Archive | February, 2013

John Piper – Can We Trust The 66 Books Of The Bible?

28 Feb

Have you had similar questions?

Let us know in the comment section exactly what you think!

 

 

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8 ways to become more humble

27 Feb

[This post is courtesy of Jane Tooher, and appeared on the Moore College Website]

 

 “…at every stage of our Christian development, and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is our greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.” (Stott, 119)

1. Thank God often and always

Thankfulness stops pride growing. We can thank people for things that they do and who they are, and that’s important and encouraging for them. But we’re to thank God for that person, for the way he has worked in them. Thankfulness is a sign of a believer. “Ingratitude…[is] one of the distinguishing marks of an unbeliever” (Pao, 21). If you’re struggling with feeling thankful to God at this time, try and think of just one thing each day to be thankful for. It might be that you have enough food, or the weather, or something that happened at bible study. Thank God for one thing after someone has visited you, or you have visited them. Thank God for one thing in your friend or your child, or in your spouse, your church or your local community. “In the constant act of thanksgiving, the relationship with God is nurtured. Through thanksgiving, the gracious acts are remembered and the life of a person is thereby changed.” (Pao, 37). God-centered thankfulness helps us grow in humility as it stops pride growing.

2. Confess your sins regularly

Confession is a reality check as it reminds us who we are. Christian confession need not be overwhelming as the cross was sufficient for all our sins and we have been completely forgiven. It is at the cross that we understand most clearly that we are sinners, but it is also at the cross that we understand most clearly that we are deeply loved. When we confess we gain a deeper appreciation of grace and what we have been saved from. God’s forgiveness gives us peace and security, and therefore the freedom to grow in humility.

3. Be ready to accept humiliations

“They can hurt terribly, but they can help you to be humble” (Ramsay, 80). They can help us become more like Jesus who was terribly humiliated. I’m not talking here of accepting domestic abuse. Not at all. I mean we might fail at something. Or we might get demoted at work. Be ready to accept humiliations as we can learn a lot when we’re at the bottom of the pecking order, which for many of us is out of our comfort zone.

4. Don’t worry about status

Don’t try and connect with people to elevate yourself. Is that person going to make me look good? Having that job will that make me look good? Having that house? That spouse? Don’t try and elevate yourself, rather try to elevate others. Serve others. When people are speaking at our funeral, what do we want people to say about us? About our values? Will they testify that humility characterized our life? Will they say, “She had it. She got what mattered most” (Mahaney, 24). People who are humble inspire trust and confidence from those around them and therefore humility is key for leadership, (Mahaney, 17-19). Pride is anti-social behavior, whereas when we’re humble, it’s best for others and best for us, as it’s who we were created and redeemed to be.

5. Have a sense of humour

I think this one is really key and not often talked about. Laugh at yourself and others. You have to be serious about some things, but don’t take yourself too seriously. When we’re able to laugh at ourselves, we more quickly swallow our pride. It diffuses situations. It means we’re not trying to keep up a facade that we’re this person that has it altogether. It means we can more quickly admit we’re wrong. It means we’re more real. It means we’re more in tune with grace. It means we’re more in tune that other people will have similar struggles to us in the Christian walk. Being able to laugh at ourselves is really important. It can help prevent burnout. It helps us keep going in life and ministry.

6. Listen to others

Listening to others shows we’re willing to learn from them. That we want to learn from them. Whether they’re adults or children, whatever the persons’ background, Christian or not. The people that made the biggest impact on me when I was a child, outside of my immediate family, were an uncle and aunt. Each school holidays we use to go visit them on their farm. There were 6 kids in my family and 10 in theirs and so there was potential for much chaos! I was a very shy child but I always loved going to their home as I felt loved and welcomed, and the reason they made me feel like that was they made a point of asking me questions and they listened to me, and that made a lasting impression on me. When we feel listened to, we feel loved. And when we listen to others, it’s a sign of us loving them and an acknowledgement that we can learn from them. And it’s also recognition that God in his sovereignty and goodness has put this person in my life.

