Saturday, November 27, 2010

Blair vs. Hitchens

Yesterday like the dork I am, I brought a front row seat ticket to watch Tony Blair debate Christopher Hitchens Live Streaming from Toronto.

Tony Blair, ex prime minister of the UK, and born-again believer vs. Christopher Hitchens, Atheist Extra-ordinaire. They were debating the fact of whether religion is any good at all. Looked to be one interesting Smackdown.

And it was fascinating stuff. It was clear from the start that the crowd was behind Hitchens.
There was thousands of people who were watching the Live Stream and commenting in the comment box as the debate went on. And all the vocal ones on the chat were definitely supporting Hitchens, too. One viewer wrote in:

Blair is gonna get Hitch-Slapped!

Hitchens is currently fighting the last stages of oesophageal cancer, and he was bald and rather weak. But because it could possibly be his last debate, the crowd was unbelievably behind him.
And it was pretty amazing that amongst the atheists who were all typing in their comments, there seemed to be a pretty strong community. Messages kept popping up.

Hi, atheist from Muskoka!

Atheist from Norway signing in!

On and on, from Hong Kong, Atlanta, and Africa, they were signing in, enjoying the excitement.

The debate began, and from the start Hitchens shone. Blair looked like a flailing turtle beside him. He tried to make an important point time after time, but he didn't have Hitchens razor-wit and sparkling repartee.

Hitchens had an interesting sentence to say:

"Once you assume a creator and a plan it makes us cruel objects in a plan in which we are created sick and ordered to be well."

It's funny, because I've been wrestling with a lot of thoughts about God and life for around three years now, and the questions that Hitchens kept firing where cleverly phrased versions of my own. He referred to God as, "The Divine Dictatorship - a celestial North Korea." and said that, "Religion forces nice people to do unkind things, and intelligent people to do stupid things."

I'm afraid I found Hitchens so much more interesting than anything Blair had to say. Blair kept trying to make the point that, even though religion has spurred people to do violent, cruel and evil things, he believes so much more good has been done by people acting out of love of their God. He kept making this point a dozen times, trying to phrase it differently.
But he just sounded weak and floundering, to the very sharp Hitchens who had a complete arsenal of arguments that Blair did not try to defend. At one point, when Blair was laboriously spelling out a point, Hitchens began swinging in his legs in the anticipation of creaming him in the next rebuttal.

Blair was trying to say a good thing. He had a good and valid point. But he lacked the abilities and charisma of Hitchens. I got what he meant, but he was standing in a room almost full of atheists, and it's not easy to argue with them.

Hitchens concluded in the end that Humanism is the only chance for Salvation. Which is a clever argument, but an old one...because humans can't save themselves. They don't have the ability to do so, and Utopians who have attempted it in the past have all miserably failed.

At the end, people applauded Hitchens for several minutes, with (dare-I-say-it?) an almost religious fervour; and I have no doubt that he won the argument. I went out for tea last night, and announced that I thought I would become an atheist. My mum told me to eat my dinner.

It's funny. Even though Hitchens had some good points, and decent angry complaints against the Deity who is represented by one annoying fan-club, it was like some part of him does desire good and truth, without religiosity. And I hope he does get to meet God one day, and find that it's a fulfilment of something he has always longed for, and desired.
He talked for a moment about the universe, and said that he finds it a good deal more inspiring than any Burning Bush.
So I think maybe he can see God in the world, and in other people....and I think he likes it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Am Living Just To Breathe

"Believe" by The Bravery

The faces all around me they don't smile they just crack
Waiting for our ship to come but our ships not coming back
We do our time like pennies in a jar
What are we saving for? 

There's a smell of stale fear that's reeking from our skins.
The drinking never stops because the drinks absolve our sins
We sit and grow our roots into the floor
But what are we waiting for? 

Something's always coming you can hear it in the ground
It swells into the air
With the rising
Rising sound
And never comes but shakes the boards and rattles all the doors
What are we waiting for? 

