Today, we live in an exceptionally PC (Politically Correct) society. A society where PC has actually gone too far – these days, many people are afraid of saying anything for fear of upsetting or offending one person. It’s a world where everyone is ‘free’ to do, be, say or think what they please – as long as you don’t infringe upon anyone else in the process.
And this is perhaps one of the most difficult battles facing Christianity today. We know the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; we know the God above all gods – but in this PC society, we’re not allowed to say that.
When I was in Perth, I stayed at a Backpackers’ Hostel – it gave me this great juxtaposition between my days and nights while I was there. Most of my days were spent on the YWAM base, talking to Christian friends, having a wonderful time. Then at night, I’d go back to the hostel where alcohol was flowing, cigarettes and marijuana were being passed around and offered to whoever might want some, it was almost a total opposite of what I’d been experiencing during the days.
But when I first got there, I ended up talking to this English guy about God, and my relationship with Him. The difficult thing with evangelising to him was, though, that he agreed with pretty much everything I had to say! He was able to just nod and smile, and basically tell me that it was great that I believe in God; and he believes in a higher power too, and that really, it’s all about loving people and having faith and being happy.
Sure, but it’s more than that, too! God – our God – is love! Everything else is just a shadow of that; it’s a piece of the picture, but it’s not the whole picture. Mankind was created in God’s image, so yes, we know how to love – but we know how to love in our own selves, the same way someone in a tropical area knows about snow from reading a book. It’s an image, but it’s not the real thing – the only way you can really know what snow is like, is to actually go there and experience it through all five senses.
In our society, though, it’s okay just to look at the pictures. You can’t tell someone that no, they don’t know what snow is just by looking at a picture, they haven’t experienced it – because if they think they know all about it from the book, then that’s enough for them.
This is a world where people are encouraged to think freely, and to do whatever they want that will make them happy. Political Correctness to the extreme of making everything correct. Love who you want, love how you want. Be who you want, where you want, when you want. Worship who or whatever you want, and no one can tell you any different, because all that matters is what’s true to you.
Well, here’s one fact: Just because something’s ‘true’ in your mind doesn’t make it truth. I can say that I don’t believe gravity exists, but just because I say it, I’m not going to float away into space because gravity suddenly ceases to exist in my reality. It’s still there, whether I deny it or not.
The same goes for God, too. This chapter gives very stern warnings against listening to people who would encourage the Israelites to start worshiping other gods. Even if their own brother, son, daughter, wife or closest friend was to encourage them to stray from the truth of God, do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. ~ Deuteronomy 13:8
When I reconnected to God last year, he said something to me not long after. He told me that there really hadn’t been much to worry about during my time away from him; because I’d been searching for the truth, and ultimately, that search was only going to take me to one destination: God.
So to be Politically Incorrect: I have a relationship with the one true God; and he wants to have a relationship with you, too. Many people who read this will already know him, but if you don’t then might I just say – look around for him. Really look, because if you look with an open heart, you will find that one truth, too.
Something that a few people know – and more people probably don’t need to know – about me is that I tend to really enjoy films and stories that, really, most guys shouldn’t admit to liking. I can’t help it, though, combine being a writer with being a bit of a romantic (just look at how sickening some of the song lyrics are via the links to the left) and you end up with someone who gets caught up in the story of most movies that I watch.
One movie that I do quite like, though, is The Phantom of the Opera. I haven’t ever seen the stage production, so I am not about to comment too much on the story itself; however, one song that I really like is the song, All I Ask Of You.
The song, though, has Raoul and Christine saying to one another that all they ask of one another is love.
“Love me, that’s all I ask of you.”
Here in Deuteronomy 10, God says the same thing to the Israelites. Actually, he quite literally says the same thing.
And now, O Israel, what does the LORD yoru God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving to you today for your own good? ~ Deuteronomy 10:12-13
I loved reading this chapter, it goes on and just acknowledges and declares the greatness of God.
