Some odds and sods

I came across this interesting article about the issues and difficulties movie makers have in filming money on screen. To be honest, its something I have never thought of before. 

Henry writes a hard hitting fictitious short story about feeding the hungry. I believe that churches should be involved in feeding the hungry and is something I am involved with. Last week I was invited by our pastor to come along to a street ministry where homeless people are fed. ( We have recently started fellowshipping at this church) I arrived a little early and because didn’t see anyone I knew,I hung back across the street, waiting patiently for those I knew to arrive. . (I wasn’t sure if the group that nearby was part of that ministry, or were another group.) An older wizzened man, called to me, and said, “Hey mister, come here and join us.”

He was a short, frail homeless guy, whom I later found out was nicknamed the professor. While he hardly had a cent to his name – he was truly rich in the grace of hospitality and the gift of encouragement. I went to minister to those like him; and instead, found myself richly ministered to in return.


Fictition is nothing on the real evil of humanities brutality.

I admit I enjoy action flicks of all genres. Cowboys and indians. Cops and robbers.Some of my favourites are the subtitled asian kung fu and ninja ones. I can’t understand a word that is being said. My little knowledge of linguistics tells me that the subtitles only tell me the gist of what is being said. So I know I am missing out on the nuances, ironies and humor in the movie. I am told that I have a wicked and weird sense of humor. I like the slapstick b grade cowboy movies. Such as  The Trinity Brothers series. I also enjoy watching war movies of many genres. Such as the civil war in America. The variety of wars that happened in Europe. The Three Musketeers are also among my favorite which reflects the in house political fighting in France.

Last night I watched “Crocodile Dundee 2.” It told the story of how Mick Dundee had to bring his wife back to Australia to protect her from drug lords who were out to get her. It resulted with some people being shot. Some were wounded. Some were killed. There seemed to be justice involved. The good guys win. The bad guys lose. I have seen this movie a number of times in the past. I knew how it was going to pan out. In many ways the reality of life and death portrayed on the screen is all bells and whistles. I was recently blessed to be involved as an extra for a small producer making a sci fi movie in Sydney. My short stint enabled me to see how the bells, smells, smoke and whistles look like reality. And the truth is, from the safety of our lounge chair, we know the movies we watch are just fiction. No one is really dying in the shows we watch. Yes the stories may raise a tear. They may raise a cheer. But, we soon get over it.

But, over the last few weeks I have seen some videos that were not made in Hollywood. They are not made of bells, smells, smoke and whistles to look like reality. They are reality. What I have watched was and is truly traumatic. The first one I watched was ISIS executing 12 bound men. One by one they shot them. Then then the whole group emptied their guns into their bodies. There was no entertainment in watching this. The sheer horror and evil of humanity was being portrayed in front of me. There was no escaping it. I saw another bound man being beaten to a pulp with a plank. His legs and his feet were pulverised. They were smashed to pieces. He was left laying on the ground, bound. I saw a child. A young boy being forced to lay on the ground with his arm outstretched. I don’t know what he did. But they drove a truck over his arm. Back and forth this truck went over his arm, smashing it to bits.

Yesterday I watched another video, where a Christian man was being forced to recant his faith, and turn to Islam. He repeated the inmans words. He renounced his Christian faith. He publicly called on Allah. The inman then said, they were not going to shoot him. Instead, because he didn’t believe he had renounced his faith in Christ, they were going to cut his head off. The bound man was grabbed. A large knife produced. And someone proceeded to cut this bound mans head of. He didn’t use the knife like a sword. Instead, he used it like a saw, and sawed the mans head off. It took some time for him to do it. His death was not instant. Nor would it have been painless.

Yesterday I saw photos where islamists crucified 8 men for being Christians. Many Christians around the world are being forced out of their homes because of what they believe. Churches are being burnt down. Families forced out of their homes. Families being forced to recount their christian faith. And if they do, the women forced to undergo genital mutilation. Women and girls are being stolen and sold to or being forcibly married to Muslim men and forced to convert to Islam.

