I think most of us are saying it: “I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas”! On Sunday, Christmas is only 31 sleeps away. This busy time of the year involves end of year celebrations, logistical challenges in arranging catch up’s with family and friends, present buying, school holidays, menu planning, and of course CAROLS!
Carols is only two weekends away, Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of December. The Carols service will celebrate that ‘Christmas is a Birthday party, a time for having fun’ and will hear and sing about Jesus’ birthday be reminded that He is the gift to us all.
But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
“The Lord says to me, “Is it right for you to be angry about ……? And I said, “Yes, it is. I am so angry I wish I were dead.” Then the Lord said to me, “That person you are so angry with, is my son. I love him. I don’t like what he has done either, but I want you to forgive him. I don’t like what you are doing, but I will forgive you.
Seventy times seven. Forgive as you have been forgiven. I think most of us know these words. We believe them. It makes sense to us and we probably realise that harbouring unforgiveness can cause havoc in our minds and even affect our mental health negatively. We know that forgiveness and forgiving is something that we need, but yet it doesn’t happen spontaneously. Yet, it is something that we have to do almost daily. I suppose it is a bit like hard physical work. If we want a healthy body, we have to work hard every day to buy food to feed our body.
What is forgiveness? Well, everyone (also Wikipedia) knows what it is:
2012 has been a great year for GEMS and Cadets, our primary school aged ministries for girls and boys at BPCC, we have had the privilege of leading more than 30 girls and 30 boys throughout the year. Our theme for this year has been ‘Get Wisdom: Go Beyond the Gold!’ which has involved a study of the book of Proverbs and the wisdom God imparted to King Solomon for us to learn from. It has been exciting to watch these boys and girls discovering many truths that can help them in their lives today through the book of proverbs.
Both GEMS and Cadets have learnt many new skills this year, during our Programs. The GEMS have tried their hand at baking, cross stitch and many other craft projects. They also had a fabulous time with their parents at our mother daughter night in May and our recent father daughter night in September. Cadets have also tried many new things, some of the boys have had a go at woodworking, cooking, metalworking and discovering their musical side. Not to mention all the activities the boys and their dads have been involved in during their camps.
In November, you’ll see there are stacks of things happening in our church and broader community. Please take the time to read this, and note the dates and times of activities that will help you in your journey with Jesus. Consider also –
(1) who could you invite to join you in attending? and
(2) where could you offer your help in making BPCC shine for Jesus?
It was good to read Pastor Jim’s report last week on our church’s care ministry involvement within the Pine Rivers community, as well as our church community. There is so much that happens behind the scenes.
Let me mention just a few more:
Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church.
We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding experience in Christ.
If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can’t gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Saviour and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day.”
“how shall we do this?”, shouted his angels.
“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds, “he answered.
“Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10 – 12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work.”
The other day I read this quote from Mother Teresa, “We, the willing, led by the unknown, are doing the im-possible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do any-thing with nothing”.
While this may have been true for Mother Teresa, I see our situation as very different. We have the willing, people like you and I, who led hopefully by the Holy Spirit, sometimes try to do the impossible, but most peo-ple we help are very grateful and we have a vast array of support.
There are so many opportunities for people who are willing to reach out and help the needy in our community. Let me list a few examples.
I remember reading about a workshop leader who asked a business man if he would be willing to walk across a narrow beam hypothetically resting on the floor in exchange for $50. ‘Sure’ he said. ‘Would you walk across the same beam if it was suspended between two forty-story buildings?’ The man said, ‘Absolutely not!’ Having seemingly made his point, the workshop leader continued by posing another question. ‘Supposing I were standing on one of the same two buildings holding one of your children over the edge and told you I would drop your kid if you didn’t walk across the beam. Now what would you do?’ Pondering the question, the business mans asked, ‘Which kid do you have?’
I tell you this story to make the following point – there are times when we may have similar feelings about our family and friends. Most times it is easy to love family and friends… but those other times can be really, really hard! Yet, that is exactly what God calls us to do – to bring love, joy, and peace to our families and circles of influence, even our enemies!
If you ever get to the place where Jesus Christ isn’t enough . . . if you ever get to the place where you think that you can advance beyond Christ . . . then you haven’t met the Christ of the Bible.
Jesus said that “all Scripture testifies of me.” Everything in the Old Testament points to Him. And it doesn’t make sense apart from Him. But that’s not all.
He came not only as the fullness of the Godhead, and not only as the new Adam, and not only as the new Israel. But He came to reconcile a fallen universe back to Himself.
And how did He do it?
School term four starts again next week. As we head into the last quarter of 2012 we have some exciting things happening at church during this time. Let me mention four:
Wednesday Ministry Nights
Starting this coming Wednesday 10 October, we’re offering four classes.
1. Divorce Recovery – facilitated by myself and Carla. This seven session course aims to give participants an understanding of the divorce experience, provide a safe place to process grief and loss and develop skills and courage to rebuild.
2. CAP Money – facilitated by Pastor Jim and his team, this three session course teaches skills to set up and stick to a workable budget.
3. Come Alive – taught by Alan Hermann, this five session study on Personal Spiritual Growth covers topics including spiritual dryness, personal devotion, silence and solitude, meditation and inner contentment.
4. Life Shapes – facilitated by Pastor Wayne for eight sessions where you gain understanding of yourself, your relationship to Christ and to one another.
Carla and I have just returned from our four-week caravan tour through part of Queensland. We sure do live in a beautiful State – we spent nearly three weeks in the bush (away from shopping centres & traffic lights – I loved that!), then the last week and a bit on the coast (right amongst shopping centres & traffic lights – Carla loved that!). We’ve come back refreshed and recharged!
