A time of NO REGRETS

Series: A time of NO REGRETS

Date: 20 January 2019

The statistics and research cannot be clearer. The Church in Australia is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the eyes of the majority.

It has been marginalised.  It has lost its social location at the centre of culture and no longer occupies an influential place in the community.  But maybe that’s a good thing.  For it’s precisely on the edges and in the margins of life that Jesus says we belong as his people.  It’s among those that the world does not want to see or chooses to ignore, with all whose experience of life is impoverished, that we rediscover God’s good and holy purpose for our lives – to restore people to fullness of life in Jesus.  So come and let Jesus restore you so that you can live a truly powerful and transforming life that restores others.

Series: A time of NO REGRETS

Date: 13 January 2019

Who am I?  It seems the identity question grows more and more complex by the year. 

So what is it that determines your identity? Is it your sex, your ethnicity, your religious affiliation, your age, your abilities, your family of origin, your political beliefs?  Is it the food you eat, the way you dress; the hair, piercings, markings or tattoos that reflect a certain identity you want to project?  Who we think we are plays a key role in how we think, how we feel, and how we go about our everyday lives.  Today God reminds us that we best understand “who” we are when we remember “whose” we are.  So let him renew you today, that secure in his love and affirmation, you may step into this new year with confidence and boldness whatever 2019 may bring.

Series: A time of NO REGRETS

Date: 6 January 2019

With the turning of the clock over to a New Year, everybody looks for a reset of their lives; to leave behind the old and move forward; that’s why we make New Year’s resolutions.

To reset something is to set it back to its original purpose and design. When an electronic device is functioning in a less-than-optimal way, it can be reset so that whatever was stuck gets unstuck and all the connections can run smoothly again. Similarly, when life is functioning in a less-than-optimal way, it can be reset too. The Bible has a particular word for this – it’s called repentance and it’s God’s gift to us as we begin 2019 year, so that it can be a time of no regrets.  Today we press the reset button of repentance in our lives so that they are in sync with God and his good and gracious will for our lives.

Christ-mess

Series: Christ-mess

Date: 30 December 2018

Home. The very word strikes a chord deep inside each of us.

Maybe for different reasons. For some…Home means sanctuary, the place we can rest, relax, enjoy time with friends & family…It’s where we hide our mess & just be.  For others…Home means fear, anger, grief and sorrow. Home is a place of hurt & woundedness. Home is just a mess. Our homes say a lot about who we are and what we think is important in life.  But sometimes the very homes in which we feel safe and comfortable keep our life small, our visions narrow, and our world empty.  There comes a time when those of us who follow Jesus need to see our dwellings here as temporary and the homes we have here as instruments of God’s blessing to us and the means through which we can bless others. Jesus needs to grow our hearts, expand our horizons, and widen our embrace of what he alone can bring to our lives and the places we call home. Today Jesus invites and guides us to a place that can handle all the mess of our lives.

Series: Christ-mess

Date: 25 December 2018

What’s the state of your home like this morning…

tidy, pristine or an absolute mess with wrapping paper, open boxes, plastic from unwrapped gifts everywhere and a fridge so jam packed with food for lunch today that you have to pull out half of it to find what you need!  The baby Jesus was born for this mess…not only in your home but also your lives.  

This is the day that the Word was born –  

– that hope took its first breath and joy shed its first tear

– that peace was wrapped in cloth and love was laid in a manger.

This is the day that changed the whole world because Jesus was born in the mess, for the mess.  

Series: Christ-mess

Date: 23 December 2018

The preparations are almost complete.  The trees is up.  The cooking is done.  The presents are wrapped.  The food is bought.  The tinsel sparkles.  All is ready for the picture perfect Christmas. 

