Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God

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Read a book the last couple of days called, 'The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God' (D A Carson). I disagreed with most of it. The book spoke about finding the balance between God's love, and God's sovereignty and God's wrath. It then went on to talk about the doctrine of election and how God has a special love for those he has elected.

Here's a thought I had. A Calvanist has to work hard to make sure we don't see God as 'too' loving. Why? If we see God as a God of love, unconditional love, and a God who never separates us from that love (Rom 8), then would such a God elect some for salvation and others not? Would such a loving God elect some people to go to hell? Or rather, to spend eternity without the presence of God? The Calvinist therefore cannot hold to such a high view of God being a loving Deity, because it really does not make sense to then say he predestines some for eternal wrath. That's not a loving God. Though, when we truly believe God IS a God of love, we understand the Arminian position a little better, and know God gives opportunity to respond by faith to the redemptive power of Christ. This fits better, because someone that loves us, invites us to love them back, and doesn't 'elect' us into that love, but allows us to choose whether to enter that love.

If you're standing at the bookshop wondering whether to buy, 'The difficult doctrine of the love of God', remember to chew over what you read. You just might find a few lumps not worth swallowing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stress less, you're blessed right?

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I just read a 'tweet' that says we're too blessed to be stressed. There's too much to be thankful for in life, as opposed to living out life with six cups of coffee and a negative, tired attitude all the time. One thing I've been learning over this past year, in relation to stress and tiredness is this...

* Set your boundaries.
So many of us become stressed and ARE stressed because we fail to create effective boundaries in our lives. In essence, some of this stress we feel is actually avoidable and is really our own fault. Let me give you some examples of setting boundaries in your life to avoid stress and all the responses that this creates.

1. Choosing a Sabbath day of rest. Contrary to what some Christians might argue about having to work and work and work until your crash, I believe the New Testament quite clearly encourages us to have a day or rest, a time of Sabbath. Check out Hebrews Chapter 4 for instance. Anyway, avoiding this discussion... the point is, if you choose to make a day your day off, then guard it, and keep it. Don't book meetings, say 'no' when you have to, etc, etc.

2. If you wish to not work at nights, or have the morning off, because you're working til 10pm at night, then simpy say 'no' to the other expectations. People may want to meet with you, or expect you to be somewhere, or expect you to do something for them, but I'm saying, if it's not really important, then reschedule it to a later date.

3. Have message bank on your phone. If you are resting, people can leave a message, and you can get back to them.

4. Prioritize expectations better. Ever wondered why you can get some much work done, one day before Holidays? All of sudden you know how to prioritize your work expectations. Can you delegate something? Work more efficiently? Spend less time writing that email? Spend less time on that phone babbling? Get URGENT and IMPORTANT work done first...

So, what am I saying? I'm saying that stress can be caused from a lack of rest and a lack of prioritizing tasks.

Stress less. Your blessed right? If Jesus is your Saviour, then live life to the max, in the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray God will guide you through any time you might be feeling stressed or tired.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Wrath of God

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"If one rejects God's wrath, one must also reject His love, because the denial of either, in effect, destroys the personal character of God."

Here's an interesting theological article on the 'Wrath of God' - Click here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Between Reality and Vision

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What should we call that place between reality and vision. You know what I mean. The vision is... 'We will be here... in 5 years'. Reality of life is, 'We are still struggling with the finances, we haven't as much leadership support as we had hoped, etc, etc.'

We find ourselves strugglin with the inbetween place of reality and vision. What would you call it? That frustrating place? That lonely place? That exciting place? The long journey? The neverending pilgramage?

Maybe I'll write a book on it one day. For me, it's at times a painful journey. Not because things are overly bad in reality, and not necessarily because circumstances are not exciting. But, in your heart is something better. It's like Jesus yearning for a new Jerusalem; a place where he would be Lord of the City.

The fact is, the Kingdom of God is here in our midst. Around us. Surrounding us. Where two or more are gathered in Jesus' name, Jesus is there! The Kingdom is there! The fact is though, that the Kingdom has not come in all its fullness. That's why there's still hurt and pain. That's why people can still be sick, selfish and self-centered.

I'm on that journey, from reality to the vision God has laid on my heart for my church, and for the vision he has laid on my heart for my own life. Though, I'm not there, and I find myself in reality yearning wholeheartedly for the vision to come to pass...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Responding to a Consumerist Society

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When we go to church, how often do we ask ourselves:
* Will they play the music I like this morning?
* Will they be looking after my kids today?
* Gee, I hope I don't have to jump in the kitchen this morning.
* I hope the sermon speaks to me, and that "Johnny Smith" isnt preaching...

Since when is church all about us? I thought of this recently, with the tragic passing of my Aunty at age 51. My family told me they scattered the ashes over the water and read a verse from Corinthians about having new bodies... resurrected bodies. Picturing those ashes swirling in the wind, I thought again about this idea of being 'dead to the world'. The things of this world are irrelevant compared to being a child of God; a follower of Jesus.

So, tell me, when did Jesus preach: Come and follow me and I'll make you comfortable and fill all your wants? Remember what he said, 'lose your life'; forget about it; don't worry about it; its not yours anyway... Give up your own life and follow Jesus.

That's my response and hopefully your response to a consumerist society. It's not about you. It's about Jesus. Jesus will give you life abundantly, I don't dispute that, but life is really about ultimately glorifying God and making God known.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Without Vision the people perish

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The old proverb says that without vision the people perish; or as some say, without vision the people wander aimlessly.
We spent some time with our leadership team today speaking about the vision of our church for next year, and the years to come. Why? Well, without a clear vision, it is so easy to wander aimlessly. It is so easy to merely work and work, and become busy 'doing' lots of things, and the question is whether you are achieving what you should be achieving. A vision keeps you on track. A mission statement highlights what your main purpose is, but a vision gives you an idea of the preferable future for your organisation.

A vision also motivates the troops. Without a dynamic vision, people will wander aimlessly not really understanding their purpose within your organisation. A vision helps people be on the same page, and to be striving for the same goals. A good vision will ignite passion in you to see change and transformation. A good vision will see people signing up to be a part of it.

The challenge is today: Don't let people, organisations, churches, wander aimlessly because there is no vision. Get a hold of the preferred future and communicate the vision to your people.

Comment here.

Follow me on twitter at: www.twitter.com/petebrookshaw

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Decline is never the only answer

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'Decline is never the only answer' is an article from Leadership Journal.net. It mentions that nothing defeats the human spirit like stagnation. You know, that place you find yourself in, where nothing is moving, nothing is changing, nothing seems to be working, so you stop; you stagnate.
What needs to change first, is growth of the spirit inside the leader doing the ministry. That's so true. If the leader has lost the vision, don't expect others to keep the vision very long. When the leader grows in their ability to persevere and be strong, and be passionate, then they will battle against stagnation and decline.

Leaders who have fallen into a pit of despair need to pick themselves up and keep moving. Don't fall into the trap of denial - trying to justify to everyone that nothing is really wrong, that nothing really needs to change. Try not to fall into a place where you lack motivation. See the dream, and live it out. Let following Jesus be an absolute roller coaster, exciting journey! Don't be dismayed when fewer people are signing up. Ask yourself, is it something to do with my leadership, is it about the fervency of our prayers, or is it that the vision does not connect with the people?

Find the article here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Update - Palmerston Corps

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Good things are happening in the NT. In both our morning Church service and our Mainly Music outreach service, there was a great feeling about the place. People responded at the mercy seat in the morning, we spoke about the story of Noah at night (the fact that Noah was a righteous man in God's sight, so God showed favour on him).
There was something special about the strength of the relationships this Sunday. People were laughing and chatting, and then moving around the room and laughing and chatting with someone else.
I said to someone, you pretty much know the church has healthy relationships when you can't get out of the hall for lunch, because of all the chatting.

So what is God doing? Mainly music families are learning the well known stories of the Bible (well, well known to us), and they are learning who God is, his nature, about sin, and how it affects their lives. I pray in the near future they choose to follow Jesus.

Leaders in the corps are passionate about outreach, and giving both their time and finances to see God's kingdom be fruitful.

One of our soldiers got an award for 10 years of service in The Salvation Army in the NT. God bless Bronwyn!