Tonight I watched another one. ISIS again in Syria. The had three bound men laying on the ground. They beat them with big sticks. They threw a truck tyre repeatedly on them. One mans head was set on fire. And then they pissed on his head and stomped on it, to put it out. They laid the boot into their face, their genitals, their legs and stomachs. They were laughing as they did it. I watched how a group of men gave a young girl, who looked like she was 1o or 12, a machine gun, and made her fire it around the corner of a building up the street, and they were laughing as someone else returned fire at the girl.

I have no idea where this happened. But it made me sick in the stomach. I nearly vomited after watching them. Why watch them you might ask me. Good question, as its one I have asked myself repeatedly. I certainly haven’t watched them for entertainment sake. I am blessed that I have cyber friends all around the world. And so I have watched them to see some of the true evilness which they are experiencing. Some of the videos have come from them. Others have been linked to me from a variety of sources. I read in the newspapers that many are crying to the U.N to stop the wars. To stop the brutality. To stop the evilness of it all. They are asking humans to do that which is impossible.

There is only one who is able to do the impossible. He has taken on humanitys evilness. Through him, and only through him is peace truly found. And through him we can pray to the one who can do the miraculous.

Father God, I beg you, cover the world with your spirit of peace. Let it hover over the waters evil and change them to love. Father God, change the hearts of the brutal and evil in our world. Deliver them from the evil which has so pervaded them. Fill them with the knowledge of your love. Your ways. Your peace. Your Spirit. Cause your people to live and practice their faith in safety and peace. True peace. In Jesus name I pray.

 

 

 


God will provide. Even firewood if we ask for it.

“Father God, I need some firewood,”  I Simply prayed, and continued, “You have always provided us with wood in the past and our supplies are extremely low now, can you please provide us with some?” This is a regular prayer of mine. Rarely do we need to buy wood. The times we do, the Lord seems to always provide us with the extra cash to do so. 

Our supply of firewood had become extremely low and so I took our need to God during the week. The other day,  I managed to pick up a few hard wood pallets from a local factory, which gave me a few days worth of wood. As I was leaving, I spied a number of extra long pallets in the yard corner – making a note to come back and get them also. I also have a railway sleeper tied to my camper trailer, which I managed to pick up on the way back from our recent holidays. 

This morning I heard sawing and banging coming from next door. Upon some investigation, I discovered workmen working on the house, which had been recently sold. Being the nosy parker that I am, I went over and checked out what was happening and discovered a pile of timber in the front yard. A simple request of the workman, soon led me to throwing over my fence some good lengths of hardwood framing from the house that is being renovated. I have just finished cutting them up on my sliding saw and think I have a couple of weeks worth cut up. I estimate that we will only need the fire for the next 3 – 4 weeks on a nightly basis and then maybe need to fire it up on a random basis for those cooler nights and days. And so todays provision will indeed provide us for what we need. 

I love the way the Lord answers prayer. He tells us to take to him all our needs. We have never run out of wood for the fire. Last year someone gave me a couple of trees which had been cut down. 7 weeks ago I picked up the wood from another tree that had been hit by lightning and had been cut down. And some seasons I will go to a friends property and cut wood also. I still could have gone to my friends property to cut some wood. But, as its towards the end of the winter season, my chain saw blades need sharpening. The saw needs some servicing. The fuel can needs refilling and I need to get some more chain oil. With other expenses needing to be paid – we really didn’t have the funds to pay for all those others items…so I prayed. 

I can’t urge you enough to talk to God about all your needs. Spiritual needs. Physical needs. Emotional needs. Relational needs. And while praying about your own needs; also ask God to provide the needs of those around you. And then ask God, what it is, he just may need from you. For perhaps, he may use you to provide the answer of the prayers and needs for others. 


Prayer Changes the Universe – John Piper on Prayer

John Piper speaks on prayer. I really enjoyed what he said at the 40 second point when he asked if he had any Calvinists squirming in their seats. Have a listen to it. I was greatly encouraged to pray and I am sure you will be also. 


My top reads on Kingdom Living

Dave Black writes a nice little essay on the top 20 books on the NT that he has read. I’ll throw my list into the ring with a bit of a twist to the rules and call it my top reads for Kingdom Living. 

1.) The Bible. – It was late in 2006 when I holed up in a pub at Gunning, and read the N.T right through in 3 days.

