Tag Archive: romans 12


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For the last couple of years, my favourite word has been ‘intentional’.

i officially adopted it when we were still in Stellenbosch [so 2011 or before] as my ‘word of the year’ and then remember the next year happening and i didn’t have a new ‘word of the year’ [for the record, ‘intentional’ was my first ever ‘word of the year’ – it’s not like something i did regularly until then – just figured it was such a good word that it deserved that] so i gave ‘intentional’ another term in office.

Since then i never really found a word i liked better. Not that ‘intentional’ is necessary my favourite word but at the time it helped me think in a focused way – it brings in concepts like vision and passion, planning and strategy, and of course intention. Doing things with a reason and for a purpose. So it was just kinda allowed to linger at the top of the pile until another word or phrase could be found that was worthy of pulling the sword out of the stone. Or something literaturic like that.

And then it happened!

i wasn’t looking for a new word. It certainly wasn’t any significant time of ‘new phrase elections’ or anything like that. But i was at a meeting and a phrase i have heard a bunch of times over the last few years really just jumped out and latched itself into my brain.

A NEW NORMAL

i didn’t invent the phrase. But i really like it. i like the idea of it. And as with ‘intentional’ i really appreciate the depth and fullness of abundancy that i feel is wrapped up in those three words.

The idea that there was a normal. And then change occurred. But not just leaving it at that place and understanding of ‘oh, something changed’ which doesn’t seem all that significant. But transformation has happened, both in behaviour and mindset and now in the place of the old, there is a New Normal.

i think that idea is super powerful.

For example, South Africa. Apartheid. Mandela freed. 1994 elections. Change occurs [in some ways, forms, to differing extents depending who you listening to]. But that is not enough. We need for there to be a new normal in this country.  And we can see the need for it in the lack thereof in certain quarters, like News24 comments sections for example.  And it is a journey that has to be embraced [and the more of us the better] but i think both the idea and the language of ‘a new normal’ help us to really realise that things are needing to be and going to be different.

In the Bible there is a verse that talks about being ‘transformed by the renewing of your mind’ which i think is a great descriptor of what this phrase guides us towards. A significant change has taken place and what once was, is no longer, and in its place there is the new normal.

And it’s not just race stuff. Equality and opportunity for men and women. The book i have just written about the church is all about that.

It is both the recognition that the normal that we presently have is not good enough. And also that it’s not just a few tweaks or a little bit of fine tuning that is required. But things need to be shaken hard – some stuff, a lot of stuff, needs to be tossed out altogether. And we need to end up at a place that people who were part of the old system and way of thinking will be able to clearly identify as being different, new, better and on the way to becoming normal.

What do you think? Pure semantical jugglery? Or an exciting concept to get our heads around and an exciting premise to work towards? What is a ‘New Normal’ that you would like to see? 

normal

 

 

DAYS 36-38

i know, i know, you got me on this one – definitely bitten off more than i can chew… so another weekend Lent Observance to give me a chance to breathe in deeply and spend some more time reflecting than simply writing about reflecting – also i have two preaches on Sunday so it’s a bit of a crazy busy weekend…

and we’re about to run out of 40ish days of Lent but Easter is still a whole week away so we might have gained some days in here somewhere… feels like a different time zones thing… oh well, i hope that for any of you who have been following along with this that there have been some helpful days and times in here…

i think for these three days i will focus on a verse/passage for each day and link it to a post i have already made on those passages and so the opportunity to really dig a little bit deeper maybe than normal and see what God might be wanting to say to you through a scripture you probably have already heard many times before:

DAY 36

 ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scoring its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.’ 

TaskClick on this link and read through the meditation on Hebrews 12.1-12

DAY 37

Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Task: Click on this link and read through the meditation on Romans 12.1-2

DAY 38

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?

28 Do you not know?Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Task: Click on this link and read through the meditation on Isaiah 40.27-31

[For the next part of our Lent Observance, click here]

Welcome to the Lent experience…

Each day for 40 days i will be posting a suggestion to give you an action or focus point or challenge for the day as we head towards Easter time and want to spend the time meaningfully by focusing more on who God is and what He did, learning to love people more deeply and slowing down from the busyness and caught-up-ness of our day to day.

If you are up for joining me in this, please simple leave your name and say some version of “I’m in!” on the previous Intro blog i posted, in the comments section.

DAY 1

Task: Pray for your enemies.

The King James version of Matthew 5.44 puts it like this:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

in the letter to the Romans chapter 12, the writer puts it like this:

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

So make some time today to really lift up and pray God’s blessing on anyone who you currently can’t stand or who pisses you off or who has hurt you or betrayed you and also if anyone comes to mind who doesn’t particularly like you for any reason. Take some time to pray for them and expect and hope for good things to happen to them.