It’s fascinating observing different talk show hosts. Some ask a question and just let the person talk. Others cut them off quickly, and kind of turn the question to being all about them. Despite having people on their show to interview, some don’t really listen. They seem to think they already have the answers. They don’t really seem to want to learn from the people they are interviewing. The best people at interviewing are those that listen. They let the person keep talking. When I was chatting to my sister about this she said, “Yes, and the ones who listen are actually the ones you want to talk to. They are the more interesting people!” Which is largely due to the fact that they are not so self-absorbed. When we listen to people it’s a sign of love, of wisdom, and shows that we’re teachable, and it’s a way we can become more humble.

7. Ask questions

This is closely related to the point above about listening to others. When we ask questions in a right attitude and manner it shows we recognize we don’t have all the answers. That maybe our preconceived ideas about something were in fact wrong. It can also show that we recognize the person’s authority over us (if that is the case) and we are submitting to them. It can show we assume trust in them. There are many varied and different situations in life when it would be good for us to ask questions aren’t there?

If you’re not in the habit of asking questions, it might be embarrassing at first, but it becomes easier. E.g. When you’re chatting with someone and they use a word you don’t know the meaning of, ask them the definition. If you don’t understand other things they’re saying, ask them to clarify. It’s often our pride that stops us asking questions of clarification. Ask questions of someone also because you assume they’re interesting to get to know. That they have something worthwhile to say – whatever their age or background. That they have something we can learn from – whether they are Christian or not. Ask questions of someone because they are created by God and it’s a sign of us recognizing their worth in God’s eyes and therefore our love for them. There are many situations where we can ask questions of others that help us grow in humility, but one of the greatest ways is to ask God questions in prayer and when we read his word the Bible.

8. Consider others before yourself

C.S. Lewis helpfully said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” Humility is not thinking that others are more godly or more kind than you, or more intelligent, nicer, better at cooking, or better at cricket than you. They may be. They may not be. Humility is when you consider other people’s interests before your own. Thinking what is best for the other person and acting on that. We’re being humble when we think of others before ourselves. You may have a greater status than someone. You may have authority over someone. You don’t pretend you don’t have authority over them. But you think what will benefit the people under you. What do they need? What is best for them? It doesn’t mean you don’t look after yourself. When we don’t look after ourselves we soon can’t help anyone else. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

John Stott was by many accounts a humble man and so it’s no surprise this was said of him after he passed away…

When I was nineteen I attended a day conference in Newcastle at which John Stott was the speaker. When we arrived, the friend with whom I’d come went off to the toilet and I was left alone, feeling out of place. An older man came over and began talking to me, asking me about myself. After a few moments my friend returned and the man introduced himself, ‘Hello, I’m John Stott.’ My jaw nearly hit the floor. I’d been speaking to the great John Stott without realizing it. That moment made a big impression on me. John – who was the only speaker that day – had seen an awkward looking teenager on his own and taken it upon himself to make him feel welcome. I met him a few times subsequently and he always remembered my name. The private John Stott was just as impressive as the public persona: gracious, humble, without affectation. I’m sure it was this humility that meant God could entrust him with the influence and success he received. It is hard to underestimate the impact he has had across the world. “Thank you, gracious Father.”” (Tim Chester, posted 28 July, 2011, http://timchester.wordpress.com/)

THE “ARROGANCE” OF HUMILITY

26 Feb

[This post is courtesy of Phillip Jensen, and appeared on his website on 24th April 2009.]

Winston Churchill was a master of the one line witty put down.  He described his political opponent Clem Attlee as “a modest man who has much to be modest about” and “a sheep in sheep’s clothing”.

But are these really insulting?  Is it not good to be known for modesty and genuine humility?  Is not ‘arrogance’ the real insult of today?

Within our society tolerance is valued excessively.  It is hard to imagine how tolerance could be ‘excessive’.  To speak against tolerance in any form or fashion seems to be heresy itself.

Yet tolerance, traditionally understood, meant ‘bearing pain’.  It was the choice to take no action against people of whose opinions or behaviour you disapprove.