There are challenges ahead. Mainly issues of discipleship and leadership development, but they are overcome when we teach and grow and learn what the Bible says for our lives. The Spirit of God is moving, and many more are coming to know Jesus in the days ahead! Bring it on Lord.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

5 Aspects of Missionary Movements

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Steve Addison outlines 5 phases or rather 5 aspects of missionary movements. These five things relate strongly to what it means to be an entrepreneurial leader. They are:
White Hot Faith - Well, any born again Christian should have a white hot faith. Any Salvationist should be known for their zeal for God. Addison refers to having a direct and personal encounter with the living God, which then stirs on the person to social activism, e.g. Mother Theresa, Luther, Francis, etc.
Commitment to the cause - William Booth stirred up the beginnings of The Salvation Army with an amazing commitment to the cause. Are you a leader who is outlandishly committed to the cause?
Contagious Relationships - Powerful ideas travel quickly. Movements have ideas that are passed rapidly amongst relationships. Entrepreneurial leaders have relationships that help revolutionary messages be transmitted.
Rapid Mobilization - The leader of a movement needs to have the ability to communicate the cause, and have people buy into the cause so that the movement grows and expands and honours God in the process. Think of the rapid expansion of the Protestant Reformation, where people bought into the teachings of Luther and Calvin and others, and a movement was birthed.
Dynamic Methods - Good leaders will use up-to-date methods and innovative ideas to spread the popularity of their movement. You've heard it before - what worked 20 years probaby won't work today, especially communicating in today's technological environment.(The Forgotten Ways: Hirsch, p. 105-106)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who moved my cheese (Short Review) - Dr. Spencer Johnson

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'Who moved my cheese' by Dr. Spencer Johnson is an easy and enjoyable read about dealing with change. Four people are moving through a maze looking for cheese. They find some cheese, and they all enjoy the benefits of the cheese at Cheese Station C. Eventually the cheese at Cheese Station C runs out. Two of them decide quickly to move on and look for more cheese. The other two experience the feelings of disappointment and denial about there ever being more cheese at Cheese Station C. Well, it outlines the feelings many of us have when we are faced with change. Some of us wander around in self-pity wondering when we'll ever get back to the way things were. Others realise the cheese has moved, and so they change to compensate for the changing environment.
(Worth a read - Thanks KM for the headsup!)
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'And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him...' (Colossians 1:21-22). Holy and blameless. Praise God.
Was looking a little at Leviticus recently. Not a book we touch all that often right? You know the main theme of the book of Leviticus, and referenced 152 times? Holiness. Must be important to God!
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The 21 Irrefutable laws of leadership - Law no. 4 - 'The Law of Navigation' - Anyone can steer the Ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. It helps to step back occasionally and ask the question, 'Where are we headed?' and 'How are we getting there'. I've found, if you don't ask this question every now and then, you merely DO, DO, DO and you never chart the course. You might end up in a place you never wanted to be. Ask God what his vision is for your church, or for your life. 'Where do you want me to be in 5 years time!?'
'A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do' (Leroy Eims)
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Lord, help us to cope with change. To run with it. To embrace it. Help us Jesus to be a holy people. Purified from all sin. Set free from all addictions. Fullness of life.
We also pray God that we will be able to chart the course ahead of us. To not just 'go with the flow', but to consider the future and where you want us to be. We love you Lord, and choose to follow you in all we do. In the name of Jesus. Amen!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Church Next - Presenting the Gospel among Postmoderns

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'No prepackaged 'gospel presentations' and 'seeker-sensitive' worship services will constitute adequate responses to the challenge presented by the post-Christian, neopagan, postmodern generation. The church's witness must be self-evidently altruistic among people shaped by a culture that is profoundly suspicious' (Gibbs & Coffey, p. 35)
I believe to say 'No prepackaged...' is a little overemphasising the point. Sometimes presenting the gospel to someone might be exactly what they need to hear at that specific time. I totally agree though that the church's witness must be about others (altruistic - focussed on the welfare of others). When they see you are 'normal', and living authentically out the gospel in which you believe, this creates credibility among Postmoderns.
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'For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross' (Colossians 1:19-20).
Peace through the blood. I like that. Yahweh Shalom. The Lord is peace.
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Law No. 3 - The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership - 'The Law of Process - Leadership develops daily, not in a day'.
Well, its simple, yet true. Some want to be awesome leaders straight away, but there is much to learn. I'm not at the place I want to be, I tell you that! There are times I don't have the self-confidence I desire, or have the wisdom to make the 'right' decision at the time. I need to learn, grow, develop, stretch myself (not just my muscles), and continue to seek after God's will for my life.
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Lord, help us to have peace in the blood of Jesus. Bring peace right now for those that are troubled. Lord, we want to reach everyone with the gospel of Jesus, and we ask for wisdom on how to share that gospel with people that have differing worldviews and outlooks to ours. We also pray God that we become the leaders you want us to be, and to ultimately lead people to live Christ-centered lives.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Church Next - Modern and PostModern

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Here are some differences between Modern and PostModern

Modern - PostModern
Centralized Hierarchies - Decentralized Hierarchies
Predictable world - Unpredictable world
Confidence regarding human ability - Uncertainty in dealing with the present
Change initiated at the centre - Change initiated at the periphery

Gibbs and Coffey write (about postmoderns), 'We must unconditionally accept those who are content to live with ambiguity, and be humble enough to communicate in open dialogue with those who hold a pluralistic worldview' (p. 34)
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'He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, The firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.' (Colossions 1:17-18).
The resurrection of Jesus was the completion of creation. 'It was an anticipation and inauguration of God's new world order in which the tyranny of sin and death has been broken.' (The Message of Mission, p. 24).
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21 Irrefutable laws of leadership, No. 2 - The Law of Influence. 'The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less'
Some might argue with the last comment, though it is true that leadership relates strongly to influence. Maybe God has given you a vision. Will people follow it? Whether people follow it, will probably be strongly linked to whether you have influence within the realms of where you are sharing your vision. Nehemiah had a vision to rebuild the walls. He rallied the troops together, through his leadership, and they rebuilt the walls. King David had influence and favour among many. What about Paul? He worked hard to build influence with the Apostles, because he had to convince them he was truly one of these new followers of Jesus.
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Lord, help us to have the influence in places you have called us, for your glory; not for our self-gratification. We want the Kingdom of God, that you created, to grow and expand around us. Help us understand the different people we minister to, with all their worldviews, passions and desires. We want each of them to engage with Jesus, and live full lives that honour you. Amen.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Church Next - Quantum Changes in Christian Ministry

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We need to stop living in the past and engage with the present. The fact is church attendance in the western world is declining. We cannot simply incrementally adapt our churches and expect to revolutionise the future, when people have changed, societies have changed and worldviews have changed. When we engage with the present we realise we have a shifting worldview among some generations, from modernity to postmodernity. You can speak to a Gen-Xer and hear very quickly that they struggle with a thought of Absolute Truth. You mean Jesus did die on the cross and was absolutely resurrected? Yep. Absolutely.
(Church Next; Gibbs & Coffey; p. 17-40)
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'He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers- all things have been created through him and for him' (Colossians 1:15-16)

This is a definitive verse claiming that Jesus played a significant role in creation. Jesus was not merely a quick response God created to deal with a sin-fallen world.

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The Law of the Lid - 'Leadership Ability Determines a Person's Level of Effectiveness'. An organisations success is very closely connected to the leadership ability of the senior leader. Whether it be a Corps Officer in The Salvation Army, a Principal at a local Primary School or a CEO of a finance company; the organisation will only go as far as the leader allows it to. That's why leaders must continue to grow and learn. That's why we continue to read. That's why we stretch our thinking. That's why we learn how to work better with people around us. Look to Jesus for the ultimate example on how to lead.
(The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership; Maxwell, p. 1-10)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Church Growth – From Pastor to CEO

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The Family Church has 50 or fewer people. The Pastoral Church has 50-150 people. The Program Church has 150-350. The Corporation Church has more than 350.

Whether we like this or not, this seems to be the case of most churches. Senior pastors go from being the ‘Pastor’ to the ‘CEO’. The only way to change this, is to consider our structure of church. We can still keep that family feel to a large church, especially if the model of church is predominantly Cell groups, for instance.

I don’t like the assumption some make, that, when a church grows in size it automatically loses its missional heart. Sure, it may be difficult to continue to pursue missional objectives when a Church grows, but it definitely need not be that way. Healthy churches, no matter their size, structure or vision will be fulfilling the great commission and serving suffering humanity.

What size church are you in? If you are the leader of this community, how do you lead based on the structure/size of this church?

I find myself currently in a church of less than 50. The Family Church is probably the right label to give this community. I’m certain that as this church grows (which it is doing!), I will either need to change the way I lead, and/or change the way we structure our church.

Will we plant congregations? Will we just invite everyone Sunday mornings? Will we have midweek gatherings for those who don’t connect well with traditional church? Will we have a community that links well with men who fish, ride motorbikes, and go shooting buffalo in their spare time?

The Pastor to CEO leadership tends to be a trend of most growing churches. We must work hard to have communities of faith that are still organic, life-giving and incarnational, while not quenching the work of the Spirit…

Sunday, October 11, 2009

4 Myths of Leadership

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Myth #1 – Leaders must have all the right traits

Check out this

ArticulateMoses had a speech issue
Desire to leadJonah ran away
RelationalPaul didn’t get along with Barnabas
VisionaryChristopher Columbus didn’t know where he was headed!
KindnessAdolf Hitler was far from kind
TolerantMartin Luther was intolerant of peasants

Traits are helpful, but don’t stress if you are not perfecting all of them!

Myth #2 – Leadership is all about leaders

Sometimes leaders are in the right place at the right time. Sometimes its not just the leader that makes a successful leader, but the right environment they find themselves in.

Myth #3 – All leaders are heroes

Nah. Not true. Some leaders become heroes after they die. Other leaders are relatively unknown but are doing great things in their circles of influence.

Myth #4 – Pastors must have the gift of leadership

Not all good leaders have the gift of leadership. Some might be gifted at evangelism, or pastoring, or teaching; not necessarily leadership.

These myths of leadership, I believe help us to stress less about our ability to lead. We do the best we can, with where we are, with what we know, and the gifts God has given us. We learn and grow, but trust God for the wisdom and ability to lead. We don’t need to be well known, blessed by everyone and financially supported by the best of them. We plot along, with passion and conviction, seeing God use us to dismantle the Kingdom of Darkness and grow the Kingdom of God.

