Tag Archive: Christ follower


last time on ‘What makes Jesus sadder?’:

‘but it’s me. i mean that’s the answer right? the only person i can really change is myself, brett fish anderson [where fish seems to be proved more and more to be something i’m desperately aiming at as opposed to anything i hit regularly enough] and so that is really where i have to look.

and i do and i have and i am and a lot of it just leaves me with questions that i am struggling to answer.’

This is the picture of the exact mug i have.

This is the picture of the exact mug i have.

so i was sitting on my step the other nite sipping coffee out of my Marvin the Martian mug and thinking about life [which i definitely don’t do enough – i really do enjoy the times when i can slow it all down and just ponder great things… so maybe the start is to be more intentional about creating those times when i just move away from the busyness and distraction it’s so easy to fall into slash facebook] and i had a couple of thought [thinking will do that to you]…

the one which has been plaguing me for a while kind of fits into that category of ‘I’ll do that when…’ which so many of us have been taken down by i think – the idea that at the next stage of life or season of living or pay increase or whatever, that somehow miraculously the thing you aren’t doing now is going to happen. and for the most part it’s a lie.

and i imagine that often it is linked to following Jesus. I’ll get really committed when I’m done with exams… when my kids are at school… when my kids are out the house… when this project is done… when i have my own car… when i’ve finished paying off my studies… and so on…

‘WHEN’ WON’T HAPPEN UNLESS YOU MAKE IT TO BE SO

it’s a lie. if you’re not doing it now then it is unlikely to miraculously happen. something significant has to change for your current behaviour not to be your future behaviour.

i suspect that often it’s AS EASY [and AS DIFFICULT] as just getting off your ass and doing it.

for me, sitting on the step, it was the awful truth of me just not knowing any of my neighbours. like not really. and not cos i don’t want to [well maybe the ones next door who are so inappropriately loud and who scream at their kids most of the time, i don’t really have great desires in myself to know them] but just cos it hasn’t happened and it might be for a hundred different reasons but it still bums me out.

The need is to just do it already.

The need is to just do it already.

tbV and i live in  four apartment complex [two upstairs, two downstairs] and a lot of it maybe has something to do with timing as we don’t often see the people. it may be because we are white and everyone else is black/African American and so there is not a natural cultural connection. it may be a stage of life thing as there are young children in i think each of the other apartments. and it may be because, apart from the one guy, our neighbors haven’t seemed particularly friendly but then maybe they are thinking or feeling the same thing about us.

but the one that bums me out the most is ‘African American guy’. you see what happened there? that is the part where his name was meant to go, but i don’t know it. and the main problem is that he knows my name. he learnt it the first time he met me and has greeted me with, ‘Hi Brett, how are you doing?’ ever since [and ‘Hey man’ feels more and more pathetic every time i mumble it back to him in the friendliest way possible]. The first time it was, ‘Oh no, I don’t know his name’ which quickly became, ‘Oh man, he knows my name and has called me Brett three times now’ to where we now stand at, ‘He has called me Brett 90 times and so it feels worse and worse to get my brain around the idea that i have to go to him and confess my panic [and just ridiculously bad manners] in that area.

do you know what the worst thing is? he looks really cool. he’s an older black man and i really want to get to know him and hear some of his story and hopefully we can be friends.

what sucks is that i feel like i have a strong heart for community and Val and i talk openly about how great it was in Potter street [at the Simple Way] where we knew everyone and life happened on the streets and we’d be in each others houses and so this all feels like an epic fail to me.

I THINK YOU’RE BEING TOO HARD ON YOURSELF!

and i don’t think i’m being too hard on myself. possibly not enough. there are definitely some reasons why it has been harder to stamp on my pride and just go and confess and put it right [the biggest being time – we don’t see him often and it’s usually between his car and the door and there are other family members around and stuff] but this last week i think i have come to the conclusion that this is something that i want and i will probably look for a chance while Val is away at the Wild Goose festival [she leaves tonite] to try and get that opportunity and put it right. so it feels definitely on the cards. and it actually not the biggest deal for me to have to go and make that confession and try and put it right. just a bummer that it has taken so long.

