Regret, Repent, Resolve

I enjoy the annual reviews that media and news outlets publish each end of year. It is interesting to revisit and review some of the significant events of the past 12 months and reflect on the great losses and achievements of the past year. For some, 2009 will be marked most significantly by the problems with the world economy. For others it might be the on going debate over solutions to postponing environmental catastrophe. In Australia, we saw multiple changes in government leadership at State and Federal levels.

On a personal level, at our Church, 2009 has been a year of mixed blessings:

  • A new Pastor in the English Congregation and an Assistant Pastor in the Cantonese Congregation
  • Some experienced loss of employment and income.
  • A new building extension completed for the Sunday School and Fellowship Hall
  • MANY had additions to their family through births
  • Some have battled with cancer

There also were many other individual transformations, changes, losses and accomplishments. Many people, the world over, use the end of a year to mark something about themselves or their habits and behaviour they wish to change. We call these, “New Year Resolutions”. With each resolution, there is a measure of regret. e.g. “I resolve to lose 5 kg (& keep it off!)” – this comes with regret that I gained those 5 kg through lack of discipline in my diet and exercise, so I repent of my (sin) bad behaviour and resolve to reverse or reform myself in order to achieve this goal. So the pattern, which should be encouraged, is:

  • Regret of past wrong doing (or lack of right doing)
  • Repent – reject and turn away from the past
  • Resolve to trust God to enable me to achieve my goals for 2010

At each step, the believer should prepare themselves with prayer, and personal evaluation. Ask God to show you what areas of your life are lacking in godliness, or are outright sinful, or are hindering your effectiveness as a witness for Christ, or are preventing your growth as a follower of Jesus. (Psalm 139:23-24, Hebrews 12:1-2)

Here are a few suggestions to start. May God bless and enable you to strive after him and see and experience his greatness, goodness and glory in 2010.

1. Read the Bible Through in entirety by Dec 31st 2010

2. OR Read the New Testament through in entirety by Dec 31st 2010 (great for brand new Christians)

3. Volunteer and commit to a service team for the entire year. e.g. Youth Group, Sunday School, Music, Media, Playgroup, a new opportunity suited to your gifts & talents etc.

4. Go on a short term mission trip (see me for details)

5. Host a “Christianity Explained/Simply Christianity” event in your home for 6 weeks during 2010

6. Teach a “Christianity Explained/Simply Christianity” event in yours or someone else’s home for 6 weeks in 2010

7. Talk to me about giving a small (5 min) talk in Sunday Service on your testimony

8. Loose some weight so as to be in better health to serve the Lord and your family in 2010

9. Start (and continue) giving a set amount of money to missions or a project in 2010

10. Decide (and stick to it) to increase your sacrificial giving to the general offering and operating expenses of Church in 2010

11. Pray with your family (out loud) at least once per week (not at Church & not as part of grace for a meal).

12. Read the bible out loud at least once per week with your family (again, not at Church etc

p.s. My resolution for 2010 – I resolve not preach longer than 35 min in the main Sunday Service.
set your stop watch and see how I go :)

Frightened to speak about Jesus

I’ve been encouraged recently by a few ‘tweets‘ from Andrew Lim, the Pastor of the Asian Bible Church at St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney. It’s great to see and hear of Christians having the courage to simply walk up to people they don’t know (yet!) and try to have a gospel conversation with them.

Then Peter Scholl made this comment on the Sola Panel about personal evangelism and I think he’s hit the nail squarely on the head.

Sometimes I wonder if the fear of being asked a question we can’t answer prevents us from sharing our love of Jesus with our friends. We are worried that if we bring Jesus into the conversation, we’ll be asked a curly question, and maybe as a result, we’ll look like a bit of a goose, so we choose to keep quiet.

We sometimes tend to think that talking to others about our faith in Christ is only for the Uber-Christians, those fearless few that are endowed with the rare boldness and wit required to answer every question and respond cleverly to every objection. Yet it seemed even the apostle Paul (the original Uber-Christian) had the need to ask for boldness when it came to sharing the gospel. So perhaps we shouldn’t be lapse in doing the same?!

