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Blog

We want you to interact with us.  You will find opinions here from our Ministry Team and others.  Often the blog will relate to the Messages you can listen to from this site.  Sometimes they may be experiences, stories or poetry that people from our community want to share.

Enjoy reading our contributions and make a comment.  We would love to hear from you.


23.03.17 | Comments Off

Learning Jesus…

“I am the way and the truth and the life...whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:6,12) ''What did Jesus say?' is the wrong question for Christian thought just as 'what would Jesus do?' is the wrong question for Christian ethics. 'What would Jesus want me or us to think, be, and...Read more »

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18.03.17 | Comments Off

Listening to God

Listening to God; What on Earth does that Mean? One of my favourite stories about Jesus is Mark 1, where soon after calling his first disciples by the Sea of Galilee Jesus finds himself overrun by people wanting to be healed. His big heart goes to all of these people who are suffering and he wants to heal them all. But I think Jesus never imagined that there were so many needing healing and just ...Read more »

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09.03.17 | Comments Off

The Second Habit: EAT

I will eat with three people this week; at least one of whom is not a member of a church. Eating has been a central Christian practice since the beginning of our movement. And not only eating sacramentally, as in the Eucharist, but eating missionally as a way to express love to all. The invitation to share a table is a profoundly meaningful one in every culture. I’m calling you to foster th...Read more »

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02.03.17 | Comments Off

Five Habits of Missional People

The Five Habits of Highly Missional People. The first habit that our Lenten Study encourages us to embrace is that of blessing others. “to bless three people each week” At least one of whom is a member of LFC, and at least one of whom is not. The third can be of either category. The challenge is perhaps that we exercise our generosity in blessing towards someone we would not normal...Read more »

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24.02.17 | Comments Off

SURPRISE THE WORLD…!

Or...how to live a questionable life... Or...Bless. Eat. Listen. Learn. Sent. Imagine leaving your home for a far off place, a foreign place, not just in geographic terms, but in every way imaginable – language, culture, religion, societal expectations and pressures. How do you choose to live in this place? What do you keep from your own background? What do you let go of? What do you learn ...Read more »

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18.02.17 | Comments Off

Everybody Hates Moving

Everybody Hates Moving Sometimes You Must At playgroup last week I was chatting to a mum who recently moved into her own home. The new home was great but the experience of shifting was not fun. We then proceeded to share stories of terrible house shifting experiences that we either had ourselves or happened to friends. There were many. I really think that nobody likes shifting. Many in congr...Read more »

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11.02.17 | Comments Off

An anything goes world…

Righteousness, mercy, and pure hearts in an anything goes world... As Jesus sits down to teach a group of disciples, and in turn the crowd, we are drawn into this space to consider these blessings for ourselves. These are not easy teachings, despite the simple repetitive call of ‘Blessed are...’ In our section for today we see that those hungry and thirsty for righteousness will be filled, ...Read more »

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03.02.17 | Comments Off

Keeping children from God

How to Stop Children having a Relationship with God: a 10 step Guide Last week we discovered that it was Jesus’ disciples who were keeping children away from him. It prompted the question of how we modern day disciples do the same thing. Admittedly, we are usually unaware that our actions are keeping our children or grandchildren from getting to know Jesus but nevertheless … So I constru...Read more »

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21.01.17 | Comments Off

The Motley Crew

The Motley Crew of the Church In the Epistle for today, taken from Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, we find Paul lamenting divisions. Friends have reported to me that you quarrel a lot. It seems that some of you boast, “I follow Paul,” some, “I follow Peter,” and others, “I follow Apollos”. There are even some who claim, “I am Christ’s”. What’s got into you? C...Read more »

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17.12.16 | Comments Off

God with us Always

God spoke to Jeremiah from a place of eternal presence, a protective place, much like the womb. And in doing so God gave Jeremiah the confidence to trust in him, to take on the calling to be a prophet. This confidence to trust in the God who is with us always is confirmed over and over again, ultimately in the arrival of Jesus - the Word made flesh. In the story of Jeremiah and of Jesus we see ...Read more »

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10.12.16 | Comments Off

A Beautiful Dream

Mary, the mother of Jesus, reminds us of the importance of hopelessly idealistic beautiful dreams. This may sound like a contradiction but bear with me. First, have a look at what the pregnant Mary sings when she meets her aged relative Elizabeth who is carrying John the Baptist: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has been mindful of ...Read more »

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02.12.16 | Comments Off

Not using power

The Power That Changes the World: not using power Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a model of the sort of people God uses to change the world; powerless people who make themselves available to God. Mary had learnt the wisdom of Scripture well, so that when the angel announced God’s plan to use her to change the world she neither laughed at the idea nor turned it down as being unlikely to work...Read more »

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24.11.16 | Comments Off

Advent: God WITH us…

We begin another journey to the manger today. It is, in some ways, a geographical journey, but it is so much more. It is a journey which will take us to the depths of our hearts, and seeks to bind us closely to God. It is a journey which will expose the heart of God for his people, and will perhaps challenge us to see our own journey of faith in Mary’s. At that time Mary got ready and hurrie...Read more »

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19.11.16 | Comments Off

Christ, the King?

I believe one of the reasons that most people don’t think about God much is that we are completely unaware of the creation as we live our lives in it. Most people’s worlds have contracted to home, family, shops, friends, and whatever our latest issues might be. We walk down the street unaware of the miracle that is the sun that is powered by continuous nuclear explosions that send heat and ene...Read more »

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11.11.16 | Comments Off

Being Kingdom People

Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it wi...Read more »

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03.11.16 | Comments Off

The Persecuted Church

After the 9/11 attack that brought down the Twin Towers in New York many people told their stories of tragedy or escape. What used to upset me most about the stories of escape was how some of the Christian survivors were thanking God for helping them to escape while others died around them. Their stories were heard by all the relatives of those who died. How could this not sound like callous disre...Read more »

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29.10.16 | Comments Off

Halloween?

A Local op shop was filled with Halloween costumes at the end of August. Last year the neighbour’s kids came over trick or treating (with mum hovering on the footpath just in case). How can you say no to kids?! How can a young person say no when friends are putting on fancy dress parties where you are supposed to dress up (as something evil)? Anything from an axe murderer to a witch, or a va...Read more »

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22.10.16 | Comments Off

Blessings and woes…

We have heard the sermon on the plain (not to mention sermons on the sermon on the plain!) so many times that it often fails to have the impact that it should. Like much of what Jesus says, the blessings (for being poor, hungry, weeping, hated) and woes (for being rich, well fed, laughing, well liked) in Luke 6:20-26 require us to twist our minds around and view the world in new ways. Here are...Read more »

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15.10.16 | Comments Off

Prayer and Justice…

Prayer is not mere words, or talking to God, or listening to God. It is a space, a place, in which we meet with the living God in order to connect more deeply. Our innermost thoughts and needs, and God’s holy, creative Spirit collide in such spaces and in such ways that we cannot help but be changed. We see in our readings from Luke 18 (Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary f...Read more »

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07.10.16 | Comments Off

Right under Your Nose

Once again I was rushing around the house trying to find my phone before I left for a meeting. It doesn’t help that it is black. I had been finishing up emails on my computer, realised the time, jumped up and grabbed the car keys and then realised I did not have my phone. Of course a phone is not just a phone these days, it is also a diary. At the meeting I was going to I knew they would ask me ...Read more »

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30.09.16 | Comments Off

Jesus’ Hard Sayings: Why Forgive?

We all know as Christians that we are supposed to forgive those who sin against us. It’s so basic it’s even in the Lord’s Prayer. But even knowing all this, I have to admit it is not easy or straightforward to forgive someone who has really hurt you. And the disciples agree with me on this one. Just have a look at their reaction to Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness: “If your brother or ...Read more »

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16.09.16 | Comments Off

Jesus’ Hard Sayings: Wealth

When is a parable not a parable? In the case of the following story from Luke 16 despite the mistaken heading: The Parable of the Shrewd Manager 1Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longe...Read more »

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10.09.16 | Comments Off

Grace v Costly Discipleship

The passage we are looking at today (Luke 14:25-35) has such memorable verses as “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” We need to go back to the beginning of the chapter to get a handle on a verse such as this one, and the passage that it heads. There we find Jes...Read more »

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03.09.16 | Comments Off

Love Seeks Justice

This little treasure is a window on the complex world of Paul and the systems of power which controlled it. Onesimus (whose name means "useful"!) had been a slave in the household of Philemon, who must have been reasonably well off. Onesimus had escaped and somehow found contact with Paul, probably during his time of imprisonment, where he helped him, but more importantly became a convert to the f...Read more »

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26.08.16 | Comments Off

Vive la difference!

I find it very difficult to stand out. Most of the time I like to be hidden, to blend in, go unnoticed, and just get on with things. This sometimes makes it difficult to get ideas and personal points of view across, or to give direction and vision. Because of my personality the effort required to do these things can leave me exhausted and vulnerable. If left unchecked this desire for hiddenness ca...Read more »

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19.08.16 | Comments Off

Leadership Insights Continue

Moderator of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania: Rev Sharon Hollis Rev Sharon Hollis was installed as Moderator on 3 June 2016 at a joyful worship service in Wesley Church, Lonsdale Street Melbourne. Sharon is the sixth woman in Victoria and fourth in Tasmania to be appointed to the position since the formation of the Uniting Church in 1977. As the spiritual leader of the Church across tw...Read more »

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12.08.16 | Comments Off

Listening to the Spirit

Consolation and Desolation...listening to the Spirit As a parent I reflect on the fact that often I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing (perhaps not a surprise to you!?)....not only is each child unique and therefore they have unique experiences, and respond uniquely, but it is also true that for most milestones that come along, and each new phase of life, it is a new experience for me as a ...Read more »

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05.08.16 | Comments Off

Leadership Needs Vision

It is so easy to lose your way in today’s complicated world. Money, relationships, moral challenges, and everyone telling you to do what you want as long as it agrees with them. Confusion makes us drift along and makes us open to poor life choices when the challenge comes. The person who is less likely to choose poorly is the person that knows what they value most in life. It is like a compass t...Read more »

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29.07.16 | Comments Off

What Leadership?

Leadership is a nebulous idea. For all the books written about it and the formulae of leadership presented, there are still some leaders who emerge with none of the defined characteristics. In the old film, ‘Being There’, with the Late Peter Sellers playing a simple man named Chancey Gardiner, the notion of leadership was turned on its head. Gardiner, who was in fact a gardener, in an effor...Read more »

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15.07.16 | Comments Off

Good Leadership?

“Strong leadership is what we need!” “No, servant leadership is the Christian way!” “But we don’t need a charismatic leader, we need a team of leaders!” “Leaders need to know the Gospel.” “They need to understand good governance procedures in our highly regulated world.” “We need good leadership on this issue.” “We don’t like tall poppies here; everyone has the ri...Read more »

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08.07.16 | Comments Off

Building a House(hold)

Building a House(hold) to the Lord... Hallelujah! O my soul, praise GOD! All my life long I’ll praise GOD, singing songs to my God as long as I live. Don’t put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, of salvation life. Mere humans don’t have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them. Instead, get help from the God of Jacob, ...Read more »

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02.07.16 | Comments Off

Freezing Up

Freezing Up When You are Most Needed Last week we saw how David finally came clean about his affair with Bathsheba and his staged murder of her husband after she became pregnant with his child. He came clean because God exposed his secret to the public through Nathan the prophet. I have no doubt that his repentance and relief was genuine as the huge pustule of guilt was slowly drained from hi...Read more »

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24.06.16 | Comments Off

Into the light…

Let’s compare a couple of stories... Eddie McGuire, President, Collingwood Football Club. Eddie has done many positive things for football and for the community. But Eddie has been in the news lately for making a ‘joke’ on radio about paying a lot of money to see journalist Caroline Wilson do the ice challenge (a fundraiser for Motor Neuron Disease), and even more money to see her held un...Read more »

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18.06.16 | Comments Off

A Babushka Bible

My grandmother had a carved and painted Babushka doll. As a child I would love to pull the Russian doll into two halves along her waist, take out the smaller doll on the inside, and then put her back together again and place her on the table. I would then repeat it with the smaller Russian grandma doll. I would repeat this until I got down to the tiniest doll that could not be opened. All five wou...Read more »

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11.06.16 | Comments Off

Dancing and Baptism

What do dancing and baptism have to do with each other? For many traditional church goers the answer would be ‘absolutely nothing’! Dancing is sinful and baptism is good. Today’s story of David shows that in some situations they are almost the same thing. David is so excited to have the Ark of the Covenant (yes, the one with the 10 Commandments in it) returning after it had been captured ...Read more »

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02.06.16 | Comments Off

Jealousy and integrity…

Oh how strong can you be With matters of the heart? Life is much too short To while away with tears If only you could see just what you do to me Oh jealousy you tripped me up Jealousy you brought me down You bring me sorrow you cause me pain Jealousy when will you let go? Gotta hold of my possessive mind Turned me into a jealous kind How how how all my jealousy I wasn't man enough to...Read more »

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27.05.16 | Comments Off

A “man after God’s own heart”?

David, a “man after God’s own heart”? That is quite a claim really- “a man after God’s own heart”! It makes me think he must have been super spiritual, extremely kind and forgiving, and “had it all together.” Instead we find this warrior who was extremely good at killing enemies in war, loved God and his chosen people from the depths of his heart, was a great poet, and was a hop...Read more »

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19.05.16 | Comments Off

Working on our appearance/heart?

Working on our appearance...or our heart...or? Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.’ But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’ 1 Sam 16:6-7 Nothing ...Read more »

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14.05.16 | Comments Off

The Spirit, Breath, Presence of God

One of the three pilgrimage festivals, Pentecost falls 50 days (seven weeks) after Passover, as its Greek name, Pentecoste (50th), preserves. It also became a time to celebrate the coming of the divine Law on Sinai. Legend has it that on that occasion a flame came down from heaven and divided into 70 tongues of fire, one for each nation of the world. All could understand, but only one nation promi...Read more »

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07.05.16 | Comments Off

Moving Past Stereotypes

Confidence in moving past Stereotypes Every day we are faced with our own personal stereotypes. These typically come with a set of expectations, fears, and prejudices, and then by our words and actions we act and react, judge and sentence the people around us with a swiftness that would impress an Olympic sprinter. Why do we do this? Often we are unaware, or only vaguely aware that we are stere...Read more »

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02.05.16 | Comments Off

“I’d Do Anything for Love…”

"I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" This was the grab line from a Meatloaf smash hit of 1993. Teenagers giggled at what they thought it might mean but the sheer passion of the singing insisted that he was being serious about the intention of his love. So what had she asked of him that warranted the response “I’d do anything for love (but I won’t do that)”? Her questions...Read more »

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21.04.16 | Comments Off

Confidence in teams…

Many of the believers were scattered...Some of them went to places as far away as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch...but only to Jews. Some...from Cyprus and Cyrene... When they came to Antioch they spoke also to Greeks...The Lord was helping the believers...The church in Jerusalem heard...so they sent Barnabas to Antioch...When he reached Antioch...He encouraged all the believers in Antioch...Then ...Read more »

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16.04.16 | Comments Off

Confidence, Anxiety & Fear

The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:24-27 Anxiety and fe...Read more »

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09.04.16 | Comments Off

Jesus and Pavlov’s Dog

I was interviewed this week by a Year 10 student doing a philosophy assignment about what religions think about heaven and hell. Like anything that comes out of left field, I was pushed to think about things in a way that could be explained to someone else. As the interview went on it became plain that she was assuming that the notions of heaven and hell were linked to the ideas of rewards and ...Read more »

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31.03.16 | Comments Off

Doubter, Believer, Follower

It’s Easter. Do not be afraid to doubt. Doubt boldly. Doubt joyfully. Doubt and disbelief are important to the Easter experience, and Jesus does not condemn his disciples for them. So, if we want to experience the resurrection, I suggest that we not simply celebrate it or find joy and hope in it. We must doubt it, too. We must admit our disbelief. In truth, Easter absorbs both the joy and ...Read more »

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24.03.16 | Comments Off

new life.new thinking.new living

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others were there early ready to perform the necessary burial duties ...Read more »

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18.03.16 | Comments Off

SHAPE: Now is the Time to Act!

