Baseball and Bible Study

When was baseball first mentioned in the Bible? “In the Big Inning.” (Genesis 1:1)  When was baseball mentioned again? “The righteous run to it and they are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)  Alright, so maybe baseball isn’t an important theme in the Bible but it still is just fine (as long as we steer clear of heresy) to mix the Bible and Baseball.Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 11.43.44 AMRyan is currently making the final preparations for his second Bible study out in Brookton and he has the Japan verses US up in the background.  Since we don’t have TV, we get creative with how we get our news and keep up with other things like sports.

Please pray for Ryan as he heads out to Brookton every Wednesday (it works out great with the time change if our friends in the US pray on Tuesday night before you head to bed).  Ryan has set aside Wednesday to visit with people and teach through the Bible.  We’ll see how this time evolves in the future and I may join him on some Wednesdays too later on.  We’re looking forward to marking our time here in Australia as Ryan teaches chronologically through the Bible.  Thanks for your prayers!

Lenten Lights

Easter is one of my favorite holidays but unlike Christmas with the big build up that you can see in the stores, listening to Christmas music and participating in holiday festivities, Easter can sometimes creep up quietly.  I do admit, there is some candy out in the stores this time of year even in Australia and, of course, Girl Scout cookies in the US seem to mark the beginning of this special season somehow in my mind.  But unless your church observes lent there really isn’t a huge build up towards Easter/Passion Week.  Since getting married Ryan and I have done our best to observe this season and mark it in our own way.  Lenten lights are my favorite tangible reminder.Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 3.49.29 PMAt the beginning of the season (Ash Wednesday) it begins with 7 lit candles.  We have a special candle holder but 7 tea lights on a plate would do the same thing.  Then each night during the meal or at another time during the day all the candles are lit and each day has it’s own reading.   This is the one we’re using for this year: Lent Devotional.  On each Sunday during lent one candle is blown out and the following week one less candle is lit during the daily reading.Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 3.50.35 PMThree weeks in and now we’re only lighting 4 candles each day.  And slowly we will work our way down to blowing out the last candle on Good Friday.  Seeing the darkness represented tangibly is a powerful reminder for me that helps my heart prepare for the joyous celebration that is Easter/Resurrection Sunday.  It may seem counterintuitive but understanding what Jesus did on the cross, makes the celebration of His resurrection more beautiful and more jubilant.  I look forward to continuing this transition and making it a part of how our home marks the Christian seasons.

Happy Sunday from Brookton!

Happy Sunday from Calvary Church in Brookton.  Brookton is about 90 minutes from Perth and we’re thankful to be able to worship with this congregation once a month.  This week Ryan will begin spending Wednesdays out in this area and that includes teaching a weekly Bible Study at Calvary in the afternoon.  We’re thankful for this community and the time we get to spend here with these wonderful people.  Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 3.18.42 PM.pngPlease pray for this church, that it would continue to be a light in the Brookton community.  And pray for us that we would serve well being humble and open to the opportunities that God presents for us in Brookton and the wider Wheatbelt area.

 

All Scripture is Useful

Sometimes I want to cherry pick the Bible, claim and use the parts that best suit my ideals and motivations while leaving out the unsavory, hard to swallow verses.  After all, sometimes I think it would be a lot easier to live out or even defend Christianity if I could distance myself from the more confusing or eyebrow raising bits of scripture.  But getting out a sharpie and crossing out verses is really not the answer.  After all 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  So to be thoroughly equipped, I can’t run and hide from any of God’s word.  Instead, I must dig into the Bible, seeking to learn, understand and apply scripture properly.Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 3.34.57 PM.pngAlthough I don’t think pastors need to always preach through books of the Bible, I do think that this practice forces pastors, as well as congregations, to face scriptures that would otherwise not be preached on because of their seemingly difficult or perhaps obscure content.  I’m thankful to have sat and learned under many pastors who do not shy away from the deep, rich challenges of scripture.  Today was no exception because we heard a sermon on Deuteronomy 22:1-12.  Feel free to read these verses yourself but my point here is not to critique or even expound on the sermon.  Instead I wish to say that I walked away from church this morning, not only encouraged but emboldened in my faith.  Today I was challenged to be set apart and different because I am a Christian.  And I was also pointed towards Jesus in how I view people as well as God’s creation.  Learning about the cultural context is important, however, scripture is still alive so we can’t forget to see God’s word as relevant and applicable to our current lives.