Ultimately, this is the essence of why everything has happened, though. God wants us to love him. Ultimately that’s all he asks of us. Jesus himself, when asked what the greatest commandment is, quoted Deuteronomy 6 in saying that the greatest commandment is that we love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul and mind.
All he asks of us is love.
Now the reality is, though, that more flows from love. When you truly love someone, you don’t want to hurt them, you want to be with them, you want to make them happy, you want to see them smile – and when they do smile, that’s all the reward that is needed just to make everything you give to them worth it.
On Friday night last week, I was in Perth at the YWAM base again, and the message was on Compassion. I took notes, but during the service a thought came to me that I also wrote down:
“The true measure of love is not in how much you are willing to give, or able to receive. The true measure of love is how much you are willing to sacrifice.”
I’ve been caught up in the past with this mentality – not consciously – of ‘buying’ people’s love. I’ve had this mentality that says to show my love, I need to keep giving stuff to them. Which is kind of strange really, because when it comes to the famous ’5 love languages’, gifts isn’t actually one of my strong ones. The thing is, though, that giving isn’t really a strong measure of love, if it’s not easy to give. It’s in the sacrifice.
See if I (and I’ll finish with this thought) consider the difference between a gift and a sacrifice, by turning to my favourite source for word definitions, Merriam Webster, I come out with the following:
Gift: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.
Sacrifice: an act of offering to a deity something precious.
To me, the key word there is precious. When I think of defining something as precious, I consider that as being the personal worth of something. It doesn’t have to be a material value, either, time is a commodity that is precious to many of us these days, and perhaps that’s the best way to love God, giving him our time.
For me, the big one being worked on at the moment is control. It’s extremely hard for me to let go of control over my own life and actions, and while I was in Perth, God really brought that to the forefront and said that it’s time we start working on that. It’s a sacrifice, though, to relinquish control.
But in the sacrifice, that’s the demonstration of real love. In releasing what we hold on to most tightly to God, that’s when we really say, “I love you.”
And that’s all he asks.
It probably shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is quite amazing how a good start can just make an entire day so much easier.
I was pretty productive today, both professionally and personally. What I mean is that I was able to do my work and still get a whole heap of things done for an upcoming holiday. I’m looking forward to going back to Perth in March. I’ll get to catch up with all the people from YWAM as they come back from Mexico, and just once more bathe in the wonder that is my favourite Australian city. Part of me sincerely wishes I’d never forgotten that fact, but who knows what might have been different in my life had I not been through the past five years as I did?
Still, there’s a joy in planning something like that. You get to drift off into the dreamworld for a little while. As you’re booking cars and accommodation, you get to sit there and wonder about what adventures or what fun’s about to be had.
This year could potentially be a pretty big travel year for me, actually. At least the first part is shaping up to be that way!
You know, sometimes I struggle to really find something to bring out of a chapter as I’ve been doing this blog. Sometimes I have to just start writing and something will come to me while I’m going through things, and other times, as I’m reading, there’s just so many different things jumping out at me that I find it difficult to narrow things down. I’m not writing a book here, after all, and in actuality probably a lot of my entries ramble on too long for most people’s convenience. That’s what I have a separate area for articles and stories and stuff for, right?
So here goes.
There’s a lot here, but so much of it seems to be things that have been gone through in the past. Once again, the Israelites decide that they haven’t whinged in quite a while, so they decide now, they need to complain about the food.
It’s free food. It’s a blessing from heaven. Every day, for at least a year now, they have woken up in the morning to manna in order to feed themselves. Now they’re ungrateful.
I find it quite interesting, though, that we did get so far without there being any complaints, and you know what I think it had to do with?
They had a purpose.
There’s really been no sign of the Israelites whining and complaining since they started building the Tabernacle. For that period of time, it would seem they had a purpose, so they didn’t have anything to whine about because they were actually occupied. Now, here they are again, the Tabernacle’s built, and once more they have time to actually look around and take stock of where they are – and they decide they want better food. They have to have something to complain about.