I am hiding from some beast
But the beast was always here
Watching without eyes
Because the beast is just my fear
That I am just nothing
Now its just what I've become
What am I waiting for
Its already done

So give me something to believe
Cause I am living just to breathe
And I need something more
To keep on breathing for
So give me something to believe

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Scrubs Quote

Elliot: Janitor, do you ever wish you were different in almost every single way?

Janitor: No, I'm a winner...But, I will tell you something that my grandmother told me when I was a kid; even though at the time I thought she was my mother. 
She said, "Time spent wishing is time wasted." Now, she died shortly after that, and my sister - who actually was my mother - she never got over it. Neither did my brother-dad. 
But the point is this: If you want to be different, then be different!

God Does His Best Work in Weak People

I met a 20 year old missionary girl today.

Her name is Karis Piawong, and she is an actual missionary in Thailand.

I know we all are missios but she's so young, and it must be very difficult to be so far from a comfortable, materialistic life.

Anyways, Karis and her husband Noom, and her parents live in Thailand, and they are on furlough at the moment. They came to talk to my mum's Bible study this morning, which I begrudgingly went along to.

I love Missio Stuff, just don't like being around people heaps at the moment.

Anyways, it was so fascinating to hear this girl talk. She was so down to earth, and has such a simple faith, I just loved it.
She did six months of training with YWAM when she was eighteen, and that was where she met her husband.

Noom had a rough background. A former sex addict and drug dealer. Karis had a dream about him one night, and woke up with feelings for him.

"I was worried, " she admitted at the meeting today, "because I didn't want any relationship thing to distract me from what God had planned. So I prayed over the feelings. Lord, take these feelings away. In Jesus Name!

Then I believe the devil made an attack on me. I couldn't breathe, and I started to panic. Noom came over and began praying for me. While he laid hands on my head a thought came into his mind. "I want you to love and take care of this woman your whole life."

Noom fled to a corner and began praying, "Jesus, take this thought away, I don't want to be distracted from you. In Jesus Name!"

When he came back to pray for me, the thought came again."

Anyways, Karis and Noom got married the next year. They went from being friends to being engaged. And there was so many beautiful confirmations that 'they' were exactly what God had in mind.

Their story was amazing, they were both just so intent on just walking with Jesus. Straight away in their marriage, God asked them to take two young guys into their house. There's now five extra guys living with them, and one girl - in their first year of marriage! They have given even that to God.

I went to talk to Karis after the meeting. She was so little, I felt like the Hulk.

Anyway, she just spoke about God and her simple faith in him was just shining.

It just helped remind me of why I do desire so deeply to be like that in my walk with God. Not get hung up on anything. Not money, not education, nothing. To just be listening to God's voice, and to take the leap when I think I hear him.

And I know I'm weak, and yeah, really weak.
The biggest weakling in God's kingdom I believe.
But apparently God can do some of his best work in weak people.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

God Run Out of Power, Eh?

Things have been a bit controversial in the Christian World of Dubbo lately.

(Christian world being: the collective Christians who attend different churches, and have amazingly different ideas on things...)

People hold such strong views on this whole 'Healing' issue, that everyone I question gives me a different answer.
They will snap out a quick sentence, the sort that people generally keep tucked away for such occasions.

I will retort back with a brilliant return (of course), playing the devil's advocate.
Then, almost without fail, they rub their chins, and furrow their brows.

"I don't know....It's such a difficult subject..."

or, some, who mostly firmly believe in all types of healings will announce,

"You just gotta have faith, you GOTTA BE-LIEVE! want me to pray for you?"

I prefer the first group. I occasionally desire to harm the second....

I interrogated my pastor who was healed the other night.

"'s it going...?"

"Oh, my neck's sore again..."

"God, run out of power, eh?"