(This material is slightly adapted from Leith Anderson’s ‘Leadership That Works’ – Worth a read!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The times, they are a changin'

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Walking -> Riding -> Horse and Cart --> Driving -> Flying --> ??

Encyclopedias --> Encyclopedias on CD --> Wikipedia --> ??

Library --> Book Shop --> Amazon --> ??

The world is flat --> The world is round --> The Universe is still expanding --> ??

Kodak Film --> Digital Cameras --> ??

Corner shop --> The local Market --> Super Market --> One stop shop! --> ??

$2 Chips in a bag --> $3 chips in a bag --> $5 chips in a box

Economies change. Countries change names. Politicians change policies. Pastors change 'their strategies'. Businesses change marketing techniques. Airlines upgrage their planes.

Change is inetivable. The only thing that doesn't change...? Yeah you guessed it; 'the fact that things change'.

How does the local pastor deal with this? She's called to be a Theologian, a Businesswoman, an accountant, a counsellor, a team player, a preacher, a dishwasher, an administrator, a visionary, and the list goes on.

Firstly, stick to what is the core purpose of your role as a pastor (corps officer). The Salvation Army Officer signs a covenant. Their fundamental role is to 'live to win souls' and to help those in need. To live a life of holiness; a life worthy of being an officer in The Salvation Army.

Don't be fazed by the change around you. Learn what you can, but don't be consumed by it. Read what you can, but don't be mesmerized by it. Blog what you can, but don't stress over it. Email who you can, but don't fret over it. Ring people on your heart, but you know you can't ring everyone. Preach what you believe is on your heart, understanding its difficult to preach to a wide variety of differing generations.

Times change. The gospel doesn't. The methods in which we share the gospel change. The essence of the message doesn't.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Most trusted brand: The Salvation Army

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Salvation Army most trusted brand in Australia. Click below:

http://www.smartcompany.com.au/retail/20091005-australias-most-trusted-brands.html

God’s goodness and peace

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Dear Readers,

God bless you in the name of Jesus.

God is good. I’ve been thinking about this lately. No matter the circumstances in life, whether great or grim, high or low, positive or negative, God is still good. Just because circumstances are challenging for us at times, does not change the nature of God, and the fact that he is good. See the point is, we don’t understand everything that happens in life. We don’t grasp the seemingly disappointing realities of human fragility. That being said, we don’t always ‘get’ the ways God works in positive, awe-inspiring ways. God is good in it all.

See, God’s peace doesn’t give understanding. It passes understanding. It’s beyond our human comprehension. We can feel peace. We can know at times that we are peaceful. Yet we don’t really understand peace.

We can question God in things, and ask why some people die early, and others live til they’re 100. We can question God about why he heals some and not others. But in the end God’s ways are much, much higher than our ways. His thoughts are much, much higher than our thoughts. He is still good, because the decisions he makes, and the laws that govern this Universe that God created, were created from a God who by his very nature is good and perfect. So we can be at peace. A peace that passes understanding, but nonetheless comforts us, and helps us feel strong in times of trial. Thank you Lord for your goodness and peace you give to those who trust in Jesus.

 

R.I.P. Aunty Janine.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some inspiration from the Word

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'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...' (Mt 5:3)

'Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you. [Jesus] replied, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.'

'Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!' (1Cor9:16)

From Transforming Mission (p.137), 'It is true that the Christian community is exclusive and has definite boundaries, but there are "gates in the boundaries".'
Maybe you could offer someone to come through the gate today? Ask them if they want to follow Jesus.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Let the peace of Christ rule!

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Re-jigged our Planned Giving at the Church recently. People in the church are either giving the same, and many are giving more than before. Praise God.

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About ‘calling’. First there is the ‘effectual call of Christ to become a disciple’. This call is experienced by all that become believers. Secondly, there is the ‘providential call’. People are drawn into acts of service based on what seems to their inbuilt passions, e.g. building, creating, problem solving, etc. Thirdly, there is a ‘charismatic call’. God empowers us with his Holy Spirit and gifts us as he sees fit, and calls us into ministry based on those giftings. – R. Paul Stevens (The Other Six Days), p. 80-81.

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Idea Virus. Twitter and Facebook are one. Susan Boyle is another. It’s an idea/concept that spreads like a virus. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead ought to be an idea virus. Spreading like wild fire through the internet, and through our interpersonal networks.

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‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…’ (Col 3:15)    

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why does it take a funeral to get us together?

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Many times a tragedy or a death in the family brings people together. So does a Wedding. Some will quip, ‘Why does it take a wedding or a funeral to get us together?’

Well, we live busy lives. We have expectations at work. We have the immediate family to look after, and television shows to watch. The wider family gets put on the back burner, til we find the time. The relationships then grow weak and the distance and time becomes more awkward. ‘I can’t possibly ring them now, they’ll think something is up’. ‘It’s been 6 months since I’ve spoken to little Richy’.

I’m putting the challenge out there to unite families together. To make that awkward phone call; to send that email that you’ve procrastinated about; to mention the elephants in the room and get the conversation going.

God’s desire is to see strong, healthy relationships, with Jesus at the centre. God longs to see unity, not fragmentation.

People get ready, there’s a train a comin’. You don’t need no baggage, just get on board…

Friday, September 18, 2009

Embrace Change

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This is a challenge I once heard from Chick Yuill. ‘Embrace change’ was the catch-cry.

A healthy church can try something new, and be ok if it fails. A dysfunctional church can find change too threatening. Or maybe the church is happy with the status quo – with how things are.

Now, if a church is not making new disciples of Jesus Christ, and the church is not reaching the poor and advocating for the injustices in our society, then it needs to ‘embrace change’. By continuing on with the same programs, the same attitudes, the same ‘Church services’ and expecting things to change by themselves is naive. They need to embrace change.

Its hard to change a culture of an organisation. Maybe its harder in a ‘volunteer’ church organisation. In the corporate world you just sack the volatile people, or the people with the wrong attitudes. In the church, we love and accept and grow together. It’s about building community together.

Decisive action does need to be taken to be honouring God with what matters, and if we are not in that place, we need to change. I pray a blessing upon church leaders in that position right now, and ask God to give you wisdom and understanding, endurance and patience (Colossians 1).  

Monday, September 14, 2009

It’s all garbage

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AFL Grand Final. Travelling the World. Watching TV. Saving up money. Eating what’s left in the fridge. It’s all garbage…

The Apostle Paul said, you know all my credentials: being circumcised on the eighth day (something he must have been proud of…), being an Israelite, being of the Tribe of Benjamin, being a devout adherent to God’s laws…. it’s all garbage…

It’s all garbage (he said in Philippians 3:5-8), compared to knowing Christ and being known by him. I throw everything else in the trash. Nothing else matters. Everything else is irrelevant. Everything else in inconsequential.

I want to know Jesus and be known by him. I want to be embraced by him. I don’t want to put anything on a pedestal too high than what it should be, lest I remove God from the most important place in my life.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thoughts on Prophecy

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Speaking prophetically into people's lives can be a God-given amazing experience. There ARE some things to think about:
* Personal prophecy between a man and woman is a no no...
* When people say, 'Thus saith the Lord' or 'This is what God is saying', maybe they just say this out of habit, though some use this language as some sort of authority giver. They are insecure in their own personal spiritual journey, and this extra authority puffs them up. Why not say, 'I believe the Lord might be saying this'. It's a little less arrogant, and it allows people to test the prophetic word.
* Important prophetic words should be backed up by other prophets, or other leaders who are saying the same thing. Don't let a big decision hinge on one prophetic word from a prophet.
* Prophecies must line up with Scripture. A 'rhema' word from God doesn't allow us to contradict the Bible. For instance, God isn't going to say to someone, 'Divorce that Jimmy guy and marry Johnny'.
* Prophecies should be edifying. They should build up the body of Christ. They should encourage believers. We're not living in Old Testament days. We're living in the times of the Spirit of Jesus moving amongst us. Jesus said, 'love your neighbour'. At times he would say, 'repent', and I challenge us to speak that to some with love and support to back up this life change.

Well there's some thoughts on prophecy. Pray for someone today. Ask God to give you a word of encouragement for someone. God bless you.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Palmerston: 20 mins out from Darwin

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Palmerston – The place to be (That’s the catch-cry of the local Council). 11.4% of the population are indigenous. Much of the population is under 20. Australian Army personnel work close by. The local shops are the place to have coffee and see people you know. Palmerston markets are on every Friday night (Click here).

The culture is different here. Things happen 10 mins from now, not straight away. The Palm branches and the humidity helps you feel like you’re on holidays all year round. There’s no water restrictions. The NT News is good for a laugh, but doesn’t hold much credibility in providing in-depth journalism. Some Aborigines sleep behind the local cinema – God bless them. Rents are high. Fruit and Veg go off in three days. There’s a housing shortage (isn’t there in all of Australia?). People need affordable accommodation. People come here for holidays, and pack up home and end up living here. Many families have family members back in other parts of Australia.

We love Palmerston. Will you pray for this city of 27,000 people? Just shoot up a pray right now… Thank you Lord for this city… Let people come to know Jesus!

