Thursday, 13 October 2011

I'm hopeless

Jesus' brother James, who ended up an elder of the church in Jerusalem during the period of the book of Acts, was so gifted at what he did he was given the surname 'the Just', and it is recorded in the tradition of the church that his "knees had become callous like a camel's" from praying.

I wish I could live up to a point where people could attribute something half as amazing to me.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

How do Churches really know what the right decision is?

I'm writing a theology essay on Church Governance at the moment.  It raises a few questions to my traditional ideas on how we make decisions in our congregations.

Here's a quote from Page Patterson's paper in "Who Runs The Church?"

Even regenerate congregants are still not infallible in discerning the direction of the Holy Spirit. Worse still, some churches such as Corinth in the New Testament era exhibit more than a little carnality among infantile saints. Even more debilitating, everyone knows that unregenerate people hold membership in churches, and this paradigm gives less than mature Christians and even unbelievers a voice in the affairs of the church.

How do you think we get around this?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Bathurst 2011 Race Day

With much eager anticipation I awoke at 5:45am this morning to begin the live telecast from Mt Panorama.  I wasn't disappointed.  The Touring Car Masters race was great, so many historical US and Australian Muscle cars roaring around the track.  Plus Glen Seaton won, giving him his first ever win on a Sunday at Bathurst (kind of corny but funny and warm hearted knowing the history Glen has at the mountain).

Then after a few more support races it was time for the big one.  Garry Coleman's prayer before the race brought a tear to my eye in the simplicity and completeness in which he presented the Gospel.

The race itself was the closest, most intense and hard fought I think I can remember.  For the entire 161 laps there was no clear leader, always two or three fighting it out for first place.  There was the customary big crash (David Besnard in the #17 Dick Johnson Racing Falcon), the customary co-driver mistake (Luke Youlden crashing the #6 FPR Falcon at the end of a safety car period), the customary hard luck failure (Jamie Whincup's alternator then flat battery - costing him the race win), the customary unlucky fortune (Mark Winterbottom being caught out by the safe car for Jamie Whincup and missing the pits being pushed from 2nd to 6th), and the customary come from no where lucky buggers (Greg Murphy's third place finish).

The race had it all.  With a clincher of a finish, Craig Lowndes hunting down Garth Tander in the dying laps, only to finish 0.2 of a second apart.  Such a great fight - and I never thought I'd be sitting there cheering on a HRT car, but I wanted Garth and his rookie co-driver Nick Percat to come out over Triple 8 Racing (I don't like seeing T8 win anything these days, let alone when Mark Skaife is part of the driver line up).


The biggest talking point is obviously the crash of David Besnard.  Firstly it shouldn't have happened. These guys should know by now to pump the brake pistons back out in the pits after a pad change, but also the dramatic fuel fire, and the speed and ability of the fire marshals to get that fire out so efficiently.   David was fine, the most discomfort he had was from fire extinguisher powder getting in his eyes.

Well that's another year of the Great Race done with, I enjoyed every moment, even with a Holden victory.  The sport and the track make it such a great event - I'm already hanging out for next years.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Bathurst 2011 Day 3

Exciting day at the Mountain today.

For the V8s it was all about the Top Ten shootout, leading up to that though were a few support races that were pretty intense.

For the shootout though all eyes were on Will Davidson as he headed out first, being elevated from 11th to 10th due to a penalty being handed to Lee Holdsworth yesterday.  Will posted a really quick time that was unbeaten until Greg Murphy came out fourth last.  As Jamie Whincup warmed up for his lap the rain fell and that was it.  He, Mark Winterbottom and Garth Tander had no hope of posting a fast lap as the track got wet.  So the surprise of the day was seeing Murph get pole... the disappointment was seeing Frosty unable to post a time and end up 10th... and the joy of the day was seeing Will come through to end up on the front row in second spot.


So Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards will start from 10th, but it's a long race and they are still my pick for the victory tomorrow.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Bathurst 2011 Day 2

I had to work all day today, but luckily I remembered to set the recorder for the televised support race and V8 Supercar qualifying that happened today at Mt Panorama.

It was an exciting qualifying session.  40 minutes long, which is double the usual session.  The track was dry, so normal slick tyres were back in play, and the lap times came down real quick.  It ended with Garth Tander from HRT on provisional pole (decided tomorrow after the top 10 shootout), with Mark Winterbottom in the FPR Falcon .05 of a second behind him (so close!) - Mark's final lap was beauty and it was exciting to watch, hoping that he would take the top spot.

The final lap also saw Jason Bargwanna hit the wall quite hard.  Looks like a lot of work for the mechanics to do to get his car back on the track tomorrow.


It's also not Bathurst without some controversy.  It seems Lee Holdsworth, who qualified 8th, has been pushed back 5 places as a penalty for not going to the weigh area when told.  This brings Will Davidson from FPR into the top 10 for the Shootout tomorrow.

Ahhh I love it!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Bathurst 2011 Day 1

The V8s are hitting the track in Bathurst, and I am still in Brisbane.  Things didn't pan out the way I planned this year.  Dad is in Bathurst with his caravan set up in the pits at Mt Panorama.  I would have loved to have been there with him, but being in my last 4 weeks of my Masters Degree I couldn't really get away.

However I have managed to keep up with everything going on at the track, I've even found a website that live streams the Race Control radio frequency - which is a novel way to keep tabs on what's happening.

The big talking point this week is weather... it looks like it will be wet for the entire event.  This has put huge pressure on Dunlop and their supply of wet-weather tyres.  It will make for some interesting test, qualifying and race sessions I am sure.

Many teams are running alternate liveries for the weekend, some for special promotions of their sponsor's product, others for special team, driver or sponsor milestones.  All-in-all it makes a very fresh looking field.

And James Moffat may now have the best looking car on the grid!!


Today saw three practice sessions, with the third one cancelled due to fog on top of the mountain.  The first two sessions were dominated by Fords, which is great to see - hopefully they can keep that up all weekend.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Genuine Friends

Something I've been experiencing a bit lately has led me to wonder about what makes a genuine friend.  What is the right idea of true friendship, what does that relationship include.

I've come to realise many people are not genuine friends at all, they are simply people who don't want anyone to think bad of them, so they do the bare minimum to appear 'friend-ish', to project the image that they are friendly so that you think there is a friendship connection there.  But in a real sense unless you keep instigating the development of that friendship relationship it would just fade away.

I am inherently a very genuine person - I want genuine connections and interactions with others.  So in taking a review of my social interaction I have noticed that many of my social interactions are only 'friendship connections' because I continually try and meet up with, socialise or develop relationship with these people.  Part of my review was to have a break from my continual attempts to cultivate these connections and I found that 70% of the people I usually socialise with would not think to actually invite me out to anything they were doing - the only reason I had been socialising with them in the past was because I would do the inviting, or be asking what they were doing.

Obviously this has been quite a breaking down experience.  Realising that I don't have the genuineness of friendship with many people I thought I had.  But I have also come to realise who genuine friends are.  They are not the obvious ones either, and this has been a great blessing.  Finding out that some people do genuinely care for my well being, how I am doing, and what I am up to is worth more than my (now apparently vain) attempts at keeping other friendship connections alive.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Getting Close Now

Only 4 weeks of college lectures to go, 3 assignments and 1 exam and then I have finished my Masters of Divinity.

Feels good - also a bit daunting now trying to find a job.  Any Baptist Churches out there looking for an associate pastor?

Still a bit more work to do yet...

39/52

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Never Been Unloved

I've been trekking in the car a bit over the last couple of days, and spent most of the time going through my many Michael W Smith albums on my iPod.

This song got me - simple but powerful - and it became a emotional prayer!

