Loaves and Fishes

I get to be the preacher at church tomorrow.

The passage I’ve been asked to look at is from John 6 where Jesus feeds the 5000. I thought about trying to do something similar as a demonstration but I don’t think we’ll get 5000 people to the service.

If you want to come along and heckle, or just listen, be at Altone Park Leisure Centre, Benara Road, Beechboro at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. I promise not to talk for too long and we’ll have real 5 Senses coffee brewing following the service.

We’re a fairly casual bunch, especially when I’m speaking. I’d love the opportunity to catch up if you can make it along.

Posted by Rodney Olsen

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The slow road to complacency

Ever thought about how things can break down so slowly that you don’t even notice?

I put my bike into the shop to get it serviced a couple of days back. It needed a number of parts replaced, which Mark, the bike mechanic, set about doing. When I went to pick the bike up he told me that the parts were very badly worn and that I should notice a big difference. I told him that the bike was still riding just fine before. I knew that things needed a bit of work and that some parts were beyond useless but it was still running reasonably well.

Of course it was a different story when I wheeled the bike out of the shop and saddled up to ride into the sunset. I’ve got to say that the trip home from the bike shop was amazing. The gears worked so incredibly well, it was very smooth to pedal, everything just worked as it was meant to work. It felt like I was on a brand new bike. There’s no way I’d want to go back to how it was even a few hours beforehand, yet at the time I was satisfied with the way my bike was riding.

I wonder how many things in our lives change so slowly that we don’t even notice until it’s too late. How many times do we become complacent in our careers or our relationships?

Time after time I’ve heard of marriages breaking down with one partner saying they didn’t see it coming. They were just getting on with life as normal and were so surprised that the other person in the relationship didn’t see it that way.

We can become blinded to the things that are going on right under our noses. It’s often not enough to feel that ‘everything’s just fine’. We need to be proactively working to not only maintain many areas of our lives, especially relationships, but to reassess, adjust and improve. We must absolutely refuse to let comfortable routines rob us of a full life.

Posted by Rodney Olsen

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Paying less for more

Isn’t it amazing how prices change. While we expect the prices of most things to go up, there are a lot of advances in technology that keep bringing prices down on certain items.

When I think of how long it took us to pay off our first computer compared to what we could get for a third of the price these days, I just wonder how much cheaper computers will get. That old computer was a 486 DX 33. No CD drive, no sound, no modem. I think it cost us about $3000.

I was flicking through a brochure that came with yesterday’s paper looking at digital cameras. We made a big investment of around $600 to get a 3.2 megapixel digital stills point and shoot camera back in 2003 before I went to India for the first time. It was a lot to pay but I wanted to make sure we had good quality photos from the trip. It was a Pentax Optio 330GS and it was just wonderful. Now for around 20% of that price I can get a six megapixel camera. It might not be the best quality but for not much more I can get superb quality.

I only wish that bicycle technology was moving at the same rate so that their prices were dropping by the same percentage.

What would you like to see get the ‘new technology, price dropping’ treatment?

Posted by Rodney Olsen

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Struggling with Doubt

Right at this moment, are you 100% sure about what you believe?

Do you go through dark moments when God seems distant and you wonder if you can hang on to your faith? What do you do in those times? Do you embrace the opportunity to explore your faith and to draw closer to God or do you try to ignore the doubt and press on?

Many people were shocked at recent revelations that Mother Teresa struggled with doubt and emptiness. In this Time Magazine article, David van Biema explores the faith crisis that one of the world’s most well known Christians went through. Even while she was sacrificing her life to serve the poorest of the poor in India in the name of Jesus, she was battling an internal struggle. During that time she wrote a heartfelt note addressed to Jesus.

Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone … Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my
thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts
return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and
yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?

Heavy stuff.

When we look through the Psalms we find very similar themes when the writers call out to God and ask why he seems so distant. We tend to overlook those parts of the scriptures and yet they are so raw, so real that we are settling for a very shallow faith if we don’t explore such passages and examine our own doubts.

If we say that we serve a big God then isn’t God big enough to handle the big questions?

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we looked at the issue of doubt and of Mother Teresa’s struggles. We talked about Os Guiness and his book about how to work through and resolve doubt. You can hear our chat through the media player at the bottom of this post.

Do you have doubts that you’ve been refusing to face? Don’t you think it’s time to be honest enough to yourself and before God to work through the issues?

Doubt can be a very healthy thing when it forces us to examine what and why we believe and many people have found that embracing their own struggles with faith has brought them even closer to God and given them even greater assurance. Are you prepared to face the tough issues?

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Online Romance Turns Sour

According to Ananova a couple have divorced after an online romance ….. with each other.
The Bosnian couple were chatting to each other online and both thought that they had found their soulmates.

Sana Klaric, 27, and husband Adnan, 32, from Zenica, poured out their hearts to each other over their marriage troubles, and both felt they had found their real soul mate.
The couple met on an online chat forum while he was at work and she in an internet cafe, and started chatting under the names Sweetie and Prince of Joy.

They eventually decided to meet up – but there was no happy ending when they realised what had happened.

Now they are both filing for divorce – with each accusing the other of being unfaithful.

Could you imagine the shock on their faces when they finally saw who it was they had been talking to all this time?

Sana said: “I thought I had found the love of my life. The way this Prince of Joy spoke to me, the things he wrote, the tenderness in every expression was
something I had never had in my marriage.

“It was amazing, we seemed to be stuck in the same kind of miserable
marriages – and how right that turned out to be.

“We arranged to meet outside a shop and both of us would be carrying a
single rose so we would know the other.

“When I saw my husband there with the rose and it dawned on me what had
happened I was shattered. I felt so betrayed. I was so angry.”

I find the whole thing a little comical but very sad at the same time.

It would seem that both of these people were projecting the person that they wanted to be rather than who they really were.

Could you imagine what a rich marriage they could have shared if they’d put the effort into becoming the people that they wanted to be rather than just pretending that’s who they were? They obviously both knew what the other person wanted in a relationship but they weren’t prepared to put in the effort to do the hard work with each other. How incredibly sad.

I suppose it goes to show how easy it is to be a different person online to the person we are in reality.

Would your family and friends recognise your online persona? Are you making every effort to become the person that everyone online thinks you already are?

Posted by Rodney Olsen

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