Thursday, 28 February 2013

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Don't miss the moment

I was watching Sunrise this morning and they had that public concert with Ed Sheeran happening.  I must admit I'd never heard of the bloke before today (I probably should have considering my job is working with teenagers), and I have to admit I enjoyed his music.  At least he played his own guitar and seems a proper muso.

However... the thing that grabbed my attention the most was the swirling crowd of teenager pressed into the tight area waiting for guy to start playing.  They were jumping around, screaming (crying in some cases :-s) and just a movement of anticipation and excitement.

But when Ed started playing they all stopped moving... they all pulled out their iPhones and stood completely still trying to capture a video of the performance as best they could.  The panning shot coming over the back of the crowd looked kind of ridiculous as a thousand teenagers stood with both arms in the air grasping their phone and watching the screen to make sure they were capturing it ok.

Now I admit with things like Facebook and Instagram I like to grab a snapshot of something I am doing to post it up and remember it, or share it with friends, but I have become aware not to let that cause me to experience what's happening right in front of me.  The live experience is the best experience... not the video reviewing on a tiny screen hours later.

Plus the fact that the live experience was lessened because the vibe of a live performance died when everyone stopped to stand still and video.  Sometimes the best part of a music concert experience is the energy and interaction of the crowd.  Even if there was some there this morning, most missed it because they were watching their phone not the stage.

Sometimes it's best to put the phone, camera, iPad or whatever away - just envelope yourself in the experience, and use your involvement to create a meaningful memory.  I was reminded this morning of some of my favourite experiences - and to be honest even with the recent ones they were experiences where I either specifically decided to live the experience, or I had been so swept up in it that I forgot completely to even try pulling my phone out.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Worship Hoedown

We can all worship in different ways.  I love the simple joy that David Crowder presents in his mannerisms, dress and music.

What great fun, and what great truth.

10 Sinful Responses to Sin

From Mark Driscoll
Sinful responses to sin are so numerous that an exhaustible list is impossible. Nonetheless, an examination of ten particular sinful responses to sin can be helpful in aiding us to not respond sinfully but repentantly. These kinds of insights are practically helpful because sinners are often also sinful in how they speak about their sin and respond to their sin, and if we love them we need to be aware of their tactics.  Furthermore, we also need to continually examine our own responses to sin in an effort to uncover our sin.
Driscoll goes on to explain his ten particular sinful responses... I will paraphrase them as points.  If you feel you want a greater understanding then make sure you grab his book Doctrine.

  1. There is a propensity to minimise sin
  2. The is the delusional belief that my sin is different from anyone else's because I have good reasons that legitimise my sin
  3. There is the common error of rationalising sin as acceptable because of extenuating circumstances
  4. There is blame shifting, where someone is blamed for the sin of another
  5. There is diversion, where we try and avoid our sin by, for example, saying we were just joking or someone misunderstood us.
  6. There is partial confession, where we tell only a part of our sin.
  7. There is what Paul calls "worldly grief," where we merely regret the consequences of our sin.
  8. There is victimisation, where I appear helplessly pitiful and unable to have done otherwise by naming someone else as responsible for my sin.
  9. There is mere confession, where I name the sin but do not repent of it and put it to death by God's grace.
  10. There is a growing tendency to speak of sin in secular counselling circles as more of a disease than an evil offense.
I was intrigued by the notion that sin can cause us to sin more. I can see how that works with addiction, but our own response to sin can actually cause us to sin more.  Only truly repenting and standing on the grace given by Jesus is the proper way to handle sin.  Once again it's all about depending solely on Jesus, not on our own work, thoughts, or responses.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Wanting what is best for our teens.

As a youth pastor I am getting use to dealing with difficult kids and teenagers. I understand it comes with the job, and in most cases can see the worth in the constant battle to reach teens. However something that really bugs me is having to deal with difficult parents. Especially parents who are part of the church.

Parents should be aware of and care for their kids needs. Christian parents should be striving to help their kids meet their spiritual needs. But I am finding that some parents can be very selfish, and they make it very hard for me to minister to their kids. My heart aches because I see the hurt that impacts their kids. I meet up with or talk on the phone with these kids right after something has happened and it is very raw emotion which surfaces when they have been let down by a parent.

It makes me angry, and I think that is because I am so helpless to help resolve the situation... who am I as an outsider to come and try and sort out family dynamics?

Sometimes it is just education that's needed, it might be cultural or generational issues causing the problem... but I still struggle to communicate to a difficult parent how what they are doing is hurting their child.

I know most of the parents who follow this blog are ones that do care for their kids in a way that strives to develope their faith, but maybe in reading this you can be aware that not all kids are as lucky as yours. And it might be the case that education on striving to build the faith of teens would be better received from a fellow parent than the youth pastor.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Remember the mission

Sometimes in the business of being a pastor it is easy to forget the mission we are called to.  This blog for me is a great reminder to remain focused on the mission Jesus gave the church.  Each time I look at it, or think of posting on it I remember Matthew 16:18 and the great commission and, even if just for a moment, I can refocus my thinking.

