Friday, 30 November 2012

Friday morning focus

On this last day before we move into December... let's start focusing on what it meant that Jesus came.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Wanting more...

"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered too long."
~A.W Tozer 

 What an incredible prayer! I came across this on Tuesday and have committed to praying it each morning for the rest of the week (at least). I feel God has used it to open my eyes even further to His love for me. His love is so great that He earnestly desires for me to love Him. We know this because it was His love that caused Jesus to come and die on the cross for us—opening the way for us to be free and have a relationship with Him.  But there is nothing we can do, apart from Jesus, to make ourselves right with Him. Even as Christians we still need to ask God to continually draw us to him, because our sinful nature continues to drive us away.

Psalms 4:7-8 says; “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new win abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” So no matter how good the world looks, how much better off people seem to be in their worldly ways, we know that even when their material wealth abounds, and ours may not, that God fills our hearts with a joy (from his love) that is of such greater worth! It is that peace with God that makes everything else pale in comparison. And Romans 5:1 tells us that this peace only comes through Jesus Christ.

I think Tozer had come to a realisation of this peace when he knew he needed God’s help to continually want more and more of him. Our human lives still wear us down, but God will help us if we continue to ask it of him. The more we know of His love, the more we will desire it. Tozer was brutally honest and humble in his understanding of himself, and that drove him to depend on God all the more. I am trying to get to a point when I can be that honest about myself before God—it is a tough process of giving up much of myself. But I have felt the example of Tozer has guided me in the right direction.

 I hope it may do the same for you.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Crazy Love - Chapter Nine

Second last week of this amazing study series, and we get to hear a great testimony of someone who is obsessed with Jesus.

Take a look, hear the example and accept the challenge to live life like this man.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Friday morning focus

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, 
 Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 
 for his judgments are true and just; 
 for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, 
 and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” 
(Revelation 19:1-2 ESV)

What Scriptures have you read this morning.  Share them so we can get a good dose of it today.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Shine your light.

"The Gospel is a light that attracts the lost, if we get rid of the churchianity bushel under which it's hiding."
~Mark Driscoll

It's a provocative statement, but in the case of the Western Church it is also a current challenge.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Jesus Obsession

This is paraphrased and taken from ideas of Chapter 8 of Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  It's a great reflection I think...


People who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure.  Obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back.  They aren't consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else.  Obsessed people care more about God’s kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress.  They live lives that connect them with the poor in some way or another.  Obsessed people believe that Jesus talked about money and the poor so often because it was really important to Him.

Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo.  A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth… They know that the sin of pride is always a battle.  Obsessed people know that you can never be ‘humble enough,’ and so they seek to make themselves less known and Christ more known.

People who are obsessed with Jesus do not consider service a burden.  Obsessed people take joy in loving God by loving His people. They are known as givers, not takers.  They genuinely think that others matter as much as they do, and they are particularly aware of those who are poor around the world.  They think about heaven frequently.  Obsessed people orient their lives around eternity; they are not fixed only on what is here in front of them.

A person who is obsessed is characterised by committed, settled, passionate love for God, above and before every other thing and every other being.

People who are obsessed are raw with God; they do not attempt to mask the ugliness of their sins or their failures.  Obsessed people don’t put it on for God; He is their safe place, where they can be at peace. They have an intimate relationship with Jesus.  They are nourished by God’s Word throughout the day because they know that forty minutes on Sunday is not enough to sustain them for a whole week, especially when they will encounter so many distractions and alternative messages. They are more concerned with their character than comfort.  Obsessed people know that true joy doesn't depend on circumstances or environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God.

A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the best thing he or she can do is be faithful to their Saviour in every aspect of their life.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Things we just take for granted.

In case you were unaware; today was International Toilet Day.

That seems strange to us here in the western world, but the whole idea is to raise awareness to the fact that the majority of the world do not have access to the same kind of facilities we take for granted.

One World Vision Facebook post I saw today said this;

Diarrhoeal diseases are the second most common cause of death among young children in developing countries, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

That's just shocking, the fact that something so easily combated is such a gigantic killer.  The fact that 2.5 billion people do not have access to safe and sanitary toilets is just silly, when a lot of those people do have access to social media like Facebook.  Where is our focus?

There is more we can all do to help fight poverty... but this has to be one of the easiest things we can fix worldwide!

