Monday, 30 December 2013

Truth is truth

"I the LORD do not change." –God. When we disagree with God, one side is gonna have to change their mind…and it's not going to be God.


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I enjoy following Mark Driscoll on Twitter... sometimes his rants are just funny, but then there are these ones that just make you stop and think.  One of the things I see most as a pastor these days is people who just out and out disagree with what the Bible says and don't seem to comprehend why they can't just have their own version of Christianity that suits them.

Truth is truth... no matter what a post-modern world thinks.  Either you say God is truth or you don't.  If you don't then you're not following a Christian faith.  In some ways I'd rather people own that and walk away saying they don't believe the truth... than try and warp and infect Christian faith with selfish, human or social thoughts and beliefs.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Faith or Popularity

"I very much doubt if it is possible to be faithful and popular at the same time. I fear we have to choose." John Stott
From the context I wonder if John Stott is only talking about the world, but to some extent also in the Church. It seems in many churches today that a drive for popularity often overrides a desire for faithfulness.   It's an obvious observation when talking about the world - of course they won't hold up faith views as popular.  But it is a scary proposition when we move inside the walls of the church... that faithful actions would be deemed unpopular would be a sign of unhealthy believers. Once again we must check ourselves, because the on;y person we can really change is ourselves.

I pray I stay faithful no matter what.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
(Luke 2:4-7, ESV)
With such simple prose we are introduced to Jesus - God, who became man, so that He could bring the world back into relationship with him, saving us all.

Being human was the ultimate act of humbleness for God - can you imagine seeing the throne of heaven and the glory of God and choosing to leave that to experience all that there is to human life... beginning in the womb of his mother - how humbling... how confining... what a sacrifice.

But there would be more to come...
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
                    “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:8-14, ESV)
The angels knew the reason for the birth of this child.  The angels had been there when Adam and Eve disobeyed and began the cycle of sin which has wreaked havoc on the world ever since.  The angels would have seen the pain on the creators face, they had witnessed the continued history of man, as it turned from God again and again.  Then this night they saw God come to earth, to right the wrong, to bring peace to those who will have faith... and they can't contain themselves, they praise his name and shepherds witness this so they explain what is going on.  The Christ is here - a Saviour who will conquer sin and death.

This Christmas let's remember that... The Christ is here!  We know what he did to save us, so let's allow our own joy and thankfulness and praise to overflow just like the angels did on that night.  Let's praise His name forever!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Breakup 2013

It was great to be able to hire out the Deception Bay swimming pool for our youth and kids ministries breakup this year.  We had 160 people, some from the church and others family of kids who come along to our kids club. It was a great time of sharing together.

I made a video with my new GoPro to help celebrate the night.  Check it out.


Rejuvenating

I have not posted a blog in a fair amount of time.

If you are a friend on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter (or Instagram), you will have seen all about my amazing trip to the United States through November.  It was great to have a break, and a very distinct one by heading about as far away as you could possibly get from my work.  I think I really needed it, not just a holiday, but a distinct break and disconnection for a few weeks to have time to myself.

Part of that break was a conscience decision not to blog during those 3 1/2 weeks in the States, my devotional times and theological considerations were for my own personal gain, without processing them in a way to share with others.  Sometimes I feel my initial thought when God says something to me is to think about how I can communicate it to others.  I purposely wanted to listen to what He said to me... for me.  I don't think I did a very good job if I am honest, but it has begun a habit in my life I want to develop now I am back.

I think that processing and developing is why I haven't dived back into blogging when I got home.  I am still trying to work through things God spoke to me about while I was away, and also what He's saying as we come to Christmas this year.  Ministry and life are colliding big time, but I thank God that the holiday in November was so rejuvenating.

I feel able to cope with all that's going on, and see a bit of a vision for what is to come - and I think that's all because I had such a good break.  It's not perfect, but I feel God might be laying out things for me to do in the coming year and beyond and I am resolved to follow Him.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

3 weeks leave

I am about to embark on a bit of an adventure. I have just over 3 weeks off work and am heading off to the USA.

I am going to stay with good friends Dan and Suzie Potter in Atlanta. Duzie come and help run TeenStreet each year so I am excited to go and see them on their home turf.  After a week in Atlanta I am road tripping up to Nashville and then across to Gatlinburg up in the Great Smokey Mountains.

Then I'll fly to New York before driving down to Washington D.C.  I will have about 4 nights in each place, doing the tourist thing through the days.

Some of the things I am looking forward to...

  • Visiting some big American Churches (Passion City, with Louie Giglio in Atlanta; Redeemer Presbyterian, with Tim Keller in New York; and Capital Hill Baptist, with Mark Dever in Washington).
  • Going to the Dukes of Hazard museum run by Ben 'Cooter' Jones from the TV series in Gatlinburg.
  • Visiting the World Trade Centre memorial in New York
  • Seeing the New York Rangers play the Boston Bruins on the ice of Madison Square Garden
  • The Aviation Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington.
I have other things planned to, but will be doing things pretty spontaneously.  I am hoping to meet some people in New York I have only ever met online through photography pages and friends and am looking forward to spending some time on my own, just enjoying something I have never experienced before.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Gospel Gripped Leader

A few weeks back I went to the NEO Leader conference here in Brisbane.  Adam Ramsey (from Mars Hill in Seattle) spoke about being a Gospel Gripped Leader.  Add to that the elective I went to by Joe Khan on having Gospel Centred ministries and I have had many thoughts running around my head which I've wanted to process here.

As a Christian Leader I feel I have a much bigger 'purpose' and 'drive' than your everyday leader.  There are so many books and seminars out there on leadership but as a Christian leader I find all of them lack a key element that I work towards.  That is that I, being a pastor, have a Gospel identity which in turn creates a Gospel activity which I am leading.  This is a totally different focus, and gives a completely different goal to worldly leadership.

1 Corinthians 15:1-5 holds a clear description of this Gospel I am alluding to...

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

To me the Gospel is simply this, that Jesus was punished for our sins (in our place) that He experienced death (was buried) in our place, and that He was raised so that we can have a new life in Him.  As the verse above says this is what I have received, and what I consider the first importance in everything I do as a pastor.

With that in mind the 3 points Adam Ramsey made at the conference really hit home.

The Gospel Gripped Leader always has the track on repeat.

We don't tell people the Gospel and then move on.  It's not about 'getting the basics' then worrying about other stuff.  All I ever want to see my youth and my congregation do is go deeper into the Gospel. I will preach the Gospel in every sermon, I will mention it every Friday night - in fact to the best of my ability I try and preach the Gospel to myself every single day.  I never get sick of it - I see it as the core value for my entire life - so just as Paul reminds the church again, I will do so again and again.

The Gospel Gripped Leader sees Christ as their 'there'.

Are we there yet?  We all know the question, and I am sure at some point we have all asked it.  I'll be 'there' when I finish school, or graduate college, or get that promotion or car or house or relationship...  As ministers maybe our 'there' is a certain number attending youth group on a Friday night, or certain people growing and becoming leaders, or a book series, larger building, better sound system?  We're always searching for a 'there', but Christ is our 'there' - once we find Him then everything else is just a bonus.  We aren't just given a map to find a route to somewhere we want... but we are given a person to follow continuously.  With that in mind our whole existence is our 'there' because we follow Jesus.

The Gospel Gripped Leader knows they are not awesome... but Jesus is!!