What city are you ‘being Jesus’ in? What lives are you transforming through the work of God’s Spirit? How is God using you?

The Salvation of the World. Bring it on.

Friday, September 4, 2009

God Gave…

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Our Church has been speaking recently on giving; hence the blogs on the same topic!

God asks us to be generous, with our giving and with our lives. To help people in need, and enjoy helping them in the process.

Think about creation. “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” What a creation. He then finally created male and female, and what did he do? He gave us the whole earth, to bless it, and subdue it, and rule over the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. God gave to us.

After the fall, we were separated from God, and Abraham (and OT people) were connected to God by faith and righteousness. Then God GAVE us Jesus. John 3:16, a classic verse… ”For God so loved the world that he GAVE his only son, that whosoever believes in him, will not die, but have eternal life.” God gave us the ultimate gift in Jesus. Not that Jesus is just some sort of present that we consume. But he is the promised Messiah, the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords, a Saviour, a redeemer, a healer and a judge. God GAVE.

If God gives to us, my only response is to say, ‘How can I give to God and how can I give to others?’

This Father’s Day, think about it. Our Heavenly Father is worth some time. Our Father in Heaven is worth some focus, and thanks and prayer.

Thanks God for showing us how to give!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good Stewards

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How important it is for us to be good stewards of what we have. My mum used to say to me, ‘Finish the food on your plate, there’s people starving in Africa’. Maybe there was some way of transporting this food to a needy place in the third world… I knew there wasn’t, but the thought was clear. Don’t waste your food. Don’t eat too much. Don’t cook too much and have too much on the plate so that it then gets wasted. Be a good steward of your food.

My parents would challenge me to bank some money. ‘Put away some money every week… It’ll add up you know’ What they were really saying was, don’t waste your money. Put some aside. Don’t overspend. Always have some money on the side to spare. Be a good steward of your money.

In today’s affluent Western Society, is good to hear that challenge about being good stewards. The world says to us:

* Buy, Buy, Buy

* Eat, Consume, Take

The Word of God says:

* Give, Give, Give

* Use your money wisely, give to the poor and needy

A fair enough challenge in such a ‘rich’ part of the world.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mountains and Journeys

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I read the book of Phillipians this morning. Good discipline! Highlights for me were about being merciful. Also, Paul talks about running the race. Persevering to win the prize.

"We can't always be on the mountaintop", my lovely, jab-me-in-the-side wife said to me recently. You know, I love the high. I love the success, or the win, or the progress. What Jo was nicely saying to me was, you won't always be at that place. There will be times of coming down the mountain, just like Moses after receiving the Ten Commandments, and just like Peter, James and John following the transfiguration of Jesus. Ministry can be great at times. At other times, lets face it, it can be plain monotonous. Even after so little years, I have learnt, to 'Celebrate the wins'. To enjoy those times together, where God is so evident, and people's lives are radically transformed. The problem is, not many have said to me, 'Appreciate the journey'. Or maybe they have, and I haven't heard it.

It's that idea of the pilgrim journey. Everyday, honouring God. Everyday, doing your best for Jesus. Everyday, relying on him. I'm not suggesting we wander around with no purpose, and just take life as it comes. I'm rather suggesting we acknowledge the journey as where God wants us, and enjoy it along the way. There will be times we will be up the mountain, and the person gets saved, and the finances come, and the baby arrives, and the soldier gets enrolled and the local officer steps it up a notch. But as we look forward to those mountain top experiences, I'm asking God to help me with persevering through the journey. The next mountain is not too far away! Hallelujah!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Do Church Growth Strategies work?

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I spoke recently with a Salvation Army leader about "Church Growth Strategies". The discussion focussed around their effectiveness; are they effective or are they a hindrance?
Interestingly, after attending a conference with both speakers from Baptist and Pentecostal circles, there were different emphases. The former would speak about the importance of planning strategically for church growth, with intentional focus on connecting (assimilating) new people to the church, on discipleship, etc. The later would speak on the absolute importance on relying on the power and work of the Holy Spirit, because God in essence is the one who "grows the church".

We like to divide the issue, and say, "Yes, its just about the Holy Spirit', or "No, its all about how we sow the seed, and where we sow it". It's really about both.

You could say, strategically, God said to Paul, 'Go to Macedonia and preach the gospel' because this was a strategic decision that would benefit the Kingdom of God. But on the same hand, you could say, Paul was Spirit-led and Spirit-inspired to travel to Macedonia and preach the gospel. See how they are one in the same?

Did the Spirit of God lead Peter to the Centurion? Yes. Was it a strategic move of God? Seems to be. The choosing of David as king, was a Spirit-led decision, but also a strategic decision.

You get the point. Strategy is important. The Holy Spirit's guidance in that strategy is even better.

God bless you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tithing - Just Old Testament?

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You hear occassionally someone say with a little bit of attitude, 'Tithing is such an Old Testament thing!' You know right there and then, they have some sort of issue with giving; maybe that it is too legalistic, or we feel pressured into giving or its too much of an expectation. Here's a reply I like to give people who complain about this "Old Testament" idea of tithing. 'Well, if you have an issue with giving 10%, that's fine. Let's go to a New Testament way of giving. Some people were selling properties and giving ALL their money to the apostles!! Hmm... I think tithing 10% is small and relatively easy compared to that. The New Testament teaches generosity in our giving and in our living. I don't think the Old Testament way of tithing is outdated or been superseeded by the fact that Jesus came to earth. I encourage people to tithe and then to give offerings. To live generously.

I challenge people reading this blog to tithe their TAX Cheque. Think on it. Doing this is putting God first! If you are a follower of Jesus, I don't see why this is something we shouldn't do; especially noting the fact that most people tithe only their NET amount of income, and so any tax they pay has not been tithed. Anyway... Too legalistic? I think it's about honouring God first with our living and our giving. A friend of mine received $4,000 back from the Tax Department, and only recently has considered tithing that amount to the work of God. Hmm... Good challenge. Take it or leave it.

God bless you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

At that time...

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I was reading that chewing gum enhances your brains cognitive capabilities. That's maybe why Ricky Ponting and Mark Taylor have both been Australian Cricket Captains and not others?? Chew on that for a little bit...
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Here are some causes of procrastination:
* Waiting for the “right” mood or the “right” time to tackle the important task at hand.
* A fear of failure or success.
* Underdeveloped decision making skills.
* Poor organizational skills.
* Perfectionism ("I don't have the right skills or resources to do this perfectly now, so I won't do it at all.")
* Feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand
If you're in Christian ministry - don't procrastinate. Too much is at stake. Especially if the issue at hand is someone's salvation.
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Check out www.shapevine.com, it has some great missional content.
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God's timing is important. "And the Lord directed me... at that time... to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess." (Deut 4:14)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lots to chew on...

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Jo spoke about giving God our time today. How often people become caught up in watching mindless television, or continuously playing PS3 games, or "facebooking" or "ebay-ing" and whatever else it might be... and maybe God is saying, 'Hey, why don't you pray?' 'What if you spent that hour with me?'
I quite often will challenge myself; that I find it so easy to watch a 2 hour movie, but how often do I pray for 2 hours non-stop? Prayer is powerful, and I've been seeing that locally. I pray for unity in the church, and I see some relationships being mended. I pray for people to get saved, and while I haven't seen a flood of salvations, I see God working on people's lives. I believe for the harvest.

I'll be honest with you. I'm a bit of a visionary. I'm always visualizing a better day, when the Kingdom of God has grown beyond our imagination, and churches are 800 strong, and lives are being transformed... Though when reality hasn't reached the vision, I have that burden inside of me that won't go away. Prayer becomes a time of that inner groaning and longing for the purposes of God to be fulfilled. Maybe you understand what this means? Maybe you're in that place. I know God is answering your prayer, and while you may not see it yet in the natural, if you ask in Jesus' name it will be done for you. That's it. Finito! Done! Thank you Jesus.

God bless you.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Engaging Evangelical Discussion

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I've spent two weeks in Melbourne recently, before flying back up to Palmerston (NT) the other day. I have a new found passion and boldness to speak about things of God. I sat at the local markets last night, and spoke with one of the young ladies connected to our church. We spoke about her reasons why she has never come to our Sunday morning service (She comes to everything else!). Her fears and opinions were valid, but God is stirring something in her heart.
She spoke to her husband the other day while driving home from Darwin, and she said, 'You know, I've been thinking about God...' And her husband replies, 'Yeah, that it's all bull****'. The discussion ends. Later they talk about this original discussion a little bit more. God is stirring something in her heart. She has lots of questions. She has fears. She has concerns. But God is using believers to just chip away at preconceived ideas about Jesus, wrong assumptions about the church, and to offer hope.

I encourage you, as do many other blog writers encourage (Cpt. Stephen Court - http://www.armybarmy.com/blog.html or Cpt. Dave Collinson - http://captaincollo.blogspot.com/) . It's time to go beyond talking about the weather! Be bold, and open up discussions about faith. Ask people what they think about Jesus. Ask them, 'Is there anything I can pray for you about?' 'Have you ever thought of coming to church?' etc, etc.

God bless as you step into these discussions. Exciting times are ahead!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm on the brink...