[To continue to Day 2 of this Lent observance, click here]

this passage is a favourite among favourites for me… and there is a lot of good here, but i am particularly talking about chapter 12, the first two verses:

Romans 12.1-2

Romans 12.1-2

‘Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

It begins with a ‘therefore’ which is always a reminder that this is part of a bigger story [so never just take one verse by itself] and it is quickly followed by an ‘I urge you’ which tells us that this us something Paul really wants us to hear…

We are reminded that whatever the call that is about to be given is, that we respond to it ‘in view of God’s mercy’ – it is so important that we constantly are reminded of this piece as i think it helps us keep Jesus-following as more of a relationship and less purely a religion – what we do, how we live, who we are is all as a result of the facts that God so loved the world [John 3.16] and even while we were still sinners Christ came to die for us [Romans 5.8].

Having said that, the bit i normally skip over is the bit about how us offering our bodies as living sacrifices [die another day – reference to Luke 9.23 – deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me] is true and proper worship… so maybe a song or a few songs on a Sunday isn’t enough… or a dipping of your hand in your wallet to toss some leftover cash into the plate perhaps… God wants you!

Then, in order to end up at the place where you have tested and approved what God’s will is, there is a don’t and a do.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world.

the way of Jesus is typically the way of swimming upstream – in most cases, if you look around you and everyone is doing the same thing, there is a chance you are not dealing with the kingdom of heaven – look at the life and teachings of Jesus – many times He opens with, ‘You have heard… but I tell you…’ and often He is doing things that are counterculture [such as hanging out with drunkards and prostitutes, giving time to women and children who were the ‘be seen and not heard’ of His day, touching lepers, dining with tax collectors…]

i would take it a step further and say, sadly, that in a lot of cases today you could read this verse as, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this church’ – where churches are full of hate and not love, exclusion and not invitation, judgement and not mercy and compassion, self-centeredness and not outward-focused… well in those cases if we looked at them closely enough we would see that they are not really  church at all.

the point is that it is not enough to compare yourself to other christians and take your standards from there – we need to be lead by the Holy Spirit through the reading of the Bible, especially when it comes to the words and the ways of Jesus.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

what will transform us, is changing our mind. having it renewed by God. and i believe this is an ongoing process. when last did you invite the Holy Spirit to change the way you think about God and life and other people and the way you spend your money and the way you talk to your parents etc?

if our mind has been transformed, then our actions will likely follow. but if we simply try to change our actions [with no transformation of mind] then the results are usually short-lived and ineffective. although, having said that, i do believe that sometimes when we start by changing our actions with the intention of changing our mind, then often the path of doing the transformed action brings the mind along and it is transformed along the way.

[For my next favourite verse which deals with how CRAZY HUGE God’s love for us is, click here]

[For the growing list of all my favourite verses, click here]

it has been in the context of ‘being wronged’ that i have noticed it. and also brought up by an email i received the other day asking how we can be okay with the fact that God ordered genocide in the old testament [a really important question which i have grown up not asking – killing of many in the old testament was always seen as okay because it was ‘the goodies killing the baddies’ and i don’t think i ever stopped to think much at all about the fact that they were real people with families and dreams and so on…]

in terms of someone who i think has caused offence to me [often a dangerous sign – “offence is not given, it’s taken”], there is this inherent thing of violation of my rights [often a dangerous sign – the louder i get about proclaiming something that is seen as a right to me, the more i often need to look deeply within my heart, past my selfishness, pride and greed] and i NEED THIS PERSON TO PAY.

now what is unfortunate is that ‘this person’ is usually someone who is, or was, or should be, close to me [in the story, it is the guy’s brother] and the basic truth of the situation is that i am wanting them to suffer [because they did that thing that was unacceptable to me] and so with the story of the lost son, the father tries to focus on the heart of the story: ‘this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’ [verse 32]

the story is of a misguided son who gives in to temptation and greed and heads off and squanders his money and ends up with nothing and returns, absolutely broken, to try and get a job as a servant on his father’s farm… and the older son tries to make it all about himself. WHAT ABOUT ME?

and i’ve seen that in myself, and it is ugly, but while i am feeling offended or holding tightly to my rights, it becomes very easy to forget that this story also involves someone else, who is often broken and hurting and messed up and confused and when Jesus looks at them from the cross and gasps out, “Father, forgive them, for hey do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23.34], i can hear myself wailing in the background, “No, wait a minute, what about me? I have been wronged. Is no one going to do anything? What about meeeeeeeee?”

romans 12 talks about us offering our bodies as living sacrifices which are holy and pleasing to God [ones which are screaming “he/she must pay!” may not fit so well into that category don’tchathink?] and goes on to say, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ [Romans 12.1-2] and so once again, we hear that in the kingdom Jesus came to speak about, everything is turnedon its head. What is ‘a right’, is freely given up. Offence is cast to the side.

what is brought to the fore is Love. Crazy, unbelievable, nonsensical, indescribable, ridiculous, make-a-mockery-out-of-offence, sacrificial, unmerited Love.

may that become my go to place. may i be identified more as the father in the story and less as the brother.

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