Wrapping up a year

2011 is coming to a close, and with the end of a new year comes a bit of a retrospective period for me…..I’m looking back and remembering the joys and regrets of the past year, and making plans for the year to come. Time permitting, next week I’ll try and post more about some of the regrets and thoughts about the future, but since it is Christmas (which my personal thoughts on would be another post in itself – next year maybe…)*, which is meant to be the time of the year to consider a variety of joyful occurrences, I’ll post more about the joys of the past year.

Over the course of 2011, I’ve come to know more about me through a variety of different things – some of which I’ve shared with you guys, some of which I haven’t – knowing more about myself (where I’ve come from [and how my past has shaped me to be the person I am now], where I could be going [and hope to be going] in the future, and more about who I am at a more general level), and knowing more about God (through college [as always], but also just through my interactions with Scripture, with others, and with the world around me [a lot of which was shared here]).

Over the course of 2011, I also once again started playing both Tribal Wars (which I’ve talked about here), and The West (a different game by the same company), both with the intention of being a light to the communities that form within those games. I had some ups and downs with this (which I talked about here), eventually stopping playing Tribal Wars because logging on became something I dreaded (along with the realization that it had been a while since I had actually talked to someone in game cause I couldn’t become stable enough [i.e. successful enough or lucky enough to not be taken out immediately] on any of the worlds I was playing). On The West, however, I’ve been thriving as a part of a group of towns, many of which are really great people, whom I enjoy spending time with – and whom I look forward to spending more time talking to over the coming (insert unknown period of time here – unlike Tribal Wars, The West is much slower paced).

I’ve also become more acquainted with the wider online community (which I maintain exists, it’s just outside of social networking), mostly through following blogs (a few of which can be found in the links on the side), and it’s been encouraging to find more Christians out there doing the same sort of stuff that I am, and a few doing different things along the same theme, and some doing things that are completely different that I love to read about. It’s been great to interact and dialogue with a few of them over the year, and I hope to continue to talk to these guys, and discover even more people over the coming year. I suggest you give them a look, and I’ll be sure to add anything else I find to my links box….

There’s not much more that I can really say…..many of the other joys that I’ve experienced over the year have been intensely personal, or are very hard to describe in words, or would be simply repeating my old posts (which, if I may say so myself, are well written and should be read by all of you). If I have time in the busy week between Christmas and New Year (read, can get to and use a computer for any significant length of time), I’ll post more about my sorrows and regrets, before looking at what I could see happening in 2012 in early January….

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Fr33Lanc3r

*If you ever want to know, you may need to hold me to that…….and not let me try and get out of it……

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It’s Quiet……….too quiet….

It’s been fairly quiet here lately (WordPress tells me that it’s been over a month since my last post), and I’d like to apologise for that. My blogs are one the first things that get put aside when life gets busier – even though I set this up as a place for me to share the things I’ve been thinking through, and the stuff I’ve been studying – and the last month has been a bit hectic for me – mostly because my bad study habits…….

So catching up – I’ve finished College. The overseeing board changed the requirements of the Advanced Diploma of Ministry (the course I’ve been doing), and with some wonderfully complex mucking around, It’s been decreed that I’m eligible to graduate provided I pass this semester’s subjects (which I’m feeling fairly confident about). I’m not sure where I’m going to go from here, I’m looking to find some work, and will probably just earn some money without studying for a while – but I still don’t have everything worked out (which I’m not sure is a good thing or a bad thing).

