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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!