December 13

MaGloon’s Balloons – A Poem

magloon

 

I love the way the Scottish say a word with double O’s.

It has such length, such gutsy strength. I’ll show you how it goes…

(say the rest of the poem in a Scottish accent)



MAGLOON’S BALLOONS

A poem by Simon Camilleri

written 6/5/2010

One afternoon, Lachlan MaGloon was driving to the Melbourne Zoo.

His young nephew was turning two and he was late, so off he zoomed!

Inside his BMW he had a bunch of blue balloons.

He’d give them to his young nephew as long as he could get there soon.

But as the Zoo came into view, the blue balloons across him flew!

He canna see through! They blocked his view! So blindly he sped to the Zoo.

With a mighty BOOM he crashed right through the front gate to the Melbourne Zoo.

The guard said, “HEY YOU!! You canna do that, you must park and then pay too!”

But like a hoon, Lachlan MaGloon sped off into the busy Zoo

Past kangaroos and cockatoos and lions left looking confused.

Right past emus and turtles too and lizards with their tongues of blue,

Straight past gnus who just said “moo” and doves so scared they lost their “coo”.

Past brave baboons who flung their poo, but none could stop his journey through.

Until he reached the Court of Food, or “food court” as it may be known by you.

The children screamed as at them he flew. What was Lachlan MaGloon to do?

He couldn’t see! He has no clue! Those darn balloons still blocked his view!

He slammed the brakes, while praying to the God he knew would see him through.

His screeching BMW crashed to a halt as if by glue!

Now bruised, confused and woozy too, with messed hairdo and one lost shoe,

Lachlan MaGloon emerged to view his car just missed his young nephew.

“It’s you! It’s you!” cried his nephew who round his neck his arms he threw.

Then from the car Lachlan MaGloon, retrieved the bunch of blue balloons.

The crash had sadly popped a few, but when he viewed the smile of a boy aged two,

Despite all he’d been through,

yes he knew it was true,

he was glad he had come that day to the Zoo.

(1402)

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June 29

10 Problems with “The Burnt Toast” Story

 

What a sweet story with a lovely message… NOT!!

Allow me to have a not-too-serious rant about the 10 big problems with this video.

