Friday, March 28, 2008

Communicating the Gospel in Everyday Language

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With my time spent at Darwin's Sunrise Centre (Drug & Alcohol Rehab Centre and Homeless Shelter), I have been wrestling with how we communicate the message of Jesus to everyday people. Most of the guys have never been to a 'Church' or have been burnt by 'Church politics'.

It's true the essence of the message does not change from generation to generation, but the form in which we communicate this message must change and develop. If I read John Wesley's words on salvation or justice written back in the 1700's there would be little or no comprehension. Yet why in churches do we all of sudden use poetic language, and pray like we're speaking at an upper-class English University seminar?

What's wrong with sharing the story of Jesus like this...
"Hey guys, we've all stuffed up. God knows we have. That's why Jesus came, to help us get it right with God. He wants us to stop messing around with trying to follow our own way, and start giving him a go."

Tell me; is the message of Jesus denigraded? Is the message diluted? Is not the essence of the message the same?

Lets talk like real people! Lets connect the truths of the Bible with everyday people, not just those that know the 'Church' language. Then maybe Churches may not seem so irrelevant to Jo-blow down the street!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Death could not hold him down!

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Good Friday: Jesus died.
Easter Saturday: The disciples lament.
Easter Sunday: Jesus rises from the dead! Death could not hold him down! The devil couldn't hold him down. My mistakes couldn't hold him down. He rose. He is alive!!

We've had a busy weekend. On the Thursday before Good Friday I led a Chapel service at the Drug n' Alcohol Rehab place in Darwin. I gave a chance for people to ask any questions they had regarding spirituality, Jesus, Christianity, etc. Here's some of the questions/answers:
* What about the movie where they show they found Jesus tomb & bones...?
--> How scientifically correct is this movie??
* What about where God goes on about BBQing Lambs on the altar... It doesn't make sense.
--> In Old Testament times the Israelites used to sacrifice animals on an altar, in order to make a 'SIN Offering' to God. A sacrifice that would allow them to have relationship with God. Now, Jesus has come, and he died on that cross as the ultimate sacrifice, and that his death allows us to have relationship with God!

The questions went on, and the discussion went on. We reflected and some stayed a little longer to ask more questions... One guy from the group of 15 has been really keen on stepping closer to Jesus... (Watch this space...)

EASTER CAMP! I'll post some photos soon. Youth from around the Northern Territory came and heard the message of Easter (Jesus died and rose again!).

The Revolution is happening... I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Want a Revolution? Make a Revolution!

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We have started a Youth Discipleship Group at Darwin Salvos recently, and we are focusing on being 'Revolutionaries'. Here's some highlights/challenges for you to chew on:
* Revolutionaries don't just want change, they make change
* Martin Luther King Jr. chose to stand up for the integration of both blacks and whites into American life.
* Daniel (in the Old Testament), was a Revolutionary:
-> He didn't conform to the status quo - At one point he and his mates made the commitment of eating just fruit and vegies regardless what the Babylonian royalty were doing.
->He still continued to pray to God (Yahweh) even when the society told him not to!

This weekend could be a revolution in the making. Easter Thursday I lead Chapel with about 15 Drug & Alcohol clients, and will share how Jesus can give you a new life. Easter Camp will see up to 20 teenagers hear that Jesus died and rose again for them, that they may live for him... (If you are praying for Jo and I in Darwin, please remember these points, thanks!)

If you truly want a revolution, you need to make a revolution. Decide to live passionately and sold out to freedom and justice found in Christ!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Prisoner is Free!

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Do we make it easy for the Prisoner just out of jail? I thought this, as I sat in Social Service Centres waiting (e.g. Centrelink), filling out paperwork, cancelling bank cards, reissuing new cards, attending job assessment meetings and so on and so on...

There's the excuse that they have done wrong in the past by their actions, so it's their fault that reconnecting into the community is so hard. Or is this just an easy excuse, so that we don't need to improve the bureaucratic system that we have created?

Freed prisoners need our greatest support to reconnect them into meaningful community. They need people that support and love them, so they can move from relatively unknown surroundings; to employment, having a friendship base, networks in the community, mentors, etc.