I had many ideas for blog posts this week... but I was always too busy to post them.  I had two different meetings with Baptist Queensland, ran a training course for KidsHope, had a deacon's meeting, was called out to help with a family situation and then sometime else have tried to find time to plan the Sunday evening service and my sermon.  I stopped and blogged this morning, a thought captured by a moment reading the news... and it made me reflect on my busy week, and how much of it was aimed towards the mission of the church.  In truth quite a bit was - but it get's lost in the hecticness. The union meetings were looking at how the church state wide could continue working wider to extend God's kingdom.  KidsHope is a great program we run in the local primary school.  But these meetings didn't 'feel' like I was working on the mission, they just felt draining.

I think if we remember the mission, and the goal of what we are setting out to do - and that it is all part of Jesus 'building his church' then it may just give us that little bit more motivation in our busy times - because we realise the mission is not forgotten, just that maybe the current connection is hard to find.

Lost in the immensity of creation.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
(Romans 1:20 ESV

We become complacent about the amazingness of God's creation.  We take for granted the size and intensity of the world we live in, made for us by God.

Then we read a story like this...

Russian ghost ship discovered off Ireland

That's a big ship yet it can disappear into the ocean... coasting for months with no one coming across it.  Our oceans are BIG! The World is BIG! God had his hand in creating every little detail, yet us humans can't even find a gigantic cruise liner.

Pretty cool.

Friday, 15 February 2013

For the Day After Valentines Day

Here's a great post I read from Don Miller this morning.  Don is the author of the very well known book "Blue Like Jazz" where he really showed his stand out and unique was of ministering the Gospel, and living a life according to the Gospel.

Not one to ever polish over the truth I really admire his point in this article .. and think it's the first decent view on single life given by someone in a long time. I often find people who talk about 'singleness' really don't have much of a clue what it's really like.  Don obviously does.

Have a look here

Today, I value my sweetheart so much more because of all the confusion and hardship I had to endure being single. I don’t talk about my romantic life much because it’s hard to read gossip about yourself on the internet. But I will say, all the hardship was worth it. She’s like me, indeed. 
 On Valentine’s Day, when the hard feelings come, just know they came to Adam. And they only ended up blessing him in the end.

Monday, 11 February 2013

God's Great Dance Floor

Sometimes in our reverence for the Great Creator we forget that we are aloud to have fun. The words to this song may not be deeply worshipful in the doctrine they contain. But I think the passion and emotion having fun with music, movement and dancing can still create a powerful worship time. It is easier for it just to be fun and not worship though - so I feel it's important to remember who we're focusing on if we're going to start doing this song in corporate worship services - and it's not a response song, but more a community, unity and gathering song.

 Now where can I find a Mariachi trumpet player??


An answer to our self

Right now... think about something that if it happened, would make your week.

...did you think of something??

I am fairly confident that most people will have thought of something that impacts them personally.  It may have been a material object (if I could win the lotto this week) or maybe relief from suffering (if this asthma would leave me alone), but I am pretty sure nearly all the things you thought of would have been something that effected just you.

Why isn't our natural thought process geared to first think of others??? Why didn't we think; 'It would make my week if that person could stop suffering from asthma' or 'It would make my week if that family had enough money to buy decent meals for their kids'.  Now when you see those things I am sure you agree they would make you happy, and you're not wishing that kids would go hungry or anything like that.  But I just wonder at how our initial, our very first, thoughts always seem to be self seeking.

"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."
 (James 4:1-3 ESV)

Like that passage says, I feel it is a real war/battle that is waged inside us.  Our natural (and sinful) desire is for ourselves, and we battle against it to try and see others more important than ourselves.  But it is that natural (and sinful!) nature that causes all the problems (both inside and outside the church).  Later on in the chapter James continues;

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you."
(James 4:7-10 ESV)

There's the solution - but it's a solution we have to remind ourselves of time and time again.

Is it surprising that God encourages us to feel 'wretched', to 'mourn and weep'?  How can the loving God be telling us to turn joy into gloom?  But that is the answer... because the weight of our sin should drive us to mourn and weep.  Our sin hurts God so much that we (even as those saved through forgiveness) need to be so sorry of our actions, and that offense we cause God, that it drives us to weep.  It's in that understanding that we find the motivation for true repentance.

A time of gloom is well served if it assists in our understanding of our relationship with God.  Because as the final verse says there, He will lift us back up, he will 'exalt' us if we humble ourselves and truly realise, repent, believe and follow Him.

When was the last time you wept because of your sin?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Evening Sermon Series - Malachi

This Sunday night we are starting a new series at dBay Baptist. We will work our way through the book of Malachi, the final book in the Old Testament.  In Malachi God makes true observations (such as “I Have Loved You" [Mal 1:2]) and the people question Him with the inference being that they do not actually believe this is true, and it shows through their actions.

So the reality is on the surface they are the people of God, but beneath (what they really are) has nothing to do with the covenant or love that God has given to them. To bridge to today’s context we see this books as giving us, as a church, the occasion to look at the ‘non-public’ parts of our life - specifically what happens in our minds and hearts.