Never Been Unloved (Michael W Smith - Live the Life)
I have been unfaithful
I have been unworthy
I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful
I have been unreachable
I have been unteachable
I have been unwilling
And I've been undesirable
And sometimes I have been unwise
I've been undone by what I'm unsure of
But because of you
And all that you went through
I know that I have never been unloved
I have been unbroken
I have been unmended
I have been uneasy
And I've been unapproachable
I've been unemotional
I've been unexceptional
I've been undecided
And I have been unqualified
Unaware - I have been unfair
I've been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved
It's because of you
And all that you went through
I know that I have never been unloved

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Regeneration not lawfulness.

17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
(ESV Romans 2:17-24)

Replace Jew with 'Christian' and Gentile with 'the World' and I think we have a timely reminder to everyone, but especially those who are called to preach the Word of God to make sure their lives live up to what they say.

Many Christians claim to be saved through Jesus alone yet still find some kind of law to attach themselves too.  I think we need to be constantly checking ourselves against sin - but not through legalistic means, but through allowing Jesus to continually make us aware through the Holy Spirit in a work of continued sanctification.   This then isn't legalistic but regenerative through our relationship with Jesus.  

Hopefully this would also avoid us living as we don't preach, because living by the law means we're constantly trying to find ways to work around it - thus becoming hypocritical.  But by living regeneratively we simply let Jesus work in our lives everyday and there is nothing to work around.

Oh Jesus continue to change me!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Gracious Sovereignty

The Potter and the Clay
[18:1] The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: [2] “Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.” [3] So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. [4] And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
 [5] Then the word of the LORD came to me: [6] “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. [7] If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, [8] and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. [9] And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, [10] and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.
[11] Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’ [12] “But they say, ‘That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’
(Jeremiah 18:1-12 ESV)

What Jeremiah observes is simply the potter’s work. There is nothing out of the ordinary with what the potter does and his purpose demands that he work the clay to its best use. The observation of Jeremiah 18:4, the clay becoming marred in the potters hand so being reworked, was a common enough occurrence. Wet clay was worked on the spinning stone to make whatever vessel or pot the potter required. However, the mixture and consistency of the clay was vital in providing the structural integrity needed to create particular vessels. If at any point during his creation the potter realised that his mixture of clay was unsuitable for the type of vessel he was creating he would begin again and create something different, and better suited to the mixture he had to work with.

The word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah (Jer 18:5-6) showing the pottery scene to literally be a ‘parable in action’.   “Jeremiah’s readers and hearers can use their imagination to envisage the workshop and the efforts of a potter… God (the potter) has the sovereign right to make and remake the clay as he sees fit.”   Yahweh is the potter so is free to shape Judah as his clay, any way he chooses.

Yet the actual depiction of the potter represents a deeper, underlying attribute of God’s grace. “God is not only sovereign Lord free to do what he wills, but he is patient and loving, and will not let them defeat his intention to make them a people for his own possession.” The potter has every right to simply dispose of unsuitable clay and mix himself a new batch.  Yet the gracious sovereignty of Yahweh keeps Judah on the potter’s wheel and not cast aside as useless mud. Though the impending destruction and exile appears a wholly ungracious and finite act, in truth Yahweh is graciously working by forming Judah “into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him” (Jer 18:4)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Chasing the Wind


We've concluded our preaching series on Ecclesiastes in our PM services at City North.  It was very interesting and rewarding to examine how the reflections of Solomon about life relate to us in the Gospel Centred Church today.

If you have the time I encourage you to download the whole series (from here) and listen through - though I believe there are still two sermons yet to be uploaded.  It is a very comprehensive look at how we should live as Christians in a world that appears utterly meaningless.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Nathanael's Second Birthday

Nathanael's 2nd BirthdayWe had some great fun with family and friends on Saturday celebrating my nephew's 2nd Birthday.  We had a fireman themed party - and Vanessa (my sister) out did herself with the cake and decorations.

Nathanel had a ripper of a time, with a whole heap of other kids to run around the backyard with.  And plenty of family to come and cuddle up to when things got a bit much.  He loved all his toys and presents... and particularly the little jelly cups Vanessa made (I think he polished off 4 of those bad boys).

Nathanael's 2nd BirthdayIt was a lot of fun.  I'm truly blessed to be involved with such an awesome little life.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Secular Counselling and the Church

** exert from the counselling assignment I recently handed in - I changed my views halfway through and had to go back and rewrite my introduction.**

Within the current community of Academia there is much contribution to the study, research and instruction on models for counselling. However, in the construct of pastoral care counselling plays a specific and important role, which in many cases goes beyond the boundaries of secular counselling texts. If that is the case, is secular counselling research a help or hindrance to the notion of counselling within pastoral care?

...
In one sense the mainstream study misses the entire point of pastoral care in that it encourages the client to find within themselves the answer and power to overcome their problems. Pastoral care in and of itself is almost always pointing to the fact that we alone cannot overcome our own issues, as Mark Driscoll says “…the root of every problem in the world is sin. The answer is Jesus.”

Though a client may be affected by an issue that is completely not their own doing, or a completely natural cause, the underlying reality of sin and a broken world are the very root of that issue. In many cases there is personal sin involved yet secular counselling methods appear to help the client search for an explanation external to themselves. Pastoral care cannot do this.

Even so, the positive response is that once pastoral care has the correct Biblical foundation of helping people to realise the work of God in their issues and look to him for ultimate healing. Then the practical methods from texts such as Geldard and Geldard provide a succinct, detailed and purposeful guide to develop effective and rewarding counselling relationships which will be helpful to the pastoral carer in achieving closure and healing for their client.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

A Common Destiny for All

I preached Sunday night from Ecclesiastes 9:1-12 which speaks about the fact that no matter the life we lead, we are all ultimately going to die.   The passage presents the issue that if death is the end of all things then everything we do in life is utterly meaningless.  The truth of the matter is that this is how the majority of the world lives.

We have Jesus, the power of his resurrection and the covering of his grace to develop a hope for our future beyond death.  Because of that it is only in Jesus that we can find a way to get any meaning out of all the aspects of our life.

I'm not sure how well I communicated that in the whole sermon, but if you want to hear more, have a listen - I'd be glad to hear your thoughts.

Sermon: A Common Destiny for All

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Senna

Fantastic documentary about the world's greatest ever race car driver.  The things that man could make a car do were incredible... a true connection between man and machine.

And Ayrton Senna constantly gave the glory to God for his talents.  I was impressed that the documentary didn't water this down either, but allowed the true convictions of the man to show through as he gave testimony to God's work in his life.  I think this made the story of his early death in that horrific accident even more moving.

The racing footage from the 80's and 90's was excellent.  I didn't realise they had things like helmet cameras and on car cameras at that time.  And the pure emotion they were able to show in the pits, and on the start grid was incredible.   The story led beautifully through his life and the numerous hardships and political issues he had with the FIA.  The governing body really hampered the flow of true, honest racing during that time - I wonder how much it still does today?



Even if you're not a motor racing fan, this is still something you should sit and experience, Senna was truly one of the most passionate and amazing characters of the 20th Century.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

I believe this... even when it comes to counselling.

"The root of every problem in the world is sin. The answer is Jesus." (Mark Driscoll)

'Feeling' God or 'Knowing' God?

One of my mentors,  Joe, is writing a theology blog over at Dot Point Theology which I have wanted to mention here for some time.  Was just re-reading through his latest post and thought I'd throw a snippet up here

The problem with the current generation's fascination with "experiencing God" is that sometimes this has led young Christians to trade the special revelation of God for the general revelation of God and think that they are getting something better. When I hear Christians say that they prefer to go for a walk and experience God in nature rather than reading their bible, I get worried that our generation has little idea about how God reveals Himself. Or what about those who long for God to speak some personal and private message to them? A voice out of heaven or a miraculous sign from God? Ultimately God's revelation of Himself throughout history has not been a gradual broadening of the means and content of His revelation, but rather it has been a narrowing! God has moved from the "many times and many various ways" of the past to the single way of His Son.
What this means is that you don't need to chase an experience of God outside of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. There is nothing wrong with enjoying creation/nature but please realise that what you learn of God there is secondary to what you learn of God in the cross of Jesus Christ.