when i was sitting on the step though, the biggest question i faced in myself was the question of what is different between what i believe, or what i say i believe or preach/write that i believe and that which i am living out. and what am i going to do about it? and when?

the biggest problem, perhaps, is that the answers are not so simple. they are complicated. it is not as easy as it is with ‘African American man’ where i know what i have to do and just need to do it – there are a bunch of areas of ‘well i don’t know how to get from where i am to where i want to be?’ There might be a bunch of fears of ‘what if i try and it doesn’t work or happen the way i expect?’ and there are also some disappointments of things i have already tried or hoped for that didn’t turn out the way i was hoping for. where i did do the thing i needed to do but the person on the other end didn’t respond or not as i hoped. and so what now?

one small example of that is that there is a young girl in the house where ‘African American man’ lives and i don’t know if it’s his daughter or grandkid or anything but on the occasions i have walked past and she has been at the door and i’ve tried to be friendly to her [connecting with people in Philly was done largely by befriending and looking after their children] i’ve got the strong feeling that her mom is not super amped. she feels a lot suspicious of this dreadlocked white guy from upstairs. so that makes it a little harder cos i definitely want to respect the mom and so generally just try to be friendly to them when they’re out together and hopefully in time something will shift. or maybe i just need to bake something and take it around. that might be a plan.

the conclusion of all this for me is that the thinking part is so important. the noticing of ‘hey the reality i’m living doesn’t match up exactly with what i’m speaking or even what i’m hoping for’ and it’s insane to me to think that i will have amazing community in the next place i live if i haven’t even properly tried to reach out to those around me here [or remember one name! sigh].

but then it HAS to move to the action point. and soon. we don’t know how long we’re going to be here and if  want it to be easier to find it in the next place then the best way is stepping out here and even if things don’t go according to plan, at least i will know i’ve tried.

so i imagine Jesus gets sad when we just get caught up in living lives that are self-absorbed and focused and miss out on the opportunities He may have been prodding us towards

i imagine Jesus gets bummed when we say and think one thing and live a completely or even somewhat different thing [He may have calmly mentioned that to the Pharisees that one time]

i imagine Jesus is a little disappointed if i get stuck in the thinking phase and never step out of the boat He has called me to step out of and take a bit of a risk

this is not condemnation [which leaves you in a loud and stinky mess on the floor, paralysed and unable to change] – this is conviction [which inspires you and directs you to change]

oh and something about God putting His Holy Spirit in me so i should be alright in the empowered-to-do-this-whole-thing department.

you might not be cool enough to have a Marvin the Martian coffee mug, but i would still recommend grabbing some form of beverage and a step and taking some moments on how your life is looking right now… let’s do this thing. for real.

This might be comedy if it wasn't so tragedy.

This might be comedy if it wasn’t so tragedy.

my good buddy rob lloyd just got me a new bible because my old one was literally falling apart and i like the idea of starting again in a sense – rediscovering old favourite passages, underlining new ones, breaking the bible in so to speak…

and as i sat and thought where to begin i decided to start with the psalms, and i don’t know that i will necessarily read one per day but i am going to start today and see how it goes and i thought it might be nice to bring other people with me, or maybe you were looking for a new place to read and want to read along with me – i am going to read a psalm and write a comment or a thought or reflection and would love it if you wanted to write yours in the comments below so together we can learn from what God is saying to us as we take this journey…

so today, starting with psalm 1, what jumps out at you? what don’t you understand? what has God whispered as you read it? what is one idea you just really enjoyed? i would love to hear what you got out of it…

this is a great psalm – first thing that jumped out at me was line 1 ‘blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked’ – and to be honest i think i always read that as ‘council’ as in meeting-place or gathering, instead of counsel which surely means ‘being advised/counselled by’ which changes it completely… complete tie-in to one of my favourite proverbs ‘wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses’ [27.6] or ‘they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear’ [2 Timothy 4.3] and a reminder that even though it might look strongly appealing to have yes-people around us, it will be a blessing and better life choice to not live life being advised/counselled by these people but rather people who will speak truth in love.

