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David Jones, Humphrey B Bear and astrology

Two seperate incidents in the week leading up to Christmas caught my spiritual attenae.

In David Jones they were selling spell books, that is books with incarnations in them. These books were in the childrens section, and aimed at children.
Up until the age of 9 or 10, children cannot distinguish accurately between fantsasy and reality.

On Humphrey B Bears show, the presenter was plotting the astrological chart for the next year. Great! Just what you want to show impressionable young minds.

I am not one for campaigning against spong bob or Disney, but this sort of stuff is awful.
It is religious teaching, imagine if they had Rick Warren on Sesame Street, telling the kids all about the five purposes for their lives, their would be an uproar.

It also made me keenly aware that you cannot let your kid sit in front of the box unmonitored, not even when watching something that is meant to be innocent like the big brown non speaking bear.

Blog's First Christmas


For my son and daughters first Christmas my wife bought them 'Baby's 1st Christmas' baubels to hang on the tree.

Well this is my blog's first Christmas. Merry Christmas blog!

More importantly Happy and Merry Christmas to you all.

I hope God gives you more than you could ever hope or dream of for the coming year.

Rick Warren and the emerging Church


In "The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations" by Dan Kimball Rick Warren has written the foreword. As seems to be true of most things Rick says, he is looking for opportunities and believing they are there in most situations. Here is how he introduces the book, "In the past twenty years, spiritual seekers have changed a lot. In the first place, there are a whole lot more of them. There are seekers everywhere. I’ve never seen more people so hungry to discover and develop the spiritual dimension of their lives. That is why there is such a big interest in Eastern thought, New Age practices, mysticism and the transcendent. Today seekers are hungry for symbols and metaphors and experiences and stories that reveal the greatness of God. Because seekers are constantly changing, we must be sensitive to them like Jesus was; we must be willing to meet them on their own turf and speak to them in ways they understand."

Whatever else one might think of the emerging Church, they have got this right, "seekers are hungry for symbols and metaphors and experiences and stories" If indeed they say that. Not that we always know who 'they' are or really what 'they say'. I dont wont to put words in anyones mouth.

I do think this, that people dont care less about apologetics any more, they care about what works, in your emotional and spiritual life. They care about the truth found within a story, and you know what? The Bible is a book of stories. Jesus taught truth through story, through people's lives and experiences came meaning. Rob Bell has shown me that.

Rob Bell part Four

"Why do we do the things we do? Many people react to and are driven by these deep unspoken forces. They are strong and they dictate huge areas of our lives. And it is possible to be a good Christian and go to church services and sing the right songs and jump through the right hops and never let Jesus heal your soul". (p118)

Woh.... As a Pastor I know this to be true in my own life, as well as those I interact with.

The deep forces, things like abuse, insecurity, rejection. These are the things which bring forth legalism, phariseeism, bitterness, overt submission, persecution complex, addictions.

Christ has set us free, he wants us to live lives of hope, joy and strength. We cant if we wont let Him heal us.

Carpenter

A friend emailed me this devotion.
How am I going with the things that are really important, what am I building, and how am I building?
This is good.

A carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer of his plans to leave the house building industry and live a more leisurely life with his wife and his extended family. He would miss the regular income but he had decided to retire, they would manage.The boss was sorry to see such a good worker leave and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favour.The carpenter said yes, but it soon became obvious that his heart wasn't in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and even used inferior materials. It seemed an unfortunate way to bow out of his career.When the house was finished the builder came to inspect the house, the boss handed the front door key to the old carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not always give the job our very best effort.Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are living in the house that we have built. If we had realised, we could have done it differently.Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past.Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today.

Christmas in Oz


I love Christmas.
From the cranberry sauce over ham, to buying my wife and kids presents, I like it all!

Family is incredibly important to me, and this year we are looking forward to a Christmas time with a pool. I am teaching my son how to swim, and if enthusiasm is anything to go by, watch out Thorpie! He has the big feet, but has not yet developed all the muscles needed to stay afloat. This is a reminder of Christmas for me, hot days, warm salty skin, dives into a pool.
Waking up to presents under the tree, to give and to receive.

I think Jesus loves how we celebrate Christmas, because I think Jesus was always there for a party. We see and read him joking, drinking and laughing with His friends.
Sure not everything we see done in the name of Christmas is good, but if we spent as much time and energy on sharing Christ's love and the good things about Christmas, as we sometimes find ourselves spending on denouncing the excesses of it all, there would be a lot more Christians around the place!

Great Sunday


We had a wonderful day today at Church, or at least that is my impression.

Jacob invited some friends from the Congo to come along, and they did a three part gospel harmony, both before church, and for the kids mid way through the service. We could not understand their words, but we could understand their hearts. Beautiful!

We had Anne Marie leading, its great to have a lady up front, and she often brings poetry and a different slant to worship, it was nice.

I spoke my final message on Elijah. There is so much to say about this depressed, fearful, courageous, strong, weak, powerful, frightened, prayerful, doubtful man. Surely James was right when he said, "Elijah was a man just like us". Used powerfully, yet weak doubtful and coomplaining in one moment, calling down fire from heaven the next! I contrasted the legacy Ahab left, and the one Elijah gave to Elisha. I could sure do with that cloak/mantle myself!!!

Followed the message up with two short videos, one on being a dad, the next on being a mum, "your children will rise up and call you blessed". Always difficult, especially when there are singles, seniors there, to make the application to us all. But whether we have kids or not, we influence others lives.
We all went to down to a park after church and had a good old church picnic, and Melinda organised some mini olympic type games. I came third in the frisbee throwing competition.

Off to NorthCity tonight to see my SIL do some dancing. Should be fun, might see if I can score a free coffee that they hand out to visitors, might even pretend I am a seeker!!!!!!!!

Surely the right move


In another stunningly exciting off field development, the Freo boys have appointed Robert Shaw as the new football manager at the club.
Big bad Robert was the one who was SCATHING in his assessment of the teams on field toughness when Essenscum rolled us about 6 months ago.
The Sunday Slimes ran a story last week saying that the Weagles had made a blue picking up Harris instead of Shaw. Lets hope that the bastion of good journalism gets it right for once.