I’ll try and update both this blog (I’ve been mulling over some things that I probably should post one of these days), and the Digital Missions Blog over the weeks leading up to Christmas. I’m not going to try and invent stuff to post about for either, so I cannot guarantee anything regular, but I will probably start posting the various things that go through my mind now that life’s calmed down a little……

Giving Offence

One of the subjects I’ve been doing for college this semester is an exegesis on the Gospel of John. This weeks passage included John 8:31-58, and I am once again surprised at exactly how offensive Jesus is – particularly in two of the discussions contained in this section. In the first (John 8:31-47), Jesus turns over the religious preconceptions of the time, proclaiming that everyone in his audience is a slave, and in need of being freed. Considering that his audience has just finished celebrating one of the festivals commemorating their freedom from Egyptian slavery and the 40 years in the desert, it doesn’t seem like Jesus is off to a good start with here. His audience replies ‘we are descendants of Abraham’ – something very important for Jews even today – and that, because of this, they ‘have never been slaves to anyone’. After some discussion, Jesus’ audience repeats their statement that ‘Abraham is our father’. Jesus’ response to this is highly offensive, stating that ‘if you were sons of Abraham, you would we doing what Abraham did’, he explains that since they were trying to kill him – someone who was telling them the truth of God – they were not doing what Abraham did, rather they are following in the footsteps of their true father – the one who’s character they emulate – Satan.

The second discussion (John 8:48-59) follows on from this one, with the Jews giving the retort ‘are we right in saying you have a demon?’ -a grave insult. Jesus responds to this by saying that he does not, and by all his actions he is giving honour to God. He proclaims that he seeks only God’s glory, and that anyone who keeps his word will never die (a common theme in John). This sparks more controversy, with his audience asking whether Jesus considers himself greater than Abraham or the Prophets, all of whom died. this leads into some discussion about the Abraham and the Prophets, which prompts his audience to ridicule him, saying the Jesus ‘is not yet fifty, how can you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus’ response, which was enough to cause his audience to want to put him to death, was simply ‘very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.’ The reason that this statement caused Jesus’ audience to want him dead was simple – he used the same words that God had used to describe himself in Exodus 3, and by doing this, he declared himself equal with God.

Both of these things flew in the face of everything that the religious leaders of the day taught, and offended his audience to the core. Imagine you were in Jesus’ audience. Imagine he called you a child of the greatest evil imaginable, when you were sure you were following God – and in fact, everything you’d been taught up till this point told you that you were. And then imagine if he then claimed equality with God – who you were taught was completely sovereign and all powerful – something which is incredibly blasphemous and heretical to your ears. Jesus was incredibly offensive.

I should point out something here: Jesus is not being maliciously offensive. All he is doing is speaking the truth – the truth as God has told him to speak (as Jesus affirmed).

And we turn to today, where we live in a world where many Christians are afraid to talk about their faith, or about what they know to be true, for fear of offending people. I’m not saying that we need to go out and maliciously offend the people around us, and I’m definitely not saying that offending people is the best option for every situation (some of them actually require some tact and kindness), but I am saying that we need to start speaking God’s truth, and realise that, as a great Christian comedian once said, ‘if you’re offended by the truth, good! That means it’s working!’.

Everything and Nothing

With College nearly over for another semester,  I feel that I should post something about where I’m at, so here goes…..

I’m sorry that a lot of this blog has turned into my personal ‘let’s rant against the world’ space, but generally when I end up ranting on about something, it’s something that I feel really strongly about (especially if it comes up more than once)! I know that this is my space to do whatever I want with, but I probably should talk about more than the stuff I want to rant about (which explains this post nicely I guess).

There’s been a change in the direction that I feel God’s been pulling me in. I’ve felt for a long time that I need to ‘get out’ of the Christian circles that I’ve been frequenting, and gain some experience outside of Church and College. I’m not totally leaving either, but the realisation that 90% of the people I spend time with are either Christians or family – combined with sitting through two of Mike Frost’s classes this semester – is pushing me to drop back to at most two subjects per semester at college, and find myself some work. I’ve wanted to get into IT for a long time now, so when I found a traineeship position I jumped at it. I’m still waiting to hear back after my interview, but I feel that I’m taking another few steps into what God has for me in the years to come.