So if you want to learn some straight shooting, relevant theology, then add Joe's blog to your readers!

Future Grace

"...the way our joy expresses the value of free grace is by admitting we don't deserve it, and by banking our hope on it and doing everything we do as a recipient of more and more grace... Gratitude will always degenerate into the debtor's ethic if it only looks back on past grace and not forward as well to future grace." (John Piper - Brothers we are not Professionals)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Junior Rev Head

The Ipswich 300 at Willowbank last weekend gave me the opportunity to introduce my nearly 2 year old nephew to the world of motorsport.  Nathanael never really had a chance with Dad, Uncle Dean, Uncle Marty and Pa all long term rev heads - but with Vanessa and Mum taking young Reuben off to the markets for the day, it gave Andy an opportunity to bring Nathanael out for the final part of the Saturday race-day.

Sensory overload was abounding for the little tyke... fire trucks, police cars, big trucks and numerous racing cars were everywhere you looked (and for some reason Nathanael got really excited when he saw a Taxi...).  Disney and V8 Supercars have joined forces and created a life-size Mac the Truck from Cars 2 to host an activity zone for the kids at race meetings.

It was probably geared for kids slightly older than Nae, but he had a good time looking at Lightning McQueen and Mater and a whole heap of other Cars merchandise.


We then found my seat at the entrance to the turn 6 hairpin and sat to watch the V8s.  It was all a little overwhelming to start with for the little guy, but as the race went on he got more and more into it (especially cheering the smoking and stricken HRT Commodore of Garth Tander - he may have been egged on by his uncle on that one though).  By the end of Race 1 Nae was totally into it - and wanting 'more racing' when all the cars left the track.  He enjoyed the siren on the Safety Car, but was even more excited when the V8s came back.

Apparently the whole experience left him completely hyped up for more racing cars when he got home to Mum.   I'm sure he'll have plenty of more chances in the future!!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Guy Love... the way it should be

With all this talk these days of 'manning up' and 'sucking it up princess' there also seems to be other terminology like the 'man date' or 'bromance' coming into the fray when figuring out the 'essence' of manly interaction.

The TV show Scrubs always highlighted the genuine interaction between two best mates very well (although extenuating it to ridiculous levels for comedic purposes), but I think if a lot more of our men in churches related to each other guy Turk and J.D did we'd have a much closer nit, encouraging and accountable group of Christian Men in Australia today.

I was thinking bout all this today after watching "The Blanks'" (or Ted's band of peons from Scrubs) new official music video of the song "Guy Love" - it was written by one of the band members for the musical episode of Scrubs, but they have reworked it and don't quite a humerous music video.  Check it out.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Becoming an Introvert.

It's strange... all those personality tests you do through high school, uni and then again at the start of Bible college always had me as an extrovert.  Feeding off the vibe of being around people.

Yet earlier this year I was surprised to do another one of these 'tests' in class and it came out with me being introverted.  I could see my studies and way of life having changed in such a way over the past 3 years to reflect that slightly... being more inward focused for my recharging time, I thought maybe I was just getting old.

Now however I find myself struggling in group situations.  I feel more claustrophobic and uncomfortable in group situations, and would rather just chill at home or find one person to hang with somewhere quiet.  I find a lot of social stuff awkward now.

And I don't really understand why.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Those Special Places

As I said in an earlier post, I was on Tamborine Mt for my church family camp last weekend.  Tamborine Mt was also the site for the numerous WEC camps (Highschooler's, young adult's, easter and leader's) that sculpted my Christian walk in my late teens and early adulthood.  However the church camp last weekend was in a totally different campsite (considering the old WEC site has been demolished it is impossible to go there anymore anyway) and in a way it didn't feel like Tamborine Mt use to.

That is until after the camp ended and I scooted up to The Beacon for a quick look before heading home.   Many a late night was spent at the Beacon on WEC Camps, singing songs, talking, praying or just sitting and overlooking the valleys below.   I immediately felt a sense of awe and wonder when I got out of my car on Sunday afternoon.  A flood of memories came back, the most potent being those of amazing moments of God experienced in that very spot.  I remembered songs we'd sung together and felt the Holy Spirit move within us, I remembered conversations I'd had with other young adults regarding our lives and the Gospel, and I remembered the numerous times I'd come here alone, early in the morning, to pray and do my devotions.

There were other people on the Beacon that day, but I sat in silence, totally lost in the memories of the place, tears on my face as I remembered, and totally oblivious to whatever else was going on around me.  In a very real sense it is Holy Ground, as I have met with Jesus there - and simply being there again brought me back into his presence in a very real way.

The view from The Beacon (Tamborine Mt Qld)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Creative Obedience

A mate from college spoke at Church on Sunday night on what role obedience has in Christianity.  Are we merely saved by faith alone? Or is there an element of work for us to do to gain it as well?

I think Rusty nailed it in his sermon which you can listen to here, and I think we need to ponder this idea on a deeper level than we usually do.

The generic Baptist idea would be that works does not play a part in our salvation - nothing we have done can save us, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, it is simply that God loves us enough that he sent his Son in our place.

I 100% agree with that... the 'good' things we do in life are not going to get us through the gates of heaven, and simply obeying God's laws and rules is not enough to save us.

However; (and this is a carefully stated 'however' I must admit...) there are many places in the Bible which show our obedience does play a role in our sanctification and ultimate salvation. I am in no way claiming there are things we must work at before we are saved, but I think the key is how we treat Jesus in response to accepting his gracious act on the cross.

We cannot simply accept him as our Saviour... just saying Jesus has saved me doesn't make it so - just putting my hand up or walking to the front and acknowledging Jesus at the end of a sermon IS NOT ENOUGH.  If that's all that is done then I am afraid that person may very well continue sinning and disobeying and one day find themselves shocked to discover their sin still held against them.

The life changing aspect of salvation is not only seeing Jesus as Saviour, but declaring him Lord as well.  There isn't just a call in the Bible to accept Jesus, or to believe he can save you, or acknowledge what he did - the call in the Bible is to "confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord" (Romans 10:8)!!! That's when we're saved.  I think as churches we need to explore more what it means to have Jesus as Lord than putting out emotional calls for people to accept or respond to salvation (because in a sense accepting someone saving you is the easy part - living the life under the Lordship of Christ can be much harder to grasp).

So it all comes down to whether or not you want to count the numbers of people making the easy choice, or spend the time making true disciples who follow Jesus as Lord (because then obedience and what we do has an important role to play).

I think Russel's sermon handled the topic very well.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-18

Well done to the girls from City North who made up this video for the Bible reading for the first sermon in our Ecclesiastes series. I think it's fantastic.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Church Family Camp

Spent the weekend up on Tamborine Mountain with about 100 other City North Baptist Church people.  This year's Family Camp was a great time - especially with merging the Young Adult's D-Camp meaning that there was a good contingent of YAs to continue to hang out with.

The teaching was good, the food was good and the friends were great.

Excellent way to spend a weekend.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Preaching Series - Ecclesiastes

For those who have listened and supported me in my preaching, I will be preaching the 6th sermon in CNBC's Ecclesiastes series in a few weeks.

Pastor Joe preached the first sermon last Sunday night and it's promising to be a very challenging and revealing series.

So if you want to listen to me preach later on may I suggest you sign up to the iTunes CNBC channel and listen to the rest of the series so you know where we've been before I start.  Plus Pastors Murray, Joe and Dave are much better at this than I am and I'm certain you will get a lot out of what they have to say.

