Tuesday, 27 May 2014

When something just doesn't belong.

Last week I hopefully started the healing process after more than two years of pain and discomfort.  Many who know me know that I have had long term issues with my right knee.  There always seems to be pain, or locking or swelling and though for periods it settles down it has never quite gone away.  Recently, one night after youth group, it really flared up and has been so painful that I finally had an MRI and went and saw a specialist.

It was tad confusing because nothing really showed up on the MRI (no ligament or large cartilage damage) so the special wanted to do an exploratory arthroscope to get a camera inside my knee and have a look.  That's what happened last Monday.

I had a follow up appointment with the specialist yesterday and he showed me all the video he took inside my knee (very cool).  All the ligaments were good, all the cartilage was healthy and undamaged.  But a part of the cushioning cartilage from behind my knee cap was missing. The doc showed me the video and explained that it had probably been knocked away in an impact injury, but was in a space that shouldn't cause any problems.

However he then showed me the next video... you could see those pieces of cartilage that had broken away floating around in my knee.  Apparently these three 1cm square pieces of flesh have been what have been causing most of my pain for the last few years... they float around and maybe get caught where they'll cause the knee to lock, or they'll catch on my ACL and inflame it causing pain - or my body starts producing fluid in the knee to flush them out so it swells.  They wouldn't show up on an MRI, but because they just didn't belong they were the cause of all the trouble. On the video I then watched as a little claw tool grabbed each piece and pulled them out of my knee.

I had lots of time last week to sit and think, and it's funny, I had been reflecting on something similar in our lives... sin.  Just like those squares in my knee didn't belong, and because they were there they produced constant suffering, sin in the world causes the entire universe in which we live to suffer.  Sin lingers, it inflames, it breaks down, it causes pain.

How good is it then that we know through the Gospel that one day all sin is going to be plucked away as simply as the doctor removed that cartilage from my knee. In fact as Christians that has in part been done for us, we are saved from sin - even if we still experience it's effects.  I am still experiencing the pain of having little probes pushed into my knee, and it will take time to heal and get over the impact of surgery, but when it does it should be good as new.  Jesus has saved us from our sin, but while we are still in this world we experience the pain of living in a sinful place... one day though it will all be good as new.

Thank you Jesus!

Write verse, right time.

I was doing a devotion yesterday and grabbed a devotional Bible I haven't used it quite a while to find something. A bookmark fell out as I flipped through the paper, it was made by a friend of mine in The Gambia and sent to me long ago... this is the Scripture she wrote on it.
"I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint... For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay."
~Habakkuk 2:1; 3
Amazing how Inkeri made the bookmark and wrote the verse for me about 8 years ago, I probably saw it last about 3 years ago when I slipped it in this Bible... but today I needed to read that verse.  Stand strong, know God has a plan, know it will be revealed at the right moment and He will give the strength needed to work at whatever He plans.

Monday, 26 May 2014

TeenStreet - changing lives...

This weekend about 80 Young Adults (and a few older...) are meeting up to really get the TeenStreet 2014 ball rolling. As we come together as a leadership team to prayer for and plan the camp this year we are reminded once again how this one week camp can change lives.

Check out the promo video for this year, and if you know any teens send them to TeenStreet.org to register for this year's camp.

TeenStreet Australia from Ian Anderson Media on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Tweet of the Week

Demanding respect is like chasing a butterfly.Chase it, & you'll never catch it.Sit still, & it may light on your shoulder.


Character encourages respect... when people see things as a part of your character, not an egotistical desire or strive for notice, that's when real respect comes.  My character has to be defined by Jesus, I want to be more like Him, even though I know most of the time I am little like Him.

It's easier to try and demand respect... because that's in me... that's me working. Instead I know I should focus on being like Jesus, having his compassion, mercy and love... seeing things from His perspective. That's a lot harder than trying to make people respect me.

Monday, 19 May 2014

DWYL - Chapter Eight

How do you make the most of Jesus while you are at work?

If Jesus is the Single Passion you live by (chapter 1), the beauty of what Christ did on the cross is the blazing centre of your joy in life (chapter 2 and 3) and, therefore, the goal of you life is to gladly make others glad in that same Jesus (chapter six), then that somehow has to be apparent in your work life.  

