Sunday, October 18, 2009

I love you - so I lift my voice

My name Melody literally means 'beautiful sound/song'.
So how does a christian woman like myself who has limited vocal range think of this?
In the past Ive been really self conscious about it. I raised myself in an Anglican church where singing was done from hymn books and I spent a lot of the time lipping everything for fear of croaking and being heard.
Then I moved to Dunedin and joined an apostolic church where every one from very young children to sixty year olds sing and dance like theres some kind of heavenly mosh pit going on.

When I listen to my favorite secular music I try to sing it - I consider myself below average in talent.
But when Im in church, and Im filled with the Holy Spirit its like my opinion of my singing abilities are increased becasue I genuinely believe Im quite decent. And I think I am made decent because my singing is for me an act of love as well as one of obedience and submission.

My love for God through singing is truly a beautiful sound to him.

Of course it helps to know the music and words lol

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Matthew 7: Part 2

Right so Im going look at verse 6

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do they will trample them under their feet - and then turn and tear you to pieces."

Dont have a clue what this means (must be my bedtime lol, my head aint working). As a humans we like to insult each other by calling each other dogs and pigs, but Im not sure if Jesus meant it as a human metaphor.. He wanted us to be loving no matter what right? Turn the other cheek ? Here is the same verse interpreted:

"Do not persist in offering what is important or sacred to those who have no appreciation for it, because your gift will not only be contaminated and be despised but your generous efforts could also be rebuffed and perhaps be openly attacked." -

OMG! So he actually was referring to humans as pigs and dogs! Well I never..
I do get why he said that. Sometimes I meet people who are so snarky about my being a christian and they want me to talk about why Im a christian yet I know theyre only asking me so they can have an opportunity to criticise something about Christianity and I can tell that theyre even not remotely interested or open minded about it and I end up feel like theyre encouraging me to walk down a closed dark alleyway. I usually walk away from those situations not even bothering.

BUT in saying that, how am I to know I wont have an affect on them? People arent going to change their minds over God stuff because of one conversation. It would probably take many more conversations. And also, I think many Christians might actually abuse this scripture. Maybe Ive done it myself - but when have you ever come across someone and you didnt bother sharing the love of God just because of maybe their job, their current lifestyle, their being of a different religion maybe?

Its a hard thing and it reminds me of a memory I have of the church I went to before I joined Southlife (Dunedin). I was going to Dunedin City Baptist Church (DCBC) at the time, and one night after youth group, the leader asked us to go out and pray over the buildings at the university. I thought to myself - meh why not? One person in my group then went a bit further and actually went up to every muslim they saw and demanded to pray for them. Because Dunedin is renowned for its medical school it should then not be surprising that getting a doctorate here would be popular with overseas students - and trust me theres a LOT of them. Largely asian and indian, the majority of them being muslim. But when this person actually started harrassing them I actually wanted to go up to them and grab them by their shirt and tell them to shut up and leave the poor guy alone. Seeing this kind of thing occur puts me off and actually scares me of evangelising to be honest.

I've always felt that theres a time and a place for that kind of thing (not harrassment lol but non bible bashing). I know for a fact that if its late in the evening, during an exam time, and a woman wearing a headscarf comes towards you with a "omg Im so knackerd and starving" look on their face - this would be NOT be a great time to say "Jesus loves you!" And then they go "F off!" Thats just silly! And it makes us think "man, so unappreciative.. ahh well soldier on aye?"
Better to just bide your time. As Jesus said, some discernment is needed - "I send you out as sheep amoungst wolves, therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves." (Matt 10:16)

You know when you pray to God and you know your gonna get three answers - No, Yes or Not yet. In terms of evangelising has anyone actually considered the 'not yet' option? God has plans for everyone regardless of the fact that they're saved or not. Who are we to tell whether or not its their time and we're the ones deciding?

I feel like I want to say more but my head is a bit bleh right now... Must go to bed - Nite all

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Matthew 7: Part 1

I dont usually talk here about bible study that Im currently doing but my pastor has recently been doing a series of sermons based on Jesus' 'Sermon on the Mount', and this morning he talked so well I got really into it. The thing is, its so full of topics and questions that theres no way I could do a blog on the entire chapter in one night. So I thought I'd just look at chapter 7 bit by bit

Verse 1-5
This funnily enough is scripture I quote a lot to people who annoy me. I dont use the exact same language mindyou, but I say it in away that I know they'll understand. Its such a basic piece of advice thats so handy and affects so many people. V2 and V5 stick out for me and it simply talks of humilty, self evaluation, and that selfish need for humans to put each other down in order to feel important and righteous.

