Thursday, July 28, 2005

Freedom in Christ - Pastor's Perspective - July 30

This Sabbath Pr Kevin Amos joins us to explore “Freedom in Christ” with us. Are you free? Free to love? Free to obey? Free to tell the truth? I watched “Tuesday’s With Maurie” this week and was struck by a poem quoted by Maurie. I would like to share a portion of the poem, by W.H. Auden. It really spoke to me.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

No matter who we are, there are two basic truths this poem reveals. We each have a voice. And we all need love. Live without exercising either and you are not really living. You are hiding… from something. But, find your voice and express your love and then you will be like Jesus. He had a lot to say – a lot to heal, a lot to correct, and a lot of love. Jesus was free. Truly free. Free to tell stories. Free to confront evil. Free to love sinners. Free. Completely free. He knew, “We must love one another or die.” And he died. And he loved. So you could be free. Be free!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The SG Guru's

I had a chat over breaky with a couple of my small group guru's from Rosny church. I asked Jason Cook and Peter Reeve how to make a church really relationship focused. Here are some of their points:

Small groups create Loving Relationships - they are a safe, non-threatening environment to bring to people to.

A Small Small Group (4-6 people) is really good for bonding people together at a deep level. I call this a mentoring group, but it is true - they tighten the knot of friendship and trust. Even if members of the group have known each other for years, spending time in a Mentoring Group will draw them even closer as they share and care for each other.

Church is the launching point for loving relationships. It is not the place to grow them. Just to start them. To grow the relationships you need to take the people somewhere else. A small group is a perfect place. A social event is good. A meal together in your home, a cafe or restaurant. Anything that is conducive to group discussion and mixing.

Who do you want in your church? What age group? What type of person is your primary target. Once you have that figured out, put those type of people as greeters in your church. Their presence as welcoming faces will say, "This is who we are here!"

Put a lot of effort into making people feel welcome. Snacks. Drinks. Room to mix and mingle. Open discussions. People trained to mix, mingle and laugh!

Observe the traffic lights! Know people well enough to know when to stop, when to slow down and when to go! Know when it's ok to move to the next level with people in their faith journey. This can only happen when you have an healthy active relationship. It is very important to develop real relationships with people. Small groups are the perfect environment for growing meaningful relationships.

Saying "I don't know" is an equaliser. A great way to connect with group members or personal friends. Having all the answers can be a real barrier for new people. Not knowing everything is bonding and comforting!

Friendships take about 18 months to build from scratch to the point of serious religious questioning. Therefore the relationships need to be real and build on common ground. Relationships built on the “I’m gonna make this person a Christian!” basis will be very difficult to maintain. Find a common interest and build on that. Love them to Jesus.

Manufactured environments can accelerate the time it takes to move into religious discussions. Small groups, Prophecy Seminars, church services, church camp, etc

Some Great Quotes

Just read a great article on Christian Leadership. There were some great quotes. Here they are:

"I pray when I die, all of hell will throw a party to celebrate the fact that I'm no longer in the fight." - C.T. Studd

"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day." - Abraham Lincoln

"Successful leaders dare to be unpopular when they have to make tough decisions. And they accept that there may be long periods before the rewards of their efforts finally appear." - Andrew Sherwood

"The best decision makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive." - M. Scott Peck

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sheila Walton's Conversion Story!

Sheila Walton, an elderly member of Rosny Church, told me a wonderful story at our Reading and Prayer time on Wednesday night. When she was only a teenager she and her entire family were wary of their grandmother because she was an Adventist and was always trying to get them to come to things. One night her Grandmother convinced her to come to the opening night of a new series of meetings. “It’s all about history!” she told young Sheila.

Sheila went along and was amazed as she listened to Pr Robert Hare explain from Daniel 2 how God had predicted the rise and fall of nations from Babylon’s day into the future – even explaining our day and age. Sheila was an avid history buff and knew of the nations of which Pr Hare spoke. She had to go back the next night. And the next. And the next.

