Monday, 15 September 2014

Speak what is true

A song which has felt really relevant since preaching on Sunday night, and reading that tweet from John Piper last night.

"Here's my heart Lord, speak what is true."

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Bless those who speak the truth, hinder those who don't

Wow - I love the directness John Piper brings to the table of Gospel proclamation, but sometimes I have to double take to get where he's going. Within this tweet I see the weight of what I do each week as I get up to preach the Word of God.

Today, just before the service I realised I had lost half of my sermon notes for tonight, and so preached my introduction then opened up to the passage and stepped through it verse by verse with some thoughts of application and illustration thrown in.  I felt power and clarity in what I said, which I can only point to the power of God.  All glory to Him.

My topic was the truth in the statement of the Roman Centurion in Luke 23:47 where he says "surely this was a righteous man" or the idea that this man realised the truth of who Jesus was, and we need to as well.

I pray that I continue to preach truth with clarity and power, and never fall into a place where I need to be hindered with weakness and confusion.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Rely on Jesus.

In the sport of cricket, a bouncer is a type of delivery, usually bowled by a fast bowler. It is pitched short so that it bounces on the pitch well short of the batsman and rears up to chest or head height (or even higher) as it reaches the batsman. Bouncers are used tactically to drive the batsman back on to his back foot if he has been freely playing front foot scoring shots.
Sometimes in life we get into a place where we feel we are just driving at the ball, scoring points and then suddenly life bowls us a bouncer, it's unexpected and drives us back into a defensive position.

Sometimes it's God doing the bowling, maybe we've become too complacent and self-reliant so God serves up a bouncer to bring us back to depending on Him.

Sometimes it's just a result of the broken world we live in.  Not every bad thing, or tough thing, can be blamed on God or His plan to challenge us.  There are times it is our fault, our own sin brings a consequence that bounces up into our faces... but again, other times it is just a result of a sin-filled, broken world.  Disease and sickness can usually not be blamed on anything but the world we live in.  But it can still bounce up at us.

In all cases, though, the answer is the same... rely on God.  Jesus died, He went through some tremendously horrid stuff, but He did it so we can fully rely on Him. When you get bowled a bouncer know that you aren't facing it alone.  Jesus has promised He is with us, and that in the end, or in the light of the most important things we need, "all things work to the good of those who love Him" and "we are more than conquerors" (Romans 8:28 &37)  Even when God is bowling a bouncer you're not the only one handling the bat, Jesus is there too, in you.  You can always rely on Him to help you through anything, even long term, life changing stuff.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Send some missionaries to your face...'s a video I used in my sermon last Sunday night, it relates to the previous post as well because I was preaching on the story of the ten lepers.

Thanks Ken Davis for providing such great illustrations for us.

Healed and grateful... My desire for you all.

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers 
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
~Luke 17:11-19
When we read this story we are forced to recognise that in this world a human can only fall into 1 of 3 different categories.  Either we are a;
  1. Sick and dying leper
  2. Healed and ungrateful person
  3. Healed and grateful person
That's it, there's no fourth option - no "healthy person" category... no excuses or cop outs.  The simple fact is that everyone at some point or another has been a sick and dying leper... or a human in a state of death, dying from a disease called sin. No one has ever been healthy, we are born already infected with this sin disease - it's not as visible as leprosy, but sin is just as deadly.  

When God created the world He created it to be in line with His own nature, and His very nature is perfect, there in nothing within God (and can be nothing within God) that is not good.  However God is also full of love which in itself includes the choice to show love (love can only be real if it is freely given), hence our world was created with the ability to love, which must include the ability to not love (or love is worthless).  The choice to love ourselves first must mean we choose to not love God as a first priority, and this is not good.  This is sin, any choice made not to put God or His will first.  Once sin enters the realm then we can never be healthy, for we have all sinned, which is not good, and nothing not good can be associated with God.

 But this was not how God planned His creation to be - and His love is true, genuine and enduring.  So He enacted a way to make things good again.  The only person who would be worthy of paying the penalty for sin was someone who had never sinned (a criminal can't pay the sentence for another criminal can he? That would defeat the purpose of justice). No mere human could do that, but a human must pay that price... so God became human, He limited His divinity and Jesus was born, without the disease of sin since Mary was a virgin and Jesus' conception was a divine intervention.

Jesus lived a perfect life, He is the only one who can say He was 'healthy' in regard to sin, but He then offered himself in our place, He died the death that our disease was driving us towards. On the cross our disease was placed on Jesus, so much so that God could not be with Jesus (God saw Jesus [Himself] as not good, because of our sin).  The substitution was made, the disease was conquered because God, having paid the price, rose to life and set Himself in authority.

So just as Jesus healed the lepers in the passage above, He can now healed our sin disease.  The lepers had faith Jesus would heal them, they asked for mercy.  That is how we are healed as well, turning to Jesus, repenting of that sin that causes so much trouble and asking Jesus for His mercy to save us.

But just like all ten lepers were healed and only one realised he needed to show thanks, we do the same thing.  We accept that forgiveness, that saving grace, and we go on focusing on our lives. We are ungrateful.  We must take the example of the one leper, and we must seek Jesus out again and be thankful always for what He did for us.  Anything less is cheapening the sacrifice Jesus made for us, it is simply rude to not be thankful, to show Jesus' worth through worship and letting the emotion of it totally encompass our entire lives.

Where are you today? Are you still sick? Know Jesus can heal you.  Are you ungrateful, nonchalant, ignorant, stale or bored? Focus once again on the sacrifice - don't let your humanness or your independence or selfishness get in the way of your thankfulness.

Stop right now, turn to Jesus, and be thankful... worship Him!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Doing life together is tough.

Sometimes life and ministry raise more questions than finding answers. I know the Truth of the Gospel is the Answer, and that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life - but sometimes it's with those practical things of life and everyday relationships/interactions that seem to raise more and more questions.

Doing life together is tough, the Christian life is a life of community, especially of unity in community, and though our normal human disposition is relational, and communal there is also a distinct independent and selfish that can fight against that unity within community.  It's for that reason even within Christian communities doing life together can be tough.

I think I just feel the need to express that I know I get it wrong a lot of the time, I am by no means any better at doing life in unified community than anyone else because I know and recognise my own independence and selfishness. In that regard I know I find myself with more questions than answers at times.

However; as a Pastor, I feel the need to call people back to that only Way, Truth and Life, because it is only in Jesus that we can truly be unified. I will continue to remind myself of this as well, and pray Jesus replaces my selfishness with His grace, both for myself and others.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Between the sinless birth and sin-bearing death...

With the "He Changed My Life" series currently in our evening services looking through the interactions Jesus had with people in the Gospel of Luke, I have been reminded again of the ministry that took place during Jesus' life. We constantly (and for good reason) reflect of his substitutionary sacrifice for the propitiation of our sins (His work on the cross), because belief in this is what saves... but for living day to day life as a Christian here and now, there is no better source for encouragement, example, correction and guiding than Jesus himself.
Most theologies seem to move from a sinless birth to a sin-bearing death, and most ignore all that lies in between. This is a terrible misstep since Jesus' ministry, beginning in Galilee with his baptism by John and ending in Jerusalem with his crucifixion, puts into motion crucial events in the divine drama of redemption. Let us remember that the books we call "Gospels" narrate Jesus' redemptive death as the climax to his messianic career, and that career should be part and parcel of our study.
~Michael Bird, Evangelical Theology, p375
Jesus spent a lot of time teaching, and this teaching was regarding either the coming of the kingdom of God, what the kingdom of God was, or proper living for those in the kingdom of God.   He especially poured his knowledge and example into twelve Apostles who became the fathers and spreaders of His church.  Within his teaching, and the proclaiming of the Apostles of what Jesus taught them, was the source to the restoration of Israel (which they had been waiting for for so long) and the inclusion of all nations into the family of God.

Israel had been waiting for a Messiah who would bring about the restoration of their nation which God had promised.  Jesus didn't bring a physical restoration by driving out the Roman occupying force and setting himself up as the king on a throne in this nation.  Instead Jesus taught that God's kingdom was more important than the earthly kingdom, and that this was what God had intended all along... that people would be able to come to Him - that the Holy Spirit would dwell within humankind and a spiritual kingdom would be established.  The only way this could happen was for Jesus to go to the cross.  But His life was spent teaching about what He was about to bring about.

So we can turn to Jesus for so much more than salvation - even though salvation is our primary need.  I hope as people have heard the "He Changed My Life" messages (available on to listen to if you aren't a regular attendee)  that they have seen some of these other areas where Jesus changes who and what you are!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Take a moment to realign your focus

Friday afternoon, after a long day, a long week you're almost ready to break into the weekend. Here's a psalm to help you hang out just that bit longer.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure
and altogether righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
11 By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
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