V2 "For others will treat you as you treat them, whatever measure you use in judging others, will be used to measure how you are judged."

Boy that scares me when I read that. I know that if time today was like that of before Jesus' time, I know I could be stoned multiple times over for that piece of sin. The good thing I feel about this is that with my study especially, it has forced me to change attitudes and beliefs that I held as a result of my painful upbringing. For a long while I felt I had a right to be able to stand in a crowded room, and judge the man who had hurt me for 10 years in my own personal way. Eye for an eye you know? But when I started my first year of occupational therapy in '07 the biggest thing I had to work on in my placements was acknowledging someones negative actions and attitudes and beliefs as irrelevant in building rapport with a client. For example, I once had a patient who had had a hip replacement at the young age of 36. Lovely guy, easy to talk to. But the nurses soon discovered that he was a marijuana dealer who enjoyed quite a bit of it himself. Me personally I think smoking or doing illegal drugs of any kind is stupidity in the highest form. Everyone who works in education or health knows that smoking the the leading preventable cause of death in the world. At the time, I was also having trouble after discovering my boyfriend at the time had not been honest to me about his own smoking. I absolutely hated it. But in considering this, this patient of mine really made me sit down and think for a bit. I thought, I dont know this mans life, I dont know how he got into it. And quite frankly its not my job as an occupational therapist to even inquire about his smoking (maybe his GP) and most importantly, it would be completely unprofessional of me to make his private use of his leisure time a factor in our therapy sessions. I had no right to judge him. Turns out the next day, once the nurses found out he was a drug dealer he got treated like shit. The nurses ranted about his "disgusting habit and occupation " in the staff room and I was aware that he was now being given third rate care by the orderlies in showering and toileting him. This actually upset me and because of their behaviour I actually built an even better working relationship with this guy than before.
I dont know what happened to that guy. But I know he left the ward knowing he could trust an 18year old female OT student to give him the care anyone else deserved. It doesnt mean I now think smoking is awesome. I still hate it. But Ive been teaching myself to hate the habit not the person. At the end of the day, even though Im not a medical student, I think of that oath they take which was first written by that ancient greek physician guy Hippocrates (I think it was him) - "Above all else do no harm."
Whether it be a straight laced honest working lawyer or a serial rapist who was sadistically abused as a kid, it is my duty to care not judge.
I do believe in the system of juries and courts but at the end of the day the only person who has the right to judge is God.
I forget this so often.

V5 "You hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see good enough to deal with the speck in your neighbors eye."

I hear God saying this to me so often. Mindyou, usually he says in in a more gentle manner as if hes nudging me in the back saying "Oi, Melody thats not on.." And I've learnt that if I ignore that first loving piece of constructive criticism by God, it will eventually turn into painful but humbling discipline that I know I deserved.
As Paster Paul at my church was saying, in order for this to be effectively occuring, we need to be consistently self evaluating ourselves. And honestly too. Cos if we give ourselves a sappy evaluation it just shows that we dont want to acknowledge that our attitude is wrong and that we're too lazy to fix it. OTs, psychologists and counsellors all know that the first step to positive change in behaviour is self acknowledgement of of how we stuffed up and asking for help. And this piece of group therapy logic comes straight from the awesomest counsellor ever - Jesus, in Matt 5:3-12. "Blessed are the meek, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who are poor in spirit.." WHY are they blessed? Cos they know it and their being honest that they're hurting! And they want it to change by asking God for help. And that process of honesty is the pulling the log out of their eye. Therefore they are now blessed cos their eye doesnt hurt from all the wood particles. lol

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Post in a while..

I thought I'd better start putting some stuff in here after a long break - Or maybe Im just procrastinating...

Theres two things that have been on my mind of late. One of them is singlehood and the other is loving unlovable people.
I'll talk about the latter first.

