. I knew He was a miracle worker and that He taught people a highly moral lifestyle. I knew He was called the Son of God and that He was part of a Trinity. Still, it was merely head knowledge. In my teen years, He became symbolic of what I thought was a dead religion that persisted despite ‘scientific evidence’ to the contrary… a religion that was authoritarian and legalistic. In my early years as a university student, He once again became a good moral teacher. I knew a few people who called themselves His followers; and they managed to demonstrate this in their words and actions. Their lifestyle intrigued me – I wanted to know what made them so different. Their example drew me in. Of course, I tried to deflect their influence – I had hundreds of questions, many I thought would be devastating to their Christian faith, but they patiently gave answers (1 Peter 3) and treated me with a kindness I knew I did not deserve.

Maybe, when we hear Jesus’ name, the image that comes to mind too often is that of His followers. And not the ‘good’ ones. It’s the weird ones who go a bit ultra-mystical. Or the sort who seem to think the Good News of the Gospel is all about making more money. Or the types who seem to take delight in their moral superiority and use it to attack non-Christians. Maybe it’s the type who think Christianity is an excuse to judge someone else, ask people to ‘pray for that bad person,’ and then tell that person that they’re praying that they’ll escape God’s judgement. Or perhaps it’s the ‘Christian’ whose outlook seems to be fairly racist, bloodthirsty and committed to their own culture’s version of ‘success.’

Still, I don’t want to be negative, and I don’t want to pretend that somehow my own Christian walk has been exemplary. See, the thing that scares me is that maybe, for the many people in my life who do not believe in Jesus, when they hear the name ‘Jesus,’ they’re going to think of me. My life. My example. My words and actions. How have I treated them? Have I come across as narrow and judgemental? Or materialistic? Or moralistic and legalistic?

One scary thing about being a follower of Jesus is that my own life and example could have an impact – whether positive or negative – on the people around me. When some social issue comes into a conversation – some political thing, or maybe a moral issue like abortion – how are they going to interpret my response? Will I be loving and merciful, like my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, or will I be the hellfire and brimstone Bible thumper that leaves them wishing they hadn’t asked?

I don’t know how right it is, but I like to point people to Jesus Himself. As He is described in the Bible. Perhaps not enough people have read the Four Gospels these days for me to assume that people know the records of His life. The Bible records that, as a child, He and His family had to flee the violent ruler of their nation and seek refuge in Egypt (Matthew 2). As an adult, He worked at the family trade – carpentry (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3) – before beginning His ministry; which was marked by miracles (Matthew 11:20; Mark 6:2; Luke 19:37; John 10:25), astounding teachings (Matthew 7:28; Matthew 13:54; Matthew 22:33; Luke 4:36);and violent persecution (Matthew 26:4; Mark 14:1; John 7:25). He was murdered, but He rose again to life (Luke Chapters 23-24). Then, shortly after His resurrection, He ascended to Heaven (Acts Chapter 1). He then sent the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, to Earth to inhabit His followers and empower them to live their lives for God (Mark 1:8; Luke 11:13; John 14:26).

One of the most astounding things Jesus said about Himself was this:

John 14:6 (NIV)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I used to think that rather offensive a statement. In my early Christian walk, I then tried to provide elaborate reasons and explanations for it. Lately I’ve been more inclined to suggest that there’s only a couple of ways to take this statement:

If Jesus is truly God Incarnate, the Creator, Sustainer, Saviour, and Redeemer of all Creation, then He is well within His rights to make a statement that, coming from a mere mortal, would be ridiculous – or a sign of insanity. That is, God is well within His right to be the decider of issues of eternity and salvation.

If He is insane, then one must wonder how He also managed to revolutionise the way that humans treat each other. We may well take for granted His teachings on justice, mercy, kindness, charity, forgiveness and goodness – but these values are not particularly intrinsic to humans, are they? Look at the broken down world, where one side of the world is dying from starvation and the other is dying from diseases resulting from overeating; where racism and war and hatred are daily occurrences; where the elderly are beaten and the young are abused and the unborn are routinely murdered; where people engage in incredible acts of cruelty towards our fellow creatures; where the wilderness is butchered for profits; where we know the right way to live but choose the selfish, hedonistic options instead.

