Julia learned Bible verses but formed different views

Faith in politics is much more on the agenda in Australia than it was a decade ago and so it is no wonder there has been intense interest as to the religious convictions, if any, of new Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Today she was directly questioned about religious faith and the future of the Christian vote in Australia during an interview on ABC Radio.

The Australian newspaper reports that Ms Gillard appeared to be ‘surprised’ when asked whether she believed in God and how she would court the Christian vote.

‘I’m not a religious person,’ Ms Gillard told the ABC, although she was quick to point out she had won a prize for learning Bible verses as a child in the Baptist Church. ‘I’ve, you know, found a different path.’

Read more of what she had to say at Australian Christian Voter.

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Kevin thanks God – him or her

In making his final speech as Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd took a moment to thank God. In doing so he gave as much insight into his particular brand of theology as in any other forum.

‘It’s probably not the occasion for high statements of theology but I’m sure you would be disappointed if I didn’t say something, given it has been the subject of comment in the years that I’ve led this party.

‘But to the great God and Creator of us all. I thank him; or her as well.’

Jesus making news for his leadership example

What would Jesus do? doesn’t always appear to be the question at the top of the list for politicians but businessman Lindsay Fox says it should be when it comes to leadership.

He’s advised Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to take a leaf out of Jesus Christ’s unwritten book of leadership and delegate some authority to his disciples.

Speaking on ABC Television today, the trucking boss, one of Australia’s most respected and richest business leaders, said Mr Rudd needed a lesson in delegating.

‘You have to delegate some authority [to ministers],’ Mr Fox said.

‘In the case of Jesus Christ, he had 12 disciples and those disciples carried his message long after he was gone.’

Not enough was being heard from Mr Rudd’s ‘disciples’, as his standing with voters tumbles in opinion polls.

‘You can’t run a government unless you’re a total democratic dictator and there’s only been a few of them in the world in the last 50 years,’ Mr Fox said.

While Mr Fox is correct in saying Jesus did not write down any of his leadership principles – making his success all the more impressive – his followers did record his words and actions.

They can be found in four eyewitness accounts, named after their authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you are an inspiring leader, read them for yourself by clicking on the links or leave a comment asking for written copies, and I’ll get them to you. PH

‘I was born blind… because he love me so’

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu’s album, Gurrumul, is one of the most significant Australian recordings of recent times.

Blind since birth, he plays right-handed strung guitars left handed and sings with a clear, pure voice in Gälpu, Gumatj, Djambarrpuynu and English.

Also known as Gudjuk, he is from the Gumatj nation, his mother from the Gälpu nation, first nations peoples from North East Arnhemland.

Listening to the album again today, these words encouraged me from the song Gurrumul History:

‘I was born blind, and I don’t know why
God knows why, because he loves me so
as I grew up, my spirit knew…’

Gurrumul hopes that ‘Yolngu people enjoy and celebrate these songs forever, and Balanda (non-indigenous) not only enjoy but learn from them.’ PH

My hair like Jesus wore it, hallelujah I adore it

God-spotting, yeah man.

I’ll admit I’ve never seen Hair, the musical. Too young for the sixties, too old for the remakes. So I’ve never come across these lyrics from the musical:

My hair like Jesus wore it,
Hallelujah, I adore it…
Hair, hair, hair, hair…
As God can grow it, my hair 

I do know that you wouldn’t usually describe Hair as a musical encouraging  belief in God so it is nice, all these years later, to notice that He made an appearance and did receive credit for growing hair. As I recall, His Son also said that he even knows the ever-changing numbers of hairs on our heads. A sign of His care for us.

This all started when I saw ‘my hair like Jesus wore it…’ as a link and heading to an article on body image in various newspapers. Oh, and it was spotting Jesus in such a context that got my attention, not the body image topic, as important as that is…

Anyway, I’ll quit while I’m ahead (or, more correctly, while I still have a head of hair…) PH

Christian Obama urges commitment to Micah’s challenge

Unprecedented coverage of the religious views of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and more recently Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has shifted today to focus on possibly the world’s greatest religious enigma, US President Barak Obama.