The one expression that would drive our lecturers crazy when I went through Minister training was this, “my ministry”. It irritated them because the emphasis was almost always on “my” rather than “ministry”. “What’s the difference?” you might ask. Ministry (or any of act of Christian service) is about what God is doing in someone’s life and we offer our hands, feet, spee...Read more »

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11.03.16 | Comments Off

Experiences…

Experience has taught me this...no two experiences are exactly the same, and no two people experience the same experience in the same way. That’s why book clubs can work so well – a group of people reading the same version of a text and yet coming to vastly different understandings, conclusions, or interest in the material. This is incredibly important when it comes to understanding and li...Read more »

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04.03.16 | Comments Off

Personality

What does your Personality have to do with your Kingdom SHAPE? Probably much more than we imagine. Our Personalities are a very important part of our God-given makeup. All that remains for us to do is to recognise that this is so; that there is no one “right” or “good” personality that God approves of over any other; and that God uses ALL personalities for his Kingdom Purposes. Perso...Read more »

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27.02.16 | Comments Off

Abilities…

He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills (ex 35:31) “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give...Read more »

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19.02.16 | Comments Off

Who do you have a ‘heart’ for?

One reason for doing a SHAPE Course is to get different angles on what it means to work for Jesus as part of his team. Last week was Spiritual Gifts. For some people this helps a lot because they have a clear sense of giftedness and God working through them; it’s just a matter of where to use these gifts. But other Christians need a different starting point to make sense of their place in God’...Read more »

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12.02.16 | Comments Off

Unwrapping My Spiritual Gifts

Imagine the scene...it’s your birthday and you are eagerly anticipating the day. You are planning to spend time with friends and family, some good food and drink, lots of fun and there might even be a present or two. Amidst all the laughter and storytelling there is indeed a couple of wrapped presents, and you feel so grateful. The first one is beautifully, exquisitely wrapped! It is perhaps the...Read more »

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04.02.16 | Comments Off

Are You a Masterpiece?

I once did a course on art and spiritual meaning. I learnt a lot about art and artists along the way. One of the things that marks our great artists is how much work they put into their technique to get just the effect they are looking for. Even something straightforward like a vase of flowers becomes a masterpiece when Vincent Van Gogh uses a knife to apply the carefully mixed gooey oil paint ‘...Read more »

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29.01.16 | Comments Off

Are you living the dream?

What is it that got you interested in Jesus in the first place? And what is it that still keeps you here in a Christian community that seeks to live out Jesus’ way of life? The reality is that Jesus gives us life and this life sustains us whether life is good or not so good. But many people find their faith slowly draining away over time and I would like to address just one of the reasons for...Read more »

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21.01.16 | Comments Off

Ready, Set, Go!!!

Over the last few weeks we have looked at Sabbath rest and play, have stopped, looked and listened for God's direction in our lives, and we are now about to leap into a new year of ministry and mission. Before we start though, before the GO! how about we make sure we are doing ministry and mission out of a proper foundation, one which is based on measures which tell us about who we are, about who ...Read more »

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17.12.15 | Comments Off

Christmas: Celebrating Family?

Is Christmas meant to be a Family Celebration? I almost feel like a “Grinch” for even suggesting Christmas is not designed by God to bring families together. What sort of ‘meanie’ would spoil Christmas for the children by hinting that God meant Christmas to be more than an excuse to celebrate the nuclear family. But we all know that the trouble with celebrating the nuclear family on Decemb...Read more »

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11.12.15 | Comments Off

Treasured Memories

I wonder what your treasured memories are? The images here depict some of the fun many of us may have had in childhood – building cubby houses using sheets and cushions, playing hide and seek, and playing in rivers and lakes. I have fond memories of playing cricket with cousins, easter egg hunts, and the small Christmas traditions in our Santa sacks, like 50c pieces, sultanas and liquorice. ...Read more »

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04.12.15 | Comments Off

Do Christians Obey God?

Do Christians obey God? Yes and no. Yes, because the ideas and practices for how to live life come from Jesus. To follow Jesus means you take a leap of faith and decide to live that way even if there is no proof that it is all going to work as you hope. For instance: “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for t...Read more »

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26.11.15 | Comments Off

Justice and International Mission

The Commission for Mission of the Uniting Church in Australia, and Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, resources and supports the Uniting Church’s commitment to justice and international mission through the Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit. This unit provides opportunities and resources to engage and educate the church and community about issues of social justice. The activities of...Read more »

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20.11.15 | Comments Off

Being God’s people in a new culture

You might have heard people say that they are 're-inventing' themselves. This idea that we can become a new person, shaped around an ideal or image of ourselves which may or may not be possible is an attractive one. The flaw in the idea is that of course transformation of this sort is neither simple, nor guaranteed. The best attempts at this are made when people focus on something which is auth...Read more »

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13.11.15 | Comments Off

Changing Church Culture

We Must Adapt or Be Replaced by Those Who Will; Changing Church Culture Church as you know it will not be around in 50 years. The world has changed around us and the traditional ways of doing church are dying at an alarming rate and the new ways of doing church are growing. But this is not the first time God’s people have been through huge changes. It is always painful and exciting for those ...Read more »

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05.11.15 | Comments Off

Empathy for First Peoples of Aus

Empathy for First Peoples of Australia For my entire life I have been hearing of the “aboriginal problem” in Australia but rarely have I heard of the need to solve the problem of white people’s attitude to aborigines. I am not referring to the blatant racism and disrespect shown to Adam Goodes by tens of thousands of ordinary Australian footy supporters across Australia. I am referring to...Read more »

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27.10.15 | Comments Off

Sufficient Grace

So how much grace is sufficient for you? I guess, if we are talking of God, then even the smallest amount of his grace is sufficient to sustain us, and the largest amount of his grace may never seem to be enough to redeem us....except that this is the grace of God so it is absolute, meeting our needs in all situations. Paul (in 2 Cor 12:1-10) boasts of his weaknesses, saying that they make h...Read more »

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23.10.15 | Comments Off

What are you proud of?

One man come in the name of love One man come and go. One man come he to justify One man to overthrow. One man caught on a barbed wire fence One man he resist One man washed up on an empty beach One man betrayed with a kiss. Early morning, April four Shot rings out in the Memphis sky. Free at last, they took your life They could not take your pride. In the name of love What more...Read more »

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17.10.15 | Comments Off

A Freewill Offering?

The Church is like every group in society; we have our own phrases for the things that we do. Cricket has "midwicket" (which is not the middle of the wicket), football has a "screamer" (which does not involve running around squealing like a pig), maths has "imaginary numbers" (as if there weren’t enough real numbers to play with), politicians have "non-core promises" (which is not a promise), an...Read more »

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09.10.15 | Comments Off

The Deserving Poor?

In a Victorian town the church combined to put on a special Christmas dinner for the poor in the district. Preparations were made, food bought, cutlery and crockery brought to the venue, and a substantial meal was provided. The church people thought it was a great success, except for one lady from my congregation who vowed never to do it again. I asked her what had gone wrong to make her feel s...Read more »

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02.10.15 | Comments Off

Which Message?

The “Gospel” is old English for “Good News”. Everywhere in the New Testament it keeps talking about a message that is Good News. Even Jesus is described as a Word from God, and Mark starts his Gospel by saying, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah…” Paul describes himself as an “ambassador from God” with a message that we have been reconciled by Jesus on the...Read more »

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17.09.15 | Comments Off

A Blessing Through Love

One of the unique teachings of the Bible is that our love for God and our love for others are closely connected. The apostle John asserted that: "If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4.20). The true religion, even in its Old Covenant expression, is not about r...Read more »

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08.09.15 | Comments Off

Heart Matters

We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. (2 Cor 5:12) It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities (Albus Dumbledore) “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ Th...Read more »

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02.09.15 | Comments Off

What’s on your Bucket List?

Since the movie came out a few years ago, The Bucket List, this phrase has become part of our language. I often hear people saying what they would like to do before they die. The ideas they come up with are put on their ‘bucket list’- things they will do before they ‘kick the bucket’. The idea behind this is a reaction to the feeling that most of us are wasting our lives doing ordinary ...Read more »

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28.08.15 | Comments Off

Changing the Conversation

Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania are deeply indebted to leaders and conversation partners who over many years have consistently invited everybody in the movement to ‘change the conversation’. Explicitly or implicitly this has often been in dialogue with Lesslie Newbigin’s challenging question from the late 1960s: “… what would be involved in a genuine missionary encounter betw...Read more »

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21.08.15 | Comments Off

Sweet sorrow

We have seen that Paul really loves the Corinthian church. They are so precious to him that he is willing to go to great lengths to show it – including, in the 2 Corinthians 7:2-11 passage, seemingly harsh words which cause pain. This is sometimes the role of an apostle, a pastor, a teacher, or a parent, and it is often very difficult. Things sometimes are expressed poorly, misunderstood, only ...Read more »

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11.08.15 | Comments Off

What is a Minister Good For?

When I first began to hear a call from God to be a Minister, a wise friend asked me which Ministers I would model myself on in the church and why? Was it Ian who had a great loving pastoral manner but whose preaching was all over the place and confusing? Was it Sharon who was passionate for the poor? Was it Charlie who led from the front and who created and led every outreach into the community? W...Read more »

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08.08.15 | Comments Off

Holy Spirit Work

You show that you are a letter from Christ...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Cor 3:3) As human beings we are never left untouched by our experiences. When we encounter something for the first time our whole self is affected. We may react physically, mentally and/or spiritually and if the experience is repeate...Read more »

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31.07.15 | Comments Off

Love Empowers and Equips Us

Ephesians 4: 1-16 These rich 16 verses are the beginning of an exhortation to the hearers to abandon the old way of life and fully enter something new. In the background is the fact that they look back on having been Gentiles and that they are now one in the new people of God. Reading the passage is like climbing a mountain and then takes us down and out into a vision which encompasses the w...Read more »

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25.07.15 | Comments Off

What Brings Comfort

We are starting a new series on Paul’s final letter to the troubled Corinthian church. It is called 2 Corinthians. So deeply did he love this church that he had started that he could not stop from coming back to visit them or from writing to them. Yet this lively, diverse group of people kept getting really basic things wrong. And to make matters worse some new teachers had come one the scene pr...Read more »

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18.07.15 | Comments Off

The Power of a Song

The power of music and poetry is to make us feel. To draw us along with a combination of real life ‘word pictures’ of painful of joyful situations so that we enter into those situations. It is twice as powerful if the situation being described is the situation you are now in. The power of the “Blues” was always to help people in awful situations to express the pain in their heart. As a ...Read more »

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09.07.15 | Comments Off

Yes! We are Blessed!

You, too!' The acclamation with which the Ephesians begins is a rolling wordy sentence that tumbles from one set of wonderful themes to another, finally coming to rest in the affirmation to the readers that they belong, too! 'You, too!' Ephesians is celebrating the inclusion of both Gentiles and Jews in this new initiative of God to bring together all people, indeed, all things into unity under Ch...Read more »

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04.07.15 | Comments Off

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!

Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon as it is also known is perhaps a controversial book. It has in common with Esther the fact that God is not mentioned by name, but it is the overtly, and unashamedly, sexual language and imagery of the poetry that puzzles people as to its place in Scripture. How should we interpret such provocative language? There are those who see the story as an allegory for the ...Read more »

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27.06.15 | Comments Off

Ah Job!

What an amazing book this is, throwing us into a whirlwind of experiences, thoughts and emotions as we navigate the trials and struggles of a man before God. One thought that immediately comes to mind is that with friends like these, who needs enemies! And yet, it is precisely because of these characters that we are invited to ask and answer the same questions that are posed in these pages. Th...Read more »

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19.06.15 | Comments Off

Life is Meaningless?

Back in the 1960’s a little evangelistic pamphlet was produced for use at Universities in the USA. The Four Spiritual Laws (not a very heart-warming title!) started with a famous one-liner, “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” To young people at University with tons of potential, a thriving economy, and the whole of life before them it sounded like a good selling point for the benefits ...Read more »

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12.06.15 | Comments Off

Why can’t the bible be simple?

Why can’t things in the bible just be simple? Why can’t the bible just say what it means to say instead of telling stories, using poetry, contradicting itself, and landing us in shades of grey, or even in riots of colour that seem impossible to separate and make sense of? Why can’t the bible be black and white, obvious, clear and certain? Just like life is, I suppose.... Wait,...Read more »

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04.06.15 | Comments Off

How do you read the Bible?

Way back in the last millennium when I was a new Christian and a teenager, I would sneak out of the house at 8.30am in the morning and settle down in the garage (often freezing!). There, I would clear a little space on the work bench so that I could spend a few minutes with God before hopping on the bike at 8.50am for the 8 minute dash to school. What was I doing in the garage and why did I need ...Read more »

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29.05.15 | Comments Off

God’s Spirit gives New Life!

I like Nicodemus. Here is a person who, if we look at other parts of Scripture, we should be wary of, scathing even in our opinion of. As a Pharisee and Jewish Leader we have been taught that his like were part of the problem, oppressing the average person while exalting their own position and status. Nicodemus however is wrestling with what it means to be from and of God, and what it is that God ...Read more »

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22.05.15 | Comments Off

The Spirit comes from the Father

I enjoy singing songs about, and to, the Holy Spirit, but I do get concerned that we seem to have an over spiritualised view of the role that the Holy Spirit plays. We sing of the HS raining down, of filling us, of breathing on us, of renewing us, of comforting us, and we do so most often with slower, more emotive music. While these lyrics may well be true, we risk turning God's Spirit into a pers...Read more »

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16.05.15 | Comments Off

Why Don’t I talk about Jesus?