You can also go to the City North Baptist Church website to find the sermons online.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Glowing

Took this photo on Teen Street at the bonfire.  I think it's pretty awesome

Fire

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

INTERACT

I've been heading up CITY NORTH YOUTH since the beginning of the year.  One thing I really wanted to do this year was take the youth group to the next step of its ministry potential.  In previous years it's been a great initial step in introducing teenagers to City North Baptist, but it had more of a 'babysitting' or 'entertainment/Christian fun' kind of appeal.

Now I know that a youth group at a mid sized suburban church is not going to be able to compete with the entertainment opportunities the secular society has for teens these days.  We're not going to put on big shows, loud music, sport stars and the stereotypical attractions teens find exciting these days.  I also think that when churches try to match that kind of level, they just end up looking lame... the Christian teens then grow up with this corny and warped sense of what 'fun' is and get hammered when they reach the real world.

So I've gone the complete opposite way.  I wanted to keep the activities and events as simple as possible, but the key for where I wanted CITY NORTH YOUTH to go was INTERACT.

If the teens interact with each other in a genuine way, and if corporately and individually they interact with God at youth group then it will turn into a community of young believers, or seekers, who are relating to each other in a way teens don't get anywhere else.  The community itself then becomes the attraction as teens yearn for that connection which the world does not offer.

Our mission this year has to become a 'Christ Centred, Servant Hearted, Outward Focused Youth Community' and it has been encouraging to see how the group is living out that mission and become more connected with each other, the wider Church and their own community circles.

It has taken a long time to morph the culture of the youth group, and that is a continuing process.  Yet we now have two INTERACT nights a term, these are nights where we interact with God in three different ways.  Through listening to his Word, through sharing with each other in study and through responding in worship.   We focus on the ideas of being Christ-centred, Servant-hearted, Outward focused and community, and I have to say that these nights aren't the best attended, and there has been some hit and miss finding the right balance of speaking, group time and music, but the encouraging thing is to see key members of the youth taking ownership of the nights and wanting to put their input to share with the rest of the group.   The numbers may drop a bit on INTERACT nights, but I think it's those nights where we see the real heart of the group.

Our next INTERACT night is this coming Friday and one of the senior boys has taken it upon himself to organise a youth band for the worship time.  I'm really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Beginning of the end.

Today I start my final semester of Bible College at Malyon.

These 3 years seem to have gone so fast, they've been a huge growth time - and though living like a student was a shock at first (no money, late nights, but lots of time) I've become quite comfortable in it, so things are gonna get shaky again as I try and find a pastoral job somewhere.  Just keep trusting and obeying though and I'm sure it will be fine (but that's kinda the hard part isn't it?)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Not liking the likes.

Wow some of the things people 'like' on Facebook these days are just down right disturbing.

Some of the language is awful, language people wouldn't usually use themselves, but find ok and humerous to 'like'.

The nastiness of some of them as well, I am more shocked than humoured by most of them.

Then there's the scary ones that are just downright mean or racist.  Wow I can't believe teenagers fully understand them when they click 'like'.

Does Facebook have any moderation of who creates a 'like' page??? They are not doing a very good job.

I Don't Know Why

I'm a big Paul Colman Trio fan.

But I thought their latest music video was especially clever.  With a low budget they decided to get their fan's help - they put out the call for anyone to make a video clip to their latest single "I Don't Know Why" and then PC3 have mashed them all together to make their official clip.

Good song... unique and fun clip... and the dude in the jet is a legend!!!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Discovering my test... Psalm 139

Here's one of the things that rocked me during a Shhhhhhhh time on TeenStreet.

Shhhhhhh times were the part of the day where you went by yourself and were just quiet with God - it wasn't a specific bible study or personal devotion time - just a half hour where everyone was completely quiet and you sat and interacted with God in whatever way you felt most comfortable.

This day on camp I felt anything but comfortable, I was sick, but add to that I was feeling very disconnected from the campers, and particularly the leaders.   There's a strange dynamic of being a 29 year old single guy on camp - there are many single female leaders and I find it hard not to at least 'wonder' if this setting was effective for meeting someone that might eventually turn into a relationship.  However the big thing I'd noticed on camp was the ease in which other guys seemed to interact with the single ladies, and my apparent ineptness to even be included in any conversation at all.  I am in no way desperate, just a bit awkward I think.   This particular day I had witnessed some people interacting and it had left me feeling very much on the outter, and I was wondering what was wrong with me.

I got to my Shhhhhhh time and opened the Bible app on my phone - I simply started reading from where it opened to, a verse we'd looked at in the main meeting the day before - Psalm 139:13-18;

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. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

I felt the comfort of knowing God knew me and cared for me, but I wondered if this blanket, all inclusive warm fuzzy verse could really impact the gut wrenching feeling of loneliness I had right then - but then I read on...
139:19-24; If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

So after reveling in the amazingness of God's intimate creation and love, David turns and says "But if only..."  That's exactly how I felt.  'God I know you love me and created me, but if only you'd show me the lady I am suppose to marry... or at least give me some hope that a woman will someday put up with me.'

I could see that the psalm really nailed our interaction with God - knowing his care and love but still sometimes feeling at a loss not knowing the eternal perspective of his plan.  Then verse 23 and 24 pierced my heart - asking God to search me, to test me so that he knows my anxious thoughts.  I realised that's exactly what I was feeling overcome with, anxious thoughts.  God knew them - in a way he was testing me by putting me in the position I was in that day, I let him search me... along with God I examined myself, my motives, my feelings about it all to 'see if there is any offensive way in me'.  I was greatly encouraged (and, I believe, supernaturally filled and revitalised) as I realised that even in my anxiousness I had not sinned - or caused offense.

I was not jealous of these guys who seemed to be interacting with the ladies much better than I was; I was not jealous about not having a girlfriend; I wasn't angry at God for not providing; I wouldn't turn away from what he's called me too because of my continued singleness.

As God searched me, and I realised that I was doing ok I felt much better.  I realised that the hope of one day meeting a nice girl wasn't a problem, I realised that sometimes feeling discouraged and having anxious thoughts wasn't a problem, because as long as I continued to serve him, follow him and live out the plan he has placed me in, then I was still allowing him to "lead me in the way everlasting"

And that's all I really need.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Teen Street 2011 - camp photo

Fun Times

27/52

Re-surfacing

Wow... what a couple of weeks.  TeenStreet was fantastic - God moved in amazing ways and thank you to all who prayed.

I continued to persevere through my sickness at camp and then more so this week.  I have felt pretty terrible over the past couple of days, but I thank God for allowing me to be functioning enough on camp to keep interacting with the teens - it was only once I got home I completely crashed.

Today is the first day I've felt well enough to start processing thoughts from camp - I had wanted to post a few, but they feel a little distant now, but we'll see how I go a bit later.

Friday, 8 July 2011

2 days to go.

TeenStreet has been going fantastically well.  God is speaking to the campers and leaders alike.

Unfortunately I have been battling a sore throat, no voice and now a painful cough all week.  It's really knocked me around and I haven't been having the best of times.  I really am disappointed that it has limited the interaction I have had with the teens (it's hard to hold a conversation when you can't talk at all and burst into a coughing fit that pretty much makes you pass out).

Pray God will help me recover so I can finish these last few days well.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Please be praying for Teen Street

I have scheduled this post to go live halfway through our Teen Street Camp in Warwick.  I just wanted to remind people to be praying for the teens that are out on camp and hearing the Word proclaimed to them.

We have teens come from all different life situations.  From both Christian and non-Christian homes, from healthy up bringings to some with difficult issues to work through.  City kids, country kids, there are even some NSWers...