Crazy Love - Chapter Eight

Chapter 8 of Crazy Love gives us a great insight into how people live when they are obsessed with heaven.  When they have a constant 'eternal perspective'.  It's a great picture of life, yet I still think it's a great challenge when we size up how our lives look right now.

Understanding Jesus

"Jesus is not safe"

Read this article on The Resurgence this morning.  I think it ties in nicely with both the preaching series and the Bible studies I am doing with the young adults.  Don't get a wishy-washy, soft view of who Jesus is.  Understand who he is and what he said... don't try and smooth it over to make it easier.  Jesus is who he is, and we can't change that.

The article refers to C.S Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where a reference to Aslan states he is not safe, but he is good.  That's a great understanding of who Jesus is too.

Jesus didn't say that if we wanted to follow him, we needed to take up our mattress, but rather take up our cross! If you are going to follow Jesus:
  • You are going to upset some people (Matthew 10:34-36). 
  • He will bring out changes in you (Luke 19:1-10). 
  • We cannot meet him and stay the same! He is going to challenge you to look straight ahead and not behind, no matter how good or bad it may have been (Luke 9:62). 
  • You are going to have to lay some things aside (Mark 1:18). 
  • He will impact every area of your life (Romans 12:1), and you cannot pick and choose your areas of surrender when you are abiding in him. 
  • You are going to hear his voice clearly and accurately (John 10:4). 
  • You are going to experience abundant life, and your life will not be wasted (John 10:10). 
  • You are going to have to stop messing around—literally (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). In fact, following Jesus may make your dating life seem quite “boring” to others. 
  • You are going to have to surrender your wallet (Matthew 6:19-24, Luke 16:10-13). 
  • It is going to take a willingness to change the way you think (Romans 12:1-2). 
  • It is going to move your heart to care about and reach out to people that he deeply cares for (Matthew 28:18-20). I cannot say I am a follower of Christ and be unconcerned with the things that concern him.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Friday morning focus.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 
(Psalm 133:1-2 ESV)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Crazy Love - Chapter 7

Here's the Chapter 7 video for Crazy Love. Hopefully you got something out of the study last night and can apply this today.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Defining the idea of 'Loving Jesus'

What does it look like for you to love Jesus??

What do you do that shows it?  Shows it to him, to yourself and to others?

I'd love to see some practical ideas - especially for the benefit of young people who are still trying to figure it all out.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Crazy Love - Chapter Six

It's chapter's 6 and 7 this week at the Youth and Young Adults Connection Group. Last week was a really tough one; something that I think shook us all a little bit, shocked us - in a sense - into really questioning our faith, and what it should look like.

Hopefully this week's reading started to rebuild your ideas and hopes.  The ideas of love and faithfulness in these two chapters should encourage you all the more after studying chapter 5 last week.

Here's the week 6 video, and I'll post the chapter 7 video on Wednesday as it's a good challenge to be sent out with after we do the study tomorrow night.

What is the true impact of the church at the moment?

This is another Keith Green video I was going to use at the end of my sermon yesterday.  However God led me in a different direction, but I thought I might still share it here.

In so many cases the church in the West is just a hapless social club - if we're honest can we really say we are impacting and changing the local community around us?  I think every church may on a small scale - certain groups or ministries within a local church do a good job, but on the whole we could be having such a bigger impact.

This song "Asleep in the Light" has the most challenging lyrics of any song I think I've ever listened too. The truth about the church Keith Green saw around him (and in some cases it is still very true today) sinks to the core of who I am, and wanting to make sure that I am never like that.

It really has made me think, what is the true impact the church is having right at this time in Australia?

Sheep and Goats

I preached on Matthew 25:31-46 yesterday morning, Jesus talking about the day of judgement and separating the nations like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  It's such a powerful passage and gives a clear idea of the results of our faith.  The natural outflow of living a Christ-centred life is that you do all that Jesus tells the sheep they did.

It's not legalism, or works based salvation; it is a clear indicator of someone who has put their full faith in the one who saved them and proclaims him as Lord.

I used the following Keith Green clip to do the reading and intro the sermon.  Love it!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Friday morning focus.

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. 
(Luke 8:4-15 ESV)

I've been meditating a lot on this parable and its explanation this week. My conclusion is that only those in the good soil are actually saved... so many times in Western Christianity we try and make it 'easier' for us to say we are true Christians.  However in every case other than the good soil the plant dies.  Tie it with other parables like the Sheep and Goats (Matt 25) and you see that producing fruit is a natural bi-product of true Christianity. If you are being 'choked' by the world, or you're on rocky ground this morning, honestly check your commitment to loving Jesus.  Are you just pretending, giving him lip service to appease those around you?  