And yet, deep within, we know all that glitters is not gold.  For despite the festive decorations, shiny baubles, beautifully wrapped presents and aromas of togetherness, there is one thing missing…peace.  We’re on edge, wound tightly like a spring, in a defensive mindset and at a heightened state of sensitivity and fragility.  All it takes is a misunderstood action, a thoughtless word, a dissatisfied response to a gift given, a cold reception, or an inebriated spirit to shatter the mood, leaving splinters of discomfort and pain, tearing scabs off wounds you thought were healed, breaking relationships into a thousand pieces.  Into this mess, the Prince of Peace comes to bind all things together in love, to heal broken relationships, to forgive sin, and to restore things to the way they are supposed to be. 

Series: Christ-mess

Date: 16 December 2018

Christmas is fast approaching.  Have you finished shopping for presents yet? 

Buying is one thing – wrapping them is all together another thing.  It creates a mess!  There’s paper and scissors, and sticky tape and ribbon…everywhere.  Oh and don’t forget to take off the price sticker or label.  Speaking of labels…how many labels are attached to you?  Maybe others have stuck them to you, or perhaps you’ve even attached them to yourself.  Sometimes as hard as we try to peel them off, they rip leaving a telltale sign of what was there.  Today as we continue to explore Christ-mess, God reminds us of his gift to us, the Everlasting Father, who cares for us deeply, sees what we need explicitly.  He alone can remove the old labels and give us a label that we can stick on everything that we might be clearly identified and beautifully presented whatever shaped mess we were in.

Series: Christ-mess

Date: 9 December 2018

It’s all the rage in house design – open plan living with easy sight lines to all parts of the house and the gorgeous island bench you’ve always wanted. 

There’s just one problem.  Open plan living has meant that everything is out in the open…everything  Your everyday messes are literally on display for the world to see.  The solution – create a ‘Butler’s Pantry’ where the dirty dishes, coffeemaker, food preparation messes can be hidden away behind closed doors, your little secret!  Many people wish that God would be like that – the butler who is there to clean up the mess of our lives.  The butler who is there to fix things up, serve us and make us look good.   But God’s ways are not our ways.  God’s call to birth his presence into this world inherently messes up the order of life that we establish –  the mess is on show, the mistakes are obvious. But that’s the power of the Mighty God; who comes into the womb of the mess of this world, to live in a mess he didn’t create to redeem those whose life was a royal mess.   And when we receive that word of promise in our lives, and that presence comes to us…all things are possible…all things are made new…but it gets a little messy when the Mighty God takes hold of us.

Series: Christ-mess

Date: 2 December 2018

Christmas…it’s the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it?

 Our serene expectations of peace and joy, are not always matched by the reality of this season with its bustling activity, stress and impatience. Life is messy, even when it’s dressed in tinsel. When it comes to Christmas, we all come with expectations, and sometimes those expectations aren’t met the way that we hope and even get a little bit messy.  The Wonderful Counselor helps us to acknowledge and own up to the mess that exists within this messy world and in our own lives as we cross off the first thing on the list and put up the tree!  Whatever mess we find ourselves in, there is hope which we will explore today

The Presence of Joy

Series: The Presence of Joy

Date: 25 November 2018

Memories.  We all have a mixture of memories – some of great times, some of difficult times. 

Some of successes, others of regrets. Some we are proud of, others that fill us with shame.  The memories that we choose to dwell on shape not only our view of the past but dominate our present and largely define our future.  That’s why Paul invites us to shape our imaginations – individually and collectively – around those things that are honourable, just, true, and commendable.  He wants us to be inspired and transformed by what God is up to even in the worst of circumstances or experiences.   Come and let God fill you with new memories as you live for joy in every moment.

Series: The Presence of Joy

Date: 18 November 2018

Everyone does it…accentuates their achievements, embellishes their accomplishments. It’s called a resume.

