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 ( 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.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Who I know...

I haven't posted here for a while. To be honest I just haven't felt any of my thoughts have been worth putting up.

But recently as I've been working with the youth here in Deception Bay I have been rolling this thought process around in my head.

Young people love to 'name drop'... and they seem to respect people who have met, or know, famous people.  In meeting teens at the local high school, kids at the primary school or even just in the relationship building with teens/kids at my church it's very easy to get into the name dropping routine as it does impress them, and make me look 'cool'.

Being a motorsports chaplain I can name drop with the best of them. I have had personal conversations with nearly all the current V8 Supercar drives, been to some of their weddings, and hung out with some pretty big names.  I once played in a band where Guy Sebastian sang as a backup (though it was well before his Australian Idol time), I have a mate who plays for the Gold Coast Suns, I use to be part of the Brisbane Christian music scene and a lot of my friends went on to work with some of the best in the Christian music industry.  It's very easy to tell stories about who I know, because they are cool people. Young people have a much greater inclination for 'hero worship' than older generations, and you really get some credit points when you can feed their intoxication of connectedness to fame.

And why wouldn't you do it??? Because when I think about the 'coolness' of talking about 'Who I am' as opposed to "Who I know" I can't think how I'd get any connection with young people.  If all I talked about was who I am I could only say things like 'I'm a discontented lonely guy', 'I struggle everyday with not being good enough', 'I find myself falling into sin and not being able to do anything about it', 'I annoy the hell out of people', 'Sometimes I just feel like giving up'.

Who I am is a pretty pitiful picture.  My sense of self worth discourages me from sharing this with young people, because why would they then want anything to do with someone like that?  It's much easier to talk myself up by connecting myself with someone famous.

And thinking about that I find my answer... not to connect myself with someone famous... but to connect myself with Jesus.  By knowing Jesus I can say things like, 'I am loved more than anything I can understand', 'I am completely free', 'I am of great worth', 'Someone thought so much of me they died for me', 'I can do amazing things', 'I have been made a completely new person'.

But the thing is, young people don't see Jesus as that 'cool famous person' (like saying I had spent a heap of time in the Holden Racing Team garage with the drivers last weekend...) - so for it to have the same effect I need to be willing to share the 'Who I am' so the "Who I know (Jesus)' has a bigger (and cooler) impact.  That means I have to get over my sense of self worth and see my worth as all in Jesus.  Then maybe I can effectively communicate my life, His love, and their need for grace.
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