The way we work is a vital part of us not wasting our lives, and as Piper says in chapter 8, that doesn't mean that everyone as soon as you become a Christian should leave your work for full time ministry.
Please don't hear in the phrase "secular vocation" any unspiritual or inferior comparison to "church vocation" or "mission vocation" or "spiritual vocation."  I simply mean the vocations that are not structurally connected to the church. There is such a thing as being in the world but not of the world, as Jesus taught when he prayed in John 17:15-16, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." So Jesus' intention is that his disciples remain in the world (which is what I mean by "secular jobs"), but that they not be "of the world"...
~John Piper, DWYL, p132
The idea reflects back to Jesus' call for His people to be "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" in Matthew 5.   Salt is spread throughout a whole dish to enhance the flavour of it all. You get one bit of your soup that has a congealed blob of salt and that bit will taste fierce!  Salt needs to spread out to be effective.

God has placed you in your job... to be salty for that network of people you have relationship with.  So consider today how you make the most of Christ in your workday.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Jesus, Only Jesus

This song has not escaped my focus while thinking about the necessity of Jesus. I have been singing it, whistling it, and rolling it through my head non stop for days now.

Beautiful and worshipful.

The Gospel for the Rich

On Monday I felt it necessary to question how we can possibly motivate people who seem to be doing fine, that they need Jesus.  Not just that Jesus is a nice guy to be connected to - or saying you're a Christian to appease someone else... but that Jesus is a necessity.  I know He is - because I have experienced the grace and love and hope He gives through new life... I could never imagine getting by without that.

But many these days may know all about Him, may have grown up in church and still be attending, yet still feel that they have never experienced Jesus actually doing anything for them.  How does one communicate the necessity of Jesus to people who are living this life?

The same day these questions were swirling in my head I read this;
The gospel... leads us to be humble, free from moral superiority, because we know we were spiritually bankrupt yet saved by Christ's free generosity. It leads us to be gracious, not worried too much about people getting what they deserve because we are aware that none of us deserve the grace of Christ.  It also inclines us to be respectful of poor Christian believers as our brothers and sisters in Christ, people from whom we can learn. The gospel alone can produce a humble respect for and solidarity with the poor.
In James 1:9-10, the poor Christian "ought to take pride in his high position" but the rich Christian "should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower."  Here James is using the gospel on his listeners' class-consciousness. Everyone in Christ is at the same time a sinner who deserves death and also an adopted child of God, fully accepted and loved. But James proposes that the well-off believer would spiritually benefit by thinking about his or her sinfulness before God, since out in the world he or she gets a lot of acclaim. The poor believer, however, would spiritually benefit by thinking about his or her new high spiritual status, since out in the world he or she gets nothing but disdain.
~Tim Keller, Center Church, p51
Though Keller is here describing how the Gospel can tear down accusations of class among believers it pushed my mind to thinking how this could possibly also be an effective way of communicating the Gospel to those who don't know it.

Those who are poor, lost in their sin, recognise their life is a mess and are searching for an answer to the gaping whole in their lives don't need to be overly convinced of how their sin would tear down a relationship with God.  They live it... they get it... so as we share the Gospel with them we highlight His forgiveness and how Jesus' new life will lift them to a high spiritual position as adopted sons of God.

But the majority of people in our Australian churches each week fit more into the profile of the 'rich Christian'... in that they live the life I was pondering in my last post...
But for so many in the world today, especially young people, it seems that they just don't find any need for Jesus. In a world where you don't get bored because there's always something to do or watch. You don't get lonely because you can always connect with someone via social media (no matter how superficial). You don't go without because credit cards allows us to have everything now.
What Makes Jesus a Necessity 
...for these people should our focus on presenting the Gospel weigh more heavily on the idea of people's sinfulness before God.  Show that even with everything they have, they have nothing before God without Jesus. In the wider idea of the church in modern society people would want to present a more positive message, especially expecting a Youth Pastor to preach hope to teens more than the despair of sin, but does that not just feed the 'I am ok' lie that the majority of the Australian population believers?