In recent years tolerance has become ‘the acceptance of all views as equally valid’.  And so tolerance is valued excessively.  For the move to accept all views as equally valid is to rename ‘relativism’ as ‘tolerance’.  It changes tolerance from ‘a way to get on with our neighbours’ to ‘a way to think’.  It is the move from political freedom to political correctness.  And this move turns all knowledge and certainty into arrogance and all ignorance and confusion into humility.

Christianity preaches humility yet, in the eyes of many, it practices arrogance.

Arrogance is the pride of self-importance.  It is thinking of yourself as more important or more able than you are.  It is often accompanied by showing contempt or disregard for others.

God commands each of us “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3).  He tells us not to be “haughty but “to associate with the lowly” (Romans 12:16) and to walk “with all humility and gentleness” (Ephesians 4:2).

The ancient Greeks and the Romans viewed humility as weakness and servile inadequacy.  It was Christianity that taught the world the virtuous nature of humility.  Christians follow the God who humbled himself in becoming human and even more in becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:3-8).

It is strange therefore to have the world claiming humility while accusing Christians of arrogance.

But in the eyes of the world we are arrogant because we preach what cannot be known.  We preach that Jesus died for the sins of the world, that Jesus rose from the dead, that Jesus is the judge of all humanity, that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life – the only way to the Father.  We preach of the certainty of heaven and that we are assured of our eternity.

When Christians have the temerity to say that other religions are wrong – we confirm the worst held suspicion that we are profoundly arrogant.  For as many think “Surely there is truth in every religion and all are but different roads up the same mountain.”

In the eyes of the world all preaching is arrogant.  To claim knowledge and try to preach it to others is the very definition of arrogance.  Repeatedly you will hear people saying “but I do not preach”, “I am not preaching”.  We can ‘engage’, ‘converse’, ‘interact’, ‘share’ ‘impart’ even ‘teach’ but we must not ‘preach’.  It is the modern western taboo.  Preaching by definition is claiming an authority that is beyond any human to hold.  It is to claim a certainty of knowledge that is impossible.  It is to place yourself in authority above others.  It is by definition arrogant.  “Fancy telling others what they should believe – what a nerve – what a cheek!”

Christianity is founded on the Word of God proclaimed to the world.  So if preaching is arrogant and the gospel is arrogant, Christianity itself cannot help but be seen as fundamentally arrogant.

Undoubtedly, some Christians are arrogant.  Some of us think more highly of ourselves than we should.  Some of us are more confident of our knowledge than is warranted.  Some of us fail to respect other people and their opinions.  Christianity teaches the universality of sinfulness and demonstrates it in its members.  An arrogant Christian is one more demonstration of the truth that all are sinful.  It is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.  Unlike others we do not believe tolerance is the ultimate virtue – there are some things that should not be tolerated – our own arrogance is one of them.

However, to live by faith is to be genuinely humble while worldliness is fundamental arrogance.  True humility submits to God’s rule rather than rebels against Him.  It takes God at his word rather than making up our own way to live.

True humility accepts God’s way of salvation rather than insisting that God conforms to our way of doing things.  It trusts God for salvation through His Son’s death rather than insisting that our good works are enough to deserve God’s favour.  It bases our assurance of eternal life on God’s provision of His risen Son rather than on the wishful thinking of our own self-esteem.

True humility bows before the facts of reality rather than elevating the power of human interpretation.  True humility accepts God’s teaching that being made in his image we are not like the beasts, which perish without understanding.  True humility embraces what we do know without needing to know everything.  True humility accepts what is plainly known about God because He has shown us, rather than suppressing the truth and foolishly creating false gods.

It is not humility but arrogance to say “all religions are different roads up the same mountain”.  It is to sit above all the mountain roads in the only place of true perspective.  From that giddy height, by denying what others believe and rejecting all logic that contradictory ideas cannot both be right, it holds in contempt those who think their path is the only one.  Worse it holds God and his Son in contempt.

Christians must not be surprised or dismayed when attacked as arrogant.  There was no man in the Old Testament more humble than Moses, and nobody in all creation more humble than Jesus.  Yet both Moses and Jesus were repeatedly attacked for being ‘arrogant’. There is nothing new in arrogance dressed up in false humility nor in true humility attacked as arrogance.