The theme of the camp is "Mysteries Revealed" so ask God to reveal the enormous extent of his love to the campers, and the amazing grace he showed in sending his Son.  Pray for Dan, Suzie, Sarah and Joe as they proclaim God's Word and preach to the kids each day.  I believe Tuesday night is when a response to the Gospel is asked for, so pray for those who have accepted the Gospel for the first time, or have realigned themselves with it once again.

Also pray for the leaders - I'm sure by this stage of the camp we will all be weary, with another three days to go.

Blessings to you for caring enough to read and pray - seeya on the weekend :-P)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Teen Street 2011

Off to Teen Street early tomorrow morning.  A week long highschoolers camp run by OM providing a great evangelical, missional and discipleship opportunity out by Leslie Dam in Warwick (about 2 1/2 hours south west of Brisbane).

There are about 110 teens coming this year and then another 60 or so leaders meaning it is going to be quite a big week with many discussion times, activities, music and worship times, teaching and probably a shenanigan or two as well...  47 out of that 170 are from City North Baptist, so we have the largest group by far, about 25 campers, the rest leaders.

I will be a mentor for the cabin leaders (coaches), helping with issues that arise in the cabins and assisting the discipleship of the campers any way I can.  I haven't had this role before so looking forward to the new challenges it might provide.

So please be in prayer that God's Word is spread dynamically through this group of teenagers in Warwick this week.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

John Piper on Preaching

"I do not aim to be immediately practical, but eternally helpful, and I am not relaxed. I am feeling myself in my soul on the brink of a precipice called eternity, speaking to people (anyone of whom might go over that edge at any moment, ready or not) and I will be called to account for what I said there. That's what we mean by preaching." John Piper.

That's heavy. Am I really up for it?

Friday, 24 June 2011

People can be painful.

Sometimes do you ever feel about telling someone they are just being an annoying twat and should change their attitude?  Especially if that person is a self proclaiming Christian...

 I struggle sometimes about finding the balance of being a loving, other centred person - and confronting on very obvious sin of selfishness and immaturity.  The balance is even harder when you are in a role of ministry leadership to that person.

I think juggling selfish, yet touchy and easily offended people is the hardest part of any ministry and sometimes I just want to blow out all the cobwebs, come down hard and then deal with the offendedness and try and move towards some more level balance of mutual respect.

Pity that probably wouldn't really work...

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

CNBC Sermons Online

We're blessed to have three fantastic preachers at City North Baptist Church.  If you are looking for a challenging and biblically founded sermon then go to the CNBC Sermon Archive on their website.  The latest series in Mark (PM Services) has been rewarding and confronting, particularly the last three in the series.  Also the recent AM series on Romans 9-11 has been good in tackling some of the harder, less talked about, passages of the Bible.

All in all, there are some great sermons there.   Just watch out for the ones done by some guy called Dean :-p

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Don't be a rich fool

I was in Chermside shopping centre last week when a lady stepped out from one of the cosmetic kiosks and asked me about what after-shaving balm I used.  Now this was not the brightest question as I've let my beard go a bit since holidays started and it was quite obvious I hadn't shaved in a few weeks.

But then the actual meaning of her getting me to stop comes through as she asks if I'd like to 'get rid of those disturbing black marks under your eyes' (yep that's exactly what she said!)  Though I was a little offended I tried not to be rude as she proceeded to tell me all about this cucumber and Dead Sea salt goo that I could rub on my face and help rid me of this ugliness.  She then showed me the price... $110 for a 50g jar!!!!!! I promptly told her that as a student that was ludicrous and so she offered 50% off - to which I still said no that's too much for what I earn (let alone the fact I'm not spending $55 on some cucumber and salt!) She kept badgering me until I felt obligated to disclose to her exactly how much I currently earn each week - and that $55 would take more than half of that away.

The look of disgust and shock that a man of about 30 could be living with so little money was disturbingly evident on her face - again to the point of being quite insulting.  She promptly dismissed me and left me walking away feeling pretty low that I hadn't lived up to some preconceived idea of what it means to be an Aussie male in 2011.

I was walking home so had 45 minutes to let my mind wander over all the deep emotions the encounter with the sales lady had kicked off.  For a while I was wondering why I was living the life I was - but then God took me to this passage in his Word.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
(Luke 12:13-21 ESV)
The audacity of this rich man to say to his 'soul' - that life giving, salvific function of his life - 'you have no more need to worry because you have so much' struck me completely.  I think the ESV nails the Greek translation here using the word 'soul' - it carries much more meaning that the NIV's translation.  How many people today are putting their saving factors for their life into the possessions they have, or their looks, or their status?  The fact that people might spend $110 on a small jar of cream to try and look a little better just highlighted that fact to me greatly.

God reminded me by what means my soul is saved - and when I remembered Jesus, his loving actions on earth, his death on the cross and his power in his resurrection I forgot about the things I was missing out on because of the way I've followed him - and could really say (as the Apostle Paul did) that I can consider everything else rubbish, so that I might gain Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
(Philippians 3:8-10 ESV)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

My focus...

‎"If the Lord's bearing our sin for us is not the gospel, I have no gospel to preach" - C.H. Spurgeon

Friday, 17 June 2011

The toughest part of mentoring

Here's an exert of some of my lecture notes on Mentoring - so far in the little amount of mentoring I've done, this is by far the hardest part.  Especially as you're building a relationship and not sure if you have the respect or place to confront on certain issues - which I think can be highlighted when the mentoring relationship is with someone still of school age - where do the boundaries of your responsibility lie??  Anyway I found these notes helpful.

Confronting
The mentoring relationship is founded on genuine care and concern for the mentoree, but sometimes as Davis states, “a mentor is called upon to confront.” Wagner believes that a balance between the confrontation of issues and honest care for people will strengthen and lengthen a mentoring relationship. Mentors have a unique privilege and responsibility to confront inappropriate behavior and attitudes, and facilitate growth. As Wagner points out to his audience of Promise Keepers when speaking about the need to confront, “Only a mentor - one who has proved his faithfulness as a friend - will be trusted at those critical, teachable moments that make or break a man’s ministry.”
 
Productive confrontation not only needs a foundation of earned trust, but also a careful wording of the confronting message. Shea suggests that the message should involve a neutral description of what one perceives the mentoree intends, a statement of the possible negative effects on the mentoree and other people, and the feelings or emotions one has about the mentoree’s plan or action. Other important skills in effective confrontation include assessing the psychological readiness of a mentoree to benefit from different perspectives, focusing on the behaviors most likely to change, using the least amount of feedback necessary for impact, and reinforcing throughout the confrontation one’s belief in the mentoree’s potential for growth.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Different ways... or the right way?

Spending time at the Winternationals this weekend, with a chaplain from another state coming and visiting.   We've always had a certain protocol of interaction with the race teams at Willowbank - and usually, as chaplains, stay out of their garages and camps sites figuring they are usually focused on getting their cars ready for racing.  As the chappies, we are there to serve them when they need us, and aren't so much an evangelistic force trying to get involved with them all through the weekend.

Though it seems the other chaplain works differently.  I was amazed at how many people this guy knows... how many say hello, and I wondered if actively going out into the teams was something we were missing in our ministry.   However, this guy had no qualms about jumping barriers and walking into garages, and though I felt uncomfortable he urged me to come with him.  Initially it always seems the team members' reactions were "who the hell are you and why are you in here?"  Most times I felt the team members then 'put up' with us in their garage more out of politeness than actually wanting to chat with the chaplains.

There was one team with whom we had a good chat, but at a point when some good Gospel input could have been injected a very worldly and superficial piece of advice was offered instead.  I felt as a evangelical Christian I missed an opportunity there, but this was mainly effected I think about the denomination of the other chaplain.

So I'm torn between giving the teams the professional space they need and developing better relationships with them. I think this other chaplain has many better relationships with some of the support staff on the teams because of his manner of chaplaincy, but has probably stepped on the toes of many of the mechanics and drivers to get there.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

So close...

