Friday, 24 January 2014

Jesus Doesn't Bite

Here's a quick, funny video from Ken Davis

He posted this on his own blog with the following thoughts.
"My daughter was about three when she tottered up to me, removed the pacifier from her mouth, and asked, “Does Jesus bite?” Wow! I know a lot of adults who are still asking that question.
I pulled her up on my lap and told her that Jesus NEVER bites. Sometimes the people who follow him bite, but he is always faithful and will never bite you or leave you. Satisfied, she popped the pacifier back in her mouth and waddled away...
In sixty years of life I have wandered down many paths, experienced terrifying lows and exhilarating highs. I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you this, “Jesus doesn’t bite.” No one can “sic” Jesus on you, but you can call him and find out for yourself (Rom 8:31-39)."
You can see the entire post here.

Monday, 20 January 2014

How we consider our mission for God.

The following are a collection of Tweets from one of Louie Giglio's sermons at Passion 2014 in Atlanta Georgia.  They paint the encouraging illustration that we as Christians do not wallow in sin (though we may sin), but we are NEW in Jesus Christ, and we are sons and daughters of God, greatly loved.  From that we can look at doing God's will, working on His mission as something to be greatly rejoiced in. We are invited to be a part of His plan, we are not forced to labour for Him.

  1. Your story is not that you are a sinner. You WERE sinners but were made brand new in Jesus Christ.

God doesn't give birth to sinners, he gives birth to sons and daughters.

  1. I do not belong to this world. I belong to God.

Mission becomes a privilege to be included in the things of God. Not an obligation or duty. It's a privilege of life.

God's gonna do what God's gonna do whether I get on board or not.

When you see privilege and you see grace, you get sent by mercy. It's not a negotiation, it's an invitation.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

I'm a Believer

This song from Audio Adrenalin gives a great image of courage and determination.  A courage and determination we need to have with our faith in God.

The side story of Derek Rabelo illustrates it well, but as you listen to the song contemplate your own attitude towards following Christ.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Having a love for the Bible

I have a great love for the Bible.  My desire this year at Deception Bay Baptist is to see the youth, young adults, and rest of the congregation have a vibrant, impacting and convicting love for the Bible, and ultimately for Jesus.

Thinking about ministry in 2014 I feel God impressing upon me to communicate and live out my love for Him through expressing and showing people my love for His Word.  I am now investigating ways I can do this better, through my preaching, through my conversation and other practical ways.

First things first though is me passionately jumping into the Bible daily. I have always loved the Bible, but I can neglect it.  But if I want to be a shining example I know I have to remedy that first.

The gift of being Born Again

It seems to be a bit of a theme this week in my thought process, but my reading this morning once again has me thinking of our new life in Christ and being born again.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
~1 Peter 1:3-9, ESV
So in a previous post I wanted to convey the importance of knowing the concept of being born again, and in another post about the seriousness of only those who are born again are actually saved.  But today I was reading this passage and God refreshed in me the joyous gift being born again is.  The truth is we are created to glorify God... but being born into sin breaks and damages us from our original purpose.  Living our sinful life can never be completely fulfilling because we aren't doing what we were originally created to do - no matter how much someone denies it, they were created to glorify God, and until they do they will never be truly satisfied.
God created me - and you - to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion - namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. Enjoying and displaying are both crucial. If we try to display the excellence of God without joy in it, we will display a shell of hypocrisy and create scorn or legalism. But if we claim to enjoy his excellence and do not display it for others to see and admire, we deceive ourselves, because the mark of God-enthralled joy is to overflow and expand by extending itself into the hearts of others. The wasted life in the life without passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.
~John Piper - Don't Waste Your Life - p31
So being born again into the new life Jesus gives through the cross is the greatest gift... it is not just a way to avoid hell and pain. Being born again is God allowing us to fulfill our original purpose... which is not a boring, or troublesome thing, but something we can enjoy and be passionate about.

As a pastor I think I need to be careful to express my joy and happiness in being born again, and in expressing and displaying my enjoyment in glorifying God.  Because I think the main reason people don't get this exceptionally awesome point is that most people expressing and preaching or being an example of the Christian life do it in a way that is starved of joy.

Today take some time to consider the gift of your new life, rejoice, and glorify God - enjoy glorifying God because that is what we were created for.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Ageless ideas

Mark Dever ‏@MarkDever19m
‘When I look upon myself, I see nothing but emptiness & weakness; but when I look upon Christ, I see nothing but fullness & sufficiency.’ -Gouge

William Gouge lived during the English Reformation in the 1500's, but when I read Pastor Mark's tweet today I realised I was contemplating the exact same thought today.  The Christian faith is truly ageless... because it is The Truth for all humankind.  Forever humans have been sinful, weak and empty, and even before time God has been completely full and sufficient.

Though it is discouraging to realise my failures again and again, it can immediately be encouraging to know that Jesus has more than paid for them and I am completely safe within His grace.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The seriousness of being Born Again.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see..."
~Revelation 3:15-18 - ESV
Was reading Francis Chan's ideas from this verse today and thought I would share.
When you read this passage, do you naturally conclude that to be "spit" out of Jesus' mouth means you're part of His kingdom?  When you read the words "wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked," do you think that He's describing saints? When He counsels them to "buy white clothes to wear" in order to cover their "shameful nakedness," does it sound like advice for those already saved?
I thought people who were saved were already made white and clothed by Christ's blood...
Jesus' call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing.  The thought of a person calling himself a "Christian" without being a devout follower of Christ is absurd...
I doubt if people even considered these questions back in Jesus' day! Is this idea of the non-fruit bearing Christian something that we have concocted in order to make Christianity "easier"?  So we can follow our own course while still calling ourselves followers of Christ?
~Francis Chan - Crazy Love - p85-86
Another passage linked to Chan's thought is James 2:19, I think he's hitting the nail on the head here - our churches today need to be full of Christians - not people who claim the title but aren't devout followers of Jesus. Following on from this morning's post I think that there are many people out there making resolutions, or even claiming to make them, so they can try and fit in with the Christian image (some good it with good conscious, other's do it for their own gain to just to fit in somewhere).  Jesus doesn't want resolutions, He only accepts those who have been born again into the new life He gives. There's not halfway, no "lukewarm".

