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Take a punt on Jesus

If you’re in Australia, chances are you will, along with the majority of the nation, “Stop” at around 3:00pm AEDST to watch the Melbourne Cup horse race. Whether you care for horse racing or not, you’ll probably watch it. Most of us will not be able to avoid it. Workers are given time off to gather in front of the television, students, if still in school, pause to do the same. In some parts of the country the entire day is a public holiday. You might even detest the idea and not give a toss ;) about the race. But I bet ;) you know it is on.

It is in many respects as much a public institution as some of the national religious and public holidays. Throughout workplaces and schools, sweeps are run, where, usually, by way of random allocation, entrants are given a horse for a small fee of maybe $2-$5. If your employer is particularly fortunate with their winnings, it is not unusual to be given the rest of the day off, to celebrate!

By the time you have read this you have probably already decided to enter one of those sweeps or even had a little flutter. Based on some reports the takings from punters in recent years has increased alarmingly. 2009 the Sydney Morning Herald estimated takings exceeded $143 million in Victoria and New South Wales. The 2011 estimates were $280 million plus another $100 million on the track. 2013 expectations were thought to exceed $800 million. These increases are occurring the same time our national household debt levels have grown to 180% of annual income. So, while the nation parties on, families are destroyed.

The premise of gambling is trying to get something large for a disproportionately small price. The idea is that you make a bet, and not have to work to earn the same amount. What might take several days, weeks or months to otherwise earn or cultivate, can be gained in a matter of seconds, simply by placing a well-timed bet on the right horse (in the case of the Melbourne Cup). It doesn’t take much to argue yourself from there into the place that by increasing the bet, you could increase your winnings, and if you win enough, you might never have to work again. Obviously, not everyone is consumed with, or tempted by, an addiction to gambling. But for those that are, even a sweepstake entry can prove to be a deadly distraction. So, in wisdom, we must be careful how we represent and take part in the good fun of our nation’s (arguably) favourite past-time.

Speaking to Christians for a moment, if, by entering a sweep, you communicate that your sustenance and hope for provision is elsewhere than in what God has provided, you may find it difficult to convincingly discuss your faith in Jesus and why he is exclusively enough for spiritual salvation. What would you truly prefer? That God dealt with you randomly by way of spinning a wheel, drawing lots, or let the roll of a dice determine our eternal fate or via his deliberate intention to set his love upon us and show his grace to us via Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection?

Gambling is emotionally charged controversy that provokes passionate advocates both for abolition and enjoyment in moderation. I hope you consider carefully how you will “profit” from your little flutter compared to finding your passion in Christ. How about you take the money you were going to put into the office sweep or on the race via a betting agency and give it a charity organisation that provides debt relief for struggling families. Invest in your community and not try to rob from it.

Don’t throw away your money. More than a horse race is at stake. Pray to God with the Psalmist:

Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Psalm 119:116 NIV

If you’re struggling with gambling addiction or need help with debt counselling consider contacting some of the below organisations.

Gambling Help http://gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au or phone 1800 858 858
You can also talk with Hope Street Inner City Counselling call  02 9332 3506 you don’t need a referral, just call.

Gamblers Anonymous http://www.gansw.org.au/  or phone: 02 9726 6625

Salvation Army – Moneycare (Parramatta) phone 02 9633 5011

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Posted by on 04/11/2014 in counselling, Family, services

 

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Multiplying Gospel Workers with MTS and KCC Oxygen

imageThe Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) group is a platinum sponsor of the Oxygen14 Conference.

During Wednesday lunch MTS launched their vision for preparing and training 500 ministry apprentices in 2016. This is double the number of apprentices trained in 2013. In order to reach this goal, training partners are needed.

Who can be a training partner? Typically it’s someone already in vocational ministry. So ministers, pastors, youth workers, those in children’s ministry etc. It is also Christian workers in University campus based roles and a variety of other Christian networks and organisations. If you’re in ministry now, in almost any context, you were trained, so God can use you to train someone else. Why not consider taking on an apprentice for 2015 or 2016?

The reason most will stall at this point is the prohibitive cost of paying for an apprentice and fulfilling legal compliance. The good news is that recent changes in the structure of the MTS program mean that Churches and ministry organisations only to raise $4,000 per year to fund and train an apprentice. A variety of support has been made available including compliance, curriculum, payroll, and recruiting conferences greatly reducing the cost and overhead burden faced when taking on a trainee or apprentice.

Is your Church or ministry ready to invest in the multiplication of gospel workers in Australia? Why not check out MTS?

 
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Posted by on 06/08/2014 in Gospel, leadership, ministry

 

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Learn more about Morling at Oxygen14

Morling College is one of the sponsors at Oxygen14. Morling has the distinction of being the largest provider of Theological Distance Education in Australia. In addition there are a variety of full time and part time on campus study options. Whether you just want to dip your toe in the water with a short certificate or diploma, prepare for vocational Christian service or enter academia, Morling can help equip you.

If you’re at Oxygen14 this week, stop by the Morling College booth for some more information on the next steps to take towards improving your impact on the world.

