Faith shines, undaunted by broken bodies

I have witnessed holy moments this week, acts of faith largely unseen but shining brightly in an invisible kingdom. They have left me humbled and undone. The first I witnessed personally, the second through the eyes of others.

Standing in a rehabilitation hospital I am surrounded by septuagenarians and find myself playing the role of the younger generation, nice for a change.

The first stood, fire in his voice, to pray for his friend sitting in a wheelchair. The pray-er has this year come through life-threatening emergency surgery to remove a massive tumour that was destroying his spine. Remaining full of faith throughout, he feels more qualified to pray for healing, not less.

He wags his finger lovingly at his friend who finds herself in a wheelchair after tumbling down a cliff, breaking her neck and bruising her spinal column.  

‘Don’t ever think that God wouldn’t want to heal you just because you are old. He loves you unconditionally and wants you to have life to the full,’ he says. Read More »

Two jokes and the full text of Make it Count speeches

Make it Count at Old Parliament House on Monday night was not all serious business.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director, Jim Wallace, when introducing Kevin Rudd, said ‘Ladies and Gentleman, without further ado, can I ask you to welcome to the podium, the Prime Minister of Australia, the right honourable, sorry the honourable, Mr Kevin Rudd.’

To which Mr Rudd replied, ‘Thank your very much Jim. I gather that means I’m honourable but not right…’

Mr Abbott, in his speech, was highlighting the Coalition’s preference for smaller government and the involvement of non-government agencies in the delivery of services. To make his point he said:

‘I suspect that the Christians in the Howard government were no more or less conscious of the parable of the Good Samaritan than the Christians in the Rudd government. It’s just that we didn’t habitually identify the Good Samaritan as a government official…’

Well, you had to be there… Anyway, if you missed the webcast, fell asleep or your internet froze, you can read the full text of both Mr Rudd’s and Mr Abbott’s speeches at Australian Christian Voter’s In Depth page.

PS The heading is not making any inferences about the politicians who gave speeches…

Ethic classes – ‘new atheism’ in poor disguise

As the debate rages over the trial of ethic classes as an alternative to Scripture in state schools, those in favour of the new program ask, in a smugly reasonable tone, ‘Why can’t the churches respect parents’ right to choose?’

As if that is all that is really at stake. As if this is really just about a choice between your child going to Scripture, ethics or having a half-hour break.

What it is really about, and why some churches are fighting so hard, is the final and complete secularisation of public schools, fueled by the rampant new atheism which views religion as poison.

No matter what politically correct sounding arguments emerge from both camps, at stake is the privilege of access to public schools.

The goal of the new ethic classes is to so threaten the status and viability of Scripture that it will eventually disappear.

Of course the Minister for Education will never say that, in public, nor the proponents of ethic classes. But you can hear it slipping through in an odd angry shot at the Anglicans or the Catholics during media debates, and it is rampant in the unofficial grassroots commentary.

My children attended a school that did not have Scripture, in which recognition of Easter and Christmas was completely secular. Christmas carols were out, ‘seasonal songs’ were in.

Parents of faith often felt under siege and so desolate was the atmosphere of the place, I eventually pleaded to be allowed to organise an assembly that in a light-hearted way, told the real Christmas story.  One half hour in an entire year…

So what is at stake is not so much the to and fro over Scripture and ethics. It is the choice between a completely secular atheistic system or one where there is some decent recognition that people of faith exist.

But we shouldn’t be surprised by these battles. The secularisation of society has been raging for many years and, in reality, the institutional power of the church (which gave it the right to Scripture classes) has long been in decay.

Christian commentators such as Joel Edwards of Micah Challenge have said that the church needs to accept the demise of institutional power, and take up the opportunity of grassroots influence.

Newer churches, such as the Pentecostals, have never had institutional power which is why they have been so much better at grassroots influence.

Maybe the way to win the current battle, is for Scripture and the Christian communities of inner city to be so vibrant, so alive, so full of grace and power, so full of kindness and generosity and love, so authentic in relationships across dividing lines, that instead of relying on ancient privilege, they benefit from a new invitation to participate in schools, organisations and communities… PH

Kevin Sheedy votes for Jesus

Jesus made yet another appearance on ABC TV’s Q and A program tonight and gained the support of legendary AFL coach, Kevin Sheedy.

The divine moment came when panelist, NSW Liberal Pru Goward, was lamenting the intense public scrutiny politicians experienced and said in such conditions, even Jesus wouldn’t look good all the time.

Federal Liberal Scott Morrison, at the other end of the panel, said he didn’t agree with that but Goward only reitirated her point.

Sheedy then spoke up, suggesting Jesus would look good, regardless of the scrutiny and finished by saying, ‘I’d vote for Jesus’.

Me too Kevin… Hey maybe that’s why the AFL is doing so well in the battle of the football codes… PH

Sun strikes horizon, beautifully

Kuta Beach may not be the cleanest in the world, but the sunsets remain untainted by tourism, pollution and souvenir sellers. It is at the junction of things that we often experience the most beauty. As the ocean beats the shore or the sun strikes the horizon we find the richest images. In life too, it is the collisions, the surprises, the challenges, the beginngings and endings that so often throw up the most strident beauty.

Before a word…

The world has never had so many words. When we consider how few words it took to create the universe, and how many words we produce to get much less done, the efficacy of our speaking becomes questionable. How rare is it in our emails, texts, letters, conversations, sermons, speeches, and dare I say, blogs, are we truly understood. What comfort then in these ancient words of Psalm 139: ‘Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, oh Lord’. There is Someone who always knows the full intent of our words, before we speak and better even than we know ourselves.