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?

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