Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Little child

Little child
Let me pray for the world
That you’ll own.
Little child
For I fear for the future
We’ve sown.
I am scared and afraid
Of the mess that we’ve made
Little child don’t hide.

Little child
We have spent all your days
On ourselves
Little child
We have raided your cupboards
And shelves.
We have poisoned your seas
Made our wealth from your trees
Little child don’t cry.

We’ve exhausted our share
And polluted your air
Little child, don’t ask why.

Little child
Let me pray for your daughters
And sons
Little child
Please forgive all the things
We have done
We have stolen your world
Left it broken and soiled
Little child please don’t die
Little child.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


The following is an excerpt from a yet to be published book that explores the questions we are so afraid of asking and perhaps even more afraid to leave unanswered.

And here I find myself returning to the themes of this book. We have the deepest and darkest message imaginable. We have a revelation of God that plummets to such depth in reaching the wretchedness of humanity and somehow we have turned it into froth and bubble. We have taken the broken mutilated corpse of grace and have removed our guilt from his horrid wounds; we have disconnected grace from the darkness of humanity that grace has uncovered. We have absolved ourselves from identifying personally with the planning and outworking of the ongoing death of grace and so we are left with a theology and a paint brush that simply applies a shallow application of words, stifling the truth, silencing the truth, sentencing the world to silence. Tragically, in the process, we not only render ourselves irrelevant, we render God to the same insignificance.

How does the rest of the world deal with their pain? They abandon their journey of spiritual discovery and party like there is no tomorrow. They self-medicate with the tranquillisers of alcohol, drugs, sex and shopping. They go to their very relevant churches in the clubs, pubs and parties and they poor out their stories to each other. Their music is full of pain or the images of its escapism. The whole world and especially the young are looking for a real God, a real “identifier”, the reality of the divine and an absolute that will still be there when the escapism wears off.

Please, please, I beg of you, stand back from the answers that we think we have and ask yourself, if you were they, would you possibly find help with what we have been offering?

However, the more I hear and see what we represent and the answers we bring the more I see the world to be repelled by us. Some of us major on defining “normality’ in terms of sexuality. That’s great for the sexually orthodox, but it is no answer for the thousands and thousands of others. What do we offer to these brothers and sisters? Words? Proof texts. Doctrines? Celibacy? This is not good enough. Don’t make “it is written” responsible for your impotence. There must be more to God than this. There has to be. The cross is so inclusive, surely. If there was any conditionality it couldn’t have possibly occurred. Mankind is far worse, far more unforgivable than the issue of his sexual preference. Come on. We killed grace. We killed God. We attempted to remove him from our religion. We still do. Surely, this is the fundamental scourge of mankind. It is not this shallow. We are much, much worse. And God forgives even this, and he then forgives our judging of others. Truly divine

There are other answers. Let’s tie God down to an intellectual pursuit. Let’s get him to live his life according to the script. After al, it is written that all scripture is God breathed. Where is that written? In the bible. Who wrote the bible? God did. It is God’s word. Who says? God. How, in the bible? Who wrote the bible? Ok, we did, to.

You are not liking what I am saying, but, let God be God. Let his reality reveal himself. If he has to be explained by words, and I know I have dealt with this before, he is a very small God.

Do we have to make the reality of the creator of the universe dependent on something that a man has written, no matter what other men may say about it’s accuracy or divinity? That is simply too much to swallow. The world is not that silly and God is not subject to the frailty of our words. Look at an image on a television. Clear isn’t it? Take out a magnifying glass and look at the image from two centimetres. What do you see? A dot. The image is made up of dots. It has a limited definition. Our words have a limited definition. They can make an image, “through a glass, darkly”, but, what of the subtlety of the enormous truth between the dots? We must work through this, otherwise all we end up with is words.

It seems that we must define God and then define how we must live. A regimen of indoctrination and cultural behaviour. We then attempt to make the world submit to our depiction of life as we say God would have it. No wonder we find it easy to allow the US to bomb other faith and cultures without any real theological or moral debate. After all the US army is full of bible believing heterosexuals and their targets are unbelieving Muslims infidels. Maybe that was a bit below the belt! But, why were we silent? There has been more protest about the ordination of gay clergy! Why do you think the world is so disappointed with Christianity? We don’t make sense anymore. We are rightly seen as hypocrites. Is it any wonder that Islamic extremists have risen up to strike down own religion. Can you see how offensive it appears to be?

We must challenge our concepts of God with the smaller “dots” they we may imagine to be inside our “definition”. Why? Because we must discover the truth about God. We can’t possibly know it all. That is simply implausible and impossible.

In my last book “Jesus the unexpected God”, which was renamed by the publishers as “The power of your love”, I wrote of Jesus’ encounter with the Roman Centurion.

One day, after the book was published, I had the most powerful thought. A thought that challenged me immensely, a thought that continues to affect me profoundly.

At first, I was afraid of even mentioning my ideas, but the more I thought of it, the more wonderful Jesus became and the “definition” of God in Jesus, became all the more wonderful. All the more divine.

Let me retell the story.