Flippant and rude answer. Just have a million questions in my head, which will be figured out in time, but aren't at the moment, and I feel the desire to understand this issue, to nail it down and deprive it of mystery in my Brain.

If you asked me straight up, did Jesus heal my pastor's neck at the meeting, I would say, flat out,
"No way, Jose."

Jesus didn't seem to work like that, you know? You don't see blind men groping their way back to the Master, "Ummm...sir...there's a slight problem..."

Or lepers claiming a Malfunctioned Healing, "Sir, did I leave my nose with you?"

Or Martha bawling to Jesus, "Lord, only a day after you left, Lazarus keeled over...and I swear it wasn't my cooking, this time..."

That just didn't happen. People were healed. From EVERYTHING. From being flippin' dead! You don't see Jesus keep trying to heal someone, and slumping over in frustration because the power ain't clicking, and the Spirit's flow is being inhibited or something.

I mean, there were so many people who left the other night, still blind, still unable to move...still dying. And that just wasn't what Jesus was like.

Like, I know there's a strong connection between faith and healing, but I DO NOT believe that you achieve healing by banishing any lingering and reasonable doubt. As if God expects you to twist your brain around a concept you firmly believe to be the Optimum Option for your Situation, and only brainwashing yourself into believing it will your wish come true.

I do NOT think God works like that.

I have a family story bound up in that statement, which I'll share sometime...This is a rant, and perhaps soon, I will give a smooth, just fair look at the other side...try and achieve a healthy medium.

Now, having said that...

My back has been feeling a little better since the healing meeting....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Surrendering to God

Interesting Blog Post by a guy named Byron Smith. Check it out if you get a minute.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mellor's Miracles and Muddles

I was just at the healing meeting held by a guy called John Mellor.

Tall guy, charismatic. Wearing a soft pink shirt....

So he talks about how healing happens. He prays over some people. He puts hands over the affected area, and yells various things including, "Shuum! Shuum!" And, "Free, now Jesus, NOW! NOW!" is a link to some of the stuff he's done.

It was weird. He prayed for person after person. He prayed for a guy in a wheelchair, and the dude's foot starts jumping around. The guy in the chair stares at his foot, rather puzzled.

"That hasn't happened before..."

Like, so many people said they could feel the difference. Most praised God. About twenty prayed for Jesus to become Lord of their lives. One guy threw his arms up in the air screaming, "Ashutuiposhugnu! Nyeghytuihpoto!" John dealt with that by slaying him in the Spirit. The guy went down. John shook his head. "You scared the livers out of me, mate."

There was a LOT of slaying in the Spirit. Sometimes he'd try and do it, and nothing would happen....the person would just blankly stare. Other times, he'd barely look in their direction and they started yelling and writhing on the floor. It was almost like he did it for fun, pointing his finger at them, and watching them drop.
 At one time, there were so many splayed across the floor, it looked like a War Zone.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting there, in a lot of pain. As the night goes on, the pain gets worse and worse....I haven't sat up for so long in two months. I grumbled to myself, "The Longer I sit here waiting to be healed, the more I need it!"

John turns to the crowd and announces that he will be praying for the whole of the crowd, and stretching out his hand towards the large auditorium, he begins to do so.

I place my hands on my back, and pray for healing. I hope for healing. I'm afraid of healing.

Nothing happens. Perhaps I relax a little. But no relief from the tension and pain.

He prayed for a lot of people. And everyone there was stretching out their own hands to whomever had been prayed for, all asking God for healing.

The friends who I had come with, announce they wish to leave. My car is parked over in the dark, so I leave, too, and get a ride to my car. This happens to coincide with the time that John declares everyone is welcome to come to the front to be prayed for.

It was sort of funny. I was sitting next to a chiropractor in the car, who asked me about my back difficulties, and offered to see me if I so wished. So I don't know if that was a bit of God-Intervention.

