Friday, 25 January 2013

It's not your life.

Don't live your life for Jesus. Allow Jesus' life to live in you and through you.
~Mark Driscoll

Our mindset sometimes needs a reset doesn't it? How often do we tell people to live their lives for Jesus... it's just easier than convincing people that it's not actually their life.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Offering God the halfhearted stuff...

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD's table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. 
Malachi 1:6-9 ESV

Think back to Christmas... We wouldn't offer halfhearted gifts to family, friends or bosses and expect to get away with it, at least not without some sort of scorn or ridicule.  Even when it comes to time we know we really can't get away with offering a pittance to our family or friends, they will call us to account.

So why do we seem to do it to God?  Why are we more worried about the Sunday service running long and into our evening TV time?  Or the sermon going longer that 30 minutes??  Or singing another cycle through that chorus???

Instead shouldn't we look at what we are offering to God?  What is our worship?  Because if we're not looking at that, then are we offering 'polluted' worship?

Monday, 14 January 2013

Don't cop out - Be disciplined

One of the most remarkable capacities of the human mind is the capacity to direct its own attention to something it chooses. We can pause and say to our minds, “Think about this, and not that.” We can focus our attention on an idea or a picture or a problem or a hope.

It is an amazing power. I doubt that animals have it. They are probably not self-reflective, but rather governed by impulse and instinct.

Have you been neglecting this great weapon in the arsenal of your war against sin? The Bible calls us again and again to use this remarkable gift. Let’s take it out and shine it up and put it to use.

For example, Paul says in Romans 8:5–6, “Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”

This is stunning. What you set your mind on determines whether the issue is life or death.

Sometimes I think we let ourselves off too easily. "We're all sinners," we say, "we can never escape it completely, but God forgives."

While this is true, let's not use it as a crutch. God has given us exceptional mental capacity to turn our mind to whatever thoughts we want.  We can choose not to think about so much of the stuff we spend all our time thinking about.  We simply lack discipline.  Well I know I do.  I am looking for ways to create more discipline in my life, especially in my mind.


Friday, 11 January 2013

Is there such thing as tolerance?

It's unfair.  

Simple as that... the way the world treats Christians is unfair. In a western world so bent on the idea of free speech and tolerance the venomous attacks that keep coming towards the Christian view point is simply unfair.   It seems tolerance only goes as far as what the worlds thinks should be ok now, there's no room for the tolerance of someone's Christian beliefs (which have been standing for a much longer period of time).  It seems everyone, except the Christian, has the right to free speech.

It's strange, other more legalistic religions can put insanely strict regulations on the treatment of women, homosexuals, animals, money, politics and a whole range of things and it is seen as 'cultural' or their religious right.  Yet as soon as someone from the Christian Church says one tiny thing, they are jumped on as bigoted, hateful and irresponsibly unenlightened individuals.

Louie Giglio is the perfect example of this today - after having to refuse the invitation of the President of the USA to pray at his inauguration because of a sermon he preached 15-20 years ago.

I wonder if it is because the western world still loosely defines itself as 'christian' - so they feel whatever they believe should be a 'christian' belief.  As true, faithful, Holy Spirit filled Christians we need to continue to stand up for the true faith and the truth of the Gospel... even though we know we'll be treated unfairly.  But a break from this mindset that America and Australian culture is christian is needed... the secular world has no place taking that title - and should have respect for the beliefs of those who do.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

What does God hate?? Religion... or Legalism?

"One theme that follows the biblical insistence on holiness and purity is separation.  The Christian is to be removed from certain aspects of the world.  This message is proclaimed by James: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27). Similarly, Paul writes to the Corinthians: "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord  Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor 6:17-18).  Such appeals to live pure and distinctive lives are based on the fact that we are God's own people; our relationships and behaviour ought to be different from those of the world."
Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, p990

People who tell me God hates religion really bug me.  It's obvious that He doesn't.  We see in James there is religion that He accepts as pure and faultless and part of that is not being polluted by the world... staying away from harmful things the rest of the world sees as ok.

But what we see from church history (even recent church history) is that legalism creeps in.  One persons ideas of 'pollution' may be stricter than another's and suddenly there's no dancing, or talking allowed, or joy at all.  Our human desire is to have our own way, so when our own way gets focused on self-righteousness we can impose our thoughts onto others in a way that is highly legalistic.  Not for one second do I believe that is 'religion'.  And we saw how Jesus treated the legalistic religious leaders, because they weren't being overly religious, but were all legalism.

So let's stop this tag line of 'God hates religion'  - or 'Christianity is about relationship not religion'.  Because neither are true.  Religion is about caring and loving others in the name of Jesus and striving to be purified from the world's influence on our worship and faith.