My leadership isn't based on how well I perform.  My ministry isn't rated on how well I do. My desire for self reliance to do my job is essentially an anti-Gospel, because I am not capable of doing Gospel ministry.  I am not, but I know I AM.  Jesus is God, He is awesome, He is the I AM of Scriptures. I know the I AM - I know Christ, and though I am not awesome, I know Jesus and it is not I who does the work, because I can only really do it through Jesus.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Starting tonight - This Man Jesus

The very center of the Christian idea must be an understanding of who the person of Jesus really is. Jesus is the one we have faith in, follow, worship, commit to and love. His act on the cross is the focus point of our faith and our lives revolve around the grace we received because of His substitutional sacrifice for us.


Over three sermons in our evening services during October we are going to take a specific look at this man Jesus – the center of our faith. We will look specifically at the person of Christ, grasping a theological understanding of Christology (the study of who Jesus is).

  • October 6th: The Divinity of Jesus 
  • October 20th: The Humanity of Jesus
  • October 27th: The Unity in the Person of Christ 

Come along at 5:30pm each Sunday evening to be part of this exciting and passionate series.

Sunday morning choices...

I guess this is more a question to fellow Pastors regarding Sunday mornings...

I often wonder if I am doing the right thing before a service on a Sunday morning.  There is a small prayer gathering right before the service, but I find that is the time most of the congregation are arriving and it is the perfect opportunity for me to stand near the door, greet and converse with a wide range of people.

I understand the importance of dedicating our services to God, and the essential need for dependent prayer, but as the Pastor I feel it's too worthwhile to greet and talk with people than to not be visible and present by sliding into another room to pray.  I admit feeling torn though... and wonder if my own personal prayer and reflection of a Sunday morning is enough.

So what do you do? How do you balance it?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Which Jesus when?

Jesus likens us to sheep and him/God/the Kingdom like a shepherd a couple of times during the gospels.  But as I think of two stories in particular I see two very different illustrations.
"If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?" (Matt 18:12 ESV)
and
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27, ESV)
So I see the idea of going out and finding the one who is lost.  Searching high and low for the one that went astray and celebrating when it is found.  But there is also the idea that the sheep know the Master, they follow Him, and so if one strays away does it really know Him.  And is there a point where the Master realises that person wasn't really a sheep and so maybe doesn't go searching?

As a Pastor it's something I am struggling with.  I can see that the kingdom is like the 99 sheep, and it's just not complete because someone is missing. So we strive and search for that one person to come to faith.  But, as a Pastor, do I put as much effort into striving after someone who is clearly ignoring the Master's voice and going off on their own.  Is there a point where the Pastor must focus on those who do listen.

I will always be waiting and willing to share with and talk to anyone who is in need, wants guidance or has faith questions... but I don't think I can pursue someone who doesn't want to be found.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

...had to share this Paul Colman video too...

Don't you love how YouTube just leads you from one video to the next...

Saw this one of Paul singing "Fill My Cup" with his daughters and just had to share it.

Enjoy.


One Thing!

I was questioning a lot this morning.  I was journaling and processing a lot of stuff and suddenly noticed in the background Paul Colman's song "One Thing" was playing.  I was able to stop and be affirmed by the words of the song.  To mediate that;
"Only one thing doesn't change,
Only one thing stays the same.
All I know at the end of the day is
You love remains, yeah!"
So I thought I'd find a video of the song to share with everyone.  Just know that no matter what goes on in life, what causes you to questions... the one thing I don't question is You! You really love me like You say You do!


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Walk Humbly

"You desire big things, but they come in little steps. Walk humbly before Him and you will see his plans unfold"   

Someone wrote me a little note quite a few years back which included that little bit of a quote.  Last night I was praying and (if I am honest) having a time of question God with where I am at.  I finished and looked down and somehow this letter had fallen out of my Bible and was sitting right in front of me.  It was an instant answer to prayer.

I am drawn once again to that idea of walking humbly before Him... I'm not sure how well I've done that recently, but I understand my own attitude is my biggest hindrance most of the time, and possibly has stopped me from getting some of the things I desire in my life.

Giving up again and handing back to God - wish I didn't keep grasping back at control.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Malyon Leadership Article - Gospel-Centred Leadership

Just about every movement, personality and church has embraced this as a description of their ministry. However, the problem of uncritically embracing the latest buzz-word is that often we re-badge everything but just keep doing what we were always doing… all that changes is the buzz-word. So we move from purpose driven… to missional… to gospel-centred… without really changing anything. I guess my goal in this article is to investigate one question: What difference should being truly gospel-centred make to our leadership
This post on the Malyon Leadership Blog, written by Joe Khan, really tackles the idea of actually modelling your life/ministry/leadership around the Gospel, and not just labeling yourself to keep up with the trend.

I have used the term 'Gospel-centred' a lot and I hope that the way I do things reflects that I actually believe my life needs to be 100% Gospel centred.

Go have a look, feel the challenge and take on God's purpose for the Gospel!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

In turn we need to turn back too...

"Adam turned from the Father in the garden Eden; Jesus turned to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane. #identity #inChrist"
~Mark Driscoll

This was on Mark's Twitter feed today - it's a nice simple reminder of the work Jesus has done for us.  Though He knew the pain and suffering to come He did not turn away... even though mankind turned away when everything was perfect.

So now, us as rotten people who turn away can turn back to God - because Jesus never turned away.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Cutting what we give, not what we keep.

It's a sad reflection on the heart and selfish nature of our nation that when cuts need to be made to stop our national deficit we cut the money we give to those who have nothing.  We keep such a huge portion of Australia's GPA for our own use, and give away a minute amount - but one of the biggest cuts the Liberal party has put forward in their costing for their term if elected comes from that already small amount we give away.

Some people wonder why we should give any of our GPA away to people outside Australia, but I just think that's being generous, caring and a good steward of wealth. No one can argue we do it bad here in Australia, you can't argue that when you compare our lifestyle to those we have been previously giving this money too.  Yes I know there are issues of corruptness with how some of the money is used, but that is a call to make sure we help the people who need it... not to simply stop giving.

As an Australian I am concerned for those in the rest of the world who live in poverty. I give lots of my personal money away to those people, but I feel our nation is not using its wealth in a generous and caring way.

If you feel the same then follow this link to the Baptist World Aid's website and sign a letter being sent to our probably new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Australian Election 2013

I am confused.

I am frustrated.

I am at a point if I am wondering how much I really care, because I am not sure of what change if any will really happen and if my vote really matters.

However watching these videos has helped settle my mind a little.  From a Christian standpoint it answered a few questions I had.  These are the two major addresses specifically to Christians that were part of the ACL's live candidates panel webcast, which was streamed earlier this week.

I post them so maybe they can help you if you're feeling like me at the moment, and I post both videos out of a desire to remain candid and unbiased here online.



Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's address to Christians at the Make it Count 2013 Election Panel webcast from Australian Christian Lobby on Vimeo.



Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's 3 minute video address to Christians from Australian Christian Lobby on Vimeo.

Monday, 2 September 2013

This is still an issue... will it ever be resolved?

Here's a blog I posted on the 20th Sept 2007.  Yet with another election looming it is still one of the key political play points.  But as a church have we done anything about it?

Sheep or Goat?
Matthew 25:43 "I was a stranger and you did not invite me in..."How do you think Jesus feels about the hundreds of strangers in our land who are locked up in Detention Centres?
"...I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."Where does that leave us who ignore those same people? We mightn't be able to get them out of Detention Centres, but that doesn't leave us off the hook does it????

