Archive for September, 2009

ecological footprint

Posted in Reflections, sustainability on September 26, 2009 by billymlam

i know you’re probably thinking “another greenie rant?!?” … but bear with me for a minute.

most of the time when i talk to people about sustainability they turn and start pointing things out that i do wrong.  usually this has to do with obvious and car-related, eg.. “you drive a turbo” or “your family drives separate cars to church” or whatever.  and it’s true – my lifestyle is shocking and i won’t hide from it.  i do like driving, i like buying gadgets, i love pearl milk teas and i even enjoy eating sharks fin soup.  i just did another ecological footprint quiz and it says my lifestyle needs 7.8 planet earths to support it (my first said something like 4.6 – it really varies according to the calculator you use – but that’s still bad).  isn’t that ridiculous?

i think most of us YFers have come from a culture that is very consumerist and convenient – take as examples how we want to be up to date with the latest tech, and how we want to have the convenience of using and chucking disposable stuff.  thing is – we don’t need to be commune-living vego hippies (not that there’s anything wrong with them at all) to make a difference. being sustainable doesn’t mean having a bland and boring life.

firstly though, why should we care?  i think the answer is twofold…

  • the idea of stewardship – we know that God created man as having dominion over the earth (see Genesis 1:28).  what matters, then, is what our interpretation of stewardship or dominion is.  it obviously doesn’t mean that we can use everything irresponsibility.  it ALSO doesn’t mean that humans have the same worth as a horse or a starfish or an insect.
    i am not saying that it’s definite sin to live the way we do.  instead, i’m suggesting that it’s our responsibility as Christians to make sure we care of everything that God has created and put us in charge of. what’s your take on it?
  • the idea of social justice – i think we would all agree that Jesus has called us to love everyone, including (or especially) the oppressed and those less fortunate than us.  the consequences of our way of life are ultimately going to affect people.  some island nations will cease to exist in the next 50 years or so.  millions are predicted to become “climate change refugees”.  isn’t that scary? shouldn’t we care?

don’t get me wrong – our priority as Christians, and the Church, is to reach people. but i hope you’re convinced that we can’t be ignorant about God’s creation.  it’s my hope that sustainability becomes an opportunity for the Church to show people that we really do care about them.

so what can we do? i’ve been trying to think of easy first steps that are appealing to us asians (ie saves us money haha).  being a super wasteful consumer myself i will be trying to put these into practice as well…

  • try to drive less and carpool more – this sounds so simple, but i have been able to halve my driving distances in the past year or so 🙂 although my car is a valuable ministry tool so i’m gonna prioritise that and use it as much as i need to
  • say no to plastic – it might involve some washing up after trig/supe/party/church.  or maybe sharing a meal between two at a restaurant so you don’t need a takeaway box…
  • bring a water bottle – QUT z block level 9 has a filtered chilled water tap that doesn’t taste like it’s got 50 years old water pipes. find somewhere like that.
  • fit water efficient showerheads – if you haven’t done so, do it – and save yourself big money (cost ~$100 and save $1800 over its lifetime – more if water prices go up, which they undoubtedly will)
  • try to buy local produce – i know this is hard, because we love our asian snacks, drinks and icecreams.  but when it comes to fruit and vege, just get stuff that’s in season 🙂
  • try to buy natural products – especially when it comes to detergents and whatnot… so many chemicals… why?
  • get a compost bin – i am going to give this a try and let you guys know how it goes

and if you can afford to…

  • switch to green power – costs a little bit extra, but coal power is ridiculously polluting, inefficient and needs crazy amounts of water – which takes lots of electricity to pump and treat – it’s a vicious cycle
  • if you’re ever thinking of building anything, build green – yes i’m an architecture student, and i know green buildings cost 2% more to build on average but their lifetime savings are SO much more.  i will be trying to compile figures to show the church when i finally get my new design proposal done, so let me know if you want me to keep you in the loop.

finally,  just want to leave you with a picture of the maldives… which may not be here by the end of this century

maldives_cocopalm_beach_01

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Give in…Give up??

Posted in Reflections, Uncategorized on September 23, 2009 by richardjkchee

frustrated1

Why do all my non-Christian friends seem so happy being in their relationships, when I’m stuck being single?

Why can’t I just snap in half the coworker who always gives me attitude?

Why do I have to swallow my pride when the lecturer/tutor is being unreasonable?

Why do the rude jerks that swear and curse get all the pretty girls?

Why do the girls that wear short skirts and plaster on make-up get all the good-looking guys?

Why can’t I have the few extra drinks at my friend’s party?

Why is it SO HARD?

Whether we like to admit it or not, there comes a time in almost every Christian’s walk where a certain thought crosses our minds; the thought of GIVING IN to our worldly desires, of GIVING UP being a Christian. Sometimes it seems life would be so much easier if we just gave in and did whatever we felt like. We could get trashed at a party and not have to wake up in time for church on a Sunday morning. We could speak whatever was on our minds, and do whatever we wanted, be with whomever we wanted, not caring about anything or anyone. Life would be so much easier and more FUN we just gave up being a ‘Christian’.