The Life Group leader, Wendy, invites someone in the group to share about what God has done in their lives. Hamish proudly says to his Life Group, “Jesus Christ is the best thing to ever happen to me. Since I started following him back at old St Smithers Sunday School, he has me make the best decisions in life and avoid a whole lot of really stupid things that I was sorely tempted to do. Whe...Read more »

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01.05.15 | Comments Off

Risk Taking

As a whole, the established church has been fairly reluctant to take risks. Typically, once a church has gone past the initial exciting work of planting, watering, and growing, there is a natural desire to not stuff it up and also to enjoy the fruits of their (God's) work. Decision making at this stage often becomes tied up with maintenance - of buildings, numbers, traditions, and 'how we do th...Read more »

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28.04.15 | Comments Off

Less People + More Mission?

Traditional churches are in very fast decline and face extinction if we don’t act faithfully and ask God for a fresh vision of how to be church in this very different society we now live in. These same issues apply in all traditional churches such as Churches of Christ, Anglican, Presbyterian, Uniting Church, Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic etc. But when it comes to mission every church is chall...Read more »

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23.04.15 | Comments Off

Leadership

I often feel inadequate to the task of leadership in the church. There is just so much to do, so much I recognise as needing attention, change, renewal or leaving behind. There is a vision in my heart and soul which I believe is from God and I want to see it all happen....NOW! I don’t want to wait, I don’t want to be patient, I just want the good stuff! Part of leadership is being able to ...Read more »

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17.04.15 | Comments Off

Church Crisis

Church Crisis. Prognosis: terminal. Or is it? I have been called by the Synod of the Uniting Church to be on a team that is doing a Major Strategic Review (MSR). Why? Because the traditional Uniting Church is in very fast decline and faces extinction if it doesn’t act faithfully and ask God what he is calling us to in this very different society that we live in. These issues apply just as str...Read more »

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10.04.15 | Comments Off

A New Season

A new season in the life of the church has come upon us . Australian society is far more multicultural, with many more religions and more people claiming ‘no religion’ on their census returns, than 37 years ago when we came into Union. The context for the Australian church has therefore changed so much that the old ways of doing church must adapt - or continue in decline. We must change becaus...Read more »

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10.04.15 | Comments Off

Living Stones

“Once you were nobody. Now you are God’s people. At one time no one had pity on you. Now God has treated you with kindness." (1 Peter 2:10 CEV) We celebrate today the gift of life. Not ordinary life, in God's economy there are no ordinary lives, but extraordinary, mind-blowing life! Extraordinary, not because we have done anything worthy of the adjective, but because God t...Read more »

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27.03.15 | Comments Off

Building and Demolishing

Nine 3-story townhouses are being built across the road from us. It is fascinating to see all the different phases of that work as it has slowly grown over the last 15 months. First they destroy the previous house to make room for what they want to build. Next they dig out the soil until they get the levels for the 9 buildings. Then comes gravel and stones so that they will built on a firm fo...Read more »

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19.03.15 | Comments Off

Jesus predicts His death

These verses of John 12: 20-33 belong to the final days of Jesus’ public ministry in John. Like most of John, they want to be read with ears alert for subtle allusions beyond the surface meaning of the text. This begins already in the opening verse where suddenly we have Greeks before us, who must be Gentiles. But the preceding verse, 19, has the Pharisees declare that ‘the world has gone afte...Read more »

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16.03.15 | Comments Off

The Life Story of C.S. Lewis

Christian literary icon C.S. Lewis was the genius behind such works as " The Chronicles Of Narnia". Portrayed as living a cloistered life as an Oxford Don safely insulated from the burdens of everyday life this was in reality not true. Lewis's step son Douglas informs us that his entire adult life had taken place within the daily context of an extremely demanding domestic existence as Lewis kne...Read more »

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05.03.15 | Comments Off

Focus on Ability

It’s quite easy to focus on my lack of ability, on those things I cannot do, that I struggle with. Let’s face it, there are plenty of them! And here’s the list.... Ok, I’m not really going to give you the list – you can probably figure out some of them for yourselves, while others I manage to hide, out of fear or embarrassment. There are times when this list threatens to control me, t...Read more »

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28.02.15 | Comments Off

The core business of a Church

From time to time Christians wake up as if from a dream, look around at the way we do church and ask the question, “Is this what Jesus meant to created when he started his movement?” If a church is particularly cold, or over-regulated, or judgemental, or disinterested in spiritual things, or just a club for mates, or ‘just another institution’ fighting for self-survival, then that Chris...Read more »

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20.02.15 | Comments Off

Bonds of Friendship

What is a friend? Such a simple and at the same time complex question! I’m no expert when it comes to making friends – but I have discovered a few things that I think are worth us exploring. Some of the etymology of the word ‘friend’ in various languages provides some good insight. Many languages share a similar meaning for the word friend – ‘to love’, and this obviously forms the...Read more »

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13.02.15 | Comments Off

Jesus’s Church is like a Party

Most people don’t get what church is for. People say they “go to church” or “I missed church this week”. What they are assuming when they say this is that Church is all about the worship service. If you didn’t know anything about Jesus except what you saw at churches, you would think that Jesus created the church so that people could have satisfying worship experiences with God once a ...Read more »

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13.02.15 | Comments Off

Too busy to rest!?

As a (relatively) normal human being I am fully aware of my propensity to fill every available moment with both noise and activity. I have found it very easy and highly entertaining to constantly be ‘busy’. It seems that the busier we are, the more there is to do...and the less we seem to get done. That creates a cycle of work, frustration, and guilt. Work builds up to the point of frustrat...Read more »

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30.01.15 | Comments Off

Jesus’ Authority

In today's Bible reading, Mark 1:21-28, Jesus taught with authority and demonstrated his authority over evil spirits. Then follow many demonstrations of Jesus' authority. Jesus heals many people, calms a storm, proving that he has authority over the wind and the waves, performs many miracles, including walking on water, feeding multitudes, and ultimately demonstrates his authority over death itsel...Read more »

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24.01.15 | Comments Off

Jesus is Calling

I’ve come back to work after 3 glorious weeks off. Having de-stressed in the first week from a very full on few months, I still needed to regain my energy and my sense of joy in life. Two weeks of holidays, walks, games and jigsaws got my energy back and was very healing on the soul but when I came back to work this week there was still something missing. It took me a few days to realise what it...Read more »

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25.12.14 | Comments Off

Temple Talk

Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” What a mixed blessing for any new mum to hear, but for Mary it is...Read more »

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19.12.14 | Comments Off

A Terrible Christmas

What an awful week. Firstly, a sick individual murders strangers in a Sydney café and tries to make out he is a godly martyr. While this is happening, the Treasurer amended the budget to slash $4.5 billion of aid to the poorest people on the planet at the same time as he announced that they will no longer be chasing down tax evading multi-national businesses for $500 million p.a. tax they owe....Read more »

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13.12.14 | Comments Off

Hope for a king

The shepherds and Magi came to see and worship a new king. But what sort of king, what sort of kingdom was this going to be? If we take our Isaiah reading (Ch 61) as a bit of a guide we discover the following – the kingdom will be a place for; the poor, the broken-hearted, captives and prisoners, those who mourn, and despair. We see these sorts of descriptions appear time and again throu...Read more »

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29.11.14 | Comments Off

A New Way: A New Life

Welcome to Advent, 2014! Don't know about you, but I am already exhausted and we have only just begun our path towards Christmas. The incarnation of the Son of God is perhaps the second most important part of church life. (Easter of course is the central part of church life, something we reflect on weekly through communion, as well as during Lent) How do we prepare our minds and hearts when we hav...Read more »

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14.11.14 | Comments Off

Facing Death in Christ

On my wedding day, I found that I was dressed and ready to go with 5 hours to spare. (It's different for guys) I knew my aging grandfather could die in the weeks ahead so I thought it would be nice to see him even if the nursing home was on the other side of Melbourne. He was amazed and deeply moved that I had come to see him on my wedding day. Being young, I was amazed and deeply moved at his...Read more »

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07.11.14 | Comments Off

‘Holy, Holy, Holy!’

I don't remember being given 'the talk' at home...you know the one I mean; the 'birds and bees' talk, the 'where did I come from, and I don't mean Geelong!' talk...perhaps I've blocked the memory! Of course we received sex education at school, and the bits I remember from that still make me queasy! I doubt, however, that in any of my formative sex education, I had it made clear to me what it ...Read more »

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31.10.14 | Comments Off

Love the Lord your God!

It is possible the wider church is reflecting on the gospel of Matthew 23: 1-12. So, this week, we can muse on two reflections. One, here, based on Matthew, and on Sunday morning, a second, based on the LFC Thessalonians reading. What a bonus! This reading, Matthew 23: 1-12 begins with an extraordinary statement about the scribes and Pharisees. They 'sit on Moses' seat' (23:2). That means they ...Read more »

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24.10.14 | Comments Off

Faith-Life Balance

I have been trying to find time to write this article in a week which has had all sorts of road bumps. Some things have been cancelled, other things I totally missed (apologies again to those people!) while dealing with other things. Life often gets in the way of life. That’s not to say that one part of life is more or less important than another. Rather it is simply a reality of how different p...Read more »

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18.10.14 | Comments Off

Thessalonians: Radically Changed

Paul is awestruck about the depth of the changes in the lives of the fledgling church in Thessalonica. They started following Christ and then faced immense persecution in a short period of only 3 weeks! In fact he wants to tell other people about it but the exciting news of their awesome growth in faith but the news is already everywhere. He then talks of what sort of changes that he admires in...Read more »

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10.10.14 | Comments Off

Why I love Paul’s Letters

Thessalonians Series: Why I Love Paul's Writings I was not brought up to be a Christian even though my widowed mother did her best to give us good values. So when I came across some actual Christians at a Scripture Union adventure camp it was all new to me.. So I was determined to find out more about what Christians believe. Of course, I went straight to the Bible. Much of the Bible bored me...Read more »

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03.10.14 | Comments Off

Law

LAW Ah context, I've said it before and will say it again, context is everything!! A passage such as either of our two readings today can leave us feeling a little edgy about the God we worship. Without context they nudge us towards the edge of a cliff over which it is easy to stumble into thinking that God is a vengeful and hateful God, whose anger is quick to show, and whose love is availabl...Read more »

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19.09.14 | Comments Off

Love and “Christian” Marriage

Fruit of the Spirit Series: Love and "Christian" Marriage Have you ever noticed that lots of Christian weddings have today's passage from 1 Corinthians 13 as a reading? I do. I used to find it annoying because the passage is all about loving all people and particularly those in the church community. I felt it was being hijacked from its proper context. That context is the messiness of church...Read more »

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12.09.14 | Comments Off

JOY!

Joy We often think of joy in much the same way that we think of happiness; that is, the consequence of events or circumstances in our lives which are uplifting and positive in nature. But if we look at the Spiritual fruit of Joy as a response to the Spirit’s work in our lives then Joy is actually the consequence of the way in which we respond to the whole of life, not just those aspects which ...Read more »

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30.08.14 | Comments Off

Patience

What have I learned about patience - besides the old joke about never praying to God asking him to give you patience because he will answer by putting you in situations needing loads of it!... I have learned that there is more to patience than waiting. I have learned that there is more to patience than not getting cross. I have learned that there is more to patience than being calm. I...Read more »

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23.08.14 | Comments Off

Kindness

The origins of the English word 'kindness' revolve around some ideas of relationship, particularly familial relationships, as well as a natural tendency or direction to both think and act in a way which shows qualities of friendliness, generosity and consideration. Typically today it is only these last qualities that define the idea. In the original NT Greek it is the word chrestotes which we...Read more »

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16.08.14 | Comments Off

Goodness versus …?

Do you aspire to be a good person? What does that mean anyway? " Be good!", we tell our children. "Were you good today at school?" "Were you good for Grandma when she took you to the park?" In the past, people used to refer to someone as "being of good character". And still today we talk of someone having a "good heart". But if you try and extract the true meaning of good from all this u...Read more »

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09.08.14 | Comments Off

The Pleasure and Pain of Faith

There is something about faith that is always troubling for a lot of people. In a modern, scientific world faith seems like an archaic, other worldly way of viewing life. I understand this. There are times when I struggle with my own sense of faithfulness. Thoughts, circumstances, the overwhelming sense of hopelessness at the situation of the world all turn me inwards to a place where doubt an...Read more »

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31.07.14 | Comments Off

Jesus, the Gentle Revolutionary

Fluffy bunnies and cute kittens sleeping next to resting babies. That is most people's idea of "gentleness". But that is not what the Bible is talking about when it encourages us to live by the Spirit and develop gentleness in our personalities. Unfortunately, when people hear "gentle Jesus meek and mild" they tend to think of the fluffy bunnies and not the Biblical idea. In fact when I used to pl...Read more »

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24.07.14 | Comments Off

Shame, shame, go away!

As I sat with another empty wrapping which once held a whole block of chocolate, I was confronted again with the thought that this really didn't make a very good, or healthy, lunch. It was incredibly easy to consume, it was incredibly easy to justify. I would tell myself that I hadn't done that for a long time, or if that was evidently untrue, I would tell myself that whatever exercise I had done ...Read more »

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18.07.14 | Comments Off

Can I Change?

Fruit of the Spirit Series: Can I Change? Can a leopard change its spots? Can the world ever really change? Can I really change for the better as a person or is that just wishful thinking? or worse, delusional thinking that will only bring unhappiness? Can a selfish person become loving? Can an angry person become peaceful? Can a mean person become a kind person? I mean deep down- real change, ...Read more »

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04.07.14 | Comments Off

What lies ahead??