  1. Firstly, if the mum had had had such a “long and stressful day at work” and she was so exhausted that all she could put together for dinner was jam and burnt toast, why didn’t dad get off his butt and help her out? Presumably they both are working. Why is mum making dinner while dad sits at the table waiting to be fed? In the end, as I will show, his laziness led to guilt, lies and possibly even cancer.
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  2. When the toast is brought out to dad, he doesn’t say anything to his wife or acknowledge that clearly she wasn’t coping. The child even says they were waiting to see dad’s reaction, but even the child is surprised that he ignores her completely and simply talks to them about their day.
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  3. Prompted by his coldness, or maybe out of fear of his judgment, or maybe just as a cry for help, the mum then apologizes for the toast being burnt. Why is she apologizing? I guess, maybe she is just acknowledging that burnt toast is horrible and she wishes she had more energy to serve him the three course dinner he is obviously accustomed to.
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  4. The child “will never forget my dad’s reply”, and I won’t either. He straight up lies to his wife. He says, “Honey, I love burnt toast!” What is that going to do?? Either it will come across as some sort of sarcastic joke, again not really acknowledging her exhaustion, or worse still, it will come across as 100% truth. This will just leave the mum wondering what kind of weirdo has she married that actually loves burnt toast and if she accepts that, she may get the impression that in future she SHOULD burn his toast, as that is his strange preference.
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  5. The child clearly sees through his lies and that night they decide to ask their dad if he was telling the truth or lying. Dad unapologetically says that yes he was lying but that he just did it to not hurt mum’s feelings. What sort of lesson is THAT teaching his child? I can see inside their mind, Honesty Island crumbling like in the Pixar movie “Inside Out”! He makes out that lying was his only option, but there were so many things he could have said to his wife. How about, “I forgive you” or “No need to apologize, I understand you’ve had a hard day.” Or even, “I should be the one apologizing. We both worked today and you clearly deserve a rest more than me. How about I order takeout?” But no. He goes with a lie and tells his child that that’s the best way to love people.
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  6. Not only does he admit to lying to his wife, he then goes on to lie to his child – or at least tell he says something that is incorrect. He says “Burnt toast doesn’t hurt anyone, but words do.” Wrong dad. Check your facts. A quick Google search would show you that the burnt bits of toast contain an alarming high level of the chemical acrylamide – a cancer-causing toxin. His lies and misinformation does nothing to warn both his wife and child of the carcinogenic dangers of burnt food and may actually lead them to eat more of it! Good one dad!
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  7. Also, are words really that bad? They definitely don’t cause cancer, that’s for sure! But even if they can sting some times, do we really want our kids to lie rather than say words that might “hurt” people? Sure we want to teach our kids that hate speech, bullying and cruel mockery is unacceptable, but in this “safe space”, politically-correct, hyper-sensitive culture that our kids are growing up in, do we really want to teach them that any words that might hurt are forbidden and lying to someone’s face is preferable? We used to try to teach our kids resilience to words. Rather than the unscientific theory that “Burnt toast doesn’t hurt anyone, but words do”, maybe dad should have remembered the old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Words may hurt someone’s feelings sometimes, but they won’t do permanent damage like break your bones or give you cancer!
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  8. The video ends with this moral: “To accept your mistakes and appreciate your differences – that is the key for a healthy and long-lasting relationship.” A nice enough message, but is that really the moral of this story? Who accepts their mistakes? Does the dad? No, he is oblivious to his lack of helpfulness, he justifies his lies and he spreads misinformation about cancer. Lotsa mistakes there that don’t get accepted. And even if we conceded that poor mum made a “mistake” by serving the Master of the House toast that was burnt, does she accept it? Well, she tries to with her apology, but her lying husband tells her that it wasn’t a mistake at all because he loves burnt toast. Very unhelpful.
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  9. And where does anyone learn to “appreciate your differences”? Who’s differences? The differences between a lazy, dishonest dad and a mum who works hard all day and then has to make dinner for her family? Those are definite differences, but I for one hope the child doesn’t learn to “appreciate” them!
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  10. Lastly, I have a problem with the claim that “accepting mistakes and appreciating differences” is actually “the key for a healthy and long-lasting relationship”. As most people know, honest and gracious COMMUNICATION is actually the key -and that is what this story seriously lacks. If the mum can be critiqued for anything, she maybe should have communicated that she needed help, although it seems the dad already knew what sort of day she had had. The dad should have communicated truth rather than lies, to both his wife and his child. And if he was so sacred of communicating hurtful words, he could have just shut his mouth, got off his chair and communicated love by actually making HER dinner!

The only good communicator in this story is the child, who didn’t sit on their doubts about their dad’s claim to love toast. The child asked for the truth. Those questions may have hurt the dad as they suggested that he was a liar, but like the child in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, this child decided to speak up. It is sad that her good communication was answered with bad communication, dodgy justifications, unscientific information and terrible life lessons.

End of rant.

Don’t take it too seriously. 🙂

BURNT FACE

(905)

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June 11

Parents, Remember the Lord

remember the lord

 

This is my take on Colin Buchanan’s wonderful kid’s song, “Remember the Lord”.

His words are great, but they’re just targeted to children. I reckon we all need to remember the message of the Chorus.Click here if you want to see the official version if not continue below.

So a week out from Dorothy’s first birthday, here is my version, in honour of all first time parents.

 

PARENTS, REMEMBER THE LORD



When you bring home your baby from the hospital ward,

And you have no idea just what’s in store.

And your heart is filled with hopes and dreams

And all of the sudden they just start to scream.

 

Chorus:

Remember the Lord, oh oh.

Remember that he is in control.

Remember the Lord, oh oh.

He’s watching your children, he cares, oh oh.

Remember the Lord, oh oh. Oh, oh.

 

You’ve read “attachment theories” and “Baby Wise”,

But it don’t take long til you realise,

In those early days if your baby’s alive

Then you’re doin okay. Just try to survive.

