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Aug 20, 2017
Journeying Through The Wall
A few years ago I participated in a fundraiser which involved walking 50 kilometres in one day. I walk all the time, so I was pretty confident that I could go the distance without too much of a struggle. But of course, by the time I’d reached the 38km mark I’d developed a pretty good idea of how hard it could be! I wasn’t sure I could keep going. Every part of my lower body ached, my toes were mangled and bloody, and I felt completely exhausted. But it wasn't these physical

ailments that were going to stop me from finishing. It was a mental battle, believing I could actually go on. The entire focus for the last 12km was just surviving. I had to convince myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

It happens to most distance athletes at some point. They've been running, or cycling or swimming hard, pushing their physical limits, when suddenly things take a sharp turn for the worse. The body feels like it is moving through treacle. Each leg feels like it weighs a couple of tonnes. Some people might even start to hallucinate. Quickly, and very unpleasantly, everything seems to be shutting down. They have ‘hit the wall’. When you hit a wall like this you have two choices: keep going, keep pushing, or just give up.

We can hit similar walls in our careers, in business, in study, in relationships and certainly in our faith. In the middle of these spiritual life crises we really feel like our faith doesn't 'work'. Perhaps we have more questions than answers. We don’t know where God is, what he is doing, where he is taking us, how he is getting us there, or when this will be over. Many even get to the point where they are not even sure if God exists. These walls are more emotional and spiritual in nature than physical, but the struggle to push through rather than quit is just as real.

Abraham ‘hit the wall’ numerous times while trying to follow God. He made mistakes at walls, he got stuck, he retreated, but as he matured and allowed God to transform him, he pushed through walls far more effectively. Abraham often had no idea what God was really doing. But he persevered. He waited on God. He trusted. He was faithful. He obeyed. He continued the journey because he knew God was good and loving, and something good was going to come out of what he was facing even though he couldn't see what it was. So he moved forward.

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  • Aug 20, 2017Journeying Through The Wall
    Aug 20, 2017
    Journeying Through The Wall
    A few years ago I participated in a fundraiser which involved walking 50 kilometres in one day. I walk all the time, so I was pretty confident that I could go the distance without too much of a struggle. But of course, by the time I’d reached the 38km mark I’d developed a pretty good idea of how hard it could be! I wasn’t sure I could keep going. Every part of my lower body ached, my toes were mangled and bloody, and I felt completely exhausted. But it wasn't these physical

    ailments that were going to stop me from finishing. It was a mental battle, believing I could actually go on. The entire focus for the last 12km was just surviving. I had to convince myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    It happens to most distance athletes at some point. They've been running, or cycling or swimming hard, pushing their physical limits, when suddenly things take a sharp turn for the worse. The body feels like it is moving through treacle. Each leg feels like it weighs a couple of tonnes. Some people might even start to hallucinate. Quickly, and very unpleasantly, everything seems to be shutting down. They have ‘hit the wall’. When you hit a wall like this you have two choices: keep going, keep pushing, or just give up.

    We can hit similar walls in our careers, in business, in study, in relationships and certainly in our faith. In the middle of these spiritual life crises we really feel like our faith doesn't 'work'. Perhaps we have more questions than answers. We don’t know where God is, what he is doing, where he is taking us, how he is getting us there, or when this will be over. Many even get to the point where they are not even sure if God exists. These walls are more emotional and spiritual in nature than physical, but the struggle to push through rather than quit is just as real.

    Abraham ‘hit the wall’ numerous times while trying to follow God. He made mistakes at walls, he got stuck, he retreated, but as he matured and allowed God to transform him, he pushed through walls far more effectively. Abraham often had no idea what God was really doing. But he persevered. He waited on God. He trusted. He was faithful. He obeyed. He continued the journey because he knew God was good and loving, and something good was going to come out of what he was facing even though he couldn't see what it was. So he moved forward.

  • Aug 13, 2017Going Back in order to Go Forward
    Aug 13, 2017
    Going Back in order to Go Forward
    Last week Rebecca and I went to see the movie, 'The Big Sick'. Loosely based on a true story, it is a film about how a young Pakistani comedian living in Chicago meets a non-Pakistani girl and they fall in love. This would be a very unremarkable story were it not for the families of both characters. Kumail's parents have their own expectations and since they also live in Chigago, they have regu
    lar family dinners. The cultural expectations go further than regular family dinners. His parents are actively searching for a suitable (Pakistani) woman with whom they can arrange a marriage for Kumail. When Emily contracts a life threatening disease and is placed in a coma, her parents rush to the hospital where they meet Kumail for the first time. During the rest of the movie, Emily's parents' dysfunctions are revealed and Kumail has to navigate a tricky path through the questions, suspicion, expectations and demands of both sets of parents.