It’s these exact thoughts and Satan’s lies that make a life of Sin so alluring. It’s why people reject God. It’s why so many people are lonely, depressed, guilt-ridden, angry, jealous, spiteful and hateful. It’s why nightclubs are packed with people who just want to feel loved and needed by someone. It’s why people drink and do drugs, always chasing a high, trying to fill a bottomless hole in their hearts. It’s why people idolize relationships; they don’t feel complete if they aren’t in one. It’s why people pour all their time and effort into building a career and chasing prestige. It’s why people’s life goals are fame and fortune, to amass as much money as they can, so they feel secure, so they can buy the things that make them “happy”.

It’s the reason why no matter how many times some people see/hear/read/listen to the gospel of Jesus Christ they just won’t change. It’s the work of Satan in this fallen world. It’s the sin in our human hearts and why millions of people are on their way to hell, an eternity separated from God.

As Christians sometimes we like to think that we’re somehow different, better and more deserving then everyone else, but in fact, we’re the same. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Only when we really understand this can we truly begin to appreciate the gift of grace that’s been given to us.

Being a Christian isn’t meant to be easy, it’s meant to be tough. Jesus told us to take up our crosses, and follow Him. Taking up the cross means dying to the world and to our old sinful ways: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Mark 8:34-36 (NIV)

So if you’re finding it hard, if you’re thinking about Giving in, or Giving up, then remember that you’re not alone. Take the opportunity to catch up with someone and ask them how they’re really going, and pray for each other. If you’re struggling, spare a thought and some  prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who face death and imprisonment because of their faith.

Pray that He will continue to change your heart and to open your eyes to the bigger picture, to the countless people in the world who are lost and who don’t know Jesus like we do. He’s saved you, so put your worries and burdens and struggles onto His shoulders. Trust in Him that He will provide for you everything you need in this life, whether it’s food on the table, a stable job, a husband or a wife. Pray and thank God that He has set you apart from the world, and that through His Son Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we can look forward to an eternity with our God, the creator of the universe.

Romans 5 (NIV) 1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Encouraged

Posted in Reflections, Uncategorized on September 22, 2009 by BillyL

I’ve been encouraged immensely over the past year by money given to organisations such as tearfund and gfa and other missionary projects. To hear that people are buying presents for people that are actually gifts to other people who need it just shows the potential of giving and how much we can be a part of helping further God’s kingdom! Our Church CCCB raised enough money to buy a Jesus well in India through GFA earlier this year, plenty of people gave to the Walk the Extra Mile for Dalit children in India, the individual growth groups raised money to buy individual gifts in the GFA catalogue as part of offering and even the money that was raised for the Taiwan missionaries. It is such encouragement for me to see and hear how people are selflessly using their money so other’s can spread the Good News of Christ and help bring these people out of poverty and bring the Good News to them.

So let me continue to encourage you all to keep giving to these worthy causes because there are people in this world who don’t enjoy luxuries like we do, who live off much less and who are in both physical and spiritual need.

If you’d like to give or support Christian organisations that help the poor in the name of Christ, check out these websites below:

www.usefulgifts.org
www.gfa.org/gifts
www.compassion.com

What’s God like?

Posted in Books, Theology on September 8, 2009 by joannagoanna

After hearing Gracie’s very excellent book review on Bitesize Theology, by Peter Jeffery on Saturday night, I felt compelled to read the book. I have to say, no other book sums up the basics of Christianity quite so comprehensively, as this book does. Its subjects include reconciliation, redemption, justification, grace, election, the Second Coming! All this church jargon is sure to confuse even the most learned minds! Thank God for Bitesize Theology!

Every day we pray “Heavenly Father” or “Dear God”, but who is this God we pray to? He is the Creator, the Father; the Head of the trinity (amongst many other things). Currently in our bible studies on Exodus, we are beginning to unearth the character of God. Through Exodus we have seen that He is patient, determined, sovereign (in control of all things) and most of all loving (and many more!). He is of course all those things but concisely, Bitesize Theology describes God to be like some of the following attributes:

God is holy – He is free from all sin and evil and there is in him absolute moral perfection; God can do nothing that is not holy. Therefore, God’s love is a holy love; his justice, a holy justice and his wrath, a holy wrath. This is especially comforting to us, when we apply this to salvation; his salvation is a holy salvation there is no possibility of it failing. (Psalm 99:9; 119:9)

God is sovereign – He has the power to carry out his will and purpose. God is no fairy-tale king who can only look on helplessly as his enemies triumph. He is omni-everything! Omnipotent (He has all power), omniscient (has all knowledge), omnipresent (in all places).

The God of providence – (He provides) He is always at work in the lives of his people so nothing happens to us by luck or chance. God upholds, guides and governs all circumstances. In other words, God knows what is going to happen, when, how and why; all for His glory.

