Sunday, April 30, 2006
Imagine two groups of people that file into a room, take their seats and watch a one hour video.
In the first room the video is of snow skiing accidents. broken legs. People hitting trees. Death. Mahem on the slopes involving common skiers that had a bad day.
In the second room the video is of snow skiing bliss. Powdered slopes. People swishing down the double diamond runs without a fault. Average people taking amazing jumps and landing each and throwing the arms into the sky in celebration.
At the end of both videos a ski instructor walks in and says, "I have a real treat for you! An all expense paid day on the slopes. We will provide skies, boots, poles, lift tickets, lunch and even warm clothes if you need them."
Which group is likely to take the offer?
Now, consider the last four sermons you have heard. Which room were you sitting in? How motivated were you to take the free tickets? How involved did you become?
We have an amazing message. We really do! Jesus, the God of the universe died in our place so that we could live in eternal freedom from the laws of death and sin. Why do we spend so much time walking backwards to Heaven, commenting on the carnage behind us; rather than running toward the throne, with unveiled face - eyes fixed on Jesus, glorying in the new reality of life in Christ?
Which type of Christian life will draw more people to Christ? The one who is constantly commenting on sin and chastising the fallen, or the one who is glorifying and glorying in Jesus...
The answer is so clear...
So live it!
As we walked into Coles they continued. I thought they might change the channel when we entered the building. But no. Or at least turn the volume down a few notches. If only I had my remote. I would have pointed it at them and pressed mute...
Anyway, as I listened to these two gentlemen profane their way through the fruits and veges a thought crossed my mind.
The words we voice reveal two things about us. Today's comrades and tomorrow's character.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
In the not so distant past:
The Brittish shot their own man and decided not to prosecute their own men for shooting one of their own. Hey, it was friendly fire. You can't get in trouble for being friendly. Right?
The Australians sent the wrong corpse home. Yes, they've only lost one man in the battle and now it seems they've lost him in the morgue too...
The Americans... Well, they don't even have to leave home to shoot the wrong guy. And maybe, just maybe they should go home, sit in the corner and think about what they've done.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
"What is truth?" Pilate asked.
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth . . . Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
The Small Group Exercise
I value the truth. I couldn't be who I am without Jesus. For He is the Truth. Pilate's question is, in my thinking, the most pertinent question for our post-modern world today, "Truth! What is truth?"
We have the Bible. And this reveals the Truth to us. But, there must be a discoverable and present Truth without the Bible. Why do I say that?
There is a question I love to float by Christians of all ages - "What do we need to do to know God?" Bible study always ranks high, usually first, on the list. Then I ask, "What if you didn't have the Bible? Could you still know God?" The conversation then usually goes somewhere down the "last days" motif and all the Bibles being taken away. And then I say, "No, I mean, what if you never had the Bible - never had John 3:16 - and you didn't have any written proof or truth. Would you then be able to know God?" This usually gets a stunned silence. Someone ventures a "God wouldn't do that to us. He hasn't. It wouldn't happen, because we need the Bible. It is God's WORD - his way of speaking to us!"
And then I say, "What about Enoch? Did he know God? He didn't have a Bible - or any written proof or truth - and centuries later when Moses wrote it down, he said Enoch walked with God. So, how did Enoch do it?"
I LOVE THIS EXERCISE!!! It takes people out of their preprogrammed answer box and makes them think. Enoch walked with God because he walked with God. What does that mean? We don't know much about Enoch, other than he "had been with Jesus." And that was enough for him!
I am not saying the Bible is unnecessary or useless. It is exactly the opposite. It is our source on the Source. The word on the Word. And I wouldn't be without it, but... It is truly nothing if we have not "been with Jesus."
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Here's the Link
That's the podcast and some further details.
The basics of the story are this:
A plant goes extinct...
Years later a boy finds the "last" of the species - still alive.
So, the government builds a fence around it.
This makes the people suspicious. They think, "Hey, It must be a magic plant!" So people start climbing the fence and stealing bark, leaves and whatever else the can from the bush to use as a cure all.
So, the government put a barbed wire fence around that one. The people start to think that the plant is cursed and is bringing bad luck to the island. So, they throw things at the plant - over the fence. Things like rubbish and animal corpses. Yes, dead animals!
So, the government puts another barbed wire fence around the perimeter. After more trouble another fence is erected (yup, four) and a guard house is build, a guard is hired and the plant (now on a half-acre compound) is protected.
But, that's not the end of the story.
The plant, although it had been cloned many times (cuttings taken and planted), had no way of seeding because there was no pollen from another plant to polinate with. So, scientists in London (who had taken a cutting 20 years before) devised a "sex hormone" to dust the plant with to encourage it to seed. After much careful experimentation and application the little plant seeded!
Back on the island, something amazing happened. Without any help at all, the little plant seeded. All by itself. The biologists were amazed. befuddled. How had it happened?
After much thought, and being presented the question from a news reporter, a leading scientist said, "Maybe, just maybe, on the very brink of extinction, the little plant just decided to stick around."
I like it! That's science.
Actually, that's church.
Think about it. All the scientific research we do to grow the church. All the hormones - NCD, NCLS, etc - over time, do their work. And then God shows up (as if he wasn't there before!) and the church seeds - a church plant!