and then verse 3 which talks about being ‘planted by streams of water’ – the result being that whatever you do will prosper – echoes of being firmly rooted like in the story of the house built on the rock [Matthew 7.24] or the need to be in constant connection to the vine which is God [John 15] and how as a result the fruit will naturally happen – not so much by work or effort but by inviting God to work it through you as you stay holding on to Him.

so that’s a good start to this journey – the reminder that as a Christ follower my number one focus must be on being nourished by my Father in heaven and that i should look to surround myself with people [at least in terms of those who advise/bring counsel to me] who actively follow Christ and will unashamedly speak truth in love to me [even if sometimes that might be hard for me to receive]

[To continue to Psalm 2, click here]

[To return to the start of this series on Psalms as well as some other Bible things, click here]

aka ‘the boy who cried wolfpocalypse’

as i sat in theatresports [improv comedy group i belong to] class last nite and people were joking about the whole rapture thing or lack of thing, it was a little frustrating to see how christians [to be seriously not confused with Christ-followers though] had once again managed to give the group a bad name… a laugh-out-loud point-and-mock bad name…

but this time it was a truly ridiculous premise – Harold Camping, a California preacher and registered loony toon claimed that the rapture would occur May 21, 2011 and that the world would be obliterated by a fireball October 21 [he is now claiming that he made a mistake – again, as he had predicted the end of the world in 1994 – and that the correct date is October 21 for the rapture – however he also says that he won’t give away any of his possessions before October 21] and was left hiding out in a motel with his wife when nothing happened…

it’s not so much that he ‘just made a mistake’ – he was never even in the same playing fields as someone who could have possibly gotten it right…

in Matthew 24.36 Jesus says this, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

so basically Jesus is saying that even He doesn’t know when the end is going to happen [difficult one maybe with our Jesus is God understanding, maybe He was simply talking about while He was living on earth as a human] and so no one else will. as in the days of Noah people will be going about their stuff – eating, drinking, watching bad movies – and then suddenly Boom, or maybe Whoosh!

what makes the whole thing a lot worse is that the big kook had a bunch of little kooks:

“Follower Jeff Hopkins also spent a good deal of his own retirement savings on gas money to power his car so people would see its ominous lighted sign showcasing Camping’s May 21 warning. As the appointed day drew nearer, Hopkins started making the 100-mile round trip from Long Island to New York City twice a day, spending at least $15 on gas each trip.

“I’ve been mocked and scoffed and cursed at and I’ve been through a lot with this lighted sign on top of my car,” said Hopkins, 52, a former television producer who lives in Great River, NY. “I was doing what I’ve been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I’ve been stymied. It’s like getting slapped in the face.” [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_apocalypse_saturday]

The only problem with saying “I was doing what I’ve been instructed to do through the Bible” is that Jeff clearly missed the part of the Bible that said ‘what you are doing is futile because no one knows the day or the hour’ and this whole story demonstrates once again that when the bible is misused or abused it can lead to good people being manipulated to do stupid things.

and the danger of ONLY receiving your feeding from someone else… if you had only just read the gospels Jeff, you would have clearly and obviously known that you were following the wrong guy… a large percentage of the church has adopted the lazy culture of being spoonfed from the front [as opposed to reading and studying and knowing scripture for yourself, at the same time as receiving scripture from others who have studied it and speak it well] and because you don’t read the Bible for yourself you have to believe whatever gets dished out to you and to misquote Helen Zille completely, “you get the biblical teaching you deserve.”

as a Christ-follower, there is one aspect of this story that we can take seriously. no, we will never know the exact day or hour, but in terms of urgency, in terms of living the life-to-the-full that Jesus spoke of, in terms of making an impact on the world and living in obedience to God and what the Bible actually says, we should live each day as if we suspect the rapture could happen today. Plan as if you’re going to live 1000 years but live as if you’re going to die tomorrow, i think someone said. Something like that.

love God, love people, take care of those in need, leave the billboarding to someone else…

[laughed the boy]

a friend of mine from the Malaysian Younger Leaders Gathering i attended in 2006 asked me the question and so i did my best to answer it, or to at least look at some of the aspects of the question – thort it was worth posting my thorts here…

hey Debbie

greetings in the amazing name of Jesus!

