Sunday, 28 November 2010

We are the Salt of the Earth.

As Christians are we really doing enough to be that good influence on the world, so that they may see Jesus?   Salt is used to add flavour to food, to make it good.  Is the Church acting in that way in Australia?  I think City North is doing a good job, but there is always more that can be done.  What are some ways we can improve as a whole across Australia?

Matt 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet..."

I like this Peanuts cartoon, it's obviously an over exaggeration, but I wonder if the Church was a better influence then would the World be in a different situation?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Chris Poulsen Trio - epic jazz!

Here's my mate Chris' band, sit back and enjoy some sweet jazz... the drum solo at the end is smoking!!!


Friday, 26 November 2010

Friday Reflection: God's Love

"Ever have one of those moments when you're totally washed with the love of God? Suddenly you are overwhelmingly aware of how much God loves you, how simple, yet deep and everlasting, that love is. You can be leading a hectic life, worrying about so many things, even dwelling on matters of faith when all of that is pushed aside as God turns up just to tell you He loves you.... and that's really all that matters."

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That's a segment of a post I wrote in April 2008 (full post here) and I continue to find myself again and again completely knocked over by the fact God loves me.  The simplicity of it carries such a complexity when you understand how the holiness and justness of God meet together with his love.   I still lack so much understanding, but feel completely within the love of God, knowing I am his!

You can read about a specific time I was completely blown away by this in the original post, but in reflecting today I just wanted to mention that you can be completely drowned in God's love today, wherever you are.  You don't need a special prayer, or ritual. You don't have to be going to church, or doing good deeds.  Stop where you are right now and ask God to show you his love.  You will be amazed.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say Rejoice!

Sometimes I wonder if we focus too much on our sinfulness at Church.

I know it's important, and I know that we are totally depraved and that is what makes God's grace so unbelievably amazing.  I also know that it's only in recognising that we can't live up to God's expectation that is the starting point to understanding why Jesus had to die and accepting his gift and his rule as Lord of our lives.

All that is very important.  But there is another aspect - and that is the joy that now comes from being saved; realising that we are free, that we have a place as the heirs of God and can live in joy no matter the circumstance.

Not so many of our praise and worship songs focus on this I don't think... and those that do are often overlooked for something powerful that reminds us of our sin and the grace of God.  I think it's the one this I really miss from my time in Africa, just that unashamed joy in living in Christ - I think we need to find more of a balance in our services today!

Caring that people are going to Hell...

‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels...' (Matt 25:41)

When we look out and see the majority of people in our world today do we get a pang of sadness that they are disconnected from God?   I think sometimes we find ourselves distancing the severity of eternity from our daily lives because when we live in our 'Christian bubble' we can focus only on the heaven side of it.

The people I've spent my week with so far have reminded me how much I care that people go to heaven, or more importantly that they are with Christ because they've been justified by his act on the cross.   It's a real situation people find themselves in, not simply a problem for 'other people'.

I was also travelling home yesterday when I witnessed the outcome of a fatal car accident I specifically faced the finality of death and the immanence of either eternity with or without God.  I drove by only minutes after the accident, just as ambulance and police were arriving on the scene.  The finality of that moment for that poor man was very sobering.  I don't know if he was a believer or not, but I found myself hoping he was.  It then made me wonder, how many times do we see unbelievers as the enemy?  In this case I realised that when people die it would be better if they were a Christian (since their eternity is secured), but we feel a significant tie with other Christians so sometimes hope that it wasn't, because of the pain the church would feel.  Yet in every case an unbeliever dieing is so much more tragic.

My thoughts are a bit muddled at the moment, but I hope you at least get what I'm trying to say.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Out of Touch.

I went to visit my grandparents this week in Hervey Bay.  I was actually looking forward to a couple of hours during the days to sit down at the Hervey Bay McDonald's and write some blog posts.  Unfortunately they were undergoing some renovations and their wireless capacity had been halved... which meant it was actually quicker to simply check my Facebook on my mobile than log onto the WIFI with my laptop.  Blogging was out of the network's league.

Hopefully I'll write some stuff up over the next couple of days now I'm home, but it's been a lean week on My Jarrol Spot.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Friday Reflection: Thinking about Fingers

I've already mentioned that I hurt my little finger on my left hand playing Volleyball at Youth Group last Friday.  This reminded me of a post I made in September 2005 (see here) just after I'd broken the little finger on my right hand.  It gave me a bit of an insight of just how important some of the 'lesser' parts of the body are, that when they hurt or become unusable everything else suffers.  Needless to say I've been reminded of that again this week - here's that post...

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I've had many people show so much sympathy for the pain I've been in, and though I am grateful for that, it is slightly embarrassing for me. I mean it's my little finger!! Usually you would wonder what effect a little finger could have on the entire body. But once you take it out, make it useless, you suddenly realise how much you use it everyday. A small part of the body, but when it's not working, it effects the whole body.

1 Corinthians 12:14-27 - Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

So I'm wondering if even you feel like the pinkie of your church, then you are still part of the body, and like my broken finger, if you are not doing your job correctly, then the whole body feels the effect.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Is it wrong to laugh out loud in an exam?

It's kinda hard not to when there are questions like this...


Q - Across history, Church teachings have...
(a) understood the proper use of the concept of 'satisfaction' when explaining the cross
(b) sometimes applied the idea of satisfaction to the wrong people/creature
(c) never utilised the idea of satisfaction when explaining the cross
(d) been the basis of Mick Jagger's song "I can't get no..."

Why did Jesus have to die?

John Stott, in his book The Cross of Christ, describes the need for salvation (and thus the need for Jesus to have died on the cross) by presenting four things Christ did through his actions on the cross.

 Firstly Christ died for us (Rom 5:8), he undertook it for our sake, not his own.

Secondly Christ died for us that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). This shows the beneficial function and outcome of the cross, that humankind might be reconciled with God.

The third notion, Christ died for our sins (1 Cor 15:3), shows that there was a distinct obstacle blocking our reconciliation with God.

Something had to be done to remove that obstacle before reconciliation could take place, which alludes to the fourth action of Jesus, that in dyeing for sins Christ died our death (Rom 5:18-19).

These four actions of Jesus – achieved on the cross – define the necessary requirement of salvation for humankind. They show that humankind is totally depraved and in desperate need of forgiveness and also that the law of God had to be satisfied because of God’s holiness and righteousness.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Holidays Begin!

I handed the last of my Field Ed. reports yesterday and had a meeting with the Registrar this morning to determine what college will look like next year... and now... I'm on holidays :-)

We've set up the table tennis table outside, and not even a seriously bunged up little finger can stop me getting in this holiday vibe.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Ministry Action - Personal Devotion

1. Background Information
In an attempt to reinvigorate my personal devotion time as I headed into the busy period of college assignments and exams I decided to create a Sabbath type time out mid week and have a time of Bible study and prayer. I endeavoured to find somewhere away from my home and all its distractions so that I could find new and fresh ways to have my devotional time.

2. Reporting the Ministry Action
I found a small café at Sandgate which allowed me to sit by myself and not have to worry about many distractions. It was a Thursday morning so the café was quiet and I was able to dedicate a good thirty minutes to reading through the book of Jude and highlighting and underlining the passages using the method Ps Murray taught me that he uses for personal devotions. By studying a whole book (even a small one) I was able to get a whole lot more out of the Bible study time of my devotion.

I had been really struggling to spend a lot of time in prayer during my quiet time and had been thinking about how I could find a more personal and constructing way of praying. I had a simple idea to send a text message to most of the people in the contact list of my mobile phone asking a simple question. “How can I pray for you today?” Minutes after sending the message out I had almost 10 replies from friends, with very basic – usually single point – prayer requests. I felt connected with my friends, knowing what they were dealing with for that day and I was able to firstly praise God for my relationship with Him, and the friendships I had, before going through and praying for my friends immediate needs. As I was praying more reply messages came in and I continued to reflect on them and pray. By the time I had finished my prayer time – 45 minutes later – I had received 25 replies from friends, all with different pray or praise points.

Throughout the rest of the day I continued to receive messages. All in all 36 people responded, and I felt I was having a day-long devotion time. At the end of the day I contacted everyone who had replied and followed up on how things had went – this time their replies showed me that there had been almost immediate answers to prayer in some cases. It was an incredibly uplifting time.

3. Personal Reflection
I was incredibly encouraged that friends, both from City North and elsewhere, were willing to share a personal prayer point with me on their Thursday morning. I was also quite amazed at how such a simple idea and action completely revitalised my personal devotion time.

I think having relevant, personal points to pray about made my prayer time feel more real. I have a passion for my friends and so when I knew their needs I could see how my prayers were important so gave me a passionate motivation to pray. God taught me that our personal devotion time isn’t simply a ritual we should complete so we can call ourselves Christians, but a time of real connection with Him, revolving around the things that we find important, because God is intimately involved in our lives.

By contacting people that evening and seeing how their days had panned out God blessed me by showing me how He works through prayer. People who had potentially traumatic meetings ended up having more encouraging times, others who were unwell were feeling better, and most people replied about how encouraged they were that someone had been intentionally praying for them that day.

4. Theological Reflection
Matthew 6:5-8 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him…”

I know I was in public and not in my room, but I had found somewhere out of the way where no one would notice me. I had come to God humbly and I believe that the text message and replies really assisted me in not ‘babbling like pagans’ because my prayers were much more pointed and focused. God showed me that He truly does know what we need before we ask, because one of my prayers was to have a more intimate prayer time, which he provided.

5. Personal Future
I think sending out that text week in week out would ruin the impact of it. However by adding all those points to my journal I was able to continue praying and following up. This has continued to enrich my personal devotion times. Maybe in a month or so I will send another message and see what happens.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Yet again....

Some people say I'm accident prone... but I don't really want to go that far.   I think whatever I'm doing I put in a 110% effort, and that sometimes leads to things my body can't handle... or because I've had previous injuries some of my joints just aren't very strong anymore.

However, last night's little incident was just plain weird.   We were playing beach volleyball as a Youth Group activity, we'd hired out these courts and were having a fun time playing.   It was girls verse boys, and I had a bunch of grade 8 and 9 boys who were really getting the hang of the game.

Somehow on one attempt to hit the ball I got my little finger on my left hand caught in the net, And just the force of pulling it out or something I think I've broken the little fella.

It looks like a fat little sausage, the pain is quite immense, but I know there's not much u can do but ice it and strap it so I'm just putting up with it.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Friday Reflection: Leading in Prayer

The original post from 1st October 2007 is a part of a series a few of us bloggers were doing called 'Thumbs Up'.  It was an opportunity to break the stereotypical style of critical blogging and post something positive about someone we had encountered during the week.   My post was about a man from my church who led us in corporate prayer.  I was encouraged by the way he didn't simply pray himself, but mentioned each prayer point and then gave the congregation a chance to pray themselves in silence.  Individual prayer became corporate prayer as we sat there and prayed unitedly for the one thing.

Now I'm sure there were some cop outs who just had a snooze, but I think this was a more interactive time than simply having someone up the front praying aloud.  Here's a snippit of that blog post

Instead of just praying through the prayer requests, Ian mentions each one and gives time for everyone to pray individually. Though it's not spoken allowed I think this creates such a real situation of 'corporate' prayer, because instead of just listening along, suddenly the responsibility to pray is on the individual, and if the responsibility is taken up, then the entire church is corporatly praying for the issue.

How do you think corporate prayer works?  When I was in Africa everyone prayed aloud at the same time - very crazy and overbearing, but emotionally powerful.  I think Ian's method was better in a Western setting... what do you think?

Busy Week

Sometimes you just look back and wonder where that week went.  Last weekend I had a busy time catching up with friends who over the past few weeks I've neglected as I've had my head down in assignments.  Monday was a bit of the same, but more far afield.  I headed down the coast and caught up with some people I haven't seen in ages.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent studying for my exam on Thursday, and after that we had a college break up lunch and then one of the girls had a BBQ dinner for her birthday.   In the middle of the BBQ I had to run off to a music practice for the Christmas carols City North are doing in a few weeks.   All in all a week that flashed by very quick - and I look back knowing all those activities don't equate to the amount of hours in a whole week, but I just seem to have misplaced the rest of them...  crazy that!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Friday Reflection: Free Gift

March 2009 - we'd all just received a free $900 from the Government and were wondering what to do with the extra cash.  That kind notion of Mr Rudd caused me to think a little about what a 'free gift' is... and how much greater God's free gift really is.... Original Post right here...

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Time and time again I am reminded how good a free gift is.

But the thing that knocks me on the head when I really think about it is the times we receive a free gift when we really don't deserve it... not like 'we've done nothing to deserve this'... but more like "we've done some rotten stuff that deserves the opposite of this".

I mean Mr Rudd's $900 payout is nice... I've done nothing to deserve it, but I've also done nothing not to deserve it.

What I find so overwhelming is that even though I am a terrible person, my thoughts and actions let me down so often, and if people knew what I was really like I'd be feeling much more lonely I'm sure... but even with me being a total lost cause (which I admit that I am), God still offers me his salvation, through the grace of Jesus Christ.

I've just finished an assignment on Exodus 19:3-6 where God says to Israel... "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." And a few chapters later we see the Israelites making a golden calf and worshipping it as soon as Moses' back is turned.

Gee I'm like that... God shows me his promises, and I say "Yep I'm in, I'll follow you" and no sooner have I turned around than I'm doing something dumb and sinful.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourself, it is a gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
~ Ephesians 2:8-10

I still haven't fully come to terms with that amazing grace offered by Jesus. God knows I can't do any of this myself, he knows I can't keep his laws - God knew that when he made his covenant with the Israelites, that they wouldn't be able to keep his law, I mean he didn't wipe them out because of the golden calf did he... So Jesus' grace is complete, no matter how bad you are, how bad you keep being or how soon you stuff up after accepting the gift.

That's the key, we need to accept the gift of grace, we have been created by God, God loves us - and because of that Jesus came and paid the penalty for all the crap I do. All I have to do is accept Jesus - sounds easy right?? - and all he asks in return is our life.

When you think about that it is easy... my life is gonna be worth nothing without the grace of Jesus, so giving my life to him isn't that big a thing.

I'm just glad that he takes such a screwed up life... and even when I keep damaging it, he's still got it and is working in me to turn it into a reflection of himself.
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