This is a good reminder for me as I continue to read the Bible and sometimes am tempted to skip reading or dismiss certain scriptures.  All scripture is useful.  All scripture is God-breathed.  And these are the words that can fully equip me for whatever task is ahead.

Koalified in Christ

There is comfort, security and strength in being Totally Koalified in Christ (Colossians 1:9-14).  This meme was posted to my husband’s Facebook page this week.  It is a good reminder for us in the middle of so many things that seem out of our expertise and control.  It’s not that we aren’t qualified in any way but even the qualifications we have are gifts from God.  I’m thankful for this gentle reminder that I do not need to rely on my personal achievements, abilities or supposedly self-won qualifications.  Jesus walks with me and gives me what I need.  Indeed anything I could boast about is only because of the strength of the Lord.screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-9-51-42-am

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 states this in confident yet humbling words.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

 

God’s Glory in a Loaf of Hands

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 15:5-6Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 7.15.54 PM.pngA few weeks ago our team sat around a large round table, all together for the first time ever.  6 couples, uniquely gifted and wonderfully diverse, gathered in Australia for the sake of the gospel.  We are thankful to have such an amazing group of people surrounding us and walking through this transition with us.  It is not by accident that we are here.  May God use these hands for His glory!

American Politics in Australia

I’m an American, a citizen of the United States and unless something unexpected or drastic happens, that’s not changing anytime soon.  However, I’m living in a very multicultural city in Australia and meeting new people every day.  It doesn’t seem to matter what their background, pretty much everyone has some sort of interest in US politics.  I couldn’t escape the conversations if I tried, so I don’t try to avoid them, I listen.  Listening allows me to hear what others think and also gives me input to continually reexamine and check my own attitudes and assumptions as well as values and beliefs.  I am generally encouraged by these conversations and my personal convictions are strengthened, although I am often challenged to look deeper into certain issues and policies.  Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 1.59.50 PM.pngConversations aside, I do realize that I am somewhat removed from US current events.  Although, the news here covers the main issues and my Facebook feed is an ever present reminder.  But I’m not in the US so, even if I wanted to, I can’t join the marches and protests.  I am not around to be a part of certain US organizations that are on the frontline when it comes to refugee resettlement.  I don’t have the time or the energy to devote to writing to US political leaders or to organize something more substantial.  Even if I was still in my safe, insulated US community, I would probably find it difficult to engage appropriately with the current policies that I agree or disagree with.  This is what, in my experience, often leads to apathy.  I can’t be the only one who recognizes something should be done but then doesn’t have the time, energy, resources and/or knowledge to do anything that might be deemed worthwhile.  So what are our options?

  1. Pray – Pray for wisdom (James 1:5).  Pray for your leaders (I Timothy 2:1,2).  Pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44).  Pray for those who agree with you.  Pray for those who disagree with you.  Pray.
  2. Read the Bible- Justice (Isaiah 1:17), mercy (Micah 6:8), love (Leviticus 19:18), compassion (Matthew 25:25-37), all of this and more is addressed in the pages of scripture.  I didn’t struggle to find verses here, the struggle was to choose just a few.  The Bible is an amazingly rich and holy resource.
  3. Love your Neighbor-  I mean your neighbor in the broader sense of Luke 10 (the parable of the Good Samaritan).  Your neighbors are those people you come into contact with during your daily life.  This can be as simple as loving and serving your family in your home, the person across the street, the man or woman who is driving next to you on the road, the person bagging your groceries, serving your meal at a restaurant, etc.
  4. Do What You Can- There are a lot of important issues that we can advocate for and be passionate about but refugees are close to my heart.  World Relief, one organization that I have worked with and respect just posted this to their blog: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Show Support for Refugees.  There are probably simple things to do online or in your community for almost every social cause that needs attention.

As divided as my Facebook feed is at the moment, I am generally encouraged by the real discussions that are happening, the hypocrisy that is being confronted across the board and those who are rising up to the challenge of practicing what they are preaching.  I can not fight every battle and shout from the mountain tops over every important issue.  But I can pray, I can read my Bible, I can love my neighbor and I can do what I can to live justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with my God.