Monday, May 31, 2010

What is discontent?

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What is discontent? What does it mean to be discontented? Well, dictionary.com says discontent is, 'A lack of being content' or rather, 'A restless longing for better circumstances'. Have you ever felt discontented?

In September 1865, William Booth writes these words about his feelings of discontentment:
'The moral degradation and spiritual destitution of the teeming populations of the East of London are subjects with which the Christians of the metropolis are painfully conversant. Many true hearted and zealous labourers are toiling in the spirit of the Master to stop the mighty tide of iniquity and to pour the glorious light of the Gospel in upon the dense darkness everywhere abounding - yet seeing these labourers only as a faint lone star whose light but reveals the surrounding darkness. A city missionary, living in this neighbourhood, says that there are hundreds who need to be taught the existence of God...'

This is a point I want to make: William Booth has pain in his heart, a kind of discontent about the situation of East London, and God laid on his heart a response. What was the response? The response was the beginnings of The Christian Mission (1865), and then the name change to The Salvation Army (1878).

Discontent --> Response

Moses was discontent with the situations in Egypt with the Israelites in Slavery. His response was, with God's intervention, to deliver the people from Egypt.

John the Baptist was discontent about the lack of holiness of some, so his response was to preach holiness.

Paul became discontent about the persecution of these new 'followers of Jesus', and his response was to preach the Gospel to those who haven't heard the gospel.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was discontent with the church forcing people to literally pay money for their sins to be forgiven. His response - articles, letters, books and preaching in relation to these corrupt practices.

It seems that God uses our discontent to drive us to respond. I know of evangelists, who are in pain that people haven't responded to the gospel, so they preach repentance. I know of social activists who are frustrated that human trafficking is a billion dollar industry that abuses thousands of women and children, so they become a voice for the hurting. I know of someone who is discontent that some children have no family and there is a waiting list for foster care... her response? Foster caring up to 10 children at once.

What are you discontent about? Lazy churches? Injustice? Lack of prayer? Dirty worship halls? Sexual abuse? Inhumane treatment of refugees?

Why don't you stop now... And tell us what YOUR discontent is!

Let God use this discontent to drive you to respond! 


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inspirational Bible Verses on Faith to Encourage and Inspire

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Here are some Inspirational Bible Verses on Faith, that will encourage and inspire you!

Below are a collection of Faith statements; some inspirational Bible verses to encourage; a list of Bible verses to Inspire. Read them, ponder them, pray them, and thank God for what he's saying to you today.
  • I'll put it urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of another..
  • Let God work his will in you...
  • Yell a loud NO to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time.
  • Lord I pray for - good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness and generous love.
  • Be strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • We have the mind of Christ.
  • You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him.
  • I've dumped everything else in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him.
  • Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
  • Be glad in God (again I say, Rejoice!)
  • Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives in the fullness of God.
  • Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit.
  • By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God.
  • Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself.
  • It's news I'm most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God's powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him...

Do you have your own inspirational Bible verses to encourage or inspire others? Some Christian one-liners? Add them in the comments. God bless.

All Scripture references are taken from the New Testament of 'The Message' by Eugene Peterson


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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ministry update - Palmerston Corps - May 2010

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So much has happened since my last ministry update. I won't delve into theology in this post, but if you're interested, I'll give you a little update of ministry here in the top end of Darwin.

We recently had the property department approve the purchasing of a 12m x 6m demountable building for our Corps. This will hopefully be operational in about 3 months, and this will be another multi-purpose room that we will use for small groups, children's & youth ministries, community groups, etc. Praise Jesus! There was also approval to begin the design work with a local Architect for a new Community facility on our property in Palmerston (think Cafe, thrift shop, large multi-purpose room, playground, welfare facilities, new office space, and more!)

I will be doing radio on Monday mornings on Darwin's 97-7. What a great opportunity to connect with the wider Darwin community. 7am - 9am - Tune in if you're local.

People are gradually stepping up into leadership within the Corps, and this is something I am praying will continue in the future. We want to build leaders, not just breed volunteerism.

Thursday nights we have begun an Indigenous Outreach Service to the local mob in Palmerston. We are averaging about 15 people and there is a great sense of God amonst us. Many will follow Jesus because of this ministry. Pray for Bev - She is a passionate Aboriginal lady serving the Lord in our Corps.

God is calling us to perservere and to keep the vision in front of us. We pray for more and more people to join the church and become committed followers of Jesus. We've had one lady, originally a Mainly Music mum, who has been at church (Sun morn) the last 5 weeks, has joined a bible study, and is following Jesus in her life. Lord, we pray for a great harvest, in Jesus' name.