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Jo and I watched last years Commissioning DVD (On Fire). It seems so long ago that God called us to train to become Salvation Army officers and finally be Commissioned into service. Well it was over seven months ago now, and the Witnesses For Christ of the Australia Southern Territory have been out at their appointments for six months.

What has God showed me after this time? What has the Lord spoken into my life? Am I still passionate for Jesus? Is the world still worth changing?

I broke down in tears tonight, reflecting on how God has changed my life, from curious wandering in the desert, to focussed discipleship; from purposelessness to life; from my will to his will. My heart began to ache for the many people we come in contact with who are still wandering; are still feeling hopeless and are following their own will. What great joy there is in ministry, when we witness someone literally hand over their own life into God's and say, 'Not my will Lord, but yours'.

Over the last six months, I have begun to see God turn lives from wandering to purpose. One of our soldiers is stepping into the process of becoming a Salvation Army officer. I have seen one young lady become a passionate committed disciple of Jesus. I see so many others on the brink of the life giving flood, but who are seeking to understand who this Jesus really is that we talk about.

I stand on the brink. I stand on the brink of revival. I lean over, and while pearing into the distance I see hundreds of people getting saved and finding true meaning in life. The faith train is coming, and people are getting on board. I can see it. I can see Governmental influence, where leaders are seeking our advice on issues of policy. I see the Church of the city uniting in such a way that the devil no longer has a grip on any person or sector of society. I feel the power of the Spirit sweeping through the City in a way that affects lives; where the sick are healed and the depressed sense joy and the busy tradesman finds time to turn to Jesus. I'm on the brink of the life giving flood. I sense it.

I'm on the brink of the Church becoming a respected voice in the community. I'm on the brink of a city that turns to God when a problem arises, not just to the local member for Parliament. I see a city falling on its knees in repentance, acknowledging Jesus as their Saviour from all the issues of their life. I can see worship not just being a song fest, but a heartfelt expression of people's love for God. I'm on the brink of Church growth being the norm not the exception.

Maybe I'm not on the brink? Maybe right now; just now; right here... I'm actually IN the life giving flood.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Faith like Potatoes

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I saw a good movie last night. It depicted a true story of a farmer, who became a follower of Jesus after hearing the gospel when his wife dragged him along to Church. God took a hold of his life, and he grew passionate about evangelism, and sharing the good news of Jesus to his African friends and Scottish family. God did many miracles through him, in which he testifies of God raising an African woman back to life after a sudden illness took her life. Then God brought rain from nowhere as raging fires blew through the farm. God used this man Angus, to fulfill his purposes. To bring life and meaning to those who were spiritually empty. What a powerful story, of what God can do if we choose to follow Jesus, and have a simple faith that God can and will do the things he says he can and will do!

God give us a simple faith, to believe in the impossible even in the midst of 'reality'.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Big20 - Big Times, Big Opportunities

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Next week Palmerston Salvos are running a big festival weekend called, 'The Big20'. We're celebrating 20 years of ministry within the Palmerston community. We're having a Saturday jammed packed with Stalls, Kid's rides, Devonshire Tea, BBQ, Outside Stage with local community entertainment, and something that is proving to be very popular: Palmerston's Got Talent. Darwin Salvos and others are joining us for Church on Sunday morning (outside on Stage), followed by a BBQ lunch, followed by Mainly Music on stage. Big times.

We have been blessed to have the local Newspaper run with a story for next weeks paper, and Southern Cross Television (Channel 7), putting it on the community billboard on TV, and another guy from the Government making up an 'Around Palmerston' video to air on TV too. Praise Jesus.

We're believing for many people to come along, to connect with each other in community. We will be sharing about the love of Jesus all weekend, not holding back about the beliefs that underpin who we are. We're believing for hundreds and hundreds of people to walk through the property and engage with us. It's all very exciting.

I'm reminded of seeking first the Kingdom of God and then 'all these things will be added...'. I'm unsure theologically what this means, but I take it with the belief that if we seek first the Kingdom of God, the other things will work out; finances, plans and strategies and desires. I've been seeing that happen. The local Council donated some balloons left over from Palmerston Festival, and guess what colour the balloons were? Red, Yellow and Blue!! All the Salvationists are saying, Amen, thank you Jesus.

Jo and I thank Jesus for what he is doing in people's lives. We are seeing people commit to the work of the church, even before they understand much about what the mission of the people of God is! Many are on the verge of following this amazing Jesus. My prayer is that they will. If you are a prayer warrior, please make it your prayer, that people will repent and begin a new life, with Jesus at the centre.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Reclaiming the Humanity of Jesus

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A new book from Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost is called ReJesus. It is talking about the need to Re-Jesus the church; to reclaim a clear understanding of who Jesus is, and what his role in creation is. Its really a book on Christology, which they say is, 'the study and examination of the entire phenomenon of Jesus, including his person and work and teachings, for the purpose of determining in what ways the various elements of his life and activity can be emulated by sinful human beings'.

They argue about reclaiming the humanity of Jesus. Salvation Army Doctrine number 4 says, 'We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that he is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.' Like many theological discussions, it is about balance. When we overemphasise the divinity of Jesus, we find it harder to relate to a Jesus that ate, was tempted, got tired, and wept. The preacher's cry then to become like Jesus seems too high to ever reach. When we over emphasise the humanity of Jesus we down play the salvific act of the death and resurrection of Jesus, which by grace, through faith will give us life eternal. It's about balance.

Jesus is someone who we can follow after, who we can emulate with our life (even now), and someone we can relate to. He is also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who takes away the sin of the world!

Jesus was no less than a revolutionary, who turned the world upside down, and had 20,000,000 followers in three hundred years. Not bad. I could only hope a couple more people read this blog :)

Christology is exciting and adventurous, as you explore the radical Jesus of the Gospels and delve deeper into the truth of who he really is...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Revival, Peace and Idolatry

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It's dangerous reading a book on Revival. Quite often its written by someone who has been in the very midst of a powerful moving of the Holy Spirit. I can sense God's presence and challenge to dream big, and believe for great things to happen. Many will come to know Jesus. Hallelujah!
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I preached recently about having peace in the midst of the storm. Jesus has this while on the boat, and the disciples were stressed and fearful. Jesus rebuked them and said, 'O ye of little faith...' Trust God for peace in your life; amongst your stress, your busyness and the expectations of life.
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O God, that people would come to know Jesus, the one who died for them; the one who came to set us free!
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'Idolatry is not limited to worship of idols but includes a broader sense of allegiance to anything that is false' (Bosch, p. 134). Ouch, many of us are into Idols. God would you smash those down!! All we need is Jesus.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Prayer and Flying a Plane (Illustration)

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A Historian, H.G.Wells writes, 'A historian like myself, who doesn't even call himself a Christian, finds the picture centering irrestibly around the life and character of this most significant man {Jesus}... The historian's test of an individual's greatness is 'What did he leave to grow?' Did he start men to thinking along fresh lines with a vigor that persisted after him? By this test Jesus stands first.'
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An elderly Gentleman said to me recently, when you pray its like being in an aeroplane. You know there's a pilot out the front, getting you to the right destination. You don't need to know the law of aerodynamics to be able to fly on this plane as a passenger. Nor do you really ever see the pilot, but you trust that your life in is safe hands. It's like when we pray... You don't need to understand the ins and outs of prayer to pray to a God who's ready to listen. Why not start with, 'Our Father, who is in Heaven... how great you are!!'
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Ministry is going well in Palmerston (NT). Our Red Shield Appeal total was up $4,200 on last year! We have Mainly Music families connecting with the life of the church, and some are coming to a Women's Bible Study during the week. We're averaging about 30 both Sunday mornings and Sunday nights, but most of all, the Holy Spirit in moving amongst us, and many are growing in their faith. We're looking to God for the Harvest for new disciples to enter into God's Kingdom (The place where he reigns and rules!).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Twelfth Doctrine - Food

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I read recently of an officer saying that the twelfth doctrine should be 'We believe in food, eaten in fellowship'.
Many of our churches are characterised by this idea. Food can attract a crowd - it does when we have a Men's Breakfast. Food can break the ice with people - it does when I offer someone a piece of cake after Church. Food is often the centrepiece of a catchup meeting - it is when I take people out to lunch for a chat.

Food becomes a missional strategy at times, to strengthen relationships, to make people feel welcome, to create a warm environment.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, 'Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.'
Remember the first miracle of Jesus was turning water into wine at a wedding feast.
What about the Last Supper? Those powerful words shared over a meal together.

In Deuteronomy, God asks the Israelites to bring a tithe of all their produce from their fields (10%) and bring it to the prescribed place of worship, so that everyone can share in a meal together and remember the Lord who provided for them. The bringing of the food to the place of worship was about obedience and celebration.

We must give thanks to God for the wealth and luxurious amounts of food we have in the Western world. So many starve and others have to work all day for a meagre amount of food. We don't take it for granted, and we recognise the possibilities that a simple thing like food does to help fulfill God's mission.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Measuring Church Growth

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Had an interesting thought yesterday. We traditionally measure church growth by how many come in. When reading the Great Commission, Jesus seems to measure church growth by how many go out.
Go.
Make Disciples.
The Whole World.

