RSS

Tag Archives: GCCC

Treasures of the Heart – Camp 2010

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 18/10/2010 in church

 

Tags: , , ,

Spiritual Gifts for show and tell

The concluding message of the “What’s It All About” series is now available via podcast.

How are you “managing and distributing” the grace of God? (c.f. 1 Peter 4:10-11).

You can subscribe to the podcast feed here, by clicking on the iTunes icon.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Baptism – Sunday Sept 5

What is baptism all about?

Are you ready to 'take a dip'

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

What’s the Bible all about?

To kick off our new series, “What’s it all about?” we discussed the foundational text of the Christian faith – the Bible.

The joke among evangelicals when teaching children is that no matter what the question is, the answer is always one of 3 things: God, Jesus or the Bible. So it follows that if I ask the question, “What is the Bible all about?” the answer will be either “God” or “Jesus”.

God’s ultimate goal in all He does is to preserve and display His glory. He prizes and delights in His own glory above all things. In short, this IS what the Bible is all about. This is the recurring, unifying theme of redemptive history as revealed in the Bible. The big-picture plot of the Bible is often summarised as ‘Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation’ – but the theme that unites each stage or component is the Glory of God.

The term “glory of God” in the Bible refers to the visible splendor or moral beauty of God. Another term that can signify much the same thing is the name of God. When Scripture speaks of doing something “for God’s name’s sake,” it means the same as doing it “for His glory.” The “name” of God is not merely His label, but a reference to His character. It is a short-cut or abbreviated way of talking about, ascribing, attributing and affirming all the accolades, credit, significance and greatness of God as our almighty, majestic Lord and King. Today, when Christians pray, they conclude their prayer with, “in Jesus name“. For some, this is used as a formulaic method not dissimilar to “abra kadabra“. They think it is a magical incantation that somehow makes anything prayed for OK. But the meaning of “in Jesus name” is a short-cut way of saying, “Dear God, please hear and answer my prayer in such as way that gives you all the credit, all the honour, all the praise and in no way allows me to gloat that I am better and bigger than you (or anyone else).”

Over and over throughout the Old Testament, God tells us that the reason for showing us mercy, for acting as a redeemer and a saviour is for “the sake of his name“. In other words, God’s reason’s for acting the way he acted are not because the persons or people in some way deserved or earned his intervention. Rather it is to display and demonstrate his greatness, goodness, glory and grace.

As John Piper notes in Desiring God, to love and glorify God does not mean to meet His needs, but rather to delight in Him and to be captivated by His glorious power and grace and to value Him above all other things on earth. God is totally independent of his creation. He has no needs that we can meet, he has no insufficiency that we can make up. We ascribe glory to God because no other being or object is so purely holy and good and worthy of such worship.

To further emphasise the importance of God’s glory in the Bible as an underlying theme as well as how it relates to us, the New Testament tells us that separation from God’s glory for all eternity is what hell is all about. The imagery used for hell in the bible consists of flames, fire, torment, punishment, suffering, and darkness. These are picture words that evoke intense feelings and reactions. Hell is far worse than just physical elements of pain and suffering. Hell is an absence of the glory of God. God is the source of life, goodness, kindness, mercy, compassion and grace. Separation from that is hell.

2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 ~ will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed

Participation in the Christian life starts with a (God given) understanding and recognition of the greatness and glory of God. Thus we summarise conversion as:

“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” ~ Romans 10:13
or
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ~ Acts 16:31

What’s the Bible all about? God revealing his glory to us that we might relish it as revealed in and by Jesus Christ and received in and by the Holy Spirit.

Our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. He is a self-sufficient and inexhaustible fountain of grace and our only salvation.We have no ground for boasting or gloating about attainment of enlightenment, understanding, holiness, righteousness or spirituality apart from the glory of God revealed in Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 01/08/2010 in Gospel, Theology

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

What’s It All About?

Starting at Grace Church in Kogarah, this Sunday August 1, in the 9am English Service.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 31/07/2010 in church, Gospel, Theology

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Per aspera ad astra

As a small boy growing up in a Sicilian Roman Catholic community of Northern Queensland I was enamored with the teachings and practice of the Church. The aura of mystery surrounding the liturgy of the Mass was compelling. So much so that I frequently day dreamed about joining the priest hood. Whilst that attraction faded over time, my interest and fascination in religion, mystery and spirituality steadily increased. At 13, when I heard what I now know to be a true explanation of the gospel I gave my heart, in faith, to Christ. Whilst my understanding of the gospel and Christianity has grown over time to what is generally considered “Reformed”, the crisis of decision I experienced as a teenager was genuine. I knew my need of Christ and saw clearing that he offered salvation through faith in his name – so I appropriated that.

