All posts tagged: Christianity

When you forget the sound of your own name

I don’t often hear my name spoken. There’s a lot of “Mummycomewipemybottoooom!” (full volume, echoing into the neighbourhood!) There’s “Aw, mu-um, pleeease can I watch the iPad until I make Oscar the Grouch look like a sweet little kitten?” Oh, and there’s “Go ask your mum,” and “Want a cuppa Mummy?” because even hubby has it on default. I love being a mum. LOVE it. And I love being called “Mummy,” “Mum,” “Mama,” and even “Mumazella” (my son’s invention). But I cannot deny that when I hear my name spoken by loved ones, the one written on my birth certificate, a shock wave travels up my spine. It takes a little moment to subconsciously remind myself that the arrangement of those letters just uttered, that single syllable, belongs to me. Claire. Is this sounding strange? It could be a mum thing. Or maybe people in positions of leadership get it too – when you’re so used to honorifics of Mr, Mrs, Dr, Sir and so on that your own name sounds foreign. Perhaps people who have …

What is #FLAMfaces?

Hello. I just want to let you in on something that’s about to come to fruition in this space in coming weeks. It’s based on this verse: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15. God has been whispering, nudging and hip-and-shouldering me lately towards this project that gives ordinary, everyday people a platform to share about their faith; about their extraordinary God. When I’ve read that verse in the past, I’ve felt somewhat overwhelmed. I’m much better with the written word than the spoken word! But the verse doesn’t specify, does it? It just says, be ready! And anyway, writing helps to cement new thoughts and learnings in the brain, so it comes to mind more readily in conversation. So, I have started asking local folk who live with Jesus as their saviour to do this: to speak  (write!) gently and respectfully about the reason …

The Year in Books (2016)

This post is more a personal record than anything else. A look back at the books I’ve read in 2016, the learnings from them, and the way God has used them to expand my Christian worldview. I’ve explained before that I am part of a book club. We call ourselves The Romans 12:2 Project, meet every five weeks or so, and read books that will expand our understanding of God, faith and what it is to be a Christian today. These are the books we read this year… of course, I did read beyond this selection, a few leisure reads (Maeve Binchy, Paullina Simons and even Lee Childs!) and additional recommendations from friends and family (Annette Mace’s book, and I can highly recommend The Grace Outpouring too, by David Roberts and Roy Godwin). But these are the books we discussed: The Gift of Being Yourself by David G. Benner Love, Tears and Autism by Cecily Paterson The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller Farewell Four Waters by Kate …

Letter to the Gay Community: Is Same Sex Marriage Really What You Need?

Monday June 29, 2015 To homosexuals everywhere in support of same sex marriage, Do you believe that changing Australia’s Marriage Act will be the panacea you need? I’m genuinely interested. You have suffered severely as a minority group; shunned, bullied, locked up, medicated and even murdered for your sexual attraction. The treatment you have endured – and indeed, continue to endure in some pockets of society – is unacceptable. You, like anyone else, have the right to respect, love, acceptance and a life unhindered by prejudice. Like victims of any traumatic injustice, I understand your desire to seek acknowledgement and affirmation of your value and identity. My question is, will changing the traditional definition of marriage do that? We look to Ireland where law has changed to allow same sex marriage as a result of last month’s referendum. Have you noticed the vernacular of the gay lobby in the proceeding celebrations? The change has been lauded as “recognition” of gay people, “validation” of lifestyle, “acceptance” in communities and so on. Very little has been said about marriage itself. Could …

I’m a Christian and I Have Doubted God

I’m a Christian and I have doubted God. Allow me to peel off the shiny veneer of my faith and reveal to you the raw reality that many a follower of Jesus has taken to their deathbed. Christians doubt. Rarely will you hear such a thing articulated by the churched populace. Because a Christian who reveals their doubts is like a salesman beginning his pitch with the product’s weaknesses. We want you to see the wondrous things of faith first; overcoming addiction, freedom from unforgiveness, healing, joy, release from the chains of materialism, hope and the promise of eternity. I’m sorry to burst the proverbial bubble of the good-little-Christian persona, but doubt is as much a part of believing as it is in any relationship treading the tangible soils of this earth. Self doubt plagues the best of us, but it doesn’t diminish our value. Doubt is present in the most robust marriages and friendships, but many will attest to overcoming spells of doubt in various forms. “Do you love me?” “Can we make this …