Sheila became a Seventh-day Adventist Christian after attending that Prophecy Seminar with her Grandmother!

We will be running a prophecy seminar at Rosny Church during the months of October and November. Start thinking now about who you could bring along to the first meeting. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could each have a story like Sheila’s to share?

Wood Theives be gone!

Last night after 1pm someone backed a trailer into our driveway and began to steal a pile of wood that we had yet to stack. The neighbour lady, Flo, saw them and called the police. She then let her dog out – a tiny terrier barely big enough to bite your knees, but loud enough to scare your pants off. They quickly left without very much wood at all.

This afternoon, after we returned from church Flo came over and told us about the encounter with the thieves. We thanked her for her vigilance and care for us as neighbours. Then her son drove into the drive. I told him the story and he told me one that will go down in my all time favourite stories told over the back fence!

A retired friend of his had noticed that a small portion of his wood pile would disappear on a regular basis – every couple nights. He figured that it was someone living nearby that was stoking their fire with his pension-bought wood. So, he engineered a solution. He drilled a hole in a good sized piece of wood. He then packed the hole tightly half-full with gunpowder. He took the sawdust from the hole and plugged the hole cleanly and replaced the wood on the pile. A few days later there was a resounding boom from a house three doors down and the chimney collapsed.

No wood was ever stolen from the wise old man's house again!

I love that story! Imagine… Oh, just imagine!

False beliefs - a great starting point

Often we are very quick to attempt to correct peoples 'wrong' believes. We see something in their lives or their theology that doesn't match up to the scriptures and we quickly try to right their wrongs and iron out their wrinkles. Jesus often chose a different strategy.
In John 5 a story is told of a blind man that is ultimately healed by Jesus. In this story there are three 'false beliefs' that are encountered by Jesus. It is interesting how he deals with them. Jesus does not jump on the inaccuracy and pound it into shape. He actually uses all three as launching pads for his ministry.

The first is seen in John 5:7 – Jesus has asked the man if he wants to get well. The man responds, “I can’t, sir, for I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.” We find out that the man has been lame for 38 years. And we can assume that he has had this misconception about the power of the water for that whole time. He has been taught that angels wings occasionally stir the water and that the first person in after the disturbance will be healed. Jesus doesn’t even touch this misconception. He just moves onto the more important matter. “Pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!”

The second ill conceived teaching is seen in John 5:10. The religious teachers catch the lame man walking. And they are upset. Not that he has been healed. Not that he is walking. They are upset because he is carrying his mat! It is Sabbath. He is breaking the Sabbath law that they have written by carrying his mat. How does Jesus enter into this dialogue when he isn’t even present? The man’s response says it all, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘pick up your sleeping mat and walk.’” So, there you have it. Jesus healed his legs and Jesus told him to carry his mat. I can imagine the man saying, “You’ve been throwing rules at me my whole life and you’ve never lifted a finger to help me! Jesus walks into my life and heals 38 years of pain and tells me to carry my mat. I’m carrying the mat. I don’t care what your laws say! Jesus said to carry it. It’s under my arm. Now, get out of my face!”

The third misconception is seen in John 5:14. This one is interesting because Jesus actually quotes a commonly repeated phrase when he meets the man again. He tells the man, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” It was commonly believed that all sickness and ailments were curses from God based on the actions of the people who were sick. Jesus refuted this in John 9, but here in john 5 he quotes it as if it is Gospel! What is Jesus saying? He knows he’s got a captive audience. He’s speaking to a man who he’s just healed and the man is living on Jesus’ every word. So are the people around the man listening to the conversation. Jesus begins teaching about his true nature as the Son of God. Then he explains his use of the misconception, “Those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. The will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” Now the lame-no-longer man understands what Jesus meant when he said, “something worse may happen to you.” Without Jesus our sins condemn us. With him in our lives our sins are gone. We have passed from death into life. Jesus is telling the man, and everyone listening, that ignoring him – going our own way – is suicide. Following Jesus and His law is life. Go and sin no more – that is the lifestyle of someone who has seen Jesus and understands their new eternal nature! It’s not a threat. It’s a promise!