The book of Isaiah says (Ch. 61:1), that 'the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me... to release the prisoner from darkness...' The early Salvos knew what this meant, as they engaged with what was called a Prison Gate Brigade, where prisoners that had just been released from 'Gaol' would be met by a soldier or two. Without the Salvos help in reconnecting freed prisoners, the person would be left to fend for themselves, possibly returning to a life of crime...

The Prisoner is Free. What will we do?

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Raid on Darwin

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Here's an excerpt taken from a Culture and Recreation site:

"During World War II,the Japanese flew sixty-four raids on Darwin and thirty-three raids on other targets in Northern Australia.
From the first raid on 19 February 1942 until the last on 12 November 1943, Australia and its allies lost about 900 people, 77 aircraft and several ships. Many military and civilian facilities were destroyed. The Japanese lost about 131 aircraft in total during the attacks."

It's crazy to think that war hit the top of Australia only 65 years ago. It helps you to appreciate the safety in which most of us live. Although we recognize that many wars still exist today in many countries around the world.

Here's a reminder today that we fight in the present, not with weapons that harm physically, but spiritually with the Word of God, against the evils and sin of the world. A spiritual war that brings peace into the lives of God's followers.

Ephesians 6:10 - "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Check out the Bible on the net quickly at: Bible Gateway

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Weddings: A Moment of Commitment

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Weddings capture those precious moments where families unite and we celebrate the connecting of two people in marriage. For us on Friday it was my sister-in-law Lisa marrying her fiance Scott in the parkland of Footscray (Melbourne, Australia!). Reminincing back to December 2004 I remember my wedding and the promises I made that day in the sight of God and the people gathered... In the book of the Bible called Ecclesiastes it says that a three braided cord is not easily broken. When God is binding a marriage together it is not easily torn apart.

God bless Lisa and Scott today, and I hope we are each challenged to consider that a life lived for God, is a life that is lived the best way imaginable...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Key

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* The door is locked to the presence of God. I need the key.
* The door is closed on passion. Pass me the key.
* The door is locked to radical disciples entering in. Where's the key?
* The devil is prowling around, and I've accidentally secured the deadlock. If only I had the key.
* People are attempting to worship, but aren't fully expressing their love for God. Have you seen the key?
* Potential leaders never seem to be stepping into the door of opportunity. They need the key!
* Some people are bound up in depression, addictions, apathy, self-centeredness and half-heartedness. If only I had this key...

I was searching around for the key the other day, and I found it in the Word of God. Matthew 16:19 -'I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.' Then I realised... the key was prayer.

Greater things are happening in Darwin, because people have been committing to 24/7 prayer. This includes one African woman being delivered from oppression and being filled with the Holy Spirit! God opens doors, when we pick up the key and ask God to please use it!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Just a Coincidence?

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I had a chance to lead devotions at the D&A Rehab centre recently. I mentioned how some things in life seem very coincidental and maybe are just too coincidental to be coincidences... Are you still with me?

We organised a huge Fete a few years back. The weather forecast said it would rain all day. We decided to pray, that God would only bring the rain after we finish packing up. Well it didn't rain all day, of course until we just finished packing up and then it started to bucket down! Just a coincidence?

I remember giving a large sum of money to a Missionary Project that Jo and I felt God wanted us to give. Anyway, we realised afterwards we were $270 short to pay the bills. We asked the Lord for help... At the same time we were taking some Annual Leave from work, and didn't realise that the organisation pays, what is called, Annual Leave Loading (an extra amount given when Annual Leave is taken). How much was this extra amount? You guessed it, $270 exactly! Just a coincidence?

Steve, an employee here at Sunrise shared that one day him and his mate were riding their motorbikes. And they're sitting at the front of the red lights, revving their engines, ready to take off nice and fast. When the lights turned green, both Steve and his mate's motorbikes stalled. Now for Steve's to stall was unusual, but for both to stall, this is almost never heard of. Right then, a car came streaming across the intersection, failing to stop at the red light... What would have happened if both the motorbikes didn't stall... Just a coincidence?

Sometimes things happen in life that are just too coincidental to be coincidences. My friend Les Porter calls them God-incidences. Maybe you might be able to see God at work in your life, if you are able to observe all those little coincidences that happen from day-to-day...

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