So the facts of the night.
- I chickened out of getting prayed for.
- I'm a confused mess.
- I think I'm a Pharisee, that I saw those people claim to be feeling better, and my heart is unchanged.
- My own pastor spoke out the front about how his neck was free of it's chronic pain.
- So all this good stuff happened, and I am unmoved.
- I don't feel like praising God.
- I feel like turning on Scrubs and ignoring everything that just happened, because I'm so damn frustrated by it.

I'm so frustrated that the people who really were demonstrably ill, mentally damaged, and in wheelchairs, and such didn't seem to receive healing anywhere near as much as those who had diseases no one could see or judge easily.

But I don't wanna have a hard heart in this! I don't know why God would only reach out sometimes, I don't have the fuzziest. So I fled. (Also, the pain is fairly severe....)

John kept assuring people that if they weren't healed immediately, it was highly likely that they would be healed in the next hour, day or week. In fact, "You might wake up tomorrow morning, pain free! Praise God, folks, we're seeing miracles here!"  And Kaity limps out the auditorium. I guess group prayer is not very effective. I guess healing only happens under the right circumstances, with the right person, when God is in the right mood.

So maybe I will wake up tomorrow with my pain gone.

Who knows?
 I hope so. I'm sore.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Filched Quote

“I wish I could go back and talk to myself when I was twenty. I’d say to myself “listen, don’t worry about the things you’ve been worrying about. Everything is going to work out great.” And I’d likely clarify with myself that “In the future I get everything I need?” And I’d say back to myself “No, you just realize you didn’t need it. And that’s even better.”
Don Miller.

My World is Shrinking

It's been a pretty good day.

Today I have been swimming trying to get my back back.

I went to a Bible study thing tonight that has about twenty young people go. I like to make lots of jokes there...pretend I'm the funny guy.

And my friend Jess came round today to cheer me up. Even though she struggles from depression, she came and plopped down at my desk chair and announced she was staying for two hours.

It was good of her; it's what I need at the moment. My world is shrinking by the day...and I'm enjoying human contact less and less as time goes on. Even family. Gah!~I make my sisters feel unwelcome when they come into my room...I just wanna be on my own- Gah~! Warning Warning!

This back better get better soon...

There's a healing meeting on tomorrow night in Dubbo; a guy called John Mellor
is coming to do a few healing meetings.

Don't know what I should do...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Anti-Depressant Baby

Lately, whenever I feel miserable I go over to my friend’s house. She is a foster carer, and lately has been looking after a little four-month old baby boy. 

My friend is very easy-going, so I hobble over there, and she puts this little bundle in my lap. I tell him how delightful he is in a dozen different pitches and tones, then cuddle, and feed him. He is an amazing little fellow, his giggle was like an injection of Happiness. I told him all my jokes, and I think he likes them. His smile is sooo cute. Excellent depression deterrent. Would recommend it to anyone. A rare phenomenon indeed, such a tiny human who can remove gloom. 

Today, I got a surprise call from my best friend Hanwen. She happened to casually mention that she was in town. I took this news calmly….flung my phone across the room, and limped out to see her.

We had awesome lunch together. She takes my odd method of getting things off my brain very well. I fling question after question at her, unloading all the holsters at once, and she responds by playing ‘Aim the French-Fry', listening, and offering some thoughts. It was just good. She’s just good. It was sad to see her leave on the bus.

I got home, and had Mum greet me and tell me that my little Bub was gone. His real family was no longer acting in a good safe way, and he needed to be moved on to a different family for his own safety. Out of town. Away.

I just feel so rotten about it. He was just so special and I just loved the little guy, you know? And now I never get to be part of his life again. Just feels like a kick in the guts. I went to my room and cried.

My family says, “Trust God, Kat. Trust God that He has this under control and will provide Bub with a good loving Christian family.”

I have to leave it in God’s hands, there’s nil all I can do.

Just gonna miss him is all. He gave me something to love outside myself. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Did They Get You to Trade Your Heroes for Ghosts?

