Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Is His Word enough?

Below is a confronting illustration on how materialistic the church in the West is - yep even here in Australia. We may think we're doing better than the world around us, and we probably are. But our culture is so soaked in consumerism, maybe we still don't realise how consumeristic we really are. Take a look at this story of visiting a Chinese house church.

Just imagine going to a worship gathering in one of those house churches... The Asian believer who is taking you gives you the instructions. "Put on dark pants and a jacket with a hood on it. We will put you in the back of our car and drive you into the village. Please keep your hood on and your face down."
When you arrive in the village under the cover of night, another Asian believer meets you at the door of the car/ "Follow me," he says.
With you hood over your head, you crawl out of the car, keeping your face toward the ground. You begin to walk with your eyes fixed on the feet of the man in front of you as he leads you down a long winding path with a small flashlight. You hear more and more footsteps around you as you progress down the trail. Then finally you round the corner and walk into a small room.
Despite its size, sixty believers have crammed into it. They are all ages, from precious little girls to seventy-year-old men. They are sitting either on the floor or on small stools, lined shoulder to shoulder, huddled together with their Bibles in their laps. The roof is low, and one light bulb dangles from the middle of the ceiling and as a sole source of illumination.
No sound system.
No band.
No guitar.
No entertainment.
No cushioned chairs.
No heated or air-conditioned building.
Nothing but the people of God and the Word of God.
And strangely, that's enough.
God's Word is enough for millions of believers who gather in house churches just like this one. His Word is enough for millions of other believers who huddle in African jungles, South American rain forests, and Middle Eastern cities.
But is his Word enough for us?
~David Platt, Radical, p25-26

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

"Forgive me..."

How often do we say those words? How often do we consider ourselves in need of forgiveness? Both from Jesus and people around us?

Sometimes I think we take for granted the fact that people (and Jesus) do forgive us, so we don't seek it.  Maybe we need to.

If I have upset you or wronged you in anyway, can you let me know... so I can seek forgiveness.


Sunday, 20 April 2014

He is Risen

I believe it because I have experienced it myself. I don't know what you believe, but check out this spoken word poem... it's kind of epic.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Tweet of the Week

If Jesus is who He says He is- everything in your life will and should change.

As we celebrate Easter (even if all you're celebrating is a 4 day weekend) just stop for a second and think about that tweet.  There's plenty of evidence out there, even apart from the Bible, to show that Jesus lived an extraordinary life, and you'll find even secular historians giving the Bible more historic kudos that mainstream media would let on.

So if that evidence points to truth, and Jesus is who He says He is, then change is needed, but that change is GOOD!

Friday, 18 April 2014

It Is Finished

Three words (one in the Greek) that make everything ok.

Three words that mean that you can have peace with God

Three words that mean nothing stands between you and eternal life

Three words that cost God more than you could ever imagine.

I find it hard to hold back the tears any time I read the Gospel account and read those three words, "it is finished", but even more so on Good Friday as we set aside a day to remember the cross and all Jesus went through there.

Even as a believer my life fails to glorify God so many times on so many levels, but I can turn again and again to the cross because on it Jesus took all the punishment for sin... all of it! It is finished!!!

I remember, and I turn to your grace once again Lord Jesus

Thank you.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Hope does not disappoint.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
~Romans 5:2-5
This past week has forced me to see the power of hope.  Last Friday my 20 year old cousin had a motorbike accident.  He was headed to work when a car failed to give way at an intersection, his bike exploded and he was flung into a pole.

He was airlifted to Brisbane with a major leg injury, there was no other injury praise God (no organ, spine or head; apparently he had even be awake and talking with police officers on the scene), and my father and I were his only relatives in Brisbane so we went to the hospital and sat with him until his family could make the four hour trip down.

It was confronting to see a strong 20 year old man (who was only a gawky teen of 14 the last time I saw him) unconscious, on a respirator and about to have surgery to remove the bottom part of his right leg.  Unfortunately there was no way to save the leg.

As the week has gone on he has had further surgeries, and to this point has remained in an induced coma.   There's been some complications with his leg and I believe yesterday surgery was done to remove even more.  It has been a time of shock and high emotion for the family... and for the most part a sense of hopelessness.

This is all very personal as I am sure you can understand, but the thing that has been very apparent to me as I personally deal with this is the truth of Romans 5.  As Christians we do stand on grace and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  To be so close to people trying to deal without standing or being able to rejoice highlights to me that hope never disappoints, but a lack of hope is a constant disappointment.

Romans 5 starts with the amazing truth that because of Jesus' actions on the cross we can now have peace with God.  That is our biggest need, before any physical or emotional need the one thing that is most vital for us is to find peace with God... because that peace allows all other things to be handled by the fact we can stand on His grace [so we cannot be condemned or defeated or accused or pulled down] and rejoice in His glory [no matter what situation we find ourselves in we have something much greater we can hold onto].

In that sense sufferings can build endurance and character and, ultimately, hope, because it is all seen through the lens of having our eternity secured through being at peace with God, because God's love has now been poured into our hearts.

