Friday, 19 April 2013

Big Stories; Bigger Truth

This Sunday evening we start a new sermon series at dBay Baptist that will run throughout the second term. There are stories in the Bible which many of us have heard from the youngest of ages. Maybe we first heard the stories on our father's knee, or at the dinner table, or maybe in Sunday School or a kids camp. For others they may be stories you heard even though you didn't grow up in the Church—maybe it was a movie reference, mentioned in a book, or talked about in school...

Either way these stories, though well known, can be taken for granted - or even misinterpreted. The idea of this series is to look at the idea of Biblical Theology, this term is used to explain the continuing theme of God and his Gospel which is constant throughout all of Scripture. We are going to look at how each of these ‘big stories’ impacts on our knowledge of the ‘bigger truth’ of Jesus' Gospel and his plan for our lives.

God sent Jesus as the full revelation of Himself, and his plan to heal the relationship between Himself and all humankind. Our salvation (and our peace with God) is wholly subject to the grace that only comes from Jesus’ substitution for us on the cross. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 says this is of “first importance”, so it is important to understand how all Scripture points to this first importance.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A good reflection today on loss

With the shocking images coming from Boston, once again that question is raised 'How can God allow it?'  The Christian life does offer answer, but it is still a tough thought.  God can be glorified by the way in which we respond to loss.  

I think this thought isn't just for Christians who have lost today, but all Christians who are passing through times of trial - I know there are many even in my church who are in situations that leave them feeling God must have forgotten them, but these words remind us that He never does, and our place is to glorify Him no matter what.

God's glory shines more brightly when he satisfies us in times of loss than when he provides for us in times of plenty. The health, wealth, and prosperity "gospel" swallows up the beauty of Christ in the beauty of his gifts and turns the gifts into idols.  The world is not impressed when Christians get rich and say thanks to God.  They are impressed when God is so satisfying that we give our riches away for Christ's sake and count it gain.  
No one ever said that they learned their deepest lessons of life, or had their sweetest encounters with God, on the sunny days.  People go deep with God when the drought comes.  That is the way God designed it.  Christ aims to be magnified in life most clearly by the way we experience him in our losses.  Paul is our example: "We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead" (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).  The design of Paul's suffering was to make radically clear for his own soul, and for ours, that God and God alone is the only treasure who lasts.  When everything in life is stripped away except God, and we trust him more because of it, this is gain, and he is glorified.
John Piper - Don't Waste Your Life - p72-73

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Lost in a special moment.

Jason Bright very fittingly won the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy in New Zealand as part of the latest V8 Supercar round.  Brighty was Jason's teammate before he had to leave the sport, and now drives Jason's car (same sponsor - BOC - and number 8).  The team is still very connected to the Richards family after Jason lost his brief fight with cancer in 2011, so it was good to see them win the first memorial trophy.

However, Brighty may want to be a bit more aware of his surroundings when jumping up on the podium.  It certainly was one of those heart warming moments in sport though.  Having met Jason Richards through my chaplaincy work I'll admit that I was moved to tears today, especially when his daughter jumped into Jason Bright's arms and presented him with a painting she'd made for him.

Monday, 8 April 2013


I am so lucky to be Uncle to these three amazing boys. Nathanael is now 3; Reuben almost 2, and Isaiah is 4 weeks old today.

Hopefully one day I will be a dad, but for now I love these guys and the time I get to spend with them, God has greatly blessed us as a family.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Church changing its environment

I was very interested to see this photo, which Mark Driscoll posted about the Easter Sunday service at his Mars Hill church in Downtown Seattle.

I visited the Downtown campus of Mars Hill when I was in Seattle in 2009.  It looked nothing like this though.  At the time I was really wanting the opportunity to see Mark live - and since I was only in Seattle overnight I tried contacting the church to find which campus he would be preaching at.  I didn't get a response and took a stab at the Downtown church. Unfortunately Mark wasn't there, but we watched his sermon via the video link.

However at the time the church was located in an old night club.  The mood was very edgy and young adult focused.  It was very dark and moody, the music was grungy and there was a bit of a disconnected feeling as everyone seemed to be doing their own thing.  I still enjoyed it immensely, though my mother (who was with me) wasn't overly into the environment but loved Pastor Mark's sermon.

Obviously the photo above doesn't look like the environment I just described.  I can remember walking around Seattle with Mum, and we saw this old church in the centre of the city.  It looked pretty rough, and not cared for - a gathering spot for the homeless and beggars   At the time I remember thinking of the potential of such a grand old building and the life a church of Christ followers could breath into it.

Hence my interest in the photo posted by Mark today. It seems Mars Hill Downtown have moved into this building and it looks bright, joyful and alive!  I am not sure how long they have been in the building, but the environment looks vastly different.  It makes me wonder if the dark/moody/young adult vibe is sustainable considering most young adults are moving quickly towards families and more settled lives.

I also love that this old building, with it's huge pipe organ, is being used by a contemporary church.  Even with robe-dressed choir and old wooden pews I am sure it would have still been a rocking service of celebration. It gives hope that our churches can change their environments, and even incorporate the old with the new.
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