Looking like a Christian.

Preached Ephesians 4:17-32 last night as part of our New Identity series.  God calls us, expects us and wants us to live different lives when we find our identity in Christ. He calls us to draw a line in the sand and choose to live a different life.

Why?
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. (Ephesians 4:17-19, ESV)
Paul shows us that living with our old, 'original', identity is totally worthless and useless.  He shows us the life of the person who isn't in Christ is defined by the natural state the find themselves in away from God. Their minds are darkened, their thinking futile.  They have hard hearts which causes them not to want to know the truth. All of this causes their conscious to loose its sensitivity to sin.  People who find their identity away from Christ lose their ability to feel guilt about what they do wrong. Initially they may feel the pang of guilt, but as they continue to ignore it that pang get's less and less.  Guilt is actually a part of us which God created so that we might realise our wrong and know Him and His grace. So as those IN CHRIST we have to draw that line in the sand because we can see how futile and worthless any other life is.

How?
But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24, ESV)
When you become a Christian there is a fundamental change which takes place... a new life begins... a whole new identity is formed and created which we find ourselves in - losing our old identity.  But in many ways it isn't an instant transformation... salvation wise yes, we are instantly affected, saved by grace... but in terms of our nature, our ability to live like Jesus... there is no instant answer where we become perfect in a moment. It would be nice, but that's not how it works.  Paul uses the word 'taught' over and over again in this part of the passage. We have 'heard' about Jesus, been taught according to 'Jesus' truths', shown how our old identity is worthless and the worth of living IN CHRIST.

With that in mind we must acknowledge the importance of placing ourselves in an environment where we can continue to be taught... to see what Christ has done for us, to experience the Holy Spirit in our lives and to be part of something that shows us what the renewing of our mind is all about.  Because the fact is that all believer's minds change when they become Christians - the Holy Spirit renews the mind, we think differently.  We need to experience this, be trained in it and exercise it.

What?

So what does one who identifies as IN CHRIST look like?
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:25-32, ESV)
So Christians tell the truth, control their anger, work hard and don't steal, encourage others and are kind and compassionate.  Paul very plainly and simply outlines what the nature of one who has this new identity looks like.  It's not a means to salvation, we don't have to do it to be saved... but it is a result of finding our identity in Christ, because Christ first treated us in the same way!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Disappointed in the World We Live In.

After seeing the rot that went on at the MTV Award show on the news last night I was left with quite a distasteful sense of the portrayal of life our world is giving to young people today.

This article sums up very well the emotions I felt when learning of the new low Miley has gone to in her misguided pursuit of individualism and fame.
"For the rest of the day, I wondered: 
What kind of people are we?
What kind of culture have we created?
What do we want our children to be? 
No more wondering. Tonight, I weep.
I weep for the little girl who gave us Hannah Montana and became a role model to millions of little girls across America.
I weep for the lostness of a girl who doesn't see herself stumbling around in the dark..."
The article continues, but it is that sense of weeping - just being totally bewildered to the extent of speechlessness - that I felt as I saw this story, and others coming from the show.  Entertainment services feed on this stuff, they dress it up as important news and feed it to our teenagers.  It gives such a warped sense of the world to teens who are trying to find their place in the world.  Life isn't about exposing your body to get attention, or about shedding off every ounce of childishness and innocence to be seen as an individual, or about bitterly belittling ex-boyfriends to show how much power you have.

I think Aston Kutcher said it pretty well at the recent Teen Choice awards (yeah Aston... who would have thought) when he questioned the focus of the lifestyle presented today.
"The sexiest thing in the whole world is being really smart. And being thoughtful, and being generousness. Everything else is crap! I promise you, it's just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don't buy it.  Be smart, be thoughtful, be generous..."

Friday, 9 August 2013

Is blogging more for me or you?

Hi reader.

I have had a tough week, with many things going on that have left thoughts playing in my mind and taking up much of my focus.  Many times I had thought to jump on here to vent, or share emotions or just to write out some of the thoughts in a hope that it would help clear out my mind.

Yet I began to wonder, is that the right thing to do? Writing has always helped me, and for many years this blog played a role almost as my diary.  Getting people's comments helped me process things so I welcomed communication.

As a pastor thought I am increasingly aware that this is a very public profile.  Many people comment in person on what they read here, and sometimes they convey an idea that a pastor should be careful the impression he gives to people.  Personally I haven't posted anything on here I am not happy for everyone to know - I don't want to be a robot programmed to gain people's affection, or programmed to act how people expect, because to be honest I am me, and am happy to be talked to about any of my ideas.

Over this past 12 months this blog has evolved, and is now a much more ministry focused place.  In that sense I feel the shift that the posts are now much more for the reader than they are for me.  I still get joy from writing, but this can no longer act as a diary of sorts.  That may mean blogs are less frequent, and more thought out instead of spontaneous thought processes, but hopefully they help you, the reader, to focus your faith and mission in this life IN CHRIST!

I'll just go back to the old hand written diary I can hide away in my desk draw :-)

Friday, 2 August 2013

Stuck yet Saved...

I heard this story a few weeks ago, and shared it in a sermon.

Two brothers were playing down by a river. They loved playing down there because of the giant sand embankment that had been built as flood protection years before.  However on this day, because of some rain, or drainage, or just a freak natural occurrence the boys found themselves in trouble when they fell into a pond of quick sand.

Late in the afternoon the boys parents realised their sons hadn't returned and a search party was gathered and sent out to find them.  After a while they came across the youngest brother standing knee deep in the sand.

"Are you alright?" one of the rescuers asked.

"Yes I am ok, but I am stuck" replied the little boy.

"Where's your brother?"

The little boy replied, "I am standing on his shoulders."

The older boy sacrificed his life to save his little brother.  Just like Jesus sacrificed Himself to save us.  Yet we have even more in common with that little boy.  Just like him we are still stuck in sin.  We might be saved from it, we might be standing on Jesus' shoulders, but just like the little brother there still seems to be no way to get ourselves unstuck.

Some days I feel like I am up to my neck in quicksand, not just my knees - the weight of sin just seems to suck me down sometimes.  I get drawn in, I fail, I indulge and then realise I shouldn't have, I lose grip and fall, so many different ways to sin, so many times I realise I am still stuck.

But because of Jesus I am still saved.  I realise I have a foundation that keeps my head from being sucked under. I can stand on Him and know I am safe.

Those rescuers didn't leave the boy in the sand, just because he was saved from drowning.  They found rope and they pulled him out so he was completely saved.  One day we can look forward to that as well. Jesus will return and all those in Christ will be given new bodies and live with Him forever, where sin will have no place.  So not only am I saved... one day I will be saved completely.  There is great hope in that, and a perspective of eternity to grasp when I realise how stuck I still am today.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Some thoughts on evangelism in the church today.

Yesterday I went to a seminar session with Dennis Pethers along with a heap of other Baptist Pastors to investigate this idea of 'Turning a Community Contact into a Faith Conversation'.

As a pastor I find the majority of my interactions throughout the week are with other Christians so I see the importance of being able to effectively talk about my faith with the few community contacts I have.  It's very easy for me to concentrate on teaching 'my people' and overlook everyone else.  I wonder if this comes from one of the initial points Dennis made yesterday.  That our churches these days seem to have a 'come to us' attitude instead of a 'go to them' one.