I'm stuck, lying on my bed, hour after hour. Drowning my inability to do anything helpful in a few hundred games of Solitaire and watching every episode of Scrubs ever made Twice.
Pretty much having no choice but to just lie here. Counting the bugs in my Lightbulb. Trying to pray. Trying to read good things.

I go to a get-together/Bible discussion-y thing every Wednesday.

It's lead by a wise dude named Pete, the kind who would have an Owl as his Animal Doppelganger.

We eat tea together (there are about six or seven of us), and then sit down and drink tea and chat about things. We've been reading through a chapter of the Bible and talking about that.

I don't find it easy at this study...kinda often feel out of it, and that the contributions I come up with are slightly ridiculous...or seem to be. It's impossible to be objective with oneself! But some pretty deep stuff has come out of it.

At the end of the night, we all say things we want to do/think about/etc. in the upcoming week. I remember Pete mentioning how a song was playing in his brainwaves, and how he was finding it intriguing. He said his goal for the week was to think about the words of this song.

I was listening to the same tune today, and apart from it's marvellous guitar rift (Duh Duhnna Dun Dah), it does have some pretty cool words:

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change? And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,
year after year,
running over the same old ground. What have we found?
The same old fears,
wish you were here.

This song is called Wish You Were Here. 
These are the dudes who sung it, they're called Pink Floyd:
Pink Floyd Notice, none of them are Pink....more of a greyish black and white....

So  I've been thinking about life and theology and how the world works, and how God works, and how much I wish you were here, Jesus, so we could talk about everything!
I don't want to be on social tranquillizers all my life. I want to be able to walk with God through pain, joy, grief, love others with all the love of not think of myself, but others only.

Just the scattered thoughts of someone who can do nothing but be almost entirely utterly self-focused at the moment. Ohhh boy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Attention Span of a Trout

Around midnight last night, I was chatting with my friend Hanwen, who was concerned about how much pain I was in.
Hanwen urged me to take some stronger painkillers to stop the pain. I took a Tramadol, and went to sleep until 11 this morning....gotta love your strong drugs.

The tablet is slow release, meaning I've been very dopey all day....not much use to anyone, but having a bit of a chat with God throughout the day.

I started reading Why the Cross by Martin Robinson, but I currently have the attention span of a Trout, so I kept nodding off in the middle of it.

The thing that scares me is that by the time my back gets better, I will have to work for months to build up the stamina to hold a job, or go for a proper walk, or to do any of my prac, which starts in only a couple of months.....eeeek!

What on earth do you have in mind for this, God????

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Getting Worse

It's getting late. And the pain in my back is awful.

It's really bad. Worse than it was when I first hurt it two months ago.  GAH!

There's a healing meeting on in Dubbo in four days. Maybe I should check it out...

I would be willing for a guy to bark, howl, and or slay me, just so this pain would go away.

I wonder why God might answer if someone prayed for me (a healer), but not when I lie in bed pleading to him....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Couldn't Sit Up at the Keyboard...

I may have over-done it yesterday.

It's hard to stay still for so long. I want to be doing some things without the constant pain and lack of strength in my back.

I got a back injury two months ago....ages and ages. I was going to the bank for an elderly lady I look after, when I saw arms and legs flailing in the air.

I may seem slow, but it only took me five seconds to realise that this is not normal.

I took off towards the arms and legs. It was an old heavy man, who had fallen in front of the bank. His cheek was oozing blood, and he was shaking and moaning.

Contrary to all good Manual Handling Laws, I helped pick the guy up....(I know, I know....)

Resulting in two loooong months of pain and hobbling. I think I did worse than the Old Dude did in the long run.
But I have been getting slowly better...until...cough*....yesterday....

So I may have gotten a little over-ambitious and done a few too many things. Meaning when I woke up this morning, my first realisation is, "Uh oh....Ow...ow...oww...."