2.) There have been a number of significant biographies that have impacted me: 9 O’Clock in the Morning, Dennis Bennett. Smith Wigglesworth. John Wesley. Charles Spurgeon. Luther. Hudson Taylor. Corrie Ten Boon. David Livingstone. Brother Andrew – God Smuggler, Light Force. Nicky Cruz, Run Baby Run. In his Steps – Charles Sheldon

3.) Anything on prayer. Andrew Murray. E/M.Bounds. George. E Muller. The Kneeling Christian. Praying Hyde. Reece Howells Intercessor. David Brainard.  Corrie Ten Boon. Don Carson – Spiritual Reformation. (While I don’t hold to a Calvinistic reformed theology – I found his book an excellent read.)

Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence. I consider this book to be foundational for my own ongoing prayer life. Praying and communing with God where ever we are. 

4.) Spiritual Formation. Eugene Peterson. John Stott. C.S Lewis. Dallas Willard. Richard Foster. David Watson. Cloud / Townsend. Phillip Yancy. John Piper – Desiring God. Michael Harper. Gary Chapman (5 love languages) Rick Warren. David Watson.

5.) NT Commentaries – Gordon Fee – Revelation. Tim Gombis – Drama Ephesians. 

6.) NT study. Greek is David Black and William Mounce.  Gordon Fee – How to read the Bible for all it is worth. 

7.) Apologetics. Josh Mcdowell. Ravi Zacharias. R.J Berry (Real Scientists. Real Faith), J. Packer, John Eldridge, C.S Lewis. I love his statement.. Call Jesus Lunatic, Liar, or who he said he was – but, don’t call him a good moral man; because he hasn’t given us that option. 

8.) NT Theology – Roger Olsen. Stanley Grenz, Martin Lloyd Jones, John Stott. Clark H Pinnock – Flame of Love. Veli Matti – Pneumatology. Ross Clifford & Phillip Johnson – The Cross is not Enough. 

9.) Blogs that make me think. Roger OlsenRobert Martin- Abnormal AnabaptistScripture Zealot T.C Robinson – New LeavenShane Clifton – Australian Pentecostal Theologian, Mark Stevens – The Parsons Patch Dr. Claude Mariottini (Claude is an OT professor. But, he still makes me think! ) Dan Thompson – Apprentice to Jesus., Dave Black – Southern Baptist Greek Professor. (And a good friend) 

10) Christian Writers – Max Lucardo, Phillip Yancy, Bill Hybells. 

 


I did it – my way.

We have (I should say had) a small pergola / shelter in our backyard. I have been planning on moving it a few metres back and turn it sideways, for a few weeks now. It was one of those things with a few sheets of colour bond, 4 light square steel tube legs and a frame.

Muggins after studying it for a while, thought that it would be easy to cut the legs off just above where they were concreted in, and slowly walk the shelter to the required spot. Truth be known, I was kinda going to have a few guys around on Sunday to help me..but, I got impatient and I thought I could do it on my own… so I decided to do it yesterday.

I didn’t figure on the guttering / frame around the roofing iron to be full of years of accumulation of Tea Tree leaves and other debri. There was at least 80kg of debri hidden in the frame. And so after cutting the legs, it kinda collapsed on me.

So muggins had to pull it apart. And I now have this big mess to clean up. In many ways, its collapse was a blessing. I was going to move it to where I am making another pergola, aquaponics garden, and covered area and it most likely would not have blended in that well.

What can I say – yeup. I am a man. I did it my way!


The power of fire. Creating peace in an urban environment.

It doesn’t take anyone long to find out that I like fire. For the facts are I am a bit of a fire bug. I was laughing at a mates comment when he said he didn’t know anyone else who had so many methods of lighting a fire – he then corrected himself saying that he actually meant so many types of fire receptacles.  We have a slow combustion wood heater which provides our home warmth in winter. I also have a number of different fireplaces to use out side for a bbq. These range from a hole in the ground, a ring of bricks or concrete blocks, half of a 44 gallon drum that has 4 legs welded to it to make a fire pit, a 9kg gas bottle that has been made into a pot belly stove, a car tyre rim and more recently I picked up the top third of a beer keg that makes a awesome fire pit.  Chances are if you come to my place for a visit, and I’m outside and I offer you a cup of tea or coffee; you will find I will light a fire to boil the billy.  If you come over and its time for a feed, I will make an excuse to light a fire to cook dinner. It could be as simple as a couple of snags, chops or steaks on the plate, some toasted cheese sandwiches made in the jaffle irons, or it could be a more complex roast or stew made in the camp oven.