thankx for the email and the encouragement and hopefully this gets to you in time altho not sure how much help it will be…

i like your ‘out of the box but still in line with scripture thinking’ line – thankx – will do my best:

“I am involved in a Bible Study and we had a very great debate last week about whether it is actually possible for Christians to get to a point in their relationship with God where they no longer sin. On one side, we had those who believe that we are never free from the sinful nature while we are on earth, so there is always the possibility that we might ‘fall into sin’. On the other side, of which I am the ringleader, we believe that “if you live by the Spirit you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature – Gal 5:16″ and this means that you will not sin: not that you will not be tempted to sin, but you will not give in to it because your desire to please God is greater than your desire to please yourself. But the others believe that only God is capable of being without sin.”

i would imagine this is a question that not so many people here have asked as generally we christians accept the fact that we are sinful as something that goes without saying and so because we are SO sinful just assume it must be the norm, but in fact i have asked this very question – i remember clearly when i was on my Youth With A Mission DTS (Discipleship training school) in Holland i wrote a thort for the week on it that i don’t think went down very well (wish i could go back and find it but not even sure if it is in the yahoo archive cos might have been still when i sent TFTW via hotmail) and sadly i don’t really have a clear answer but perhaps i can give some of my thorts… on the plus side it does seem as if there are some statements that back up the idea – there is one at the beginning of one of the peters that says we have been given everything we need for righteous and holiness or something like that – maybe it should stop being so lazy and get my Bible – one sec –

ah here – 2 peter 1.3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” – then it goes on to talk about participating in the divine nature and a little further down gives a list of add to your faith goodness and to your goodness knowledge and self-control and perseverance and so on – so for me (in maybe a frustrating kind of way) it seems to back up both sides of the answer – we have been given everything we need for godliness but keep adding this and this and this – so the potential for perfection is in our hands, but it’s a journey and there is always adding to be done… make sense?

i think Jesus came to demonstrate that it is potentially possibly to live a sinless life – if He only achieved sinlessness because He was God then does it count as being able to be representative of man? and would it be fair for God to say ‘walk perfectly but oh you can’t sorry’ – i think the Bible definitely calls us to walk in perfection in terms of what we are meant to be aiming at but then you see the example of Paul in Corinthians i think it is where he says what i want to do i dont do and what i dont want to do i do and so even he seems to be caught up in the sinful life – we see Peter after he is filled with the Spirit and doing amazing things having to be rebuked by Paul for living hypocracy in a situation with the jews and gentiles (galatians 2.11) and we see king David a man after God’s own heart sinning horrendously and losing a son because of it – so it seems as if those who walked before us didn’t manage that easily which increases the likelihood of us being the same – and i can testify from my life that i still completely mess it up in terms of priority and time usage and a lot of not doing what i should be doing and still a bunch of doing what i should not be doing – so my mind says it is possible or should be but my body and experience keeps testifying that it is still far away for me at least

i think for me the basic premise was this – if it is possible for me not to sin for 5 seconds then the 5 seconds before i die i can be said to have been living sinlessly and if i can manage 5 seconds then surely i can manage ten and then maybe 30 and then maybe two minutes and so unless i sin every moment of my life there has to be some short period where i am sinless in thort and deed – and so can’t we extend that to an hour, a number of hours, a day? etc etc – that was where i started my dts thort and so surely we can get to a place where for an x period of time we don’t sin at all and surely for some people that is days and maybe months and years – but ja there is no way of testing that and it is a bit of a silly theory i guess – the one thing i was thinking in the car last nite after reading your email and driving to vals folks house where we slept over was that maybe the moment you reach that perfection and are aware of it then pride naturally steps in cos the moment you take joy in how sinless you are (even by just realising it and smiling quietly to yourself) then that is the moment when sin has already struck? i don’t know…

i think at the end of the day it is not for us to look at ourselves and go ‘ooh look i have no sin’ or to look at others and go ‘ooh look no sin’ but it is for us to strive towards sinlessness by submitting to God and the Holy Spirit and continuing on the journey of adding to your faith goodnessand knowledge and love and perseverance etc and loving God, loving people and looking after those who need help and so at the end of the day the question of whether we can or cannot achieve it becomes largely if not completely irrelevant because it is the direction in which our compass is always aimed and that is what matters most…

hope there is some help in there – maybe just more questions than answers
much love and all the best for cell – if either side of the argument starts loving the other side of the argument less or getting heated then i think that will just prove the lack of perfection so argue nice, fight well, love harder

