Monday, 31 December 2012

Final thought for 2012

John Piper (2005): "I am forgiven by faith alone, and I have the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith alone, and now I have the Holy Spirit within me by faith alone, so now I will continue to make my focus Jesus Christ every day, and I will look to him for everything my soul craves. And from my union with Christ, nurtured hour by hour by focusing on Christ as my great Savior and mighty Lord and infinite Treasure, I will love people. Christ will be my focus, love will be my fruit."

Friday, 28 December 2012

Where was God in 2012?

Great post on Desiring God today about our reflection on where God is. We so often look at the negative but just think about this...
How can God be righteous and do so much good to us who are so unrighteous?
Where was God in 2012?
Where was God when nine million planes landed safely in the United States?
Where was God when the world revolved around the sun so accurately that it achieved the Winter solstice perfectly at 5:12 AM December 21 and headed back toward Spring?
Where was God when the President was not shot at a thousand public appearances?
Where was God when American farms produced ten million bushels of corn, and 2.8 million bushels of soybeans — enough food to sell $100 billions worth to other nations?
Where was God when no terrorist plot brought down a single American building or plane or industry?
Where was God when the sun maintained its heat and its gravitational pull precisely enough that we were not incinerated or frozen?
Where was God when three hundred million Americans drank water in homes and restaurants without getting sick?
Where was God when no new plague swept away a third of our race?
Where was God when Americans drove three trillion accident free miles?
Where was God when over three million healthy babies were born in America?
Go to to see the whole article.

Friday morning focus

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Revelation 22:16-21 ESV

Last Friday of 2012, and so here are the last verses of our Scripture, they look forward with great blessings and promises.  Praise Jesus.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Disputing Historical Jesus

Here's an interesting article for your to read on Christmas Eve.  From the ABC Australia website
"It is time for the evangelists of unbelief to give up the nonsense that the figure at the heart of Christianity may have never even lived. 
There are plenty of good arguments against the world's largest religion, but claiming Jesus never walked the roads of Galilee isn't one of them. To make such a claim is to turn what should be a world heavyweight contest into a lightweight sideshow..."
Go and see the entire article here... it's a good read.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

My Christmas Fruit Cake

I mentioned I was baking a cake yesterday, well here it is - a little proud of the effort, and a lot relieved it actually worked :-)

Merry Christmas

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Our community is like a fruitcake...

Former WMAC students may well shudder when reading the title of this post. When I was at high school the fruitcake was the favourite analogy of our principal.  Time and time again we would hear that our school was like a fruitcake - I'm sure each new year level thought it was a good comparison but after 5 years, when we were in grade 12, we knew it by heart.

I think the main idea was that a fruitcake is made up of a whole multitude of different ingredients.  Even once joined together you can still see the individual ingredients (well most of them) but it is the unity which forms the cake.  I remember by grade 12 we had realised that there were lots of nuts in our high school cake (most of them teachers...) and we use to fight about who got to be the cherry on top.

But today as I made my own fruitcake - for Christmas - I was reminded of Mr Claridge's analogy and after so many years I can see how dBay Baptist is a bit like a fruitcake too (yes even with the nuts :-p)... but not only that the whole church is fruitcake like, because we all work and minister as individuals - people still see single Christians - but it is our unity that holds the Church together.  Even more so, God's love and grace, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the very heart of our fruitcake (or possibly that cherry on top for all to see).

Merry Christmas.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Friday morning focus

Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.
When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”
When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Revelation 6 ESV

I highly doubt today is going to mark the end of the world. But one day Jesus will come back.  Revelation gives many images of things that will take place at that time, and there are many interpretations. Yet this paints a picture of a time (which we may well be in right now) that shows much hurt, pain and disaster before Jesus returns to bring peace.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Only choice: a response.

John Piper: “Obedience does not consist in paying God back and thus turning grace into a trade. Obedience comes from trusting in God for more grace — future grace — and thus magnifying the infinite resources of God’s love and power.”
Everywhere I turn at the moment I am being reminded that we need to be asking God for more of him, more of his grace.  Again and again I see how little I can do to influence my salvation.  Not even obedience measures up.  All we can do is respond... respond to God's love and his gift.  Our worship is a response, our obedience is a response (and also part of our worship).