This year at college has been wonderfully uncomfortable for me. I’ve had to rethink positions that I’ve held (often nominally, since I wasn’t aware of other views) on a number of occasions, and while I would never classify myself theologically (I don’t want to be kept in a box -by myself or others – when it comes to my Faith), I feel that I have a more structured framework from which I approach life. The practical aspects of college have also challenged me (some of which I’ve already talked about in previous posts), particularly the evangelism field work assessment. You don’t have to have met me for long to realise that I’m very much an introvert, and it has never been easy for me to share my faith with others. Thankfully, God opened up a way in which I did feel more comfortable talking about more serious topics (which has also been discussed below), and I managed to get the assignment done. While the specific circumstances the ministry that I have started on ‘Tribal Wars’ operates in are slowly changing, I plan to continue to try and reach out to the other people playing for as long as God wills.

That’s all I’ve really got on my mind at the moment, could you all please pray for me as I approach exams, and for the ministry on Tribal Wars as it undergoes some changes.

God Bless.

Thoughts

I’ve had a lot on my mind for the past week, and I’m still not quite sure how I’m gonna go tackling all of them, but here goes:

For one of my subjects at college, I’ve been reading through the book “Promoting the Gospel” (by John Dickson). There’s a lot that he says, even in the few chapters I’ve read so far, but all of it has been very striking. One of the most helpful things that the book has said so far is that not all Christians are called to be evangelists, but all are to be evangelistic in their approach to life. Living evangelisticly essentially refers to living a Godly life, praying for people you know, and answering questions raised about Christianity, not just to telling people outright about God.

The big problem with this is that people don’t often realise how important these other aspects are, and are often fairly hypocritical about their faith (the often mentioned ‘sunday-monday christian’ comes to mind here). We (as Christians) need to wake up and start living like we’re the children of the one true God, creator and ruler of the Universe, the one true King. We need to start living our lives for God’s glory, For his Kingdom. That’s the reason behind the ‘ftk’ in my username, it’s a public declaration that I’m not gonna live like a hypocrite, and that my life is the property of God alone.

On a side note, that link I posted is for FTK’s facebook page, FTK is a not-for-profit organisation set up for a lot of things (and their page says it better than I could), that encourages people to live For The Kingdom, and provides a place to start doing so. Check it out.

While there is so much more I think that I have to say (not about this, but about other stuff that’s been on my mind), I think that this is enough for this post.

As always, comments are welcomed, and discussion is valued.

God Bless,

Fr33Lanc3rFTK

Worship

The worship in College chapel was awesome today! One of the things that had a great impact on me was the change they made to the song ‘In Christ alone’ – they changed all of the words with a personal outlook to words with a communal outlook (“my” to “our”, “me” to “us”, etc). There’s something amazing and awe-inspiring about 150+ people all singing the words “In Christ alone, our hope is found. He is our light, our strength, our song”. For me, it changed what is normally a very ‘me focused’ song into a triumphant battle cry, and one that I think many churches need.

Aside from this, the worship was generally a recall for me to surrender my life to God, which I willingly and wholeheartedly did. The missional focus of the worship also served to affirm some ideas that I’ve been throwing around my head (along with some serious prayer), and will most likely tell you all about when I’m good and ready.

Partnership Mission

Yesterday, I came home from partnership mission (a college thing where students get sent out in groups to churches around NSW), which I spent at Swansea baptist church. The whole week was great, and I suppose that this is a summary (kind of) of the things that I’ve learned/realized over that time:

  • I am not suited to be a scripture teacher. We spent some time at scripture classes (I helped out at three – kindy, 3/4, and year 6), and I don’t think that I’ve got the personality or desire to be a scripture teacher (although, I might help out with year 6’s if the occasion arises – and I have a better idea of what needs to happen).
  • The way that Swansea Baps is set up is amazing. It’s a long story, but the church bought a gym in the area (cause they were running out of space in their old building), and ended up building a church room within the gym’s premises. They still run the gym, and the ministry opportunities within are amazing. While I don’t think that their set up would work for every church, the way in which they are meeting and talking to people who would not normally step anywhere near a church is awesome.
  • No matter what anyone told me, I found it much harder to speak in front of people I didn’t know, than to speak in front of people I do.

All up, the whole week was incredible, and I can’t wait to see what the trip in my third year brings me.