This is the first time I have had an assignment due after my final exams.  I had my last exam for the semester this morning and usually the feeling walking out of it is one of relief and calmness... but today I've had to come home and battle on with an assignment that is due tomorrow.

It is a strange feeling to know I'm so close... but not have a definite point of when I will be finished.  I simply just have to put my head down and I will be on holidays as soon as I print this assignment.

That makes the motivation hard.  I find exams provide their own source of motivation - knowing that you have 2 hours to sit and produce something.  Whereas assignments can take as long as you let them and so the motivation wanes...

I just want to be on holidays :-p...

Monday, 6 June 2011

Being in the vine...

John 15:1-17 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

This was a passage I had to exegete for my exam last Friday.  I was greatly encouraged by having a closer look at it.

So the vine was used a lot in the Old Testament as a depiction of Israel, and it was always to show how Israel was not producing fruit, or growing well - usually with the vinedresser finally pulling out the vine or burning it.  So John immediately shows Jesus as the true Israel in saying that he is the true vine.  Everything that the people of God should have been, Jesus is - very cool.

We then are attached to the vine (through 'remaining' in him) and we are to produce good fruit.  However, even if we produce fruit God still 'prunes' us - so not everything will be good times, but it will all help us produce more fruit.

God is glorified as we bear fruit, and then ask for whatever we wish and have it given to us - all this because we have become pure by hearing Jesus' words and a proved to be his disciples.

The result of us remaining in Jesus is keeping his commands.  It is not a case of us keeping his commands so that we remain in him.  This is seen because we do not choose him but he chose us and appointed us so that we might remain in him - the keeping of commands is a response to our appointment.

Such an encouragement.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Spare a thought for Queensland

We may still be the dominant force when it comes to the State of Origin, but I've noticed this past week that South East Queensland is still trying to recover from the January floods.  In Bowen Hills I noticed new buildings going up where old ones were ruined by flood waters, and today in Ipswich I saw so much road work as the council continues working to repair all the damage the water did.

So spare a thought for all those still rebuilding after the floods... where I live (about 20 minutes north of the river) not a single property was flooded and we've just been getting on with life as per usual, but just up the road there's still a lot of work that needs to be done.

It's very easy to forget.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The term 'hacking' should give it away.

Another observation of a new trend when it comes to social media.  Facebook 'hacking' appears the latest way to attempt to be funny and get laughs - basically if you find a friend's iPhone or laptop with Facebook signed in, you change stuff, status, birthday and info just to mess it all up and make it a bit embarrassing.  While I admit some of the status updates I've read have been humerous, and I know if the person could take the joke then I may even attempt a status 'hack' if the opportunity presented itself.

However!!!  However, the problem as always is when people go to far.  People think it's going to be hilariously funny, yet because it is at the expense of someone else, that someone else is left feeling hurt and embarrassed.  I have a mate who was hacked yesterday, his relationship status was changed from 'single' to 'in a relationship'. Obviously unsuspecting people jumped on this news with congratulations and different comments, creating a very embarrassing circumstance for my friend when he came to realise the 'hack'. The thing that disappointed me the most though was that my mate left his laptop unattended at Bible College, and it was other students who went through changing details on his account. Now again a simple status change may have been humerous (though after this I am wondering if it's just pushing the line too much as well), but to put someone in the embarrassing situation of having to explain no they still don't actually have a girlfriend, when heaps of people have reacted with joy to the fact that he appeared to, is plain mean... and something that you'd think people studying at a Bible College would grasp.

The term itself, 'hacking', has quite a derogatory connotation with it, and I would think that Christians, let alone those called to study at Bible College, would understand that it's dangerous ground for their Christian witness to go changing people's personal details on a public forum.   In fact I feel these people have sinned against my friend and should apologise and seek forgiveness... yet it seems (in their eyes at least) things done online should not be taken seriously and they aren't accountable for making someone feel like a bit of a fool, even another brother in Christ.

Friday, 27 May 2011

New Nephew

Reuben James White was born last night at 10:54pm - weighing 8lb 5oz in Ipswich.   Congratulations to my sister and brother-in-law, as well as to big brother Nathanael, who is absolutely in awe of his new little bro.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Southport Sunset

Was down the coast the other week and took the opportunity to do some photography.  Here are two of them.

19/52

Southport Qld Aus

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Little bit of boy left in this man.

Doesn't matter how much I grow up there are things that I am still mesmerised by now, just as much as I was as a boy.

One of those things is watching cranes.  There's lots of building going on around Brisbane, especially with some of the recovery work going on after the floods.  Today I was walking to the Mater Hospital to visit a friend, but I stopped for about five minutes to watch a crane moving what looks like an air conditioning component over the building site for the new Children's Hospital.

It was pretty cool...

It's the end of the world...


So all the hype about the cult which claims that the Bible guarantees that May 21st 2011 will consist of the Rapture and Judgement Day has really been seen in all facets of the media, and social media - both Christian and non-Christian friends on Facebook (in Australia, UK, USA and other parts of the world) are all commenting on the advertising that's been propagating our suburbs with the news that a giant worldwide earthquake is coming as a precedent to the return of Jesus.

And I'm sure just as much media hype will remain on the 22nd May when we're all still here and nothing happened.

It's sad that this brings such a bad image on the Bible and the church, just because some nutter wants some attention.  And though a lot of Christians are making jokes today (myself included) I also realise - and others need to as well - that the rapture and return of Christ is actually a very real thing!

Though probably not today - as the only thing the Bible guarantees about the second coming is that NOBODY will know the time - Jesus will return to earth.  It will be something no one will miss for every eye will see him coming, and it will also usher in the Throne Judgement of Christ where people will be dealt their final, eternal position.

So even though it feels like a joke today, ask yourself - what would happen if Jesus really did come back?  Would you be able to stand in front of him?  Or would you tremble and fall as you realised your life has been spitting in his face the entire time?

See I've realised that I basically spat in Jesus' face over and over - but he offers forgiveness through faith, and it's that faith that means on the day he returns I will be filled with joy, and will stand before him in humble reverence waiting for my eternity with him.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The rapture of the church

This is our topic for Theology class today.  Mind bending stuff.  Jim is pre-millennial and pre-tribulational but though I agree with the pre-millennial idea (That Jesus' return issues in the 1000 year reign of Christ), I tend to agree more with the textbook's interpretation of understanding a post-tribulational rapture.   This idea that the church will endure the tribulation, yet at Christ's return the church will be raptured to meet Jesus in the air and then return with him to earth to begin the 1000 year reign.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 gives a clear understanding that we will be 'caught up' in the air at Jesus' coming - ἁρπαγησόμεθα - this verb really does give the idea of being taken up, or to go up.  The word rapture comes from the Latin translation of this term I believe, so in that sense I do believe there will be a rapture.

But I think it's all part of the final coming of Jesus Christ - not a separate occurance removing the church before the tribulation.  I liked this in Erickson's textbook, in regards to the use of this verb ἀπάντησιν in a parable Jesus told...

One of these references is in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, an explicitly eschatological parable.  When the bridegroom comes, the announcement is made, "Here's the bridegroom! Come out and meet [ἀπάντησιν] him!" (Matt 25:6).   What does the word signify in this situation? the virgins do not go out to meet the bridegroom and then depart with him.  Rather, they go out to meet him and then accompany him back to the wedding banquet. 
(Erickson, Christian Theology, p1229)

This idea of meeting Jesus shows that the rapture isn't Jesus simply coming in the sky, the Christians meeting him there and then he whisks them off to heaven to sit out a terrible period of tribulation on earth.  But instead, Jesus comes, Christians meet him in the sky and then follow him back to earth where all the other judgement stuff happens and then the wedding feast begins.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Conflict in Churches

Susek in his book FIRESTORM uses the illustration of a firestorm (or in the Australian context, a bushfire) to demonstrate the evolution of church conflict in six phases.