Even with a 'come to us' attitude are we doing a good job? Dennis shared about his first experiences of church as a 19 year old who had encountered Jesus through the Word and a workmate (and was trying to find his place a a follower of Christ in the church), and he didn't get most of what happened inside the church building.  I look at how we do things and wonder how people would feel if they had never experienced church before. In many cases I think they'd be at least confused, if not completely freaked out by some of the things we do.  So even though we think others outside the church should come and see what we do to be affected by the Gospel, I am scared that those few who actually do come get chased off by our own focus on the rites of our Christianity.

Yet when we do get outside our walls, off out to engage the community, what does it look like? Another point I resonated with Dennis on yesterday is this concept Christians have of evangelism today... it is still very much thought of as persuading someone to make a decision.  "...will you follow Christ?" "...will you give your life to Jesus?" "...can you accept that Jesus died on the cross for you?"  They are all pointed questions hammering a decision onto someone who may not have actually encountered Jesus - so doesn't understand exactly who He is.

All that made me wonder how we can be more effectual in evangelism.  How does the notion of a 'faith conversation' compare to giving a tract and forcing a decision onto someone?  It just so happens I am preaching Ephesians 4 this week, and my study on that passage seems to relate.  As pastor I feel I am called to fill the lives of my people up with the Gospel - have them so connected to it, that their lives are immersed in Christ so they become the catalyst for ministry in the church.  Church is no longer 'come and see' but the people, full of the Gospel, 'go to them'.  The Church isn't a building, or even a gathering, but it is the people of God who are out in the community.  In schools, universities, shopping centres, workplaces, retirement homes... everywhere. That's the Church, and those people aren't laying down decision making opportunities, but are talking about what God is doing in their life, mentioning teaching and revelation they may receive on Sunday, describing God moving through a ministry they are involved in Friday night, essentially giving examples of Christ's work in His people to those who don't know Him, because in that way they are introduced to Jesus first - and that should make understanding what He did more deeply effecting, leading to more people giving their lives to Christ.

I think the days of standing on a corner with a Gospel tract, or preaching to strangers in the mall are finished. The main reason is that the underlying connotation of our society is no longer Bible based - 40 years ago even those who didn't have a faith, understood what the Bible was... knew the stories... realised that in some capacity the foundation of society was based on Biblical principles.  These days however that is certainly not the case.  We have this post-modern idea that truth is relative.  Each can find their own and there is no absolute truth - persisting with a decision persuasion doesn't work in this culture because people will simply decide 'no' and find their 'own truth'.

Today we need to illustrate an experience of who Jesus is, how He effects lives, how He is really the only true foundation.  That happens by going out, not staying in. It happens by living that experience on our Sunday mornings so if someone does happen to come in they aren't turned off by the socially awkward things we do. It happens by realising the church building isn't the centre of the community, but as a group we can spread into the entirety of our community as proceed to illustrate the Creator of the world to those who have no understanding of Him whatsoever.

Monday, 29 July 2013

A profound prayer...

Finished preaching the first 3 chapters of Ephesians last night.  The chapter ends with this amazing piece of Scripture.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:14-21, ESV)
I think I need to make this my prayer for my church... my prayer for my family... my prayer for my friends... the teens I've ministered too... new Christians I encounter... and even for me.

May God make this real for you as well.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Blown away by God's creation (yet again)

Check out this photo


Indonesian photographer Penkdix Palme, 27, captured the moment this tiny tree frog sheltered from the rain in his neighbour's back garden in the city of Jember in East Java, Indonesia.  
The tiny amphibian clung to the stem for around 30 minutes while wind and rain lashed at his precious shelter. The five centimetre frog appeared even to angle the makeshift umbrella towards the direction of the fierce downpour. 

Full Article Here

I always stop and worship when I see something in creation which marvels me about my Creator. How cool is this! Natural instinct is a God created thing, and His invisible qualities are here for us all to see, even in a tiny frog!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Serving the Local Church

Here's my Thought of the Week which I wrote for the church bulletin last Sunday.
“For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
(Matthew 25:29)

We know the parable of the talents. A master gives three different servants different amounts of wealth. With that wealth two use it to generate more wealth but one simply hides it and presents the same amount back to the master when he returns. He is called a wicked servant, what wealth he has is taken and given to another.

Teaching on this parable usually concludes with the idea that our faith equips us with the wealth of the Gospel and we are to go out and produce more wealth by spreading faith. Each servant began with a certain amount and it increased… just like faith increases as we share the Gospel. But it was those who took their initial amount and worked well with it who received more—their responsibility became greater after they had demonstrated their commitment to the work.

That’s why I feel our local church community is so important. It’s our initial working ground—the place we can take the initial wealth of our faith and put it into action. We don’t ask people to get involved at dBay Baptist because we just want to put people to work, or provide a cosy environment for us all… but we do it because it provides an opportunity for people to work well with the faith they have received. If you’re wanting to change the world for the Gospel, that’s great, but if you’re not working well with the initial portion of the wealth you've received then it’s unlikely the Master will give out more. Let’s all strive to be like the servant with 5 talents, not the servant with 1.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Be alive... don't turn to death.

Mark Driscoll tweeted this today.

"A Christian who sins because Jesus "has to" forgive is like a husband who cheats because his wife promised to love him no matter what."

Puts it in a stark reality doesn't it? So many times I hear young people say "I'll do what I want because God forgives me", but the hurt it causes just doesn't seem to compute.

We're studying Ephesians at the moment, and this week as we look at Ephesians 2 we'll see that not only are we IN CHRIST but we are ALIVE IN CHRIST.  It's pretty simply really... sin = death and Jesus = life.  That means that if you are alive in Christ then any sin is lingering death inside you... not a pretty picture!  Just like a wife (who may continue to love no matter what) is deeply hurt and damaged by an unfaithful husband... so God deeply grieves our sin, even though his love and forgiveness is eternal.

Don't cheat on God.

How does your life today impact your Creator?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Living Holy.

Where's the balance of remaining holy and taking ourselves way too seriously.

Just over the past few days I've either read on Facebook or blogs, or experienced myself people who have both been too flippant with their lifestyle and moved away from the holiness that comes through faith in Jesus, or on the other scale are so rigidly adherent to what they've read in the Bible that they appear to have lost contact with the world around them.

In some cases I see the point to both sides... in both cases I see the craziness of their actions too.

Is there a happy middle road?

What does a Gospel centred life really look like? Is it totally unrestricted... is it disciplined and rigid?

I try and be generous in all things and take most things as a shade of grey and not black and white.  In different situations I might come up with completely different answers for the same questions... I wonder if that's the right way to go about it sometimes though?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Where it all starts and ends...

Without the gospel we hate ourselves instead of our sin.
~Tim Keller

In everything I do I look for a Gospel impact or influence. From preaching to hanging out with teenagers on a Friday night.  The key to EVERYTHING is the Gospel, we just have to find out how!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A heart for service.

How can you expect God to entrust and empower you for world mission if you don't show that you can serve the local church?"

We were doing a bit of a TeenStreet wrap up last Sunday Night, it had been a great time of reflecting and celebrating and I was just finishing off the night by going through our daily declarations we'd made on camp.  We were talking about "May your Kingdom come THROUGH ME" and the idea of us following God's plan allows His name to be glorified - "Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven." (Matt 6:9-10).

