I Want

I also want the boats turned back Mr Abbott
I want little baby boys protected from drowning
I want the wasteful loss of life to stop

I want people smugglers incarcerated
I want borders that can be found without boats
I want empty detention centres

I want a media who demands policies not slogans
I want a forum to discuss solutions
I want to hear more sensible voices speaking for the desperate

I want refugees spoken of as people not aliens
I want to not see skin colour
I want to be a people who give hope to the hopeless

I want Australia to be a refuge for those who are crushed
I want a nation driven by compassion not fear
I want my leaders to fight for justice and the broken

Pray we will love our neighbours as we love ourselves

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Intentional Mission

WCZUD00Z

//This is an article I wrote for Church at the end of our series on Mission.

I remember as a kid picking dandelions and blowing the seeds across the yard. There is something beautiful about how the seeds spread and float with the wind. We chose this image as the graphic for our term on mission. It has stared at us week after week on the screen. Mission is like spreading dandelion seeds. It is not just a task we do in our day. Mission flows out of our normal lives. As we live, work, relate, travel, party …. our passion for Jesus is seen and heard by the people around us. It is obvious.

Each Sunday we have been encouraged by Point people, sharing how they spread their passion for Jesus. They have inspired me. One thing I noticed as I listened to them was that all of them were intentional. Mission was not accidental. They prayed over their friends or school or workplace. Then they intentionally acted to spread their passion for Jesus. Intentional Prayer. Intentional Action. And hasn’t God used his people for his glory!!

Mission is not just the overflow of our heart. Mission is the intentional overflow of our heart. Many of us don’t have a plan or a prayer on how we will spread our passion for Jesus. Our desire for mission gets lost in the busyness of life. We pray general prayers where it is hard to see answers. Fear traps us.

I have been challenged to be more intentional in prayer. I now pray for 3 specific people in port. I’ve been asking God to save them. I’ve been asking Jesus to give me opportunities to spread my passion. I’ve been asking for more courage.

I have been challenged to be more intentional in how I live. Too often I miss opportunities to be Christian amongst the people in my life because I don’t plan to do it. Here are 4 ideas I’m working on:

  • Exercise at the same time of day. I try to get out in the early morning. Over the past month I have seen the same older man walking his dog and a young guy jogging the hill I walk up. There is already recognition. Soon there will be conversation.
  • Be a regular. I try to be a regular at different cafes around town. I’m getting to know the staff.
  • Eat with Non-believers. Food disarms people. We are looking to eat more meals with people in our street. For workers, have lunch with co-workers not alone. Use the rhythms of life.
  • Participate in Port Events. Go to fundraisers, festivals, cleanups, summer shows, and concerts. Participate. Strike up conversation. Study the culture. Reflect on what you see and hear. Pray for the city. Love the city.

Mission is the intentional overflow of our heart.

3 thoughts on the marriage stoush

It has been another wild week on social media on the topic of marriage. This time the battle lines have centred around the marriage vows. There has been the debate surrounding the changes made to the marriage vows (Read a high level summary of the media debate here). But the real passion has been directed towards a young couple, whom I know and respect deeply, who have stepped into the public realm and shared their opinion. They have been constantly beaten up for a week. Tonight they will be interviewed on the 730 report and my guess in the attacks will return with vengeance on social media and the opinion media tonight and tomorrow. I feel for this young couple whose courage, patience and self control must surely be being tested. Lots of prayers for them

3 thoughts on the debate

1. Let’s practice James 1:19-20

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Much of opinions on social media are junk – mindless, offensive, incoherent junk (eg. Jensen – you’re a dinosaur!!) . It is tempting to return fire with flaming arrows. I think the wise response is patience. Let’s speak slowly, clearly, without mocking or malice.

2. Let’s be informed

In many cases the Christian response has been as misinformed as the alternate opinion. Bible passages are being prooftexted. Sweeping statements about the meaning of equality, submission, obedience tweeted in 144 characters. Regularly Christians are failing to understand what the other side is saying and fighting for. Sometimes I cringe at both sides.

The thing we must remember is that this issue is not new. We have been working hard on the topic of gender for decades, in parallel with the world as it has has rethought gender. There is a clear and relevant biblical worldview on gender. It is good because it based on the design of our good God. To reject it as unpalatable, irrelevant etc reflects on the Christian not on God. To use it as a bashing rod on the world is equally as foolish.

We must be more informed, especially on what the Bible actually says. We must take leave from the SMH and Facebook and read the Bible and the writers who have been carefully looking at this for decades. If we don’t then the ridicule Christians have been getting for our worldview will be fair.

if you are a reader then there are lots of books. If you need a website to start on then try Peter Jensen’s opinion piece in the Herald today or this city from the Gospel Coalition here.

3. Realize this is not a social media issue

Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is one of the key issues of our time. The temptation to Christians to throw out the Bible on Gender and sexuality is another invitation to the hollow religion of Christian liberalism.  As followers of Jesus we must not try and solve this issue on social media. It is so important that our Churches must devote time and passion to delving into Scripture humbly, prayerfully so that our people hear and understand God’s good plan.  Our youth and adults need to again be reminded of who we are in God’s world.

Grace

Growing Faith (#3)

We attended the Growing Faith conference on Saturday.  This is the third reflective post on the conference. The other two can be found here (#1) and here (#2).

Seminar: Leading our Children.

Being a parent is challenging. As Christians we not only want to raise our children up as mature citizens but also as passionate and confident followers of Jesus. This seminar gave parents a clear framework to help in this role.