With more than a little hint of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, I am convinced that Jesus is either Lord, Liar or Lunatic. His amazing lifestyle, teachings, and descriptions of Himself don’t leave room for much else.

Following Jesus

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Following Jesus – 3 – Nature

September 28, 2009

Abell 2667 - From www.nasaimages.org

Abell 2667 - From http://www.nasaimages.org

Nature is full of some incredible things. The magnificent beauty of the galaxies. The colour and scent of flowers. The satisfaction of eating fresh vegetables that have grown in the garden. The majesty of the large beasts. The cuteness of the small beasts!

There’s some amazing stuff out there. The more that humans explore nature, the more we find. The further we travel, the more stars we find. The smaller the objects we can see, the more layers of reality are discovered. The intricate workings of the human body still have their many mysteries. Even the simplest life form is incredibly complex.

God is amazingly creative. He’s made a world of such awesome wonders. It’s amazing how creation isn’t just functional, it’s beautiful. Think of the creatures that inhabit the dark depths of the ocean but are spectacularly colourful. Or the incredible designs on butterfly wings.

The interesting thing with following Jesus is that nature takes on a new significance: nature has been made by a loving creator for His purposes and enjoyment. He has made humanity, in His image and likeness, to dwell in this world of matter.

The spiritual life isn’t about denying the material things, but putting them in their correct priority. We do not pretend that suffering doesn’t exist; we use what we have to alleviate suffering.

Luke 12:33 (NIV)

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

Nature is not, then, a deity in itself. It has been made by The Deity, to serve His purposes. However, nowhere do I see in the Bible that this is permission to plunder the Earth’s resources. Indeed, when we damage the environment, we destroy the world in which other people live. Caring for the environment is, I believe, a reasonable way of responding to God’s creation. Think of how He made a beautiful Garden, Eden, and placed the man and woman there to tend it and care for it. He did not say, “go and destroy this Garden in your quest for material possessions.”

Genesis 2:15

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

I read a while back an interesting idea that Christian environmentalism incorporates the human element.* Rather than deifying nature, and downgrading humans, it seeks to take into account how the human treatment of the planet affects not only nature but all humanity, too. It included an awareness of such things as the manufacturing conditions of the products we buy. I personally believe there are many good environmentalist arguments for vegetarianism, for example, as well as acknowledging that many foods suitable for human consumption are instead fed to farm animals, which are then consumed by the small proportion of rich Westerners who can afford fast food. I digress. What was the point I was trying to make? Ah, yes – that being a follower of Jesus necessarily impacts on the way I perceive nature.

All too often we followers of Jesus have been linked to a philosophy of guns, hunting, destruction of the planet, and cruelty to animals and even to our fellow humans. But surely there is a distinction between religious ‘Christianity,’ in which man-made rules become the highest law; and a life genuinely lived following the Lord Jesus Christ and living as those called to tend His Garden? While such things – environmentalism, issues of diet, and our treatment of nature – may well be secondary to the primary issue of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, one of our greatest apologetics is found in the way we live our life.

Peter 3:15-16 (NCV)

But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, but answer in a gentle way and with respect. Keep a clear conscience so that those who speak evil of your good life in Christ will be made ashamed.

Finally, acknowledging God as Creator has significant effects on my life: I have Someone to thank for the glorious wonders of nature. I can enjoy and appreciate animals, plants, the changing seasons, the stars, the weather, the land formations… I can also be creative – as I am made in the likeness of Creator God, so He has bestowed at least a little of His creativity on all His people. I have a reason to care what happens to the planet, and to do what I can to look after the environment. And I can enjoy the spectacular discoveries of the natural sciences, as human exploration reveals more and more of God’s spectacular works.

*David Tyler, Creation – Chance or Design?

Following Jesus

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Following Jesus – 2 – Rules

September 21, 2009

It was an eye-opener to be introduced to the concept that Jesus was not after outwards religious expressions. In fact, I remember feeling outraged that my good deeds were not enough. The thought that God was not after me to be good so much as He was after a relationship – I had never heard such a thing before. In fact, it was so shocking and counter-intuitive, that I remember asking – what human-made religion would ever propose such a concept. A God that is Love Incarnate? Not a lustful, ‘romantic’ love, but a Love that gives itself up as a sacrifice… A Love who would choose to die in the possibility that the Beloved might then turn to Him. It was all a bit beyond me. I had spent so long convinced that Christianity was, ultimately, about being a ‘good’ person. Be nice to other people, don’t be so selfish, help the needy, be a useful member of society – all that sort of stuff. But these things, noble as they are, don’t necessarily require God’s power to work. Plenty of non-religious people are good, useful members of society who work hard, love their families, help the needy and try to do what is right.