    God's interaction with people began with one family. The family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a family revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, so much so that these are called the Abrahamic religions. The truth is, however, that Abraham's family is extremely dysfunctional. Peter Scazerro, in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, says "The great news of Christianity is that your biological family of origin does not determine your future." This is only true, however, if we take the time to understand the past and reflect on how it affects our present.
  • Aug 6, 2017Know Yourself To Know God
    Aug 6, 2017
    Know Yourself To Know God
    This week I had the opportunity to go back to my old high school and speak to a group of young leaders about life after school. As I prepared what I was going to speak about, I found myself reflecting on what it felt like to be close to the end of my time at high school - excited about the beginning of a new chapter, but also incredibly scared about the future.

    Like many teenagers, I hadn’t quite figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I had decent grades, I was a leader in my church and school community, and I’d worked hard at extra-curricular actives that put me in a good position to apply for university. The only problem was I didn’t really know myself. As a result, I made decisions about my future based on the opinions of other people. I thought it sounded impressive telling people that I’d been accepted to study a Law degree. Well intentioned teachers and family members told me that it was a great achievement. Lawyers were smart, they were driven, the good ones were rich - I was going to build my life into something great.

    The only problem was, I hated it. I didn’t care about 90% of the stuff I learnt in my first semester of uni. I didn’t want to be a lawyer and no matter how much I tried convincing myself and everyone else around me that I had it together, I didn’t. I was living out my false self, and it didn’t feel good. I didn’t know myself well enough, so I didn’t have the capacity to differentiate between who I was and who I thought other people wanted me to be. It wasn’t until I spent some serious time in self-reflection and prayer that I figured out who I really was and began living as my authentic self.

    The first of seven steps towards emotionally healthy spirituality is knowing ourselves so that we may know God. If we lack understanding of who we are, we can be tempted to live as our ‘false-self’ rather than become our ‘authentic-self’. God created each one of us to think and feel differently, and we position ourselves best in relationship with him if we come as we are.

    ow Yourself To Know God" by Wollongong Salvos.
  • Jul 30, 2017The Problem with Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality
    Jul 30, 2017
    The Problem with Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality
    Like most kids, when our twin daughters were four and learning to write, they began by learning to write their own names. As they were both getting to the point they could almost write their names legibly, I noticed that someone had used permanent marker to write the name ‘Chloe’ on the door of the fridge in very rough writing. I asked Chloe, “Did you write your name on the fridge?” Instantly s
    he replied “No, Emily did.” Unfortunately for Chloe, Emily was still struggling to write her own name, so it was extremely unlikely that she was able to write her sister’s name. But Chloe insisted and refused to back down. I wanted to say “Seriously, how dumb do you think I am?” but I was struggling not to laugh. Chloe didn’t get why I thought her response was humorous. She was only 4 years old and so obviously pretty immature. Fortunately, as she has grown up and matured, she has largely grown out of this tendency to point the finger and blame someone else, especially when it’s blatantly obvious she is at fault.

    In 1 Samuel 15 we read that God tells Saul to go to war against Amalek and to destroy everything, including all the cattle and sheep, no exceptions. But Saul does make exceptions and he spares the choicest sheep and cattle because it makes him look more favourable in the eyes of the people. Then he boastfully tells the prophet Samuel, “I accomplished God's plan to the letter!” Samuel however wasn't having any of it. He responds with great sarcasm, “So what's this I'm hearing - this bleating of sheep, this mooing of cattle?”

    Chloe & Saul had some growing up to do if they wanted to also be spiritually healthy. They needed to develop emotional maturity if they were to be able to develop spiritual maturity. Many of us try to present our lives and the situations we experience in a particular light, with a particular spin, when underneath there’s a very different reality that just doesn’t correspond. The most confronting truth is that often we are the last to see it.
  • Jul 23, 2017Stay Positive 4 – I’m Encouraging
    Jul 23, 2017
    Stay Positive 4 – I’m Encouraging
    Apparently, when you catch a crab and place it in a bucket, the first thing it will try to do is escape. Usually, this lone crab succeeds and can climb up the walls and out of the bucket with ease. However, if you are to place two crabs in the same bucket, neither one will escape. As soon as one crab begins climbing up out of the bucket, the other will grab it by the legs and pull it back down. This process is repeated each time a crab starts climbing. It’s possible for both

    crabs to get out of the bucket, but instead they hold each other back from doing so. Crabs are dumb. But sometimes, sadly, we’re not so different. It’s difficult to maintain a positive perspective if we’re constantly pulled down by the negativity of others, and we never get out the bucket if we’re the ones doing the pulling.

    Over the past three weeks we’ve focused on attributes that help us to be, think and stay positive. Positive people are optimistic, grateful and enthusiastic, and this week we take a look at the importance of being people who are encouraging. While it’s tempting for us to pull each other down or to lose sight of each other’s best interests, Hebrews 10 encourages us to be people that look out for each other. Truly encouraging people have the ability to not only consider others, but to spur them on to God’s best. Unlike crabs, we can all get out of the bucket if we can stop for a moment and think about how we can best understand, help and motivate each other.