Chorus

 

When it’s half past 3 and they’re still not asleep

And you’re so exhausted you’re going to weep.

When they’re pooing and spewing and not doing great

Cos the breast feeding hurts and they’re not gaining weight.

Chorus

 

When you keep comparing your kid to theirs

When one can’t roll and the other climbs stairs

When one is bald and the other has hairs

When one steals toys and the other one shares

When one’s expressive and one just stares

When one’s a dream and the other, nightmare

When you know as a Christian you shouldn’t compare

But you’re trying really hard so it’s hard not to care.

Chorus

 

When you want them to grow in their spiritual life

And you think it’s all up to you and your wife

For modelling gospel faithfulness

But you really need grace cos your life is a mess.

Chorus

 

Now I don’t want you to think that havin kids ain’t fun

But it tests your character from day one

It exposes your pride. It bears your soul.

It reveals who you really think’s in control… So…

Chorus

 

(622)

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June 10

The Man in the Moon – a poem

man in the moon

 

The Man in the Moon

a poem by Simon Camilleri

 

Let us pause and consider the Man in the Moon,

For he glows with a light that isn’t his own.

Created to shine in the darkness of night

By reflecting the glory of another’s light.

 

For it’s by the sun’s light that the moon can be known

And it’s by the sun’s light that its beauty is shown.

It’s the sun that now holds all the orbits in place.

If the sun let it go it would be lost in space.

 

Yet the man in the moon wishes he could break free.

He thinks of his orbit as like slavery.

Every lunar eclipse, to the earth’s furthest side,

The moon tries to escape, and like Adam he hides

 

In the shadow of earth where he thinks none can see,

And there in the dark, he declares “Now, I’m free!”

“Now it’s my time to shine. My own light fill the skies!”

So he tries to shine light. Yes he tries and he tries…

 

But he can’t. He’s a moon. Not a sun. Not a star.

And you can’t be enlightened lest you know what you are.

Still as the moon’s orbit from the earth’s shadow slips,

The moon vows to try harder, the next lunar eclipse .

 

The moon is a fool. Just like you. Just like me.

There’s a reason why madness is called “lunacy”.

The moon thinks he’s so big and the sun looks so small.

If he only could see the sun’s not small at all.

 

Even to us on the earth, they both look the same size.

But it’s due to perspective, it’s a trick of the eyes.

You could fit 64 million moons in one sun!

Yet the man in the moon thinks that he’s “Number One”.

 

So later tonight in the moon’s bright reflection,

Do your own reflective introspection.

See the man in the moon. Cos if you can,

You’ll see that the moon is there in the man.

 


 

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen:

not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

– C.S. Lewis

  (661)

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February 2

One More Year – a poem

Simon 37

 

ONE MORE YEAR

a poem by Simon Camilleri on his 37th birthday


Today I turn 37
One more year closer to heaven
One more year further from birth
One more year of life on earth

One more year to live this life
One more year to love my wife
One more year to raise my baby
Four more months to get sleep… maybe

One more year to serve and bless
To write the scripts for GSF
To direct a great carols event
To help guys fight the elephant

One more year to know God’s grace
To grow in love and hope and faith
To each day live closer to Christ
And daily thank him for this life

I’m 37 for one more year
Yikes… 40 is now feeling near

(932)

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August 12

Without a Thumb – a poem for Matt Salter

thumb

WITHOUT A THUMB

A poem for Matthew Salter
By Simon Camilleri (12/8/2013)

 

Without a thumb, is life that bad?

Does it really disable?

The corporate myth that “thumbs are great”

I’d say is just a fable.

 

Sure scientists may claim that Man

is more evolved, proposing

that we would still be like the apes

without our thumbs opposing.

 

But I say “bah!” What do they know?

They’ve never lived without them!

Until they try a thumb-free life

I’ll continue to doubt them.

 

They could (like some) shatter their thumb

and if they did I’d wager

they’d soon discover life thumbless

is nothing really major.

 

Sure, you can’t grip, things tend to slip,

and doorknobs are an issue.