Following Jesus is something beyond that. It requires an inward transformation. I see this as happening when I partner with the Holy Spirit, in (hopefully!) obedience to His commands, yes, but also in listening to Him, allowing Him to speak into my life, in not being so hung up on rules and regulations – in being creative and flexible enough to hear what God is saying. Because the problem with rules is that they inspire rebellion, are often really hard to follow, and often miss the point.

It’s like Christian communities that impose dress codes on their members. Yes, the Bible says to dress modestly, but in getting into the rule – dress accordingly – we forget the ‘why.’ It’s not so that we all look like bored, tired, uptight middle class suburbanites – I’m guessing that at least part of it is so that we don’t drag fellow believers down by making them think lustful thoughts! (Matthew 5:28; 1 Timothy 2:9.)

However, relationship with God – that’s something else. The natural expression of knowing and loving God is in desiring to obey Him. That is when obedience to God’s commands becomes an expression of freedom and joy, rather than a burden of rules and regulations.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I suspect that it’s not too difficult to spot the difference between the believer who acts out of joy and genuine inner transformation compared to the believer who is still stuck in the rules and regulations mentality: the former will probably look a whole lot happier than the latter. Just check for the furrowed brow!

Following Jesus

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Following Jesus – 1 – Testimonies

September 14, 2009

Revelation 12:10-11 (NIV)

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

1 John 5:11 (NKJV)

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

I became a follower of Jesus just over seven years ago. It was an amazing, pivotal moment in my life. Where once it had seemed as though the whole world was dark and doom, and I felt despairing and fearful, encountering Jesus was like someone throwing the light switch on the world – I had a glimpse of a world bigger than me, greater than I could imagine. Even though things were still broken, light shone through the cracks.

It was a very personal experience, one that I’ve shared before at various church meetings and with other believers (and a few non-believers!). In some ways, I think my testimony – that is, my story of meeting Jesus – may seem unique, as I had been involved in occult belief systems prior to this time in my life. Yet, every committed follower of Jesus I have met has a story of how they arrived at their beliefs.

For some, their story is one of grace and mercy throughout their lives. They have grown up in a Christian family, or maybe somehow became involved in a Church from a young age. Their story is one of a progressive growth and realisation of the personal connection they have with Jesus. Many of these people have a point – or series of points – in their life, where they made a commitment to following Jesus. It was no longer about their parents’ faith, nor going along with the crowd. It was realising that they were in desperate need of a Saviour. Some may have rebelled against what they saw as their religious upbringing, only to eventually come back to the community of believers.

In my own ‘conversion’ – a convenient term; but I don’t think it quite conveys the reality of the experience of becoming a follower of Christ – I had a lot of questions that needed answering. It took well over a year of learning about Christianity before I was willing to take a leap of faith and follow Jesus. Not only questions, but there was a lot of baggage in my emotional and spiritual life that had to be examined. I was carrying a lot of hurt and unforgiveness towards others; yet here was Jesus declaring that we must be forgiving if we desire to follow Him (Matthew 6:12, 14).

Becoming a follower of Christ also meant a series of difficult choices. Everything in my life had to be examined. Every choice and decision. Difficult circumstances were plentiful, but now I was presented with a new question – give in to despair or trust that maybe God can bring good out of the hard times? (Romans 8:28.)

Following Jesus

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Following Jesus

September 12, 2009

As I write, it helps me negotiate, in a sense, my understanding and beliefs. It’s a way of personally reasoning through my thoughts and ideas. Recently it’s been an intersting exercise engaging in online discussion about life, the universe and everything on Facebook.Com with friends and family from my local Church community.

It occured to me that I haven’t actually written a whole lot about my Christian faith on my blog. So, while I do intend to keep the key purpose of this blog as a means of sharing my art folio, I really do want to include a bit more specifically on the topic of life, the universe and everything – from the perspective of being a follower of Jesus.