A group of men meet at our place every Thursday for what I call – Fire, feed and faith.” Here we light the fire, boil the billy. Take turns to provide a feed which is often cooked on the fire, and to share life and encourage each other. I don’t know if its the strong tea / coffee, the warmth of the fire, or a God factor; perhaps a combination of all three – I have often found myself chewing the fat and praying with another brother into the late night or early hours of the next day.

Last week a couple of ladies upped me like a rat up a drain pipe at the weekly community bbq. They said to me, “Where is our billy tea?” You make it for everyone else, where is ours – they strongly upped me. So, I replied, I will make it for you next week. This morning I took along the top of the beer keg fire pit. A pot holder I made to hang the billy and coffee pot above the fire and the camp oven. I made a “Craig’s” version of Chilli Con Carne, which comprised of Sausages, Baked Beans, Red Kidney Beans, Onion, diced Tomato, a pkt of frozen mixed vegetables and two packets of Chilli Con Carne mix. An hour or so later, one of our regulars arrived and called me “Swagman Craig.” I am forever amazed at the names this community come up for me. Bushy, bushman Craig, the bush prophet, the bush psychologist, farmer Craig, and now another one. This actually is much better than the more recent one they used for a few weeks in calling me the “Garden Gnome,” which had something to do with the way my beanie peaked one particular morning, making me resemble a garden gnome.
The fire, the stew, the tea and the coffee was a great hit. Better still was the way that the fire is a focal point which seems to naturally build community. People grabbed a chair and we sat around in a ring talking to each other. We shared life with each other. I was given some very cold stares when I cheekily suggested that  now we had given the ladies a taste of what men’s group was like, and that we would revert back to the normal way of doing community bbq. We all laughed when another guy came along a bit later and he said the same thing.

There is something hypnotically powerful about a fire. Sitting around a fire somehow reaches deep into our inner being – it touches and connects with our raw primitive nature. It creates the space in which life slows down. It creates the space where we don’t feel the need to rush about and do something else. It creates a space in which we start to connect on a deeper level with others. Its like the fire consumes the barrier walls which we put up between each other. The flickering flames, the hot coals and the smoke is a connection point in which we share of ourselves. And perhaps more importantly it creates a space in which we can listen to others share of themselves. As we sit around the fire, it creates the space for faith to be explored. It opens the inner being to explore more about God. To explore more about our humanity. To explore more about our need for community and to explore and connect with the living God.

 


Cowboy 10 commandments.

I love country people. Straight to the point with no bull. This translation resonates with me.

cowboy 10 commandments


Lets learn the power of blessing!

I have a regular practice of saying to my sons that I love them, like them and am proud of them. During our recent holiday adventure, I faced my son and held him on his shoulders. I looked intently into his eyes and said, “John, I want you to know that I like you, that I love you and that I am very proud of you.” I continued, “John, I also want you to know that I like being your dad, that I love being your dad and that I am proud to be your dad!” At one time he looked away from me. I stopped what I was doing. We made eye contact once again and I said, “John, this is important. Don’t look away. I want you to receive this blessing!” and with that, I continued to bless my son and speak life into his being finished with giving him a huge bear hug.

My nephew who came along with us, he jumped out of his chair asking, “Uncle Craig, will you do what you did to John, to me?”  So I took my nephew by his shoulders, looked him in his eyes and said to him, “I want you to know that as your uncle, I love you very much, I like you very much and I am very proud of you. Not only that, I want you to know that I like being your uncle, I love being your uncle and I am proud to be your uncle.” I also want you to know that God likes you, that God loves you and that God is proud to be your God. As I was blessing him, I felt my hands go red hot. I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit flowing into the depths of his soul. And he pressed into me, giving me this almighty bear hug.