As we talked about mission and the big things people want to do for God I was dwelling on where I was, where I'd been and how I have gotten here and this quote from above came from my lips.  The culture of today is one of fame - the desperate desire to be great, to be famous to do the big things... and I wonder if our Christian culture can be a little like this too?  The idea of overseas mission, or big youth events draw people who want to serve... but should they be serving if we hardly ever see them at church during the rest of the year?  I feel people can be drawn to big things not because they are serving God but because they are meeting their own personal need for 'feeling good' (this idea that serving does make us feel good, we become passionate about it because we feel good but maybe we loose the real meaning of service)

I know for myself I've had to pull back many times, because I have pursued things in the name of service but suddenly realised I was doing them either for something to name drop or put on my resume... or just because it made me feel good to do it.

Those with real hearts for service serve everywhere, and constantly.  I was challenged by the thought and in turn challenged my youth that serving in the church isn't a 'to-do list' thing, or a 'see I'm a good person' thing; instead it is a sign we're totally sold out to God, and we'll do what He says, whether that means washing dishes after morning tea of a Sunday morning, or going to Africa to work in an orphanage.  In my experience it is the ones who are willing to serve anywhere who are used by God in great ways - because He knows their heart.

Amazing growth for TeenStreet.

I mentioned in the last post that we've had four years of TeenStreet now.  Sarah, a member of the communications team, posted this to Instagram the other day. The top photo is the group shot from the first camp in 2010, the bottom is our group shot from this year.


God has worked in such amazing ways. I look at that photo and simply must worship God for the impact his has on young lives, for the plan He has for youth in Qld, and for the provision He has provided to allow us to work with Him the way we have.

What an incredible God we have!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The impact of influence.

We've had four TeenStreets now.  That's four years I've had the opportunity to work with Duzie. Dan and Suzie Potter (or 'Duzie') pioneered the original TeenStreet idea in Europe and have taken it all over the world.  From the USA they travel all year inputting into the lives of teens worldwide, and we've been blessed to have them as key parts of our communications team at TeenStreet Qld each year.

I've really enjoyed getting to know this amazing couple, and learning more from their passion for youth. This year though I was greatly impacted by Dan's nature.  Over the week I slowly put it together in my mind and realised it was an infectious joy which Dan seemed to constantly deliver to anyone around him.  This photo captures it so well (plus I think it was as I took this photo I finally realised the influence Dan was having on me and its impact).


From short, friendly interactions to watching him communicate to the teens in the main meeting I was greatly impacted this week.  I felt Dan's joy encourage me to go out and be like him, to take my eyes off the event of TeenStreet and to see the individual teens and how my own joy and encouragement could impact them.

The very reason it could impact teens is because of the source of Dan's joy.  That source is Jesus. That is where I found my source for joy, it was merely being exampled by Dan in the way he acted and showed Jesus' joy to others.  I know Dan would want the glory to go to Jesus... I want the glory to go to Jesus, but I think there is a place to thank people for being a good example of Jesus (The Kingdom comes THROUGH US right...).

So thank you Dan.

New Identity - Ephesians...

Evening sermon series starting this Sunday at dBay Baptist:

We are part of God’s eternal plan. What an amazing truth, and one which the Apostle Paul made sure the church in Ephesus grasped completely. These new believers would have experienced the excitement of new faith, but in this letter Paul gives them a greater insight into their new identity as God’s holy people, the faithful in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:1).

Identity is the one thing we are all searching to find – who are we really? We cause ourselves the biggest heartache when we fail to understand who we really are. All people are created to be part of God’s eternal plan, all of our identities should be found in Jesus. Yet the majority of the world is searching elsewhere, and even Christians struggle with the issue of identity.

When we believe in Jesus, in his sacrificial work to save us and the new life He give us, then we are given a new identity. Ephesians will help us discover the depth of that identity, the unity it brings and the enduring life which grows from it.

http://www.dbaybap.com/evening-sermon-series/

Monday, 8 July 2013

TeenStreet twenty13

It's an amazing privilege to be part of a movement changing the lives of teenagers. Last week's TeenStreet camp was one of the most incredible experiences I've had.  Most have heard the stories either via Facebook or at dBay Baptist over the weekend so I thought I'd just share a little of my own role on camp, and how it effected me personally.

This year I must admit I was searching for a role - I didn't quite know where I'd fit into the team and so left myself available to do anything.  And anything is about what I did.  My major role was heading the service team, being their go-to person and also looking after their pastoral care.  I ran devotions each day and led the group in prayer as we held up the groups of teens during their NET times.  I also did a lot of equipment logistics, moving chairs, organising batteries and just making sure each 'event' had the equipment it needed. We had a set video team but realised no one was taking photographs for the website so I filled in there as well. I took 600 photos over the week with many making it onto the TeenStreet webpage and Facebook page.  I was asked to be a judge of the Memory Verse Competition, and then with a small mix up ended up being the face of the entire comp and having to get up in front of everyone every night and presenting the best verses of the day (what an honour to get myself up there with Dan and Sam hey!!).  Add to all this some chappy work and even some drumming and I found myself very busy over the week.  In most cases it was behind the scenes stuff, which is very different from what I do week to week at dBay, and though at times I felt God has called me to bigger things I did feel He'd uniquely equipped me for all I needed to do last week.

Seeing young people come to a realisation of their dependence on God was what I was there for... it's what I live for!!! So this week boosted me in what I feel my call and ministry is.  I had to really think intentionally how to switch from my organising role to a relationship building role with the teens (it would have been easy for me to go the week without connecting with any teens by just simply focusing on my job).  I made an effort to walk to line of teens waiting for meals, just to talk and chat with them.  I also made sure some meals I went and sat among the teens or Gap year guys just so I could interact socially with them. I played volleyball, threw frisbee and stopped to encourage any teen or leader I saw along the way.  It was important for me, because by the end of the week I felt I'd had tangible connections with people as well as organising a great event.

Because in the end it is those relationships, and not the event, which are important. Through relationship with the teens we could point to the most important relationship, that between us and God.  Through friendship and trust we could introduce dependence, forgiveness and grace. I feel so humbled to be part of the team that was able to bring this to 250+ teens last week. I am looking forward to doubling that number next year!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Who is Jesus?

Written for our new church website, slightly based on the two ways to live presentation I have memorised.  www.dbaybap.com

Our initial understanding of who Jesus is must begin with the fact that God created, and is in charge, of the whole world. When He had finished creating the world He looked at it and saw it was all very good. With that in mind God had created humans, in His own likeness, to care for and be responsible for the world. God is the ruler, because he is the creator, humankind was created to live under his good reign. This way was perfect – God is completely good and under his rule humans were the best cared for they could ever imagine.

But unfortunately humankind desired to rule itself, to have their own knowledge of good and evil, and to try and fend for themselves. If we’re all honest with ourselves we must confess we are still like this today. We look out for ourselves, thinking we know what is best for our own lives. In that sense we have all rebelled against the God who created us, the One who’s original plan of his rule and guidance provided the best environment for us. Today we live in a world infected by the long history of humankind’s rebellion.

But God loves His creation, especially those He made in His own image. So much so that our rebellion affects Him greatly, He must take it seriously. In creating the world good God created it within the ways of His own nature, and His nature is completely holy – that is without a trace of evil or badness – so humankind’s rebellion cannot continue to be tolerated. God is completely right to hold humans to account for their rebellion, in doing so He gives humans the environment they have been trying to create for themselves, a place without Him. Our rebellion means that we will be separated from God. Living in His creation as we are now means we still have some connection with Him, even if we do not acknowledge it. In the judgement for our rebellion God will cut us off from Him, entirely and eternally. Humans cannot grasp how horrible this will be as it is something they have yet to experience. However it is something we all face, because we have all rebelled against God.