After all what sounds better? A Vermiculturist or a worm farmer! A check out operator or a customer service representative. Resumes are nothing more that a document that shows off all the things you have learnt, all the experiences you have had, and all the abilities that you have mastered. It’s about finding that edge that makes you stand out above everyone else. So where will you be when you get where you are going? When you have ticked the box of accomplishments in your life? There is only one thing that will enable you to keep on going when your resume doesn’t cut it or real fulfilment is elusive. Today we’ll explore what living with joy is all about.

Series: The Presence of Joy

Date: 11 November 2018

Everyone longs for joy and happiness in life.

Yet sometimes our daily circumstances seem to conspire to rob us of joy. Maybe you feel boxed in, trapped or like life’s thread is quickly unravelling and in danger of snapping. Paul’s life was just like that and yet the joy that oozes from his life is surprising, mind boggling and even infectious. So where does that joy come from? Is it possible even when life is painful or full of suffering. Paul’s answer is unequivocally ‘yes”. The presence of joy is not only possible but real. So today we will discover and taste Paul’s recipe for ‘Living in Joy’.

What If...

Series: What If...

Date: 4 November 2018

Road testing – it’s an important part of what car manufacturers do to ensure their cars live up to the consumers’ standards and also to one up their competitors!

Their aim is to flog the vehicles and push them to the limits to flush out problems and fix them. While a lot of testing is done on closed circuits, car makers know that real-world car testing needs to take place in real-world conditions. For that’s when you see how the car really performs. Paul uses a similar illustration in Romans 12 today when it comes to our faith. What if we road-tested the Christian life like never before. What if, in response to the mercies of God, we worship like never before?  For worship is what we were made for and when we depress the pedal of our lives in worship, offering everything we have in response to everything Christ offered for us, we experience a joy and love that lasts whatever real-life conditions or situations we encounter.  You can’t get better reassurance than that – for your family or loved ones!  We’ll explore and experience that today!

Series: What If...

Date: 28 October 2018

Limits.  Life is full of limits. 

Speed Limits, alcohol in your blood while driving limits, weight you can tow limits, height limits on trucks using Sydney tunnels (limits which are often ignored), limits on how much we can withdraw from our bank accounts daily.  But the limits in our life don’t stop there.  There are internal limits to our patience, our charity, to how many times we will let others hurt us, use us, take advantage of us. We all have our limits.  Today Jesus challenges us with a familiar parable that will confront and challenge us – “what if there were no limits to our love, to our mercy, to our compassion?  What if we love our neighbour like never before?  Is that possible? 

Series: What If...

Date: 21 October 2018

We’ve all seen them, maybe even have them. Those perfectly captured, staged managed family photos that hang from our lounge room walls.

Those nearly flawless family pics that Facebook and Instagram are flooded with that radiate happiness. Is that your family? A picture of grace and love and harmony? If it is not, take heart, there’s no such thing as a perfect family. But there is a perfect God whose love redeems and restores messy, dysfunctional families, who gives new opportunities to let his grace to become visible in our lives. What if his love transformed our homes into a little heaven on earth?

Series: What If...

Date: 14 October 2018

Going…going…gone? Is Australia’s generosity disappearing?

Australia’s giving to overseas aid is expected to slump to 0.2% of gross national income by 2021. The average per capita to charity is $200-300 per annum which works out to 0.25-0.3% of the median household income in Australia. Yet according to NCLS research over 66% of church goers give regularly and 20% of attenders tithe on top of whatever they give to tax deductible charities. So why the gap? Could it simply be that grace transforms people’s hearts; that the extraordinary gift of forgiveness found in Jesus not only frees people to give generously but instills a joy in giving like never before? We’ll explore and experience that today.

Series: What If...

Date: 7 October 2018

It’s an iconic sound. The red Australia Post Honda motorbikes buzzing through suburban streets delivering mail to homes across this country.

How many times did you hear that sound and race out to the letterbox to check the mail, hoping to find a personal letter addressed to you? All around our neighbourhoods and workplaces today, and sometimes in our very homes, are people longing to receive the offer of free grace, the personal invitation to fullness of life in Jesus. All around us are people ready to jump at the opportunity, just waiting to RSVP to Jesus but the invitation is never delivered. So what if we were to share our faith like never before? What if we were to personally hand deliver the good news invitation to those around us? God wants you for an immediate start. All that’s required is a willing heart.