It grieves me to the core when I see fathers, mothers, and those in authority speaking death into the lives of those they are called to love and build up. Why is is that in our culture its so easy to speak destruction to those around us. I see a generational curse at work in this regard. Parents have never had life spoken into them. Their parents had no life spoken into them. And so the trend continues from generation to generation. I have been reading and pondering the chapter of Isaiah 61. This chapter begins with perhaps one of the best known passages of Scripture, the one where Jesus begins his ministry. stating that the spirit of the Lord is upon him.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

When we continue reading this passage, we see that those Jesus ministers to will be called “Oaks of Righteousness.”   We read that these Oaks of Righteousness are called by God to rebuild the ancient ruins. Restore the places long devastated. And that they will renew the cities long devastated for generations.  Our cities, our communities, our families are devastated and ruined by the destructiveness of words that have been said and not said.  As for me – I want to be one who helps build up and restore life. I want to be a man who will proclaim good news. I want to be a man who binds up the brokenhearted. To set free those bound by the binds of poor choices and sinfulness. And in doing so – partner with God, as he releases his people to bring restoration and renewal of our nations, cities, communities and families into the ways of God.


How I found myself again – in the desert.

After a year of planning, we set of at 6am on the 23rd of June for our 3 week outback adventure. We planned to go to Uluru (Ayers Rock) via Broken Hill, through to Port Augusta, up through Coober Pedy and via the Painted Desert and the Oodnadatta Track, back to Broken Hill / Silverton  and back into Sydney via Cobar once again.  We planned to visit a number of Aussie icons; places like Ayers Rock, The Olgas, Williams Creek, Lake Eyre – all locations I have wanted to visit since I was a young boy. I packed my Bible and a couple of other books into my kit to read and some paint and brushes to do some painting. I have to confess that I hardly did any reading at all during my time away – and I only opened my Bible on a few occasions for personal devotion time.

However, a favourite verse says that all of creation speaks of the glory of God and over the last 17 days numerous scripture verses and stories came and filled my thoughts and my minds. Most nights at the campfire we held a time of devotion with my son and nephew as we read through a Children’s devotional book. In the outback the sky is so clear, it seemed as if we only had to lift our hands up to the sky and touch the stars. The Milky Way looked milky. The sunsets were like the horizon was on fire. The sun rises were a sight to behold. Every night I saw shooting stars. I was awestruck by the desolation and isolation of the desert. And I felt the gentle blowing of the Holy Spirit begin to fill a deep void in mIMG_5573y soul once again as I was reminded of the psalmists who say that God created and placed every star in the sky.

There were a number of breathtaking moments. The first time Ayers Rock came into view, I had to stop and take a deep breath. I knew it was big. I knew it was a big rock. I knew it was a huge rock. But; I had no idea just how big that rock was till I saw it looming in the distance. While stopping to take some photos, the verses of the song, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…” came to my lips and I quietly stood there worshiping God. And I felt the Spirit of the Lord whispering deep into my soul how the majesty and greatness of Ayers Rock paled in comparison to solidness and majesty of Christ. We explored the Olga’s and the Rock and I was amazed at the hugeness of them all. Tourists are asked not to climb the rock in respect for the indigenous people who traditionally live in the area – though they can if they desire. I had already made the decision not to climb it – and that decision was confirmed when I read the following quip at the cultural center – “The goal for coming to the Rock shouldn’t be to climb the rock – rather the goal should be to understand the rock!” _MG_5782 IMG_5779

Our return trip took us through the Painted Desert which was truly breath taking. The roads we traveled took us through pastoral stations, which were all a minimum of 1.2 million acres. I was amazed to see a number of cows that looked well fed during our travels through the desert. In many ways I liked the Painted Desert much more than I did Uluru. IMG_6456 ?????????????????? IMG_6442 IMG_6421

We travelled 200kms through this rugged country, till arriving at our lunch time destination. The Pink Road House at Oodnadatta and another 50km of travel to our camping spot at Algrebruka Bridge / Waterhole. IMG_6480 _MG_6476 IMG_6469 IMG_6465

 


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