Coming together to worship God as a community, seems to more biblical if it is about equipping the saints for the work of ministry, and challenging the lost to follow Jesus and become a disciple. Church services cannot just be about fellowship, or songs, or sermons, but they need to ultimately challenge the body to express their love for God in their day to day lives.
We often compartmentalize our Christianity from our 'Secular work' environments, and we talk as if Sunday morning is the time we spend with God, and the rest of the week becomes about all our other goals and ambitions.
Mature followers of Jesus understand God has called them to be ambassadors all the time, and so whether gathering together as the church, or whether at work, or at home, or at the shops, we are a disciple of Jesus.

If somehow we could measure the going out of the disciples, and not just the coming in of the people for a Sunday gathering, we would find a more accurate, biblical measure of church growth.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Predestination - Will you choose to read this?

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I have been thinking a little about the theological conversations that have happened over the years regarding predestination and free will. The 16th Century saw the arrival of John Calvin, who taught on predestination, so most people would connect predestination with him, though the theological idea existed before him.
Predestination says that God has pre-elected some people to be saved; that is, God not only knows who will be saved in the end, but he has chosen those people already. Calvin came teaching something even stronger; what is sometimes called double predestination; that is, God has not only pre-elected some for salvation, but the rest he has pre-elected for damnation. That's a stong theological stance to take.

The Salvation Army tradition stems out of Wesleyanism, and John Wesley had much to say to intellectually refute this idea of predestination. One comment Wesley made was this:
"If [election] be so, then is all preaching vain. It is needless to them that they are elected; for they whether with preaching or without, will infallibly be saved. Therefore, the end of preaching--to save souls--is void in regard to them; and it is useless to them that are not elected, for they cannot possibly be saved: They, whether with preaching or without, will infallibly be damned... This then is a plain proof that the doctrine of predestination is not a doctrine of God, because it makes void the ordinance of God; and God is not divided against himself. A Second is, that it directly tends to destroy that holiness which is the end of all the ordinances of God... The doctrine [of election]... has a tendency to destroy holiness in general; for it wholly takes away those first motives to follow after it...the hope of future reward and punishment, the hope of heaven and the fear of hell."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Opportunities to Network

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Well its been a few days...

We spoke with the Mayor of Palmerston (Cr. Robert Macleod) recently, and he has agreed to attend our Big20 Celebrations in July, and he will also be a judge in our Palmerston's Got Talent Show as well.
We had a meeting with the opposition leader of the Northern Territory (Terry Mills - CLP), and we spoke about the needs in Palmerston and what we can be doing about it. Crime seems to be a big thing on the agenda, and finding creative/innovative ways to lower crime, build deeper community, etc.

Networking is important. Watching friendships grow out of networking is also a bonus; that way networking doesn't just become what 'You' can get out of someone, but rather a mutual building up of each other, and of their work.

Good things are happening up this neck of the woods. God is moving, and new people are coming to church.

If you are reading this are you are involved in ministry that glorifies God, I ask that God will bless it, multiply it, resource it, and grow fruit out of it. Praise the name of Jesus!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Change in the Church

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There are two types of change. Revolutionary (something completely different from the past) and Evolutionary (a refinement from what has been). Generally people are more accepting of the Evolutionary change, rather than the Revolutionary.

When it comes to change, here's how we respond:
2% - are innovators
10% - early managers
60% - middle adopters
20% - Late adopters
8% - Lagards

So, an idea pops up at church. The minister wants to pursue the idea of moving the location of the church service to the local school gymnasium.

2% of the people consider the idea and jump on board, looking for ways to help the transition occur.

10%, think briefly about it, and realise its a great idea and begin to help with the process.

60% take a little convincing - Here's the pros, and here are the cons - The change will be beneficial to the church - The change will help us continue to grow - Here's what happens if we stay in this location - Here's what happens if we move...

20% need lots of coffee time - Why should we move when things are fine here? - There are too many obstacles to jump over, plus how are we going to possibly set up all that sound equipment every week?

8% arrive at the launch of the church service in the School Gym, and think - I bet it won't last long here, and they'll be back where I said we should have been all along.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Palmerston: A Ministry Update

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Thanks to all those who shoot up a prayer every now and then for our ministry at the Palmerston Salvation Army. Here's an update for you:

* We started ministry at the Palmerston Markets, with a small stall. We have a sign that says, 'Just Salvos', and we have been selling Fairtrade goods; coffee, chocolate, tea, etc. Just on a Friday night, for the last two weeks combined we have sold 23 Badges, given out 22 Kidzones, sold a few Fairtrade products, and most of all have had significant conversations and connection with the community.
* On a Sunday morning we've been averaging 20-25 people. The Spirit has been moving powerfully, and people have been responding to God, experiencing his presense, reconciling relationships and taking initiative.
* Mainly Music has been steady. Sunday nights has seen 20-30 people come along and share in community together. Pray for the desire to hear the gospel to increase...
* We gave in the Self Denial Appeal, and our Church gave the most (I think), that's it has ever given for this appeal ($4,550). Thanks Lord for this increased sacrificial giving.
* We have had two lots of 24 hour prayer, which has been great for the church to strengthen their ability to pray and to grow closer to Jesus.
* I felt like the Devil spoke to me this morning, and said, 'It's ok to remain small as a church...' I rebuked this comment. Scriptures came to mind of the Kingdom of God expanding like a big oak tree. We may choose to have a small group model of ministry, or a large church model of ministry, but you bet ya, God will grow his church this side of Australia! Thanks Jesus.

Thanks for your prayers for our community. We need your occassional encouragement, and your occassional reminder that you're thinking of us. It helps a lot. God bless!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

ANZAC Day in Palmerston - Lest we Forget

1 comment:


ANZAC Day in Palmerston was an amazing day. 700 hundred or so turned up for the Dawn Service and about 500 for the 10am reflection service.
Jo and I had the privelege to chat with many leaders in Palmerston and the top end, including the Mayor Robert Macleod (below) and the opposition leader in the Territory - Terry Mills.
I had to take a picture of these guys (below). I called them the William Booth brothers.
What was most amazing for me, was the opportunity I had to be the 'Padre' for both ANZAC Day services. I was able to pray with the people gathered, read Scripture and recite the Lord's Prayer. I spoke about 2 Corinthians 5, where it says about being reconciled to God through Christ. I said, "we pray that we would be reconciled to each other, but my prayer is that ultimately people would be reconciled to God through Christ..."
I've never preached to 1,200 people in one day!
More importantly, we prayed and honoured those that have gone before; those who have fought to protect Australian soil. God bless them each. Lest we forget.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Metaphors of the Church

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I have been gripped by a particular image of the body of Christ recently. A particular metaphor for describing the whole community of faith (the Universal Church), as well an apt way of depicting a small group of believers. Many metaphors exist, both biblical and from the depths of history. Some of these metaphorical images of the church are:
* An olive tree
* A field of crops
* A building
* A new temple
* A bride
* God's house

The image that grips me the most lately, is probably the most simplest. The church is a family. When followers of Jesus gather together, it is a family getting together.

So what grips me about this image of a family? Two things. Firstly a negative picture of the family of Christ. Many churches can be dysfunctional as a family, or have some elements of dsyfunctionality within their family. A get-together can become like a volatile family renunion, where some are not speaking with others, and some family members avoid their oldest sister, or their long lost Aunt.

What I appreciate on the other hand, is when I see the family of Jesus expressing love for one another; when disciples of Jesus are setting the example of true holiness and loving each of their brothers and sisters. I must say this is what I witness more than dysfunctionality, but I want to remind the Church, that we are a family, and we have many brothers and sisters who need our love, acceptance and inclusion.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Age: Australians not so sceptical about Jesus

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Australians not so sceptical about Jesus, survey finds
Barney Zwartz - The Age - April 7, 2009

MORE than four in 10 Australians who don't consider themselves "born again" nevertheless believe Jesus rose from the dead, while one in 10 doesn't believe he even existed.
These are two of the surprising results from an independent survey of 2500 Australians, according to noted author and church historian John Dickson, co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity in Sydney.

The survey, to be released today, showed that 42 per cent of Australians believe Jesus had divine powers and 54 per cent believe he rose from the dead.

But even among those who do not identify as born again, 45 per cent believe in the resurrection. Dr Dickson said this certainly included agnostics and secularists because the total was far higher than the remaining Christians surveyed.

"We are staggered. We thought the survey would show the profound scepticism of Australians," he said.

"Instead it shows there is a base-level assumption among the Australian public that accepts the Jesus story even if it has no relevance to their lives."

He said the survey wanted to explore the understanding of non-churchgoers, so the results were produced from those who were non-religious, or from another religion, or who loosely identified with Christianity.

Other odd findings included that 31 per cent of Australians believe Jesus lived BC (that is, "before Christ", or before he was born) and that 57 per cent knew Easter was connected with the death of Jesus but a far higher 87 per cent of Australians knew it concerned the resurrection. What the missing 30 per cent thought the resurrection meant, if not rising from the dead, was not explored. Another 4 per cent confused Easter with Christmas (and Jesus' birth).

Reassuringly, 90 per cent of non-born-agains identified Jesus with Christianity rather than other religions, and 60 per cent knew his life was recorded in the New Testament.

Asked was Jesus a real figure, 11 per cent of non-born-agains said no, 39 per cent said yes but without divine powers, and 50 per cent said yes and he had divine powers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Purpose of a Salvation Army Corps Officer

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I was thinking recently about what my purpose is as a Salvation Army Officer. Those in this work understand the general busyness of the position and the expectations and demands from all sides. So what is the purpose of a Salvation Army Officer?