I don’t intend to address controversies, denominational debates, or any huge issues here. I would like to stick to the topic of just what it means to follow Jesus. I have provided plenty of links* elsewhere on this blog to sites that do deal with the more ‘controversial’ issues of Christianity. Readers are encouraged to visit those sites to learn about possible Christian responses to various issues and concerns.

I hope to keep it simple – to keep the focus on Jesus and the Bible and how I seek to apply His Word to my day-to-day life. Hopefully it will serve as an encouragement to my readers who are also believers; and that, for those of you who do not share my faith, it mght spark your interest in learning more about who Jesus is and what He teaches us today.

For those of you who are reading and wondering what my ‘qualifications’ are, I have been a volunteer leader for about four years in my local Pentecostal-style non-denominational Christian church. I spent one year involved in, and eventually leading a hospitality team that looked after new visitors to a youth programme for high school students. I spent almost three years running a small home group for senior high school girls. The last year has been involved in co-leading a small group for young adults aged 18-25 years, most of whom are newlyweds. For a convenient summary statement of faith to which I ascribe, see http://www.citylifechurch.com/info/statementoffaith.aspx, or read The Foundations of Christian Doctrine (1980) by Kevin J. Conner

* See the Links Page or the Weblinks Category for more links.

Following Jesus

 

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378. Meditations On Genesis 1

September 10, 2009

20090724-flokot-wp10

Ink fineliner pen on paper, July 2009.

The idea for this drawing came from reading Genesis, Chapter 1 in the Bible. It is one of my favourite Scriptures. I personally believe that Genesis, Chapters 1 through to 11, lay the foundation for the Gospel message. All of Christ’s work of incarnation, atoning sacrifice, mercy, grace, resurrection, and all that, is given its explanation through the events of the first Chapters of the Bible.

I have made this image available as an art print and greeting card. Information can be found at my RedBubble.Com Bubblesite.

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Genesis, Chapter 1 – New Century Version from http://www.biblestudytools.com/

1 In the beginning God created the sky and the earth. 2 The earth was empty and had no form. Darkness covered the ocean, and God’s Spirit was moving over the water.

3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, so he divided the light from the darkness. 5 God named the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Evening passed, and morning came. This was the first day.

6 Then God said, “Let there be something to divide the water in two.” 7 So God made the air and placed some of the water above the air and some below it. 8 God named the air “sky.” Evening passed, and morning came. This was the second day.

9 Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered together so the dry land will appear.” And it happened. 10 God named the dry land “earth” and the water that was gathered together “seas.” God saw that this was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth produce plants — some to make grain for seeds and others to make fruits with seeds in them. Every seed will produce more of its own kind of plant.” And it happened. 12 The earth produced plants with grain for seeds and trees that made fruits with seeds in them. Each seed grew its own kind of plant. God saw that all this was good. 13 Evening passed, and morning came. This was the third day.

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the sky to separate day from night. These lights will be used for signs, seasons, days, and years. 15 They will be in the sky to give light to the earth.” And it happened. 16 So God made the two large lights. He made the brighter light to rule the day and made the smaller light to rule the night. He also made the stars. 17 God put all these in the sky to shine on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that all these things were good. 19 Evening passed, and morning came. This was the fourth day.

20 Then God said, “Let the water be filled with living things, and let birds fly in the air above the earth.” 21 So God created the large sea animals and every living thing that moves in the sea. The sea is filled with these living things, with each one producing more of its own kind. He also made every bird that flies, and each bird produced more of its own kind. God saw that this was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Have many young ones so that you may grow in number. Fill the water of the seas, and let the birds grow in number on the earth.” 23 Evening passed, and morning came. This was the fifth day.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth be filled with animals, each producing more of its own kind. Let there be tame animals and small crawling animals and wild animals, and let each produce more of its kind.” And it happened. 25 So God made the wild animals, the tame animals, and all the small crawling animals to produce more of their own kind. God saw that this was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness. And let them rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the tame animals, over all the earth, and over all the small crawling animals on the earth.” 27 So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them and said, “Have many children and grow in number. Fill the earth and be its master. Rule over the fish in the sea and over the birds in the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 God said, “Look, I have given you all the plants that have grain for seeds and all the trees whose fruits have seeds in them. They will be food for you. 30 I have given all the green plants as food for every wild animal, every bird of the air, and every small crawling animal.” And it happened.

