Each week I receive a devotional thought written by Max Lucado and I thought I would like to share some of his thoughts with you.
Have you ever wondered why we have so many stories in the Bible of people who feel their life has reached a hopeless situation and they are seeking help from outside themselves?
This coming weekend sees us hit the mid-year mark! Can you believe half of 2013 will be behind us? I’m hoping you are all keeping well physically and spiritually as we balance the many responsibilities we face in this hurry-up world we’re living in. I’ve been thinking about our Sunday Worship Services and the sermons our preaching team preach: Are they helping us in our busy lives to stay focused on what’s important and close to our Lord and Leader Jesus Christ? In other words: Are our services and sermons helpful?
Our current sermon series in AM Church is focusing on the life and ministry of the Old Testament character Elijah – the no-nonsense, uncultured, unsophisticated prophet of God who has the bedside manner of John Wayne! I like the man! So far we’ve been reminded through studying his life: (1) to stand up for right; (2) to stay the course – choose to ‘turn right’ when life’s challenges take you into a ‘T-intersection.’ Coming Sunday we see how absolutely true this fact is: God is boss! He is in charge and He is in control. My prayer is that from knowing more about Elijah, you and I will make the latter half of 2013 go better!
It feels too soon, but planning for Carols 2013 has begun! I find it a joy to be involved in organising the Carols services. As we plan for and prepare for this year’s Carols event, I am increasingly aware that I need people to come along side me (and Caroline) to get the ball rolling.
Last year I remember asking Madeleine Schoeman if she would be interested in helping with the decorations. I knew she was busy with Roux (her then four year old son who was in the middle of cancer treatment). Her immediate answer was “Yes I’d love to help again. I was hoping you would ask me”! I was so encouraged by her enthusiastic response; still I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be too much with her busy schedule. I still remember her reply, it was something along the lines of “I love decorating and I love having the opportunity to help in my church by doing it…”
As I was studying for our current PM sermon series through the book of Colossians recently (“Jesus + Nothing = Everything”), I re-discovered an earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting and life-changing truth. This little but powerful truth is so simple, yet it is also so easily forgotten. And because it is so easily forgotten I believe it is the reason that so many of us struggle to make sense of our walk with Jesus and the accompanying joys and responsibilities.
The truth I am talking about is simply this: as a redeemed Christ-follower you and I are no longer citizens of earth but we are right now citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20; Eph.2:9; Col. 3:3). Simple huh? But so profound and practical! Let me explain.
When you and I are born into this world we are naturally citizens of earth. We are born in sin as part of a race that has rebelled against its Creator (Psalm 51). Our sinful physical birth means that we are spiritually dead. This is why Jesus says to Nicodemus “you must be born again!” (John 3:3). Now I am quite certain that Jesus did not intend for Nicodemus to climb back into his mother but rather he meant ‘spiritual’ re-birth.
I have a confession to make, something I need to get off my chest. It's something that's hard to admit sometimes but comes with a great sense of relief to say it - I AM NOT PERFECT.
There, I said it. For those who know me well, this revelation comes as no surprise, I'm sure. I am not the perfect wife, or perfect mother, or perfect friend and definitely not the perfect Christ follower. And as much as I may hate to admit it, this I do know - it's entirely because of my imperfection that I so desperately need God. And so do you. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Note is says – all. Not some or most, but all. I’ve heard it said recently that ‘it’s all level ground at the foot of the cross’.
How do you keep air in your spiritual tyres? I quite often ask people that, especially people in ministry leadership. How do you keep your spiritual batteries charged so that your light shines brightly?
As we enter a new month, let me ask you this same question: What do you do to stay close to the truth that you are a forgiven, heaven bound son or daughter of the Living God? If you answer: “I attend church on Sunday (or most Sundays),” I’m thinking you’re not as pumped up or shining as brightly as you could be. I know that from personal experiences. I know that because the time-starved pressured lives most of us live, causes us to move through life far too fast!