Don't try to run from your head. Sooner or later, you're gonna land flat on your back (maybe literally), and then everything you've been trying to avoid will swamp you like the tide.

I get up and limp to have a shower, and try to convince my body that it actually doesn't hurt that much. I CAN still function. I CAN play the music at church this morning, like I was rostered on to do. I only get rostered on once a month, I CAN DO THIS!

My parents are not overly sympathetic, as I limp past their room. Nor should they be...I have been getting impatient at being unable to do much, and have been pushing the boundaries....when I should be doing very little (groan).

When I got to church, however, and slump over at the keyboard, people realised that I may not be up to the task....and send me home. Honestly, I couldn't sit upright.

"Heyyy." I whined to my little sister, who was doing the church singing, "Could you hold onto my lower lumbar during the service....that's it...a little lower....thank hold it there...."

However, she was doing herself an injury trying to hold in my collapsing ligaments, so I tried to support myself by leaning forward toward the keys, elbows on the sides of the instrument. They slid off...


Being the sound of an adult's body weight hitting the Upper Notes of a Church Keyboard.

"Hey man, " the Bass Player said, "I don't wanna kick you outta the band or nothin', but I think maybe you should let your sister play the keys....we'll give you this week off..."

So I limped from the church, and gingerly drove home, and collapsed into bed.

Now I'm lying here, wondering what on earth God has in mind. I keep thinking God must have some issues he wants me to sort through, perhaps self worth? Or some other jolly topic.

It's easy to escape having to deal with stuff most of the time (God bless the nine seasons of Scrubs)...but maybe this stupid back pain will linger on until I DO deal with it.

So if anyone has any ideas about how to sort out Self Worth in 3 easy steps...or how to lie still without needing constant distraction? Or free tranquillizers?

much appreciated.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Telling the Loud Voice to Shut Up

I have been going to a couple of counsellors recently named Mike and Nancy. They are a couple who go to my parent's church, and talking to them really helps.
I asked them the other night if they ever had voices in their heads taunting and mocking them, about something they had or hadn't done. 
Mike raised an eyebrow and asked, "Could you give an example?"

Well, I explained, I read books, and hear sermons and such, and there's such a huge push to do this, and do that, and that only when I have a handle on it, will I be being a true disciple. So because I fairly consistently fail to do these things, there are these strong thoughts in my head which are angry and disgusted at me because of my continual failures. 

Mike had some pretty strong feelings on this subject. He vehemently declared that Christianity was falling under the Law system as easily as the disciples had in the early church, only sacrifices and ceremonial cleanliness was being replaced by 'Read Your Bible Every Day' and 'Get Involved in Your Local Church'.  And such things as that. The idea being that when one jumps through all the hoops one will of course be in God's Better Books than if one had not. 

I understand this thinking. I understand the franticness inside me, that honestly longs to do what is right, but when faced with the list of things I am required to do, I must admit, I cannot do them. I struggle to faithfully read and meditate on my Bible. I struggle to get involved at my church. I am a rotten pray-er. 

A missio to China, Hudson Taylor, has a quote that strikes me:

How then to have our faith increased? Only by thinking of all that Jesus is, and all He is for us: His life, His death, His work, He Himself as revealed to us in the Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not a striving to have faith, or to increase our faith, but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity. 

It's when I lay my life before Christ in simple forms, "Lord, this day is yours and I'm yours. What next, Papa?" and then just be willing to be obedient to whatever he would nudge me towards, that I feel the most peaceful. Trying to scurry like a hamster in a rotating wheel to keep up with what people indicate is required is tiring and perhaps missing the point.

If I'm available to what God would say, and not constantly kicking into myself because of what I don't do, then I think that is what God requires.

Mike also said something which I found good:

The World's Voice is Harsh and General, the Holy Spirit's Voice is Gentle and Specific. 

So that loud taunting in my head is NOT from God. So I think I will tell it to SHUT UP.