31 God looked at everything he had made, and it was very good. Evening passed, and morning came. This was the sixth day.

=

Further information on Genesis and its relevance to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ can be found at:

http://creation.com/genesis-questions-and-answers

New Defender’s Study Bible Genesis 1

Christian Answers Network – Genesis 1

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ICR on Progressive Creationism

September 9, 2009

Here’s a link to an interesting article (accessed 1 September 2009), talking about the basics of ‘progressive creationism,’ one of the many attempts to form a theory that combines popular science with Biblical Creation:

http://www.icr.org/article/progressive-creationism/

Quote from the article: “We conclude that progressive revelation—each additional verse shedding infallible light on previous revelation—demonstrates conclusively that “old-earth Progressive Creationism” must be abandoned by those who claim to believe that God has not erred in His written revelation of truth in the sixty-six books of the Bible.”

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Genesis, Romans 3 + 1 Corinthians 15

July 31, 2009

Genesis 2 TNIV

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 3 TNIV

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

 

Romans 3 NIV

22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15 NIV

21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

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1 John 2:13, Genesis 1:1 + John 1:1-4

July 28, 2009

1 John 2:13 NKJV

I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.

Genesis 1:1 NKJV

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1 NKJV

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

From Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary:

v. 13, 14. Old men have knowledge and experience, and expect deference. The apostle is ready to own the knowledge of old Christians, and to congratulate them thereupon. They know the Lord Christ, particularly him that was from the beginning; as ch. 1:1. As Christ is Alpha and Omega, so he must be the beginning and end of our Christian knowledge.

{http://www.biblestudytools.com/Commentaries/MatthewHenryComplete/mhc-com.cgi?book=1jo&chapter=2#1Jo2_13}

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Luke 17 + Genesis 7

July 23, 2009

Luke 17:24-27 TNIV

24 “For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.”

Genesis, Chapter 7 TNIV

1 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” 5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. 6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month–on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in. 17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on the earth perished–birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and the entire human race. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; human beings and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. 24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

References: http://www.biblestudytools.com/ (accessed 16 July 2009).

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Genesis 2 + Matthew 19

July 16, 2009
Matthew 19:3-12 TNIV 

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others have been made eunuchs; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

 
Genesis 2:18-25 TNIV
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. 

Genesis 2:18-25 Amplified
18 Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him. 19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every [wild] beast and living creature of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them; and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was its name. 20 And Adam gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the air and to every [wild] beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs or a part of his side and closed up the [place with] flesh. 22 And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man. 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.
 
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The Wonderful Variety of the Body of Christ

June 7, 2009

1 Corinthians 12:4-27 (TNIV)

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

 Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of Christians around me, for whatever reason, have really, really strong opinions about what a real Christian is or is not. Now, I’m not going to pretend that my views are somehow greater or stronger or better reasoned than theirs, but a few thoughts have come to my mind. It’s all part of this … well, not liberal… not postmodernist… but something like that Christianity. It tends to be cynical, apologetics-oriented, and critical. And those aren’t necessarily bad things. In fact, I’m a lot like that. I like answers, lots of answers. I hate hypocrisy and don’t get it when people try to think that Jesus supports their guns, beers, violence and racism religion. (Have they even read their Bibles?) But sometimes it goes a step further than that.

To generalise (and not quoting anyone specific, here), here are some of the sorts of statements one might hear / read (some exaggerated, some not):

“Jesus didn’t say, ‘Let’s all go into politics and lobby the Government on Christian morals.’”

“The Bible says more about the poor than anything else. Unless you roll up your sleeves and serve the poor, you won’t go to Heaven.”

“All Christians should be concerned with the pro-life cause. Millions of babies have been murdered in the name of convenience, and all to support a billion dollar industry.”

“Christians should stop thinking so much about abortion and do something about the millions of children dying from starvation.”

“Christians all need to stop being so greedy and start thinking about the environment. We are called to be good stewards of God’s green Earth.”

 “Christians need to be wary of getting caught up in the environment. That stuff is the domain of hippies, pagans and idolaters.”