God is the only perfect parent. This was the framework for the whole seminar. Rather than coming up with our own standard for parenting, we need to look to God our Father who is the perfect parent (Matt 6:26-32). As parents we are to seek first him and then try and act like him. All the practical challenges centred first on how God treats us.

Accept our children. God accepts us as we are. He does not wait for us to be perfect, good, obedient. While we were still sinners Christ died for us. As Parents we were challenged to accept our children. 2 Big practical bits. One – we need to remove whinging about them. Two – we need to not base our acceptance of them on their performance. Good reminders.

Demonstrate love to our children. A horrific statistic was shared. Many working dad’s spend 37 seconds per day talking to their children (compared with 2+ hours watching TV). Our children need our love – read, practical love. Affectionate love. Affirming love. Attention love.

Life is the classroom. Repeated again in this seminar. We were reminded how our children are sponges. Parents are called to set a righteous example for our kids, not pretending we are perfect but embracing all of life as an opportunity to shape the next generation.

All Christian parents should go to this seminar once in their life (if not more). It was not profound. It was not complex or even new. But it was meat and potatoes. It was the bread and butter of what Christian parenting is all about. I was encouraged in some things I do and rebukked in others. It would have been good to hear how Churches can help parents learn some of these things. Many converted parents are learning Christian living and hence parenting for the first time. But the basics were there to review and work hard on. Very helpful for all.

 

Growing Faith (#2)

We attended the Growing Faith conference on Saturday.  The Conference was divided into 4 components. The first was an all in family service. My first reflective post can be found here. The next 2 were seminars. I will post on each one we attended

Seminar: Thinking Church and Family

This is one of the big thinking points for Churches at the moment. How do we raise the next generation of confident and robust life long followers of Jesus? The 2 primary groups that will influence the next generation are the family and the church? What roles do each play? How close should they work together? Big questions that shape how we do kid’s and youth ministry and especially how we work with parents and grandparents.

This seminar explored these questions with a bigger emphasis on church than family.

Children are a blessing not a right. This was a great reminder. They are a gift from God. With this gift comes responsibility. To take young ones, who are sinful, and teach them the way of Jesus. The role of family and church with these little ones is truly special

Life is the classroom. Again another great reminder. Children are always watching, always learning. They take in not only what we teach them but how we make decisions. A big challenge was the priority we give to Church. “if church is flexible, then Jesus is flexible”. Very challenging

Psalm 78:1-4. What a great Psalm. “We will not keep the gospel secret. We learnt it from our ancestors and we will share it with the next generation.We won’t keep secret the glorious deeds and the mighty miracles of the Lord.” What a reminder of the role the church and family have. We get to share the Gospel, the story of God, with the next generation.

This seminar touched on the big issues rolling around my heart at the moment. There was some very helpful advice for me as a parent and as a church pastor. I personally enjoyed the openness and humility of the presenters. I was encouraged to continue my pursuit of a wise methodology to lead our Church in port mac in regarding the next generation. Lots of prayer needed.

Growing Faith (#1)

On Saturday we attended the Growing Faith Conference in Sydney. This is a conference run by Youthworks for families, both to model good family ministry and to teach parents in particular some wisdom on parenting and church.

I went for 2 reasons. First, as a family we went to enjoy fellowship and encouragement with other families. The second was to milk as much wisdom for the The Point Community Church.

The conference was split into 4 parts: an all together style church service, followed by 2 seminars and then a free play family fair with lunch. Over the next couple of days I will post some reflections on the first 3.

#1 The all together style service

The Point is a church overflowing with children, especially young ones. Learning how to be a church that nurtures and grows them inline with all the saints is a challenge. We don’t want to just silo them off into separate churches. Yet there is a place for age specific programs and teaching on a Sunday.

I was very excited to see the Growing Faith team run an all in Church to start the conference. There was a great buzz in the room as 9:30 loomed. The rabble of babies and toddlers was mixed with the excited chatter of older kids. Then it began.

Well led singing: It was a joy to sing. It was a joy to be well led. Emma gave all ages the chance to be involved. She taught us a newish song really well. She was able to build a sense of presence, awe and joy with people of all ages.

Teaching: Matt and the Professor were very, very good. They explored light: Your word is a light to my feet (Psalm 119:110). The guys were able to teach this passage at a depth that excited me. It was not a kid’s spot as such. It was a sermon that kids could also listen to. High quality

Interview: The team interviewed a really interesting family about how to grow the next generation of disciples. This family had kids from 22 to 7 years of age. What was interesting was the variety of things the parents had tried to raise their children in the Lord.

The session was a great start to the morning. High quality, yet not relying on bells and whistles that conferences normally use. I would have enjoyed more singing, especially some kids songs. My little one in particular missed that. The teaching and the interview were both a little long winded. The crowd was tiring from so much listening at 10:15. It would also in the future be great to see some different ideas trialed in this session. Things such as how we pray with kids in church and other interactive elements would be interesting. Overall I was really encouraged.

One last thought. Big churches in Sydney are given a hard time often. They are accused of only thinking of themselves, stealing good people, etc etc. St Paul’s Castle Hill were a model Church on Saturday. The way they loved the families was stunning. Watching staff and a tribe of volunteers serve the conference, from sound guys to food people, baristas to carpark people to senior staff delivering water to seminar speakers was so encouraging. God is doing great things at St Paul’s. Model servants. Thank you. (ps. thanks to all the other churches who sent people to work on kids programs too)

More tomorrow