Monday, 30 March 2015

TeenStreet - The Journey So Far.

5 years of TeenStreet... what an amazing ride it's been and I love this video that's been produced just to show a little of what has happened as this camp has grown.

2015 is camp number 6 and it's going to be bigger and better than before... if you know any teens make sure you encourage them to get involved.

TeenStreet QLD | The Story So Far from TeenStreet Australia on Vimeo.

Friday, 27 March 2015

LIVE IT! - Week 5

The end of Galatians 3 is one of my favourite passages of all time.  The highlight of the love of God, and His grace through the work of Jesus Christ so that we are all now sons, with the greatest inheritance, is a monumental injection of hope, clarity, conviction and determination in my life.  It's one of those passages that serves to focus me on this Gospel mission the Church is now given, and to rejuvenate my weak humanness to a point of being clothed by Christ once again.

Verse 27 makes that exact point doesn't it?
"for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
Baptism is something many regard as a 'tradition' these days - something to be done as an initiation into the church, or a public witness to the congregation and your friends/family of your faith. However I'm not sure that's how it's portrayed in the New Testament.  There always seems to be an inherent spiritual aspect to Baptism.  The significance of it being that it instigates a distinct change in ones life.

Here in Galatians Paul says one is clothed in Christ through baptism - our identity is not now individual, it's not based on who we are, but on who Jesus is.  Because of this change in identity Paul can then say in verse 28 that there is "neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Some spiritual change is attenuated to Baptism which gives us a unity with Jesus that is beyond-human.

In Romans Paul says:
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
-Romans 6:4
Baptism may display a symbolic gesture of death and resurrection, but in some very real sense Paul's writings give us an impression that there is some effectual spiritual death and resurrection that happens as well.

Theologically I don't feel compelled to state that Baptism is a necessity for salvation - but I do think it is even more important than how many modern churches portray it.

This week's sermon in the LIVE IT! series focused on our adoption as sons into the inheritance of Jesus.  What an incredible thing for us to receive! What is Jesus' inheritance? What does He get for being the Son of God? The answer is eternal life and an intimate relationship with the Father.  That's now our inheritance because Jesus made a way for us to be adopted as well.

Having verse 27 thrown in the middle of this passage about adoption makes me think Paul saw a real importance to baptism being a real instigator of that adoption process. Just like a child who is adopted takes on the family name, moves into the home, is dressed and cared for like any other child in that home - we receive that spiritually through the Holy Spirit. Through baptism we are clothed in Christ... we are now truly part of the family!

Read Galatians 3:23-4:20 here

Monday, 23 March 2015

LIVE IT! - Week 4

Since last weekend was my weekend off, Warren preached the week four message , and Blake led the Bible study, so this blog is really my only input on this passage in Galatians (Read Galatians 3:1-22 here). I just finished listening to Warren's sermon online and loved his term "Spiritual Moonwalking" - this idea where we think and act like we're moving forward, but in reality we're actually going backwards.

I recognise I have spent a lot of time Spiritually Moonwalking and want to identify how I can get some traction and actually get back to walking forward in faith and this salvation I have been given.

Traction is important.  My weekend off I actually spent in Melbourne at the Grand Prix.  As soon as you're involved in motor-sport you very quickly become aware of how important traction is.  It's very easy to build a super powerful engine, but the speed of your race car comes from how best you can use that power to propel your car forwards (i.e traction) - or how much speed your car can carry through the corners. That is exceedingly tricky - getting that power to the road is where the most engineering is needed, and sometimes less power means more traction, and a faster car.  The most powerful engine in the world bolted onto a current Formula One car would not guarantee winning success... too much power and the car will loose it's grip, it will be slow through corners and off them... it will spin its wheels on the straights and go slower... all because the current F1 car is perfectly set up for maximum traction with the power its engine has.