Jesus and his disciples are in Capernaum and a Roman Centurion approaches Jesus.

Think about this for a second. One of Jesus’ disciples is Simon the zealot. Zealots conducted guerrilla warfare against the occupying Roman army. Zealots executed Roman sympathisers and collaborators. A spiritual zealot, like Simon, would have has at the top of his list of “Expectations of a Messiah”; “Political deliverance, national revival, King Jesus, dead Romans”. Surely that’s not too much to ask of a God who had delivered Israel time and time again from her enemies. In the “good old days” nations quaked in their dusty sandals when they thought of the anger of the “good old God” of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. How many millions of heads had been removed by the followers of this God? Simon would have looked at this Roman and burned with hatred as he waited for Jesus to call down “fire from heaven”.

Let’s put this story in a modern context.

Imagine Jesus in Baghdad. He is an US Army chaplain with twelve orderlies. In a strange twist of evangelistic zeal, these orderlies have decided that Iraq needs a revival and they are the ones who are going to bring it about. They are going to install Captain Jesus as the new spiritual head of the Iraqi government. Then they will share in the power and glory of the New Iraqi Kingdom, taking their places in the new Cabinet and sharing in the spoils.

One of Saddam Hussein’s bodyguards comes to Captain Jesus…………………..

Or, Jesus enters Dili. He is wearing the uniform of an Australian Military Chaplain. He comes to a crowded market place and an Indonesian Officer comes to him, pleading................................,

Jesus enters Kosovo, wearing the Uniform of an United Nations Peace Keeper, and a Yugoslavian Military Officer comes to him, pleading.......................................,

Jesus enters liberated Paris and a Nazi Commander comes to him, pleading................................;

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.

“Lord,” he said;

The crowd is shocked. The Roman cohort attending the Centurion are ashen faced? The Centurion’s eyes on Jesus.

If only we were there. If only we had lived under Roman occupation. If we had we wouldn’t have missed the earth shattering opening words that came from the Centurion’s lips.

All that could be heard throughout the crowd, whether from Jew or Roman was;

“What did he say?”

“Did he just call Jesus; Lord?”

The centurion has just committed suicide and everyone in the crowd new it.

The Roman soldiers minds spun:

“There is no other Lord than Caesar”.


There was no way back. His fate was sealed. The deed was done. It was finished.

Jesus looked at his brother in sacrifice, here was a fellow redeemer, here was a “son of God”. Here was the greatest love that any man can have as he lays down his life for a friend.

The Centurion continued:

“My servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.”

Now, what could the crowd say? Simon the zealot has two scalps to add to his nationalistic zeal, the crowd has their moment because the soldiers may possibly help the Jews execute this treacherous Son of Rome. All Jesus had to do was say the word. Maybe they had enough men to liberate all of Capernaum, for now, the chain of command in the occupying force was in disarray.

The disciples could well have thought;

“The kingdom is at hand!”

But they were to be doubly shocked for Jesus was about to betray the zealots cause. He refused the “Kingdom on a platter”. He went even further. He joined the centurion in his act of treason.

“I will go and heal him”.

Treason. Traitor. Treachery. Betrayal. Son of the devil

The crowd was incensed.

The disciples’ faces were white with fear. If Jesus is going to the Centurion’s quarters, so are they. Simon may have looked for a sword.

While they are getting used to the shock and the horror of this crusade gone horribly wrong the Centurion speaks again:

“Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me”.

The “soldiers under himmust have reeled in horror. He is implicating them in his treachery. He has now dishonored Caesar twice. He has dishonored the Kingdom of Rome by denigrating the household of the Roman Army. How could the might and majesty of Rome be unworthy to welcome this Jew?

The Centurion has sealed his fate a second time because he was amazed by Jesus’ first reply. He knows, exactly, the consequences that Jesus’ has brought upon himself. And he clarifies his mission.

“There is only one man here that is going to die for the one he loves, Jesus, this is not your sacrifice, it is mine.”

But he was so wrong. He, of all men in all of Israel had now joined the mission of God in Jesus. Jesus had come to die. Both had come with a love that had the ultimate expression.

Jesus does not back away. A second time he joins the Roman in sacrificial love. A second time he ensures his fate, but this time, he goes much further.

“When Jesus heard this, he was astonished…”

Now you must admit that this is an amazing thing to say about the Son of God! What could possibly astonish Jesus?

“I tell you the truth; I have not found anyone in Israel with such faith.”

This is looking awfully like a riot. Now the Roman soldiers had a real problem. Two traitors and a very angry mob and a very shaky position of authority.

Could it possibly get any worse? Oh yes, much worse.

Jesus set’s the disciples’ teeth on edge. What he says next is beyond the comprehension of any God fearing Jew. It is just too horrible to even consider, it is blasphemous to the extreme. It is the worst thing that has ever come from the lips of a God fearing Jew and I believe it reverberated right into the center of Jerusalem many years later as Pilate gave this crowd their choice; Jesus or Barabbas?

I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feats with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

What sort of Messiah is this?