True, jars stay jarred cos lids are hard

without that thumby tissue.

 

Sure, you feel hexed when trying to text

and pens are also tricky,

And standing at the urinal

It’s hard to hold your…keys or other such items you might be holding while standing at the urinal.

 

And don’t begin to think you’ll win

if “Thumb Wars” is declared.

But still it’s true, the cons are few.

You shouldn’t really care.

 

See thumbs were useful long ago

in times now in the past.

You needed them to throw a spear,

but that need didn’t last.

 

In Roman times at colosseums

your thumbs had need worth noting.

Thumbs up was life. Thumbs down was death.

No thumbs was donkey voting.

 

In times Shakespearian you’d bite

your thumb to pick a fight.

Since then it has evolved across

two digits to the right.

 

And in more recent times people

used thumbs to go hitch hiking.

But now with global warming those

without a car are biking.

 

Even now babies don’t need thumbs

to suck them til they tire.

We’ve now replaced God-given thumbs

with plastic pacifier!

 

So you can see, without a thumb

your life won’t really change.

Sure, if you tried to be The Fonz,

your catch cry might look strange,

 

But generally, you will be fine.

In fact life can be greater!

Who cares if you can’t count to 5.

Just use a calculator.

fonz

(6158)

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April 27

10 alternatives to “credobaptism” & “paedobaptism”

I am thinking hard lately about my position on baptism.
The two main positions (at least the two that I think have biblical merit) are “credobaptism” and “paedobaptism”.

Credobaptism basically says you have to have given some form of a profession of faith (belief in the “creed” of the gospel) before you are allowed to get baptised.

Paedobaptism says a child of a believing parent can legitimately be baptised as the parent commits to raising the child in the faith.

Both positions I see biblical support for and I probably will write a blog on my thoughts some time.

For now, I just want to have a laugh, and so if like me, you are still thinking about which position you should hold, I have created 10 alternatives that you may want to consider.

 

MY TEN ALTERNATIVES TO “CREDOBAPTISM” & “PAEDOBAPTISM”

1. “Speedobaptism” – Where you get baptised in the ocean at the beach and you are required to wear budgy-smugglers.

2. “Didobaptism” – Where, as you get pushed under water, you sing, “I will go down with this ship! I won’t put my hands up and surrender! There will be no white fl… blub blub blub.”

3. “Pleadobaptism” – Where the pastor won’t bring you up out of the water until he sees you pleading for air.

4. “Playdoughbaptism” – Where you get dunked into a giant plastic tub of bright orange moulding clay.

5. “Fidobaptism” – Where, after coming out of the water, you’re expected to shake your body to dry off, effectively baptising anyone else who is standing close by.

6. “Readobaptism” – Where you just read every theologian who wrote something about the nature and meaning of baptism, but you never actually get baptised yourself.

7. “TiVobaptism” – Where you get baptised as a baby but it gets recorded and you watch it on TV later when your old enough to make a profession of faith.

8. “Vetobaptism” – Where the UN decides no one is allowed to get baptised.

9. “Peedobaptism” – Where after you go under the water you relax and it gets all nice and warm.

10. “Greedobaptism” – Where you only get baptised because you are promised wealth and prosperity, or alternatively, where you dunk yourself quickly before Han Solo shoots you from under the table.


All valid perspectives. May we think and pray about what the bible says as we reach our own conclusion.

021012_starwars

(3183)

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April 16

REAT MOMENTS IN CINEM

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I went to see Jurassic Park 3D at Village cinemas in Doncaster the other day and I was very excited.

When the movie first came out in 1993, I was 15 and it was one of the most impacting cinema experiences of my life! I actually saw it 11 times at the cinema (a number I have never since beaten) and I have seen it many times since then. So you could say I knew the movie pretty well.

I realised something was wrong with the film when the tops of characters’ heads came dangerously close to the top of the screen. At first, I put it down to a possible necessity of the post-conversion process of turning a 2D movie into 3D, but then one of my favourite scenes came up and I knew someone had majorly stuffed up… and it probably wasn’t Spielberg.