In our ministry for Christ we could learn a very valuable lesson from Jesus’ example in John 5. He allows misconceptions and uses them to grow the individual as well as the crowd. But, he spends a fair bit of time planning how he will work it all together. Jesus does not ignore the wrong theology. He uses it to launch into a greater work than theological haggling. The end result is the person comes closer to Jesus and they have a more accurate understanding of his Word and will. Next time you encounter someone who believes differently than you, pause before you act. How would Jesus use the difference to launch his ministry into their hearts? Go for hearts, not points. Value people, not proof. Give them Jesus, not a lecture. And in the end they will come to understand the truth. But first they will encounter Jesus and know his love!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Milestones of your Journey

The Christian life is a journey. Each stage with Christ is marked by something different for each Christian, because each journey is different. We all have the same Saviour, but our experiences with Him are as unique as each snow flake that falls from the clouds.

The chapters of my walk with Jesus have been clearly marked by very memorable events. The first was my Baptism in 1984. Then, in 1989 I was changed while on a fly-and-build to Honduras when I saw true poverty for the very first time. The next was in 1999 when I baptised my first new Christian – an experience that changed me in ways I cannot explain. And most recently, on August 4 2003 When God gave me the gift of Leadership in a vivid encounter with Him. All of these events are things that are highly experiential and yet extremely factual for me.

What have your moments of reality been with Jesus? What changes has God made in you? How have you grown? How have you been humbled? Think through your Christian walk and write down your journey milestones. Then share them with those you love. It will change them. It will change you. And it will glorify God!

Annointed with the gift of Leadership

On August 4, 2003 I had an experience I will never forget. In fact, it is one of those few and far between pivotal moments that change ones life forever. As Chaplain of Nunawading Adventist Primary School I had taken the four school captains to a “National Young Leaders’ Day” held in Melbourne. There were hundreds of school children and some very distinguished guest speakers.

As each speaker was speaking I would ask the kids with me, “Is this person talking about leadership?” The constant answer was, “No.” Personal goals, stress management, writing books, and other topics were explored by various speakers. Then Ivan Deverson, Former Melbourne Mayor (1995-1997) began to speak. When I asked the kids the question this time the answer came back with excited head nods, “Yes!” It was while listening to Deverson speak that my pivotal moment came. As I listened to him explain leadership his words began to fade away and I began to get very uncomfortable. A chill ran down my spine and in what can only be described as the sensation of a bucket of cold water being thrown on my face I heard another voice, in my heart. It said only one thing and the point was clear. “David, you are a leader.”

For my entire life I have always considered myself as primarily a creative thinker. I joined teams, boards and clubs with one goal in mind – to share my gift of creativity. While I often got placed in positions of leadership, I never considered myself a leader. I worked with leaders. I supported their success by providing lateral thinking and creative ideas.

When God spoke to me on that August morning he took me to a new phase in my life. Leadership 101, “The Training Ground” was complete. I was ready for the gift of leadership. I have worked with fantastic leaders for my whole life. I have studied them and counselled them. Without realising it, God was shaping my ability to motivate and encourage others while I though I was just “being creative.”

From that moment forward my personal relationships have become fields of influence. I now see myself as a naturally creative thinker with the spiritual gift of leadership.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Studying the Bible with Sarah-Jayne

I have recently begun studying with an insiprational young adult who is finding God for the first time in her life. Sarah-Jayne and I are going through the Try Jesus Bible Study Guides and she is really enjoying them. Have a look at Sarah-Jayne's blog to see what she is finding valuable in the studies!
I am really enjoying studying with Sarah-Jayne because of how fresh her faith is. She is so real, so searching and so joyous in what she finds.
There is nothing like leading someone to Jesus.
Try it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

LEAD - Eggcellent Churches

The opening presentation for the LEAD Weekend was present by myself and looked at creating an environment in our church that is comfortable for new people. The title of the presentation was Eggcellent Churches and was interactive and enjoyable. Have a look at the slides and notes and then let me know what you think!