It is good to be back with family and loved ones. I usually do a lot of reflecting when I’m away from the busyness of ministry, and that’s exactly what I did this time too. I really appreciate these times of quiet, as it has allowed me to reflect on the preciousness of a loving family and church community. I’ve been reminded of the gift we as Christ-followers have in our relationship with him – and I think that’s been heightened for me because I observed some very lonely people on our travels. I tried to converse with one such man who lived in a dilapidated old caravan covered in weeds and resting on bricks. The old man rebuffed my friendly approach which I took as an indication of his loneliness and probably some emotional baggage. This made me sad. There are a lot of lonely people in our communities… and I’ve been convicted to be more proactive in reaching out to folk with Christ-like love. I hope this conviction stays… because it’s all part of being salt and light for Jesus in our hurting world . Please, think about this – and join me in smiling more, helping more, and living life to the full more!
I want to thank those of you who remember to bring in food for the Community Cupboard. We have been able to bless on average five families each week. You might wonder what we give to people! Sandwich spreads, things for school lunches, breakfast cereals, pasta and pasta sauces, baked beans and spaghetti, tuna, tinned vegetables, sugar, long life milk, tea, coffee. We buy mince or sausages to add to each parcel. We also provide toilet rolls, washing soap, shampoo, and tooth paste when we have them.
Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so –but sometimes I forget, and sometimes I doubt ... and Some don’t know.
Jesus loves me… God does not only tell us that he loves us, but he also showed us His love by placing the wrath that was to fall on us because of our rebellious nature, on His son.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that HE loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9).
Just over eight years ago Tiiu, the girls and I immigrated to Australia. We bought across with us as much stuff as we possibly could and were excited about unpacking all our boxes when they arrived. We thought when other immigrants came over to visit they would say, “Wayne and Tiiu are so organised they have no unpacked boxes sitting in the garage” We have unpacked boxes in our garage trust me.
We have a huge folder on our computer full of pictures. We dream of having these put in albums and arranged by year on display. We have a collection of unfinished projects. There are some books and exercise equipment too. Things started but left unfinished. Do you finish everything you start? I imagine not. And to be honest, some things are not worth finishing.
I want to ask you a question.
Chances are it is going to be a convicting one. It was for me when I asked myself this same question earlier this year. It caused me to take stock and evaluate a number of things in my life. It caused me to change the way I pray and it created a big shift in the way that I relate to God.
The question arose when a few months ago I was listening to a sermon podcast on Acts 4 and the early church by Andy Stanley. Andy is a well known and well respected preacher and in this sermon he asks his listeners an incredibly insightful question. It is a question that I want to ask you today and it is this: If God answered all the prayers you have prayed this past week what difference would they have made in the world?
Very simple but very convicting. Let me ask that again: If God answered all the prayers you have prayed this past week what difference would they have made in the world?
For most of us, as a result of the prayers that we pray, our own lives and the lives of our families would probably be very different. We probably would have an abundance of safety and travelling mercies and maybe even more money. But beyond our own circle and our own lives would our prayers have made any impact? Could our prayers have been bigger? Bolder? Focused more on others? More fervent to see people far from God come to know and love Him?
God set out the boundaries of the covenant relationship he had with the Israelites by giving them the Ten Commandments. God said to his people, “These are the top ten things to do and not to do.” Included in these laws are commands not to murder, steal, or commit adultery. Thousands of years later, we still take these commandments seriously. Even though we have been saved by grace, we see the benefits of living according to the Ten Commandments.
Nobody thinks murder is a great idea, nor stealing, nor committing adultery. But among the Ten Commandments is a certain one that has become too easy to forget. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. EXODUS 20:8–10
A month ago I went to Hillsong conference. At the time I was looking forward to the big hype, the music and a bit of great teaching and yes the days were just that; jam packed! It was all amazing; with some powerful messages, but for me the highlight of the conference wasn’t actually in all those sessions. For me, it was when I took time out from it all, laid on the grass in the Sydney sun, and just sat their praying to God. That is what I found the most rewarding.
We are often so caught up in the happenings of our own world we sometimes forget to take a break, to smell the roses. We can also forget to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37). Isn’t this the greatest commandment according to Jesus?
Well doesn’t time fly, here we are in one of our coldest (and wettest) winters and before long we will be feeling the heat again. It has been like that at Church Council too. Life is busy and we go from one celebration, challenge and blessing to the next. God has been good to us and we are thankful for many things. Our Church team (staff and volunteers) continue to work hard and we see the blessings in the fruit. BPCC is a vibrant growing Church ministering to many.
Church Council continue to oversee the many ministry areas and we are particularly thankful for strong Children and Youth ministries. Small Groups are changing and many members are taking the opportunity to join the Wednesday night special interest groups. The Care team continue to be a witness and comfort to many people in the Church and the community who are sick or doing it tough. Our Pastors and Worship team lead us in inspiring and Biblical praise and worship.
I remember being at the shops when I was very pregnant with Luke and having a pushy shop assistant ask me over and over the sex of my baby. We had found out we were having a boy but hadn’t told anyone. She just kept saying “But you can tell me, go on, go on, I know you’re just dying to tell me.” What I felt like saying was “I haven’t told my own mother, why would I tell you!?”
You see it’s all about relationships. I didn’t have any sort of relationship with that shop assistant. Why would I feel comfortable sharing something so very important to me, with her? We know that as adults we are far more likely to listen to advice/correction/wisdom(!) from those close to us, those we respect, those we are doing life with, than from someone we don’t really know that well.