The scene was the one shown above, where the first dinosaur we get to see in glorious CGI rears back and takes a chomp from the upper branches of the tree. As it reared on its hind legs, its head popped up past the screen and the above image shows exactly how it looked in the cinema.

After the film, I informed the manager of the issue and after checking he informed me that yes, the film had accidentally been showing for their entire season projected in the wrong ratio. To their credit, they immediately set about fixing the problem and gave my wife and I two complimentary tickets as hush money… I mean, as compensation.

I posted this story on Facebook and a friend, Roger McLean, asked the great question, “What other movies would lose their impact from bad cropping?”

Below is a few I have thought up.

See if you can pick all the movies as well as what has been cropped out. Leave your answers in the comments below.

Also, if you have any more suggestions, email me your cropped movie moments and if I like them, I’ll add them to the list!

 

NEW FEATURE!
If you can’t guess the movie, click on the photo and see the answer!

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life-of-brian_610

rrrrr

sw_ripley_alien-3

Snow-White-evil-queen-apple

Count_Rugen's_right_hand

Thelma_Louise_cliff-1

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karate-kid

princessbride-love-09

matrix-red-pill

les

mylfoot

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its_a_wonderful_life_02

akatheu

Darryl Hannah as a mermaid in the 1984 film "Splash."

court-jester-kaye

hzbmb1tdufrodb1m

anchorman

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back-to-the-future-hoverboard

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(1797)

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March 3

“It’s a Phoney, Phoney World” a song

Mobile copy

IT’S A PHONEY, PHONEY WORLD

an original song by Simon Camilleri

This song has been a fun piece to write. It’s a challenge to me to engage with real life and real people and to unplug myself from the online world.

I still struggle with this daily as I realise my dependance on (and addiction to) technology.

I only hope this tune is so catchy that I start to follow it’s advice to “put your phone away”!

Download the words and chords here!

Perform your own version of the song, post it to YouTube and I’ll embed it below!

technology

(2041)

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January 5

Should we pray for a car park?

 

Consider these scenarios  You’re driving around a busy shopping centre car park on the weekend before Christmas and there is not an empty spot to be found. Or maybe you’re late for an important meeting and you don’t want to have to park miles away. “Come on! Please!!” you mutter with frustration as you search for that elusive space. But then you realise there is a much more spiritual solution. You recall your Creator and turn to him in prayer. “Dear God. Please find me a park!”

If you’re a Christian (or even if you’re not) you’ve probably been in this situation. Praying for a car park is a perfect example of seeking a spiritual solution for a pretty petty “first-world” problem. But is it really a wrong thing to do? Is it ethical? Is it an inappropriate use of prayer? Is it theologically correct? Is it spiritually edifying? Now even spending time thinking about such questions may seem to some people the bigger waste of brain activity, but I think that it raises some interesting issues and it has been the subject of some fun debate among some godly friends of mine, so I thought I’d throw in my thoughts on the topic.

What is Prayer?

Well, I could write a whole blog on this very important question, but I thought I’d explain just briefly that from a biblical perspective, prayer is not something magical. It does not have a power in and of itself. It is not a method of manipulating God or moving or evoking spiritual power for your own ends. It is not a form of New Age positive thinking based on the “law of attraction” where your thoughts tell the Universe what you want (as popularised by such books as “The Secret”).

Prayer is pure and simply, talking to God. It doesn’t need to be long and wordy. It doesn’t need to be in a specific form of words, or in a specific spiritual space, or prayed in a specific body position (hands together, eyes closed, on your knees, etc) It is simply talking to God. It can be a request, or a confession, a word of praise or thankfulness, a declaration of truth, or it can simply be a pouring out of the heart and a sharing of the soul. Jesus himself prayed often to God the Father and, although most of the time he prayed privately (Luke 5:16), we do have a record of some of his prayers (see for example John 17). He also taught us principles about prayer and gave us what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer” as an example of a prayer that uses those principles. He taught us, “when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8) So Jesus grapples with (or at least, doesn’t ignore) that question about, “if God knows everything, what’s the point of prayer?” Clearly, for Jesus, God does know everything and yet he still encourages us to pray.