Here’s a question for you Dads: Do you attend your kids’ sports events and school plays?
Mums: Are the challenges of motherhood, work and home-duties keeping you from loving your husband and kids like you really want to?
Have you ever heard the statement, “you have not because you ask not? I thought it came from the Bible but now I am not sure.
As you enter the church through the front foyer there is a trolley on which people place food for distribution to needy families in our area. Well this trolley has been a challenge to the ushers who move it to open and close the doors. Well I showed it to Kevin Dekker and asked for help. Within two days is was reborn and looks 100% and moves in all directions. Please also note we have added a donation box for the people who remember that they forgot to shop for the food cupboard. One of the care team will now shop for you, so please use the donation tin. Thank You.
Have you ever heard the song ‘There is a Redeemer’ by Keith Green? Being an 80’s child, I had the privilege of listening to Keith Green’s music as Mum used to play his songs (loudly) every Sunday morning! ‘There is a Redeemer’ was one that I would often hum during the day after hearing it in the morning. Today is a special day in the Christian calendar. It is Pentecost Sunday and as I began to reflect on the significance of this day I was reminded of this song. Part of the lyrics say “Thank you Oh my Father for giving us your Son, and leaving Your Spirit Here ‘til the work on Earth is done”.
Every year on Pentecost Sunday we remember God’s gift of the Holy Spirit given to us; His power available and living in us! We read in Acts 2:1-3 “When the day of the Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.”
It’s really easy sometimes to make ourselves the focus; to try and work harder to achieve our goals. Sometimes these goals are not bad, they may be Godly. For instance, at the moment one of our visions for the youth ministry is to see a passionate Christ-centred culture at youth. This is a great thing. It brings glory to Christ! But many times I’ve caught myself thinking that I need to do something to create this culture myself, as if I have the power to do it! It’s completely opposite to what God teaches us. The Bible shows that Jesus has always come first, not us. We have never been the centre of the story; Jesus came down to us, we didn’t go up to Him.
Did you know BPCC sermons are being viewed all over the world? I’ve just received some statistics of where and how often BPCC sermons are viewed via our website. Over the last 12 months, there have been 6,661 sermon views… last month alone, 679 views. As well as that, a sister church in our denomination is now showing our sermons to their congregation. I mention this because sermon recording is the reason why we have needed to put up window blinds in our auditorium – it helps with the video quality. As you know, Café Church show our sermons via video, and because their room is bright, video replay quality is very important. Upgrading of stage lighting is also in process and once this is completed, our video quality will be vastly improved. Isn’t it humbling how BPCC is impacting way past our four walls?
This year at Gems and Cadets we are encouraging the boys and girls to ‘Search for the Truth’ throughout their lives. This is a challenge I want to encourage us all to take up. In our culture today we are sold so many false messages that go against what the word of God says, it is important to remember that we are only temporary residents in our world, as it says in 1 Peter 2:11-12
11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbours. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honourable behaviour, and they will give honour to God when he judges the world.[a]
I have a confession to make. This isn’t going to be easy, but here goes…
I love to read.
I love to buy books, collect books and I even like the smell of books.
In fact, one of my favourite things to do is wander through a bookstore, scoping out my next literary conquest. Then, when I have a bit of spare time, I love to find a quiet place to be on my own and read. That is my happy place.
There I said it. I have outed myself as a nerd and a bibliophile.
When I was a little girl, Dad was amazing! He knew everything and he could fix anything. When my toys broke, I didn’t break into tears like other kids. I just took it to Dad and he would fix it. Even if it meant putting a flame to the plastic and melting the parts together again. It may have only lasted for a day, but in my mind Dad fixed it for a day. Dad’s motto was: “If man has made it, then man can fix it.” Simple.
Dad was not pleased at all when I told him that I intended to go and study Social Work. He looked at me and all he said was: “My child, Man has not made it…”
I was 17. Need I say more? … After completing my studies, I started working as a Social Worker at a psychiatric hospital, in forensics. I quickly learned that man may not have made man but, boy, could we break it!!! After 10 years I walked away from Social Work, burned out and convinced that only God can help me and mankind.