Are you saying you're a Christian because you don't want to be punished for you sin? Or because you want to be freed from your sin?  So many people just don't want the punishment, but still want to control what they do, and be allowed to sin.  Jesus said turn from your sin, and do it no more.  Jesus' offer is better.  It's the good soil.  We just have to make sure that our lives are responding to his love, not a presumed get out of jail free card (cause it's not).

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Personal Update

Just thought I'd mention that a week or so ago I completed the process to become a registered pastor as part of the Baptist Union of Queensland.  After a fairly long process of writing out my doctrine of faith, having a full psychological assessment (of which I was found to be abnormally well balanced I'd like to add...) and many other things, it all accumulated in what has been dubbed the "7 deadly doors".  One Friday all those who were at the final stage of registration went through interview day; 7 interviews over about 4 hours on all different aspects of ministry and personal spiritual lifestyle.  At the end of those 7 interviews we were told if we had been accepted by the registration reviewers.

I'm happy to say I was, and found the entire experience quite affirming.  I couldn't deny God's call on my life, so felt that the whole process must affirm that (who are the Baptists to tell God what to do eh?), yet to actually go through and find that was just one more level of seeing the call God has placed on my life.

Prayer for healing...

How then should we pray regarding physical illness? Certainly it is right to ask God for healing, for Jesus tells us to pray. "Deliver us from evil" (Matt 6:13), and the apostle John writes to Gaius, "I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in health:" (3 John 2).  Moreover, Jesus frequently healed all who were brought to him, and he never sent people away, telling them it would be good for them to remain ill for a longer time!  In addition to this, whenever we take any kind of medicine or seek medical help for an illness, by those actions we admit that we think it to be God's will that we seek to be well. If we thought that God wanted us to continue in our illness, we would never seek medical means for healing! So when we pray it seems right that our first assumption, unless we have specific reason to think otherwise, should be that God would be pleased to heal the person we are praying for - as far as we can tell from Scripture, this is God's revealed will...
How then should we pray Certainly it is right to ask God for healing, and we should go to him with the simple request that he give physical healing in time of need.  James warns us that simple unbelief can lead to prayerlessness and failure to receive answers from God: "You do not have, because you do not ask" (James 4:2).  But when we pray for healing we should remember that we must pray for God to be glorified in the situation, whether he chooses to heal or not.  And we also ought to pray out of the same compassion of heart that Jesus felt for those whom he healed.  When we pray this way, God will sometimes - and perhaps often - gran answers to our prayers.
Wayne Grudem "Systematic Theology" p 10066-1067
The thing I like about this quote is that when we are praying that God be glorified we are acknowledging that even if someone's physical body fails God's glory is much greater... his gift of forgiveness is enough, and our physical well being is an added blessing.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Crazy Love - Chapter Five

BOOM.  What a smashing chapter! Even this video is a sucker punch to our luke-warm/materialistic/Australianised faith. I hope this chapter and this video really encourages you to strive to follow Jesus even more.

Remember it's not about legalism, and having to do something for our salvation.  Instead it's about understanding the crazy love God has for us, and what he did so we can relate to him, because then our response should be with our own crazy love; leaving no room for luke-warmness.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Planned events...

Why do we need 'planned events' to be seen as doing ministry?  Last night our plans for youth group were to simply go and hang at the Settlement Cove Lagoon down at Redcliffe. Parents were invited as well so we were a slightly larger group, but all I had planned was to turn up there and let people do what they wanted.  I think it worked well. I didn't feel the need to organise games, or have a set structure for how things go.  The whole idea was just to let fellowship happen naturally.  It did, and I thought it was good, yet it's funny how people expect you to have specific plans for how the 'event' will run.

Initially I think both the youth and some of the parents felt a little uncomfortable when left to come up with what they'd do on their own.  Actually some of the parents kind of tried to lay down some structure, yet once we were able to move past that I think we had a good and comfortable time together - and it didn't feel forced.

I'm all up for doing more of that... I just hope people don't think I'm being slack for not planning huge 'events' - I just think fellowship happens better naturally.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Friday morning focus

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. 
(Philippians 2:14-18 ESV)

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