All we can do is glorify God's name, through our words, actions and obedience - like Piper says, that then magnifies his name and the 'infinite resources' of his love.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Some days are hard...

...some days are just plain awesome!

Took a gaggle of the youth from dBay Baptist to the beach today (yes I believe the official name for a group of teenagers should be a 'gaggle' :-p).  It was a good day at the beach, but even a better day for just hanging out in a casual way and building relationship.  I think just spending time with each other (it doesn't have to be in super serious study of the Bible all the time) is really important.

And did I miss being in my office all day??? Not too much to be honest :-)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Mind over heart...

This is so true for many Christians today.  It is not a case of horribly sinning, but a case of just doing nothing of worth.
I believe the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man's mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God.
~Don Millar - Blue Like Jazz

Have a relaxing Christmas

Merry Christmas - don't over exert yourselves

Friday, 14 December 2012

Friday morning focus

But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. 
Galatians 2:17-21 ESV

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Grace Through Ourselves

As Christians we believe that because of the cross we are saved by God's grace.  It is grace alone that gives us peace with God - so does the idea of self examination, or then rejoicing in our gifts and talents point to an attitude of 'works based faith'?   Should we simply refer back to God's grace and Jesus without ever looking at ourselves?  Some would say yes, but I think there is a good opportunity to display the grace Jesus brought through looking at our own actions.

Neither self-denial (a repudiation of our sins) nor self-affirmation (an appreciation of God's gifts) is a dead end of self-absorption. On the contrary, both are means to self-sacrifice.  Self-understanding should lead to self-giving.The community of the cross is essentially a community of self-giving love, expressed in the worship of God... and the service of others... It is to this that the cross consistently and insistently calls us.
~John Stott - The Cross of Christ p330

Just as Stott says, when self-denial and self-affirmation are aligned as a means to self-sacrifice not self-absorption then the focus remains, and in fact, highlights God's grace.  In looking at our own actions in a humble and selfless manner we are actually referring back to Jesus just as we should be.  Christmas and the end of the year is a usual time of reflection.  When you do so, make sure you allow your reflections to bring glory to God,.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The utmost importance of grace.

“The grandest discourse ever delivered is an ostentatious failure if the doctrine of the grace of God be absent from it.” - Charles Spurgeon

Monday, 10 December 2012

Where is the focus, on the essence or the form?

I have been exposed to many 'forms' of worship over the years.  Not any one had quite felt a complete fit for me, but some have allowed me to express my true feelings more than others.  Now as a pastor I find myself overseeing parts of worship, usually with people who have completely different forms of doing it than I would.  It has been very challenging, and for me this quote of John Pipers has become increasingly true.

"Few of us have had or will have the luxury of escaping the 'worship wars'. The 'wars' are usually waged over forms and styles, not overt the essence of what worship is.  But leading your people into the essence is all-important. So I want to call you to put your focus and energies in the most fruitful place for the glory of God. Focus on the essence not the form."
~John Piper - Brothers We are not Professionals

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Give Life

Watoto Child-care Ministries is one of my favourites. I love the ministry they provide to the orphaned kids of Uganda.  It's completely holistic, not only are kids fed, clothed and housed, but they receive a whole new family, a mother who will love them for life, as well as brothers and sisters. The Gospel is shown not just through preaching but through the life experience of such great Christian men and women.

We see the choirs here in Australia, but here's a video from Baby Watoto - the orphanage that provides for kids who are two young to go into the villages.  Watch the video and remember each of these kids has come from complete poverty, lost one or both parents to AIDS or war.  Watch and have your heart warmed as these kids are being given life!

So good.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Friday morning focus.

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:1-5 ESV)

All Scripture points to Jesus - some much more obviously than others - this is one of my favourites.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Looking up to someone.