I hope you have been able to reflect on what Easter is all about this past weekend? The fulfilment of God’s plan to save humanity from sin came about – personal sin has been atoned for through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! Do you realise, you are saved from eternal punishment because Jesus took the punishment for your personal sin? Amazing! Every person who repents of their sin and submits their lives to the Lordship and Leadership of Jesus Christ, is forgiven, made holy, and is heaven bound. That’s what Easter celebrates!
For the next week or so, many of our church family are on school holidays. Our Children’s Ministry programs are taking a well earned break as they get ready for term 2. In our AM Church service this weekend we will include the children as we’re all reminded of Jesus’ words to the leaders and officials of his day:
The Easter weekend is possibly the most important event on the Church calendar. The cross of Christ and his empty tomb stand at the very centre of the Christian faith. But many people ask the question; why? In fact, throughout history people have asked over and over again, why did Jesus Christ suffer and die? It is a question that on the surface appears simple to answer, and in fact it is. But it is also a question that we could spend the rest of our lives answering and reflecting upon. I like what Tim Keller says: “The gospel has been described as a pool in which a toddler can wade and yet an elephant can swim. It is both simple enough to tell to a child and profound enough for the greatest minds to explore.” So I would like to remind you of a few reasons why Jesus came to die and the ensuing results and in doing so I hope that you would take a swim with the elephants; plumbing the rich depths of the Easter message.
On Wednesday morning I was fortunate to attend, along with Pastor Jim, an information session hosted by the Pine Rivers Care Network (PRCN). I was greatly encouraged to hear about all the good work that the PRCN is involved in and I must admit I was also a little proud to hear how BPCC is a vital cog in all of that. The PRCN is a network of churches and organizations that bring together shared ideas, resources and information to meet a wide range of needs in our community including financial support (CAP Money, NILS), housing needs (homeless support services), material resources (baby needs, furniture, school needs), legal and financial advocacy, as well as emotional and social support (counselling, medical, support groups).
It was so encouraging to be around people that genuinely love people and want to help them, even if they receive nothing in return (Luke 14:12-14). It was so encouraging to hear stories from people who are doing what Jesus’ commanded by feeding the hungry, by giving thirsty people a drink, by welcoming in strangers, by clothing the naked, and by visiting the sick and infirm (Matt. 25:41-46). It was so encouraging to hear how so many people from BPCC are intimately involved in these efforts as well. Whether that is in the Community Cupboard (food relief), CAP Money (budgeting), NILS (No Interest Loan Scheme) or the Simply Single ministry (which we found out is unique in our area and is meeting a great need). BPCC, be encouraged, you are making a difference!
In preparation for an upcoming sermon series on PRAYER, I’m reading a number of books – one in particular summarises so well WHY we will benefit from a series on prayer: We are uncomfortable with silence… In the broader culture and in our churches, we prize intellect, competency, and wealth. Because we can do life without God, praying seems nice but unnecessary. Money can do what prayer does, and it is quicker and less time consuming. Our trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God. As a result, exhortations to pray don’t stick. (Paul Miller, A Praying Life, Navpress 2009, p.16)
It is true, many of us pray when trouble looms and we can’t fix the problem any other way. This is true for me too. That’s the main reason we’re going to open God’s Word and learn about the power and blessing of prayer. So let me ask that you will pray for those of us who will teach & preach on prayer in the ensuing weeks.
Tiiu, Kezia, Tiana and I want to say thank you to you, who have been our church family for the last 8 years and where I also have had the privilege and honour of being a pastor for almost 5 of those years. It is with some sadness that we will be leaving this loving and vibrant Christian community of which we have many fond memories and ongoing friendships, but as the old adage goes nothing stays the same forever and we can always be certain of change. I have taken a position in the Churches of Christ as a Chaplain in their aged care services, overseeing the pastoral care team for two campuses in Brisbane.