Up front, let me be clear - I love the local church. I believe that, despitethe statistics, the church has a future and a purpose. I believe that Godcan and will use church communities to help transform the world towardshis intention (restoration and redemption of all creation) which will bebrought to total fruition when Jesus returns. BUT.... Let me also be clear about something else... ...Read more »

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26.06.14 | Comments Off

Praying for our own circumstances

There is a lot of well meaning advice that floats around the Christian world. Advice like, ‘Let go, and let God’, and ‘Everything happens for a reason’ and ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’. The problem with each and every one of these is that they detract from the circumstances in which the person being addressed finds themselves, and looks only to a quasi-solution at best. They make l...Read more »

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17.06.14 | Comments Off

Praying for self improvement

Praying for self improvement - "Help, I can't fix myself!" While the term 'self-help' dates back over 150 years, the self improvement culture which has boomed over the last couple of decades has served not so much to help people but to grow a multi-billion dollar industry. In the US, it is an $11b per year industry whose main audience are people (mainly affluent women) who have purchased self-h...Read more »

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13.06.14 | Comments Off

Psalms: I am Crushed

Praying through the Psalms: I am Crushed When I became a Christian I was told that God sees us as we are; no pretence or cover up is needed or wanted in a relationship with God. I valued this greatly because life was (and is) a roller coaster ride and I needed a God with me who was there in the deep troughs and not just the heights. This Psalm 6 emerges from the groaning of someone in a deep tr...Read more »

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07.06.14 | Comments Off

Psalms: Relationship

When I was touched by God's love for me and became a Christian, I would agonise over how to pray. I knew there had to be a right way to do "it" but wasn't quite sure what it was. I would chat to God about it during the day saying, "God can you help me to pray? I'm not sure what it is but I know I am supposed to do it." and "As you can see God, I am having a real tough time at the moment, I haven't...Read more »

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29.05.14 | Comments Off

Messy Prayer

I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. (NLT) Such a raw thing to pray, but it had me wondering…when someone we know is in deep trouble, or distress as the NIV tran...Read more »

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29.05.14 | Comments Off

Praying Thru Psalms: Confession

People are often a little hazy about what to include in a prayer confessing your sin. But there is something in our culture that likes to link sin, guilt and sex together. There is nothing like a bit of sexual sin to provide clarity and give you something to pray about. David does not disappoint in his Psalm 51. After he finally comes clean about having sex (and a baby) with the wife of one of his...Read more »

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29.05.14 | Comments Off

The Lord is my Shepherd

What is the common link in our two readings today? In Psalm 23 we have this beautiful picture of calm, of rest, of provision, while in Acts 2 we have this exciting picture of heightened activity, an overwhelming sense of God amongst them, and of constant growth. One of the clear threads which hold these two parts of Scripture together, is the character of God, which displays faithfulness and a ...Read more »

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29.05.14 | Comments Off

Praying Through Psalms: Praise

A doctoral survey in the USA of churches like ours that are growing showed that they shared a few things in common which we would be wise to follow. These churches were growing because non-Christians were becoming attracted to Christ and wanted to follow him. First among the insights was prayer. Each growing church gave a high priority to God’s action in the world. These churches saw themselves ...Read more »

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29.05.14 | Comments Off

The rhythm of church life

The rhythm of church life in most Australian churches goes something like this – January is down time, just keep the basics going. Feb/Mar is time to ramp up all the programs and services the church offers. Mar/April is Easter time, with hopefully an increased take up for some Lenten studies. May – Oct is business as usual, with perhaps a week for Pentecost and Nov/Dec is a busy Advent time cu...Read more »

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29.05.14 | Comments Off

A Christ is Risen!

Many people see Easter day as the happy ending to a deeply disturbing story of how the son of God made himself vulnerable to humanity and got crucified for his efforts. As such this bit of the story is like the ending of Lord of the Rings where Frodo gets home after his ordeal to a much needed rest. Or perhaps in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker celebrates with his dead father around a campfire afte...Read more »

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29.05.14 | Comments Off

The Great Hosanna!

There is a heightened sense of urgency and purpose in Jesus’ actions. He now takes on the role of king and from here on in there is only one possible outcome – there is no turning back, no retracting his statements about having to suffer and die, about being the Son of Man. Jesus is riding into Jerusalem to claim the kingdom of God, something which the Jewish leadership refuse to accept, tu...Read more »

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29.05.14 | Comments Off

The Hope of Salvation? Lent 6

Some think that the great hope of the Church is life forever in heaven. But the real hope of the church emerges out of love. Love for the people around us. Love for our community. Love for this aching bleeding world. Love for this beautiful gift of a planet that groans under the weight of human “needs”. So much death and sin, so much need for life and God’s love. This is our yearning to see ...Read more »

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29.05.14 | Comments Off

The Hope of Salvation? Lent 5

The idea of ” salvation” is closely linked to Christian faith. And with good reason. It is only in Christian faith that non-believers and sinners are most highly prized by God. He doesn’t want to judge them; God wants to save them. They are his beloved but quarrelsome children. So he saves them with love and grace and mercy. But what are we saved from? Is God himself the danger we are sav...Read more »

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20.03.14 | Comments Off

Second Coming of Jesus

Today our Worship Theme is the Second Coming of Jesus. As the fulfilment of all things we can look forward to His Return. In the meantime the Bible encourages us to value the present time. We can participate now, as members of God's Kingdom by living in the way of Jesus. C.S. Lewis in his book "God In The Dock" describes how Kingdom living for Him seemed to work out in practice. C.S. Lewi...Read more »

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15.03.14 | Comments Off

The Hope of Heaven? Lent wk 3

Helping people come to terms with the end of their life has taught me much over the years. Many people face their death with anxiety which is either written all over their face or is channelled into confident bravado about how unafraid they are. I am not there to judge. I am there to help people find God in the midst of a new situation. And it is new and fresh for each person because no-one except...Read more »

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06.03.14 | Comments Off

What is the big deal??

Does it really matter if, when we are dead, or when Jesus returns, we will be raised from the dead as living beings with real bodies, or as dis-embodied souls? After all, it's not as if the bodies we had were particularly up to the job - they got injured, weak, broken and decrepit. Maybe we would be better off in eternity without them!? The big deal is that God has put into motion something tha...Read more »

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01.03.14 | Comments Off

What is the Great Christian Hope?

Lenten Series 1 Becoming a Christian through Scripture Union camps and then eventually going to church in the Uniting Church was a very confusing business. On the one hand I was introduced to a wonderful way of seeing the Good News of Jesus called Evangelical theology. The focus was on having a personal relationship with Jesus; the same Jesus who lived and died and rose from the dead for us...Read more »

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21.02.14 | Comments Off

Waiting Patiently or Actively Waiting

In his book Surprised by Hope, N. T. Wright suggests that there are two great questions that we as churches and individuals should be asking ourselves... What are we waiting for? What are we going to do about it in the meantime? Wright helped me to articulate something that had frustrated me about some ways the church had of viewing the world we live in and what was supposedly God's respons...Read more »

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13.02.14 | Comments Off

Let Me Share Something

I love a new day! They are always full of hope and possibilities when life seems good, and when life seems not so good they are still full of hope and possibilities...this is true, not because I decide to be positive but because I place myself within the story of God whose desire is for us to be whole, complete in and by his love, shown through the incarnation, death and resurrection of his Son ...Read more »

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06.02.14 | Comments Off

What does a new Pastor bring?

I never cease to be amazed by what people think a new Pastor can do. Over the years I have heard these comments made about new Ministers coming to new positions. Awaiting them have been comments like this: "We are looking forward to a new person to turn things around."(referring to decline in numbers and aging congregations), "we are getting a young minister so that we can get young people back in...Read more »

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30.01.14 | Comments Off

Time To Say Goodbye

Yes it is! We have all been on the most remarkable journey. Now it is time for Maureen and I to leave the tour and let you go on without us. Its not because we have lost interest or have grown tired, its because our part of the journey has come to a conclusion and it is time for a continuation with a new beginning. As it has worked out, ours was a journey into cooperation. That cooperation is n...Read more »

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24.01.14 | Comments Off

Come, Follow Me!

After all the dramas of the last few Gospels, today’s seems fairly tame. No angels. No supernatural signs. No heavenly voices. Just a man going back to his home territory to begin the ministry for which He was born. And yet, Matthew - as always - sees this simple fact as having biblical echoes and quotes from the prophet Isaiah - the prophet of liberation. He saw Galilee as the land of darkne...Read more »

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08.01.14 | Comments Off

What Will You Discover in 2014?

The Journey of the Magi (wise men) has been celebrated for 1500 years on January 6. It seen as the celebration of the time when God invited into his beautiful Kingdom those who were not Jews; people like you and I. The “chosen people” became all of us! (The festival is called Epiphany which literally means to “shine upon” or to “appear” to the whole world) But many in our day of tou...Read more »

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08.01.14 | Comments Off

Herod’s Power or God’s Power

It might have been best if the story of the wise men had finished with them giving their gift to the new born child. Mary could have been left to ponder and we could have joined her. We would not have to deal with the slaughter of the children of Bethlehem. Matthew's story of Jesus birth which has no long walk from Nazareth, no busy town with no room except a feed trough to place the child and no ...Read more »

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20.12.13 | Comments Off

Virgin Birth?!

“Oxymoron”. It refers to two words that appear to contradict each other. Like ‘wise fool’, ‘the sounds of silence’, ‘colourful black’ or ‘virgin birth’. Since the Enlightenment in the 18th century many theologians and academics have wanted to get rid of all the miracle stories from the Bible. They claimed that the early Christians were merely superstitious and did not have a...Read more »

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13.12.13 | Comments Off

Out of a Dry Stump

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse...”. These are the words at the beginning of Isaiah 11. At the end of chapter 10 Isaiah is writing about God as a forestry worker felling trees; bringing down the powerful and the unfaithful. Out of the stump of one of these dry stumps a new shoot comes. It is the stump of Jesse, the father of King David. Out of this royal family comes a new sh...Read more »

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07.12.13 | Comments Off

Preparing the way

At about that time John the Baptist appeared as a preacher in the Judaean wilderness; his theme was: ‘Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is upon you!’ It is of him that the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘A voice cried aloud in the wilderness, “Prepare a way for the Lord; clear a straight path for him.”’ John’s clothing was a rough coat of camel’s hair, with a leather belt...Read more »

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29.11.13 | Comments Off

Life without dreaming is no life at all!

So many Christians have shared with me their puzzlement about why we have the Old Testament at all. Why not just stick to the New Testament where Jesus teaches love, forgiveness, and service to neighbour? Why must we wade through battles and blood and brokenness in the Old Testament? How is relevant to our highly protected lives in suburban Australia where we can cut off the suffering of the world...Read more »

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22.11.13 | Comments Off

Polarities of Living

The last time I spoke about Luke 23: 33-43 was on November 25, 2001. It was at Lorraine Drive and Jean Harman was the reader. If you were there, you might remember that I noticed an intriguing relationship between the taunts shouted by various people at Jesus on the cross, and his temptations in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. The leaders shouted, "He saved others; let him sav...Read more »

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15.11.13 | Comments Off

The Spirit who Advocates

Our passage begins with the prediction of destruction. The temple renowned in the ancient world for its beauty will be destroyed. From Luke one senses sadness rather than smugness. For Luke’s hearers the destruction of the temple was an event which had reverberated around their world with foreboding. Like Mark before him, who was much closer to the event, Luke links the past and prospective suff...Read more »

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08.11.13 | Comments Off

Resurrection Life

The Saducees came to Jesus with a question about life after death. They didn't believe in a resurrection of the dead and they wanted to trap him. This was a question the Pharisees had found difficult, so they thought they would try it out on Jesus. It was about seven brothers who had married one women. They had married her after each brother died in turn. In a world without social security, they w...Read more »

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01.11.13 | Comments Off

Are You Sa-a-a-a-aved, Brother?

There can be no more famous iconic phrase of Christianity than this: "Are you saved?" Whole movies and many musical albums are based around this phrase. Satires and spoofs are made of enthusiastic American street preachers and gospel choirs focussing all their efforts on this, the ultimate question and challenge: "Are you saved?" But strangely, most Christians don't know what the question is as...Read more »

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26.10.13 | Comments Off

Christians are called to care

Our response to Climate Change goes to the very heart of our life as Christians to love God and one another. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 says: ’love rejoices in the truth’. As Christians we have to face the truth that: 95% of the world’s climate scientists say humans are causing climate change, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other bodies. Climate change...Read more »

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19.10.13 | Comments Off

What Do You Pray For?

Jesus tells a story about a powerless widow who had been unjustly treated by a certain person. But the Judge in her town was lazy and immoral. But she did have a power after all; the power of passionate nagging. In the end, the unjust Judge caved in and heard her case because he was sick of the nagging and wanted some peace. Somehow we can all imagine this actually happening in a small town settin...Read more »

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11.10.13 | Comments Off

Restored by Jesus

In Luke 17: 11-19 we have the story of ten lepers. They were all equally unclean. They knew their place, at distance from everyone. Their disease was considered very contagious. So they stay at a great distance and call out to Jesus for healing. Remember in the previous story we have been told that with just a tiny mustard seed of faith great things can happen. These guys have a mustard seed of fa...Read more »

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04.10.13 | Comments Off

Forgiveness? All in a day’s work

Jesus has a way of making immensely difficult things seem ordinary. As if brushing your teeth and going to work is the same as forgiving an abusive person who is sorry for the seventh time that day! Jesus unpacks his teaching in a collection of three teachings that can be read separately but make something special when you put them together. This is just like bread, ham and mustard each of which c...Read more »

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27.09.13 | Comments Off

The Big Switch-a-Roo

You know when you are watching a mystery movie and you think you have worked out who-done-it. It is all logical and your conclusion makes sense. Suddenly you become aware of a dynamic that you missed, or comes into play late. Everything has changed and it proves to be someone else. Sometimes you feel a bit cheated because there was a big switch in the story you couldn't predict. Today's parable...Read more »

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20.09.13 | Comments Off

Pragmatic People

Let me tell the story of Luke 16: 1-7 in a slightly different way. Once there were two political parties leading up to an election. The party who was in government expected to lose the election and the party in opposition expected to win. The government had been tearing itself apart for the last three years and the opposition had helped them. The members who were going to lose their seats were ...Read more »

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10.09.13 | Comments Off

The “Lost”: who are they?

Jesus tells a short parable about a lost sheep. It has become famous over the last century and a picture of Jesus returning from the Judean countryside with a lamb kept safely over the back of his neck now hangs in countless Sunday Schools across the planet. But what is the parable really about? What does it mean to be lost and who are the lost? 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Supp...Read more »

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06.09.13 | Comments Off

False Advertising

Church Guilty of False Advertising about Christianity We all know there are laws about false advertising in Australia. These are designed to protect consumers from buying a product only to find when they get it home that it doesn't do what was advertised. They were deceived and only found out the truth after the transaction. Christians are often guilty of false advertising about the pros and...Read more »

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30.08.13 | Comments Off

Believe it or not!

God, your Father, loves you; believe it or not! When I was at high school, Star Wars was the most awesome movie ever to come out of Hollywood (and Monty Python movies were unrivalled out of the UK). Who could not love Yoda who looked like a retired but energetic character from the Muppet Show. But Yoda also had some wisdom in him. The movie clearly was buying into a lot of Eastern philosoph...Read more »

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21.08.13 | 1 Comment »

Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project

The Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project (BASP) was established in 2001. It is a Melbourne-based initiative of the Brigidine Sisters. The Project works with, and for, asylum seekers both in detention and in the community. Concerned and compassionate women and men across cultures and generations contribute to the work of the Project. Underpinning this work are the core principles of universal hum...Read more »

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15.08.13 | 1 Comment »

Embrace Conflict

"Christians want to be nice," said my friend "And that is what's killing us! " My friend was pointing out that in our churches we had exchanged 'love' for 'niceness' as the greatest virtue. As a result we had lost the gutsiness that comes when you love someone so much that you must stick up for them against the bullies and the oppressors of life. Instead we avoid the conflict because conflict i...Read more »

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08.08.13 | Comments Off

Staying Focussed

I was watching the cricket the other night and Mitchell Starc was bowling from one end and Ryan Harris from the other. Harris was bowling very tightly and close to the stumps. The batsman had to play almost every ball. Starc was pitching them outside the off stump. They were almost wides - some of them were. The commentators were talking about how well Harris was bowling and wondering why Starc wa...Read more »

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01.08.13 | Comments Off

Overcoming Foolishness

I became a Christian because when I saw the life and lifestyle that Jesus offered I knew in my heart that life was meant to be like that. It had the ring of Truth about it. Jesus had come to offer us an alternative to small mindedness, small hearts, and self interest. But I also found that it wasn't easy to change my ways. Selfishness was a habit that was hard to break. Lust and greed and insec...Read more »

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26.07.13 | Comments Off

Self Awareness

Last Sunday I had lunch at Loris' new home. During lunch the group was asked to do a survey to help with the choice of a new minister for Living Faith Church. I did not do the survey, but I was asked to explain the importance of a couple of those choices. "Why is self awareness important?" was one of those questions. I went into an explanation that awareness is the starting point for all human cha...Read more »

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19.07.13 | Comments Off

Can Women Teach, Rabbi?