God is calling me to trust him more, and to lean on him more. These words speak to me recently: Phillipians 4:6-7 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'


God bless you as you serve Jesus.


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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Are we made in the Image of God?

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THE IMAGE OF GOD - IMAGO DEI

Are We Made in the image of God (Genesis 5:1-3), remembering this was after the fall of man? A response to Mark Wagland.

Thanks Mark for the question.

You highlight Genesis 5:1-3 and this says:
1 This is the written account of Adam's line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man." 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. (NIV)

Genesis 1:26-27 says similar words:
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.(NIV)

In one word, I believe the answer is 'Yes', though lets delve a little deeper.

Origen wrote these words, 'And God said, "Let us make man in our image and likeness" (Gen 1:26). He then adds, "In the image of God he made him" (Gen 1:27), and is silent about the likeness. This indicates that in his first creation man received the dignity of the image of God, but the fulfillment of the likeness is reserved for the final consummation... The possibility of perfection given to him at the beginning by the dignity of the image, and then in the end, through the fulfillment of his works, should bring to perfect consummation the likeness of God.' So Origen was saying that the 'image of God' related to humanity following the Fall, and the term 'likeness of God' referred to humanity after its perfection when Jesus comes back a second time.

We see God destroying much of the human race from Genesis 6, with the story of Noah. God is pleased with Noah because he was a righteous man, but others were wicked and that grieved God (Gen 6:6). Why would God create human beings in God's amazing image only to destroy them afterwards? The answer really comes down to the idea of human free will, and the great privelege we have to choose the Creator, and to follow this God who loves us and wants to bless our lives. When we follow God and exhibit elements of the character of God (like Noah did), we witness the image of God being expressed in our lives.

This is a short answer. Feel free to comment (anyone), and continue the discussion.

God bless,

Pete.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Living a Life of Grace - Response to @feathers1984

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How does a believer live a life of grace when a church itself doesn't even talk or pride itself in grace?

Thanks @feathers1984 for the question!

I believe it is important that we live a life of grace. When someone cuts us off when driving, we show grace. When someone gossips about us behind our back, the next time we see them, we show grace. Surely a believer in Jesus, can and should show grace whether or not their particular church shows it? In fact, if you are showing grace and living a life of love and compassion to others, then part of YOUR church at least is living in grace? Right?

The difficulty arises when you are yearning to be obedient to Christ, and live a life worthy of the calling he has given you, yet others around you, including Church leadership may not be exhibiting that grace. Jesus definitely encountered that, when the Pharisees were whingeing about this 'Jesus of Nazareth' not following every single part of the Law of Moses - including healing on the Sabbath and eating with his disciples. How did Jesus handle it? Well, he showed a better way. He lived a better way, and his life was the personification of grace. What an example!

Maybe the most fitting words, come from the Apostle Paul. The words are simply these: 'Be strong in the grace.'
--> When someone whinges - be strong in the grace
--> When someone backstabs - be strong in the grace
--> When someone is hypocritical - be strong in the grace
--> When someone wrongly accuses you - turn the other cheek - and be strong in the grace.

Here's a prayer from Colossians 1:3-6 -- We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.

Lord help us! Hope this helps,

God bless,

Pete.


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Thursday, May 6, 2010

How can I help build up someone's faith that tried to kill himself? Response to @tlfoster56

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How can I help build up someone's faith that tried to kill himself?

Thanks @tlfoster56 for your question via Twitter.

It's not the time for deep theological answers, or smart Christian cliches. The person needs a pastoral response - someone to listen to, to appreciate them, to care for them, to pray for them. They may also need to see a doctor for some medical assistance. God can lead you in this and show you the right person to talk to, and to follow the right advice.

On a spiritual level, I bind any evil spirit that may be affecting this guy in the name of Jesus, and claim the presence of Jesus in this situation. I pray for great wisdom and guidance for you @tlfoster56 as you may be supporting someone at this time.

One thing I see too often, are people supporting others, who 'take on' too much of the other person's burdens. The Bible talks about sharing one anothers burdens, I understand that, but it doesn't say to 'take someones burdens as your own'. I would encourage anyone who is supporting a suicidal friend to have a mentor to debrief with; someone to get advice from and to pray with for your own faith and spiritual/emotional journey.

I'm happy to delve deeper into discussion about this if there is a personal story you want support with. If you want to comment here or email me at peter.brookshaw@aus.salvationarmy.org.

