Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pushing the Boundaries of Holiness

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What are the boundaries of holiness?

I recently noticed young children continually pushing the boundaries of our new after-school care program. Whether it be the literal boundaries of the playground, or pushing the boundaries in behaviour, some of them were intent on witnessing our reactions. One child tried to reach up and press the lever of the outside door, so as to escape and find some new territory to play in. Another child found herself continually wanting to squeeze her way in through the door to the kitchen, knowing full well this was out of bounds.

My thought was this. How often do Christians push the boundaries of holiness? 'I wonder how far I can push it, until God will be angry at me?' Let me give you some examples:

What words can I use when speaking, that will still be ok with God, but will push the boundaries? Some would wonder whether God changes his mind on swearing today, or that some words have become progressively more acceptable to the human ear, and therefore more acceptable to God. Who do you know pushes the boundaries of swearing? One minute we say 'Ahh poo,' next minute we try 'Ahh, crap', then what about 'Ahh, sh*t' then 'Ahh, f***'... You get the point. We push the boundaries with our speech, and hope that God will still be pleased with us and still accepting of us.

What about sex? How often do new Christian couples, (dare I say, not just young teenagers, but unmarried older couples), who will push the boundaries of their relationship, and then try to justify theologically and biblically that their actions are right with God? One minute we're kissing, the next minute we're touching, the next minute... You get the point again. We push the boundaries of our sexual behaviour, and work hard to justify God's acceptance of that behaviour.

We push the boundaries in so much of our behaviour. We push the boundaries in our driving, in our eating, in our lack of church attendance, in our over indulgence of sport, or cars, or movies...

Is it time we stopped pushing the boundaries, and begin enjoying the freedom and enjoyment God has given us within God's set boundaries of holiness. We could argue about some boundaries, and some would say the boundary should be further in, or be further away, but the point is, can we just enjoy God's presence within the realms of his holiness and love?

The children enjoy their time at the after-school care, running around within the confines of the playground and multi-purpose hall. There are many children who don't push the boundaries of the program, but wholeheartedly enjoy their time within the set constructs of that program.

Let's stop pushing the boundaries of holiness.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Was Australia Day Tarnished?

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If you are an Australian, I hope you had a great Australia Day. I hope it was a relaxing time, a time to reflect a little on what you love about being an Aussie. We had a great Australian BBQ, in the local park, and of course the BBQ had the cooking power of a tea-light candle and every sausage took 135 minutes to cook.

On another note related to Australia Day, I'm a little sick and tired of people like Ray Martin who jeopardise the celebrations of Australia Day by questioning the relevancy of our current Australian Flag. What annoys me, is not so much the debate about whether Australia needs a new flag, but the fact that our Australia Day is tarnished with media coverage of debate after debate about the Union Jack. Where's the media coverage of what Australia Day means to so many Aussies, and good news stories about unity amongst families and reconciliations of communities, for example.

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I've been thinking a lot about this questions lately... 'Why do bad things happen to good people?' It's something I would love to preach on; the only problem is, I don't think I know the answer. What's your thoughts? God allows certain things to happen, but he does not necessarily orchestrate it to happen. Yet God will at times refrain from interfering into a situation, even though God can definitely make the situation better.

What about natural disasters? Are they merely the outworking of the choices of humanity coupled with the natural patterns of the environment? Or is it more? Is it the direct response from a God who is annoyed at a sinful people? These are tough questions, and obviously are not very comfortable discussion material for those affected by these disasters, including of course the Haitian people and the those affected by bush fires in Victoria last year.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What to do when you can't hear the Lord speaking

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What is the Lord saying? What is the Lord saying to you? It's one of those questions that at time you struggle to answer. 'Umm, ahh... I'm not really sure', sometimes we say. When we are unable to understand or hear closely from God then here's some advice:
* Follow what the Word of God says - Continue to seek first the Kingdom of God. Continue to go into the world and make disciples. Offer your brothers and sisters help and support - a cup of cold water in Jesus' name.

