Tag Archive: uncle google


i preached a sermon in church last night about how to “correctly handle the word of truth” in terms of reading and knowing and trying to understand the Bible well and not just simply grabbing a verse here and there and using it to back up something we are trying to say.

that is not usthe example i used as an extreme form of example was the Westboro Baptist church who i imagine most of us have heard or seen something of in the media – the ones who pitch up at gay pride marches with “God hates fags” on their signs [often with young children holding these signs and spewing the same kind of hatred their parents do] and who protest veterans funerals and all sorts of crazy things like that.

what i didn’t know when i asked Uncle Google to direct me to their website is that the church website is actually called Godhatesfags and can be found at Godhatesfags.com – that is their church website – it is unbelievable and makes me embarrassed to think that a lot of people might view them and me as pretty much the same because we both fall under some christian banner… [which is why personally i prefer to go under the Jesus-following banner if i need any kind of label ever because as christians it seems to have been pretty easy through the ages to get up to all kinds of crazy stuff, but as people who are truly seeking to follow Jesus it is impossible to end up as part of a group that uses “God hates fags” as a slogan, or a website address].

i mean Westboro makes it easy. there is not a lot of debate, or any, needed when looking at them and their actions and coming to the conclusion that this is not of God. Certainly not the God i am following. Or would want to follow.

…and i’m pretty sure the Bible commands us to call out that kind of garbage… and bring it to the light for what it is.

i imagine that ‘church’ and a lot of their actions make Jesus sad.

WHAT IS WORSE THAN SOMEONE LIVING ACTIVELY NOT-CHRIST?

as i sat outside our apartment earlier thinking about life and the kingdom of God and things that make Jesus sad while drinking coffee out of my Marvin the Martian mug [could that be one of them? i hope not. i wonder who made the mug. uh-oh.] i pondered to myself [while inviting the Holy Spirit to ponder back] what could be worse than someone living actively not-Christ? [although not in those words – them are just fancy blog words]

could the answer be someone not actively living Christ?

people whose christianity consists of believing the right thing, and going to the right place [church every sunday and maybe home group or cell on a wednesday night] and trying to not be too bad, but otherwise living for themselves.

i’m just not sure that’s enough.

at the same time, i’m not completely sure what the solution is because we can’t all stop human-trafficking or reach out to all of the homeless or visit everyone in hospital and prison and we can’t all be taking on racism at an institutional level or fighting sexism in the workplace or reaching out to victims of sexual abuse and rape and trying to find ways of addressing those two things that don’t make the victors feel like the guilty parties… we can’t do it all. absolutely sure about that one.

but i do strongly feel that we can all do something, or maybe somethings.

with our money. whether tithing it into a church where we know the money is going to greater things than simply buildings and salaries or putting it in programs like Common Change that help us to meet needs of people we know or committing to an organisation or a specific project like my photographer friends Bex and Bruce who came up with a plan to fund some wells in Africa with some of the money they bring in or assisting the woman who cleans your house or the man who takes care of your garden to find ways to get their children through school and into university. and  hundred thousand other great ideas.

volunteerwith our time. whether baking some goodies or making a meal for a new family that moves into your street or complex or for the couple that have just had a new baby, or writing a postcard to someone in prison and building a relationship with them or visiting someone in hospital. volunteering at the local homeless shelter or seniors home. offering to babysit for a couple you know who have been finding it tough being parents of young children and just giving them a night [or a weekend] off. grabbing some friends and some gardening equipment and arriving at someone’s house who is too sick, tired, or old to get to the work that needs to be done and volunteer to do it for them.

with our creativity, education, knowledge, transport, cameras… the list goes on – there is someone who doesn’t have what we have and is not able to do what we can do and so drawing alongside them

[oh and yes books like ‘Toxic Charity’ and ‘When Helping Hurts’ and others have made the idea of helping other people very scary in many ways because what if we harm the very people we are trying to help because we are doing it the wrong way? You know what i think? Start with building some kind of significant relationship with the person you are trying to help and it will probably be a lot harder to get it horribly wrong. don’t let the fear of doing it wrong paralyse you from doing anything. just be better prepared maybe.]

so while the Godhatesfags ‘church’ makes God very sad, i imagine the people who profess Jesus with their mouths but don’t follow it up with their actions make Him sad too. [there is a lot of stuff about plants producing fruit and salt losing its saltiness in Matthew 7 and other places around the Bible, i’m not making this up]

WHAT WAS ALL THAT STUFF JESUS SAID ABOUT PLANKS AND THROWING THE FIRST STONE THEN?