And the little church, the one still on the island, build fences around their little plant. They wrap barb wire around it. People start throwing things. The plant gets sick. Then someone decides to protect the church - its doctrine, its history, its tradition. And, after a few years, there is a little church with four fences, a guard house and usually a rather determined guard (or two).
Then something strange happens. God shows up. The plant seeds. As if He wasn't there all along.
God is good. . . . All the time.
All the time. . . . God is Good.
Believe it. And, who knows, something just might happen!
I like Aussie Rules. It looks like hard work and the guys are fit.
But Cricket? I have never seen a "game" where so many people just stand around. One day I was listening to the cricket on the radio while driving home (Boronia) from work (Preston) which takes around 40 minutes. When I got home I decided to turn on the TV and try to make sense of all the strange terminology. (listening to cricket on the radio is like learning a new language!)
Well... I turned on the TV and after watching for about five minutes of watching one guy run really fast and then throw a ball while everyone else watched, a guy hit the ball. It went into the outfield and it was just out of reach of one of the immobile fieldsmen. He had to move. Amazingly enough, he did. He moved.
He lunged for the ball and fell to the ground clutching his... well... let's just say, he didn't catch "the" ball. The entertainment value was gonig up! A few minutes later they took him off the field. The message came back from the doctor that he had pulled his groin. No kidding. He hadn't moved for the better part of the day and then he decides to lunge. Something had to give out.
You can tell that I am not all that impressed with cricket. Well today in the news...
Clark in doubt for one-dayer after fall
April 23, 2006 - 5:49AM
Australian batsman Michael Clarke is in doubt
for the opening one-day match against Bangladesh
after slipping and hitting his head entering the hotel pool.
The 25-year-old fell during a post-training recovery
session late Saturday at the Peninsula Hotel in Chittagong.
He needed 13 stitches to the back of his head but was
understood to be up and walking around following the
"a post-training recovery session"? ...
"late Saturday"? ...
Sounds like a pool party to me. Sounds like someone was showing off. Sounds like an unlucky number of stitches... Whatever it sounds like, I reckon it's just not cricket.
Or maybe it is.
I recently heard a story on a podcast that I have used in a couple sermons. It is a powerful story when talking about the very popular question, "Why do bad things happen to good people."
I used it at
But I digress. The Camouflage pants...
There was a little boy - about seven years old - who lived in
His mother did not want him going OUT when the wind was blowing. She wanted him to come IN. But, he would never listen. He just found the wind to enticing.
Finally, after telling the boy repeatedly, "Come in the house when the wind blows!" and being ignored, the mum thought of a plan. She knew how much the little guy liked his camouflage pants. So, she told him, "The next time we have a windstorm if you run into the house quickly I will let you wear your camouflage pants the next day."
The boy thought this was a great deal. And, sure enough, a couple days later the wind picked up and the boy came running home. He ran inside to his mum and said, "The wind is blowing and I came in!" The mother told him she was proud of him and that he could wear his camo pants the next day. And he did!
The next day, the boy was playing outside, in his camouflage pants. As he was playing he noticed the wind pick up. He had learned his lesson and wanted to make Mum happy. So, he got up and started to run home. As he was running the ground began to roll. It was
She began the frantic search for her little boy. She called and called, looked and looked and couldn't find him anywhere. She began to dig through the pile of rubble that once was her house. After two days of digging with her bare hands, she saw the camouflage pants. Moments later she held the dead body of her boy. He had obeyed. He had come in when the wind blew--something he would not have done even a week before.
The mother, talking to a aid worker, said, "I lost my God that day."
Over 79,000 people lost their lives in that earthquake. How many of them lost their God?
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
In our Chooseday Café (our weekly small group meeting here at the Signs) we are watching the Nooma DVDs and having a discussion afterwards. This week we were challenged to make our Christianity real.
As the above text states, God is not interested in sacrifice without obedience. In other words, He doesn’t want us to say sorry with no intention of doing the right thing next time. To obey is better.
God never intended for sin to erupt. Without sin, there would have been no need for sacrifice. With unbroken obedience there would have never been death. All the blood of innocent lambs would have been unnecessary—unimaginable really, having never seen or experiencing death.
It is interesting to me how many of the answers we give to spiritual questions require a sinful worldview to be the correct answer. For instance: “What does God want us to do?” Usual answer: “To obey.” Another question: “Why do we pray?” Usual answer: “To ask for something—help or guidance.” Another question: “How does God show His love for us?” Answer: “He sent His Son to die for us.”
Do you see it? What if there had never been sin? God wouldn’t be calling for obedience. He wouldn’t be answering pleas for help. And he would never have sent his Son to die. When we get to Heaven, what will the point of life be?
Back to our DVD discussion. To obey is better than sacrifice. The death of lambs was a waste if it wasn’t parallelled with a heart of repentance and a life of obedience. Jesus’ sacrifice is useless if it doesn’t bridge the gap between a death-filled worldview and a death-free worldview.
What does God want from us? Passionate worship. Why do we pray? To commune with God. How does God show His love for us? Life.
Have you accepted Jesus death on the cross in your place? Then the sacrifice has been made for you. What is the purpose of your life, now? Remember, you subscribe to the death-free worldview now. Who are you? What is your purpose? What is God’s purpose for your life? Why do you pray, testify, love, laugh or sing? Why do you live?
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