Series: What If...

Date: 30 September 2018

A champion team will always beat a team of champions!

If you’ve strapped on the boots, stepped onto the pitch, walked onto the court or slipped on a guernsey…it’s likely the coach, the captain or your parents…said something just like that. It’s true, a team can be led by, inspired by, or challenged by a champion player, but no champion player ever won a game much less a championship without their team. What’s true in every team sporting code is exponentially true in the church. God has assembled us as one and equipped up with gifts to be used for his glory, to strengthen and build up the body and to widen the reach of His Kingdom so that he can lead us to fullness & maturity in Christ. If the church seems stagnant or is just limping along, maybe a good question to ask is, “Am I using my gifts like never before?” Just imagine the impact the body of Christ can have if we used our gifts like never before. We’ll explore that today.

Series: What If...

Date: 23 September 2018

Series: What If...

Date: 16 September 2018

Confidence is a trait that can make all the difference.

You see it with a players across all sports. Middle the first shot, sink the first putt, nail the first goal and the confidence grows. Research has shown that success affects the level of confidence and confidence can affect success. Is that the reason that many people struggle with prayer? A lack of confidence that comes from a lack of success? That every tragedy, every hurt, every disappointment is a great marketing tool for unanswered prayer and causes us to question the limit of God’s goodness? But what if confidence in prayer was not about results but about relationship? A coming home to the open heart of God where in his gracious presence we are invited and enabled to pray like never before with the utmost confidence. That’s what we will explore and experience today.

Contrast

Series: Contrast

Date: 9 September 2018

It’s an ongoing discussion in the email marketing world: Do you choose to grow your list via opt-in or opt-out methods?

It’s an issue that the government has received a lot of backlash over with their decision to implement an opt-out only system for your ‘My Health Record’. Opt-in or opt-out. Many people see Christianity in the same vein – as something that you can opt into or out of. But today in the final week of our parable series Contrast, Jesus uses the illustration of the dragnet to show the indiscriminate, non-selective catch of the Gospel as it moves silently through the sea of life drawing all people, almost without them knowing it, into the shores of eternity. But here’s the catch. There is no opt-in, only an opt- out option. But therein lies our comfort, our challenge and the mission of the Kingdom of heaven.

Series: Contrast

Date: 2 September 2018

“I’d give my right arm for one of those.”

Well…maybe not your arm, but every now and then we want something and we want it so badly that we are willing to go to great lengths to get it…emotionally, mentally, physically.  Whatever the cost.  Whatever the challenge.  The length to which you are prepared to go is directly proportionate to the value you assign to it and how high it rates on your scale of what matters in life.  Today Jesus tells us that the greatest treasure, what has most value is found right before our eyes, in him and his love and grace.  And when you discover that priceless gift…you’ll also find that there is nothing that has a greater value or is worth giving everything in your life to other than that.

Series: Contrast

Date: 26 August 2018

Influence – the art of motivating and changing behaviour – has reached new heights. There is now an App for that!

Whether its Apps like Good on You that rate brands according to their ethical performance to motivate your buying habits or Track your Impact that shows which project your Thankyou Water Bottle (Available at 7-Eleven stores and Post offices) is funding, or the big supermarkets that send you emails with specials based on your buying habits, everyone wants to exert influence on others. Today in the Parable of the Yeast, Jesus makes use of a well established symbol, widely regarded as a contaminant, an agent of change, disruption and even corruption to show how God’s order-upsetting kingdom will infiltrate, infect, disrupt, transform and influence every part of life! Prepare to have your world thrown out of balance!

Series: Contrast

Date: 19 August 2018

“From little things big things grow. From little things big things grow.”