We sign a covenant when we are commissioned that highlights our purpose. I won't delve into that here.

What I did recently was list ALL the expectations of things I need to do as a Corps Officer, e.g. Preach, Make Disciples, Admin, Pick up Furniture, etc, etc. Then I made another column and listed ALL the things on the first list that I could delegate, e.g. Picking up Furniture and Admin, etc. The first list then was left with things that are expected of me as a Corps Officer. With this list I came up with my own acronym. I write this, not so that you will copy it, or theologically pull it apart, but rather that you might be inspired to discover what it is that YOU should be focusing on in life, and WHAT gives you the greatest return for your time and energy.

Here's what I came up with, in terms of what I personally need to focus on as a Salvation Army Corps Officer:

Make Disciples
Yield Passion

Organise Meeting Leads/Themes, etc
Win souls
Network

Preach/Teach
Upset strongholds – justice, advocacy, etc.
Rally the Troops
Pray
Overall pastoral care of congregation
Share Vision
Equip/Empower Leaders

God bless The Salvation Army.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fix your thoughts on Jesus

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'In how many ways do we domesticate the radical Revolutionary in order to sustain our religion and religiosity?' (From Alan Hirsch and Mike Frost's new book - 'ReJesus', p.5)
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From Philip Yancey, 'One day miracles seemed to flow out of Jesus; the next day his power was blocked by people's lack of faith. One day he talked in detail of the Second Coming; another, he knew neither the day nor hour. He fled from arrest at one point and marched inexorably toward it at another. He spoke eloquently about peacemaking, then told his disciples to procure swords. His extravagant claims about himself kept him at the center of controversy, but when he did something truly miraculous he tended to hush it up.' (The Jesus I Never Knew, p. 23). This idea of Christology - understanding who Jesus is, his actions, how it affects us, etc, is simple yet complex. Start with the Gospels.
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"He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me, along life's narrow way. He lives, he lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know he lives? He lives... within my heart" (SASB 334).
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'Therefore, holy people, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess' (Heb 3:1).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter 2009!

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Happy Easter to those reading this blog. I hope and pray you had a wonderful weekend, and that you were able to celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive!
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A Red Egg: In some cultures, a painted red egg is used to symbolize some of the story of Easter. The red represents the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross. The hard shell represents the large stone that was placed at the tomb of Jesus. The cracking of the egg symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus...
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A Baptist minister said this morning at a Easter dawn service: "The women were committed to waking up early to go to a dead body, how much more should we be committed to waking up early for a risen Saviour?" Nice.
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Does anyone else find it difficult to find FairTrade Chocolates at the supermarkets? Chocolateir have one product range of FairTrade products. We purchased them for Easter.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Do you feel inadequate?

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Jesus is the great Shepherd of the Sheep (Read Hebrews 13). He leads his Sheep - metaphorically speaking. I heard recently that what is interesting about us, is that we can lead the Sheep, sure, but lets remember, we're still a Sheep ourselves! Anyway, enough about Sheep...
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Do you feel adequate for the task? Does anyone? Maybe you've improved at singing, or preaching, or evangelising, or hospitality, and maybe you feel more adequate than before. Truth is though, most of us feel inadequate at times; feeling nervous to share your testimony, or feeling like people are succeeding and you're not, or wondering what is God doing with my life. Think about it though: Who did God use throughout the Bible? Mostly people who felt inadequate. Moses was a murderer, so who was he to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt? Gideon was nervous to go into battle. King David was an alduterer at one point - I'm sure he felt inadequate to continue on in ministry. The Apostle Paul understood that he was a sinner saved by grace, who previously had ordered Jews to be murdered.
You can feel inadequate at times, fine, but understand that God uses ordinary, everday, run of the mill people and does extraordinary things. Put your faith and trust in Jesus, and believe he will use you, equip you, empower you, fill you and bless you. You may always feel a little bit inadequate, but at least you'll know that God is with you.
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In fact, don't pray, 'God please be with me today', pray rather, 'God, thanks that you're with me today'.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The offensive Gospel

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Colossians 4:2-6 - 'Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains [Paul]. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with [chicken] salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.'

Someone recently put these verses into two easy lines to remember:
* Talk to God about People... then...
* Talk to People about God

I had a thought recently, that the Gospel is actually quite offensive to unbelievers. Let me explain. The Gospel is good news, sure, because Jesus brings life to the fullest, but, firstly, people are sinners, they have fallen short of the glory of God. I am a sinner. You are a sinner. Believers are just saved by grace, through faith in Jesus. This idea, 'you're a sinner' communicated in an abrupt, upfront way can be offensive. But we don't hover above the concept that we are all sinners, we share the mystery of Christ; this idea that Jesus can take us from the miry clay, from the depths of meaningless existence, to a life of purpose, and holiness. Some would call that 'repentance'.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Life and Mission of Jesus, recorded in the Book of Matthew - Part 2

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So he sends the twelve disciples out to preach and heal (Mt 10:1,8). I want to skip all the way now to the last chapter in Matthew. Chapter 28, The Great Commission, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you'.

The mission of Jesus in the early chapters of Matthew was to preach about the Kingdom of God being near, and to heal the sick. Jesus then passed that mission on to his disciples, or rather empowered his disciples to now take part in that mission. THEN, right at the end of Matthew, Jesus commands his disciples to teach them to obey (that's us), everything I have commanded you. What did he command his disciples to do in Matthew 10? To preach the message that the Kingdom of heaven is near and to heal the sick. Cutting away the cultural expecations that Jesus had for his disciples in chapter 10, I believe the essence that he wanted his disciples to pass on, was to preach, and heal. Fullness of life. The complete restoration of humanity and creation under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Mission (Mt 9:35-36) -> Disciples Mission (Mt 10:1) -> Our Mission (Mt 28:19-20)

Well, there's some thoughts, which if you're somewhat of a thinker, you'll have your own opinions. Feel free to comment for the sake of the building up of the body!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Life and Mission of Jesus, recorded in the Book of Matthew - Part 1

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Leading up to Easter time it's good to look at the life and mission of Jesus. So here goes:
In the book of Matthew we first see the fact that Jesus was born of the line of King David. We then read about his miraculous Spirit-inspired birth and an account about his cousin, John the Baptist, who was a voice crying the wilderness, 'Repent!'

Mt 4:1-11 Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness and he is tempted by the devil - an interesting event considering he had just been baptised in the river Jordan.
Then the beginning of Jesus ministry as he calls the motley crew of fisherman and everyday blokes to become his disciples. He then goes up the mountain, and Chapters 5-7 record the great Sermon on the Mount, as we now know it. You know the one: Don't commit adultery, blessed are the poor in spirit, let your light shine.

Chapters 8-9, Matthew wants the reader to understand that Jesus is the Messiah! He's the Christ, the one who comes to heal and restore. Healing after healing, after deliverance, after healing is recorded in those chapters. In amongst the stories of healing, Jesus challenges the Tax Collector Matthew to come follow him. At the end of chapter 9, verses 35-36, Matthew brings the stories to a climax and writes, 'Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd...' This was the mission of Jesus: to bring the good news to people, and to restore humanity to fullness of life.

I love what happens next.

The mission that was Jesus' he then passes on to his disciples. Mt 10:1 - 'He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.'

Monday, March 23, 2009

Think Outlandish Thoughts

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"Think Outlandish Thoughts. From time to time, ask yourself and your team questions such as these:
* If money were no object, what would we do to solve this problem?
* If we were starting all over again, how would we handle this problem?
* If we didn't have to get anyone's approval, how would we proceed?
The provocative, even absurd question often serves as floss to remove the plaque with which time encrusts our ways of thinking." (Leadership Skills for Managers, Marlene Caroselli, p. 42)

The brainstorming seems to allow our minds to kind of escape normality and search for new answers, new solutions to old problems. Someone said to me recently, 'We are a supernatural people', because God lives in us. Surely we can look at the impossible and have a glimpse of hope that God could achieve it?

Maybe in your life right now, there is an issue or a problem that needs supernatural answers. You know the world won't solve it, and the best philosophical thought won't answer it. Ask Jesus to take on the issue, and believe that he will solve it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Story.

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Here's an excerpt from 'Booth's Drum' (Barbara Bolton) - 'Every year in Australia thousands of men, women and teenagers turn to the Army's prison chaplain or court officer and ask for help. They want a chance. They ask the officer to "speak for me in court"; they ask for contact to be kept with their families when they go to gaol; they ask for help in re-establishing themselves when they leave prison; they pour out stories of bitterness and loneliness and deprivation, of perversion and violence; or the bewildered story of events that had unintentionally lead to crime. They ask for practical aid, for sympathy, for understanding, for friendship, for help in believing that tomorrow will come and tomorrow will be better. The man or woman in the Army uniform is their link with hope.'