President Obama hosted an Easter Prayer Breakfast yesterday (April 6) with 90 guests including leaders from most major denominations, the National Council of Churches, leaders of small and large churches and well-known Christian identities such as Bill Hybels and Joel and Victoria Osteen.

In America, where the appearance of Christian faith is almost obligatory for politicians, President Obama has been somewhat reticent to be seen as too firmly placed in that ‘corner’ and has not joined a church since moving to Washington.

As he welcomed people to the breakfast, he noted that the White House had also held a Seder to mark the Jewish Passover and an Iftar with Muslim Americans during Ramadan.

However, in his eight minute speech at the breakfast, President Obama clearly identified himself as a Christian, ‘Today, I’m particularly blessed to welcome you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, for this Easter breakfast.’

Later, reflecting on what Easter meant to him, Obama said, ‘…as Christians, we believe the redemption can be delivered – by faith in Jesus Christ… And the possibility that redemption can make straight the crookedness of a character, make whole the incompleteness of a soul. Redemption makes life, however fleeting here on Earth, resound with eternal hope.’

Recalling the words of the prophet Micah – championed by Micah Challenge,the social justice arm of evangelical Christians – Obama encouraged those present to commit their spirit ‘to the pursuit of a life that is true, to act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord.’

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Just enough bread

I nearly forgot… Also in the Utterance side-bar, strategically placed at the top, is a Bible verse for the day automatically updated by BibleGateway . The verse appearing right now as a I write – 2.29pm, March 24, 2010, is James 1:12. Here’s my comment on this verse (also verse 11) appearing in my devotional book, Transform Your Faith:

‘James continues to assault the false sense of security we draw from material things. He focuses on that human tendency to try and give our lives meaning by accumulating money, possessions, power, position, fame, and accomplishments. These things aren’t necessarily wrong in themselves, but if we use them as a substitute for God then we are in serious danger. We are reminded that “people will fade away with all their achievements” just like the grass dries up and the flowers wither and fade. Secretly we all know this, even if we do tend to buy into this materialistic approach to life. Something deep inside yearns for eternal things. The good news is that God offers a “crown of [eternal] life” to those who love him and stay faithful to him, regardless of the opposition we may face. This is an offer that does not depend on our works because in the long run, nothing we can do will earn us a spot in heaven. Instead we are encouraged to enter into a relationship with God through Jesus – a relationship built on life-long love. Rich or poor, we can look forward to our earthly lives being crowned with eternal life if we make loving God our first priority…

Hello Switchfoot, it’s a hurricane of a tour!

Okay, so maybe Saturday is music day for Utterance, but I couldn’t fail to mention that Switchfoot are about to tour Australia as well.

This genre-defying Christian band from San Diego will play The Hi-Fi, Brisbane on April 21; The Billboard, Melbourne, April 22; and The Forum, Sydney, April 23.

Here’s what Moshtix has to say about their concerts:

‘…their latest album Hello Hurricane, which was featured in USA Today’s Fall Pick for most awaited album, has a far more edgy vibe to it than their previous albums. Packed full of songs you want to die singing, Switchfoot are back with a fighting spirit while still retaining their moniker of hope and optimism. Although Switchfoot have never fit any of the genre boxes, the band find that diversity is their strength and that they operate at their best during their infamous and energetic live shows. Expect a night of melodic crunch with densely layered sound featuring some electronic experimentation, often driven by heart-pumping guitar riffs, with a few softer ballads thrown in as well.’

Switchfoot walk the fine line of holding Christian beliefs while creating their art in a secular environment, but there is no missing the Only Begotten’s Spirit in all they do. Tickets seem to be going fast so head to Moshtix now. If you are under 18, you’ll need an over 25-year-old guardian to attend the show as these are licenced venues. I could be available if you’ll buy my ticket… only kidding! (I’ll buy my own…).

So Switchfoot fans, put your favourite lyrics into a comment on this post, and keep the Hurricane turning. PH

Possessed by our possesions

‘Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you. And in this materialistic age, a great many of us are possessed by our possessions’. Mildred Lisette Norman courtesy of Criminal Minds.

‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor…then come follow me.’ Jesus courtesy of Mark’s Gospel, Ch 10:vs 21

Jesus out-socialists the socialists

Following on from yesterday’s blog post All you have to do is live your life comes this gem from Oswald Chambers:

“Jesus Christ out-socialists the socialists. He says that in His kingdom he that is greatest shall be the servant all. The real test of the saint is not preaching the gospel, but washing disciples’ feet, that is, doing the things that do not count in the actual estimate of men but count everything in the estimate of God.” (My Utmost for His Highest, February 25).

Both quotes question our definition of success. Is a good life that quietly leaves a wake of happiness rated below a great life that is noticed and acclaimed?

Is being visible and acclaimed as preacher (or celebrity) to be more highly valued than the simple humility of servanthood? Is it possible to be both good and great?

What of the partly reformed alcoholic standing next to me, singing his lungs out and often teary because of how much he feels loved at his little church? Is he a picture of success greater or lesser than a large auditorium of well-heeled, attractive young people with hands raised?

What “count[s] everything in the estimate of God” in your life? Can you esteem it highly too or are have you given away the high ground of goodness and servanthood to greatness and worldly success? PH

Finding our way forward

“Scars remind us of where we have been but do not have to determine where we are going.”
David Rossie (Joe Mantegna), Criminal Minds

“What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Leaders order their hearts and minds so as to acquire more than what they currently need, because they know they will need more than they now possess.”
Pastor Timothy Jack

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.”
Apostle Paul, Philippians 3:12

“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 26:39

Be exhausted for God

The word exhaust literally means to empty or drain completely of resources. We use it to mean we are very tired but it goes deeper than weariness, and includes an emptying out of any capacity we have to give.

Sounds like something to avoid but Oswald Chambers has this to say today in My Utmost for His Highest:

“He saved and sanctified you in order to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that your supply comes from Him.”

If we think of exhaustion as being tired, this doesn’t sound very useful. But if we consider that we have been gripped by God to be poured our for His purposes and filled endlessly by His grace, we find more hope.

This is why Chambers asks us to consider: “Where did you start the service from? From your own sympathy or from the basis of the Redemption of Jesus Christ.”

Sympathy is easily exhausted and rarely replenished. The Redemption of Christ is a high vantage from which to view and ceaseless well of refreshing. Live there and exhaustion or anything else will not beat you. PH

The marvel is not me

“The marvel of the Redemptive Reality of God is that the worst and the vilest can never get to the bottom of His love. Paul [the Apostle] did not say that God separated him to show what a wonderful man He could make of him, but “to reveal His Son in me.”

Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
February 3

This quote would seem to flow counter to the river of Christian books that  promote the idea of becoming all we can be. Is it the same thing? Or have we moved the mark some how? PH

Action interrupted, truth stumbled

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it. Chinese proverb.

What have you stopped doing because of a voice, internally or externally, saying  it can’t be done, you can’t do it or you can’t do it well? Avoid these interruptions.

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry on as if nothing had happened. Winston Churchill

As opposed to the interruption of doubters, truth is worth taking note of. What truth have you stumbled over, even and embarrassing or inconvenient one, that you have done your best to ignore but keeps tapping on your shoulder. Stumble back to truth, it always set you free.

Incidentally, I came across these quotes while reading Organic Church by Frank Viola. Still trying to decide if this book is interruption or stumbling truth. Probably a bit of both… PH

The challenge for the democratic west…

I’m re-reading the classic science fiction trilogy, Dune, by Frank Herbert, and came across an interesting quote in a typical Herbert entree to a chapter.

In Children of Dune the quote has this citation: ‘Words of an ancient philosopher (Attributed by Harq al-Ada to one Louis Veuillot).’

Harq al-Ada is a fictional charcter while Veuillot was a 19th century journalist, man of letters and radical Catholic ultramontane which means he supported the Pope to the exclusion of local church authorities. Ultramontane means ‘dweller beyond the mountains’ (ultra montes), that is beyond the alps – referring to the Pope in Rome…

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Sleepless in the sands of time

I woke up one night with a line from the intro to Days of Our Lives going through my head. For the record, I do not watch Days of our Lives.

While trying to get back to sleep my mind kept twisting the words back on themselves in a ridiculous attempt to come up with ‘deeper’ meaning from the same words in different order…

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