Purpose takes our eyes of those things that we would otherwise complain about. We’re designed to do. When we’re not doing anything, or we even feel like we’re not doing anything, suddenly it becomes easy to complain about life, the world, people, food, whatever might be in front of us at the time. I think this shows something about the human condition, we’re designed to do, we’re designed to go. We’re not designed to be stagnant, but we’re designed to grow and develop, to build and achieve.
I’m getting more and more against the concept of a comfort zone, as life goes on. I don’t want to ever be too comfortable, because I’m realising that I love being on the move, I love being a bit spontaneous, I love going, I love doing.
We need to find a purpose, purpose helps to bring happiness.
Tired. It hit midnight and I remembered I hadn’t done this for tonight so I’m just doing a short one.
Well, this could be a really long discussion, actually, if I wanted to make it such. As I read through each of the laws in this passage, certain thoughts came to me on almost all of them, so it could be broken down almost verse-by-verse. I’m not going to do that, though.
It’s an interesting read, though, just some of the things that were forbidden or processes that had to be followed. If you plant a fruit tree, you can’t eat the fruit for the first four years. You shouldn’t plant two crops in the same field, or wear cloth made from two different fabrics (There goes the poly/cotton blend clothing market), don’t clip the edges of your beard or the hair at the side of your head. It’s all quite strange and interesting.
Other laws that are brought up in this passage make more sense. Use honest scales and weights, rise in the presence of your elders, treat aliens in the land as your own. Some of these things are actions that, really, I’d think would be common sense. It’s just about showing general courtesy to people, still, God actually considers these things worth specifying. I mean, he doesn’t actually go into pages and pages of laws that would also come under common sense and common courtesy, so therefore that would imply to me that these are actions that God really considers something special.
It reminds me of Jesus saying:
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:35
In spite of what so many people would try to suggest, God is actually all about love. Love for one another, no matter who the ‘other’ is; and love for him. Showing respect and courtesy to others is a simple thing that can reflect God’s heart.
I remember being struck when I arrived in Perth by something. We caught the shuttle bus from the airport in to Perth, and when we arrived at the YWAM base, I stopped, gave the bus driver a good handshake and said thanks to him. I was slightly startled by just how much his face lit up; when I did that, and God put into my mind the question: How many people actually stop to give a person in his position a real thank you? It’s one thing to say thanks in passing, with barely a second glance to a person who serves us – someone whose face we wouldn’t even remember three minutes later; but it’s worth remembering to actually be genuine in our thanks.
The little things that we can do, can be such a blessing to the people receiving them.
The Israelites were commanded, that if a foreigner entered their land, they were to be treated as an Israelite. There wasn’t to be any difference in interaction between their fellow countrymen and people from outside. Sounds very similar to loving your neighbour as yourself.
So, for the past 36 hours or so I have been in Perth, Western Australia!
Itäs (It´s – I´m typing on a Finnish keyboard so it´s difficult to work out!) absolutely amazing. This place has been such a blessing to me already. I´m meeting new people all the time, such wonderful people, too!
So I came here via Melbourne. In Melbourne I got to catch up with my brother and his partner, and my two best Melbourne mates. It was so good to see them again, after two and a half years.
Since being here the holiday has really started. It´s been so hot, sunny, and just awesome. It´s SO good to see Cody again! (See her blog on the left to stay up to date with her YWAM journey!)
Yesterday we went into the city, it hasn´t changed much really, but felt so good to walk through again. I actually didnät remember JUST how hot it gets here in Perth though!
My brainäs all over the show right now. IÄm working on a new article for tis site which I started this afternoon, but also just looking forward to actually getting into some more time with God! The suggestion has been made that Sara and I might be able to drop in on some of the DTS lectures – so if we can, then that could be really awesome!
Went to church tonight. Metro Church, and had a rather weird moment. They had some song performances going on, and started singing a chorus that was “To God be the Glory” (The old hymn), and as they started into that song, I just burst into tears! Happy tears, like, tears of gratitude and love, but it was still rather strange!
Anyway, thatäs the main update for this trip so far. If I get a computer again later in the week, will update again!