God bless you my friend
love brett fish

so it seems my last post caused some confusion amongst some people and no confusion amongst some other people [group hug] – my beautiful wife suggests it may have been my title saying one thing and the article saying another thing which i can see a little bit – on the one hand the title was meant to be a bit of an attention-grabber but on the other hand the title is a lot of people’s response to the original story (apparently since the story aired, people have been sending korans to the church to burn) and the article was my response to that which is in complete opposition

the bottom line is that i think terry jones and his church are missing the point completely and that burning other religions religious books are not the appropriate Jesus-following response to the terror attacks on 9/11

the radical alternative response i would suggest [or i would suggest we have no alternative to] is love

love, or maybe more correctly, Love, is a radical response to an attack of terror

it is what Jesus taught – “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” [Matthew 5.39] and “But I tell you, Love your enemies,and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 5.44-45]

it is what Jesus lived – ‘When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23.33-34]

Paul went on to teach that Love, among other things, ‘is not easily angered’ and ‘keeps no record of wrongs’ – ‘it does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth’ – ‘it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ [1 Corinthians 13, selected verses]

as a Christ-follower i have to stand against what that church is attempting to do – i cannot see it displaying God’s love and heart or drawing anyone in – God doesn’t hate muslims and want us to burn their stuff – He loves muslims and wants to be in loving relationship with them…

let’s face it – Christians are not among the most loved and respected people when it comes to those outside of the church and i have often wondered why this is and so i started thinking about some of the core basics of this religion and suddenly it makes a lot of sense. when you look at what Christians intrinsically fundamentally believe (i’m not talking how some of them act or those who claim to be Christians but are living contrary to what being a Christian is meant to be but those who are actively living out what the bible teaches) then it becomes pretty obvious why we are despised and hated and regarded with suspicion

so let me take a couple of notes – purely by looking at the basics of what Christianity is about or meant to be about – to show why it is valid to hate Christianity…

part V: our faith is practical

‘Do not merely listen to the Word, and thus deceive yourselves, do what it says.’ [James 1.22]

‘What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go. I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ [James 2.14-17

One of the basic premises of being a Christ-follower is that we are not hidden away in a building somewhere practicing our religious stuff but we are in the lives of people, involved in community, reaching out, lifting up, serving, teaching, comforting, loving, taking care of needs…

No wonder you hate us to much…

for the conclusionary summary of ‘reasons to hate Christianity’, go here. by clicking.

let’s face it – Christians are not among the most loved and respected people when it comes to those outside of the church and i have often wondered why this is and so i started thinking about some of the core basics of this religion and suddenly it makes a lot of sense. when you look at what Christians intrinsically fundamentally believe (i’m not talking how some of them act or those who claim to be Christians but are living contrary to what being a Christian is meant to be but those who are actively living out what the bible teaches) then it becomes pretty obvious why we are despised and hated and regarded with suspicion

so let me take a couple of notes – purely by looking at the basics of what Christianity is about or meant to be about – to show why it is valid to hate Christianity…

part IV – It is all about others (or meant to be)

‘Then He (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet forfeit his very self?”’ [Luke 9.23-25]

‘One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart  and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”’  [Matthew 22. 36-40]

‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.’ [Matthew 5.43-45a]

‘The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” [Matthew 23.11-12]

‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.’ [Matthew 13.14-15]

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [Matthew 13.34-35]

‘Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.’ [Romans 12.9-16]

and so on…

the most important commandment for a Christ-follower is to love God and love people (as he loves himself)

and then Jesus’ call to follow is essentially a call to die – to yourself, your pride, the it’s-all-about-me’ness that we grow up surrounded by and immersed in – and to follow Him and His example of being a servant to people who didn’t come close to deserving it

so as a Christian i am commanded to live a life predominantly about others – seeking their good above my own – meeting their needs… no wonder they hate us if that’s all we’re about.

for a last further different other ‘reason to hate Christianity’ click here.