We hope that’s true about our super. We want it to be true about that business venture we’ve backed. It’d be great if it were the case with that song we uploaded to YouTube. Human aspiration normally points up and to the right; growing profit, advancing prestige, increasing power. From little things…. Jesus says his kingdom looks like one of those little things…a mustard seed. It’s easily missed and overlooked, often disregarded or despised. But when you recognise the Kingdom of heaven for what it is and let it invade, take over and transform your life, you will see and experience God do something so great that it will leave you in awe and lead you to worship.

 

Series: Contrast

Date: 12 August 2018

Ambiguous: having more than one possible interpretation or meaning; difficult to understand or classify; obscure.

So much of life is ambiguous – filled with situations where there are no clear or easy answers. Where taking action in one part of life may cause unintended consequences in another. Where what seems right and good may be harmful and foolish. Jesus’ parables are so often ambiguous: multi-layered stories that get under our skin; make us think, challenge our beliefs and make us squirm a bit as they create ambiguity in our lives. But maybe that’s the point. For the Kingdom of God is so radically different from the world we live in. So today we ponder the ’Parable of the Weeds’ as Jesus gives us a kingdom perspective on how to live and act in the face of the evil and resistance that will surround us in this life.

Series: Contrast

Date: 5 August 2018

It just doesn’t make any sense. A farmer turning on the seeder as soon as he gets out of the shed?

It’s wasteful, haphazard, indiscriminate, ineffective and a surefire way of going out of business quickly. It’s a story that leaves you shaking your head. But maybe that’s the point. The purpose of contrast is to amplify; it moves the thing you want to show into focus and the spotlight is well and truly on God and the aim and scope of his kingdom work. For what seems wasteful, inefficient and unprofitable from a worldly perspective reveals a God whose love is indiscriminate, whose grace is extravagant, whose methods ensure no life, no person, no soil is left unsown and whose work produces a harvest that is out of this world. Join us as we discover this God today in the Parable of the Sower.

Courageous Faith

Series: Courageous Faith

Date: 29 July 2018

Remember those multiple choice quizzes at school when you had to choose the right answer from the options given? 

You couldn’t sit on the fence; to not choose was to make a choice.  So when in doubt, choose B right and hope for the best.  But life doesn’t work that way –  have a guess and hope for the best.  Choosing the wrong option can have eternal consequences.  So as Joshua nears the end of his life and looks back over the years and the options on offer, he stakes his life on the God who has kept every promise he has made.  Now Joshua says, it’s your time.  You can’t sit on the fence.  What you choose and cultivate now will make an eternal difference.  So who will you serve?  Who will you worship?  Who will you stake your life on?  To whom will you be fully devoted?  It’s time to choose….today.

Series: Courageous Faith

Date: 22 July 2018

Life goes by at a hectic pace.

It is exhausting and after a while you just want to stop, catch your breath and be still and rest for a time. Everyone has that place they love to retreat to for refuge, whether it is the beach, the mountains or even under the covers of your bed. But when many people think of rest, they are looking for refuge in a place that will provide protection and shelter from danger, trouble or unhappiness. God, who is compassionate, merciful and cares for you, gives you that place.

Series: Courageous Faith

Date: 15 July 2018

Minimalist Living.  It’s the on point trend that many desire in a world that lives at a feverish pace. 

It is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.  But it is not new.  The Bible has another term for it – it’s called wholehearted living. Wholehearted living is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. There’s no hanging up the boots, no just getting by with the bare minimum or taking the easy route.  It’s a life that is intentionally filled with what has ultimate value; the one relationship that gives vitality, resolve, enthusiasm and strength for living regardless of age or circumstance. 

Series: Courageous Faith

Date: 8 July 2018

Have you heard of BHAG’s?  It’s a phrase coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book ‘Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.’ 