One thing that I've felt I've got an assignment from God recently is trying to love people I dont want to love. It started off with going to a life group at the start of the year. For quite some time Ive been really anti about hanging out with my own sex (how can anyone be sexist about their own sex?). Im still trying to figure out why I prefer having male friends to female ones, but now, Im finally comming to terms with my need for female company. Its been hard.. oh so hard.. And I found life group a place where I had to reteach myself no to be so bitter and judgemental. It was the worse kind too, you know the kind where you think you're absolutely right and everyone else is wrong... Not a good place to be. Sometimes, I get selfish and believe that I have a right to be angry about the past and the way I was treated and how no one supported me through it. Then I get what I call a 'God nudge' where he just pokes me in the back and goes: No no Melody thats not true..
But anyway Im going off track. Loving unlovable people. In particular Im thinking of this girl at work. She really does drive me nuts. Funnily enough, I actually went to Intermediate School with her back in Christchurch. I hardly knew her back then cos we were in different classes but I knew enough to know that no one liked her and no one hung out with her. Now Im working with her, and its the same thing all over again except Im comming to understand and share the general feelings of discord as well. Ive been given a big telling off about this from upstairs so Ive started to try and understand why shes the way she is. And what Im doing thats potentially setting her off.
First and foremost, I am not one who gossips at work (cos most people at my work are highschoolers and what they argue about is not worth my time to worry over). But what Ive been doing so far is changing my tone of voice when I talk to her. A lot of the time I find myself exaserbated by the way she speaks to customers. She is not afraid to swear at people in drive through and I think she has appalling manner to those who are disabled. I also find it hard to get along with people who generally dont care and dont make extra effort to making people feel welcome etc. And her work ethic really gets me there. The final straw I had with her the other day was she came into the staff room having barely put out her cigarette and then commenced blowing the rest of the smoke on to my face. Usually I would think of this habit with pure disgust but the fact that I had been having breathing difficulty due to my asthma that I get every time I have a cold, and that I knew, no amount of medical explanation would convice her not do it or even to apologise. And if you know me, then you know that smoking absolutely drives me up the wall.
I dont know her life. I dont know why she smokes. I dont know why she seems to enjoy being indifferent and sullen towards me, I suppose I encourage it in a way. But heres what Im trying to do. I find people like you a lot more if you just use manners. And saying please and thankyou to someone who I know whill never return the favour is hard to stomach but I've been doing it lately, and surprise surprise shes stopped being so annoying. Another thing Ive started doing is just praying for both of us to understand each others way or working. As much as I'd love to be accomodating towards people who annoy me, I dont want to give them the wrong impression that I'll let them walk over me. So I asked God to just help her to see it my way as well. I hope thats not selfish. It will be interesting to see how this goes over time.

Right second topic was singlehood.
Even though Im interested in someone (and vice versa), I think its still appropriate to say Im single. Mindyou if things go well, then I suppose, I'll change that status in a couple of months time. Ive talked to my mum about this, and Im wondering if people will find it insulting that so soon after my breakup that I met and liked someone new. Will they think its a rebound thing? Or will people just think, oh cool good for her then.
I constantly review in my head how the past few months have been for me. When I told my friends I had broken up with my boyfriend I was called an ungrateful idiot by quite a few. But personally, I know I've done the right thing. It was like a major revelation for me. There was love, no doubt about that. Lots and lots of it. But none of it ever got upstairs to the one who deserved it the most. And I think it got to a point where I was trying to fill that void with things that would have been a disaster had they happen.
Letting go was incrediably hard and was the ultimate show of obedience to God on my part. And in a way, I feel a bit like Job who after losing absolutely everything (including his family and health) he still praised God. And for that he was rewarded quadrupled for his faithfulness and obedience.
After admitting and being sorry to a whole list of things I feel all clean. I feel like a bride - whose so incrediably happy with her husband. And ever since Ive entered into this somewhat unfamiliar business called celibacy with boundaries. Its been interesting. Of course its not totally been tested yet. When that oocurs I hope by then Ive changed a few old attitudes of mine.
Now Im even more piqued. Before, I was of the opinion that there was no man on earth better than the one I just left. And as much as he was a lovely fantastic guy (I still think hes awesomely cool) - boy did I put him on a pedestal. An unhealthy one at that. And now, Im wondering, like Job, for being obedient - am I being rewarded with another? Someone who is so way better, it didnt even occur to me that people like that existed? Heres me thinking, after everything I've gone through, who would want me? I couldnt believe it.. Heres someone who just happens to agree with me on practically everything. Is into the same things as me. Is a lot older and gone through more than I but still manages to ask me for advice? Is foreign enough to be deeply facinating yet not to give me headaches over cultural differences (at least not that I know yet anyway lol). Its insane how much I like this person. To the point where its worrying. Ive told myself not to get excited yet I am. Im still waiting for those flaws to come out. No one is THAT perfect. I think before December rolls around I will have lost my mind.
In the meantime though, I'll just do my best to enjoy the time Ive got here to myself and work on me :D