We may look like proper Christians on the surface, but beneath we truly don’t have very much to do with Jesus and his will at all.

Just like the picture of the iceberg above... it is what is beneath the surface that does the most damage.  We need to clean up what is beneath the surface of our lives, because even though those sitting beside us every Sunday may not see it... Jesus sure can.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Something to look forward to

An excerpt from Jonathan Edwards' sermon Heaven, a World of Love. What a lovely picture he paints.

"The most stately cities on earth, however magnificent their buildings, yet have their foundations in the dust, and their streets are dirty and defiled, and made to be trodden under foot; but the very streets of this heavenly city are of pure gold, like unto transparent glass, and its foundations are of precious stones, and its gates are pearls... There are many principles contrary to love, that make this world like a tempestuous sea.  Selfishness, and envy, and revenge, and jealousy, and kindred passions keep life on earth in a constant tumult... But oh! what rest is there in that world which the God of peace and love fills with his own precious presence, and in which the Lamb of God lives and reigns, filling it with the brightest and sweetest beams of his love; where there is nothing to disturb or offend, and no being or object to be seen that is not surrounded with perfect amiableness and sweetness... where in no enemy or enmity; but perfect love in every heart and to every being; where there is perfect harmony among all the inhabitants, no one envying another, but everyone rejoicing in the happiness of every other... where love is always mutual and reciprocated to the full; where there is no hypocrisy or dissembling, but perfect simplicity and sincerity; where there is no treachery or unfaithfulness  or inconstancy or jealousy in any form... where there is no division through different opinions or interests, but where all in that glorious and loving society shall be most nearly and divinely related, and each shall belong to honor, without any sickness, or grief, or persecution, or sorrow, or any enemy to molest them, or any busybody to create jealousy or misunderstanding, or mar the perfect, and holy, and blessed peace that reigns in heaven!"

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Sometimes it's just good to laugh

I have watched this short video so many times tonight I thought I may as well share it here.  I still laugh every time!

I just wish I could move like that... without the whole face-plant into the wall bit.

Enjoy - have a good weekend.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Back on the mission

We are too easy on ourselves.  We constantly look at others and judge, yet look at ourselves and make excuses. Just look this week, with Anthony Mundine in the ring, Craig Thompson's arrest, the ongoing Lance Armstrong saga and even simply that Becks has chosen to move to Paris instead of Perth we line up and make judgement calls about each one.  Now some of these people have most definitely made bad decisions even illegal ones.  But day to day I am sure we make similar ones ourselves, it's just that no one hears about them.  Mundine get's himself in trouble because of his ego, his pride causes such stark obnoxiousness, Thompson and Armstrong were greedy, and you know what... we are too... we feed our egos and our greed just as much as the next person. (and who cares where Becks lives).

As a church we need to be real with ourselves.  Jesus was never slow in pointing out issues with the religious organisation - and sometimes I wish I had the courage to do so more poignantly as well.  Mark Driscoll in his book Doctrine writes this about the church.
The church obeys the Great Commission to evangelize and make disciples.  The church is an evangelistic community where the gospel of Jesus is constantly made visible through its proclamation of the gospel, the witness of the members' lives, and its Spirit-empowered life of live.  From the first day, "the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved" because they took Jesus' command seriously; "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
The church is to be an evangelistic people on mission in the world, passionate to see lost people meet Jesus Christ as Savior, God, and Lord.  Any church submitting to the Holy Spirit and obedient to Scripture wants fewer divorces, addictions, thefts, and abuses and knows the only way to see that happen is to make more disciples.  The church loves people and is continually and painfully aware of the devastation that is wrought in this life and in the life to come for those who are not reconciled to God.  Therefore, while not imposing religion on anyone, the church of Jesus Christ is to constantly be proposing reconciliation with God to everyone.
Before we point fingers at the like of Mundine, Thompson and Armstrong we need to take stock of how we are living up to the mission and object of our faith.  Are we following Jesus' commands? In Deception Bay alone we have not even half the Religious Education teachers we need to cover the three primary schools.  One person is teaching eight classes a week to attempt to see the junior grades covered, and she is worked to exhaustion.  In our church of over 100, we struggle to get more than four leaders to any of the children or youth ministries... Kids Club, Youth Group, Kids Time are all floundering because no one puts their hand up to help.   When you add the other churches in the area we should have more than enough people to cover the R.E teaching, plus within dBay Baptist we have more than enough to cover every one of our ministries.  So why are we lacking?

Unfortunately the people still reading at this stage are probably those who are committed enough to actually help out, but I just wish we are a Church (worldwide) would see that the Gospel is the only answer to the world's problems, and Christ followers are the only people who can deliver the Gospel.  We need to stop focusing on ourselves and get back to the mission the Church was called to.  When we see public figures fall, maybe instead of pointing the finger and feeling good about ourselves, we should see the same flaws in us and turn to Jesus in repentance... asking Him to renew the passion for his mission in our hearts and show us how we can forward His Gospel once again.
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