I would like to draw your attention to a letter written to the editor and published in Adelaide newspaper, The Advertiser:

“Unfortunately, Tory Shepherd’s comment (“Straying from the flock”, The Advertiser, 23/6/09) will fall on deaf ears. Gullibility and irrationalism are institutionalised throughout the private school system and Australian society generally.

The Australian Government spends millions every year to ensure thousands of students are indoctrinated in Iron Age religious belief systems.

In religious homes, children are taught to defer to the approved authority, rather than think for themselves.

This indoctrination is reinforced in government-sponsored faith schools and churches.

At least for some generations to come, priests, pastors, gurus and clerics will continue to tap into the conditioned minds of unquestioning devotees, controlling, exploiting and directing them as they please.

Look at the deference and dollars wasted on the Pope’s visit to Australia.

As long as they pay homage to men as to gods, Australians generally will remain an ignorant and superstitious people.”

SHANE OSBORNE, Adelaide.

I know Shane Osborne – we get on at the same bus stop on the way to work in the mornings. He is an intelligent man and has many years’ experience in both Catholic and Protestant churches.

I posted this because I think we need to pay attention to criticism that is made of the church. I don’t mean to say that all criticism of the church is valid, but I would certainly say that some (if not many of it) is. The church is perfect in only one way – the head, Jesus Christ. Every other part of the body is made up of you and me. We are infinitely capable of doing amazing, loving things; but we are also fallible and can be bitterly selfish and judgmental.

First of all, I don’t believe that Jesus Christ is any of the things described in Shane’s letter. And to expand on this, I don’t believe that a church centred around Jesus Christ should be like this and draw this kind of critique.

In Shane’s experience the church is “controlling”, “directing”, “indoctrinating” and “irrational”. He is not a passing critic – he has been involved in church and has had these experiences. Right or wrong is no question here, perception is reality and if the church has made someone feel like this, then there’s a lot of answering to be done. Jesus Christ never made anyone feel like this – He was a model of love, non-judgment and complete acceptance. Jesus loves. Full stop. No conditions.

I don’t want to spend this time going into all the valid and invalid points made by Shane and the short-comings of many institutional churches (of which I feel there are many). What I would like people to do is to step back and think about how they and their churches have shown the love of Jesus Christ. The fact is that many churches have alienated people, judged them and pushed them away. This shouldn’t happen. Jesus loved all without condition and if you don’t do the same then you should remove the “Christ” from “Christian” when people ask what religion you follow.

I’ll finish up by saying that many of the prophets from God were routinely ignored, abused and finally martyred for their convictions. I’m not sure that Shane Osborne is a prophet of the Lord, but I feel that we would ignore him at our peril.

Here is an entry that I wrote on a blog, about a year ago (27 August 2007). I thought I would re-post it in my page


When we started Serpents and Doves close to 12 months ago, the few of us that began the community made some self-assessments of what of the Five-Fold leadership types (Apostle – Prophet – Evangelist – Shepherd – Teacher) we each were. I was designated the Prophet.
I often feel that I have good insight into situations and into people; and although I often do the wrong thing and say the wrong things to people, I do feel that God has gifted me in the area of discernment. I feel that I can readily recognise the Spirit within an action or a person and have a clear understanding of right and wrong. I can see an answer to a situation with such clarity that not everyone seems to be able to do. So, I feel that God has gifted me with the ability to hear Him and to be able to speak his will into situations.

This is great, if you can actually hear the Lord. To be able to hear the Lord on a consistent and reliable basis, you need to be in good communion with Him. You need to ask Him to speak to you (or more accurately, ask Him to help you hear what He is already saying), and you have to be prepared to listen to what He says and take the message on-board yourself, and share it with others if that is required. Unfortunately, with the busyness of work and study, I have not had the best communion with God. I have not spent enough time in prayer, worship or reading the Bible. So it is ironic that when I did eventually hear God speaking to me, it was about exactly what it is that stops me from hearing Him and having a continual relationship with Him.

I asked God fervently to speak to me and tell me something, because I knew that He has many things to say to me. He planted ‘discipleship’ into my heart and later when I was talking to Dan I was reminded of this, and when presented with an opportunity to speak to S&D the Spirit gave me a passion for this message.

As it often occurs, an idea came to me so simply and crystal-clear. It wasn’t even an idea, but more of an “oh yeah, of course!” I had drawn away from God by giving my heart to other things. The most obvious of these was my work. I have a good job with a promising career ahead; one that needs to be worked at and that you cannot expect to fall into your lap. I realised that I have created an idol of my work, and even worse, an idol of my managers. I found something that I am good at and I know what needs to be done to be successful and feel like a key part of the team. I have discovered what I need to do to keep one step ahead of my managers so that they are impressed by my planning and foresight. I got up early in the morning to get to work and arrived home late each day, because I knew this is what is required.

Now, don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with doing your best, or doing a good job for your manager. There is nothing wrong with working long hours every once and a while (provided they are not excessive and bad for your general health). What is wrong about my situation is that I found the time for work, but I didn’t find the time for God. If you can do all the above, while spending time in prayer; spending time reading the Bible; spending time in worship (actually, your job can be worship), every day (at least one of these every day), then you probably don’t have a problem. But if you work hard to get the job done, impress your manager, and get the recognition you want, but are not able to have a continual relationship with God, then you have a real problem.

If we are Christians then we should realise that we are made to be in communion with God. Further, we are at our best and are able to operate at our optimum when we are in close communion with God. We are happier when we are in close communion with God. We are meant to be in communion with God. If we are not in close communion with God regularly then we are not doing that which we are made for, but we are also not doing that which will put us in the best position for success in this life – in work, home and play. If we simply don’t have time to spend with God, because we are too busy or too tired at the end of the day, then we are not in the right place and action needs to be taken. In the case of your job, there are two options: work less so that you can spend time with the Lord; or find another job. What I can guarantee you is that your job is not worth keeping at the expense of your faith. But, you may say that God has put you in a workplace to minister to the people there and you have an obligation to them. First of all, you have only an obligation to your God. Secondly, if you dont have a continual relationship with God then you ministry to your workmates will be weak at best. So, you’re not doing anyone any favours.

So, what am I saying? Well, it is not to quit your job. In fact, although I work in a busy, high-pressure environment, I do feel that God has placed me there. And if He has, then He did it because there is a way for me to have a continual relationship with Him, be able to do my job well and to be successful (for which praise is to God!), and to effectively minister to those people I work with. That comes down to faith. If you are meant to be somewhere then have faith that you can honour God in it – He’s actaully a pretty good bloke and can easily make your situation easier, your knowledge greater, your efficiency stronger and your stress weaker.

I feel that this message was directed to myself, as well as Serpents and Doves. I do feel that God gave this message to me to pass on to the community; not to ponder on, but to action in each of our lives.

Since taking up God’s challenge, I have not stopped doing stupid things, but I do hear God tell me how stupid they are and am now in a better position to hear Him and to carry on with the purpose of doing His will whenever I can. It really does make a difference if we just take the time for Him each day. Pray in the morning; listen to audio Bible on the train; pray in the car on the way to work; acknowledge and worship God when you are doing a good job. After all, it is His blessings upon you that make it possible for you to be successful.