Jesus travels around spreading the good news of the arrival of the Kingdom of God and calling people to follow him as "disciples". A disciple in this context is not simply a student who is ever learning but is in fact a teacher in training. A rabbi's disciple will one day be a rabbi himself. A disciple of a rabbi is invited to learn by coming and "sitting at his feet". Now listen to this stor...Read more »

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11.07.13 | Comments Off

Blood on the Road

There was blood on the road when people went by. The man had been beaten. His things had been taken by robbers who didn't care if he lived or he died. It wasn't their fault. They took his things not his life. He had a little bit left. Surely someone would come to bury or carry. It wasn't their worry if he lived or he died. Maybe a Priest to give him last rights or a Levite would stop to do what wa...Read more »

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04.07.13 | Comments Off

Preparing for Jesus’ Coming

In Luke 10 Jesus sends out a bigger group of his disciples who in this context should really be called apostles - ones who are sent. There are seventy or seventy two depending which version you read. He sent them out two by two, without any provisions except each other and the people to who they go, into a hostile environment. They were going to prepare the way for Jesus to visit some local towns....Read more »

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28.06.13 | Comments Off

Rejecting or Accepting Jesus

At the beginning of Luke 9 Jesus sends the twelve out to proclaim the Kingdom of God telling them not to take any provisions, but to rely on the welcome and acceptance of those to whom they go. If they find rejection they should shake the dust of that town off their feet and move on. At the beginning of Chapter 10 Jesus sends out seventy two followers with the same instruction. In Luke 9: 51 w...Read more »

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21.06.13 | Comments Off

Friends of Vanuatu!

Next Saturday a group of people from Living Faith Church will board a plane to Vanuatu. They are not going as 15 private individuals but as a delegation from our church to the Church of Vanuatu (Both Presbyterian Church Vanuatu PCV and Churches of Christ Conference Vanuatu CCCV). Their goal? To strengthen our friendship. Natural friendship have been developing over the years because of Don a...Read more »

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15.06.13 | Comments Off

Grace or Weeds

Luke has collected the stories of Jesus in such a way that they build upon each other to give a better view of Jesus, what he wants from you and I, and what the problem is in our hearts that must be overcome. This happens when the Parable of the Sower is introduced in Luke 8. The different soils and their response to the ‘seed’ of the Gospel helps make sense of the very different reactions in ...Read more »

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07.06.13 | Comments Off

Trusting In Jesus’ Word

The centurion in Luke 7 is a compassionate man with a real concern for his sick servant. He is a Gentile officer who is supportive of the Jewish community. In fact we are told he has built a local synagogue. Luke in particular wants us to see the centurion’s faith in Jesus. It does not appear that he knows a great deal about Jesus. But, he knows enough! This centurion prevails on some Jewish ...Read more »

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01.06.13 | Comments Off

Raising the Dead

In Luke 7 we are told the story of Jesus raising a man from death. He was the son of a widow. Without him this woman would have no material support, so the miracle was not just to give the man back his life, but to give life and hope the widow as well. Comparison with Elijah in the Old Testament are unavoidable. He too raised the son of a widow. Now Jesus is thought of as being a prophet of the ca...Read more »

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24.05.13 | Comments Off

The Spirit of Truth

John has a convoluted way of saying things and sometimes you have to read his text a couple of times to get his meaning. In John 16, Jesus is talking about going away and coming back. Understandably the disciples don't understand him. Chronologically, they have not been through his death and resurrection, although in this case I think he is talking about his ascension and return. He is telling...Read more »

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16.05.13 | Comments Off

Holy Spirit: Power for New Life

In Acts 1: 8 Jesus said: “…when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Ten days later the Holy Spirit fell on Jesus’ disciples. This was the beginning of the church. The church is alive today because the Holy Spirit continues to work in our midst. When a ...Read more »

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09.05.13 | 3 Comments »

A gifted and giving community

In John 17 Jesus is praying for his ongoing community. He makes a special emphasis on us who will continue to believe long after that first generation of apostles. He wants us to be united. “Jesus’ concern is that love should produce unity of purpose and community support.” This unity is not just about relationships between denominational groups, but within congregations of Christians....Read more »

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03.05.13 | Comments Off

A Place For All People

Paul crossed over from Asia Minor, modern day Turkey, to Greece. So began the mission which touched cities there to which he later wrote: Philippi, Thessalonica, and, down into the Greek mainland, the isthmus port city of Corinth. By linking the move to a vision, Luke is underlining that this was part of an action willed by God. Travelling from Troas up to Samothrace and then down to Neapolis ...Read more »

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26.04.13 | Comments Off

Making all things new

Revelation saw in Rome, what many today see in the west. As we engage Revelation we may find ourselves much more aligned with the woman sitting on the seven hills than with the painful striving after hope which meets us in its pages. “Revelation's hope is in the one who makes all things new.” If we allow ourselves to drop our alliances with the powers of wealth, and engage with our hear...Read more »

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19.04.13 | Comments Off

Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is a psalm of David and an exposition of God’s promise to meet our needs and to guide our lives. It is a statement of David’s understanding and faith in God. Through what David believes, as the words of the Psalm are offered, we are able also to affirm and agree with all that is said here. The images in the Psalm are serene, pastoral and timeless. God calls us to shift our basic d...Read more »

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10.04.13 | Comments Off

Shepherds for the Risen Lord

This is a passage with some mixed metaphors. Maybe I should have called this "Fishermen for the risen Lord." The disciples have gone fishing without the presence of Jesus and they catch nothing but as soon as Jesus arrives and gives them instructions they immediately make a great catch. Is this a picture of the church (the boat and Peter its leader) doing its evangelistic work (fishing [for people...Read more »

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06.04.13 | Comments Off

My Lord and my God

John 20 contains a wonderful account of one of the amazing Resurrection appearances of Jesus. This account records the last great sign which testifies to the person and the work of Jesus in John’s gospel. Thomas and some other disciples are the central witnesses to the miracle. Thomas was not present on the first occasion when Jesus came to the gathered disciples. He could not believe the new...Read more »

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02.04.13 | Comments Off

Easter Begins Now!

It is annoying how shopping and consumerism takes over our Christian festival like Easter and Christmas. In both cases for a thousand years society has celebrated Christmas after Christmas Day and celebrated Easter after Easter Day! But now because of marketing Christmas and Easter both stop on the day of celebration. This is disastrous in both cases because people stop thinking about the meani...Read more »

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23.03.13 | Comments Off

Palm Sunday

Youth and Children challenge Congregation on Palm Sunday Jesus is on the brink of entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday when he suddenly stops and tells a parable to his disciples. It appears to be a retelling of the Parable of the Talents but with some differences. Why here? Why now? Why the differences? Firstly Luke tells us why “... because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought tha...Read more »

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15.03.13 | Comments Off

Unchangeable?

Why are Churches so Unchangeable when the Resurrection Demands that Everything Change? I love the Gospels. Jesus ministry unfolds as a series of lifechanging encounters with all differenct sorts of people. And every changed life ripples out into the wider community bringing changes there as well. Take Zaccheus, the unscrupulous, greedy, tax collector for the oppressive Roman invaders. Jesus inv...Read more »

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14.03.13 | Comments Off

God’s Grace and Forgiveness

Isn't God's Grace and Forgiveness Unfair and Unjust? One easy answer to this question is, “Of course not!”. How could I say that anything so central to what God has done for us unfair or unjust. On the other hand, another easy answer to the question is, “Yes, of course it is!” We live in a time when a sense of entitlement is common. A time when people think that parents, governments an...Read more »

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28.02.13 | Comments Off

Jesus and Judgement

What Do We Do With Jesus' Talk of Hell and Judgement? Sometimes I get confused when people talk about God. I am not user if they are talking about the creator of the awesome universe who is passionately concerned and upset about the injustice we humans wreak upon each other, or whether they are talking about cheery harmless Santa Claus who loves all the little children and threatens not to brin...Read more »

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22.02.13 | Comments Off

Suffering in the World

What is God Doing about the Suffering in the World? There are different kinds of suffering. One kind is caused by the natural order of things. For instance, a person grows old and dies because their organs slowly break down and cease functioning. Our dna is made that way. Our suffering is not by choice but is written into the very fabric of this universe. Theologian Karl Barth called this ...Read more »

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14.02.13 | Comments Off

Religion and violence

Why is religion often connected with violence? It is not hard to see that this is a real question. The whole history of our world is peppered with stories of violence that human beings have done in the name of religion. Even in my lifetime almost all the wars in the world have had a religious dimension, even the cold war. That was cast as a war against atheism by the Christian west. In both wor...Read more »

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09.02.13 | Comments Off

Is Faith a Blind Leap in the Dark?

During January we bought a new car. I set up a criteria for the car we would look for. It was important to me that it be cheap to buy and cheap to run. It also must have a standard set of safety features and a few sensible luxuries wouldn't go astray. I describe a car as a seat on wheels, so it was important that the seat be reasonably comfortable. An established manufacturer was also important. S...Read more »

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31.01.13 | Comments Off

Did it Happen? Does it Matter?

TV Drama: two British detectives stare angrily at each other across the room. One yells at the other, “You can't fabricate evidence merely because you believe this woman did it!” The other defiantly yells back, “Even if she didn't do this crime, she's the sort of person who would do it! She deserves what's coming to her!” “But you don't know that,” the honest detective replies. “Yo...Read more »

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25.01.13 | Comments Off

Australia: the lucky country?

I love our beautiful country. It’s old, its dry, its wet, its mountainous, its flat, and its possums and mozzies are everywhere while its Bilbies and Tassie Devils are rare sights. We have marvellous resources that enable a flourishing economy. We have a democratic tradition that allows for differences to be worked through. We have a generally compassionate society represented by Government reso...Read more »

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06.01.13 | Comments Off

Christ Unites

At first glance, this is a strange theme to apply to the story of the wise men coming to see Jesus. That is our reading this week. Jesus is only a baby, how can he unite anyone? I understand that Jesus' major theme was universal love. He wanted us to learn to love, not just our friends, but our enemies as well. That is obviously going to bring people together. I remember Jesus' prayer in John 17, ...Read more »

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06.01.13 | Comments Off

What Do You Hope For in 2013?

Our two readings this week come from the very beginning and end of the Bible. Genesis 2, tells us of the potential of the beginning. God created humanity and placed us in a beautiful garden. No one can doubt that this is true. The tourist industry is based on the astonishing beauty of the earth. In the midst of that garden, is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I see the garden as a m...Read more »

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21.12.12 | Comments Off

Joseph’s Story

Joseph’s Story: to obey a dream or not? Parents can make or break a young child’s life. God chose who would be Jesus’ parents and had his reasons. If you were choosing parents for God’s son I wonder who you would choose. What qualities would you look for? And seeing all parents are human and therefore always lacking in some qualities whether by sin or culture, conditioning or the wo...Read more »

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14.12.12 | Comments Off

What Mary Believed

Our reading from Luke 1 this week, is a poem spoken by Mary which is often called the Magnificat. In this poem Mary is praising God for what he is doing with her, and in more general terms, with all the lowly children of God. She describes how God overturns the expectations of people. The poor are provided for and blessed, but the rich are sent away with empty hands. Mary sees herself as a represe...Read more »

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07.12.12 | Comments Off

Acting Out the Story of Jesus

I’ve seen many Nativity plays over the years. Children and sometimes youth of all different ages combine their love of dressing up and their love/hate of performing in front of a supportive crowd, to bring the waiting congregation closer to Christmas. Somehow, it seems deeply right that the children bring us this story in which God honours childhood through coming himself as a baby. And we...Read more »

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30.11.12 | Comments Off

Jesus’ Family Inheritance

Families love to welcome new babies. They exclaim with delight over newborn nephews and nieces, sons and daughters, and grandchildren. And before you can get a word in edgeways somebody says, “And who does look like? He’s got his mothers eyes!” or “He’s got his father’s ears!” etc. (Nobody ever says he got his father’s belly, I notice!) All this reveals how we are keen at a very...Read more »

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22.11.12 | Comments Off

Heavenly and Human Authority

In Mark 11: 27-33 Jesus is dealing with a question about his authority to do what he is doing. The triumphal entry has already happened, even though it may not have meant much to the leaders at that time. In hindsight it has been seen as Jesus' “attack” on the leadership of Jerusalem. What happened the next day, according to Mark, was what really got their attention. He did what we call the ...Read more »

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16.11.12 | Comments Off

Compassion in a Heartless Time

I have just finished reading an awe inspiring book “Shoot Me First” by Grant Lock, a missionary and aid worker to Pakistan and Afghanistan over 24 years until his recent retirement. Grant comes from a cattle station in South Australia, which he and his wife Janna left with his 3 little children in the 1980’s to work with the Anglican church in Pakistan in a remote area near the Indian border...Read more »

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08.11.12 | Comments Off

The Courage of Esther

In preparation for this week I read the book of Esther from the Old Testament. It's not long, but it is quite disturbing in lots of way. This is a story about the exercise of political power, political intrigue, violence, assassinations, racism and the use of position to gain favours. It has all the components of a Hollywood epic. Yes, the movie has been made. It also reminds me of George...Read more »

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01.11.12 | Comments Off

You become like what you love!

Have you ever noticed that people become like what they are most committed to? I was watching a group of seriously clever scientists receiving awards from the Prime Minister on the news and there was no doubt that they fit the stereotype - obsessively clever people who have little idea of fashion sense or occasion. But nobody minded because the passion of these people for their field earned them m...Read more »

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26.10.12 | Comments Off

Who Is Blind?

The story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10 is strategically placed to highlight, not so much his physical blindness, but the more important spiritual blindness of virtually everyone around Jesus. Lets just look at chapter 10. The chapter begins with Jesus correcting an obvious injustice towards women. Their vision of the Law has been confused by their male dominated self interest. They believed tha...Read more »

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19.10.12 | Comments Off

What Would Jesus Do? Pay Tax?

WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? WJPT: Would Jesus Pay Tax? People are always trying to keep as much of their income for themselves as possible. This applies to tax and sometimes to church offerings. For instance the old joke about the priest who was sharing the offering with God. He threw into the air and said, “Lord, you take whatever you want and I will have whatever falls to the ground”. W...Read more »

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12.10.12 | Comments Off

Wasted Dreams

Wasted Dreams; a true story by Tony Campolo about the seduction of wealth that undermines readiness to follow Jesus. (From Let Me Tell You a Story ppp 173-5, Thomas Nelson, 2000 ) I took a group of students to see some of the work our mission agency was doing in Haiti. 'We were up in the northern part of the country, where we have a medical clinic, and we saw three hundred plus people, all desp...Read more »

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05.10.12 | Comments Off

Jesus, Marriage and Divorce

Question: Why is it that when Christians uphold morality, marriage, and family values that we often look and sound like obnoxious prats? Answer: Because we do not affirm these good things in a Christ-like manner. Instead we use the “ways of the world” to influence people to accept Jesus’ teachings. For example ... One writer pointed out that Christians often fell in to one of two camps...Read more »

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28.09.12 | Comments Off

Why Do Good People Suffer?