This week I have physically experienced the Holy Spirit doing that, pouring love into my heart. It is such a gift to be given the Holy Spirit (God Himself) to dwell inside me.  That's where unwavering hope comes from, not a strong nature or character, but from God Himself.

Hope does not disappoint.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Tweet of the Week

Everything great begins with a tiny, fragile seed. Every seed takes time. Plant well. Stay faithful. This is the way of God.

Patience is a thing I keep learning time and time again as I continue the work of pastor. I look up to Louie and his ministry greatly, the Scriptural focus (even a midst the flood of popular music and that pressure) is core to everything he does. "Dropping people at the feet of Jesus" is one of his little points, it's not about people following Louie, or Chris Tomlin, or Kristian Stansfield... The Passion Church wants to drop people at the feet of Jesus... and let Jesus be their inspiration, teacher, corrector and everything.

But that huge movement started as a seed.  But a seed with good intentions. I want to make sure I am planting seeds of Gospel intentions too.  I think more churches need to consider this before starting new things, or even ending older things.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Remembering The Gambia 2004

I can't believe it's been 10 years since I was in The Gambia working with WEC International.

These videos (though short) still stir my heart... as to the many photos I have.  Gambia, I pray for you often and in many ways you still have my heart.

A Psalm of True Intimacy.

Psalm 139
Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
 If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,"
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
 Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
 Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
I have been meditating on this Psalm and it's context and influence on my life.  A song of David, written to worship God, and lead the people in worship, Psalm 139 really expresses well this expanse of God's greatness, the fact that he is beyond our comprehension but still relatable and approachable.

I love that it starts with the fact that God has searched and known me - I can't stop Him from doing that - but the psalm then ends with an invitation for God to come and search and know me.

David knows you can't stop God from knowing you, and he expresses that by expressing there's no play he can hide from God, that God knows our thoughts, that He knows what we are going to say... verse 6 is amazing!!! "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high, I cannot contain it" - wow - David expresses so well the unattainable place God is, the fact He is high, we can never expect to comprehend all that God is.  God knows us, and searches us no matter if we want him to or not.

He can do so because we are "fearfully and wonderfully made", our inner most parts constructed by God Himself.

All this acknowledgement of the hugeness and awareness of God leads David to verse 17, "How precious to me are your thoughts..." - if God is so amazingly above everything else, then His thoughts have to be the most precious thing we could ever experience - the thing we need to hold most dear.  It's only when we understand how amazing He is, then we will know all that comes from Him is the very best for us, and then as verses 19-22 show we see how utterly worthless the ways and words of the world are.

So that brings this amazing formula of an intimate relationship with God to conclusion...

  • we grasp how God's power and greatness is beyond what we can ever imagine or understand.
  • we accept He knows and searches us and there's no way we can hide anything from Him.
  • we accept that is ok because we know He has created us and intrinsically knows and cares for us (even more so in the light of the Gospel and what Jesus has done for our salvation).
  • we then see the foolishness of the world's point of view...

...and finally we invite God to search and know us. There's such a huge difference from just accepting God does know everything; to inviting Him to know everything.  Because when we invite Him, then we can ask Him to "see if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting".

That is true intimacy with God.

Friday, 4 April 2014

DWYL - Chapter Six

What is the nature and aim of glad-hearted, Christian giving? It is the effort - with as much creativity and sacrifice as necessary - to give others everlasting and every-increasing joy? - joy in God. If God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him, as we argued in Chapter 2, then living for the glory of God must mean that we live to gladly make others glad in God. Our gladness and pursuit of  their gladness glorified God. And since gladness in God is the greatest and most lasting happiness, pursuing it is also love. Since the same joy in God both satisfies man and glorifies God, we never have to choose between the motive to love people or to glorify God. By gladly pursuing the gladness of others in God - even at the cost of our lives - we love them and honor God. This is the opposite of a wasted life.
~John Piper - DWYL, p102-103
This is where the rubber hits the road.  The point where something is laid out in front of you and you have a choice... a choice to agree or disagree... then a choice to change or not.

If you don't agree then there's no need for change.  If you agree but choose not to change I can't say I see any good in it.  If you agree, then to avoid any kind of hypocrisy or laziness you must then choose to change.

Chapter six is a real hinge point of the book. We have been motivated through chapters 1-5 to not have a wasted life, and here Piper outlines what the opposite of a wasted life is.  In the last chapters he will show us what we can practically do to not waste out life.

So chapter six leaves us at the point of decision.  Do I agree with the motivation, does it in fact move me to not waste my life in the way Piper outlines.  If you are motivated but don't change then you are either too lazy to do anything (which is a sin) or hypocritical because you expect others to do something you are not willing to (which is a sin).

So ask yourself the hard questions.  Do you think that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him? Are you motivated to glorify God?  Then why do you search for satisfaction elsewhere?  What has to change in your life so that you are most satisfied in God?

Because once that change happens and you act on your motivation, then the making others glad in God will be a natural by-product of you being totally satisfied in God.

You can hear the chapter six sermon here.

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