Apparently Shaw instilled some toughness to Essenscum when he was there. Lets hope he can produce the goods in our mob.

The Colonel, aka Cameron Schwab is credited with saying the following, "“Robert has experienced the highs and lows of AFL football, from Premiership success at the Essendon Football Club through to the challenge of coaching the ailing Fitzroy Football Club,” said Schwab.“For a man who has had over 30 years experience at this level he has amazing passion and positivity for the sport and offers outstanding knowledge and insight. “He will be of great support and value to our coaching, administration and playing staff,” remarked Schwab. (http://www.fremantlefc.com.au)

Haddrill set to go


More good news on the Freo front with Robert 'the driller" Haddrill ready to go for next season.
His stability, mobility and durability were sorely missed last year in the backline.

Along with Parker, Grover and the suprise packet of Scotty Thornton, ours must surely be one of the quickest and most dynamic defence units running around. Throw in the evervescent Roger Hayden, and expect the new rule changes to favour us. I am especially thinking of the one about kick outs being able to be executed without waiting for the umpire. Last year we were first in the league for goals kicked from opposition points, so expect that trend to continue.

Christmas Day Service


"without Christ you have a holiday. With Christ, you have a Holy Day"

We are really looking forward to Christmas Day in our Church. It is always a great way to start the Christmas day. I know a lot of Churches dont have a Christmas Day service, and thats cool. I wonder what they will do this year with Christmas being on a Sunday?
Anyways, for me, I love it, its always fun. If your looking for somewhere to kick the day off right, your welcome at Bedford Baptist Church

Rob Bell Three

Phil Baker has a link to a great article by Rob Bell. The article is basically a quote of one of the passages from Rob's book, Velvet Elvis.

Here is another quote from my reading.
"I realize this is not groundbreaking news, but when we get desperate and realize we cannot keep living this way, then we have to change. As I let all this come spewing forth the first time in my therapist's office, he interrupted me. I was making lists of all the people I was working to keep happy. He said it was clear that there were significant numbers of people I was working to please and that my issue was a simple one.
I was anticipating something quite profound as I got out my pen.
He said this: "Sin."
And then he said, in what has become a pivotal moment in my journey, "Your job is the relentless pursuit of who God has made you to be. And anything else you do is sin and you need to repent of it."
The relentless pursuit of who God made me to be.
I started identifying how much of my life was about making sure the right people were pleased with me. And as this became more and more clear, I realized how less and less pleased I was with myself. I'd become so heavily oriented around the expectations of others that I was becoming more and more like them and less and less the person God made me to be"

It reminds me of something the apostle said, "we are here to please God, not please people".
and Hebrews 13.6 inspires me along similar lines.

Moved, but still moving

Well, here we are in Ballajura.

I have just gone through the last inspection, making sure everything works, and Melinda and I and the kids said our last good byes to our beautiful home in Ellenbrook.


Clem had a last feast on mulberries, and we all prayed and thanked God.

I have just got my internet connection back on line, and recieved a message saying my mailbox in 96% full.

This feels homely here, but not like home. we have a lot of stuff still in boxes, and wont unpack most of it. 5 months is not a long time. Cant wait to move into our real house.
Thanks for all your prayers.

Rain Rain go away...


We had the biggest crowd ever, the sausage sizzle people ran out of sauce, we served over 400 cups of cordial to thirsty kids,

The sound check was done in record time, the stage was stable,

everyone was excited.....


After two carols and one item, the rain come down, and it was too hard to ignore it!

This is Perth Australia for goodness sake, where has summer gone??
Ministry can sometimes be dissapointing, but that is the risk of leading. Last night all the fantastic and joyful people from my church led well.
They felt the joy, and maybe dissapointment of ministry.
Don't stress, God knows best!!!
I thought we all showed grace, patience and joy in the midst of some trying circumstances.
And I think it was a wonderful witness to the people watching,

SO WELL DONE!!
And roll on next years carols.

BBQ Meatlovers with extra cheese


I am a Pizza lover. In a former life I used to manage a Dial a Dino's (remember them, bought out by Dominoes).

At home, most Thursdays, I make the family Pizza. Not any old pizza with a store bought base. I make the lot from scratch. I make the dough, I proof it, I roll it out to size, depending on how thick I want it. Then I crush fresh tomatoes and herbs. My local deli supplies me with some Italian sausage and bacon, which I cook in the fry pan before putting on the pizza. The cheese I use is some good Mozarella.
My wife bought me a pizza stone, which is a round device you put in the oven to heat up, then cook your pizza on it. This gets properly floured and the pizza comes out looking better, and tasting much better than any cheap Dominos one.

Today I blew it. I went to Coles and in a fit of madness bought a Mc Cains frozen pizza on special. I ate it, and now I feel so dissapointed.
How can a mass produced product like that compete with my home 'built with love' special, it cant.
Now the Mc Cain special is sitting in my stomach, like some conjealed mess.

Fathering and a legacy

Preparing for my message in two weeks time on leaving a legacy. I am exploring the life of Elijah and how lessons from his life help us to be overcomers.

I am particularly interested in how he left a legacy with Elisha to carry on the good work. It goes to the heart of something I am passionate about, the legacy we leave our kids. And I am not talking about finances, although that may be part of it. I am talking about what we will impart to them, what our lives will say to them. How who we are as people will give them strength, and help them lead fulfilling lives.

Looking through some multi media resources I have just found a great mini presentation on what it means to be a father, excellent! I love it when a plac comes together.

Carols in the Park Your all welcome!!

Hi to all my fellow bloggers and readers.
Your all welcome to the carols in the park my church is running.
I'm compering, so come and say hello!

Packing


Windy and a bit rainy, perfect day for packing some boxes. Yeh right, perfect day for a spot of tennis or reading the West with a large Latte and a cheese sausage from the local deli.

Unfortunately it is the former I am doing today, not the latter.
Wonder if Abraham had this many boxes to pack?

