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...


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, 9 September 2011

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
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