Do we as Pastors need to present the hopelessness and sinfulness we have in our standing before God for the spiritual benefit of the rich (which are the majority in our churches), so we can take pride in our low position because we more clearly see the necessity of faith in Jesus?

Monday, 12 May 2014

What makes Jesus a necessity?

I would be completely lost if my life wasn't found new in Jesus. Jesus is everything to me.

But for so many in the world today, especially young people, it seems that they just don't find any need for Jesus. In a world where you don't get bored because there's always something to do or watch. You don't get lonely because you can always connect with someone via social media (no matter how superficial). You don't go without because credit cards allows us to have everything now.

I am at a loss this morning... thinking about how much I depend on Christ but how so many appear to have no need for Him.  How do we effectively communicate to a society that thinks they have it all??

What is the one thing Jesus would need to do for you to realise you need Him?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

DWYL - Chapter Seven

Well we're back into the Don't Waste Your Life series at Deception Bay Baptist this week. Chapter Seven begins a couple of chapters which outline practical ways we can change what we do so that we don't waste our lives, and that we work towards achieving the goal of life... to gladly make others glad in Christ.

This first practical way is a big one... to "Live to Prove that He is More Precious than Life".  The whole idea of consumerism and modern western culture's obsession with trivial things can define the way we make much of Jesus (or make not so much of Him as we focus on those trivial things).  Can you ask yourself this question before you make any decision or buy anything in your life... "Will this help me treasure Christ more"?

If we are exiles and refugees on earth (1 Peter 2:11), and if our citernenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), and if nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35), and if his steadfast love is better than life (Psalm 63.3), and if all hardship is working for us an eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17), then we will give to the winds our fears and "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).  We will count everything as rubbish in comparison with Christ (Philippians 3:7-8). We will "joyfully accept the plundering of our property" for the sake of unpopular acts of mercy (Hebrews 10:34) We will choose "rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin," and we will count "The reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt" (Hebrews 11:25-26).
~John Piper - DWYL, p108

Friday, 2 May 2014

Tweet of the Week

Another one from Tim Keller... this guy is brilliant at bringing out thoughtful comments in 140 characters...

You know you're glorifying something when you find it beautiful for what it is in itself, and not what it can do for you.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Not going outside the limits of ability

Just cause you can doesn't mean that you should.

Check out this footage of Russan millionaire Vadim Kogay driving a Ferrari 458 GT3 at Monza.  Kogay has obviously paid his way into the race, buying himself a shiney bright green Ferrari and getting to race as the 'non-professional' driver in a proper GT3 endurance race.

But as you'll see in the footage the poor bloke has no idea.

One might have the money to buy the car, pay the entree fee and join the race, but that doesn't mean you always should if your skills aren't up to par.

I look at some church services and wonder the same thing.  If you don't have the musos, sound equipment and everything else you need for a big show, why try and run your service like a big show?  Last Sunday I had the weekend off and went to a church that ran their service brilliantly.  They had lights, they had great musicians, they were able to play songs in a way that incorporated different instruments playing lead and with different riffs and it all sounded very professional.  But it also felt very simply... you could tell they weren't stretching their abilities or their equipment, they were doing it within the environment of the church, for the glory of God.

Last year I got the chance to experience Passion City Church in Atlanta Georgia, which was a whole other level again - Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Kristian Stansfield leading services and Louie Giglio preaching, a stadium concert like sound and light system.  Yet it still felt completely God honouring as these Christians lead worship and services to the best of their ability (which in this case was world class).

But churches need to understand the limit of the 'best of their abilities', because sometimes I feel services are pushed beyond them and like our Russian millionaire, services sometimes find themselves stuck in a sand trap because the limit has been reached.

Yes we should do the best we possibly can, but we should understand what that is. We can't all be Passion City Church, we can't all even handle electric guitar solos or even full bands. In some places a small acoustic sound (almost camp fire like) can be done to a much better standard than striving to get a full band and light show. The church may even have the money for the equipment, but if the skills aren't there then just do the best you can with what you have.

That's the best way to honour God corporately I think.
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