Contradictions we find


Recently a popular and well written Christian magazine, Charisma, published an article on article about a pastor called Clarence McClendon. Apparently the good pastor , "announced from the pulpit that he had uncovered a “new revelation” in the Bible. His discovery: That a church leader can have more than one wife'. The writer of the article went on and stated, "Hopefully, you and everyone in the building would run, not walk, out of that church and never come back until the pastor had been replaced. But I am afraid too many of us gullible charismatics might stay in the pews—and eventually give the guy a standing ovation plus a $10,000 love offering".

Well yes, hopefully we would run out. Have a look at the picture I have included. Isn't it amazing how holy and worshipful this guy looks? I dont say this to be judgemental. In fact Clarence may well have started out as a humble honest preacher, looking to do the right thing. Somewhere along the line though things got messed up. Maybe the enemy got to him, maybe his own addictions got to him, maybe he got lazy. I remember a story in the bible about a wonderful leader and king who did something pretty stupid and comparable to Clarence.

This story reminds me, there go I, but by the grace of God. Lord, keep me humble, keep me faithful, keep me in love with you.

Ruach Part Two

I have been contemplating my own post, after a couple of anonymous (to the public, not to me) people commented on it.

I do not believe we can always see where God is moving, and go there, as Henry Blackeby may lead us to think. (I am not putting words in Blackeby's mouth, he may lead you to think that, he may not). Sometimes, as a good friend suggested to me this week, we need to go and do something, and hope God turns up! (Or something like that). In other words the whole 'is it God, or is it us' never ending paradox. Naturally I lean towards pragmatism, give it a go ya mug!

Sometimes we just have to try something, and if it does not work, well thats life. In fact I preached on this, and am touching on it again at Inglewood Church of Christ this week. "In taking those first few tentative steps, Abraham was moving to a whole new place in his relationship with God. In stepping out Abraham drew nearer to God. His relationship grew deeper. They moved, even though they didn’t know where it would lead, because of the strength of trust in our relationship".
"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see"
and this,
" It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going." (Hebrews 11 NLT)

What I was trying to say in my first post was that we need to be careful that when God has done something marvellous in our midst, that we don't become satisfied or even complacent with that. God wants us to continue to grow in our faith, our love for Him, dare I say, the fruit that we bear in His Name and for His Kingdom's sake.

Multi Media in the Church


I found something else I love doing. Creating images, slide shows, mini movies for church.
The more I get into it, the more excited I am about the possibilities, not just for my church, but also on a wider scale.
Its amazing to think what you can do now with a fairly standard home PC and a digital video camera. The incredible memory storage available has now meant that you can do far more at home than what was even possible in a studio a few years back. I remember my Media Class at Scarbrough High School. A few mates and I did up a 'vox pop' video. We also filmed a short movie about a reporter who witnesses a plane crash, complete with my toy plane getting doused in petrol and set alight.

Another friend and I filmed a very amateur music video.
It was so exciting when our school hired, from the education department, a mini studio for the day and we were able to put credits on top of our vision. Amazing stuff, which I can do now at home.

But as to ministry, someone once said, "Vegas has nothing to say, and says it brilliantly, the Church has the most important message in the world, and says it terribly".
And its not just large churches that need to do this sort of thing. At Bedford we are hardly a large or well resourced church, but we have done some great things in our services with multi media.
People watch hours of TV each week. We can either see this as a problem, or as an opportunity. This sort of thing does not have to be restricted to a church service either. For all you EC guys out there, have your gathering around a latte, then stick on a Rob Bell DVD, or even better, something you produced yourself.

Malcolm Rule at Encounter Church in Wangara uses multi media extensively. Its not a big church, and they dont have any operating live musicians yet. So rather than get bogged down with that, they use an awesome system of DVD's with music and moving backgrounds, and some live singers. Malcolm also uses a lot of clips, sermon vignettes and other compelling stuff. In fact it is again, your classic of turning a problem into an opportunity.

There is a heap of free stuff out there, if you want to know about some resources, send me an email.

Renewed my membership


Last year 15 clubs were bitterly dissapointed, none more so than the serial chokers, our fine feathered friends from down the road.

However its almost a new year, and the season is 122 days away. Hope is high with new assistant coach Mark Harvey and some great young players as well.

Peter Bell and Heath Black are talking up our chances.
I have just sent off my renewal papers for mine and Melinda's membership.
Membership buys privileged seating, a few stickers for the back of the Suzuki and a couple of badges for my Freo Hat.

If someone wants to argue that their team is better, my first question is, are you a member? If they are not a paid up member, their just a clanging gong. Membership shows real commitment and passion to the team. Funny, I only know one paid up West Coast Member, but I know a lot of gongs!!!!!!

Thankful and loving it


Really enjoying Church and ministry at the moment.
I dont think I have ever been this happy with how things are going ever before.
Sure we have issues as do others. But God is really doing some amazing stuff in our midst at the moment.

I am really thankful to Him for His Breath upon us all.

Particular encouraging to be in a Church where people are coming to know God, and it seems like every second person is visiting or only been there for a short time.
As well the people who have been there for a while are really stepping up to the mark and getting more involved.

God is good and wants the best for us.

Ruach

Ruach is the Hebrew word for the Holy Spirit. It means breath of God. It brings to our minds the idea of a rushing wind, or a gentle breeze, movement, refreshment, change. After a great Sunday last week, one that may not be topped for a while, I have been meditating on who God's Spirit is, and perhaps more importantly how He Acts.

The point is He acts like a breeze, He comes, cools us, refreshes us, and then He might move on. We get tempted to stay where we are, as though He is going to be there always. He's not. He is a Spirit, Ruach, the breath of God, and He has moved on.

If God has done something wonderful, miraculous even, enjoy that, dwell on that for a while, but then its time to move on. God at His heart is a Creator, a Creative Maker. Move on to what He is doing next, dont stay where He has worked for too long, because He is looking for the next miracle to perform.

Rob Bell Part Two

Almost finished the book, here is one more thought provoking gems,

"Ultimately our gift around us (as Christians) is hope. Not blind hope that pretends everything is fine and refuses to acknowledge how things are. But the kind of hope that comes from stairing pain and suffering right in the eyes and refusing to believe this is all there is".