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel – Ephesians 6:18-19

Responding to criticism

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. – 1 Peter 2:19-24

Regret, Repent, Resolve

I enjoy the annual reviews that media and news outlets publish each end of year. It is interesting to revisit and review some of the significant events of the past 12 months and reflect on the great losses and achievements of the past year. For some, 2008 will be marked most significantly by the problems with the world economy, issues with inflation or oil prices. For others it might be the furtherance of the strife in Afghanistan and the Middle East. For Australia, we saw a new government take office and introduce some sweeping changes – perhaps the most famous event, being an apology made by the Australian Prime Minister to those members of the Aboriginal community who were forcefully, and unfortunately in many cases, unnecessarily, removed from their homes, family and culture. Americans and the western democratic world in general, will mark 2008 as the year Martin Luther King’s “dream” came its closest yet to fulfilment with the election of an African American President. Say what you will about Obama and his policies, that election was, without doubt, an amazing event in that nation’s history. It makes me wonder, as an Aussie, when we will celebrate our first Aboriginal Australian Prime Minister or Governor General!

On a personal level, at our Church, 2008 has been a year of loss:
 

  • Loss of loved family (both young adults and unborn babies) through tragedy;
  • Loss of friends through unnecessary and petty division;
  • Loss of employment and income.

It has also been a year where we have seen some special blessings through the passion and excitement some have for serving the Lord. We had one couple travel to Africa for a 3 month mission trip and then later surrender to go the field full time – we hope to commission them to the African Mission Field in 2009. We had a team of people, mainly associated with the music and media ministries, bring together a new Sunday Evening service, called “Sunday Nite Live” which we hope will prove to be a great outreach connection for our Church in 2009 and beyond. We had, through the generosity and commitment of a team of fantastic Children’s ministry workers, a very successful Holiday Bible Club mid year. The church took a step of faith to appoint an additional Pastor/Elder to the staff. In the midst of dwindling attendance (for many reasons) this evidences a heart of faith, on the part of the Church family, that God will continue to provide and build his house. Perhaps most joyous, for us as a Church, was the baptism recently had for 2 family members that recently came to Christ. Their testimony of God’s grace is astounding and a fantastic “booster shot” for us as God’s people!

There also were many other individual transformations, changes, losses and accomplishments. Many people, the world over, use the end of a year to mark something about themselves or their habits and behaviour they wish to change. We call these, “New Year Resolutions”. With each resolution, there is a measure of regret. e.g. “I resolve to loose 5 kg (& keep it off!)” – this comes with regret that I gained those 5 kg through lack of discipline in my diet and exercise, so I repent of my (sin) bad behaviour and resolve to reverse or reform myself in order to achieve this goal. So the pattern, for a Christian, which is to be encouraged, is:
 

  • Regret of past wrong doing (or lack of right doing)
  • Repent – reject and turn away from the past
  • Resolve to trust God to enable me to achieve my goals for 2009 

At each step, the believer should prepare themselves with prayer, and personal evaluation. Ask God to show you what areas of your life are lacking in godliness, or are outright sinful, or are hindering your effectiveness as a witness for Christ, or are preventing your growth as a follower of Jesus. (Psalm 139:23-24, Hebrews 12:1-2)

Here are a few suggestions to start. May God bless and enable you to strive after him and see and experience his greatness, goodness and glory in 2009.

1. Read the Bible Through in entirety by Dec 31st 2009

2. Read the New Testament through in entirety by Dec 31st 2009 (great for teenagers or brand new Christians)

3. Volunteer and commit to a service team for the entire year. e.g. Youth Group, Sunday School, Music, Media, Playgroup, etc.

4. Go on a short term mission trip (see me for details)

5. Host a “Christianity Explained” event in your home for 6 weeks during 2009

6. Teach a “Christianity Explained” event in yours or someone elses home for 6 weeks in 2009

7. Talk to myself or Pastor Dan about giving a small (5 min) talk in Sunday Service on your testimony

8. Loose some weight so as to be in better health to serve the Lord and your family in 2009

9. Start (and continue) giving a set amount of money to missions or a project in 2009

10. Decide (and stick to it) to increase your giving to the general offering and operating expenses of Church in 2009

11. Pray with your family (out loud) at least once per week (not at Church & not as part of grace for a meal).

12. Read the bible out loud at least once per week with your family (again, not at Church etc)

In love and In Christ

Pastor Al.

p.s. My resolution for 2009 – I resolve not preach longer than 35 min in the main Sunday Service.
set your stop watch and see how I go 🙂