Meanderings & Musings #2

Last night I attended the Make Poverty History Makin Electoral Forum. The reason for this forum was not only to hear the electoral candidates speak about their and their parties’ perspective on achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, but also to ask questions and enter the conversation. What an opportunity! Speaking at the forum were all of the major party candidates in the upcoming federal election as well as Hon. Bob McMullin, Sen. Nick Xenophon and others. The organisers did a great job pulling the evening together and it was well-attended.

As several of the candidates stated, there is an urgency in the need to address both global poverty and climate change because they are so interwoven. Climate change affects those who live in poverty the most since they have no resources to adapt to the changing weather patterns (e.g. flooding in Pakistan) and they often live on the most vulnerable land (e.g. the delta region in Bangladesh). We need to provide aid to provide resources to enable them to adapt and overcome increasingly disasterous natural events.

For a picture of what Australia is doing with regards to foreign aid, visit Make Poverty History (click here.) As was mentioned last night, Make Poverty History is not a fundraising organisation, but an awareness-raising organisation. But there are many other NGOs who are doing a great job on the ground who also need our support and that of our government. Represented last night with displays were SIMAid and The Micah Challenge. Mentioned in the speeches were World Vision, World Health Organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières and Red Cross.

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I have always respected the Quaker branch of Christianity. The Quakers (or Friends, as they prefer to be called) have a view of worship and God’s presence which is refreshing, simple, and yet quite profound. Here’s a short extract from a Friends blog on  Beliefnet (Click here for the source):

“Words . . .  They are used in different ways.  We may answer a question according to what the words mean to us, but it is possible they mean something quite different to the person posing the question.

“I think there is a real sensitivity in this question, due to a feeling that some Friends may not be coming to worship seeing it as it has traditionally been seen among Friends, but rather in terms of what other groups call meditation, which is normally something distinctly different.

“Unprogrammed worship is not a traditional Quaker term, and the adoption of the term by most Quakers today may contribute to confusion about what it is (the term is based on what it is not).  If we think of the traditional term of waiting worship, this is about waiting on the Lord.  Such waiting doesn’t always have the calming effect which meditation is usually said to have, but may result in us being convicted of our sins and of feeling a call to a change or a ministry which may be uncomfortable for us.  Also, Friends may be called to speak vocally in meeting for worship, something which is not a part of any meditation tradition of which I am familiar.

“Here’s what early Friend Isaac Penington had to say:

“‘Our worship is a deep exercise of our spirits before the Lord, which doth not consist in an exercising the natural part or natural mind, either to hear or speak words, or in praying according to what we, of ourselves, can apprehend or comprehend concerning our needs; but we wait, in silence of the fleshly part, to hear with the new ear, what God shall please to speak inwardly in our own hearts; or outwardly through others, who speak with the new tongue, which he unlooseth, and teacheth to speak; and we pray in the Spirit, and with the new understanding, as God pleaseth to quicken, draw forth, and open our hearts towards himself.

“‘Thus our minds being gathered into the measure, or gift of grace, which is by Jesus Christ; here we appear before our God, and here our God, and his Christ, is witnessed in the midst of us.

“‘This is that gathering in the name, which the promise is to, where we meet together, waiting with one consent on the Father of life, bowing and confessing to him in the name of his Son; and that fleshly part, that fleshly understanding, that fleshly wisdom, that fleshly will, which will not bow, is chained down, and kept under by the power of life, which God stretcheth forth over it, and subdueth it by. So then, there is the sweet communion enjoyed, the sweet love flowing, the sweet peace of spirit reaped, which the Father breathes upon, and gives to his children; the sweet joy and refreshment in the Lord our righteousness, who causeth righteousness to drop down from heaven, and truth to spring up out of the earth. And so our Father is felt blessing us, blessing our land, blessing our habitations, delighting in us, and over us to do us good; and our land yields its increase to the Lord of life, who hath redeemed it, and planted the precious plants and seeds of life in it.’ (God’s Teachings and Christ’s Law Part XIII, A few Words concerning the Worship which our God hath taught us)”

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Can Muslims Follow the Biblical Christ and Still Be Muslim? This is the question Aaron Taylor asks (and answers) on the God’s Politics Blog this week. Here’s a snippet from his article:

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about the “Insider Movement” which is what missionary experts refer to as Muslims who love and follow Jesus while remaining within the cultural fold of Islam. I can remember before moving to Senegal as a missionary, a thought flashed through my mind, “I wonder if God might use me to initiate a movement of Muslims coming to biblical faith in Christ as part of a Reformation movement within Islam?”

It turned out to be a fleeting thought. Instead I opted for the traditional apologetics approach, pointing out to Muslims why the New Testament is superior to the Quran and why they’re wrong about denying the divinity of Jesus and the atonement. I never seriously questioned this approach until I read Carl Medearis’s excellent book Muslims, Christians, and Jesus. In his book, Carl shares stories of his interactions with Muslims who deeply love Jesus and strive to follow his teachings — yet remain committed Muslims. I nearly wept thinking about how things could have been different if I had trusted my original instincts. (Read more here.)

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Reading O Me of Little Faith blog this week, I came across this article written to demonstrate problems with interpreting the Genesis flood and Noah’s Ark in a literal sense. It made for some interesting reading and subsequent contemplation of what I was taught from an early age. Once again, it drives home the need to see the Bible not as a Constitution, but as a Community Library; not as a black-and-white photograph, but as a multi-coloured and textured painting. I believe reading Genesis in the context of culture and genre needs to be taught more proactively in today’s churches and Christian schools.

At the same time, a group of evangelical archeologists claim to have found the remains of Noah’s Ark on the side of a mountain in Turkey. This isn’t the first time. Many others have made the same claims over the years. (More here and here.) ABC-TV’s “Compass’ program ran a doco on this about 12 years ago, following the failed expedition by Ron Wyatt, and debunked the claim that was popular at the time. I’m looking forward to the results of this Turkish-government-sanctioned dig.

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Learning How to Live‘s post on Finding God Outside of Religion is so right!

Here’s a quotable quote from it:

“Sadly, many churches, in an attempt to reach more people, built large, elaborate structures that they are now dragging like a ball and chain behind them. Instead of opening up new opportunities for ministry, they have found that their ministry now consists of making desperate appeals on Sunday to bring enough in to pay the utilities.”

Read all of the post here.


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