Full Focus PNG Children’s Ministry Intensive 2013

18 Feb

Sydney Anglicans have long been blessed by faithful youth and children’s ministries. Through their many resource divisions (but perhaps particularly through their regional advisors and Youthworks College), Youthworks has had a major impact on both how and why we do Children’s and Youth Ministry. Today, Sydney has some of the best trained and resourced workers in the world.

At St George North, we have seen the benefit of Children’s and Youth ministry. We now have a thriving ministry full of young people who love and serve Jesus and want others to know about him. And more and more people are coming to know him. Ultimately, we must thank God for growing his kingdom and maturing his children. At the same time, it is no coincidence that St George North has strong links with Youthworks. Brendan, Troy, Sarah and Jana are all graduates of Youthworks College. We pass on our training to the leaders who serve each week. Many of the resources and training programs we use week in/ week out are produced by Youthworks Publishing. A growing number of our school leavers are participating in the Youthworks Year 13 program.

 

We have much in Sydney to be thankful for when it comes to Children’s and Youth ministry.

But not everywhere in the world is blessed with the same level of quality training and resourcing. Not everywhere in the world has as many experienced Children’s and Youth ministry practitioners as Sydney. Not everywhere in the world values children like we do in Australia. Papua New Guinea in one such place. It is a country where children are at risk. They are at risk of harm: abuse and neglect are sadly common place for the majority of young people in PNG. They are at risk of a devastating future: unemployment rates are already very high and will only increase as the huge juvenile population moves into adulthood (around 60% of the population are under 25).

While the reality of impoverishment and suffering is confronting and heartbreaking, there is a greater and more confronting risk: spiritual impoverishment, and with it, eternal suffering. There is a huge young population that is at risk of not hearing the gospel. Who is trained to teach the gospel to young people in a way that they can understand? Who can help them to grow and thrive as a Christian by explaining what the Bible says in ways that they can process, remember and apply?

There is a great need for specialized training in Children’s and Youth ministry in PNG and for this reason St George North, in partnership with Youthworks, is ‘Fully Focused’ on at-risk children in PNG. A team of 14—members of SNAC and Youthworks staff—will head over to run a Children’s Ministry intensive for the students at the Christian Leader’s Training College in Banz. Our goal is to provide some basic training on how to determine the ‘Big Idea’ of a passage and communicate it in a way that is both faithful to the passage and accessible to children. We will demonstrate a variety of mediums for communicating that message in a memorable five-minute kid’s talk.

While we cannot expect that our short visit and basic training will eradicate all of the risk in PNG, we do hope and pray that God would begin to transform the country through the power of his word communicated through us and in turn through the people we train. Imagine a huge young population transformed by the gospel—soon they will be in a position to bring about change. And not just when it comes to poverty and abuse: they will be in a position to change the hearts of the nation back God.

At SNAC, we’ve all benefited from the way God has blessed us in Sydney through children’s and youth ministry. Please consider how you can share those blessings with others and partner with us in being ‘Fully Focused on at-risk children in PNG’, both financially and in prayer. You can contact Brendan or Troy for more information, or log onto our fundraising site at fullfocuspng.gofundraise.com.au.

 

The SNAC team is:

 Brendan Moar; Troy Munns; Zac (also Youthworks) Sheree, Desiree, Anne and Larissa Veron and; Avril Lonsdale.

 

Mission Dates: 28March – 7 April 2013.

A prize that lasts forever

17 Feb

It has been six months since the London Olympics and I for one enjoyed them immensely.  However, as much of the Channel 9 commentary team tried to hide it, the overwhelming feeling of those games was one of disappointment for Australia.  The broadcasters struggled to hide their disappointment each time another silver medalist came into the studio, clearly agreeing with whoever it was who said that the silver medalist is just the ‘fastest loser’.  My prayer for these Athletes is that with time they might get a sense of perspective and see what an achievement it is even to have made the Olympics.