Yet God had such a great love for humans that He acted to save us from our rebellion and our fate. That is who Jesus is! He is only Son of God – divine Himself He is God, but He came to earth as a human, experienced the entirety of human life, but He never rebelled from God’s way. Jesus is the only human to ever live who did not deserve to die or be judged for humankind’s rebellion. The entire story of the Bible, right from the creation stories in Genesis, point to Jesus coming to fulfill the revelation of God and the salvation for humankind. Jesus did die. Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, beaten and hung on a cross in the most brutal form or execution. He did this because He was substituting Himself in our place, taking that judgement from God for rebellion, He felt the disconnect from God, He experienced the punishment for sin. All so we could have a way not to, so we could experience forgiveness and a right relationship with God.

That is something we simply do not deserve, but because of Jesus we experience grace. God saw that Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice was good. Because Jesus was human and never rebelled He could stand in the place of judgement innocent, and because Jesus was God He could choose to accept the punishment for all of His creation. Since His sacrifice was good God raised Him from the dead and the risen Jesus represents once again what humanity was always suppose to be – created to live under the rule of God with no rebellion.

Understanding who Jesus is brings us to a point of decision. Will we continue to live our own way, rebelling against God? Or will we choose to accept Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice and live under His rule with faith in Him? One decision will lead to being eventually cut off from good forever and one will lead to forever living just as God first created us torebellion. God appointed Jesus as King and Lord over all creation. He is now the one who judges rebellion and He offers humankind new life in His name. This new life comes through faith in Jesus to save us, to realise that He did substitute Himself for us, and that He is the King and ruler of the world. The reward is to become like Him, a human who lives forever under the good rule of God.

Monday, 24 June 2013

A point of proof against the Catholic exhaltation of Mary

"As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”"
Luke 11:27-28
This just seemed a little sidetrack story as I was reading through Luke the other day.  Though only two verses which kind of segue from the main narration just for a moment, I felt a profound truth is spoken.

I have had some exposure to the Catholic church and it's belief system, and I think I've almost heard the terminology of that woman in the crowd used to describe Mary - "Blessed is the womb that bore the Christ".

Yet Jesus doesn't acknowledge it at all.  If Jesus is God, and his earthly mother is a special 'sub-deity' (almost) then don't you think he would have acknowledged it when someone else brought it up?  Instead he points people to the Word of God and the need to stay true to it.  There is no evidence that Mary was anything but a humble, obedient and specially chosen young lady.  That's what the Word says, I wonder if Jesus was giving a command with a warning for the future?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Conversion and Baptism

In the NT period a Christian unattached to a church was unknown, since a person's very response to the gospel in baptism would have brought him or her into the fellowship of a local company of Christ's people.  Our difficulties today in applying this teaching arise from separating baptism and conversion so that a considerable number of years frequently lie between the two... We are also hampered by 'church' having become a formal institutionalized structure rather than the living communion of men and women in Christ, which it was at first.
Bruce Milne; Know the Truth, p287

I struggle to comprehend the 'gap' between conversion and baptism which many practice these days. I was 9 when I got baptised, because one morning I came to realise the saving factor of God's grace. I was blown away by His love, His sacrifice and the fact I needed to make Him Lord of my life.  My reaction to that was to go and tell my mother I wanted to be baptised.  When she asked why, I was able to tell her the reasons I just mentioned.  For me baptism was a natural, instant response to the faith I found in Jesus (even in the child-like understanding I had when I was 9).  I'd heard the stories about Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, and the households Peter had evangelised too, and had seen their initial response to the Gospel was the joyful act of baptism, so I found my actions felt completely normal.

Does that mean it's a cultural thing that people wait a few years now before they get baptised?  Is it because we aren't sharing the Gospel properly? or explaining what baptism is properly?  As I said, it's a concept I struggle to understand, or see how to do different.

Maybe also this idea of the institutionalised church hampers it (culturally) as well.  Because baptism then allows for membership do we want people to 'prove' their faith over a bit of time before we talk about baptism, so that we 'protect' the membership of the church?

So many questions, and I don't really have any answers.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Jesus Video re-mix

The good old Jesus Video is looking really dated these days. Maybe it's time someone produced a new one.  I love the idea of a video that follows the Scripture exactly.  I just feel like the music, filmography and mannerisms are so outdated these days that it is hard to use anymore.

I can't imagine what kind of undertaking it would be to produce a new Jesus video (based on any of the Gospels, but I'd like to see either Matthew or John)... but with the 'feel good' Christian movie enterprise apparently taking off I am sure there are people out there who could do it.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Get out in the field.

The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few 
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Matthew 9:35-38, ESV

A big reminder for me this week was that you can't be a harvester without getting out into the field.  Jesus looks out and sees a harvest ready for picking... but there is nowhere near enough workers to go out into the field.  I wonder how many there were just sitting on the edge of the field enjoying each other's company?

That's kinda how the church ends up sometimes, sitting in their buildings, enjoying each other's company, but not out doing the work which Jesus has called us to. Working on the mission means getting out into the field so we can harvest.

Jesus is our best example of this, even God was out healing sick and caring for people - as well as teaching and proclaiming the Gospel. We should be doing the same.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Emotionally invested.

Does the Gospel affect you emotionally?  I wonder if sometimes we buck against the overtly charismatic nature of many of the churches we see in the media by becoming decisively unemotional about the Gospel.

The Word is important, but there is a relationship involved as well. Does focusing solely on the Word and theology dry up our emotional connection to God?  As a pastor dealing with mainly teaching I think this week I have been reconnected with the emotion of being in relationship with God, but how do I effectively communicate it to my church without being seen as a fruit-loop?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Too close

Have a look at this video of a pigeon at the Monaco Grand Prix the other week.


That's not a brave bird, it's a stupid bird.  The silly thing didn't have a chance; it was in a dangerous place and, with the speed of a Formula 1 car, it did not get an opportunity to react to the impending danger.

A lot of Christians live their life like that pigeon. They have a faith, they communicate with God and let Jesus into their lives, but either during the week or when they are on their own (or maybe with non Christian friends) they put themselves out there in dangerous situations.  Maybe a relationship with someone who doesn't hold the same beliefs or morals as you... maybe a night club... maybe a party where others will be partaking in excessive alcohol or drugs... maybe a secluded spot with a computer that has access to unwholesome websites...

...whatever it is, many Christians use the excuse of being relevant to the world so they can go and live life close to what I am going to call 'the pagan edge' - people who don't have Gospel centered lives clearly live with pagan morals, no definitive truth and baselines set by their own personal views.  Christians live lives centred on the Gospel, not just in what we believe, but how we act.  By stepping out on the pagan edge Christians run the risk of being swept away.  Most times (like the dumb pigeon) the danger races in at such a pace there is no time to react and before we know it we are back flipping widely - or worse... embedded lifelessly in the front wing of a race car.

Why take the risk - why not just stand on the foundation of Jesus and let him lead you, don't step away towards the edge, because getting close usually means sinning and going way to far.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Chaplaincy at the 2013 Winternationals

I will be assisting my father again this year with the chaplaincy work at the Winternationals drag racing meet at Willowbank Raceway.  It's been 8 years since my first Winternationals as chaplain, and though I missed one or two, it is a big part of my year.  A few years back the local Ipswich paper did a story on Dad. I thought I'd copy it up here again to give you all a little insight, and maybe you can be in prayer for us this week as we work trackside.