Today we are looking at the beginning of the story of Job from the Old Testament. It is a story that deals with the eternal question of suffering. Why do good people suffer? Why does God allow people to suffer? The book of Job is part of the wisdom literature of the Bible and not the historical, so we have to look at it in that light. The book develops as a discussion about suffering a subject...Read more »

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21.09.12 | Comments Off

Little or Big?

The story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 almost perversely brings to my mind two types of people. I think of “big” people who look small to me and small people who look like giants. Zacchaeus is described as a little man who had to climb a tree to see Jesus above the crowd, but Zacchaeus was also a “big” man because he was rich and powerful. He was a tax collector. He had thrown is lot in...Read more »

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13.09.12 | Comments Off

Resilience

As a follower of Jesus are you tough and resilient or flabby and apathetic? Christian life is not a harmonious meditation in flower filled fields: it is tough and requires that the followers of Jesus develop a similar toughness and determination to live right, to do right, to speak right, and to love right. Paul takes up this theme at the end of his letter to the Ephesians. Finally, be stron...Read more »

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01.09.12 | Comments Off

Christian Marriage: what is that?

I have childhood memories of watching “The Flintstones” and seeing Wilma and Fred having a disagreement about what they were going to do. The disagreement was supposedly over when Fred pulled out his “ace in the hole” and say “Now wait a minute Wilma, I am the head of this household and what I say goes!” The rest of the comedy would be devoted to showing how Fred chose poorly and shoul...Read more »

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24.08.12 | Comments Off

Refugee and Migrant Sunday

Refugee and Migrant Sunday Sister Brigid Arthur Posted on July 15, 2012 (edited and appended) As members of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers’ Project, we talk to many asylum seekers, both in Immigration Detention Centres and in the community. They tell us the reasons why they have left their countries and their families to find a safe place to live. These reasons always include fear of being to...Read more »

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17.08.12 | Comments Off

Filled with the Spirit

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit...” I love this quote from Paul. He may be a highly thought out theologian but at the end of the day he calls a spade ‘a spade’! The first few chapters of his letter to the Ephesian regional churches cover the whole of time from before creation to the Cross, the gift of the Spirit, and the wonde...Read more »

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10.08.12 | Comments Off

Christlike Lifestyle

Last Sunday around lunchtime, Maureen and I were sitting at a table eating fish and chips, in the park alongside the beach at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast in Queensland. We were watching families, couples and groups of friends eating, playing, talking, laughing and walking with each other. They were having a really good time and they were enjoying each others company. They were individual g...Read more »

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02.08.12 | Comments Off

Are You Mature in your Faith?

In our Ephesians series we have seen how important knowledge of God’s love is. Paul prays that they will grow in their understanding of how wide and deep and high and broad that love is. Because if we do it will allow God to fill us more. How so? Because the more we know of that love and God’s plan to bring that love to everyone in the universe then the more we will set aside the things that d...Read more »

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26.07.12 | Comments Off

Who are You?

My love of Science Fiction goes back a long way. Sci Fi books are renowned for how cleverly that imagine life and humanity in the future after centuries of development. Sci Fi films on the other hand are renowned for being shallow, second rate ‘shoot em ups’ or dark horror movies of predatory aliens. But I digress! In the 1980’s there was a forgettable movie about a space station perched ...Read more »

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21.07.12 | Comments Off

We Are One

Last week Graeme began our new series on Paul's letter to the Ephesians, with one of the most remarkable passages in the Bible. In Ephesians 1, Paul outlines his understanding of, God's pleasure and will, which is to make us his children, God's plan to unite all things with Christ as the head, which is a message of salvation, sealed and guaranteed by the promise of the Holy Spirit. In Chapter ...Read more »

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18.07.12 | Comments Off

How Blessed are You?!

When I first started going to church in my teenage years there was always a part of the service that I never understood. It was the part at the end where our Minister, the right reverend Norman Faichney raised his arms and gave us a blessing. I never quite got what he was doing. Was he special in some way that he could hand out God’s blessings whenever he felt like it? Was it some power...Read more »

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05.07.12 | Comments Off

Power Vs Vulnerability

In Mark 6, Jesus goes home and is welcomed into the synagogue to preach there. He is, after all, a local lad who has already made a name for himself as a rabbi who has seen many lives changed remarkably. It doesn't take very long before they begin to criticise him for being just that, a local lad. Now, they see him as an upstart who is trying to make himself more important than the rest of his ...Read more »

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29.06.12 | Comments Off

Baptism: A Revolutionary Act!

Some of you upon reading this heading may think that Graeme has finally lost it! Baptism for Uniting Church members has nearly always been associated with babies in pretty white outfits. For Church of Christ it has often been the children of members being baptised by faith and showing that they have come of age. In both cases it seems associated with conformity not revolution. But not for t...Read more »

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23.06.12 | Comments Off

Jesus Restores

It seems that when I go away, I begin to think about issues that are of concern to me at home. Recently our Leaders' Retreat discovered that the aspect of ministry we need to deal with, in the immediate future, has to do with newcomers who are discovering or exploring Christian faith. What I was thinking about on our recent trip to Adelaide was the content of the gospel we could share with peopl...Read more »

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15.06.12 | Comments Off

Ineffective Church!

Jesus has a hard time with his disciples in Mark’s Gospel. They just never seem to understand any of the spiritual messages Jesus teaches them. In today’s reading he finds them failing yet again! 14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wo...Read more »

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08.06.12 | Comments Off

Back to Core Business

Jesus tells a parable in Mark that shows the Kingdom of God (and therefore Churches are supposed to grow.) “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the hea...Read more »

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02.06.12 | Comments Off

A Loophole of Grace

I have a Bible Study group on Wednesday afternoons and we decided to study the parables of Jesus starting in Mark 4. We did this partly so we could prepare for these couple of weeks when the parables were our focus on Sundays. The parable of the sower is the first story we have do deal with. We all know the story about a farmer going out to sow his crop. In the ancient way he digs up the g...Read more »

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25.05.12 | Comments Off

What A Gift

Welcome to Pentecost Sunday, one of the three most important Christian days of the year. The celebration of Pentecost is for us, equal with the celebration of Easter and Christmas. At Christmas we speak of God becoming incarnate in Jesus. Today we speak of God becoming present, or incarnate, in all of us. The Spirit of God which filled Jesus is now available to everyone. That Spirit was revealed t...Read more »

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11.05.12 | Comments Off

Guess Who’s Invited to Dinner?

You can't see this theme without thinking of the old movie “Guess Whose Coming to Dinner” with Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. If you are as old as me, you will remember that this is a story about a young woman, who goes home to announce that she is getting married. The young man turns out to be black, and the drama, and dilemma begins from there. The parents on both si...Read more »

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03.05.12 | Comments Off

The Vine – Getting Connected

The Vine - Getting (Variously) Connected This is a society, if not a world, of many and varied connections. Just one very clear example is that I am writing this by typing it into my computer at home, and will email it within an hour or so to the Getting Connected editors. Should they be at their computers, within moments they could be reading this, and inserting it into this Sunday’s edition...Read more »

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20.04.12 | Comments Off

Invitation To Wait On God

Have you ever challenged someone with the question, “What are you waiting for?” It usually happens when a parent or teacher, is trying to spur a dreaming or reluctant child into action. In our reading today from Acts 1, I see angels asking a question like this of the disciples of Jesus. In this passage they seem to be waiting for a number of things in a number of ways. The first pict...Read more »

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13.04.12 | Comments Off

Are you ready to dream again?

Are you ready to dream again? Thomas and the LFC Leaders Retreat One of the most horrible of human experiences is to have a dream that turns to dust. A dream to become a journalist crashes down when Fred actually becomes a journalist and the reality is so much more trivial and financially driven. A person dreams of a great marriage and ten years on sees nothing but endless chores, chasing aroun...Read more »

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06.04.12 | Comments Off

Easter Resurrection

Easter Resurrection: Jesus wasn’t the only one to get a new life! Our Easter reading from the letter to the church in Ephesus makes it pretty clear that Jesus’ death and resurrection did more than win us forgiveness. Easter did more than give Jesus his just reward for dying on the cross for our sins. In Paul’s letter Easter saves us from ourselves and our self destructive indulgences. ...Read more »

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29.03.12 | Comments Off

Salvation without Repentance

Palm Sunday: Salvation without Repentance “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom...Read more »

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23.03.12 | Comments Off

Worshipping and Giving Together

Worshipping and Giving Together During this series I have made a large point of the idea that love is about valuing, that it is driven by choice rather than by feelings. At the same time love without passion is fairly academic and dry. One of the dilemmas of the modern church is the nature of worship. On one side of the coin worship is very emotionally driven and on the other it is acade...Read more »

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20.03.12 | Comments Off

Serving Together

Serving Together: or How to avoid the worst of the Disciples’ mistakes. “30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand wha...Read more »

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08.03.12 | Comments Off

Growing Together

This theme is a bit confusing because it could be interpreted in a number of ways. Is it about the numerical growth of the church or is it about growing towards intimacy together? Maybe it is about individuals become more mature in a community environment? It could also have something to do with a kind of corporate maturity, where the church as a whole displays growing expressions of maturity. ...Read more »

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01.03.12 | Comments Off

We Belong Together

As we continue our series of “40 Days of Community” over Lent in the lead up to Easter, we now focus on how the Bible says we “belong together”. “Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” Romans 12:5 (NLT) What do you think Church is there for? Why did God create this very human mish-mash of sinful, loving, inspired and ...Read more »

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28.02.12 | Comments Off

Reaching Out Together

Jesus really pushed his disciples sometimes! But he did it out of mercy because he knew if they got into bad habits when he was in front of them then they were going to get it wrong after his death and resurrection. So in today’s story there is a little bit of you and I. In Mark 6, after a year of teaching and growing his disciples, Jesus has given them authority to preach, heal and cast out...Read more »

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17.02.12 | Comments Off

What Matters Most?

40 Days of Community This week we begin 40 days of Community, a study program developed by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California. We are using this as our Lenten Study this year and we want as many of you as possible to sign up to one of the groups that are available. The local process will be that each Sunday Graeme and I will use this space to write an article, and preach on th...Read more »

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10.02.12 | Comments Off

The Leper and the Secret

In Mark 1: 40-45 we have the story of Jesus being approached by a Leper who asks to be made clean. Jesus agrees and touches him. He then sends him to the priest for the formal recognition that he is clean and swears him to secrecy. Of course the man tells the story all over the place. On the face of it, this looks like a simple healing story, but there are a number of aspects to the story that...Read more »

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02.02.12 | Comments Off

A Different Kind of Prayer

When I first invited God into my life, it was all new and strange. I had so many ideas about being a Christian that I had to overcome just so that God could show me the better way. Prayer for instance. I loved talking to God about all sorts of things as a teenager but I never knew that that was prayer. I thought prayer was what Ministers in churches did- prayers that had “Thee” and “Thou...Read more »

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30.12.11 | Comments Off

A Telling Response

Last week Graeme was telling us about the way God's solutions are commonly surprising to us. God doesn't follow our logic is relation to power, peace, hope or salvation. The ultimate surprise is told in the Christmas story. God sent his son as a human baby, that he would call shepherds, the poorest of the poor, to the manger side and wise men with expensive gifts to a simple home, and expect tha...Read more »

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23.12.11 | Comments Off

Incarnation

What is the incarnation But God's embodied presence? A complete divine infilling. A sync of God with us. To Mary came a promise, That the a baby would be born, By the Holy Spirit's power, He would be the son of God. From Mary came acceptance, And the child began to grow, 'Til in a borrowed room one day The son of God was born. A collision occurred in Mary, Between the carnal and...Read more »

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17.12.11 | Comments Off

Who Aspires to be Humble?

Humility has got a bit of bad press lately. For many people humility goes with words like “self effacing”, “weak”, and “poor self esteem”. For men it is seen as the opposite of ‘being a man and sticking up for yourself’. But humility looks totally different in the Bible. It somehow looks courageous and heroic. Paul looks at Jesus’ example of humility as something worth copying...Read more »

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09.12.11 | Comments Off

The Story of Christmas

It's Christmas again and we are telling the story of the baby Jesus born in a manger. This is a beautiful story and we tell it each year under the Christmas tree, as we hang up our Christmas stockings, hoping that Santa Claus will come down the chimney and bring us beautiful and expensive presents. At the same time we say that we have to get back to the true story of Christmas. How terrible...Read more »

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02.12.11 | Comments Off

What If?