 

Interestingly, the Bible has a perspective that our ‘silver’ country needs to hear at present.  The Apostle Paul knew about the Greek games (perhaps he even attended an ancient version?) and he used the hardworking athlete as an example in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 –

 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

 

Obviously we should not push the analogy too far.  Our place in heaven is not earned by our own efforts but is a free gift of grace on for us by Jesus at the cross.  However, the point he makes is that the Christian life is not one where we dawdle up and expect to be given a gold medal.  Instead it requires hard work, commitment and dedication.  As the rower or swimmer devotes themselves to hard work and training – so does the Christian.  Our early morning laps are not in the pool but in the word of God and prayer.  Our training partners are those we meet with in Christian fellowship.   Most amazingly, our medal will never fade or be forgotten (who won the 100 metre breaststroke final at the last Olympics?  Anyone?).  No unlike Olympic gold, silver and bronze, the crown of eternal life and a place in God’s kingdom lasts forever.  Perhaps we should write some of our swimmers a ‘hero gram’ and share that message?

Praying for Children’s and Youth Ministry

16 Feb

Want to know how you can be actively and effectively praying for our children’s and youth ministry at SNAC?

Use this helpful outline as a starting point!

Parent Night Prayer (1)

Leaders In Training 2013 – BELIEVE

15 Feb

Did you miss this great article by Rachel Miller in last weeks SNAC?

Don’t worry – you can read it below!

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Picture this: 300 teenagers, five days, one conference. Now imagine all these teenagers hanging out together; singing and studying together, with no fights, no cliques, no bitchiness, no swearing, no awkwardness, no selfishness, and no judgement. Sound hard to believe? Like the kind of perfect world where teenagers actually weren’t such weird un-relatable creatures after all? Well, I kid you not; this meeting actually happened, and let me tell you, it happened brilliantly.

From January 23-27, I was one of the many Christian teens who had the opportunity to be at Youthworks’ annual Leaders in Training Camp (LiT) down at the Royal National Park. Youth and their leaders came from near and far, to be challenged and feast on God’s Word together from the book of John, with talks delivered by our two speakers Mick Hyam and Mike Raiter. Basically, the aim of LiT is to build up young Christians from Yrs 9-12, who have a passion to serve Jesus and others around them; with main events being held together, and smaller groups divided up into 3 Stages according to age/year group/experience. Our theme for 2013 was “Believe”, based on John 20:31, which was our memory verse for the camp. John says:

“But these things are written so that you many believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Over the course of LiT, our days and nights were full of several engaging activities. For the brave and fit and/or downright insane of us, the infamous “Fitness of Death” exercise regime was our early wake-up call that pushed the limits of our endurance and had us using muscles we thought we’d never use (there were many aching limbs afterwards). A friendly competition between Stages and Leaders, every day was a new challenge of long-distance running, sprints, team games, fitness and strength circuits, completed with our traditional swim in the river before heading to brekky at our various sites. The rest of the morning consisted of Time With God (TWG), which was a great chance for us to individually read and reflect on the Bible and spend some quality TWG in prayer (The Psalms this year were particularly encouraging). These were followed by our Connect groups which, depending on Stages, focused on Christian leadership, and also giving us the chance to get to know each other a whole lot better. Connect groups, plus the day’s workshops and intensives ranged from discussing leadership characteristics according to the bible, giving testimony, writing bible studies, learning skills to teach and serve with, and investigating different types of ministry. Led by the adult leaders, with a wealth of different skills, it was a great chance for us to learn and explore all the different ways we can spread the good news to others.

After lunch (i.e. more wonderful Youthworks food) the Stage 2 and 3 teams joined Stage 1 over at Deer Park for free time. Whether in the pool, on the waterslide, playing sport on the oval, or just chilling in the shade with a deck of cards, free time has always been one of the best places for fun times and getting to know other Christians. Everyone who has done LiT will tell you how exciting it is to bond with so many like-minded youth, because the joy and ease of such a massive-scale fellowship is like nothing else one can describe. The conversations that result from these new friendships, on every topic imaginable are simply fun, friendly, open and deeply honest. I’m reminded of The Fellowship of the Believers in Acts, where despite persecution, the early church were still joyful in their unity of Christ. In a simplified sort of way, we at LiT were kind of doing that too.

I would fully recommend that anyone in yr 10-12 in 2014 sign up for LiT, even more so if they are in leadership or considering it. You wont regret it!

 “In the beginning, there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:1-3