God is good – There is nothing harsh or unreasonable about him, but God’s goodness is not weakness or softness, He is not something we can take advantage of. As Christians, we can rely on his goodness; we can rely on God, we can know that whatever the circumstance, God will use it for our good, to point everything back to the cross.

God is love – a love that acts on behalf of its recipients. It is undeserved (Romans 5:6-8), it is unsought love (1 John 4:10), it is unimaginable (1 John 3:1).  No other love is more sacrificial and more self-less than the love God has shown us, through the death of Jesus.  Imagine: Letting a family member or friend face death, for the good of many others.  UNREAL right?

Peter Jeffery also writes that “if our thinking about God is not correct then every other doctrine we apply our minds to will also be incorrect. This is the most important doctrine yet people seem to think they are free to make up their minds as to what God is like… This attitude is responsible for what is possibly the greatest sin a person can commit – to reduce God to terms that are acceptable to us (Psalm 50:21)… It is a slander on the character of God and all worship that flows from it is worthless.”

An example of this is only accepting some of the truths about God and ignoring others. Basically picking and choosing what we think God should be like. Putting God (and everything He does) in a box, is limiting God’s capabilities, essentially underestimating God. And from God being sovereign, we can see how putting God in a box is the wrong thing to do!

Read the book. It’s AWESOME!!!

Grace has a copy or ask one of your friendly bible study leaders. They will track down a copy for you.

BLT+ Reflections

Posted in Events, Reflections on September 3, 2009 by iggz

Recently the annual Brisbane Leadership Conference Plus (BLT+) was held at the Sunshine Coast.  BLT is a great movement which is aiming to train up and equip leaders in Brisbane to further God’s kingdom (More info on BLT can be found here) One of our YF Sisters and BLT+ first-timer, Bek has kindly offered to share some of her reflections on the weekend.

bek

BLT+ was an awesome and challenging weekend away at Currumundi! It was my first BLT+ and definitely something on my mind a lot still. The speakers were Andrew Hong and Ying Yee. There were 4 talks about fueling the fire in our hearts and a ministry discussion. I would highly recommend everyone to go as it was very challenging and really puts things into perspective about how we should spend out time and where our desires should be. It was also a great opporunity to have fellowship with other christians from different churches. Heres a summary:

  1. The main thing I got from BLT+ was that we need to desire god from our hearts to seek god first above all other things (like boyfriends, money etc which will make such things seem so small) and be jealous for god’s glory. God can only truly satisfy us if we let him. This is something an area we all need to work on! Heart -> Will -> mind (what the heart desires, the will chooses and the mind justifies). We know what is right and wrong but we choose our own pleasures and neglect the heart. If we ignore the heart, we can become dry as christians, envious of non-christians, give up reading our bibles, resent serving god, give easily into temptation and our souls may even be in danger!! We need to fight for our hearts for god offers infinite joy but we are like ignorant children and half-hearted creatures who are too easily pleased by fleeting and shallow things. God is the real treasure so we shouldn’t settle for less!!!! We should also be devoted to god which is the mainspring of a godly character. Instead, our focus tends to be on developing an outward structure of a christian character instead of an inward foundation of god-centred devotion which can lead to self-righteousness and spiritual pride. We try to please god without taking time to walk with him and develop a deep, personal relationship with him.
  2. How to strengthen the heart: Emotions and affections – we need to focus on affections instead of emotions. We should read the bible to love, obey and know god and unlock our hard hearts, enlarging the affections. Therefore we should see bible reading as to fuel the fire our hearts. We should read slowly and more important, really meditate on god’s glory (like food that nourishes the inner soul) and greatness and love reading it and not see it as a chore and merely about learning new things. Let grace strengthen our hearts! The holy spirit must also make his word come alive in our hearts to produce growth so we MUST meditate in prayerful dependence upon him to do his work.
  3. Having a passion for church i hate (Ephesians 1-6): God brings enemies (different types of people) together but we are united by christ as church is built on grace where there are no conditions on who can come and be accepted or not. These problems will never go away so we need to learn to forgive rather than leave the church.
  4. The heart, and how we lead others: We should serve god whole-heartedly with full of willingness, eagerness and delight and NOT out of duty and obedience. Being involved in ministry (or several) can become tiresome, a chore, very repetitive and we can ultimately lose sight of our focus which is to glorify god in everything we do. Hence, the first role of a leader involved in ministry is to love god and grow and lead by example. Getting over involved in ministry can significantly reduce the amount of ‘quiet time’ we spend with god to grow. It is thus very important to spend time growing in our godly affections, hating sin, longing for christ and be prayerful in ministry for god in order to transform our hearts and people can really see this.
  5. Pastoring the Pastor: The pastor also has spiritual needs like us and they tend to be neglected. He can become weary as a leader – repetition, preparation, sin of people, people don’t seem they are growing, laziness and criticism. One useful example of showing our care for the pastor is to encourage him (eg. mention particular point of sermon found helpful).

Thanks for that Bek! Now for the rest of you, what did you learn from BLT+? please share your thoughts with a comment.