I am amazed that Jesus could have walked away from the crowd. How he managed to escape their righteous anger is beyond me, but I am assured of the fate of the Centurion. He was a dead man.

“Then he said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed that very hour.

Two men have given their lives for an unnamed servant.

I wonder what the servant thought as, a number or years later, he hears about the resurrection and remembers just how he was healed?.

It is so very shallow that the main point of this story has been said to be “spiritual authority”. How we miss the heart of God while we a looking for signs and wonders. We miss the greatest sign of all. Sacrificial love for the unworthy.

I was sitting quietly in my throne room many months after this story had been compiled into my second book, when the untold enormity of this meeting struck me deep inside my spirit. You see, we can step back from the dots and just look at what we are shown, or we can go deeper, and search for the hidden heart of God. This may cause you to struggle. This may provoke far more questions than it will give you answers, but God has to outgrow our dots.

It is a simple question. The Roman centurion is a long way from home. He is separated from his loved ones. Perhaps he had a wife and children. He was alone in a country that hated him with a national and spiritual intensity. The only way to live was to live by the sword.

In the middle of this occupation, this centurion’s servant becomes ill, desperately ill. The centurion struggles with his servant’s pain. He may have searched high and low for doctors to bring healing and relief. He may have spent many sleepless nights attending his servant, but there came a day when he could bear it no longer. He knew about Jesus. He knew about the Jewish traditions of sacrifice and atonement. He decided to present himself as a living sacrifice. He decided that he would die for his servant.

How Godly. How beautiful.

No wonder Jesus was moved.

A simple question that I want you to answer for yourself.

What was the relationship between the Centurion and his servant?

What was this love?

Why would a man who had so much to live for and so much to lose decide that death was better than living alone?

What is Jesus saying to us?

Now put yourself in the crowd.

Knowing the rumors that may have surrounded this Centurion and his servant, what do you think of Jesus?

We cannot be so sure can we?

Sort of challenges us to the very center of our belief structure.

Who is God asking to change?

Monday, September 18, 2006

You refresh my heart

You refresh my heart
Version Two
Geoff Bullock
Music ©: 1992 Word Music
Words ©: 2004 Geoff Bullock

Verse One:
Refresh my heart Lord,
Renew my love,
Pour your Spirit into my soul
Refresh my heart.
You set me apart Lord,
To make me new,
By your spirit lift me up Lord
Refresh my heart

Verse Two:
You’ve graced my life Lord,
Love overcomes
Mercy’s goodness, forgiveness found
You’ve graced my life.
You crown me with mercy
My hope renewed
By your spirit lifted up
You’ve graced my life.

And as I worship you Lord,
With all my life
As you walk with me
You refresh my heart

Verse Three:
You give me life, Lord,
You lift me up,
Pour Your mercy into my soul
You give me life.
You heal my heart, Lord,
All things made new,
By Your Spirit, lifted up, Lord,
You give me life.

dear little light

dear little light,

please shine bright

spread your rays

throughout my life.
burn your truth

lead the way
dear little light

please shine bright.

dear little child
within my heart

scared and alone

and torn apart.
listen now,
don't turn away

dear little child

please don't hide.

dear troubled soul

please hold on

to the song of life

to the hope of all
don't close your mind

from the truths you know
dear troubled soul
dear little child

dear shining light

please burn bright.

Just let me say

Just let me say how much you love me
Geoff Bullock
Music ©: 1993 Word Music
Words ©: 2004 Geoff Bullock

Verse One:
Just let me say how much you love me
Let me speak of your mercy and grace,
That lets me live in the shadow of your beauty
So I may see you “face to face”.
For the earth should shake
As your word goes forth,
And the heavens should tremble and fall
Yet these words just say: you love me
Oh my saviour, my Lord and friend.

Verse Two:
Just let me hear your finest whispers
As you gently call my name
And let me see your power and your glory
Let me feel your spiritÂ’s flame.
For you have found me in my desert
And this sand is holy ground,
And my brokenness is mended
By you my Lord and friend

Verse Three:
So let me say how much you love me,
As all my hope is found in you
And I am caught in this passion of knowing
This endless love I have in you.
For the depths of grace, the forgiveness found to be called a child of God,
Just makes me say how much I love you
Oh my saviour, my Lord and friend.

Surely, loving a 'deity' comes naturally to almost every soul. We all seek spiritual comfort, and soul peace. Throughout the ages mankind has sought a relationship with the divine. However, the Christmas and Easter stories show us "divinity" in an entirely different light. Christmas shows us a God who goes to the most extraordinary lengths to establish a relationship with mankind. Jesus is "God coming to us". He turns the tables on our seeking. We become the "sought after".
Easter shows us a greater miracle. God forgives the unforgivable. He refuses to respond to every action and deed that mankind inflicted upon him and chooses simply to respond to his own love for mankind by forgiving and gracing us beyond measure.
We spend so much time telling ourselves through our songs, prayers, services and promises how much we love God and all that we will do for him. The miracle of grace lies not in our own action and love for God, but rather His love and actions for all of us broken, frail and failed recipients of grace.