When 16, I attended a series of meetings led by Bob Jones Jr where he preached on the “Man of God” spoken of in 1 Kings 13. Bob gave a challenge for young men to respond to the call of full time preaching (either in Pastoral, Evangelistic or Missionary work) and I rallied to that call. 12 months later, having completed high school I traveled down to Sydney and commenced tertiary theological study. I was, at the age of 17, what most Evangelicals in Sydney call a Student Minister. By 18 I was preaching and teaching every week and was an Assistant Pastor of a small brand new Church in the Blue Mountains. Were I training in the Anglican or Presbyterian denominations at that time I would have been ordained for sacramental officiation and licensed for a host of other duties. However the Independent Churches I was involved with generally didn’t practice or encourage such ordination, except in occasional instances and then only for Senior Pastors. So it continues to not be uncommon for men in full time pastoral ministry to have no official denominationally recognised ordination. This mattered little to me at the time, as from 18 years as a 3rd year Theolog I was trained in administering communion and baptism and did so as often as the need arose and continued to do so for almost 20 years following both in Australia and overseas.

The independent Churches had little in the way of organised fund raising initiatives. Individuals or families that wished to enter full time ministry either had to commit to regular, secular employment on top of their ministerial role or in the case of those traveling outside Australia would have to align with a Mission Group or society that would assist with raising sponsorship to cover their living expenses. Sometimes families would spend years traveling around Australia soliciting sponsorship support before being able to afford to go to their chosen field. Now, some 20 years later, some of these independent Churches have grown to the point where they can, (usually partially) provide some stipend or support to their Pastor. Although most continue to work a second job on the side to supplement living, saving and retirement expenses. There are probably less than 10 of these Churches in all of Australia that could extend such support to any other staff beyond their senior minister, so as an Associate or Assistant Pastor I pretty much accepted that bi-vocational (working two jobs, being paid for one) ministry was the norm and wasn’t something to be sneered at.

I was serving in this capacity when I was 25 and had an opportunity to go to Kenya. Whilst married, we had no children and by God’s grace and abundance were debt free so we jumped at the chance. Technically we were supported full time – to the extent that our only income or support came from our home Church in Australia and wasn’t supplemented by other employment. However, even then, and in a third world economy, $500/month didn’t go very far. After 7 months we had to return. We were unable to secure long term working visas (mainly because we couldn’t afford the “additional” fees requested by the local authorities) and had exhausted our means of fiscal survival and were running up debts that could not go unpaid. I resumed bi-vocational ministry and saw God’s hand in providing lucrative employment that was able to sustain not only the equivalent of full time ministry, but also invest in a number of missionary and social concerns that a Pastor is usually not able to sustain.

It was a redundancy from one of my “extra” jobs that preempted a major change in direction both in pastoral and preaching ministry and how we would be supported financially. I wondered what might happen if we walked away from what had become a successful career in IT&T to solely invest all my time in pastoral ministry. As I prayed I came across a notice in The Briefing magazine of an independent Church on the south side of Sydney that was looking for a full time Pastor. Surely, God seemed to impress upon me, if you’re fair dinkum you’ll call them and see how you can help and encourage them. And so on the 29th of May 2008 I picked up the phone and called. The guy who answered seemed a little cautious about who I was, how I found out about their situation and whether or not I would fit into their Church given my cultural differences. An exchange of emails followed, along with several visits, meals, coffee shop meetings and long discussions in various homes. After a small hiccup involving a potential interim responsibility I might have to fulfill, I met, officially with the Board of Deacons and Ministers of Grace Chinese Christian Church. To describe that meeting as intense, understates it considerably. The room was small, there were close to 20 people present. I had my daughter with me because we had come straight from her music lessons to the meeting. The room was also quite hot and some of the questions being asked were very demanding. However, I must have said something right. Either that or my daughter’s cuteness factor won over some of the stern faces in the room. On Sunday June 21st, just before 1pm I got an SMS saying YES. Whew!

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service ~ 1 Timothy 1:12

I’ve always been a huge Star Trek fan. The concept of Per aspera ad astra (Latin: through striving we reach the stars) has always appealed to me. God’s calling and enablement through Christ comes with a vision (or goal, desire, dream, aspiration) of the greatness of his mission to take the gospel to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). In Proverbs we’re told that “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (23:7 KJV). Sometimes when we calculate the costs and sacrifices of the desires and dreams God gives us to aspire to in achieving his mission we are dissuaded from pursuing them. Often, if we proceed, we don’t anticipate all that God might bring across our path to strengthen, equip and encourage us to achieve that mission. Certainly for some this puts them off, whereas for others the difficulty we face in or moving towards Christ’s service is the very thing that propels us forward to maturity and realisation of that vision. Christ gives us the strength of heart to endure. In the face of what we view as obstacles, discouragement or even defeat God’s Providence Prevails. We push on from a position of realised victory. The enemy is defeated, as Tolkien’s Frodo said of the evil wizard Saruman, “Do not believe Saruman! He has lost all power, save his voice that can still deceive you, if you let it.” Christ has given us a vision, he has equipped us with his power, he fills us with his Spirit – lets press ahead knowing that we are not blazing a new trail, but following one Christ has already trod.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 19/06/2010 in ministry, Testimony

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Grace at Night

A short clip from my iPhone of the first “Grace at Night” last Sunday.

We had some awesome music by Intr3p1d and a great time examining “Why Jesus?”. Plus we got to meet some new people! Next month, or rather this month, March 28 we will have Slaves of Righteousness lead the music and examine the question of “Why God?”.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 03/03/2010 in Jesus, worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,382 other followers

%d bloggers like this: