Archive | December, 2012

Jesus is ___________?

22 Dec

Jesus-Is-600x516

No one is more loved or hated than Jesus. This is not surprising since he is the most famous person in all of human history. More songs have been sung to Him, artwork created of Him, and books written than anyone who has ever lived. Even our calendar is based off his life dividing time before and after Him. There is no shortage of opinions on Jesus from friends, foes and those who don’t know what to make of him.

Have your say, visit:
jesus-is.snac.org.au

Check out our website where you and your friends can have a say this Christmas! It’s interactive so go and check it out. Make some noise about the site on facebook and twitter and use it as a way of inviting your friends an family to our ‘Jesus is ______’ Series at our services on Sunday 23 December.

What’s on for Christmas?

19 Dec
There is a lot planned this year at Christmas time which gives us many opportunities to celebrate together as well as to invite friends and families to hear about Jesus. Prior to Christmas there will be different events happening attached to each of our congregations and ministries so keep your ears pealed for those dates.  However, the major Christmas services will be on Sunday 23 December and Christmas Day.

Sunday 23 December
On the Sunday before Christmas (23 December) all of our services will be Carol‛s services with a simple Gospel message. This will be wonderful chance to invite friends and family to our normal services. Why not also all come along to Church in the Bank on that night?

Christmas Day
8am @ Christ Church Bexley
Traditional Service

9:30am @ Christ Church Bexley
Family Service

9:30am @ Holy Trinity Bexley North
Family Service

9:30am @ Carlton Public School
Family Service

What to give for Christmas?

17 Dec

I am always on the look out for books or tracts to give to people at Christmas that might just encourage them to think about the real message of Christmas.  This year I have come across one of the best I’ve seen in years.  It’s called ‘Christmas Uncut: What really happened and why it really matters’ by Carl Laferton.

Written by a sports journalist (it’s only 60 pages with very big print!) it goes through the story of Christmas in an in an easy to read and entertaining style.  As he goes through the story he points out the things that people might never have seen before in a helpful way.  More than that he offers easy steps to start thinking about the questions of ‘What next if this is really true?’. 

I liked this book so much that I got several copies to give away to friends and family.  It’s only $3.95 each!  What an easy way to share the Gospel with our friends, family, kids teachers, whoever.  Include this little book with their present.

You can order copies from Reformers Bookshop at www.reformers.org.au

9781908762177m

 

Phil Colgan

Should Christians be cool?

14 Dec

[This post first appeared on Anglican Youthworks Website written by Steve Grose on 20th May 2012]

 

“’My daughters think I’m SO uncool’: Bono’s girls cringe as the singer waxes on about Africa to Beyonce and Jay-Z.  According to a Daily Mail report, Bono may have millions of fans across the world, but he still has trouble impressing his two teenage daughters.” 

The U2 frontman admitted he suffers the same dreaded fate as parents across the country – his children think he’s an embarrassing dad.

Yes, droning on about Africa, playing old music, and telling “Dad jokes” had made Bono uncool!  The man in the designer sunnies behind some of the biggest selling albums of all time, is … whisper it .., “Uncool!”

How to work out if you are too cool

In a way I am glad Bono has joined the ranks of the uncool!  I have been here a long time, and uncool is not as bad as its cranked up to be. By the way, cool is nowhere as cool as it used to be when I was cool!  That is, if I ever was! (No…wearing bright green socks, brown slippers and long daggy blue board shorts with an Italian khaki collared shirt on the beach was probably never a very cool look…. Sigh!)  

Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale USA has a “You may be too fashionable if …” list for Christians.

You may be too fashionable, he warns, if:

— You can’t stand singing a worship song that was “in” five years ago — much less singing a hymn from another century.

— You believe social justice is more important than evangelism, or that evangelism is more important than social justice.

— Your goal in spending time with non-Christians is to demonstrate that you’re really no different than they are. To prove this, you curse like a sailor, drink like a fish and smoke like a chimney.

— You’ve concluded that everything new is better than anything old, or that everything old is better than anything new.

— The church you’ve chosen is defined more by its reaction to “boring” churches, than by its response to a needy world.

— You’ve decided that everything done by the church you grew up in was way wrong and you’re now, thankfully, part of a missional “community” that does everything right.

— The one verse you wish wasn’t in the Bible is John 14:6, where Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” That’s way too narrow!

— You look around at church and notice that everybody is the same age and looks and dresses pretty much like you do.

Is Christianity cool?

Tchividjian goes on to say that whilst Christianity may not always be cool, more importantly, it is always relevant.

“Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don’t make a difference by being the same,” Tchividjian writes.

“To be truly relevant, you have to say things that are unfashionably eternal, not trendy. It’s the timeless things that are most relevant to most people. … When the relevance of God’s Word reigns supreme among God’s set-apart people, we influence the wider culture by expressing His revealed truth with both our lives and our lips.”

Cool? Cool!

Do you want to live forever?

13 Dec

The alarm clock went off one morning. Again. My brain swirled for a while. What day is it? What am I supposed to be doing? Slowly the brain neurons start firing. That’s right: exercise. Message to body: GET OUT OF BED. Message from body: NO THANKS, I’VE DONE THIS ALL BEFORE. My body lies there in a sort of silent war with my brain – more sleep or exercise? Meanwhile, on the radio, the news headline catches my attention: would you like to live for 150 years?

I don’t know about you but in a moment like that, 150 years of the worries of this world and the pragmatic duties of life doesn’t seem all that appealing to me. Eventually my brain beat the body and I went out for some exercise but at least I had something good to think about: would I take a pill if it meant I could double my life expectancy? Would I take a pill that would let me live forever?

There is an obvious trade-off in a proposition like this: quality versus quantity. A ‘life extension pill’ certainly gives you a greater quantity of life. However, there are down sides. You know how Grandma says her hip hurts? Well, imagine if that went on for an extra 50 years; or, imagine a family gathering where there are up to 7 generations of the family who have to be gathered. Or, instead of a 45 year working life, try 110 years. Ouch.

Even if the ‘life extension pill’ let you live forever, there is no pill to make the world around you perfect. The longer you live, the greater the exposure you have to the pain and suffering that comes along with living in this world.

I’m sure that many have heard of this idea before and found much hope in it. However, in reality, even if the pill could give eternal life, in comparison to Jesus it is still a very weak offer.

Jesus offers both quality and quantity of life. In John 10:10, Jesus, speaking as the Good Shepherd, taught the reason for his coming: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jesus offers his followers life to the full – full in every sense. Full in the sense that he offers an abundant quantity of life. All who believe in Jesus will have eternal life but those who don’t, won’t (John 3:36). Jesus also means a full life in the sense of quality. All who follow Jesus will know God’s abundant love. This love is most clearly demonstrated in Christ’s great sacrifice for us at the cross (Rom 5:8). Finally, Jesus does not envision this full life to begin after your death in this world. Rather, full life begins when you are re-born as a Christian. Despite the suffering that come as a result of standing up for Christ in this world, Jesus expected that living as a Christian in this world would involve incredibly gain, particularly in terms of relationship with other Christians and God (Mark 10:30). Jesus offers full life in every sense.

So, a pill such as this one presents us with more an ethical dilemma than a theological one. Theologically, life is only full when it is lived in relationship with the Creator through Jesus. Ethically, would we take the pill so as to live longer to serve the ever and increasingly lost humanity? The apostle Paul put this ethical dilemma well: ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Phil 1:21). It would be far better not to take the pill and sooner be with the Lord in Heaven. However, while ever there is a potential for fruitful labour in Christ then living here is a necessary and sacrificial response to Jesus. Paul was torn. I am too. What about you?

A great way to share your hope with friends is to latch on to current issues in the news. Why not ask a friend what they think of the ‘live-longer pill’ and be ready to give an answer for your hope!

Jason Veitch

 

 

 

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT

12 Dec
The Following is a slightly edited version of a great blog post by Ken Currie on the desiringgod.org blog.  This is a ministry of John Piper and great source of bible teaching and resources. 
I also found this such a great way of expressing what so many of us face. 
Luther Symons
 

Talking about Jesus is counter-cultural. It’s true everywhere on the planet, but perhaps it’s especially so in our increasingly post-Christian Western society. We live in a polite culture, for the most part. Talk about religion? You just don’t go there. Talk about how many tornadoes have come through, and how the team is doing, and how the city has new recycling bins. But Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners and risen from the dead? You just don’t go there. So they say.

For the time being, it seems the greatest threat to gospel-telling in such a society is not that we will be hauled before the city council, beaten, and have our property taken away. What we are really dealing with is some awkwardness.

Awkwardness is perhaps the biggest threat to evangelism for far too many of us.

 

Awkwardness Never Killed Anyone

I’ve done a little research and can confirm to you that there is not one documented case of someone dying, or even being severely injured, by awkwardness. Not one.

But when I read my kids’ Twitter, I see nearly half their tweets starting with “That awkward moment when… .” Awkwardness is catastrophic, and maybe especially so among the younger generation.

Awkwardness! It’s as if we imagine fire and asteroids and dragons. As if people are running through the streets yelling, “Run from the awkwardness, it’s going to get you! You might feel awkward. It would be terrible if you felt awkward!”

But a little awkwardness — or even a lot of it — is such a small price to pay for enjoying the power of God’s Spirit using us to be his witnesses.

 

Joy in Small Suffering

I write this as no super-evangelist. I’m right there with you, naturally fearful that things might be awkward. I sit on the plane thinking, “If the guy next to me doesn’t like my talking about Jesus, it’s going to be awkward.” Oh, no, I’ll have a hard life to deal with sitting next to this guy for two whole hours being awkward.

For the Christian, there is a joy and a privilege to suffer for Jesus, even a tiny little bit. Most of us can agree that when we do step out in faith, the awkwardness really wasn’t that bad in retrospect. Awkwardness seems so horrible when it’s in front of us. But it’s not nearly as bad behind us. All my limbs are together, I’m okay, it’s really not that bad.

 

You Are Involved

The aim here is not to press any kind of guilt on you. But I think when we look at this issue of gospel witness, we have a tendency to do what they do in big cities when somebody is laying on the ground. Everyone walks past the victim like they didn’t notice anything. Then the cops come around the corner and wonder why nobody responded. It was because nobody wanted to get involved.

Well, if you are a born-again believer, you are involved — really, really involved. God lives in you by His Spirit.  We are united to Jesus.  You cannot be more involved. You’re in the middle of it. It’s happening right there in you. You are the issue, you are the scene of the crime. You’re involved. We cannot dance out of the way.

 

Why So Difficult?

Why would God make something that we long to do so difficult to do?

For some Christians, it isn’t that difficult to evangelize. In fact, these tend to be confused as to why so few Christians are involved in ongoing, bold evangelism. If this is you, I want to tell you, we praise God for your boldness. And you should know, you are a bit weird. For you, awkwardness is just an abstract concept. For the rest of us, awkwardness is like a plague to be avoided at all costs. But this is an example of the different parts in the body of Christ making their specific contribution to God’s glory and the advance of his kingdom. So why is something so important and integral to the Christian life so difficult for so many?

Here’s one answer: God gives most of us this awareness of awkwardness so that we would never, not for a second, trust in or magnify ourselves and drift away from the magnificence of the gospel. This awareness in evangelism makes the gospel tangible. It means I need the gospel right now myself. Not only does my hearer need Jesus at this moment, but so do I!

Jesus died for disciples who do a poor job of talking about Him. He died for those of us who have all too often failed to commend him because we feared it might get awkward. But he also died to give us the grace to press through the awkwardness to testify to him.

May God give us the grace to rebound from our many failures and grace not to fold in the face of awkwardness in telling others the most important news in the world.

Developing a meaningful prayer life

11 Dec

Prayer results in improved relationships as when you pray for others, it forces you to think of others. Prayer is an act of love that changes your heart, and causes you to care more about others as you carry them in your heart

****

I recently read a book; “A young women after Gods own heart” By Elizabeth George. A couple of the chapters were about prayer. I was really encouraged by it, and since then, I have been developing better prayer habits and praying continually. Prayer is a common struggle so I want to share some tips that I’ve picked up from this book and outside that might help improve your daily prayer with our almighty God.

To get started, it is really helpful to develop a prayer diary. This Diary can involve anything. At the front, I put a sheet of paper in that has every day of the week and under each day I fill out a thanksgiving point, prayer for others, prayer for me and everyday prayer. Some other things I put in my diary are missionary prayer letters from our churches link missionaries, our churches prayer points newsletter, a prayer log and prayer list which I will touch on in the next points

As you develop a more regular prayer life, you discover that prayer changes you to have a deeper relationship with God as it increases your faith. Faith can be increased through a prayer log. This is where you write down everything you pray to God for regarding any concerns for example family, friends, decisions and yourself. You will be amazed when you pay attention to how God answers item after item! This prayer log can be kept in your prayer diary where you can record your requests and responses.

Another useful prayer list for your prayer diary is a list of the people you want to pray for. Write all the names down. They can be family, friends, missionaries and even enemies. When praying, read each name out to God and pray what is on your mind about them. This makes prayer more selfless. It is encouraging if you ask the people on your list if they have any prayer points, and helpful for you too.

Pinpoint your greatest sin, or sinful action and put it at the top of your prayer list. Pray about it every day. Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Confess it to God every time. Ask God to help you remove it from your life. God will help you through it and your life regarding this sinful action will improve. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

The book I read described a three-step pattern that can help us make better decisions in our life;

1. Wait to make decisions so that you can

2. Write them down on your prayer list and then

3. Wait on God for direction

Elizabeth George has a prayer principal; “No decision made without prayer!” So when you are faced with a decision, instead of making it straight away according to what you feel, make a spiritual decision through and after prayer. Add on your prayer sheet a list of decisions you must make. Be faithful to bring them to God in prayer each day and ask him for wisdom. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Prayer results in improved relationships as when you pray for others, it forces you to think of others. Prayer is an act of love that changes your heart, and causes you to care more about others as you carry them in your heart. We can pray to God for improved relationships with anyone. For example parents. Ephesians 6:1-3 and Colossians 3:20 tell us to obey our parents. This can be included in our prayers. 1 Corinthians 15:33 and Proverbs 18:24 tell us to choose our friends wisely which can greatly influence our prayers. Concerning boyfriends and girlfriends, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7 tells us how we should behave in these types of relationships. And lastly Enemies. Luke 6:27-28 tells us to love, do good to and pray for our enemies! No matter who we pray for, prayer can make a difference in our relationships with them. The book I read talked about picking the person you dislike the most, and praying for them constantly for a month. This dislike could be replaced by a growing compassion and understanding.

Matthew 6:34 and Philippians 4:6-7,11-13, tell us to be content and not to worry. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 1 Peter 5:7 says; “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Prayer should be a top priority. Jesus demonstrates this in Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” We should all set aside time each day. Sometimes this gets hard as life gets busy but something is better than nothing and God wants to hear our voices. Making prayer the first thing you do in the morning can be beneficial as you can dedicate your fresh new day to God which can make a difference in the day. This may mean just setting the alarm 10 minutes earlier. We should take seriously the privilege of prayer and never underestimate its power. James 5:16-18 demonstrates how powerful prayer is. We should pray always (Ephesians 6:18) and everywhere, enjoying God’s presence wherever we go (Joshua 1:9).

This is what God wants; 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

 Hebrews 4:16 tells us about our attitude as we pray and the results.

Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

I hope these tips encourage you to develop a prayer diary and to begin regularly committing time to God in meaningful prayer.

Larissa Veron