What if Jesus came again? And it all happened as we imagine except for one little difference. Everyone was raised from the dead, we had the last judgement and the world was set to rights, and everyone who desires God ‘bends the knee’ to Jesus and everyone who rejects God gets their wish and is sent to an alternative reality where God is fully absent (it sounds like hell to me!). But then j...Read more »

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24.11.11 | Comments Off

Pr Berlin Guerrero

This is an extract from a sermon presented by Pastor Berlin Guerrero at St John's Uniting Church in Essendon on October 2, 2011. The Philippines, the country where I come from, is known to be the only Christian nation in Asia. Its leaders in government, past and present, are known to be faithful Roman Catholics – from Marcos to Corazon Aquino, Estrada to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and now Benign...Read more »

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17.11.11 | Comments Off

The Sheep and the Goats

Today we look at the third in this series of parables of the Kingdom. Remember they are parables and we have to look beyond the obvious to get their meaning. Because they are all about the Kingdom of Heaven/God, they will have something to do with the nature of life under God's rule. This parable is about the Judge/King who sits on his throne at the end of time with the nations of the world g...Read more »

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10.11.11 | Comments Off

Risk, Response, Reward

This week we are looking at the story we call, “The Parable of the Talents” from Matthew 25. Remember this is a parable, an illustration of the Kingdom of Heaven. In both Mark and Luke it is called the Kingdom of God. For us the word “heaven” can set us on the wrong track from the beginning. It is not about “heaven” after we die, but God's Kingdom which is past, present and fut...Read more »

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04.11.11 | Comments Off

Real or Imitation Jewellery

I’ve walked past those booths at the big shopping centres which say “cash for gold”. It always seemed to me to be out of place- as if a pawn shop had moved in to encourage desperate people to part with their heirlooms for very little cash. But of course the time comes when amongst all the old jewellery you end up with after the passing of your aged relatives you look at the old fob watch ...Read more »

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28.10.11 | Comments Off

The King James Bible

Celebrating 400 Year since the Bible was translated into an accepted common English language version: the King James Bible We live in a time of many translations of the Bible into English. Many of us have a few different versions at home such as RSV, NIV, Good News Bible, Living Bible, ESV, Philips versions, etc. But where did this drive to translate the Bible into the common language of the pe...Read more »

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20.10.11 | Comments Off

Death or Handing Over

Today we are reflecting on Deuteronomy 34 coming towards the end our series looking at the foundations of our faith in the Old Testament. The Promised Land is just there over the river and Moses stands on Mt Nebo and looks at it. He has led the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt, spent forty years leading them in the desert, given them God's law and forged them into a new nation. But Moses canno...Read more »

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14.10.11 | Comments Off

The Heart of our Faith

Moses had been to heaven and back, and then to hell and back! Why did he do it? What motivated him? In Exodus 33:12-21, Moses meets with God straight after the disastrous Golden Calf incident. God has already indicated that the people’s desertion of God’s ways only weeks after the miraculous exodus from Egypt, and while God is providing them with manna and quail every day is all too much! G...Read more »

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07.10.11 | Comments Off

Idolatry

I am an atheist about atheists. I don't really believe they exist. I know that some people say they don't believe in God. When I talk with such people my question is, "Tell me about the God you don't believe in?" Almost in every case I find myself answering, "If that is the god you don't believe in, then I don't believe in that god either." They usually tell me about the abuse and wars perpetr...Read more »

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30.09.11 | Comments Off

Law of the Old Testament

What to do with the Law of the Old Testament? Many people are taught from an early age to both respect and dismiss the Old Testament. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Law of ancient Israel. The Law is not just the Ten Commandments which are in our reading from Exodus 20 but include all those other laws found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy covering moral behaviour, propert...Read more »

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22.09.11 | Comments Off

Maintain The Rage

My normal working life is fairly sedentary, but when we go on holidays Maureen insists that we walk everywhere - and I complain. “My legs hurt.” “We're not going to walk all the way to Broadbeach again are we?” Like a mother with her reluctant child she negotiates, "We will walk there and if you are tired we can get the bus back." She doesn't just stroll either, she walks! and I someti...Read more »

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15.09.11 | Comments Off

The Old Testament

Jesus Loved the Old Testament! Do you wonder why? Contemporary readers of the Old Testament find it hard to get past the constant bloodshed and violence that fill many of the stories of God’s people Israel over a period of 1500 years. When I led a group of people through the Disciple course which meant reading the whole Bible over a year and picking up its major themes one woman came every we...Read more »

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08.09.11 | Comments Off

Miracles?

Since the 18th Century when Western Society established “scientific method” as the only way to know facts about the world there has been a division in the life of the church. It is based around questions like these: Does God intervene in the world? Does God do miracles? Is there a supernatural realm apart from the natural world? Secular scientists and the academic intelligentsia we...Read more »

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01.09.11 | Comments Off

Sacramental Experiences

Today we are looking at Exodus 12: 1-14. It is the account of the first Passover. It was a meal on the run. Maybe the ancient equivalent of fast food. After this meal they had to be ready to move because on this night they were to be released from captivity as slaves in Egypt. The meal was to be prepared carefully, but cooked and eaten quickly. They had to be ready to leave with their sandals...Read more »

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30.08.11 | Comments Off

Who’s Doing the Work Here?!

Our reading today sees a very puzzled Moses investigating a bush on a desert mountainside that is burning but doesn’t burn up. He is a refugee from Egypt where he had stood up against the systematic oppression of his own Hebrew people, killed a cruel slave driver, and then fled to Arabia. He had made a new life there as a shepherd and even got married and started a family but ... It is God...Read more »

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19.08.11 | Comments Off

Most of us are Cowards!

Most of us are cowards and would do anything to avoid conflict. Sometimes we can be terribly clever and mask our innate desire to “not make waves” behind Jesus’ teachings about being ‘peacemakers’, etc. But when all is said and done if there is the smell of conflict in the air we try and make ourselves scarce. However, sometimes something so unjust turns up that we are tempted to m...Read more »

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14.08.11 | Comments Off

Joseph and God’s Will

I have really connected with story of Joseph over the last few weeks. He has become a bit of role model as I watch how he intuitively trusts God in the face of all his hardships, injustices, and blessings. And he does all this without the things that you and I take for granted like a church community, a Bible, and trusted Christian friends who help us make sense of our lives. Joseph was hat...Read more »

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03.08.11 | Comments Off

Integrity

Integrity: Don’t leave home without it! Integrity means being the same person no matter where you are or who you are with. Integrity is really hard to maintain in this modern world. This is because we live our lives in unrelated bits. The people we work with don’t live in our neighbourhood. The people in our neighbourhood may not be the people we go to church with. The people we go to churc...Read more »

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31.07.11 | Comments Off

Psalms and Prayer

The Psalms Teach us to Pray in a New Way Prayer is one of those parts of life that people seem to either love or hate. Usually those who love to pray feel as though they can pour out there heart to God and know that they are heard. But those who steer clear of prayer either do so out of boredom (“same old same old”) or simply because they can’t get a handle on it. The Psalms are a book...Read more »

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21.07.11 | Comments Off

Wrestling with God Changes You

Today we have the pleasure of sharing in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Natalie will be Baptised by full immersion and Craig's Baptism as a child will be confirmed. They are both adults and they are making their own choices to follow Jesus as the central commitment of their lives. Such a decision comes after much consideration and sometimes even struggle. Becoming a Christian ...Read more »

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21.07.11 | Comments Off

Landmarks of Life! Bethel

Once when I was new in a Parish, I asked where the bank was. I was in a group of several people after church and they all started to offer advice together. One began, “From here it is the third coffee shop on the left.” Another said, “It’s just before you get to the library.” And a third told me, “It’s beside the bottle shop.” What people didn’t realise was that they were...Read more »

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11.07.11 | Comments Off

Foundations in OT – Prayer

Again we are looking at the story of Abraham as a means of discovering, what we might call, first principles of our faith. In Genesis 18, we have the story of God visiting Abraham in the shape of a man, with two others who turn out to be angels. God comes for two purposes. First, he is there to reiterate his promise that Sarah will have a child in nine months time. Understandably Sarah fin...Read more »

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30.06.11 | Comments Off

God’s Way or My Way!

Most of us like to think we are ok people most of the time. We have learned not to hate people and be nice to everyone (almost!). We try and do what we can for God, and we try and “get on with our own lives. “ But hang on! What does that mean - to “get on with our own lives”? For most people it means doing what you want to do. You follow your own interests, spend your time on who or wh...Read more »

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24.06.11 | Comments Off

Faith

Last week Graeme spoke to us about the covenant which God made with Abram. It was an unequal agreement where God made all the promises and Abraham was only required to say "Yes!" That "Yes" is his statement of faith. Now we are actually moving backwards in the text from Genesis Chapter 17 to Chapter 15. In Chapter 17 the covenant is addressed directly but in 15 it is more indirect. Here the...Read more »

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17.06.11 | Comments Off

Things you must know…

Things you really must know about God and yourself! Many people have a love/hate relationship with the Old Testament. There are great stories of faith, God’s salvation and deeply moving Psalms mixed in with blood-bath wars, Temple sacrifices and strong punishments from God. How do you get a handle on the Old Testament?! The Old Testament lays the groundwork for God’s plan to save all ...Read more »

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10.06.11 | Comments Off

The Power of Unity

Spirit Powered - The Power of Unity The Bible begins with God creating all things climaxing with the creation of humans who are given the image of God. In some way they were like God. We are told that this gave them the power and responsibility to oversee the care of all that God had made. In Chapter 2 and 3 we have a different framing of the story. In this story “God likeness” is no...Read more »

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03.06.11 | Comments Off

Are you blessed?

The short answer is ‘yes’! But do you know it? What sort of blessing is it? And most importantly of all, “What is a blessing anyway?” My Old Testament lecturer said there is no clear dictionary definition available even after hundreds of years of the latest research on the Hebrew language. So you have to pick it up from the context. The two readings today give totally different resul...Read more »

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29.05.11 | Comments Off

Who is there to help me?

Jesus spent three intensive years with his disciples training them in the ways of God’s Kingdom. But then his death was upon him. Judas had left the last supper. Jesus would die, would rise again, but would not be with them as before. Who would be there for the disciples now? Who would guide them in the nitty gritty of day to day life in sinful yet wonderful Christian community? Who would be...Read more »

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29.05.11 | Comments Off

Who is there to help me?

Jesus spent three intensive years with his disciples training them in the ways of God’s Kingdom. But then his death was upon him. Judas had left the last supper. Jesus would die, would rise again, but would not be with them as before. Who would be there for the disciples now? Who would guide them in the nitty gritty of day to day life in sinful yet wonderful Christian community? Who would be...Read more »

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20.05.11 | Comments Off

Simple as ABC – Christ Centred

Over the last three weeks we have been focussing on the simplicity of the Church and its mission. It is all about: A – Admission to the Kingdom B – Belonging to a small discipleship group C – Commissioned to serve. Now our focus is on who and what hold it all together. The answer to “who”, is Jesus and what, is “love”. This A.B.C. is not just a set of disconnected ideas, b...Read more »

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12.05.11 | Comments Off

Core Business of Jesus’ Church

Core Business of Jesus’ Church; as simple as ABC The core business of Jesus’ church can be summarised as A,B,C. A. Admit people to the Kingdom of God B. Belong to a small discipleship group C. Commission people to serve This week we focus on what the Bible says about “C”. It seems that every member of Jesus’ church is called, commissioned and empowered to serve God in his missio...Read more »

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06.05.11 | Comments Off

Christianity – As Simple as A.B.C

B = Belonging to a discipleship group Last week Graeme began this new series reflecting on A, Admission to the Kingdom. He told us how simple it is to enter, by faith in Jesus. What he said reminded me of the importance of the Kingdom of God in the message of Jesus. The Kingdom is all Jesus talked about. It was what all those parables were about and what all those healings were illustrati...Read more »

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29.04.11 | Comments Off

…as simple as ABC

If you asked 10 people what the core business of a bakery is they would say “To bake bread.” I f you asked them what is the core business of a coal mine they would say “To dig up coal.” But if you asked them what is the core business of the church you would get 10 different answers from 10 different people all of them at least partly right. Was Jesus confused about the core business of ...Read more »

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21.04.11 | Comments Off

Heading Back To Galilee

Happy Resurrection Sunday. Today we look at Matthew's version of the most remarkable event in human history. You will find it in Matthew 28. There are three things I want you to notice in this story. 1. Jesus Is Alive The women came to the tomb, but he was not there. Instead they met an angel and later Jesus himself and they were frighten and amazed. Even the soldiers who were on guard at...Read more »

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15.04.11 | Comments Off

Accepting Jesus’ Authority

I love Palm Sunday. In the events of Jesus’ life it gives the appearance that he is finally getting the acclaim he deserves. Jesus is the one really good thing to happen to God’s people in occupied Israel. He heals, he teaches, he restores people’s lives and he is ‘the real deal’ from God. And when he rides into Jersualem on the donkey, everybody knows that he is fulfilling the prophe...Read more »

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08.04.11 | Comments Off

The Power of Forgiveness

Last week we finished our series of passages from the sermon on the mount with a statement of Jesus authority. Matthew continues in Chapter 8 and 9 with illustrations of this authority in various ways. Chapter 8 begins with three healing stories, two of which are responses to faith requests and a third which is a simple gift. Then is verses 16 and 17 we have a summary of the fact that Jesus did ...Read more »

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01.04.11 | Comments Off

Black and White

Sometimes Jesus is Black and White about Something We love Jesus’ parables and stories because they leave you some wriggle room and space to add your own interpretation and flavour. But at the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus’ parable gives you only two choices. One is right and the other is wrong. One leads to self destruction at the deepest level and one leads to a full and abundan...Read more »

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24.03.11 | Comments Off

Ask, Seek, Knock

When Jesus invites us to ask, seek and knock, he is inviting us to choose to put our faith in God who will provide what we need. In 1971 The Living Bible was published and we all went out and bought one. I remember reading this passage from Matthew 7:7 and being very disappointed with the paraphrase. It read, "Ask, and you will be given what you ask for." Literally the the verse reads, "Ask an...Read more »

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17.03.11 | Comments Off

Judging people…

Judging People and Eating Chocolate have a Lot in Common All I’ve got to do is say the names and you feel something - Charlie Sheen, Brendan Fevola, Pauline Hanson. What is that feeling? It is at once so bitter and yet so sweet. I feel tainted by their behaviour and attitudes but it feels so good to join everyone in criticising their painfully obvious shortcomings. I feel annoyed at them bu...Read more »

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11.03.11 | Comments Off

Don’t Worry! Be Happy!

The teaching of Jesus in Matthew 6: 25-34 (part of the Sermon on the Mount), at first glance looks like a fairly benign encouragement to "let go and let God", as a means of dealing with a very anxious humanity. But as we look at the passage a little closer, we discover that what Jesus is calling us to "let go" of, is probably the most difficult teaching in his whole sermon. We accept the spir...Read more »

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03.03.11 | Comments Off

Jesus and the modern man

The Sermon on the Mount Series: Jesus encounters the modern man; WWJSay to sex, lust and marriage? People often say that the world we live in is totally different to the world Jesus lived in, so we can’t be expected to follow his teachings. Let’s test that out on this week’s issue in our series: Lust, love and marriage. (Mt5:27-30) What if Jesus spoke with a young church going man living ...Read more »

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25.02.11 | Comments Off

Righteousness

Righteousness is a Matter of Life and Death From our study of the Beatitude over the last couple of weeks, we have seen that the Sermon on the Mount is firmly set in the context of righteousness. Both, the first and the second segment of the beatitude concludes with a statement about righteousness. The people of the first stanza are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and they are fi...Read more »

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18.02.11 | Comments Off

The Sermon on the Mount series

What sort of community should the church be? Yes, Jesus established an alternative community to live the life of the Kingdom of God. It wasn’t an institution with office bearers, and it wasn’t simply a once a week worship service; it was a community. Sometimes church communities can look like something else. Sometimes we look like a ‘family’ with people being there for each other ...Read more »

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11.02.11 | Comments Off

Blessed are God’s Children

Graeme and I have to prepare these reflections for Getting Connected and the Website by Thursday of each week, so very often they are early thoughts developing towards a sermon on Sunday. What you hear might be quite different. This week I am studying the first four of the Beatitudes from Matthew 5. I find this fascinating and at the moment my office has many books open and scattered around ...Read more »

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04.02.11 | Comments Off

The Sermon on the Mount

Jesus famous Sermon on the Mount is a introduction to being a Christian. It is a “Christian Living for Dummies” for the first century. He even specifies that being poor at spiritual stuff is not a problem; it even gains an extra blessing for God (phew! Thank Goodness!) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Jesus tells us how to live in the Kingdom...Read more »

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20.01.11 | Comments Off

Following Jesus into the Kingdom

Following Jesus into the Kingdom of God In Chapter 4 of his Gospel, Matthew is setting the foundations of Jesus' message and purpose. He begins by placing Jesus life clearly in the context of prophesy. Jesus is the fulfilment of their dreams for the future. As a nation they have been waiting for God to send them a deliverer. They have seen this as a nationalistic dream, and while Jesus ...Read more »

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30.12.10 | Comments Off

The Logos Becomes a Human

Today we are looking at the Christmas story again, but as it is told, or rather not told, in John's Gospel. It is probable that the writers of John had access to Matthew and Luke, but they chose not to include a birth story. Instead they chose a philosophical way of introducing the incarnation. John tells us his purpose at the end of his gospel, “But these have been written in order that y...Read more »

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23.12.10 | Comments Off

God Is With Us

In Matthew 2: 13-23 we are shocked to read of the killing of the children by Herod, and we wonder why this has to be included to spoil such a beautiful story of rejoicing and hope. We have been told of the birth of the Messiah and the coming of the Magi with their gifts. We remember the stars and dreams and guidance which plays beautifully into our idyllic children's stories of Christmas. Doesn'...Read more »

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17.12.10 | Comments Off

But They’re Odd! Aren’t They?