 “Christians shouldn’t worry about animal welfare. Let’s worry about people instead.”

“Jesus was a vegetarian, wasn’t He?”

 “Christians shouldn’t take their Bibles so seriously that all they do is study the Word. Some Christians actually believe the Bible – but instead of worrying about believing it, shouldn’t we just be trying to imitate Jesus?”

“Not enough Christians believe the Bible. If we actually believed God’s Word we might be compelled to imitate Christ, as He has commanded us.”

The list could go on and on. A world of opinionated believers, all of whom have an individual calling and gifting and uniqueness. All involved in different styles and traditions of Christian church and community. All having different careers.

I love the above Scripture in 1 Corinthians 12, because it reminds us that we all have a role to play. And for each of us, our roles might seem like the most important thing. And anyone else who doesn’t hold it as a priority might be, in our mind, not a ‘true’ follower of Christ.

 I have encountered missionary-types who find it unthinkable that I have no particular inkling to travel overseas. I have vague ideas of one day seeing Europe, but even this has more to do with my own search for my ancient ancestors’ heritage. I am very happily Australian. My belief that my “own backyard,” that is, my local community, has more than enough needy people, that I don’t need to travel overseas to find the needy, doesn’t sound like a good explanation to a lot of internationally-minded people. So, who is right or wrong? Maybe we can both be right, as long of us is following our unique callings in life.

The work of travelling missionaries is spectacularly important. I have met some amazing, wonderful, inspiring people who have taken on huge risks. They have travelled through jungles to meet with impoverished people living in garbage dumps and gathering scrap metal to try and make a living; they go and work in developing nations communities to institute positive social change, such as human rights action, distributing life saving medicines and helping people in construction work; they go to remote communities and teach sustainable farming methods. It is brilliant and admirable. Yet, not all of us feel called to go there. We can certainly support the work – through prayer, financial assistance and being a friend to missionaries. However, to be able to send financial aid, for example, requires holding down a job of some description, doesn’t it. In all practicality, of course. Yes God works through prayer, but He also works through the practical.

Then there are people who devote their lives to studying and teaching the Word of God. They seek out fresh revelation and teach people to apply the Word to their daily lives. They use their minds to study and learn the most amazing book in existence. They help the rest of us to understand and develop our theology, and to appreciate the wonder of God. Does that mean, therefore, that all of us, are called to be theologians? No, of course not – but that doesn’t mean theology is not an important task.

There are people I know who are called to work in the ‘real’ world. They are not meant to be cloistered in the employment of a local Church. ( They don’t feel the inkling to attend Bible College – and, among my peers, it seems that 2 out of every 3 is a Bible College student!)  No, they carry the hope of the Gospel and (hopefully) Godly, ethical business practises, and a generous spirit, to their workplaces. Whether that’s as a cleaner, business person, academic, professional, sportsperson – everywhere they are, they are to be the light of the world.

So, why then, do we spend so much time attacking each other? Why is it so terrible that so-and-so is actually called to serve God in business (for a convenient example)? Yes, it is possible. It’s not a prosperity Gospel thing. It’s a definite possibility that there are some individuals who may just be called to work in business, and earn money to serve the needs of the Church. They would be abusing this calling if they were rolling in cash and ignoring the needy and buying up on gold chains and goodness knows what. But there are some good business men and women out there who love God and love His people and support the Church through their financial savvy.

Why is it that some people would change the Gospel of salvation by grace alone (Ephesians 2) to a Gospel of works – no matter how noble those works may be? Yes, we are to do good works (also found in Ephesians 2, not to mention the wonderful and challenging book of James), but not as a way of earning God’s love – it is in order to express that love and joy and purpose that we find in His glorious grace.

I would love to see Churches as communities where each individual is recognised as having unique giftings and callings. Let’s celebrate the diversity, as all the different parts of Christ’s body work together – instead of complaining that each other has the wrong priorities. Whether someone is called to serve God as a secular business employee; housewife and mother; servant to the poor and needy; theologian; pro-life activist; anti-euthanasia activist; environmentalist; scientist; school teacher; animal welfare advocate; anti-slavery activist; cross cultural peacemaker; Government lobbyist; prayerful and devout disciple; preacher and prophet; musician or artist; medical doctor; academic; social activist; a kind friend to gays, hippies, New Agers and all the other unfortunately ostracised human beings out there; a political activist or a politician;… the list goes on…

… Let’s celebrate our differences and uniqueness and work together for a common cause: God’s Kingdom! A kingdom where love, hope and joy reign; where we look on the heart and not on the external.