Chaplain offers a helping hand
Charlie Sandham's behind-the-scenes work at motorsport meets plays a crucial role in the lives of competitors, crews and officials across South-East Queensland. Shannon Perry spoke to the volunteer motorsport chaplain about life in the fast lane. Charlie Sandham never misses a local major motorsport meet.
From drag racing at Wil­lowbank Raceway to the V8 Supercar Championship rounds and the Gold Coast Indy, Mr Sandham is always in the thick of the action.
It comes with his job as a motorsport chaplain.'
A love of cars and a chance opportunity four years ago sees Mr Sandham rubbing shoulders with motorsport royalty while offering a car­ing presence for competi­tors, crews and officials.
Mr Sandham, who juggles the volunteer work with a career as a planner for Tas­man Aviation Enterprises, is preparing for the Winternationals in June and Indy in October. "There are three major parts to my role as chaplain. Firstly you have to be the God person, someone who people can come to for a chat," Mr Sandham said.
"Secondly, you're a carer for people who may want to talk about personal or fam­ily issues.
"Finally, and perhaps the most hardest part, is the role I play in the case of a fatality or major accident. I'm there to look after and support people including the family and crew."
Mr Sandham said the motorsport community was still reeling after the deaths of V8 Supercar driver Ashley Cooper, who died in a racing incident earlier this year, and Queensland drag racer Kenneth Smith, who died when his rail dragster crashed at Willow­bank Raceway in 2007.
"The motorsport com­munity is very tight knit, and a fatality hits home hard. When Peter Brock died the effects were felt Australia wide," he said.
"Every chaplain had peo­ple who were affected and needed support."
Despite the sometimes dif­ficult circumstances, Mr Sandham· said being a motorsport chaplain was a rewarding way to combine his love of cars with a passion for helping others.
"These events would be impossible to run without the volunteers," he said.
"It's a big responsibility, but it's great to be a part of."

Monday, 3 June 2013

Anonymity

I guess this is a question to other pastors out there... or I guess anyone in a leadership position.

How do you feel about letters written to you from an anonymous person?  I opened a letter the other day which started "Regarding your sermon last week..." - I stopped reading at that point and looked at the end of the letter... which was not signed with a name.  I chose not to read the rest.  For one I knew that no matter what was said in the letter (either good or bad) that I had no opportunity to respond to the writer. Knowing the way my mind works I knew I'd spend time formulating responses in my head, so with no output I decided to give myself no input on the matter either.

But it left me wondering if I handled it correctly.  I know at college many of the lecturers said they didn't open or read anonymous letters - in a way I thought they sounded a little arrogant, but when faced with the position myself I acted the same way.  Do people deserve the right to anonymity, or should we only respond to those who can stand behind their statements?  A little pastoral input would be good on this...

Friday, 31 May 2013

Overwhelming Love

Don't you love it when a sermon takes a different turn to your original thought?  As you are preparing suddenly the passage reveals to you another truth and that truth starts to take hold of you.  I find that as that happens I am letting God speak to me and guide me as I prepare.

Today my sermon has slowly been changing from one about the saving grace of God to simply His love.  We are saved by grace alone, but it is God's overwhelming love for us that meant he offered that grace in the first place.

I had to stop and worship in song.  I was so overwhelmed by His love for me that I had to pick up my guitar and sing to Him.

So often our lives impact in such a way that we worry away our acceptance of God's overwhelming love.  But as a line of a song I just sang says; "I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way, that He loves us..."

Hopefully today you can get to that point to.

Finding the balance

I have found the most challenging aspect of youth ministry is finding a balance between discipleship and relationship.

As a mature Christian, someone who has grasped the Gospel and has a passion (and gift) to see other's taught how to grasp the Gospel in a life changing way, I admit my initial desire is to disciple people.  To teach them in the ways of the Master so that they become like Him (not me).

But with youth there has to be relationship before they will be willing to let you into their lives enough for effective discipleship. I think my first 12 months at Deception Bay was mostly about relationship building, and this year I was really enjoying being able to dive into some more teaching and discipleship.

However, now, I see that there is a balance that needs to be maintained.  If you move to pushing too much of a focus on teaching without continuing to be 'party of their lives' then you'll lose your effect. Last Tuesday night I actually didn't show the DVD video I mentioned in a previous post but we spent the night playing board games (and watching Big Bang Theory in the background).  I just got a sense that the young people were feeling a little weary and maybe a bit disconnected from who I am.

Me, I'd have rather got some teaching from Louie Giglio - but I have to remember, 15 year olds aren't where I am in their walk... sometimes relationship needs to be lifted up.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Inspirational post to read...

I love Ken Davis for the incredibly funny man that he is.  I follow his blog because many times during the week he has me rolling on the floor of my office laughing (and the senior pastor next door wondering what on earth the youth pastor is up to).

But Ken's post today was especially inspirational... talking about his hero.  We have such a proud ANZAC heritage here in Australia and it's amazing to hear the story of the pacific war from a U.S perspective, and find it is not so different to what we hear from our Diggers.

But reading this story the thing that blows my mind is 'how amazing is God'! Even in a time of utter distress God is full of provision.  Some would say why didn't God prevent it all from happening, but I am sure Ken sees the way I do and thinks how great it was that God never leaves or forsakes us.

Have a read and complete your day.

My Hero - Ken Davis

What you choose to believe v's What you choose to do

Recently I have had many people tell me that God does not close doors, He only opens them and we get to choose which we walk through - sometimes we have an equal choice and the door we choose is a free choice, other times we disobey by not walking through a door God opens, but even in disobedience He'll open others for us so we are always in His plan.

I have felt uncomfortable with that train of thought, and reading in Acts today I think the Bible presents a different idea;

The Macedonian Call 
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 16:6-10, ESV

That looks like closing doors to me.  I am sure Paul thought it a good and worthy idea to preach the Gospel in Asia and Bithynuia (Paul would have thought it a good idea to preach the Gospel anywhere); and you would think God would let His Gospel be preached anywhere.  Yet in God's sovereign plan He knows something that Paul does not - something that even all these years later (and the fact the story is part of Scripture) we have no clearer idea on what God knew) - and specifically closes the door to those areas.

The notion of all Christian's being in God's plan no matter what they do is a weak on.  This idea that God's plan is simply that people believe is not the extent which the Bible explains it.  Christians in the New Testament are constantly seeking God's will for what to do with their life in service to Him.  Most times that service calls on great personal cost yet the believers see it as well worth it to serve their God.

Is this idea I am hearing more and more just another take on the materialistic and watered down Gospel that is becoming so prevalent in our Australian and U.S societies today.  We want to gooey good feeling of being 'saved' but without the call to 'follow me' - in a sense give us the good life everyone else gets to enjoy and a hope of eternal comfort too.  All without understanding the cost Jesus paid, and the worth He put on our lives and the debt we can never repay.  This isn't an idea about works salvation, but about the change of life the Holy Spirit brings, so that it guides the choices of our lives, we don't.

It's easy to choose to believe in God, it is much harder to choose to let Him guide you and do what He says.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Passion City Church - Take The Plunge

Going to be watching this 4 part DVD series over the next 4 weeks of our young adults Bible study at dBay Baptist.  I am so grateful to big churches like Passion who put out this quality material.