which brings me to the third category and maybe the most significant one for me to be pondering on. because i doubt i can do a whole lot about the Westboro Baptist church and pretty much the majority of the people in the second category are not going to be the people who are going to be reading this and nodding and heading off to change anything [a quick ‘we’re not supposed to judge’ note in the comments section below perhaps] and so i will still continue to speak into and preach into that group of people when given the opportunities…

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.

and that is really the purpose of this post [and posts, cos i imagine there will be more, this is already getting a bit long] – not to point the finger or judge other people who are not getting it right. but to stand before the mirror [as i will stand before God one day] and really genuinely ask, what is the shape of your faith at the moment? of your life? where are you living out the message? where else do you need to be?

with the hope that there is someone else out there who maybe needed a little prod like this to sit alongside me and ask themselves the same question.

what i do know is that the end point of this exercise if not condemnation. i believe there is a very thin line between condemnation and conviction and for me the difference is in where you end up. condemnation leaves you in a weeping mess on the floor. whereas conviction inspires you and lifts you and propels you to action. the problem is that they can both feel the same. but only one is helpful. and i believe that only one is from God [if you’re not sure, it’s the second one!]

it is important though that we take and make times to look in the mirror, prepared to deal honestly and effectively with whatever we see when we look there. that is the place where i am trying to be right now. there is space on the floor next to me if anyone wants to join me.

mirror

 

[For more thoughts of a more me-focused nature in the post ‘What makes Jesus sadder too, click here]

the other day, in the midst of all my Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case posting i was alerted to this message on my good friend and former [and future] tag team buddy Sean Du Toit which simply read:

Everyone’s talking about Zimmerman and Martin, but what about Temar Boggs?

and of course i was all like ‘who the flip is Temar Boggs?’ so i did what all curious and brainy people do in the suchlike of that circumstance and went to go and ask Uncle Google…

i found out that Temar Boggs is a black kid.

a black kid on a bicycle.

with a gang of friends.

that should say it all, right? i can let my prejudice and racial profiling and media stereotypes fill the rest?

as MSNBC reports, ‘Temar Boggs is a 15-year-old student who lives in Lancaster, Pa. He loves playing sports, hanging out with friends, skateboarding and biking.’

oh, and then it continues, ‘Add “being a hero” to the list.’

a different article on the 41 Action News site fills in the other side of the story,

‘Five-year-old Jocelyn Rojas was playing in her front yard in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when she vanished Thursday afternoon.

Authorities believe she was abducted by a man who lured her by offering ice cream.

For two hours, neighbors and police scoured the area and asked if anyone had seen her.’

Back to Temar in the first article:

‘Temar was having an average summer day on July 11: he helped a neighbor move her couch, and then settled in to hang out with some friends. But when Temar and friend Chris Garcia heard a five-year old girl had been abducted from their neighborhood, they jumped into action. After locating and chasing down the abductor, they rescued five-year old Jocelyn Rojas and were able to return her safe and sound to her parents.’

The Action News article describes the action:

‘The two teens chased the alleged kidnapper on their bikes for 15 heart-pounding minutes. The driver apparently knew he was being followed and gave up.

“He stopped at the end of the hill and let her out, and she ran to me and said that she needed her mom,” Temar said.’

This is all after they’d spent 30 to 45 minutes looking for her with a group of friends without being able to find anything and then they headed back to the general search area before spotting what they thought was a suspicious looking car.

You can read the rest of the mini interview they did with Temar here. The one question and answer that stood out strongly for me was this one:

‘How do you feel about having saved that girl?

It was just out of heart. It wasn’t to get attention or anything. It was just to help somebody in the community, help make sure another little life was okay and make sure her future could be possible.’


In the light of all the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman conversation this incident brought me great hope as well as great sadness [how come this wasn’t sprayed around all the newspapers and tv bulletins?] and it reminded me of a rather edgy statement joke one of my friends told me once:

Him: What do you call a black man who flies a plane?

Me: I don’t know. What do you call a black man who flies a plane?

Him: A pilot, you racist.

Edgy, I know. And maybe discomfort-enducing. As is this ongoing conversation whether it be focused on stories like Trayvon Martin or like this hero Temar Boggs [who i wish more people had heard more of]. Because the reality of this particular story is that Temar was a kid on a bike who put his hand up when the need presented itself. The fact that he’s a black kid shouldn’t be an issue, but in the climate where the media is so quick to bring race in when it’s a story with a negative twist, then maybe it needs to.

temar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I celebrate you Temar Boggs. I imagine you are probably not perfect and if we searched through your garbage we might be able to find some stories that would put your character to question in some way. I definitely know that is the case with me and mine. I imagine Jocelyn’s mom doesn’t care so much about that stuff right now though. And neither do i.

And thank you Sean.