 The first phase is the Sparks which occur because of the natural dynamics of human relationship - managing these sparks well can prevent the occurrence of a firestorm, however ignoring or abusing them will allow conflict to evolve into the second phase Ignition. Here one or more of the sparks suddenly ignite a destructive conflict (figuratively a small blaze) which if left to itself will grow into a firestorm.

Phase three is the Firestorm in full fury. Destructive conflict causes pain and devastation to those involved. Phase four are the Consuming Winds which continue destruction as the blaze of conflict spread wider than the initial incident.

This in turn may lead to the fifth phase of a Final Burn which describes the possibility of litigation and official reprimand. The sixth phase recognises the need to recover from conflict and Rebuild on Burnt Timber.

Have you seen church conflict evolve through these levels?  Can the 'sparks' be handled in a constructive way to encourage growth and discourage the flash burns of destructive conflict?  What do we put in place in our churches to manage this conflict?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Why is the Social Media response Newsworthy?

I find it funny that now on nearly all online newscasts they include articles on what's being said on social media feeds.  Suddenly everyday, uninformed, people's perceptions are being broadcast in a news presentation that people are reading to find the facts.

I think it discredits those news agencies.

Some of them are slightly humerous though.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Anti-social Media

Warning - if you're hanging out with people and haven't invited others who are usually part of the group, it makes things look very very exclusive when you post events, photos, statuses and comments about it all on Facebook.

I think some of the things we post on Facebook can highlight the cliques we create and make some people feel more excluded than included in our lives.

And to add to it, some status updates when read by certain people in context can be funny, witty or clever - but to everyone else, or people in specific situation they are a bit offensive.   Last night I was feeling a bit sensitive, and some of the things I read - though seeming pointed at certain contexts - made me feel even worse about where I am in my life right at this moment.

Largely it was a reminder to myself to be careful what I post on Facebook.

~~
P.S - I am very aware that this will also appear on Facebook.  Hopefully I was careful enough in what I said to keep things civil and would hope people would read it in kind.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Since when has being rude become funny?

It's probably due to the latest stand up comedians with their rude and abusing content during their shows, but I'm noticing more and more that in an attempt to 'be funny' people (mostly at church) are just being blatantly rude.  Other's then laugh and they feel they've produced a good time.   However I think the receiver of the rude remark hardly ever finds it funny at all (even though they may laugh - just to hide it and fit in).

I think as Christians we really need to think about what we say to other people.  Being rude is simply being unloving, it is not funny.  I find more and more that I am not laughing with people, but simply wanting to walk away when they start their 'comic' routines.  Maybe I should start saying something, because it's only getting worse.

Naturally 7 - Simply Awesome

After the Saturday night washout (literally) of Easterfest, a impromptu stage was set up in the Toowoomba City Centre.  Since Naturally 7's gig on the main stage was cancelled due to so much flood damage on site, they performed out in the open.  I wasn't there, but I'm glad someone took some video - cause how good is this!!!   Vocal instruments are flipping awesome!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Why do the dumb 'Christians' get quoted in the media?

Some American 'evangelist' has been quoted talking about Christ's second coming and social media...

IT'S played a part in celebrity slip-ups, scandals and revolutions.
Now social media has been pegged as a key component of the second coming of Jesus Christ...
 
"The Bible says that every eye is going to see it" and that Christ will "come on the clouds", Graham told ABC News presenter Christiane Amanpour, host of This Week
"How is the whole world going to see him at one time? I don't know, unless all of a sudden everybody's taking pictures (with their cell phones) and it's on the media worldwide," he said in the interview which was on Easter Sunday in the US.
Why do people put themselves out there with these really dumb statements?  Do they really think it's going to forward the Christian message by trying to dumb down things so greatly?   It seems the only people the media quote about Christianity are those who are trying to explain away anything miraculous or spiritual to the mundane and human.

I truly believe 'every eye will see' but not because of twitter or youtube... All will see through the glory of God, every tongue then will also confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Full article here...

Another Photo from the Train Museum

Nathanael and I playing with the train sets

15/52

Friday, 22 April 2011

Easter Friday.

Your blood speaks a better word
Than all the empty claims I've heard upon this earth
Speaks righteousness for me
And stands in my defense
Jesus it's Your blood.

What can wash away our sins?
What can make us whole again?
Nothing but the blood
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can wash us pure as snow?
Welcomed as the friends of God
Nothing but Your blood
Nothing but Your blood King Jesus

Your cross testifies in grace
Tells of the Father's heart to make a way for us
Now boldly we approach
Not by earthly confidence
It's only by Your blood

What can wash away our sins?
What can make us whole again?
Nothing but the blood
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can wash us pure as snow?
Welcomed as the friends of God
Nothing but Your blood
Nothing but Your blood King Jesus

(Matt Redman)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Ipswich Rail Workshops Museum.

I took my nephew to the Rail Museum in Ipswich today.  It was an awesome time, and Nathanael absolutely loved it.  During the school holidays they have a special Thomas the Tank Engine display, including a life size Thomas to climb in and blow the whistle.

I was amazingly impressed with the thought gone in to the museum to entertain kids.  There's interactive displays and a whole room set up with Thomas and Friends train sets for kids to play with.  Nathanael got incredibly excited seeing all the toys and loved pushing Thomas and Percy around numerous different tracks.   There's also a toddler area with ride on Thomas bike things and rocking Thomas engines and other big play toys.  Nae was overwhelmed and didn't want to leave.

My sister bought herself an annual pass so she can take Nae back again and again - and I'm thinking I will probably buy one in the end too, especially cause it's walking distance from my sister's house, a great place just to go down and hang out.  Nathanael sure loves it (as seen by the gigantic smile on his face).

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Devotional Greek.

In my first year of Bible college the 12 month Greek course almost killed me.  The amount of work I had to do just to keep up with the subject was ludicrous, the amount of information we had to learn was so intense that I didn't really enjoy it, and wondered if it was really worth it.

The last year I did an exegesis subject on Romans in Greek.  It was very theologically heavy, with hard translation work, and a lecturer I didn't quite click with.  I did alright though and began to see the extra meaning and insight you can pull from the text when you understand the original language.

This year I am doing an exegesis of John in Greek, the story of Jesus, the words of Jesus and I am really REALLY enjoying the translation.  I find sitting down every week to translate another chapter of John is more of a devotional time than a study time.  I find so much worth in the words, and keep having 'ahh haa' moments as the Greek text opens itself up to me.   The classes as well are good times as D expounds on the text with many insights which I am finding very rewarding.

I may be struggling to find motivation to do assignments, but each week when I sit down to translate I come out the other side feeling much better than when I started.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Encounter with the King

--I was asked to share a little of my testimony last night at City North, I always find it a very emotional and draining thing to do, no matter how short.   This was a 5 minute spot, and I worked hard to break down a part of my story into a short concise testimony, with its main influence highlighting my encounter with Jesus as the King.  I thought I'd post the transcript.
--------------------------------------

When I was young my mother became a Christian and I remember going to Sunday school from when I was about 5. From that point on I have always believed in God, known Jesus came to die for my sins and knew all the Bible stories which all point to God's love and power.   I can’t remember a point of ever doubting that – I was baptised when I was 9, I understood that Jesus was my Saviour, and to have my sins forgiven I needed to believe in him and become a Christian. I prayed and had faith, and I was a Christian. But there's one moment in my life, when I was 14, where God distinctly showed me that Jesus was not only Saviour, but the Lord – King – Ruler of my life as well. And I had to give my life to his plan, his will and not think of it as my own anymore. This in a very real sense was my encounter with the King.