One of the key reasons for this I think is that prayer is an exercise and and expression of what we believe about God. It is a display of our faith. It shows us (and others, if we pray with others present) who we are and who God is. Now, that may seem like a bit of an anti-climactic purpose for prayer, but remember, as people created in the image of God, that is what we are primarily created for – to know, enjoy and display to truth about God. Prayer, along with love of our neighbour, have got to be the two most potent ways in which we bear the image of God and express the truth about him in our life.

Now, if that was all a bit wordy for you, what I’m basically saying is… prayer reveals what we believe about God. The content, frequency and motivation of our prayer says many things. As Jesus points out in that passage above, those that “babble” when they prayer, show that “they think they will be heard because of their many words” and that they don’t really trust that God “knows what you need before you ask him”. Our view of God will inevitably effect how we pray and what we pray for, and so in the reverse, our prayers can be a great indicator of what we truly think about God.

Now, to get back to the topic, if that is true, what does it say for us to pray for a car park? What might it reveal about how we view or treat God?

1. Treating God like your Valet (serving your every convenience)

If you pray for a car park it may reveal that you treat God like your personal valet in the sky. Your prayers are mostly about making sure you don’t have to walk further than you would like, and doesn’t really take in to account the fact that God has the right to answer your prayers with a big fat “No”. Your expectation, is that because God loves you and he is kind and generous, then of course he would want to make sure you got the most convenient spot in the whole parking lot. In your mind,God is your heavenly servant and you expect nothing but health, wealth, blessing, prosperity and that perfect sweet car spot.

If that sounds a bit like you, I’d encourage you to remember that the Jesus that we worship called us to die to ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. And what are we following him into? Well, look at his life. Hardly, an example of a “convenient” life. He was rejected, mocked, tortured and murdered, and he did it all for the good of others. His way is not a path of perfect car spots and “your best life now”. He received persecution and hardship and he promised that anyone who would follow him with integrity would receive the same (See John 15:18-20Matthew 24:9, 2 Timothy 3:12 & 2 Corinthians 4:7-18).

Be wary of forgetting who is the Creator and who is the created. God may have other plans that are slightly more important than saving you a few seconds walking time. In fact, one of those plans might be making you park further away so that you have to walk and get a bit more exercise! In God’s economy, character and Christ-likeness is much more of a priority than convenience. The harder, longer, more complex, more challenging, more painful, less “fulfilling” path may just be the path that God wants to take you on for his glory and your ultimate good. Are you willing to take it? Are you willing to even pray for it?

2. Treating God like your Superhero (solving your every problem)

Maybe you don’t pray all the time expecting God to give you every little convenience. Maybe, you rarely pray to God at all. Only on special occassions. When you’re reeeally in trouble. Like just before a big exam that you haven’t studied for, or when your looking at an increasingly cloudy sky and you’ve organised a BBQ at the park, or when you really, really need to find a car park because your late for your best mate’s wedding. Praying to God in these situations, and these situations alone, is like treating God like your personal Superhero. You ignore him pretty much all of the time, but when things are tough, or you’re in danger, or you really need some divine intervention, you send up the SOS prayer, and like the Bat signal shining up in the clouds, you expect God to swoop down and save the day.

Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with praying to God in times of distress or trouble. Jesus modelled this in praying to his Father in the garden of Gethsemene before he faced his arrest and crucifixion. Also, it is true that God is able to save us and has more power than the greatest of Superheroes. The problem is that, when we only pray to God in these situations we are still ultimately treating him like a servant. We chose when we want to engage with him, we relate to him on our terms, and when we are done using his very important services, like a plumber who has fixed the leak in the bathroom, we thank him and show him the door.

The idea that God wants your whole life, seems way too extreme. But that’s what Jesus says. When asked what the single most important thing God wants us to do, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:36-38). Not simply call him to solve all your problems, but love him with all your life. As Kyle idleman, author of the challenging book, “Not a Fan” says, “In the Gospels, Jesus never seemed too interested in fans. Is that how you define your relationship with Him? An ‘enthusiastic admirer’? Close enough to Jesus to get the benefits but not so close to require sacrifice? He was looking for followers. Not just any follower though, but a completely committed follower.”