Velvet Elvis


Almost finished the "Velvet Elvis" a book from Rob Bell.
It is a challenging, interesting and thoughtful book.
Here are two quotes so far...

"Perhaps we should replace the word missionary with tour guide, because we cannot show people something we haven't seen".

"Some people actually believe that God is absent from a place until you get there. The problem with this idea is that if God is not there before you get there, there is no there".

I think there is enough to keep my small brain going for a long time on those two statements alone.

He also challenges the need for a five year plan etc. Basically outlining how his church grew overnight, despite their lack of Church Growth principles. Look, that can happen. And I don't want to make up any reasons why it happened at Mars Hill and could not happen at Bedford. What I will say is that Rob Bell is the best, without peer, preacher I have ever heard. And I have not heard him preach live, not even a video, unless you include the Nooma Videos. I have just listened via the web. I think a lot of the growth for the church may have come through that, which is an unusual way actually for church to grow.
Not all of us have that experience, and I feel God has given me a dream, a vision. So when I speak of a five year plan, I am talking of that. Not a set in stone business plan which cannot be divereted from, changed and grown organically.

I am loving this book, maybe because he is saying stuff I have been thinking for years. Its probably aimed at pastors, and anyone who wants to be challenged in their thinking.

Bought


The Edwards family are on the move. We leave our house in about a month, bound for a rental a friend is graciously renting to us.
But then....around April..... we move into the house we have bought! About 2 stones throws from the church, but more importantly right in our mission field.
We signed the deal last night, sans a real estate agent. Just sat around the persons dinner table and thrashed it out. Very nice people, and somehow much more real to negotiate that way.

Melinda is thrilled, and the kids love the park just down the road.

What is really significant to me is that people we are reaching out to, live four houses down, and others live on the same street as well. Backyard Missionaries indeed!

What a day


Emotionally and physically and especially spiritually drained.

Three incredible baptisms and a dedication today at church.
Church was packed to the rafters, with extra seats brought in at the back and on the sides.
I reckon there were about 35-40 visitors, most of them non-church attenders.
One lady getting baptised asked her sons principal and teacher to come, and they came!
People new to knowing Jesus are the best at attracting non Church people.
People were crying through out most of the service, including me, as the Holy Spirit worked some miracles.
Eliot and the crew did a great job with the music, and were very flexible. Our drummer and bass player worked really well together too.

We showed a MPEG of a mini movie. Very esoteric and almost mystical as it explored a husband and wife seperated by her faith. Particularly relevant this morning. It really made you think, it was not corny or overtly American, or simplistic.

The testimonies of all three people brought tears to my eyes, and baptising them was probably the most joyous thing I have been involved in for a long time.

I gave a fairly confronting message with an altar call, not something I do very often at all.
While there was no visible response, afterwards I had some deep conversations with a few people who dont normally come to church. God is at work, and its amazing seeing what He is doing.

I have only had two hours sleep, and tonight we are going to very likely buy a house. God has been good in that area too, but thats another blog.

Wayne's World


Recently received (i before e, except after c) an email from my good mate Wayne who is the pastor at Australind Baptist Church. He sends out a periodic news email to his congregation and friends of the church. Very good communication, and keeps the vision and culture of the church at the forefront.
What a challenge Wayne has been to me, and an exhortation. Some pastors seem to have been able to quickly grasp the necessary principles and be professional in their approach to ministry. With the Church that he is now leading, and with the ministries they are involved in, they are fighting well out of their weight division. There is no 'fat' in their budget or in their other resources, yet they are having a wonderful impact on their community. Google in "Australind Baptist Church" and you will find references to their church all over community websites, because they are out in the community doing a great job.

Bought


Thanks to all who have been praying.
We have reached verbal agreement with the owners of a house we have been interested in. At this stage we will be renting a house off friends until we move in. Possibly in January or February.
The house has a magnificent kitchen. For the gourmet cook in the family, and for the happy recipients of such food, this is good news. For those of you lucky enough to score an invite to our place for dinner, you will be blessed as well.
We are really pleased. There are a lot of hurdles to cross, and also some other stresses in our lives to deal with, but we are praising God, for good friends who prayed, for a good God, who gives us better than what we deserve.
(If anyone can guess why I have included the picture I have, then you get a smiley!

3 Baptisms and a dedication

Sounds like a great title for a movie, wonder if Hugh is free?
Looking forward to an exciting Sunday.

Also going to be launching a 3 week series on OVERCOMERS.
This will be focused on Elijah, a man who overcame depression, experienced inner strength and leaving a legacy.

Thanks

Spoke on thankfulness and contentment yesterday at Church.
Response was overwhelming actually. Its amazing how the messages you think are good, are the ones that people come up to you and say how much God touched them, and the ones you think are fantastic, sometimes dont garner as much response.
I want to be a speaker who does not bore people. I think if you bore people as a speaker presenting Gods message, that is sinful. How can you do that? My technique if you like is to really only have one thing to say. I used to be a three point man, many years ago. Thats a bit of a waste of time for me now. I dont think I am really there to impart information or teaching, but to inspire.
Secondly I want to be a speaker who sees the Holy Spirit at work. So I need to bathe everything in prayers of dependence, and have a team of people praying for me (thanks Friday night crew!).
Thirdly I would love to see people changed.

It is for a good reason that God said, on the seventh day you shall have rest. Interesting. For me Sunday is the day when people come to be re-centred. To rediscover what life is all about. The other 6 days seem to try to tell us otherwise, but Sunday is when we be still and know He is God, praise and experience His joy, cry and experience his grace, love and experience His fellowship.
Most of all I want to see people come to know and love Jesus. God help me to see that happen!
If you were not there yesterday, I reckon this sums it up for me, "People come to celebrate with God in a hundred different ways, in a thousand different ways. Sometimes we jump up and down and sing, sometimes we find ourselves on top of a mountain, sometimes we find ourselves with a small group of people praying, sometimes we are sitting having a cup of coffee, reading the paper, listening to our kids play outside, and we are struck by how good it is to know God, and be known by Him. Its not a place, its not even a specific activity, it is knowing Gods presence is with you." (Pastor Mark Edwards - no one else will probably ever quote me, so I might as well quote myself)

The Charitable effect of the gospel


A friend emailed me a story from the Guardian online by a thoughtful writer called Roy Hattersley. In it he says this,

We atheists have to accept that most believers are better human beings


He then goes on to describe how Christians and religious organisations are normally at the forefront of disaster relief, while
Notable by their absence are teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers' clubs and atheists' associations - the sort of people who not only scoff at religion's intellectual absurdity but also regard it as a positive force for evil.


