Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Our reaction to sin

Here's a little insert a young lady from church wrote on Facebook the other day.  I love it.
You can disappoint people and still be good enough. You can make mistakes and still be capable and talented. You can let people down and still be worthwhile and deserving of love. Everyone has disappointed someone they care about. Everyone messes up, lets people down and makes mistakes. Not because we are inadequate or fundamentally inept, but because we are imperfect and fundamentally human. But in God's eyes we are a perfect imperfection.
~Vanessa Jade
Sometimes we just feel worthless when we realise we've messed up - sometimes our reactions to people who do mess up is completely unacceptable because we make them feel worthless.

I love Ness' heart! I love the insight she gives here that we are all humans who all mess up, who initially actually are worthless but because of God's love and Christ's grace we are now a 'perfect imperfection' - someone who is still caught in world that is infected by sin, but has been made perfect and saved from the consequences of that sin. We as Christians need to remember that salvation when we interact with people we are aware are sinning.

Sin doesn't write you off from working on the mission of the church... if it did then none of us would be able to work on the Great Commission. Sin hinders our work yes, but Jesus' grace is greater - and it restores.  Let's remember that we are restorers... not tearers down.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

LIVE IT! - Week 9

Well I preached the final sermon in the LIVE IT series a few weeks back now - but the next day I went on leave... so this blog post has been postponed a little.

I loved how Paul finished up his book with some practical pointer on how this whole message of the Gospel can infiltrate every aspect of our lives.

  • If someone sins - that's not good, but it's not an opportunity to cut them down and kick them out... restore them gently.
  • Look at yourself first - don't let yourself be sucked into sin. Keep away from all the temptations and emotions that lead to sin.
  • Never hesitate to do good - the false teachers say you have to do things to earn salvation, but Paul says your salvation is free, so go do good things.
  • Out of everything... the only thing that really matters is this... you have a new life - so don't go back to the old one.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

LIVE IT! - Week 8

Galatians 5:13-26 (Read it Here) lays it all out for us very clearly. We are free; but we cannot use that freedom to indulge in our selfish desires.

Actually we can... we are free to go and do whatever we want, but verse 21 has a dire warning if we do.
"I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God"
We live in a world that doesn't always comprehend that there are consequences for the choices we make.  Unfortunately many children grow up without being taught that actions have consequences. It's an almost pandemic issue sweeping our nation that we have the right to do what we want.   So many teachers today are struggling with teaching children and teenagers because they simply cannot communicate to them the importance of responsibility, and education, and that their actions even at such a young age will have a consequence later in life when they are trying to find work or build a life for themselves.

It is again the case of an overwhelming culture of the world around us, starting to have an effect on the church community. I feel on social issues like education and raising kids that Christians are still doing very very well - but that nature of not thinking of the consequences is influencing the way we see grace and our freedom from sin.   Yes it is well within our rights to do what we want, and Jesus has offered us unrelenting forgiveness and limitless love. But Paul warns at some point we have to accept that to be saved by Christ means being given a new life, and that new life is in the Spirit so cannot be enjoying all those sinful things and must be yearning for those fruits of the Spirit mentioned in verses 22-23.

If we don't come to realise that life change... maybe we've never actually been saved in the first place, because we've never accepted all that Jesus has to offer.  The consequence of that is huge!!

Today let's reconsider our freedom.  Firstly, do we have it? Have we accepted all Christ is offering, including this new life? If so, secondly, which life/nature are we feeding, that old sinful one or the new Spirit filled one?  They are both still alive in us, until we meet Jesus again - but we need to live out the new life, feed the Spiritual one - because that's what produces the fruit.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

"I really enjoyed your sermon"

It's funny... after preaching I hear that a lot; or some variation like it and though I know people are trying to be encouraging and nice; most times it leaves me feeling a little bit hollow.

See my intention when I set out to preach God's Word is not that people would sit back and enjoy it. Our world today is so demanding of entertainment, so expectant that when we turn up to things we will simply be entertained.  I personally believe that this culture is crippling the church's effectiveness to complete this mission we're all suppose to be working on.