No Extremists Allowed

“The world would be a better place without religion.” A statement spoken with as much vehemence as frequency of late, and largely in response to the IS terror campaign. Another is the borderline apologetic, “All religions have their extremists.” What does a Christian gal say to such hostility? How does she respond when her faith is muddled with all the other myriad religions and their disparate gods and motivations? She groans inwardly, I can tell you that, and she is saddened that the owners of these statements don’t try to understand her beliefs – a faith free of religion. In attempting to read a little of the Bible every day this year, I came to Ecclesiastes, believed to have been written by Solomon who is well-known for his writings on wisdom. This is where I stopped: “In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness.” I hear you, Solomon. The world is unchanged on that front. He …

The Case For Religious Education in Schools

To Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff, I write in response to the Tasmanian Government’s discussion paper on the Education Act. Question 29 asks, “Should we make any changes around how religious education in government schools is implemented?” As you know, the parameters for religious education in public schools are: Inclusion at the principal’s discretion and with parent/carer permission. Maximum of one hour per week. No religion is given preference over another. No proselytising. Straight up, these staunch directives send off alarm bells, not to mention a gut feeling that this review is being used as a means to eliminate religious education entirely. The reality is that very few public schools actually include religious education in the diversity of their curriculums, and that’s a pity. I’m going to be straight: let’s scratch out that word religion and change it to Christianity because Australia’s culture has been undeniably shaped by the Christian faith – its tenets remain relevant and beneficial in encouraging strong communities of people who are outward-focused. Every Australian deserves a basic grasp of the Christian …

The Four-Word Statement That Australia Needs as its Motto

“Love Makes A Way,” their banners read. The people holding the banners are a movement of Christians fed up with the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia and are campaigning for change. Everyday people with families of their own have risked arrest to sit in the offices of politicians, staging non-violent protests to agitate for reform. They silently pray and urge compassion towards asylum seekers, lobbying for the release of the 789 children currently in detention. Why? Because they are followers of another refugee called Jesus. Because 2010 Australian of the Year professor Patrick McGorry has said that our detention centres are “factories for producing mental illness”. Because an Australian and New Zealand study of children who had been detained for more than one year revealed that 100 per cent suffered from some form of mental illness attributable to their detention. Because while others shake their heads at the complexity of the situation, shrugging ambivalent shoulders, they know that, “Love Makes A Way”. Please, Mr Abbott, can we take this four-word slogan as the battle cry of …

The Faith Test

Are you married? Relationships are complex arrangements but they are also definitive. You’re either married, or you’re not. You’re a mother, or you’re not. You’re a brother, or you’re not.  I guess some things really are still black and white. If I were to ask if you were married, I wouldn’t expect you to humm and harr before offering:  “I’m not sure…”, “maybe…”, “I was a long time ago…” or “it depends…”  You would fire back an answer within a few seconds – perhaps with a qualifier or two – but a definitive answer all the same. Yet here’s a relationship question that still provokes greyscale answers: Are you a Christian? It’s not a trick question. ‘Christian’ simply means follower of Christ; one who has a relationship with Jesus. Like any ‘earthly’ relationship, there are complexities – doubts, times of intimacy or distance, conflict and confusion. These are part of any relationship, part of testing it and making it stronger, yet when asked THAT question, it’s not uncommon for the response to be, “I’m not …

Adopting a Spirit of Adoption

What do John Lennon, Moses, Faith Hill and my Aunt Jenny have in common?  Nelson Mandela, Truman Capote, Sarah McLachlan, Steve Jobs, Edgar Allan Poe and Superman also share the commonality. They were adopted. Friday will mark one year since then Prime Minister Julia Gillard apologised for the scourge that was forced adoption.  For the victims – the mothers, fathers, children, siblings and extended family affected by the practice of forced adoption carried out in Australia from the late 1950s to the 1970s – it was a landmark day.  I hope that each anniversary brings deeper healing for these individuals, and that it opens our eyes to the ongoing issue of providing appropriate care for children. There are 13 million children around the world who are without both parents and 120 million who have just one carer who usually struggles to provide for that child (UNICEF). In Australia, 39,621 children are in out-of-home care and 18,000 are in foster care waiting for permanent care solutions.  Yet, in 2012, only 70 Australian children were adopted (Australian …