This is a book published in 1980. The same applies today. I have a friend who's a Prison Chaplain here in the NT. He knows people need support. They need our ears and our hearts. I think about this recently after a day where people received Welfare assistance from our 'Community Support' office. Sure, people need help with their phone bill, and in the NT, quite often it's the Power bill, but often there's a story behind the financial crisis, there's more to it than needing just a Coles Card or a loaf of bread. There's a story.
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Check out Army Barmy for some challenging blogs on evangelism.
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Fairtrade Fortnight. I was struck by the idea of having a Fairtrade Church service. There is so much God wants to say about Justice. Just check out Isaiah 58!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Red Tape - Holiness - Kingdom Growth

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“As a nation we’ve got a national economy that is under enormous pressure at the moment from the effects of the global recession. Productivity is the key to long-term sustainable growth. This makes the wider task of deregulation even more important now. Good regulation is also central to what I’d call social productivity.” - Lindsay Tanner, in relation to the Australian Government removing the red tape from non-profit organisations. I'm sure this helps out the Salvo PR Department!
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Holiness is a choice. You choose to be holy. Will I do this, or will I not? Will I look at that, or will I not? Will I say that, or will I not? Will I join that ministry I feel God is leading me to, or will I not? Will I talk to that person, or will I not? Holiness is a choice. Choose to be holy.
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God's Kingdom grows. That's what in essence it should do. The offshoot of this, is that our churches grow, our Salvation Army soldiership rolls increase, our Youth Ministries expand, our Mainly Music programs have people turning to Jesus, our senior ministries see growth.
Check it out: 'What shall we say the kingdom of God is like...? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants...' (Matthew 4:30-32).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wait a Second?!

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Ever got busy in your job? You sit there, fill out some forms, check a few emails and file some important documents. You then take a moment and reflect on the fact that you didn't sign up to become an administrator, but rather a change agent.

This may be my story at the moment, but I know I'm not the only one. I speak to people who are lumped with the day to day expectations of their position; phone calls, emails, phone calls, faxes, signatures, memos, answering machines...

One day you step back and say, 'Hey, wait a second, it's all about Jesus.' You then begin to find ways to connect people with the Saviour, to ignite a flame in another, to bless a friend, to encourage a work colleague. You find yourself praying for the salvation of your city, as you fulfill another mundane administrative expectation.

I understand some are gifted administrators, and I thank God for them, but I'm thinking of those who are stuck in a rut. Those who find themselves in a place of frustration, of indesiveness, of purposelessness, and angst. God calls you to rise above the circumstance, and endure, commit, stick it out. Some day soon God is going to use you in an amazing way, and you need to be in that place where God wants you. Smack bang in the middle of God's will. Stick it out. Outlast it. God will use you; trust Jesus to take your life and use every minute. Be ready for the Spirit of God to open an opportunity, a discussion, a breakthrough. It happens - you bump into a long lost friend, or someone who's walked away from faith, and the Spirit uses you. You email someone a thought, and the Spirit touches their life. You SMS a mate and tell her God's got plans for her.

Be ready. In the mundane, be ready. Every day holds opportunities for the Kingdom of God. Be ready to take hold of them and run with it. Fix your eyes on Jesus, not on the frivolous.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

God goes before us into Battle

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Was reading through some of Knagg's One Day and here is some of it:
'...that we would never have another day in our existence where someone was not brought to Christ'
'...that our soldiers' roll would only be an increasing reality as would our worship and discipleship meetings.'
'...that our officer training programs would be taxed by the unusual response of the called to serve as officers in The Salvation Army.'
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Ezekiel 34:11-13 - 'For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations.'

We hear people say that God goes before us in battle. We hear others say, God is already at work in the world. It's true. Followers of Jesus need to be lead by the Spirit to partner with God with what God is doing, and be in tune with where the Spirit leads us.
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Let your attitude be that of Christ Jesus. Not that of a rubbish dump. If Jesus was in the room, would you be saying what you're saying?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Social Inclusion - Social Policy - Transforming Mission

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I read a document from NTCOSS today (Northern Territory Council of Social Service) and here are some highlights:
* 'NTCOSS has identified three key areas for action [in the NT]: Indigineous disadvantage, housing shortage, and alcohol abuse.' We know that the housing shortage stems well beyond just the NT.
* 'Experience....suggests that developing local leadership is fundamental to achieving social inclusion outcomes at a local level.'
* 'Poor health is most likely to occur amongst people with low incomes, and those who feel that they have little stake in our society.'
* 'We must acknowledge the factors that are likely to see people end up in the criminal justice system, and address these through early intervention and prevention, thereby reducing the need for punitive measures in the long run.'

Deputy Prime Minister (Australia) Julia Gillard said this in Feb 2008, 'Our long term prosperity depends on securing the full participation - economic and social - of all Australians. We have to find new ways to support that participation. That is why social inclusion matters.'

A thought: In the church we talk about the transition from the old paradigm of 'Believe, Behave, Belong' to 'Belong, Believe, Behave'. We need to be inclusive of people, knowing at times the gospel of Jesus is still a challenge to a different lifestyle, a turning from self to God, a turning of sin to fullness of life. The Government is calling for this idea of 'social inclusion', maybe we should be calling for 'Church inclusion'? Lots to explore here. You can comment and unpack it there.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Salvation Australia

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I looked up Google adwords recently, and found this data which shows you how many times a certain word or group of words was used on Google.
I looked up 'salvation' and the average search volume for February looked like this:
* salvation army - 90,500
* salvation - 110,000
* salvation church - 5,400
* the salvation army - 9,900

Amongst many others, there's these interesting ones (check the spelling!)
* salvation arrmy - 110
* salvation amy - 390
* liquid salvation - 480 - what?!

Who's salvation amy? I want to meet her.

It's good to see people typing salvation into google and wanting to find out what salvation means, or find music related to salvation, etc.

I won't attempt to define salvation, but it's a wonderful thing to know that Jesus can set you free from the burden of sin, of purposelessness, of addiction, and bring you to wholeness in life - fullness of life. Jesus plan of salvation is that everyone would be saved - that everyone would have a revelation of who Jesus is.

Salvation Australia - every Australian saved, holy and serving the Lord. What an awesome dream.
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Taco Trivia has been getting 60 hits a day recently. People using Google to find Trivia Questions. Nice. That's why I do a short devotional thought about God/Jesus on the end of most Trivia posts.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Famous Last Words

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FAMOUS LAST WORDS!

Here are some Famous Last Words:

'I feel here that this time they have succeeded.' (Leon Trotsky, Russian revolutionary, pointing at his heart after being assissinated by an ice pick blow to the head in 1940).


'Es Lebe Die Freiheit! Long live freedom!' (Hans Scholl, anti-Hitler resistance leader, before his execution for high treason in 1943).

'I have a terrific headache' (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, US President, as he was dying of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1945).

'I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have' (Leonardo Da Vinci in 1519).

'Go away... I'm alright' (H.G. Wells).

'Friends applaud. The comedy is over' (Ludwig von Beethoven).

'Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough.' (Karl Marx).

'I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon.' (John Newton - Writer of Amazing Grace).

'Up until this time, I thought that there was no God neither Hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am delivered to perdition by the righteous judgment of the Almighty.' (Sir Thomas Scott).

A Chinese Communist, who delivered many Christians to their execution, came to a pastor and said: 'I’ve seen many of you die. The Christians die differently. What is their secret?'

Famous Last Words... Think on it - What would your 'Famous Last Words' be?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Expectant Hearts

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I've witnessed recently the God-impact people have when they possess an expectant heart. When people simply believe that God is the Amazing, Holy God that the Scriptures talk about, and they have a deep faith to believe that same God could impact their lives; connection happens.
When the church joins together to honour God, there's something powerful about people having the belief that God is going to touch their lives. There's something in the atmosphere. The Spirit begins to stir. People sense the presence of the Creator amongst them.
Lets fix our eyes on Jesus, and have expectant hearts. I mean, the Bible says, 'God is able to do immeasurably more than anything we ask or imagine...'

In your day-to-day lives, think on this:
* Be expectant that you will have 'God-moments' during the day
* Be expectant that if you're faithful with your finances, God will provide for your every need
* Be expectant that when you pray God is hearing it, and answering
* Be expectant to believe God will bring the healing to those loved ones who are sick
* Be expectant that God will restore that broken relationship
* Be expectant that God will one day honour all that hard, unseen work you're doing for the Kingdom!
* Be expectant that Jesus is coming back soon!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Officership in The Salvation Army - Some Thoughts

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Heard some teaching during the week at 'Officer's Fellowship.' Have also been thinking...

* Following God's will is more important than the pursuit of Power, Pleasure or Possessions.

* Followers of Jesus need passion! If the leader doesn't have it, then fair chance the followers ain't gonna!!

* Luke 13 speaks of refertilising a fruitless fig tree. Our lives need to be nourished again and again by the Word of God.

* Jesus came to give life the fullest.

* In relation to the calling of people into Salvation Army officership. To what degree does God simply say, 'Who will go for us?' Does he only tap people on the shoulder and say, 'You should sign up for officership' or does he also say, 'There's a need out there; you're passionate about me, you're passionate about the Army, then will you go?' Do we always need to wait till we hear some sort of audible voice of Jesus, or some sort of radical intervention into our day to day lives? Is the inherent need of people to find fullness of life in Jesus, and the broken and hurting of our communities enough to simply say, 'Here am I Lord, send me'?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Officer's Fellowship in the NT

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I'm away at Officer's Fellowship - down at Lake Bennett. A time to refresh, reenergize, and soldier up for the year ahead. See you in a couple of days. God bless.

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