And maybe in a defense to those overly legalistic religious ideas of the past, we have in fact allowed ourselves to go unchecked to some things the world sees as fine, but really do pollute our faith.  Without becoming legalistic ourselves maybe we need to do a check and clean up of the things we allow in.

More exposure for End It.

Louie Giglio (Pastor of Passion City Church and convener of the Passion Conference) was interviewed on CNN last night.  What a great witness for Jesus, and powerful testimony against slavery.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Evening Sermon Series

We've just kicked off a series simply entitled "How?" at dBay Baptist last Sunday night.  I've found the most frequently asked question by young people is "How do I know what God wants me to do?"  So this four week series throughout January is zoning in on this idea of discerning God's will.

The four weeks are outlined as follows

6th Jan - Desiring God's Will
13th Jan - Trusting God's Will
20th Jan - Testing God's Will (or ours)
27th Jan - Acting on God's Will

If you're interested it would be great to see you along at dBay Baptist one Sunday evening from 5:30pm

Taking a look at the honour of doing what I do...

The thought often greets me, that this is how I get to spend my life. This is how I get to earn a living and support my family. This is how I get to use my mental and communicative gifts. This is what I get to research, memorize, and know. This is what I get to teach others. This is what I get to mentor others to teach to others. This is who I am. This is what I do. I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no higher honor and, other than my own salvation, no joy can compete...
I'll never have a personal audience with the President or be welcomed into the court of a king. I'll never be rich or internationally famous. But I am a spokesman for the King of kings and get to dispense his riches to the poor every day.
This fantastic article can be found over on The Gospel Coalition's website (specifically here) and it is a beautifully constructed insight into the proper lifestyle and focus of a Pastor. It is easy for me to forget that joy of being a spokesman for the King of Kings.  But just as easy for me to forget is the other side of the article.
My celebration must not cause me to forget my need. If I pay attention, ministry will quickly reveal that what I'm called to give to others I also need. As I'm telling the old, old story to others, I must tell it over and over to myself.
I found great insight into a reminder of how important, personal, meaningful and exciting my call is from this article. I hope you find something as well.

Monday, 7 January 2013

End It

Last year at the Passion Conference in Atlanta Georgia the plight of modern day slaves was brought to light. This year at Passion 2013 the End It Movement began.

It's appaling that we can just ignore the issue of slavery.  I'm hoping End It means that we will no longer be ignorant to this issue.  Over the 4 days of Passion over 2.5 million dollars was raised to fund different organisations working against slavery world wide. Get informed, become aware, and get involved - even if it's just giving to End It so those funds can be moved on to the agents working to end slavery for good.

Passion made such an effort this year CNN came and did a story - check it out

Thursday, 3 January 2013

All Nations will Praise His Name

The Bible tells us that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Can you imagine that? Even those who have openly opposed the Christ will confess him as Lord! He is mighty!

But in Revelation we are also given this amazing vision of a multitude "unable to be counted" shouting out praise to God (Rev 7:9-10). We get this idea of the unending praise of heaven, how those who love Jesus can't help but continue to worship Him.  And there will be so many of us... so many you won't be able to put a number on it.

I am in awe of what that will be like - especially after this morning...

...this morning a couple of my youth and I sat down and joined with around 100 000 other people and watched a live Internet stream of the Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. There were 60 000 people present in the Atlanta Dome, but an even greater number watching online. If felt incredible to be sitting in my lounge room in Deception Bay and know that I was part of a group corporately worshiping God all around the world. Technology makes these amazing feats possible... but the feeling it's left me with is a longing for that day when we will just all be there together doing the same thing... and we won't need the fancy light show, because Jesus will be all the Light we need.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Knowing I AM

First post of 2013, and I thought it would be good to reflect once again on our standing before God.  We shouldn't have one, a standing before God that is, because we really don't deserve it.  But because of his love, and the grace shown through Jesus' ultimate sacrifice we can know God - Romans 5:1 says we have peace with God because of our faith in Him.

When God was asked his name by Moses He simply replied "I am who I am", God doesn't need a qualifier  a baseline of recognition or something to be compared too.  God simply is God.  He is the qualifier and baseline. God can say "I AM" and that's all we need to know.  And because of Jesus we can relate to I AM, that's amazing.

With Passion 2013 starting today I thought this quote from Louie Giglio was a great reflection.

When we see just how tiny we are, our self-worthy and our God-worth can become one and the same as we are stunned with our reality that we have been made in His very likeness and invited to know Him personally.
I am not, but he knows my name.
I am not, but He has pursued me in His love.
I am not, but I have been purchased and redeemed.
I am not, but I have been invited into The Story.
I am not, but I know the Creator of the universe.
I am not, but I know I AM.

Louie Giglio, I am not, but I know I AM - p52
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