Sometimes we Christians are too hard on ourselves. God' Holy Presence dwells within us, and sometimes His light, grace, power and love shine through. I think God is proud of what we often do in His name!
Have a look at this final quote from Roy,
Civilised people do not believe that drug addiction and male prostitution offend against divine ordinance. But those who do are the men and women most willing to change the fetid bandages, replace the sodden sleeping bags and - probably most difficult of all - argue, without a trace of impatience, that the time has come for some serious medical treatment. Good works, John Wesley insisted, are no guarantee of a place in heaven. But they are most likely to be performed by people who believe that heaven exists.

New Living Translation


I've had my New Living Translation since my accreditation with the Baptist Union. They asked us to select a Bible they would then give us as a gift.
I love my NLT. It brings a freshness to my devotional times. I remember growing up with the unstated commandment being, you must read the KJV. Then the NIV became the standard for all the trendy churches. But the New Living Translation is such a joy to read. I read somewhere it is designed for public reading and application.
Here's something you will know, but this translation brings a freshness to it,

1
The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. 2He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.3 He renews my strength.He guides me along right paths,bringing honor to his name.
Psalm 23

consider this example for humours sake,
10That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. 11The Pharisees were indignant. "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?" they asked his disciples. 12When he heard this, Jesus replied, "Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do."
Matt 9 NLT

If you want to check it out without having to buy it Bible Gateway

Technology, big churches and small ones


Recently I discovered that a mega church, a true one, not Hamos work, was flogging off for the measly price of $200 US what was basically a DVD of one of their services.
I have to admit, this makes me filthy mad.
Are we in the money making business, or the soul winning business?
Its time that bigger churches realised they dont have to sell everything they do. Maybe they could pass on some of the blessing they have recieved from God to bless some other smaller churches. In fact I have found the most generous churches are those without a lot. One big northern Church was asked by one of my mates if they could use some of their multi media stuff. No was the reply, but we will be selling it soon, at some ridiculous price.
Sell it for cost price, for what it cost to burn the dvd or cd.
This is good stewardship. Good stewardship is not taking off the small bloke the one lamb he has, to make your huge flock bigger.

Rant over, resume normal nice guy transmision

Looking looking looking


Melinda and I are convinced of God's calling to be in the area of our mission field. A stack of people who come to our church do not come from the Bedford Inglewood Dianella Mnt Lawley area. Thats ok! These people are great supporters and we need them all. We have people who come to our church from Heathridge! People will make the sacrifice if they are finding a great place to minister, and be ministered too. In fact is some ways these folk are making a great missionary sacrifice in being involved in a mission work, that is not on their door step. So I am really grateful to God for them all.

But as leaders we feel we need to be in amongst our mission field. God has led, we have sold our house in 13 days and for a good price. Now we need Him to guide us to a house that can house our family, be in the area of a school for Clem to attend and not cause us to go into financial hardship. We both wont to be able to concentrate on mission, not worry about finances, and getting cash, all the time.
Pray for us!

Homer and Bart


The Simpsons is a classic show. Love some of the humour, flinch at some of the barbs. What other show has characters such as Ned Flanders and Rev Lovejoy?
Phil Baker has a discussion on it at his blog.

We dont let my four year old watch it at this stage. The other day we were both busy and it came on. I noticed and said to him, turn that off please! His reply was, but daddy its a Christian show! I said, no its not, what do you mean? He replied, "the daddy said 'o my God'". Melinda and I looked at each other, great! What sort of parents are we?!? It was a good opportunity to talk with him about what it meant in that context.
None the less I often use stories from the Simpsons in my messages. From how it portrays Christians, to how dads and mums interact, to the fear we observe in Homer's dad.
I dont really know what the writers think of Christianity, or even if I could reccomend it to someone else. But I do know it is a smart and insightful window onto our cultures soul.

God's Party goes off

A great sunday, with a number of visitors and friends who came along. My wife, who is the Ministry Team Leader for Children, worked out we had to buy 47 books for all the kids and babies in our church. Thats fantastic. We also gave out a few extras to some visiting kids.

What was most encouraging was the breathroughs we made in what we did. There was no formal message, just a few devotional thoughts centred around some party games. For instance we played pass the parcel with the whole church. As each person unwrapped the 'present' they found a letter inside. When they were all assembled up front it spelt out 'at God's party' "everyone's invited", complete with apostrophe of owndership in the right place. It was a lot of fun. Hopefully the brief and clear point, that knowing God is fantastic, and we want everyone to feel welcome, was made.

Adultery, fraud and Pastors


I should be a sub editor at the West with a byline like that.
But I am glad I dont live in the good old US with Pastors like there two as contemporaries.

Exhibit one

First Congregational Church has been on Main Street in the middle of the town of Ripon for almost 90 years. But what no one in the congregation knew was that the church had been sold for $500,000, and more than $450,000 was sent to a fraudulent bank account, according to authorities.

The Rev. Randy Radic was arrested and faces charges of embezzlement and forgery.

"He was pastor there for 10 years. He gained their trust. They said he was a good pastor. They got a lot out of his sermons. And it was just a complete shock," said Ripon Police Department spokesman Danny Sauer
MSNBC Story

Exhibit Two
Today the 78-year-old pastor faces what could be the most difficult test of his career. A former parishioner, Mona Brewer, has alleged in a lawsuit filed in August that Paulk forced her to have sex with him and others—including visiting charismatic preachers
Charisma Online

Pastors are called to a higher account, in my opinion. You cant be a spiritual leader, and abuse your position and authority in such a wicked way. We are all sinful, and pastors have feet of clay like anyone else. So pray for your pastor!