As I said I was 14, and the church my family was going to had an annual church family camp – my whole family went, and there was a good group of teenagers on the camp. I was mates with most even though some were a few years older. I remember the first night of camp playing table tennis with some guys, this one guy Wade, was 17 and he was overly energetic, almost crazy in the enthusiasm he was putting into the games. For some reason I really took note of the energy, exuberance the life that this guy had.

The next day after the study session we were playing basketball, and again I remember Wade, who was the tallest guy round, totally dominating the game. But after a while he complained he had a headache – so he went and saw one of the adults, got some panadol and went for a sleep. We finished our game of basketball, cleaned up, had dinner and then after dinner we were having a bushdance. I’ll never forget seeing another mate of mine run up from the dorms grab one of the older guys who was a paramedic and race off together… shortly after that we cancelled the bushdance because my friend had found Wade in the dorm, not breathing and without a heartbeat.

 As a church we broke into groups and prayed… the ambulance came and took Wade away – the entire time Neil, the paramedic, was giving him CPR. Almost an hour after the ambulance left the camp, we got a phonecall to say that Wade had been pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital. It was shocking, and horrible – and I remember wanting to talk to my Dad, only to realise that as the youth leader, he’d actually gone in the ambulance with Wade.

I waited up for Dad to return. Another adult took some of us boys into a cabin to talk, but I remember feeling so overwhelmed I just had to get out. Standing outside, under a magnificent, incredibly sky filled with stars I encountered the King. I remember looking up to the stars and questioning God – why had the most energetic, full of life person I knew just died? Wade had been playing basketball with me in the afternoon and was in heaven right now. I asked God why. And I received this amazing sense of peace. God spoke to me and he said that his plan was perfect, Wade was in heaven now because God had called him home – and though I didn’t understand, I had to know and accept that God’s plan was perfect, and he is the King. My plan wasn’t to pass away one night on a church camp, and that meant that God had a specific plan for my life. And not only did I have to believe in him as Saviour, but I had to hand over every aspect of my life to him as the King, the commander, the perfect planner and ruler of the life I was to lead.

Since then I can’t say I’ve let God have his way in every moment, I still wrangle the reigns back at times. But since then I can say that when I have taken control again I’ve realised that I’m not making things better and sooner or later Jesus shows up again to show me my mess, and take control once again.

In times of unrest, or problem God’s given me a verse and I’ll just finish by reading it. It’s Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you-- the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life;8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

If that’s the case, then why should I try and rule my life, when the one with the perfect plan is able to keep me within it?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Baby Dedications.

Are the baby dedications we do in church needed?  What significance do they have to the child?  To the parents?

Are they Biblical? If not, should we do away with them?

I'm interested to see what people think, and hear how they're done in your churches.?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

What happens when we die?

Are we judged immediately?  Do we all go to the same place? Are we left waiting in some void until the end of time? Do we go to heaven but without a body until the resurrection where we are given a new body?  Or do we suddenly awake at the end of time, in front of the throne of God to be judged and either given a new body or sent to the lake of fire?

All the things to be considered during a 3 hour theology lecture.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit an additional work or experience after conversion?

** extract from assignment I handed in yesterday

Philip Yancey when asked to give a definition of grace, replied;
Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more – no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries and divinity schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less – no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possible love.
This pastoral application of grace in response to God’s love gives the impression that the initial work of grace through Jesus is enough. The perception that baptism of the Holy Spirit is a second work affects the completeness of God’s grace in his work through Jesus Christ. To determine the Spirit baptism as a subsequent work of sanctification is to try and find a way to ‘make God love us more’ by being ‘more holy’, or ‘perfect in love’. To say that it is a second work of empowerment is to demote Jesus’ work of redemption to only introductory, and the Spirit’s following work as definitive to salvation.

Schwertley agrees stating;
If one… makes Spirit-baptism an addendum to the work of Christ or some kind of spiritual bonus for elite Christians, one must logically assert one of two unbiblical ideas. One can argue that Jesus did not achieve a perfect redemption and therefore the Holy Spirit must come and finish what the Lord left unfinished… [or that] Spirit-baptism is based in part on human merit… Spirit-baptism comes only to those who have correct knowledge or seek the baptism in a proper way…

In this regard, if a biblical understanding of grace is to be held, one must see baptism of the Holy Spirit as part of the initial work of grace, given by Jesus as a gift of righteousness and regeneration.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Up late at in the library reading about differing views on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Is it something that happens instantaneously as we are converted to and regenerated in Christ, or is it a second work of God's grace which equips us for ministry?

What do you think?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Very Cool

Long ago, at many times and ain many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Jesus is God!  Not a god, not a creation of God, not even simply God's son - but he IS GOD :-)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Calvin on why we are certain the Bible is true.

Calvin insisted that the testimony of the Holy Spirit is superior to reason. It is an inward work that captures the minds of those who hear or read Scripture, producing conviction or certainty that it is the Word of God with which they are dealing. This is a second work of the Holy Spirit with respect to the Scriptures. He who had originally inspired the prophets and apostles to write the Scriptures now penetrates our hearts, convincing us that these Scriptures are indeed the Word of God and thus truth.
Erickson, M J 1998, Christian Theology (2nd Ed), page 869

Long time ago...


Was looking through old blog posts the other day and came across this old photo.  That's my first car (a 1986 Ford Laser).  It had broken down, the alternator had died... we'd tried to push start it but it just wouldn't go.

So I left it there and called RACQ for help... and it still took 45 minutes for a guy to arrive :-p

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

3 Elements of a Healthy Pastoral Team

1. Understanding and striving for a common Godly vision.
The ultimate Lordship of the team lies with God. A vision – possibly as broad as ‘The Great Commission’ (Matt 29:19-20) or something specific regarding the local ministry – should be the defining point for which the team works. This vision is founded on prayer and communion with God as a team.

2. Each member is clear on their responsibilities and can work individually and together – within their role – to see the vision met
A clear pastoral team leader may be assigned, then there is a particular hierarchy of authority for the responsibilities of the team.  However, each member does have a level of authority to fulfil their individual responsibilities. Sometimes this will mean working on their own, or with their own team, as well as working with other members of the pastoral team at other times.

3. Members of the team are helping each other grow, and growing themselves in return.
Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The team recognises that as individuals they are responsible for helping each other grow. This facilitates encouragement and allows for constructive criticism. It also includes team study and prayer, knowing that this is the foundation for the practical output of the team.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Yet another interview with Rob Bell

I am not a Rob Bell hater - I am not out to destroy him.  But as a Bible College student I have been very interested in the reaction people have had to his most recent book.  I know with writing assignments and essays it can be very tempting to think you've found something new, apart from the scholars of history, and want to write this amazing new insight.  However, again, as a student I understand I'm probably not finding something new, just misunderstanding something old, so then I research and come to an understanding of the topic I'm studying.

I really feel Rob Bell has not done that, he's purposely wanted to move away from what people have accepted for years (mainly because those scholars are right) and present something new that is contextualised for a post-modern culture.

Here's what Bell says in this interview I've read today - I think to believe something so different, which is a personal view not held in agreement with the tradition of the apostles, is so arrogant and self seeking that it cannot be a notion of God.

One of the things I traced is that heaven and hell in the Bible are present realities, they are dimensions of existence, they are choices we can make every day. And I assume that those choices and those realities extend on after we die. I grew up like a lot of people, [thinking] heaven is somewhere else, sometime else, mainly after you die, and Jesus is how you go somewhere else, sometime else. And so all of this arises out of my studies of the Scriptures and my interactions with people from across the depth and breadth of the Christian conversation, and my growing awareness that Jesus, in the world that He lived in, the issue was not evacuation, the issue was not, “How can I get out of here?”

This article comes from RELEVANT Magazine's website.
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