One of the things I love about my local Church community is the sheer diversity. A lot of different ethnicities are represented: I couldn’t even begin to list them all, but we are  united by our common belief in and love for Jesus. Different types of people attend. We get a huge mixture of visitors, too. A lot of visitors from different denominations. Our Church is not aligned with a particular denomination, which means we get a massive variety in styles of Christian that attend. Personally, I find myself drawn to the company of the “fringe” types, I must add: the Goths and hippies who love Jesus; the metal heads and the comic book geeks; those amazing friends of mine who brave the wilds and seek to share God’s love with the poor in distant countries; and the adept students of the Bible. Oh, but in each person there is so wonderfully unique. Some brilliantly talented creative people. Some who engage in effective ministry through skills like cooking and domestic service. Those who have a brilliant gift for making others feel welcome. I hope that the variety continues to grow.

Links (accessed 7 June 2009)

The Book of James in the Bible  (New International Version)

Ephesians, Chapter 2 (Today’s New International Version)

1 Corinthians 12 with Bible study tools (Today’s New International Version)

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Art For Sale

June 6, 2009

Some recent additions to my RedBubble Bubblesite and RedBubble Profile, where some of my illustrations and photographs are variously available for sale as greeting cards, art prints, posters, canvases, framed and matted prints and 100% cotton t-shirts in a selection of colours and styles.

My RedBubble Bubblesite Gallery is a simple storefront where people can view and purchase art and t-shirts. My RedBubble Profile provides a lot more information and detail, where other holders of RedBubble accounts can comment, favourite and purchase items. I am really enjoying RedBubble – if you are interested, sign up!

3025595-3-wave

This is available at: http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/65151/works/3025595-3-wave or http://www.redbubble.com/people/flokot/art/3025595-3-wave

See other Bass Coast Photos, available as greeting cards:

http://www.redbubble.com/people/flokot/art/3025547-3-cliffs or http://flokot.redbubble.com/works/3025547-3-cliffs

http://www.redbubble.com/people/flokot/art/3025567-3-horizon or http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/65151/works/3025567-3-horizon

http://www.redbubble.com/people/flokot/art/3025546-3-rainy-day-clouds-bass-coast or http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/65151/works/3025546-3-rainy-day-clouds-bass-coast

http://www.redbubble.com/people/flokot/art/3025536-3-rail-trail or http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/45302/works/3025536-3-rail-trail

Photos from the Bass Coast, Victoria, Australia. Situated on the South East of the Australian mainland, the Bass Coast is a beautiful stretch of beaches and Marine National Parks. It is notable for its fossils of dinosaurs and bird life – as well as being a spectacularly clean place. I grew up in the area and while I don’t live there anymore, I love travelling there to photograph and sketch it, and to make sure my suburban-raised children grow up knowing what a clean, syringe-free beach is like! The Gippsland Tourism website has information for travellers to the area, see: http://www.gippslandtourism.com.au/South-Gippsland/ and http://www.gippslandtourism.com.au/Bass-Coast/. I am always happy to share info on travelling  to the South Gippsland region, for any blog readers who are interested! The above photo was taken in Kilcunda, which is not far from Wonthaggi.

3049654-2-romantic-giraffes

See http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/65966/works/3049654-2-romantic-giraffes or http://www.redbubble.com/people/flokot/t-shirts/3049654-2-romantic-giraffes

Other Giraffe designs at http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/65966/works

Romantic Giraffes! I’ve been amazed at the popularity of my giraffe designs. Turns out there’s a lot of fellow giraffe fanatics out there!

2898300-1-inri-inspired-by-easter

http://www.redbubble.com/people/flokot/t-shirts/2898300-1-inri-inspired-by-easter or http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/30716/works/2898300-1-inri-inspired-by-easter

INRI – inspired by the Latinised abbreviation of “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” I’ve made this as both a t-shirt (available in cuts and colours other than the default shown here). While I’ve generally avoided representations of Christianity in my t-shirts, and I on’t want to succumb to cheesiness, I felt that this was a labour of love. The brilliance, uniqueness and wonder of the Gospel – that Jesus died and rose again – means that the vile execution device of the Ancient Romans becomes a symbol of hope for millions of believers linked across the ages. Wow. I can’t begin to describe what Jesus means to me.