Sold, lets get out of Ur


Well we have sold our house. It took 13 days, and we got a pretty good price for it, at least we think so.
Two good friends of ours have offered us a house to rent for a while, but now we are cashed up we hope to find something to move into closer or actually right in our mission field. We feel like Abraham, having left Ur, we are heading off to a place He WILL show us. Trust, faith hope and a sincere sense of conviction. Thats why God is good. Not because He makes the circumstances secure, but because He makes us feel secure despite the circumstances. We believe that He has done, and is continuing to do something awesome in our Community, through our Church. This is why we are moving.

God is good, and has been good to us. In feels somewhat strange, because we really do think we are moving for His Kingdom sake. But we are grateful, really thankful.
Just as I got this good news, I got some sad news from another good friend. Hoping she finds what she needs pretty soon, God will provide!

Can I just be indulged with a reccomendation? If you need a great, honest hard working real estate agent, you could do far worse than use the one we used. If you want to know his name and details, send me an email.
ps. if you need a garage door company, and dont mind waiting a long time to get what you asked for, so God can teach you patience and restraint, then I can reccomend one of those too!

God's Party


Church is going to be a party this Sunday AM, with God being the Guest of Honour. It is our KFC Celebration service, or in old Baptist speak, our Sunday School Anniversary. God's Party

Michael Bullard gave me an excellent script for this service, and I am really grateful. Mike has helped me out in the past with some creative ideas for themes and services.

The idea is that we will basically play some party games with the kids and the people that turn up. These games will have a point. If you are coming on Sunday, you are going to have to wait to find out what we are doing, but there is every chance there might be chocolate, musical chairs and sausages involved!
Today I have spent some of my time planning kids games, should be fun.

2 Gether, Bapos and Chocos Unite


Today, along with some other things, I had a meeting with the Choco's about our annual Pastors Conference. I enjoy working with these guys.
This year, at our conference just gone, we had as our speaker Terry Walling. He was fantastic. His style of teaching involved a lot of group work, sharing with others. Very EC of him, and I really enjoyed it. There was a general consensus that for such an occaision, being the first time Bapos and Chocos met together or the annual Pastors conference, he really helped us network and grow together.
Another interesting point he made was the priority of his cafe outreach over day to day church activities. His church runs a cafe. Actually he would say the cafe owned by the church, happens to have a church attached. A seemingly subtle change, but it confronts who is served first. As Borden and Walling would say, the non churched gets served first. Or as I would say, "the church is not for you, you are the church. The Church is for the unchurched".
It made me wonder about NCD and their emphasis on the 8 signs of a healthy church. While I like these, it seems to me the problem is that evangelism, mission, reaching out, call it whatever you like, is far too important to just include with seven other attributes. Even Warrens 5 purposes suffer a little from this. If seeing people come to Christ is not THE Key Performance Indicator in our church, then I think we have a problem. Now some will come back and say, if your church is healthy it will be seeing people come to Christ. True, but if your church does not have mission as its first priority, I dont think its healthy.

Pilgrim


Went to a thoughtprovoking and inspiring mini conference today with Scott Pilgrim from Crossover Aust. and Kevin Keegan from Dural Baptist Church in Sydney. They spoke of the challenges facing Pastors trying to move congregations from maitenance mode to mission mode.
Scott also entered into the 'attractional vs incarnational' debate. What he had to say was informed and interesting. Scott stated this, "Missional churches are incarnational by nature… and yet authentically attractional in building faith community." In other words it is not one or the other, but both. As I interact with some from the emerging church context, it seems to me that really we are talking about what we are doing, rather than why. And this to me seems to be a question of balance. I like what Scott was saying, we need to be incarnational, and our programs and services need to be attractive.

Waiting for roses


Melinda and I are in the throes of maintaining our house in showroom condition as we try to sell it. It has been 7 days that it has been on the market. We are selling because we feel like missionaries going into the area God has called us to minister too.
One of the stresses we have had has been over our garage door. The door has been fitted, but when it was, they did not fit the roses into the little windows like we ordered. After numerous phone calls, not all of them very nice, we have finally had the roses fitted. Its only a little touch, but they do look nice. Life is never easy, and when people just dont really care about service, it makes life difficult. Now I wont tell you which company fitted our door. But what I will say is that you should never buy products endorsed by former West Coast Eagles players, you may find the same hassles we have!

Water, Beer and Pharisees


Amidst all the confusion and problems of the hurricanes in the US, some Southern Baptists have managed to keep themselves pure. A local beer company donated crates of water for the relief effort, and because it had beer labels, some local Pharisees decided they would not distribute it. Give me a break! What a terrible way to portray the love of God. Now if it had West Coast Eagles labels on it, I could understand it.
NBC Story

Warren named among 25 best US Leaders


Not bad for a Pastor to be named amongst the 25 most influential leaders.
Interesting to read Warren's profile and understand his transperancy and vulnerability. He admits he had not even thought about widows and orphans until recently in his ministry life. Many of us have been concerned with our own little vineyard, and neglected the social aspect of the gospel. Now THE key leader of the evangelical movement of our time is coming out saying the social aspects of the gospel are equally important as the spiritual ones. USA Today Article

Cook is the right recipe


Good news today on the Freo front with Cookie being resigned for another 12 months. Having actually shook the great mans hand, and bought him a beer, I can tell you, he is one player that you would not want to be bumped by.
At a scratch match last year, when there was only about 300 people at the ground, I could hear the thump as Cook slammed an opposition Western Bulldongs player to the ground. Normally during a game you cant hear these things. But that whack by Cook was sufficient to guarantee a healthy dab of Epsom on the other shoulders. This from the Dockers website,

Recognised as one of the toughest players in the competition, his ferocious attack on the ball made him an instant fan favourite and valuable team contributor at Fremantle.

