Jesus looks backstage

Last Sunday I preached my 2nd Sermon at The Point. It was on a very tough passage (Matthew 23). In this text Jesus teaches his disciples how to live authentic Christian lives. They way he teaches them is by showing them the life not to live. The Pharisees were the example of this. They were hypocrites. Their whole life was a performance for the praise of man. Jesus detests religious performers. Not only were the disciples not to live like the pharisees, they were to be servants like Jesus.

Matt 23:8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

If you would like to listen you can download the sermon here

Pondering the resurrection of Jesus #3

If we leave him in the tomb we can systematize his teaching and sanitize his actions. We can manage the church and keep things in order. It we leave him in the tomb then Christianity belongs to us to make of it what we will, to reform it in our image and sell it to the highest bidder. If the tomb is empty, the implications for the church are explosive. If he is truly with us in a way not so dissimilar to how he was with his disciples. Then nothing will ever be the same again

Andy Cottingham

The best thing about Port is … (#2)

A brand new coles is open in Port Macquarie. It has this spaciousness and lighting a prepackaged gourmet deli, a ‘we slice it for you’ bakery and deli and it makes you want to buy things. Except clothes, I rarely think, I’ll just grab some new shorts with my milk, toothpaste and canned tomatoes. Today we shopped at the growers market, butcher and IGA – just like home, except there’s also a fish shop and a cafe – Northmead eat your heart out. Had a chat to the butcher and the fruit shop lady and picked up an old edition copy of the SMH.  The people I speak to most frequently, my closest relationships are with real estate agents. I recognise their mobiles on my phone, I can predict when they will call, we have regular ‘dates’ on Saturdays at various locations in town, I know where there live and who renovated their kitchen last year. Clearly with this expertise I should become at REA or perhaps start some sort of real estate outreach…

G

The best thing about Port …. (#1)

The best thing so far about Port is, predictably, the beach. Ed can knock off in the early evening while it’s still light and we trundle to one of our local beaches Shelly or Flynns (a walk and a short drive respectfully). Joel is in his element running into and away from the waves and we wade with him. It has been suggested to us that there are some ‘positive ions’ in the beach sand that make everything look better. Certainly standing in the waves it is easy to forget that we don’t have a house, don’t have the long standing relationships close to hand or a firm grasp on the job.

We love that other families think the same and we often see people that we know down at the beach, which is a feat since we have been neighbours only 3 weeks. Note to young players – general conversation with strangers eg shopkeepers etc  about going to the beach makes you look like a tourist and we are clearly ‘locals’.

G

Ed’s first sermon

Matthew 21:41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”

 “The son of David,” they replied.

 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ 45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

On Sunday I preached my first sermon at the Point and for 2012. It was wonderful to share God’s word with our new Church.

The text was Matthew 22:41-46. It comes at the end of an intense debate between Jesus and the Jewish leaders. This little passage was the first time Jesus set the agenda during the debate. When he got the chance to ask a question he immediately asked them about the promised Messiah, the Christ.

The big thing that struck me was how Jesus knew the Pharisees had an insufficient expectation of the Messiah. They simply expected too little. God’s promised Messiah was going to be descended from David (Human) but also the Son of God (Psalm 110), worthy of our worship, love and adoration. Using Scripture Jesus upended their picture of the Messiah away and showed them a glimpse of God’s promised Messiah who was standing in front of them.

if your interested you can download the sermon here. (open up sermon player and you will find/stream or download)

Ideas for Church

Church is such a gift from God. We come each week to stand publicly as people who declare Jesus Christ as Lord. The Bible is read, we pray and sing together, for a moment in the week we get to share physically our unity in Christ.

One of the beautiful things of Church is that it looks different the world over. The cultural aspect to our church meetings is simply stunning. God is not corporately worshiped in 1 uniform way. There is freedom in how we meet and encourage one another under Christ. There are some central elements of Church we must affirm. The heart of Church is God. He gather us. He has something to say to us through his Word. We respond in him in prayer, song and community. it is always God’s church no matter what it ‘culturally’ looks like.

These posts are not intended to provide the ‘best’ segments of Church. They are new things I have seen and enjoyed. I understand they may not be new to you.

(1) Signs of Grace

Youth Ministry built around Christian community places a great emphasis on corporate sharing. For the last 9 years at Northmead we encouraged our Christian Youth, from NC families or not, to see Youth as a place they can share what God is doing in their lives. The body of believers then pray for them and follow them up. It has been a wonderful witness of their partnership with God.

In Adult Church sharing has been in my experience awkward. Small groups within the meeting can be beneficial but also intimidating to newcomers and shy members. Public sharing of prayer points is usually best left to home groups.

The Point run a segment called Signs of Grace. It is for adults to publicly share where God has been working in their life. Usually 5-10 40+ year olds stand and share how they have experienced God’s Grace recently. Today we witnessed the care of God for the sick, the generosity of God’s people for a neighbour church, the comforting reminder that God adores his child.

Key areas for success.

  • It needs to be run well. This includes explanation and modeling. Max 15 seconds (normally 30). Big time of prayer following the sharing
  • It must fit with the culture of the church. A community will not naturally see the signs of grace without being encouraged to look for them.
  • It takes patience and courage to get the segment running. Adults do not naturally share in front of 200 people.
  • It is risky. So when it fails (eg. someone uses the mic to preach a mini sermon or vent) the leadership must deal with this wisely to protect the community, the segment and help the person.

Signs of Grace was real, authentic and not awkward. It’s focused the community on praising our good and gracious God in a new and fresh way. In my mind all day I have been more thankful for what God has given me.