 

i have called Google ‘Uncle Google’ for a long time now – i’m not sure why i do that cos it’s very silly but it’s become my thing [which is probly why i do that]. i guess one reason is that when someone asks me something i don’t know i will either tell them to ask Uncle Google or i say that i will and it feels like bringing another person into the conversation.

joel osteen or martin short?

i read on Facebook this morning that well-known christian speaker and writer Joel Osteen has resigned and quit the faith. i’ve not been a huge fan of his writing as even his book titles suggest that he belongs to a group of christian writers/speakers who have a very strong focus on you – it’s all about you and becoming the best you you can be and being comfortable and happy and loving life, and so a brand of feel-good christianity that i’m not sure Jesus would be very comfortable with.

so when i read on Facebook that he had resigned and even quit his faith, my initial reaction was a bit of relief and “phew for Christianity” but then quite quickly i had another far more sobering thought… something along the lines of “Is that a Christ following reaction to have?”

as i read the article the announcement was linked to and how a church member said something along the lines of, “we gave him all our money and now he’s doing this to us. no ways, we’re not going to let him get away with that” i thought to myself, ‘wait a second, am i standing in line with all the other people ready to throw rocks at Joel?’

so question one that is asked of me is what is my attitude and posture when someone else falls [especially if it’s someone i’m not a big fan of] – is that a reason to celebrate, to quietly feel relieved or happy that someone else is not in a good place? doesn’t sound very Jesusful

then for some reason, i decided to check in on Uncle Google and get his thoughts [yes, i get that he’s not a real person and with all the knowledge he has i should be referring to him as she, right?]

and so i do the customary search i do every time i see the words when i come across the maths problem:

[thing i would really like to have – money, computer, latest phone] + [Facebook]

which is to type [thing i would like to have] and the word [hoax] into Uncle Google…

and sure enough, there are links to the Joel Osteen thing being a hoax [to be honest, not as many as there normally are with a blatant Facebook hoax so i am not even sure yet whether it is or isn’t]

WHAT TO LEARN FROM THIS LITTLE LESSON:

#1 would be to always verify information received before acting on it – in the virtual world we have of hoaxes and misreporting and photoshop and so on, there is a lot of misleading information going around there.

#2 would be to question why am i sharing information – someone dies, someone falls from grace, celebrity scandal etc – why am i so quick to become part of the gossip chain of passing this on?

#3 would be to question if sharing the information is “me doing my bit” – this is definitely a different blog post but it is a valid question that came to me while i was giving us some stuff to think about – the whole thing with Kony2012, with articles on poverty and violence to women etc is that me feeling like i’ve done my bit so i don’t need to get involved or is that me trying to get some momentum for the action i am going to be doing?

ready to throw?

#4 would be where do i stand when someone falls? [regardless of my feelings towards that person] – am i holding a rock and waiting for the signal, or am i on my knees praying for them and their family, crying out against injustice done, am i writing them a note of encouragement or offering to cook them a meal if they are someone i know? how would Jesus have me respond to crisis of any type?

these are important questions i need to ask myself. and i hope some of you will join me…

looking at life-transforming changes you can bring to yourself in 2012, here is another great idea:

if you sneak your car in front of me when i am in a long line of traffic heading towards the off-ramp, i can respond in two ways – swear loudly and flip you the finger while holding my hand down on the hooter [horn to the americanese!] or i can choose to smile and give you the spot and enjoy the extra few moments i get to listen to music in my car while i drive home…

if you greet me in the morning with a grumpy face and don’t even greet me, i can choose to respond in kind or else i can realise that you had a late night and aren’t feeling so good are still on the way towards the coffee pot and flash you a smile and greet you warmly and then go and make you some coffee…

and so on. as the saying goes, “Offence isn’t given, it’s taken.”

Uncle Google seems a little unsure as to who coined the phrase first, but it is a deep truth. If we look at the life of Jesus, we see that He was given many opportunities to show offence [He was doubted, beaten, betrayed, denied, mocked, spat on, crucified] and yet the only times we see Him taking offence are when people are exploiting the poor in the temple grounds and when the religious teachers are exploiting the masses. On so many other occasions Jesus responds with a gentle response or a calm action or simply walks away from the fight. Jesus demonstrates this thing is possible.

and it will revolutionise your life once you get it. i am still working on it for sure, but i am a lot better than i used to be. choosing not to be offended when the opportunity for offence presents itself sucks the wind out of a potential fight or protects a relationship from being wounded.

getting offended and responding in offence is a choice. sometimes people or circumstances help to make that choice the easier one to go to, but it is always a choice. you do not have the power to offend me – i alone have the power to become offended. but it would help if you didn’t help so much.

try this for a week – choose for the next seven days to not get offended no matter what life or people throw at you – and report back here when you’re done and let me know how it goes… your life will be changed forever.

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