LEAD - Evangelism Ideas

At the LEAD Weekend 2005 we focused on the "E" which represents Evangelism. We asked the people there to note any evangelism ideas that came from the weekend and post them on a board. Here are the comments that came in:
1. Go door to door with DVD's
2. Go door to door with Kids DVD's
3. Minding children for a mother with a new baby
4. Children who know Jesus and want to share Him with other children
5. Play group - hand out kids video/DVD's
6. Praising God with one word in a small group
What evangelism ideas can you share? What is the most simple to implement evangelistic idea you have seen in practice?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

LEAD Weekend – Great Time!

There were a number of highlights at the LEAD Weekend. We had a good sized crowd. There were just over 30 people who came on Friday night and stayed for the entire weekend. What a great group of people! The sharing, singing and networking was great. Of those thirty only a few were from the same church. So the general mix was really good with a few people from many churches. Perfect for a time of learning and networking!

The worship was wonderful. Jason Cook and his worship team led us in times of beautiful music in which we entered the Lord’s presence! Many people commented on the wonderful music.

The three corporate sessions on Sabbath were well attended (over 50 people were in attendance on Sabbath!) Pr Norm Hardy was up first and challenged us with “What everyone should know about Sabbath School and Small Groups.” Next, Julie Westlake inspired us with “What everyone should know about Children’s Ministry.” These two sessions were geared to give people a foretaste of what would be happening in the workshops with these two speakers. Many people said they were encouraged by the two presentations and the workshops ran by Julie and Norm were well attended.

The 11 O’clock service on Sabbath was taken by Pr Karl Winchcombe – and what a POWERFUL challenge he gave us! Karl is to personal evangelism what Harley Davidson is to Road Bikes – he is the benchmark! He showed us a clear picture of the Christian life that demonstrated that we are the most effective in our Christian outreach in the first three and a half years after conversion. After those 3.5 years are gone we tend to become institutionalised Christians and loose our connection with the world – therefore loosing our ability to reach the lost. Karl challenged us to constantly look for opportunities to get reinvolved with the lost in order to build authentic relationships so that we can lead them to Jesus. Thank you Karl!

The rest of the weekend was taken up, mostly, with workshops. Pr Kevin Amos ran a very insightful and informative series explaining a model of church health based on the four types of people in our churches ranging from new people to spiritual leaders. Pr Norm Hardy lead a group of people in an exploration of how to make the Bible come alive in Small Group and Sabbath School discussions. Julie Westlake explored evangelism to kids and running Sabbath School’s that really reach our children. All three presenters were highly appreciated and their ministries have touched Tasmania’s church leaders!

On Saturday night we had a games night. It was a bit of Adventist fun! We popped balloons, played with play dough, had some fun with words and even explored some of Ellen White’s evangelism challenges in a game of charades! What a wacky bunch of people! It was great fun!

The weekend was concluded with a challenge from our President to be a “People Winning People.” Thank you Kevin for your ever present model of servant leadership. You are an inspiration to all who know and work with you.

Thank you to everyone who came for the weekend and especially to everyone who made it happen. Dave and Bronwyn McCrostie were wonderful hosts providing delicious food and an ever helpful nature! Soraya was such a very important person in the promotion and presentation of the event. Thank you Soraya! Jenny created a fantastic design for the environment that gave the event a professional look and a functional structure! Thanks Jenny! And especially to God, who was there the whole weekend and lead in everything we did.

See you next year at the LEAD Weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

LEAD Weekend

I am so excited about this weekend! It has been in the dreaming stage for over a year, in the planning stage for six months and in the bitting my nails stage for about two weeks. And it's going to be awesome!