This is my prayer today, that I would hear the Lord more closely, more intimately, like a foghorn in my ear!

As you're reading this, I want to pray for you! Lord, I ask that this reader would hear your voice so clearly, that no sin, or selfish desires would hinder your voice being heard. I pray for an outpouring of prophetic words and passages from Scripture, that would drive them into mission and discipleship. In Jesus' name. Amen!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

At what point does Worship become Consumeristic?

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Worship and Consumerism.

Visited a church recently on my holidays. They sang and sang about God showing them favour and for God to pour the Holy Spirit upon them more and more, and more and more. I was enjoying worshipping God in that large atmosphere, but then my mind kicked in...

There were no songs just adoring God; songs about the majesty, awesomeness of God. Rather ALL the songs were actually about US, and what we could receive from God. There's a fine line. I understand God says, "Ask and you shall receive", and "You have not because you ask not", but at what point do we begin to create some form of Christian materialism, where we merely consume from God and not worship the mighty one who created us (whether we receive a blessing or not).

See, God is so powerful, to me it is irrelevant whether he wants to bless us or not, or fill us with his Spirit or not. We should just worship him for his greatness. The amazing thing is, through the death and resurrection of Jesus we CAN 'receive' from God - salvation, power, peace, joy and many other wonderful things. Though if worship is predominantly and primarily about US, we have lost the focus of the true meaning of worship. We should not let personal blessing and power from God be the ultimate focus of worship, but rather the adoration of God for who he is. Any form of blessing and empowerment, to me, is an amazing privelege and secondary to the primary worship of Yahweh...

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How many Countries does The Salvation Army work in?

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[PLEASE NOTE - SINCE THE WRITING OF THIS BLOG, The Salvation Army (as of end of September 2010) WORKS in 121 Countries]

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How many Countries does The Salvation Army work in…? Read below:
Salvation Army Opens Work in 119th Country
GENERAL Shaw Clifton is pleased to announce that the work of The Salvation Army has been officially established in the west African country of Sierra Leone, bringing the total number of countries in which the Army operates to 119.

An enquiry was first made as to the possibility of The Salvation Army establishing a presence in Sierra Leone in 2003. That led to a long period of discussion, prayerful consideration, careful research and waiting upon the Lord to reveal his will in this regard. Further enquiries came in 2005 and then, in 2006, Auburn Corps in the Australia Eastern Territory expressed a keen desire to support any project the Army might consider running in Sierra Leone.

Later in 2006, Major Robert Dixon – then serving as Officer Commanding of the Liberia Command – undertook a feasibility study in Sierra Leone. There was a positive response from the government at that time. When serving at International Headquarters as the General’s Representative for World Evangelisation, Colonel (now Commissioner) Dick Krommenhoek visited Sierra Leone, met with government officials and other authorities, and submitted a positive report to the General.
At a meeting of the International Management Council in December 2009, Commissioner Amos Makina (International Secretary for Africa, IHQ) reported that The Salvation Army had been legally registered to operate in Sierra Leone and officers from Liberia (Captains John and Roseline Bundu) had arrived in the country, ready to start work with the group of local people who had already expressed interest. Captain John Bundu originates from Sierra Leone.

The General has thus approved the official opening of The Salvation Army’s work in Sierra Leone, under the supervision of the Liberia Command, as from 1 January 2010.

Friday, January 8, 2010

An Exciting 2010

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Happy New Year! I hope you had a great Christmas, and hopefully you have been finding some rest, or atleast feel empowered and inspired about the year ahead.

I believe 2010 will be a great year. I speak prophetically believing that lives will be transformed, people healed, families reunited, children dedicated, Salvation Army soldiers enrolled, the body of Christ built up.

I aim this year to blog regularly about leadership, mission and theology, along with updates of the work in Palmerston Salvation Army. We are beginning some Aboriginal ministry this year, which we pray will honour God and will see fruit come out of that. We are looking to develop strong and growing small groups (called DNA groups), where families can share with one another about faith and life.

Please join me in the journey. Share in this blog. Share your stories. God bless you.

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