Cook has set the defensive standard for Fremantle where he has led the club’s tackling in five of his six seasons including 2005 where he had 87 tackles at 4.35 a game

Hillsong named most incarnational church in OZ


Alright, so the naming is only by me, and the title is just to stir some emergent types up, but seriously, browse their web site! Hillsong Services

This reinforces the recent 'Australian Story' episode when they talked of how many community activities the Church is involved in.
Having attended their national conference on and off for the past 6 years I have noticed how Hillsong Church is becoming increasingly socially aware, of their responsibilities, and of the needs of Australian Society. In fact if I really wanted to be frank, I would say that in my opinion they are being far more effective at being incarnational, that any other organisation in Australia.
Sure they have their issues, but who doesn't? I know my church and my life is not perfect. But kudo's where they are due I reckon.

The Bedford Bus


Well, its taken me about a week to formulate this in my mind,
but we have seen more first time conversions at Bedford Baptist in the last 12 months that in the whole first 10 years of my ministry.
We have also said some very sad goodbyes to some dear folk who have been at the church for a long time. If you are one of those folk, please don't take offence at this, I have just been wondering aloud what is going on.

I do know this, the quality and creativity being displayed in our morning services and other ministries had gone through the roof. Thanks to the efforts of my Associate, the members of the Ministry Team and the freedom and empowerment being given to the Church by the Leadership team, things are humming along nicely. We reached in a significant way over 250 people at out Spring Fair. In a fortnights time we are having a party for our Sunday morning service. Now some may say every Sunday should be a party, but we are having balloons and streamers and hot dogs at this one! God's Party

On November 20th we are having a Baptismal service with 3 wonderful people getting Baptised. I am so excited and joyful about what God is doing in this small part of His vineyard.

If you are part of our Church Community, jump on the Bedford Bus, its pulling out of the station!!

You can comment!

I've had a stack of people telling me they are reading my blog, thanks!
If you want to make a comment please do, you dont have to be a blogger, just click on the comments button, then choose other, type in your name, the verification code, and your away!

Spring Fair, Church and Church Together


Full on weekend.
Both physically emotionally and spiritually drained, with lots to think about.
On Saturday Melinda and I were getting our house ready to sell, and madly getting ready for the Bedford Baptist Spring fair. What a huge success. Organisationally a massive amount of work, and kudos to the chief organiser, who is pictured on stage here.
Aproximately 250-300 people came around to buy an old toaster, purchase a coffee and cake for $2, have a back massage or watch their child pat a pig. This is a 2nd stage event for us. A way to connect even further those who have been attending our Toddler Jam program to the Church Community. We gave out about 100 show bags with lollies, colouring in and information about the Church Communities activities. An unqualified success.
Sunday morning at Church was good, we served up the left over sausage sizzle to the crowd, and they seemed to enjoy my message on telling the truth in love. We also heard about some inspiring Prison Ministry some people form our Church have been involved in and the kids were led in a song from the Congo, from a refugee who is fellowshipping with us.

Sunday night was awesome too. Church Together brought about 18 000 people together for a time of worship and inspiration. Wayne Cordeiro was a humorous and appropriate speaker for the event, especially for the pre-Christians. I might have preferred more of a challenge, but that probably says more about me, than what was appropriate. So well done to all those involved!

On reflection, the most purposeful and best thing I did all weekend was talking to a number of people at the Spring Fair. Intentionally seeking them out and trying to make friends. Being a Pastor is tricky, because many people see you as being representative of the church. You never leave the job. But I loved being there and seeing the community come together, at what was essentially a Church event. Awesome and what the church should be doing.

The Christianisation of culture


God sure is big in the good old USA. Some time ago there was a controversy over Starbucks putting new age and pro homosexual slogans on their coffee cups. Now Rick Warren (purpose driven life) has his mug on the mug (lets hope its been supersized!) along with one of his sayings. Now I am a RW devotee, his books are required reading as far as I am concerned. But this article I am giving you a link to talks about such things as John 3.16 being sewed onto garments, and bible verses printed on burger wrappers. in my view its great that RW has had such a influential impact on culture that his sayings can be put on the side of a coffee cup. But I struggle with 'Jesus Junk" or the dumbing down of the Christian message. Mission is our priority, sharing the love of Christ, helping people discover abundant life. Is what some folk doing a good thing, or actually detrimental to the advancement of the Kingdom? Should the drive through attendant ask, "would you like a copy of the 4 spiritual laws with that bacon double cheeseburger?"

Christians are the worst and best ads for Christ

After sharing lunch with a few Pastors, who will remain nameless, I have come to the conclusion that Churches can be fairly brutal places. I hate to say it, but we Christians can be pretty awful to each other. Pastors can be awful to their church folk, and Church folk can treat their Pastor pretty shoddily as well. I know I am a Pastor, and therefore have my own perspective on this issue. This obviously colours my thinking. Let me also say that I thank God for my supportive and loving church. Its not always an easy job, and people in my Church are good to me. But my heart aches when I hear stories of how we let interpersonal conflict stall, delay or destroy what God wants to do through us.
What do non church people think when they stand back and watch us fight each other?

Seriously, God only gives most of us about 80 years. Dont waste it in trying to argue or fight your way through life. Instead pour that energy into mission, into reaching people who don't know Jesus yet.

The following story is a sobering reminder of this.

"PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - A church pastor called deputies to remove 16 congregants who refused to stop singing as he tried to begin his sermon, according to a sheriff's report.

Pastor David Noel reported a disturbance at the Bethanie Seventh-day Adventist Church to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office when the group would not allow the Saturday morning service to continue.

All 16 church members were issued trespass warnings and left the property without incident, according to a sheriff's report.

One congregant who received a warning said the group was protesting Noel's leadership and alleged misuse of insurance money for damage to the church caused by Hurricane Charley.

"We received $364,000, but he told us we only got $264,000 because he wanted to give $100,000 to another church in Fort Myers," Monique Robert said Monday. "But this money is for Bethanie. We want all the money for our church."

Another congregant, Edourd A. Pierrelus, alleged that Noel struck his chest and twisted his left earlobe during an Oct. 1 meeting to elect new church board members.

"Many things are wrong in the church," Pierrelus told deputies Saturday. "We don't want him to be the pastor."

