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.

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.
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