I've been a 'youth pastor' for almost a year now.  My role at Deception Bay is wider than just youth, but that's where most of my responsibilities lie, and where most of my pastoral relationships have formed.  What I've noticed most is how much young people search for others to look up to.  I am constantly hearing the latest news about different sports people, singers, or movie stars - young people are constantly watching people they admire and, whether they understand or realise it themselves, they begin to emulate those people.

What is sad is how bad a role model a lot of these people are.  Teens are just doing what is natural to their social development, but it is the adults (or even teens these days) who are in the spotlight who let the whole thing down.

For Christians I think there's an even greater element.  How can we expect someone who does not have a Gospel base to be a proper example of life for our Christian teens? It doesn't matter how much charity work they do, how many African kids they adopt, money they give away, people they house or feed... or if they don't drink, swear or fight - they still don't live a life aligned with the Gospel.  Jesus gave us the Gospel as a foundational truth for the entirety of our lives.  It's not an option, or a perspective, it is the truth.  There really can only be one truth (think about it, if there's more than one truth, then some part of each can not really be true... because if they differ then they cannot both be true), and the Gospel is that truth.

As a youth pastor I find the biggest weight on me is to be a proper example of a Gospel filled life. After a year I do see young people looking to me - and I don't feel special, or authoritative or especially gifted and skilled... I feel scared.  But then I realise that more than being a perfect example of a Gospel follower - I am a perfect example of God's grace.  I still stuff up, but because of the Gospel God's grace is sufficient.

If you are a Christian who interacts with young people - make sure you're willing to be an example (no matter your age) of God's grace.  Don't show young people what you can do on your own... show them what you can only do and be because of God.  Young people need examples like that to take the place of these famous people who simply can't be that example, because they don't understand that grace.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Inkeeper

Another Christmas video, but this is a must watch! John Piper wrote a poem about a fictional character, based on the Inkeeper from the Christmas Story.  This poem gives an idea of what it may have cost that man to let Mary and Joseph stay in the stable.  There's a part of the story in the Gospels that we can sometimes gloss over, and that is where Herod orders the murder of all the boys - how horrible that would have been.  And how much Jesus would have cared for those who had been hurt, just as he cares for all who hurt.
In the poem called The Innkeeper, I tried to imagine what might have happened when the soldiers came. And what Jesus might have said if he showed up 30 years later to talk to the innkeeper about it. It’s fiction. But its aim is truth and hope and joy.
~John Piper
It is a powerful poem.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Crazy Love - Chapter Ten

Here's the final video for our Crazy Love studies.  Hopefully these videos have added extra depth as you've read through the book.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Narrow Path

I'm just watching the V8 Supercar qualifying at Homebush on the road course in Sydney and what is really apparent to the need for the drivers to all stay on a very specific path as they navigate the circuit.  You see it had been raining just before the cars all went out so the track was wet.

All the drivers started on 'wet tires' (tires with a grooved tread to displace the water), but within a few laps the tires had done their job, moving the water to the side an a distinct dry line appeared.  The rest of the track was still wet but one narrow (barley a car width wide) path had dried out because of the cars all following the same path.

Drivers then came in and put their normal tires on, and when they headed back out it was very important for them to keep on that dry line.  Their slick tires couldn't handle any wet track and the slightest deviation from the best path round the circuit meant instant loss of traction, a slow lap time and for some a hard hit into a concrete wall.

28 cars on the track and only 1 line.  Only a few could get it right, it lead to a very mixed up top 10, some of the best drivers in Australia missed the line and were slow.

It got me thinking, we've all heard the Christian life called the narrow path - Jesus himself defined it as such.  And when we look at life as a whole maybe those the world sees as the 'best', the most professional, gifted and able don't actually find the narrow path.   For us as Christians we should be looking for others on the narrow path for guidance, and example - not just those who have earnt their fame away from the path.

Also just like the slightest deviation caused the V8 drivers this morning to wreck their lap times, so does any sin cause us drastic deviation from the narrow path.  Thankfully God's grace is sufficient  but we need to be aware of the exact path we need to follow when we're following Jesus.
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