Noel declined to comment to reporters Monday.

"I don't have much to tell you, just that we are preaching the word here," he said.

Milton Sterling, ministerial director for the Southeastern Conference governing the region's Adventist congregations, said church officials were investigating the incidents.

Robert said she and the other 15 congregants who received warnings will attend a different church service this Saturday."

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15.4,5

Big Bad Barry 'the Messiah' Hall


You gotta love or hate him, but as an avid Eagles disliker, I like the guy.

I was trolling through some pages about Bedford for research purposes and I stumbled across this. It should cheer up all you suffering Eagles fans.
http://www.bedfordbc.com.au/miscellaneous/barry_hall.htm

Brush with fame


Recently I was up in Cervantes on a blokes weekend away. A group of us from Church went up to a beach house for the Grand final weekend away. I was the only one in the group of 16 that was going for the Swans (I go for the Dockers and whoever is playing the weagles). The day only got better. While enjoying a meal in the Tavern at night who should be there in that isolated spot than Justin Longmuir and Troy Cook (Dockers players). I had the chance to talk to Justin about his match winning goal after the siren against St Kilda. If you watch the replay carefully, I am right next to him when he jumps into the crowd. As well I got Cook, surely a tough nut player if ever there was one, to sign a shirt for me, and I bought him and Justin a jug.

Ever had a brush with fame? Care to relate the story?

A Revolving Mess


My house is a revolving mess at the moment. We are in the process of getting it ready to sell. Anyone who knows my wife, knows it is a pretty house, and presenting it well is very important to her. What this means is that for the past 5 days I have been moving furniture around the place, to make way for new carpet, floor polishers and carpet cleaners, hence the revolving mess. This on top of my normal pastoral work.
Sometimes my life feels that way too, in a continuous state of flux and mess. Thank Jesus that He has given us a purpose and a goal. Strange thing is we dont always, or even often, know what the exact end of that goal will look like. Maybe if we did know what God had in mind, it would scare us too much and we would not start. I am aware that God has called us to be missionaries in the Bedford/Inglewood/Bayswater/Dianella area. We believe God wants us to be in the area He has called us too. This has not been an instant thing, in fact God has changed me over the 11 years or so I have been pastoring at Bedford. I want to give more to the Community, not less.
If you get a chance, pray that God will find us a house to move into and reveal this to us. It is stressing us both out, and our beautiful kids. We have not found a house yet. Foolish faith? No, we don't think so. Instead we think we are acting on what God has said, and waiting for Him to say a little more.

Incarnational vs Attractional

What do these two terms mean anyway? I have a number of friends and aquaintances who are heavily involved in the Emerging Church movement. I respect greatly what most of them are doing.
However I do have an issue with what it might seem is an "exclusive" style of Philosophy and methodology in what they are doing. I struggle with some who seem to have thrown out the expression of the church as it is now, while still relying on it for support. It has been really encouraging though to see some, who are embarking on such works, also working alongside with and encouraging the work of more 'regular' expressions of Church.

This is why the article Brian Harris has written in the latest Advocate (WA Baptist Newspaper) is so 'on the money', in my opinion. http://www.theadvocate.tv/ADV1005.pdf
Brian advocates a 'lets do both' approach.

At Bedford I would like to think we are both heavily Incarnational and Attractional. We provide wondeful Community services, such as Toddler Jam (childrens ministry), Counselling, Welfare. But this is because we have a solid church base to support them. We also stress the need to be incarnational in our lives, be a Christian where you are.
People need support and encouragement to be incarnational. Christians need an attractive and relevant program to disciple, train, exhort and encourage them and their children.

I wonder if as time goes on what will be most valuable about the EC movement is not the communities it establishes, but the much needed redress it challenges the local church to embark upon.

Sunday afternoon and looking for a house

Great Sunday morning at Church, real sense of God saying something to us all about trust, hope and joy, in the midst of our own confusion. I used the verse from 1 Corinthians 13 about us seeing things only in part. Its not always easy or clear this side of eternity 'what on earth' is going on.
Melinda and I have been reminded of this is our frustrating search for a home closer to our mission field.

Ponting doing well after Gilchrist hit a quick fire 30. I think in Adam we have seen the best one day batsman ever.
Also good to hear the mighty Dockers have cruised to an easy victory over the serial chockers, West Coast, in the London Derby.
"The Dockers took a more inexperienced side into the clash, but dominated the middle stages for their 13.12 (90) to 11.7 (73) victory in front of nearly 19,000 fans at The Oval"
http://afl.com.au/default.asp?pg=news&spg=display&articleid=233810

And apparently there were a number of fights and melees, particularly in the third quarter with Chad Fletcher throwing a punch, but like most of West Coasts efforts this year, missing the mark.

"The third quarter was played with a marked increase in intensity, with one huge melee at the 13-minute mark and further spotfires throughout." http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=66423


Its always good to beat West Toast, even if its a meaningless game, played half a world away, with half your team missing.

Rob Bell

For those of you who have not heard of Rob Bell, he is probably the best speaker I have ever heard. The way he brings meaning and life to scriptural principles is awesome. In my view, one of the biggest sins a preacher can commit is to bore their audience. How can the great stories found in the Bible be boring? Only if we are slack.

Listen to some of Rob Bell http://www.mhbcmi.org/listen/index.php or go to his 'nooma' site www.nooma.com for some excellent 9-11 minute presentation videos which are just superb, well done, sermon vignettes.

Marks Spot

Well I am online at last. After reading some other blogs online, such as http://www.backyardmissionary.com/ and www.philbaker.net I have decided that maybe there is a spot for my musings as well.
If you are visiting for the first time, post me a comment.


Cervantes, one of my favourite spots to get away. Pulling in some Herring Posted by Picasa

Finished my message

Entitled "Vegetable Soup".
After unsuccesfully putting in a offer on a house nearer the Church, and being really dissapointed by the buyers taking it off the market, I felt that I should speak about how even when we dont know what is going on, God does. Sometimes life feels like a vegetable soup, all mixed up and the details are hard to distinguish.
If you want to know how it ends, see you at Church on Sunday :)