Has anyone seen this Louie Giglio series before that might be able to give me some extra insight into some good material for discussion?  I'm hoping the sermon videos have an impact (Giglio usually does), but just exploring options for stretching the study side a bit more too.

If you are over grade 10 and under 30 (and in the dBay area) then you should pop along to our Tuesday night studies!

Question of commitment.

As much as I try and remind myself; I think I am constantly taking for granted my Christian faith here in Australia.  When I think about my life, the ease in which I have been able to study, learn and worship - the comforts I have with big church buildings, air conditioning, sound systems and electric guitars.  I think of those things and wonder if I am a soft (pansy) Christian, who couldn't hack real persecution - just look at this account from David Platt in his book Radical:
I was in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, teaching in an Indonesian seminary. Before they graduate, the students in this seminary are required to plant a church, with at least thirty new, baptized believers, in a Muslim community.  I spoke at their commencement ceremony, and as the graduates walked across the stage, I was captivated by the humble yet confident look on their faces.  Every one of them had fulfilled the church-planting requirements.  The most solemn part of the day was a moment of silence for two of their classmates who had died at the hands of Muslim persecutors.
My college time was pretty cruisey in relation to that... in fact it's kind of laughable when I think about the things I complained about, and the 'struggles' that were shared at our commencement ceremony when we graduated.

Christianity is a life changing, passion driving, and belief provoked journey of serving God no matter what, and with small regard to our own safety.  Yet we water it down so much, and I just don't know how to settle within myself how my life stacks up, let alone communicate it to others so they are challenged to live a true Christian life as well.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Good quote

Something a mate said last night when talking about God's plan for our lives.
"I can't; and He never said I could... He can; and He always said He would."

1 year of Working on the Mission


This is the first anniversary of the 'rebirth' of this blog.  One year ago I switched from a personal 'life blog' to one more pointedly focused on my ministry as a pastor.  I had needed a new vision to keep my interest in blogging, and I think I certainly found it in trying to use this blog to supplement and stretch my ministry at Deception Bay Baptist.

Just reflecting on the past 12 months I think I have allowed myself to be open and honest, while provoking thought that comes to a deeper understanding of what it means to live a Gospel centred life. That has certainly been my aim, hopefully it has been achieved.

To celebrate this anniversary I've given the blog a whole new look. There are a whole heap of new features like the "Featured Content Box" up the top which will keep some of the more impacting posts in a place where all can see.  There is also a new About Me section and links for the different ways to connect with Deception Bay Baptist.  The Blog Roll now shows most recent posts by my other blogging friends, so hopefully you can surf through to other blogs that catch your interest.

Thanks for reading and contributing, hopefully this new layout entices more people to engage with Working on the Mission...

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Just over a week to register for Teen Street 2013

If you are in high school and live in South East Queensland then you just have to come along to Teen Street! Held on the Gatton UQ campus from the 1st-5th of July Teen Street is a week that will change your life.  Not only will you have the best fun you could ever imagine, but you will also be confronted with the life defining truth of the Gospel in a way that will blow you off your feet!

Registrations close on the 31st May, so you don't have long, but seriously consider this as it will be the best week of your year.

Check out the 2013 promo video below!


Monday, 20 May 2013

Where do I fit in?

If I am honest... I don't fit in very well.  I can't really say what it is but I just don't seem to blend in with a crowd well.  I sometimes find it hard to be thrown into ministry with others because it's not a simple thing for me to feel I can contribute to a group effectively.

I feel very conscious about what other's think of me, and I can be pretty perceptive - picking up from subtle body language the way people are feeling - so I get a bit uneasy when I start picking up that I'm not really getting along with someone.

Our human natures clash don't they?  There are some people I just feel I can't work with, while others it simply takes time to get to know them before I start feeling comfortable.  Probably once or twice in my life I've had that instant connection and just jumped straight in and worked well with someone.

I long for that... it was so easy; but how do we handle the more normal aspect of fitting in (especially when it comes to ministering with the body of the Church)?  I think the key thing is to remember the goal, and the fact that it is such a great goal we can't do it ourselves anyway.  Only Jesus can change hearts, our goal is to bring people to Jesus (...so He can change hearts...). When I remember that then I feel I can push on with the tougher situations, or the awkward ones.  If others remember that as well then we usually end up working pretty well together.  Sometimes those people you feel you just 'can't' work with still provide good Gospel ministry is both parties remember that one goal.

If all is done to His glory, then our's doesn't really matter and our focus on Him does produce unity.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Definition of Church

"Church: Wherever the Bible is opened & Jesus is proclaimed. The Holy Spirit shows up, the people of God come into existence & lives get changed."
~Mark Driscoll

I like this definition, and I strive for this to be the way we work at dBay Baptist!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Preaching an illustration to myself.

I found myself quite convicted last night preaching the latest sermon in the Big Stories Bigger Truth series.

Over the past few weeks we've looked at the story of Noah and the Flood, and David and Goliath.  It's been good to bust some of the myths that attach themselves to these stories and to look at how they impact the way we live a Gospel centred life today.  Last night was the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho.  I did my research, read up on it all.  Looked at it from a Jesus centred perspective and wrote my sermon.  But about 10 minutes into the sermon I realised I'd missed the point, my 'three points' didn't seem to align to the central Gospel truth I felt jumping out at me as I read the Scripture for everyone.  So I didn't mention my points at all... I just went with this truth: "We have a great foundation so all we need to do is obey".

Joshua had an amazing foundation (go read Joshua 1:1-9) and it was from that he was preparing to take the promised land.  A lifelong general this guy knew about laying siege to a city, and we're told he'd already cut Jericho off from everything else.  It was just a matter of time before the city was his.  But God comes and tells him to do it differently... to do it in a way that minimalised Joshua's impact on the plan, but glorified God.  So that's what Joshua did.

He gave up his plan, his comfort and his knowledge that he was capable of doing something, and did it in a completely different way that showed he had faith, and that he would rely on God.

In a sense that's what I did with the sermon too.  I had prepared, I felt confident I was capable, but then I felt led to go a different way, and I had to trust God would provide enough insight for me to make just enough sense that He would be glorified.  The rest of the congregation didn't know I'd left my notes behind, and for me actually preaching that sermon was a personal illustration of the truth God was telling me to proclaim.  That was very convicting.

I hope other's there were able to grasp the message though - it's not often I wonder if I got more out of preaching the message than those who were listening.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Raising money for chaplaincy

Supporting the chaplaincy at Deception Bay State High School is one of the favourite parts of my job.  Next week I have organised a team of 10 to ride in the Spin Off event.

How it works? Teams will consist of 5 to 10 competitors who will ‘push the pedals to the max’ over a 30 minute period. The overall aim is to be the team who pedals the most kilometers. The kilometers pedaled by each team will be monitored and displayed on the big screen every five minutes during the event. Basically you go as hard as you can for a short period and jump off allowing one of your teammates to then jump on and go as hard as they can.

Regardless of how far we ride, the objective is to raise money for chaplaincy.  I have a ticket book of $5 receipts here, and am putting the call out to you to think about buying one (or more). No matter what part of the world you are in you can donate via electronic transfer.  Just look on the sidebar here for my personal Facebook badge, go to my profile and message me and I can give you details on how you can donate.

It's a great cause, because our three chaplains in d'Bay SHS are doing a great job!  And deserve our support.
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