A lot of time in our Christian lives we look for power.  Yes God is all powerful, but that's not what I mean here... instead what I'm talking about are those things in our life that we go towards that make us feel like a good Christian.  The power of belonging to a home group, holding a big fancy Bible, listening to the most popular pastor's sermon podcasts, being the congregation's favourite worship leader.

None of those things are actually bad things... but without the right motivation they don't provide any traction in our lives... and without the traction we may look like we're going forwards, but really we're just sliding backwards.

So I want to search my life for the motivations I have for doing things.  Am I serving God because I have a distinct love for Him and my faith in Him drives me to do things for Him... that's the traction I need... but all too often I feel I may be relying on my own purposes or emotions.

Have a listen to Pastor Warren's sermon... it was a cracker!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Am I brave enough to pray this?

I love that men like Francis Chan are sharing their prayers with us.  They challenge me greatly.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

LIVE IT! - Week 3

This week's sermon was a bit heavy on personal testimony for me - I felt a real link between a real life situation and what had happened with Peter and Paul in this passage

(Read Galatians 2:11-21 here)

Paul is using a personal testimony of his time in Antioch to illustrate for the Galatians how they should act in their present situation... and in many senses how we should act in situations we find ourselves in as well.

We are truly free and we should not be held down by any tradition, religious piousness, incorrect teaching or human arrogance. We should always strive to live out this Gospel we have received.  And amazingly this Gospel keeps us in-line, not because of strict rules, but because of overwhelming love.  When you are loved so purely you naturally want to engage with that person in a pure way.  You want to share that love in the same manner it has been shown to you... it's a natural reaction... not a regulation of a law.

Where Paul says; "For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." [Gal 2:19-20]; we get a glimpse at how that natural reaction we have to love is implicated because of the change that the Gospel has in our lives.

The life I now live physically here on earth is powered by my faith in Jesus... and that faith is powered because of the love He has for me and that love was shown in the amazing way He gave himself for me on the cross.  That's why I seek to help the poor, comfort the hurting... why I choose not to get drunk or be sexually immoral.  It's not because there is a law that says I should or shouldn't do those things... it's because the person who set me free has a love so pure I want to live a life that is worthy of that.

Friday, 13 March 2015

10 years of blogging.

Today marks 10 years since my first ever blog post.  This blog started its life with a different focus; in the days before Facebook and Instagram my blog gave me an opportunity to share my life with friends and family all over the world.  In 2005 I had just returned from my mission journey in The Gambia, West Africa.  While there I had made friends and shared life with people from all over the world so I wanted to be able to continue to share my life with them. So I started the blog "My Jarrol Spot", reflecting on the name of the village I lived in in The Gambia, and how it had become a symbol of a place where I really 'found' myself - I was hoping to replicate that here online.

My first ever blog post reflects that, I shared some photos from a weekend on the Gold Coast where we joined with my cousin who had brought his daughters up from Melbourne. Here's one of the pictures just to hammer home how much has changed in 10 years.

In some strange twist of life - right now, 10 years on, I am in Melbourne visiting my cousin and his family.

As social media developed and grew the need for a personal 'life blog' became redundant, however I've always found comfort in processing my thoughts through writing so didn't want to stop blogging. "My Jarrol Spot" became "Working on the Mission" and the focus moved to how as a Pastor I could encourage the church to keep pushing on that Mission that Jesus gave us; to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" [Matt 28:19-20].

That is still such a passion of mine, and I hope to continue writing and blogging about it for many years to come. I surely hope that reading this blog has helped some process thoughts about the church and Jesus, I'd love some feedback.

Here in 2015 I am the Associate Pastor at Deception Bay Baptist Church in Queensland Australia.  I love the Church and being part of leading this little section of it is certainly God's call on my life. I know many from dBay read this blog, thank you for your support.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Powerful Prodigal Portrayal.