It stands for Big, Hairy Audacious Goals; goals designed to focus an organisation on a single purpose, which to outsiders would seem impossible but which instils belief and momentum to those within.  Today, we are encouraged to have BHAP’s – Big, hairy, audacious prayers; prayers which to outsiders seem ridiculous but which God honours for they are courageous prayers of faith which trust him to do what is needed so we can do what he has called us to do.  It’s a prayer that says, ‘God, you will need to get this.”  So are you ready to pray big and pray bold?

Series: Courageous Faith

Date: 1 July 2018

It’s a well-known saying: ‘To take one’s foot off the pedal.” 

It means to not go as hard or put in as much effort, but to slow, down, relax, and cruise for a while.  You see it with sporting teams that have strung together a lot of victories.  They became complacent and over-confident, take their foot off the pedal and suffer defeat in games they should have won.  The same thing can happen in our spiritual lives. When faced with large battles, it’s easy trust in God and his strength but when it comes to the smaller battles, the temptation is to take the foot off the pedal, underestimate the enemy and think ‘I’ve got this one in the bag.’ So when you think you have got what it takes, look out. It can be a small little thing that will defeat you.  Today we look at Courageous faith when you sin; it’s a faith that keeps the foot on the pedal – focused, prayerful and dependent on God in all things.

Series: Courageous Faith

Date: 24 June 2018

Do it again! And again! A sports coach may ask us to do a drill again…and again.

A music teacher may ask us to play the same piece again…and again. As the saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’, right?!! Today we hear about courageous faith that is expressed in the weirdest of ways as God calls his people to do something unexpected and radical over and over again! But that’s not new for God. When he wants to move forward and advance his kingdom, he often uses the most unexpected people doing the most outlandish things to bring about the most impossible victory. So are you ready for God asking you to do something radical? We’ll explore that today as God calls us to ‘Do it again!”

 

Series: Courageous Faith

Date: 17 June 2018

Souvenirs. Momentos. Keepsakes. From that Opera House snow-globe to your kids’ baby teeth, footprints & haircut clippings…we all keep them. 

We fill albums and digital libraries with photos.  Clutter our shelves with knicknacks & trinkets, so that we can remember. So moments are firmly implanted in our memories. They connect us across generations, prompting us to share the story: ‘Remember when…’. God knows how quickly his people are prone to forget. To forget his love, his mercy, his grace, and their place in his story. So throughout history, he gave his people markers to jog their memory, to enable them to pass on the story of his faithfulness to the next generation so that they wouldn’t forget who God is, who they were, where they have come from and where they were going. God has also given you visual reminders today so that you might know your story, pass on your story and never forget your place in his story.

Series: Courageous Faith

Date: 10 June 2018

Liminality – the door between one season and the next, between a known past and an undefined future. 

It’s the state of ambiguity and disorientation that occurs in transitory situations.  It is often a period of discomfort and of transformation; when you are on the threshold of great things but not quite there.  The people of God were in that liminal state.  Their great leader Moses has died and they are stalled, stuck on the wrong side of God’s promises.  It’s here that God tells them to arise, move forward, and crossover into new territory.  God is also calling us as a new generation of his people to crossover and inherit the future he has for us, the blessings he has prepared for us.  So are you willing to move forward and take that step? Yes it’s risky, yes it’s scary but move forward….just one step and see what only God can do.  For his call will only take us where his power and promises will sustain us.

Series: Courageous Faith

Date: 3 June 2018

What do you do when you face obstacles, or the uncertainty of tomorrow?

Are you inclined to think only in terms of the worst-case scenario? Do you tend to exaggerate the obstacles, overstate the problems, and magnify the difficulties you expect to encounter?  Do you tend to overthink everything and then get paralysed into doing nothing!  The people of God faced that exact situation.  They were literally knocking on the door of the Promised Land when their courage collapses.  This week we will discover that it’s when the pressure is on, that we have the greatest opportunity to trust God and receive a power that comes living from the Promise.  It will give you all the courage you need for every decision you face.