 
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Posted by on 05/08/2014 in General

 

Oxygen14 Sponsor’s Flying High

KCC’s Oxygen is an Australian national interdenominational ministry conference for anyone in Christian service. Their objective is to refresh those in ministry as they refresh each other and continue in the work of the gospel.

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Among the sponsors represented at Oxygen14 is the Australian Defence Force Chaplains. I spoke briefly with Kevin Russell who has 26 years experience as an Airforce Chaplain and Troy White who has been in his role for 18 months. Both were ordained / accredited ministers with pastoral experience before joining the Airforce as Chaplains. That experience helped prepare them for their current service, although that was just the beginning.

Part of being a defence force chaplain is complete immersion in the context of military life. That includes 18 weeks of basic training as well as being on the move to where ever posted. That might include a training base or it might be in a theatre of war or alongside peace keeping forces.

One of the main distinctions from regular “civilian” ministry is that a defence force chaplain is serving among a predominantly secular context with people without a faith background.

The pressures on family life are akin to those of regular defence force members, so chaplaincy makes for an immense challenge. But, as Jesus said, “great Is the reward.” Besides that, if you’re an Airforce Chaplain, Troy exclaimed, “We’ve got the jets!”

Enquiries about serving as a defence force chaplain: Australian Defence Force Jobs (this is the Airforce link)

Those with Anglican ordination can also go to: Defence Anglicans website

 
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Posted by on 04/08/2014 in General

 

Oxygen 14 Conference Speaker Bryan Chapell and book review

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One of the key note speakers at the KCC 2014 Oxygen Conference is Dr. Bryan Chapell. Bryan is highly regarded in the evangelical community as a preacher, teacher, and author.  He became the Senior Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013.

Bryan has written numerous books, including Christ-Centered Preaching, Christ-Centered Worship, The Wonder of it All, The Promises of Grace, Each for the Other, Holiness by Grace and Praying Backwards. In addition to works written for theological purposes, he also is the author of a children’s book, I’ll Love You Anyway and Always.

Bryan is married to his wife of 34 years, Kathy, and they have three married children (Colin, Jordan, and Corinne Mather), and a daughter (Kaitlin) who is a high school senior.

A recent review of Christ-Centered Preaching was posted by at 9 Marks by Phil Newton. This is a good primer for those already enrolled in the Preaching Elective at Oxygen. There are still a few limited spaces to enrol if you are coming but haven’t yet registered and chosen your elective stream.

 
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Posted by on 24/07/2014 in leadership, Preaching

 

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The Night Before Good Friday

Read about it 

or…

 
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Posted by on 17/04/2014 in Jesus, video

 

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Wreaking Ball Christians

What sort of ball?

What sort of ball?

 

Conjures up a weird mental image doesn’t it? But this isn’t a reference to a recent song by a wayward pop princess. I’m referring to the old-fashioned way buildings were demolished by swinging an enormous chunk of metal into them to smash them into smithereens. David Murrow wrote a post, “How to wreak your pastor“. It has some great advice, and, sadly, is right on target in the scenarios and examples he uses.

However, the attitude Murrow discusses doesn’t only affect pastors or paid vocational workers in a Church. It also affects the myriad of volunteers who are the real workers in every Church. People who, on top of being parents and holding down a job are investing greatly to run or help out with kids programs, music, hospitality, visitation and administration. On top of all the “free advice” pastors get, there is also the “feedback” and “observations” they receive about how some volunteer isn’t performing to the standard of the complainant.

This narky attitude can demoralise the volunteer who comes under scrutiny and repeatedly is a cause of people dropping out and falling away from Church. That’s not to say that we should be pandering everyone who stacks a chair or picks up a broom, but we also need to check our motivation behind our “feedback.” If it’s not a serious moral or legal failure and isn’t resulting in an undermining of the values and vision of the Church, then let it go! If, for whatever reason you still can’t stand a situation, please DON’T, as Murrow suggests, “ask the Lord if he may be leading you to attend a different church” – instead, get involved and help out yourself?! Leaving because you can’t get your own way, is infantile and gutless.

Alternatively, you could, as Murrow says for the pastor, offer to catch up with the person in question, take them out to lunch and spend some time getting to know them, praying with them and encouraging them. Don’t be a passive aggressive whiner. Realise that your opinion comes from someone who isn’t perfect, doesn’t always know all the facts or all the challenges involved in the ministry you’re so concerned about. There is every likelihood that you are dead wrong.

I was once in a ministry where I was regularly offered the type of advice Murrow mentions. It is exhausting to constantly get kicked in the guts that way. On the other hand, I’m currently in a ministry, where on 2 separate occasions in the last two weeks I’ve been invited out for catch ups by people in our Church that were exactly that: catchups! One was over a coffee, the other lunch, just yesterday. In both cases the people were simply trying to encourage me, see how I was doing and spend time getting to know me. It was such an encouragement!

After all Christians are meant to build each up not wreak and demolish.

 

Related Post:

Don’t Like Your Church? Then Leave. Or …

 
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Posted by on 11/04/2014 in church, Culture, discipleship, ministry

 

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