We have a great program prepared for you. Three special workshop speakers:
1. Our own Pr Kevin Amos will be inspiring his class with chruch growth and health material.
2. Our division Children's ministry director Julie Westlake will be teaching us how to reach kids for Christ.
3. SNSW's Personal Ministries and SS director Norm Hardy will be explaining how Sabbath Schools and Small Groups can be maximized to reach the lost.

I first saw the idea of a Training weekend modelled in Victoria where I minstered before Tassie. In Vic they have GT Weekend and it is very good. Lots of streams, lots of guests, lots of people. Here in Tassie we have less people to train and therefore can only bring a few speakers each year. So, we have gone for three major areas of importance - kids, groups, and church health. All three of these are eveangelistic in nature and therefore we will be Highlighting the E in LEAD this year.

LEAD Weekend


Monday, July 04, 2005

The King of Connecting

Jesus couldn't help it. Wherever he went, whoever he was talking to - no matter what the situation - Jesus was able to speak to that person, in their context, in contemporary language. He spoke to a Samaritan woman at a well of water and true love (John 4). He shared with a Pharisee in a dark back street of the true nature of God and Man (John 3). He knelt and spoke to a lame man by a pool offering healing through him rather than through superstition (John 5). And he spoke to a power hungry mob of thousands telling them of the bread that comes from heaven (John 6).
Jesus knew what people wanted. And he knew what they needed. He bridged this gap ever so carefully and creatively. He was the master story teller, the supreme parable weaver, the King of connecting. Jesus spoke and people understood. He loved and people were healed. He touched and people were blessed.
After spending a night in prayer, focusing on doing, saying and living the Father's plan he met the people who wished to crown him king. It was the Father's plan to send living water, the bread of life and everlasting life. Jesus presents to the misguided crowd the very answer they all need.
6:40 states, "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Jesus wanted them to understand that all of his stories, all of his parables, all of his healing, and all of his miracles were teaching one ultimate lesson. God was heaven-bent on saving mankind. Eternal life is God's plan for everyone who meets Jesus. The last day is in the cards for all people - Because He sent His Son.
Our words, actions and gifts today should be focused on the same target. His mission must be our mission. Without Jesus the world is lost. We must offer them Jesus. And when we do, Jesus will do the connecting - that's his spiritual gift!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

A typical Mikey comment

Driving home from prayer group tonight, Mikey said something very humorous that I think we can all relate to! We were talking about the appointments that we have this week.
Tuesday we will be going to the dentist. Wednesday to the optometrist. We didn't use big words though... the teeth doctor - because we may have weak teeth... the eye doctor because we may have weak eyes...
This lead to Mikey's insightful question, "Dad, is there a voice doctor? Because sometimes my voice gets cranky!" And he MEANT it!!!

Wouldn't it be great if there was someone we could see, or something we could take that would make our voice unable to complain? :) Perhaps that is Mikey's future role!

But, until Mikey grows up and helps us all, where can we go to change our attitude? There is only one place to go - to the cross. There is only one person to go to - to Jesus.

Philippians 2:5 in context
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:18 in context
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

More thoughts on John 4 - Woman at the Well

Faith vs Knowledge

John 4:22, 25 - In the New Living Translation ... "You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him... The woman said, "I know the Messiah will come--the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

The Jews spent 100's of generations trying to explain the scriptures and to define God. The Samaritan's (this one at least) had a different strategy. Faith! Her answer, "The Messiah will come! And when he does he will explain everything." Which is EXACTLY what Jesus has just been doing! No wonder she recognised and believe Jesus when he said, "I am the Messiah!"

Satisfied by Sharing

John 4:31-34 NLT
Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus to eat. "No," he said, "I have food you don't know about."
"Who brought it to him?" the disciples asked each other.
Then Jesus explained: "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.

Leading people to salvation brought Jesus such joy that even his physical needs were satisfied (or at least forgotten!) by finding and reclaiming the lost fo the Kingdom.
When you are doing something that abosrbs all your energy and concentration you often forget about food, drink and even sleep. This is obviously the way Jesus was about sharing himself with others. Oh, that we would be the same!

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...