If you find that you treat God like a Superhero or a plumber – not just in praying for a car park, but in the rest of your life as well – I’d encourage you to get a bigger and deeper picture of God. I completely treated God like this for the first 16 years of my life, partly due to my own pride and apathy, but also partly because I never knew that I could enjoy an intimate, personal, real relationship with my creator. Like Batman, he was more “symbolic” than real. It was only after I discovered that Jesus came to make that real relationship possible, that I gave my whole life to him and turned from being simply a fan, to a follower. So, next time you cry out to the heavens for help – whether it be when you can’t find a car park or your house keys or the meaning to life – use that moment to think about how you’re treating your Creator.

3. Treating God like your Puppet Master (directing your every decision)

You may not treat God like your servant or your Superhero, only calling on him when you really, really need him. You may go in the total other direction and treat God like your Puppet Master. What I mean by this, is that because we know God loves us and knows all things, we can sometimes expect God to guide and direct every single aspect of our lives. You may have a really solid conviction about God’s sovereignty – that God is not limited in his power and ability and so he is ultimately responsible for every action. That is what the Bible teaches. God rules everything. He is sovereign. And so, it may seem perfectly natural for you to ask God to open up a car park for you. He can make drivers move where he wants. If he wanted to, he could even make cars disappear to give you that perfect car spot! He’s God! Why not ask? And on top of that, God wants us to bring everything to him in prayer. As I explained above, Jesus said to love God with EVERYTHING! That means he wants us to surrender ever part of our life to his purposes and his plan. So if all that’s true, doesn’t that also mean God wants us to ask him where we should park our car? Doesn’t God know the very best place for us to park, and if he knows, why would a loving God keep us from such information??

Well, the danger of such a conclusion is that it’s based on really good premises of God’s love and care and sovereignty. The problem is that it develops in Christians an unhealthy immaturity and dependancy on God’s direct and daily guidance. Now, I’m not saying God can’t or doesn’t guide Christians through the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:26-29 is a great example of God doing this), but there is no instruction in Scripture to ask God about every little detail of your life. The Bible has much more to say about developing godly wisdom and making intelligent responsible decisions, whilst holding on to your plans lightly, knowing that God may have other ideas. For example:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2-3, emphasis mine)

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

“You ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'” (James 4:15)

Someone who gets this unhealthily wrong is John Eldredge, in his book “Walking with God”. Now, I have actually met John and enjoyed some aspects of his most famous book “Wild at Heart”, but in “Walking with God”, he suggests that Christians should be asking God for guidance about every aspect of our life. Things like, “Should I go to the ranch this weekend?” (pg. 30-32), “What passage should I read in my Bible today?” (pg. 44), “Which chapter in the gospel of John should I read?” (pg. 44), and, “Should I ride the horse today?” (pg. 80).

On that last example, he tells of the story of how he had asked God whether or not he should ride and felt God say “yes”, but along one path his horse got spooked by a pile of wood and bolted, ending in an accident which breaks his nose, one wrist and dislocates the other wrist requiring surgery. His conclusion to this tragedy is not that he heard God wrong, but that after getting a “yes” to going for a horse ride, he should have asked God exactly where he should ride. “That’s a really important part of listening to God, by the way. Ask the next question. So often we get an answer to the first part of a question but fail to ask the second half. . . Don’t just get a first impression and then blast ahead. It might have been good for us to ask, ‘Where should we ride?'” (pg. 81) (For a more in depth critique of “Walking with God”, click here)

This sort of relating does not inspire childlike humility and intimacy with God. Rather, in the end, it simply inspires immature dependancy and fear of maybe missing out on “God’s perfect plan for your life”. I used to be a lot more worried about that. I used to be afraid of stepping outside of God’s will and so missing out on what God might want for my life. I used to think God has a very specific plan for my life that I had to seek out and try to discern.

