Monday, 28 July 2014

Just appreciate the talent...

Someone posted this on Facebook today, and I've watched it a few times now, just blown away by the incredible talent of these young guys.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and appreciate!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Reflecting on The Gambia - 10 years on.

This week marked 10 years since I returned home from my mission trip to The Gambia, West Africa.  I have spent a fair bit of time this week reflecting, remembering, and processing thoughts about my life and missions and ministry.

I initially went to The Gambia on a WEC Trek - a group of 6 of us (in the photo above with one New Zealander ring in) - on a three week trek, just a missions exposure trip in a sense.  But as we were planning the trip and I was talking with Debbie Bazzo (a missionary midwife in Jarrol village) I felt God calling me to a bigger commitment.  So once the team went home I moved in with a Sierra Leonian family and for the next 3 months I worked with Steven (photo right) running the Gambian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (GAMFES)

I then got to trek back up to Jarrol village and finish my time there, preaching (poorly) in church and running around playing lots of soccer with kids and helping my mate Sainey plow his uncle's fields - tough work.

 I love The Gambia.  Even 10 years on, and I know lots has changed, but I still love The Gambia. The people, the land, the children, the lost and poor.  My heart and prayers still settle on that place more than most.  I follow news from the country, feel the people's pain with some of the suffering they endure.  I still hear from a few of the missionaries from time to time.  Steven even sent me some Gambian music when I moved to dBay a few years back.

I came close to holidaying there last year, just to visit - because I do have a real desire to go back. I hope God leads me there in the future, I know His work is on going through WEC and other missions organisations.   I didn't think it would take 10 years before I went back, but I know I am still following God's will with where I am today.  I guess as the anniversary of my return home came up though it's just caused me to dwell on it all once again.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Justification by Manliness.

Over on his blog,, Joe Khan has been talking about how many of today's markers for manliness are rooted in things that simply don't matter or are limited to the current cultural climate.  Though there's nothing necessarily wrong with those markers - what it does do is cause men (even Christian men) to justify themselves by being a certain type of man, which may not reflect the true, and timeless, markers the Bible gives for a Godly man.
I am just going to come out and say it... as men we struggle with feelings of insignificance! From the day that the curse of sin entered into humanity men have been struck by the helplessness of working hard but accomplishing nothing. Perhaps for a man there is no more crippling fear than feeling you will never contribute anything, amount to anything or be recognised for anything. So us men are suckers for the cultural markers of manliness... because if you can achieve all the markers it fills your significance tank; it marks you as a true man. And so we will line up to get ink done, grow our beards, fork out for that tailored suit, start benching at the gym and constantly post it all to Facebook so that everyone will know that we are men! This is how we prove ourselves... this is how we feel good about our masculinity... this is how we build our sense of significance... this is how we justify ourselves.
If we, as men, are clinging to that cultural definition of what a real man is, we will find ourselves struggling to find any true identity at all. Justifying ourselves by something subjective is flawed from the start, because the entire notion of a subjective idea is that it can change or be interpreted through each individual's experience.  As Christian men we do have an objective truth found in Scripture - though there are many subjective ideas of a man in Scripture (responsible, sacrificial) - they can only be truly experienced through the objective identity we find when we identify ourselves as IN CHRIST.  Which brings us to the topic of Joe's current blog series, the doctrine of justification by faith.
The doctrine of justification by faith frees you from having to justify yourself with the cultural markers of manliness. It calls us to consider our beards, bacon and badass look as dung compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. See in Jesus we don't have to measure up to the ever changing manly image... in fact only in Jesus can we admit our failings as a man because we don't have to prove ourselves to God or anyone else... Justification by faith means that we can rest in the reality that Jesus lived the life of perfect manliness that we have so often failed at...

Go and read the entirety of Joe's post HERE.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Tweet of the Week

Tolerance isn't about not having beliefs. It's about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.