Other recent t-shirt designs include a winged horse and hmm another winged horse!

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Easter T-Shirt Design

April 15, 2009

2898300-1-inri-inspired-by-easter

T-Shirt –
http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/30716/works/2898300-1-inri-inspired-by-easter
As an Art Print and Greeting Card – http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/31396/works/2898307-2-inri-inspired-by-easter
RedBubble Profile – http://www.redbubble.com/people/flokot

**

Here’s my latest t-shirt design, which is available for purchase at RedBubble.Com. I entitled it “INRI,” which is an abbreviation of the Latin for, “Jesus of Nazereth, King of the Jews,” that is often seen on images of the Cross in Roman Catholic Churches. That said, as always my art here is intended as a non-denominational celebration of the foundational aspects of Christianity that followers of Jesus hold in common.

While I do not have time to go into great detail here, I thought that a brief summary of the Gospel message is in order:

– in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth and they were perfect. There was no suffering or death.

– Satan was a great angel who, in his pride, sought to take God’s place. As a result, he Fell and became the Devil. He is not the exact opposite of God, but rather a corrupted, and very powerful, creature.

– God appointed the first humans to be his representatives on Earth. However, they gave up their authority by obeying the Devil. Later, in the Gospels, the Devil is seens as telling Jesus that he (the Devil) was given all authority on the Earth (see Luke 4:6). All that was under the dominion of Humanity was now the Devil’s.

– This was the beginning of the Curse, the entrance of death and suffering into human existence. The punishment for humanity’s sin (disobedience to God’s commands) is death. All humans who have since existed inherit this sin from their fathers. However, God promises to one day send one who will be of the seed of a woman – not a man. The only way for men or women to reach God is through the shedding of blood of an innocent individual.

– God the Son, one of the three persons of the Trinity (the Trinity being One God who is represented in Three Individual but Indivisible Persons… phew! I know, it can be such a mystery, can’t it?!), took on human flesh. That is, though He remained fully God, He was also fully man. He was born of a Jewish Virgin, but not of a human father. God the Father was His Father.

– Jesus lived a short life, but in only three years of ministry transformed the world. His ideas were radical and often offensive to the people of His day, who plotted to kill Him. The Devil probably thought that he had won by killing Jesus… but, in the shedding of Jesus’ innocent blood, the perfect payment for all human sin was made.

– After three days in the Tomb, Jesus rose again and subsequently appeared to hundreds of people before being lifted to Heaven. He sent the Holy Spirit of God to live in believers, empowering them to continue Jesus’ earthly work.

It is an astounding Gospel and very good news for any who has ears to hear and an open heart. Admittedly, it took me several years to be convinced of it as being True… oh but it is glorious!

A few thoughts:

– think of all the various religions, spiritualities and rituals that demand the shedding of blood and sacrifice. What does it mean if God Himself has become the sacrifice? What exactly are all the religions shedding blood for, anyway?

– The Bible tells us that no one can earn their way to God through their own efforts of work (Ephesians, Chapter 2). For me, I was quite shocked at this. I had spent years thinking that my own goodness and morality would be enough to find God, and I was upset to think that it wasn’t enough. However, I eventually realised that it was a great relief. How would I have known that I had done enough for God? How would I be able to tell between good and evil, for that matter? What place, then, do good deeds have in the Christian life?

Good books…

If you want to learn more on this topic there are countless resources out there. If you’ve only ever read anti-Jesus conspiracies, but consider yourself open-minded, you may want to check out the pro-Jesus books (to balance your views).

Some useful books are The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, which takes a court case approach to the Gospel accounts of Jesus. The Jesus I Never Knew and What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey are fantastic books that really challenged all my assumptions about Christianity. Ravi Zacharias’ Jesus Among Other Gods is also a good book; and a fantastic read that really dissects the questions about Jesus and the Gospels is Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. Last time I checked they’re all readily available. You might want to try Australian bookstores like Koorong and Word.

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