So when I hear "I enjoyed that" or "that was nice" or "you're getting better at this"; my mind automatically goes to "but what did Jesus say to you through His Word?"

I truly believe that the purpose of preaching is for the proclamation of God's Word into our lives today.  Not that I am speaking the Word of God which must be obeyed... but that I (and other dedicated pastors like me) are expounding on the Word of God in the Scriptures and applying it to our lives today.  We should not sit back during a sermon and say "I am enjoying this... that illustration was very entertaining", but instead we should be wondering what God wants us to do with this revelation, how must we change if this Word is true?

I am generally a good public speaker (have been since high school), and I can entertain - and in some ways that's great to engage people with the message - but I want the intent of the sermon to leave people not feeling satisfied, but in many ways dissatisfied and challenged to go and act on something they heard.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

ANZAC Day reminder.

Today we commemorated one of the most sacred days on the Australian calendar. A day where we cast our eyes back 100 years to the shores of Gallipoli and remember the sacrifice that was made for us. We also remember the countless other sacrifices men and women in our armed forces have made for us as Australians over the years.

On ANZAC Day we have a very real, and powerful, idea that we cannot take the freedom we enjoy in our nation for granted. It was bought at a great cost. I am always moved to see the response of children and teenagers to the commemoration of ANZAC Day. It seems more and more are committed to making it to dawn services, partaking in marches and doing tangible things to remember the price of freedom and to honour those who paid the ultimate price. I remember in school having WWI and WWII veterans come and speak to us about the war – they were always moving stories that stirred my heart. However, even though today the first person stories are becoming rarer and harder to find, the sentiment of honouring our diggers seems to be growing. I feel that is something we can be proud about as a nation.

As Christians, though, it should also serve as a reminder that there is an even greater freedom that we all too often do take for granted (and that many in our nation today completely ignore). The price for the freedom from the punishment of sin was even greater than the price paid on those Turkish cliffs in 1915 – God Himself came to pay for our freedom, and in dying on the cross Jesus paid the penalty for sin for all of humankind, till the end of the ages. The weight of that punishment on Him must have been so great – but how often do we turn to our own selfish desires and take for granted what He did for us?

Today, let’s honour Jesus, like we honour the ANZACs, lest we forget the ultimate price Jesus paid, and the ultimate worth He has for our worship.

Friday, 24 April 2015

LIVE IT! - Week 7

After a short break over Easter we were back into our LIVE IT! series last Sunday Night.

We're up to Galatians 5:1-15 in week seven (go and read it here) and with only two weeks to go we're at the pointy end of Paul's message regarding the influence of false teachers and the true Gospel we have to recognise and live.

In Sunday's sermon I used a heap of different sports to illustrate the way we need to view the Gospel, and our path to salvation.  I thought it might be good to just outline those again here on the blog this week.

The Gospel is NOT like golf
The whole aim of golf is to get the ball into a hole that is only just big enough for that ball. You may have a whole field to shoot at, but it only counts if it goes in the hole. This is the 'gospel' that the false teachers were preaching in Galatia. A list of things that must be done to be saved, if you aren't fitting exactly in then you are not saved.

The Gospel is NOT like AFL
Though the boundaries of the goal are broader, but if you happen to miss slightly you don't need to worry, you'll get a point for being close.  Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life, and without the legalism of law and rules this model gives us an appreciation for grace; but Jesus still is that one way, if you miss that is sin, and you can't have a point for sin. Being happy with being close but not within the bounds of Jesus is not the Gospel.

The Gospel IS like soccer.
There is a clear goal. The aim of the game is to score in that goal, but you could choose to shoot high or low, left or right. The goal in the true Gospel is Jesus' salvation through grace. There may be a few options in understanding that, but as long as you shoot into that goal you are saved. However if you are outside that boundary you are outside the grace by which you can be saved.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

When acoustic is better than the original.

I like acoustic or 'unplugged' versions of songs, usually more than the originals.

It seems especially the case with some Hillsong music - this is fantastic!

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