There is so much talk of tolerance these days, but I think the majority don't understand what tolerance really means.  It's ok to have different views and to disagree.  Thinking someone else's idea is wrong is not being intolerant.  Thinking that and then treating them unfairly or unkindly is intolerant.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Challenged to be more

The Machine Gun Preacher was on TV last night.  Up until now I haven't seen this film, but I sat transfixed last night, shocked and moved once again by the atrocities of the LRA and Joseph Kony in North Uganda and Southern Sudan.

Ever since Watoto began their ministry to former child soldiers in Gulu (North Uganda) I have felt God putting a real concern and compassion on my heart for these kids.  I cannot fathom the evil of abducting a child, torturing them, then putting a gun in their young arms and forcing them to torture, rape and kill others.  It is an atrocity too much for my mind to process and I literally hurt when those thoughts enter my mind.

The story of Sam Childers moved me - I am not sure I can align myself completely with the way he does things, and today I've done a little more reading on the real man, and not the Hollywood version.  I really do wonder if God has some sort of ministry to child soldiers in my future - if so I hope I am brave enough to do it, it is a very scary part of the world.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Next Level...

I am humbled and astonished when God takes my prepared words and moves to a completely new level of communication and preaching.  Last night my sermon went way deeper than my notes would ever have predicted.

Preaching really is an art of handing over your prep to God and letting Him speak through you. The more I preach the more I realise how important good preparation is, but also how loosely you have to hang onto your own preparation because you have to be ready to move with God.   I didn't go off my notes last night, but I did develop ideas and thoughts, even illustrations that I hadn't considered in my prep but spoke much more effectively to the congregation.

Again it's not because I am a great preacher (far from it), but because I really felt the Holy Spirit was communicating in the hearts of people in the congregation. It is a very humbling experience.  I would love for other pastors to share their experiences of this too...

Thursday, 3 July 2014

TeenStreet 2013 - Week in Review

Day 5 of camp is only a half day so we take a flash back at all the great stuff that happened at last years camp.

TeenStreet is next week!!! Get your bags packed and get pumped for another amazing year!!!

Term 3 - Evening Sermon Series

Starting on July 20 at dBay Baptist we're going to be taking a journey through the Gospel of Luke in our evening services and take a look at the interaction Jesus had with different people, and the profound impact He had on their lives.  We know the story of what Jesus did for the world on the cross.  We know the Gospel, that Jesus came to make right through His righteousness what we broke through our sin.

But what does that mean to us personally?  If we have a means to be saved, and if we accept that, then do we just live out our lives knowing about what Jesus did and thinking about heaven?  What element of relationship can there be with someone we don’t see physically walking with us?  What does Jesus do for us in our everyday lives?

In Luke we see meeting Jesus changed so many people’s lives, and meeting Jesus will change your life today!

Throughout the series we are also going to hear testimonies from people in our congregation about how Jesus has changed their life.

Series Dates

  • July 20th:         Luke 5:1-11 – Peter and the Disciples, changed to make a difference.
  • July 27th:         CAFE CHURCH
  • August 3rd:      Luke 6:6-11 – The Man with the Withered Hand, changed to do good.
  • August 17th:    Luke 7:36-50 – The Sinful Woman, changed to be free.
  • August 24th:    Luke 8:40-56 – The Dead Girl and Sick Woman, changed to stand in faith.
  • August 31st:    Luke 17:11-19 – The Ten Lepers, changed to offer praise and worship.
  • September 7th: Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus, changed to make a big impact.
  • September 14th: Luke 23:26-48 – The Roman Soldier, changed into a new life.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Perfect Plan of Love

Reflecting on the perfection of God's revelation of His salvation plan.   For hundreds of years God revealed Himself to the people through the Old Testament, all so we would completely understand the importance of Christ and what He did on the cross.  We see the cross in the old sacrificial system, we see grace and mercy right from the time of Abraham, we understand the effect of sin from the Exile and through it all we see the amazing, undeserved and overflowing love of God.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!  For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
~Romans 5:6-11
Even when it was us that screwed it all up, Jesus made it right. That is God's perfect plan of love!
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