Shared this video with the youth group last Friday night.  It was our 'Insight Night', where we try to grab a clearer picture of the world around us and what the Bible has to do with that. We looked at God's impeccable memory, and the fact every aspect of our lives sits in the mind of our God who remembers everything. That's a daunting thought isn't it! But that brought us to the story of the prodigal son, who so brazenly defied his father and squandered the love shown to him.  However in that moment of repentance the father didn't pull out a list of errors and crimes, he simply welcomed back and forgave.

This video portrays that so well, but goes even further... it shows the cost of that love in a heartbreaking way.

Monday, 9 March 2015

LIVE IT! - Week 2

Have a read of Galatians 1:11-2:10

I love that Paul maps out his journey of conversion and revelation for us.  I mean he does it in this instance to stamp down the authority he's been given by Jesus Christ himself to proclaim the true Gospel to the nations - if you've been around for the sermons on Sunday night you'll know he's doing this because there are false teachers in the church in Galatia attacking the validity of Paul's Gospel message.

But even with the Biblical setting aside I find great encouragement in reading Paul's account of his journey from slavery to freedom.

If you are a Christian you too have a story of slavery to freedom.  Can you tell it to others to encourage them that this Gospel you're living by is true!?

Our stories are important, and not just the things that happened to lead you to belief, but the change that was made by God in your life.

To quote Graham Sercombe from the Focus Camp I went on the other week;
Many of you have had an emotional connection to the good news of Jesus, many of you have emotionally loved Him and loved His love... but for some you have never experienced the change that God brings. We all need that change
We do all need that change, and that is what we tell others about when we talk about this amazing Gospel of Jesus Christ, because the change in our lives can drive others to search out a change in theirs.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Not a professional.

But what do many of the churches today want?

I love John Piper's book "Brothers, We are not professionals" - my mentor while I was a Bible college student lent me his copy to read, and then gave me a copy as a graduation gift.  I know I need to work harder at my humility, and at being a portrayer of Jesus, not just a good talker.

Gonna get that book out again for another browse.

Monday, 2 March 2015

LIVE IT! - Week 1

We're immersing ourselves in Galatians here at dBay Baptist over the next few months. In our evening services and youth/YA Bible study we're focusing on travelling through the book together.

As part of that I thought I would blog a few extra thoughts on each week's passage/topic.  I want to link it up to the podcast of each sermon so those who may have missed it, or may not be part of our dBay community can hear the messages as well. Sometimes our podcast uploads take some time, so I will do these blog posts once the message is available.

Our first week of our new series saw us looking at this greeting Paul brings to the churches in Galatia. [Read Galatians 1:1-10] Unlike other books, Paul doesn't greet and then share his prayers and thoughtfulness for the church... in this case he shares a pointed greeting, which outlines the truth of the Gospel and the admonishes them for turning away from that Gospel.

We're faced once again with the stark and definitive reality that there is only one Gospel. Only one way to be saved, and (very really) only one way to live.

Paul's greeting of 'grace and peace' brings us to the point of having to accept this good news he presents, because the meaning of these words in a Gospel context is immense!

Grace was shown to us in the ultimate way on the cross. Receiving grace is when you are given something you do not deserve. On the cross Jesus stood in the way for us, and all the anger that we rightly deserved for all the things we've done against God fell against Jesus instead of us. Jesus standing in our place means we don’t cop what we deserve (that anger) and that is God’s mercy… but because Jesus stood in our place our faith in Jesus grants us everlasting life and a right relationship with God (something we don’t deserve… and that is God’s grace)!

Peace sums up our relationship with God perfectly. When our sins were still marked against us we were at odds with God. He rightfully had to hand out His punishment for sin, and being under the punishment of God is the opposite of being at peace with Him. But because of God’s amazing grace, that punishment instead fell on Jesus so we have peace now with Him.

So those two words “grace and peace” portray the full extent of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have been shown grace, and because of that we gain peace.

How do you respond to this idea of grace? Do you still feel guilty? Alone? Angry? Ashamed? Independent? Self-sufficient???? Those things can be blown away by grace... because they have no place in the peace we gain and the unlimited access we now have to God.
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