Then one day, Richard, a godly friend of mine, encouraged me by saying, “Simon! Don’t worry so much! God is your heavenly Father. You’re his child! He loves you no matter which decision you make. Even if he does have a plan and you make a wrong choice, he will use your mistakes. Just try to make the best choice you can and let God look after the rest.” It was sound and comforting advice.

The more I read the Bible, the more I see that God does not have a specific plan for every moment of our lives. He has a broad fence that he wants us to keep within, but within those guidelines he gives us a lot of freedom as to where we will live, who we will marry, what job we should do, what course we should study and even, what car spot we should park in! The question we should be asking isn’t “What is God’s plan for my life?” but, “What is God’s plan. And how can I use my life to be a part of it.” God does have a plan for this world – it’s to build his kingdom, bringing more people into it and growing those people to be more like Christ. Get that plan in your sights and then you may not stress about getting guidance from God about which car spot you should park in!

4. Treating God like your Heavenly Father (providing your every need)

Now, up until now, I may seem to be fairly down on the idea of praying for a car park. Well, I wanted to offer one more possibility of how praying for a car park may actually reflect that you have a godly and healthy relationship with God. It doesn’t need to reveal that you treat God like a Valet, or a Superhero, or a Puppet Master. It may show that you simply treat God as your Heavenly Father.

Some people think that we shouldn’t pray to God about small mundane things like a car park because God must have bigger things on his mind. This is the picture of the distant Father God who is reading the paper and couldn’t possibly have any time to spare or interest in your petty little problems. But that is not the picture the Bible gives.

Although as I pointed out earlier, God has big plans for the Universe, he is also intimately concerned about his children. Consider these wonderful passages:

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord…  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:1-4, 13-16)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

“Do not be anxious about anything,but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“Jesus said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ Then he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.” Then the one inside answers, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'” (Luke 11:2-13)

man-with-sonThis last passage especially shows us that if you’re a Christian, then you can call God “Father” and he loves you and is concerned for you like a good father should be. Sure, like any father, he doesn’t want us to abuse the relationship we have with him or take him for granted, but when we are anxious or have a problem, he cares for us and so wants to hear our prayers. He may not take away the circumstances that are giving us anxiety, but as the passage from Philippians says, he will give us peace that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Also, in the Luke passage, Jesus gives an example of a prayer in which he encourages us to ask God for “our daily bread”. Clearly God is not simply concerned about the big issues in the world with no time for our simple, daily needs.

God loves followers of Jesus as a father loves his children. He cares about what is causing them grief, even when it is petty or small on a cosmic scale. Think about when a child breaks their favourite toy. Does a kind father just say, “Get over it! Don’t you know there’s a war in Chechnya going on??” No, they care for them – maybe helping them see that it’s not the biggest problem in the world, but mainly comforting them and showing that daddy cares. Now, if the child is 45 and chucks a tantrum over breaking a toy, then maybe the father of that person tells them to “build a bridge”, but that’s because we rightly expect more from people as they supposedly grow in wisdom and maturity.

I think God also expects us to not be anxious about petty things and care more about important things as we grow in faith and maturity, but that’s another sign of God’s fatherly care for us – he disciplines us.  As Hebrews 12:7-11 says:

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

So feel free to pray for a car park if you are stressed and want to go to God with your problems. Know that he cares for you and that he has the ability to provide every need that you may have. But also know, he is in the best position to really know what your needs are.

car park

Maybe you need a perfect car spot. More likely, maybe you don’t.

Maybe some elderly man needs it more than you. Or a single mum with three screaming kids.

Maybe, like me, what you really need is to park further away so that you can walk a little bit and get some exercise so you don’t die of a heart attack before you’re 50!

Maybe, God just wants you to use your wisdom and God-given intelligence, to get the best park you can with the circumstances you have and not grumble about how terrible your lot in life is.

So, next time you are driving around madly trying to find a park and you begin to pray, “God, please find me a…” you might remember this blog and pause, wondering how you are treating God.

Maybe that contemplation itself might be the best gift a good Father can give you.

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