Blessings,

Pete.


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Stand Up - Everyday Sunday

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Something a little more light hearted. Great Christian song. Have a listen while you read your facebook! Stand Up by Everyday Sunday.



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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Women and Men in The Salvation Army - A Departmental Shake-up!

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PR department might want this blog shut down, and the General's wife won't like it either. Something boils in my heart of late, that makes me frustrated at times but hopeful at other times. I'm speaking about one thing that must happen in the structures of The Salvation Army... Here it is:

It's time we had a Men's Ministries Department.

Stop beating around the bush. A Women's Ministries Department without one for men, comes across as merely a place to appoint Women who don't become Divisional Commanders or Territorial Commanders. I mean, what in the world would we do, if a woman was more equipped, suited and qualified for the functional position of a DC? Where could we put the man? Oh no. We haven't a position for them yet. Sorry ladies, maybe next time. You'll have to be a President of Women's Ministries. Too bad if you're a better leader. Too bad if you'd be better as a Mission Support Officer, too bad if your skill set is to be an inner-city Corps Officer. Women's Ministries it is! Anyway, the argument is not so much about appointing women into Women's Ministries, but about not appointing men into a Men's Ministries Department that doesn't exist!!

It's time for the blood to boil and time for us to realise something very clearly. The ratio of Men to Women who attend Church (in a recent survey I sighted) said the ratio was 40:60. The women win! Well done! Fair chance they're having more fun too, with plenty of women's events to attend. Fair chance they are being discipled more effectively, with the greater potential for Women's Resources to explode out of a busy Women's Ministries Department. Fair chance they will also raise more money and build a great awareness among women when it comes to programs that fight injustice.

What about the men? It seems great. We appoint men into positions within the hierarchy and they make leadership decisions with the wisdom and guidance of God. What about on the local level? I come out of a corps where Men's ministries struggled to get off the ground. I am part of a corps where you could count on one hand, the male leaders in the church. I have men reluctant to come to church, because of various reasons:

* 'Wouldn't be seen dead in a church'
* 'The walls might cave in'
* Might have to give up drinking
* Religious burnout from the past

What resources do I have to give them? What support do I have from a Divisonal level? What focus is Men's Ministries given from a THQ perspective? Do IHQ even value men in local corps? Or is this the point... If we VALUED men, then surely we should have a Men's Ministries Department?! I'll be the first to be appointed there in this Territory. Sure, I'm in. I'm not advocating for something I wouldn't want to be a part of. But would The Salvation Army make this 'radical' departmental shift? Hmm... probably not. Not unless someone with the leadership capacity and authority takes a deep breath and goes against the grain of the historical organisational structure. Flow charts would have to change. New appointments would have to be made. Money for resources would have to be spent. And who could be appointed into these positions?

Sorry. Too hard basket... Not gonna happen... Maybe next time... Anyone for some crochet?


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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Doctrine of Creation - Some interesting theological points

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 Here are some classical views of creation, which most protestant evangelicals and many other Christians hold to (taken from Alister McGrath, 'Christian Theology'):


* 'Creation takes place ex nihilo [out of nothing] by a free act of will. There is no necessary reason for anything other than God existing. Creation depends on God's decision to create; God could have decided not to create anything' (: 289).
* 'God has the power to do anything that God wills to do, provided that a logical contradiction is not involved (e.g. God cannot create a square triangle) (: 289).
* 'God stands outside time, and is not involved in the temporal order. It is therefore inappropriate to think of God "changing" or being affected by any involvement in or experience of the world.' (: 289).


Thanks Alister, you get us thinking about creation and this 'Doctrine of Creation'. We must admit how difficult it is to prove to an unbeliever that, 'God created the heavens and the earth'. Personally, when someone asks I become void of any intellectual arguments or theories that help prove the nature of God, and creation, and merely find myself saying, 'You just need to have faith'. Maybe it is this simple? Maybe FAITH is the one key that is stopping the atheist and the agnostic believe in a creator God? 

Romans (1:20) says, 'Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made' (GNB). This verse implies that people just need to have 'awareness' that there is a God. Stop a minute, look around, be aware; this didn't happen by accident! Faith proceeds awareness. We must not stop at a mere awareness of the qualities of God, but enter into a faith relationship with God's Son. Romans 1:17 states, 'The person who is put right with God through faith shall live'.
 
My prayer is that unbelievers would find themselves in awe of the creation of God, and choose to have faith in God's Son, Jesus Christ.

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