We're either hot or cold.  In or Out. Sometimes it's good to really reflect on what it means to be hot, or in.

Monday, 13 January 2014

What does it take to be a Christian in 2014?

We're in our third week of 2014 and I wonder how many people have already broken their new year's resolution?

Resolutions are like that aren't they? We make them with a stern determination, but in truth it is really a whimsical commitment that doesn't take long to wane.

So if we approach the Christian life with the attitude of being resolute to be different, then our Christian life will falter as quickly as that 'not-eating-chocolate' resolution made on December 31st.  So true Christianity then is not a resolution.  If not, then what is it?  What makes it something that can never fade away, can never be renounced and will always be part of our very identity?

The answer is, because Christianity is all about a completely new life.

The old one is gone - that simple, gone! A new life has begun, that doesn't need resolutions to do things better, because it is founded in the One who made all things new.  Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, lives in the new life of a believer... that cannot be renounced, that cannot be ignored and the Holy Spirit does not fade away.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
~John 3:1-6, ESV
Entering the kingdom of God is this new life we have mentioned.  Once we enter that kingdom then we are not subject to the ways of the old kingdom of the world where we were born. In some sense Christians have a foot in each kingdom as they still have to live in the world, but their heart (their soul, their very self) is a resident in God's kingdom.  This comes from being born again... being born is a very definitive moment - your first birth is probably the most definitive moment of your life (where would you be if that never happened???).  A second birth would be equally definitive because it means you have entered a completely different life.  Being born of the Spirit means we now live with Jesus in us, His life gives us life, His love encourages and strengthens us, His grace has saved us from our sin and we can look forward to eternal life.
Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
~John 3:9-15, ESV
It is hard for us to understand - because the truth is, we only really know that which we have experienced. I can't tell you the intimate details of the experience of skydiving, because I have never actually experienced jumping out of a plane, but I can listen to someone who has skydived, and learn all about what it feels like and how it works through their knowledge.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is eternal and yet He came from the kingdom of God to tell us about it.  He has experienced it, so we can learn about it from Him, even if we don't totally understand it.

To explain Jesus uses the story of Moses and the bronze serpent.  At the time the Israelites had disobeyed God and he had sent a curse of poisonous snakes into their camp.  People were being bitten and were dying, but Moses fashioned a bronze snake and held it up on a pole.  Anyone who turned their eyes to that snake, lifting their eyes from the life around them and focusing on something completely different, were not bitten and were saved.  Jesus points to his own sacrifice, that He will be lifted on a cross. His suffering though will pave the way for forgiveness so that anyone who lifts their eyes off their own life and turns them to Jesus lifted on the cross will be saved from the results of that old life.  The result is that those lifting their eyes to the cross will be born again by the Spirit into a new life, into the kingdom of God and will live forever, always with a faith placed inside them by God Himself.

So in 2014 how do you live as a Christian? The same as always, but maybe we just need to stop resoluting to be better, and actually experience new life.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Come to the water...

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, ESV)

Thursday, 9 January 2014


I have been thinking about influence a bit lately.  I see how as a youth pastor I have a certain amount of influence over the perceptions of life my youth group teens come to have. Not just in matters of faith but in the subtle things they pick up from my actions, from the way to talk and language to use, to how to interact with others and even things like driving and eating habits.

In some cases I think my influence probably hasn't been the best possible example, and I have been checking myself in these last few weeks about improving the influence I have by making sure my life, my standpoint and my comments are the best example young people can see in their life around them. Sure I'm going to stuff up, but I want to diligently be the best example I can be.

The greater the influence, the more careful we have to be I think. If you have a worldwide influence then any little comment you make can have a huge effect on different lives.  I witnessed recently someone of great influence make some remarks which have caused ripples of uncertainty to sweep through the Church - it wasn't a core theological issue, but something small, and something not set in stone. But by one person making that comment it has impacted relationships and points of view in practical ways that I am sure the person never intended.

I think it's a reminder to look at the influence we each have and ensure that we are doing the best with it and being careful not to cause issues through bad (even if accidental) influence.

Friday, 3 January 2014

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
(John 3:16, ESV)

So famous... so quoted... so memorised... but is it now so familiar that we don't stop to grasp the significance of this verse?

This verse is a flow on from Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus regarding being born again.  Jesus has shown that the kingdom of God is at hand, a completely new life if on offer which does not dwell in slavery to sin.  Something all the world has dealt with for all of history is being made new.  A life without sin is attainable.   Why has this happened?

Because even in its sin God has loved the world so much... so much that He has now sent His Son to come and pave the way into that new kingdom. Jesus takes the punishment for that sin that we have dealt with for so long, so that anyone who has faith in Him doesn't need to pay for their sin and can live forever just like God planned it in the beginning.

This verse outlines the Gospel in such a complete and succinct manner... I know that's why it has become so quoted, but let's not allow its familiarity to tarnish the impact of Gospel truth into our lives.
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