Everyone struggles at some level when they are in the presence of people who are very, very different from themselves. We feel a level of discomfort and uneasiness; a feeling that we are out of our depth and we just want to get back to safe ground. It is a feature that is common to every person on the planet. Often we blame our discomfort on the other person. It is the blaming that leads to ra...Read more »

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11.12.10 | Comments Off

Nativity Play & Hospitality

The Nativity Play is one of the highlights of the pre-Christmas season. Most people’s hearts are warmed when the children come out to perform and the Bible is read to set the scene. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to b...Read more »

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03.12.10 | Comments Off

Family Baggage and Blessing

I didn’t have much to do with church when I was growing up but I did see on TV how the worship services were satirized as being really, really boring. Often a scene would be shown of a person reading from the Bible saying, “And Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judah, etc, begat etc, etc”. This is from Matthew 1- our passage for today. Is it truly the most boring pa...Read more »

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25.11.10 | Comments Off

Coming Ready or Not

Our reading this week is from the end of Matthew 24. It is about the return of someone referred to as the Son of Man which is a common title used for Jesus. This picks up a reference in Daniel 7:13 which pictures the coming of the final judge of the world. In Daniel there is a new form of picture language beginning which we see developed in Matthew 24. We call it apocalyptic language. It d...Read more »

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18.11.10 | Comments Off

Jesus is Life

Jesus is Life: the Rest is just Details This is the faded bumper sticker on the back of my car: Jesus is life: the rest is just details. I’m not really one for bumper stickers but that is one that I am proud of. I think it says in a few words what the Colossians 1:15-23 passage is trying to say.  “Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the first-born Son, firstbo...Read more »

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11.11.10 | Comments Off

Giving 100%

Over the last few weeks I seem to be nagged by stories which compare power and humility. There was the story of Widow and the Judge, the Pharisee and the Tax Collector and Jesus Blessing the Children. These are all stories about powerful people exercising their power over more humble people. In each case Jesus is commending the behaviour of the humble and warning us against the temptation to us...Read more »

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05.11.10 | Comments Off

Life Beyond Death

Nobody can speak with any authority about what happens to us beyond the grave except God. People imagine all sorts of things! The old footballer goes to that ‘big oval in the sky’, ‘mum is now organising the angels because that was always her way’ and so on. Some people tell their children that ‘grandpa has become a star up in the sky’ and seriously point to one of them! But when al...Read more »

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30.10.10 | Comments Off

Learning From the Children

This week in our church we are celebrating our ministry with children. By this we mean, what we do for the children of our church and the community to introduce them to Jesus. That is all very important and necessary, but I wonder if maybe we have it around the wrong way. According to our reading from Luke 18, Jesus makes a particular point of telling his students (the disciples) that they mu...Read more »

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22.10.10 | Comments Off

Humility and Conceit

Luke 18: 9-14 tells the story of two men. One, a Pharisee, comes into the temple self righteously thanking God that he is a good obedient man, who is much better than other men, especially the tax collector who is also praying there that day. The tax collector prostrates himself before God and pleads for mercy because he knows he is a sinner. Jesus says that it is the tax collector who will go ...Read more »

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15.10.10 | Comments Off

It’s hard to keep Praying

The parable in Luke 18 looks like Jesus is encouraging us to nag God. In fact he is trying to instil a bit of confidence into our prayer life. He says, ‘if even a corrupt judge can give justice merely to end the nagging, how much more certain is the outcome if the Judge hearing your prayer is on your side and loves justice!’ Jesus is encouraging us to not give up on prayer but to trust God to ...Read more »

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07.10.10 | Comments Off

The Power of Appreciation

When we are children our parents try to teach us manners. They emphasise "please" and "thank you", and there are a lot of "may I" and "can I" and "excuse me". "Thank you" is an acknowledgement that I have noticed that someone has done something good for me. It is also an expression of appreciation for that good thing. A friend of mine flew planes for Missionary Aviation Fellowship in the N...Read more »

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30.09.10 | Comments Off

How much faith does it take?

When I was a student at University there were a lot of groups that were pentecostal. These groups believed in speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, prophecies about the end times, and exciting miracles happening in exciting worship services. We were tempted to think that these groups were so much more spiritual than us. Beside them we felt our faith was no bigger than a mustard seed. It did...Read more »

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23.09.10 | Comments Off

The Big Switch-a-Roo

You know when you are watching a mystery movie and you have worked out who-done-it? It is all logical and your conclusion makes sense. Suddenly you become aware of a dynamic that you missed or that comes into play late; everything has changed and it proves to be someone else. Sometimes you feel a bit cheated because there was a big switch in the story you couldn't predict. Today's parable f...Read more »

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17.09.10 | Comments Off

Who Is Your Master?

In Luke 16 we have the story of a manager who is about to be fired for "squandering" the boss's property. Sounds a bit like misappropriation of funds or embezzlement to me. Such a man, faced with no job, need friends or contacts who owe him a favour or two. So before he is ousted he quickly changes the accounts of his customers to reduce their bills. There are two legitimate ways to do thi...Read more »

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10.09.10 | Comments Off

Who’s Looking?

I love the stories that Jesus tells in Luke 15 about God looking so hard for the “lost sheep” and the “lost coin”. After searching and searching and finally finding them it all results in a huge celebration in heaven. This amazing grace of God’s stirs the soul. Usually I hear the story as a spectator cheering God on from the sideline. I find myself quietly proud of Jesus and the w...Read more »

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04.09.10 | Comments Off

Extraordinary Courage!

Extraordinary Courage to go the whole way! Graeme Somebody once wrote that ‘it wasn’t the bits of the Bible they didn’t understand that troubled Him; it was the bits he did understand.’ Many Christians want to follow Christ because they really believe his teachings bring a life worth living. We want to follow Jesus all the way. But then we come up against that teaching which is just to...Read more »

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27.08.10 | Comments Off

Luke: The Greatest Invitation

Living the Faith in Luke: The Greatest Invitation of All Time! I read live accounts of evangelism on Melbourne’s streets in the late nineteenth century. I was shocked at how bullying and aggressive it was. No doubt the street evangelists were convinced that in the Christian society of the time where it was assumed that all good citizens were Christian that it was only the most hard hearted of...Read more »

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20.08.10 | Comments Off

Are We Bent Too?

Today we are looking at the story of a woman who is suffering from a condition which caused her to be bent over. In a surprising kind of way, Jesus sees her and calls out, "Woman, you are free from your illness!" It is only then that he goes across and lays his hand on her, and she suddenly straightens up. There is no request from her for healing and Jesus intervention is a surprise. She must ...Read more »

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13.08.10 | Comments Off

Christians aren’t called to be ‘nice’!

Christians aren't called to be ‘nice’! In my early years as a Christian I was teased by my friends about my faith. Some parts of it were easily dismissed like, “Christianity is just a crutch for the weak”. I readily acknowledged the weaknesses within as I saw Jesus not as a crutch but as a healer. But one criticism used to get to me. Sometimes people would describe Jesus as “the be...Read more »

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05.08.10 | Comments Off

What is an All Age Service?

Have you ever noticed how everywhere you look society separates the age groups? We even ‘box different ages with labels like “Generation X”, “Baby Boomers” and “Gen Y”. Everywhere we are told that we all have such different attitudes, opinions, likes and dislikes that we can’t really get on. At best we can just tolerate our differences. But Jesus brought people together- all dif...Read more »

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29.07.10 | Comments Off

Luke: What are you building?

I am amazed at the number of “get rich quick” schemes there are and the number of people who risk everything they have to follow them. By far the most common one of late is where you buy an investment property. Then you wait till its value is greater than the mortgage you have taken out. You then use this extra value to borrow more money to buy another investment property. Then you repeat t...Read more »

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23.07.10 | Comments Off

The Lord’s Prayer in Luke

The first thing you will notice about the Lord's Prayer in Luke 11 is that he has left out many of the words. Well, that is if you compare it to the version we generally recite in Church. That version comes from Matthew's Gospel. Even Matthew doesn't have the last couple of lines we recite, someone added those later. Looking at the two Biblical versions, Luke seems to state the prayer in the m...Read more »

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15.07.10 | Comments Off

Mary’s ‘one essential thing’

Living the Faith in Luke: What is Mary’s ‘one essential thing’? When I finished my training for Ministry in 1986 I thought with wonder, “So that’s it, the end of my formal education!” It felt like I was finally leaving all that behind. I yearned to begin as a minister and as a parent (both started within weeks of each other!). Well the years ticked past in a mad rush of parenting an...Read more »

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09.07.10 | Comments Off

Luke: Who is my neighbour?

Living the Faith in Luke: Who is my neighbour? “Who is my neighbour?” This is a question I hear Christians agonising over all the time! We don’t say so in so many words but it is the meaning behind the sigh when we hear of yet another group in need or in trouble and we feel the obligation to do something but feel stretched too thin. It is easy to be critical of the Pharisee who tries ...Read more »

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02.07.10 | Comments Off

Risk brought great Gain!

Living Faith Church celebrates 4 years! Risk brought great gain. Four years since two communities of Christians left behind what they knew and what was safe and entered new territory. What a risk! What gain! What loss! Yes, loss, because there is no such thing as gain without loss. Those two separate communities will never exist again. In their place is a single community that is still f...Read more »

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25.06.10 | Comments Off

Luke: The Cost of Following

Today we are beginning a new series focussing on the Gospel of Luke. In the Common Lectionary, 2010 is a year when readings from Luke are central. Our series will include Lectionary readings, but not necessarily in the set order. Today we are looking at Luke 9: 51-62. This is the end of a very eventful chapter. Just the last half has Jesus asking the disciples who they think he is, and Pe...Read more »

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17.06.10 | Comments Off

What is Church? Social Justice

What is Church? Social Justice - is that really in the Bible?! I’ve noticed over the years how people seem to have a love/hate relationship with Social Justice. This happens for several reasons... Firstly, you do not find the term in the Bible; it is a contemporary term. What you do find in the Old Testament is the word “righteousness” which the Roman Catholic Jerusalem Bible consisten...Read more »

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11.06.10 | Comments Off

Church: Growing & Maturing

What is the Church - Growing and Maturing Over recent years when people around churches talk about growing, what it generally meant is that we want more “bums on seats”. For people who remember the 1950s when church attendances were high and Sunday Schools were in their hundreds, the question of growth means that we want to know how to return to that success. So we have been through waves...Read more »

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04.06.10 | Comments Off

Church: Encouragement

Applying to the church to become a Minister is a scary thing! In the Uniting Church you have to go through a year’s ‘Period of Discernment’ in which a supervisor helps you reflect on whether being a Minister of the Word is what God is calling you to, or whether it is some other form of service to God. You are given opportunities to study and to try out ‘Minister type things’. If you ...Read more »

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20.05.10 | 1 Comment »

Church: The Holy Spirit

What is the Church? Nothing without the Holy Spirit The great Theologian John Macquarrie, using the language of “being” describes God (the Father) as Primordial Being, Jesus as Expressive Being and the Holy Spirit as Unitive Being. On the Day of Pentecost we think of the beginning of the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was a day when the disciples were gathered in one place, w...Read more »

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14.05.10 | Comments Off

What is Church? Unity

What is Church? Unity. Or “Become what you are!” What would make you embrace a stranger from another country that you had never met before and offer to let them share all your resources. And yet it happens! I was watching the ads on TV for long lost family members being reunited. Several years ago there were twins who had been separated at several months old and given to different adopti...Read more »

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07.05.10 | Comments Off

Church – Loving Community

The Beatles sang, “All you need is love”, and humans have always known that it is love which builds bridges between people who are similar, but also with people who are different. Jesus said it is a reasonably easy thing to love your friends, but he called us to love our enemies as well. If love is able to do that, then we need to understand love in a particular way. I have shared with yo...Read more »

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29.04.10 | Comments Off

Church – Led by the Holy Spirit

“Does prayer work?” asked a young mother doing an introductory course to Christian faith called Alpha. (5 years ago) “Yes!” said one Christian enthusiastically. “Ye-e-e-s” said another in a way that meant there were conditions. “No” said another. “It’s just a way of connecting to God and sorting out your priorities. It’s not as if God intervenes in life and does things!”...Read more »

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23.04.10 | Comments Off

What was the Church?

What was the Church? What does Dorcus Say? We have begun a new series of reflections on the theme, "What is the Church?" This week we are thinking about the Church as community and outreach and we are given the story of Dorcus in Acts 9: 36-43 to help us think about it. It seems to me that Dorcus was a very ordinary member of the Church at Joppa and yet she was extra ordinary. The Church c...Read more »

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16.04.10 | Comments Off

What is Church? Freedom

What is Church? Freedom and Openness Billy Joel released an extraordinary song in the late 70’s. While most other songs were about love and sex he released a song yearning for a quality that he could not find in day to day relationships: honesty. “Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard, And mostly what I need from you.” Most people j...Read more »

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09.04.10 | Comments Off

Doubt and Truth

Today we are reflecting on the story of Thomas the doubter. Thomas was not there when Jesus appeared after his resurrection and in a very modern, scientific way he refused to believe it happened without seeing, touching and hearing for himself. So Jesus appeared specifically for him and invited him to do his own observations and believe. The point of the story is that the disciples were being...Read more »

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01.04.10 | Comments Off

Will You Let God Reassure You?

I’m going to be with Jesus when I die. No ‘ifs or buts’. Guaranteed! Am I arrogant beyond measure, deluded, or suffering from a bout of wishful thinking? No, none of these. I simply take God at his word. He wants me to be assured and relaxed; so I am. The events of Easter are God’s reassurance. We often don’t gain enough reassurance from Jesus’ death and resurrection becaus...Read more »

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25.03.10 | Comments Off

Enter at your own Risk

ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK If Jesus entered our town With pomp and ceremony, Would it be a lonely donkey ride Or would you be walking at his side Shouting praises to his majesty? If Jesus entered our church What difference would he make? What tables would he overturn? What lessons would we have to learn? What cleansing would we have to take? If Jesus entered our hearts To reign in th...Read more »

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18.03.10 | Comments Off

Death for our sakes

Jesus knew he was going to die. He stated it explicitly three times before his death and gave his disciples a special meal that would interpret his death the day before he was nailed to the cross. Not only that but several parables involve the death of the ‘son’ of the master/king. And to make sure we didn’t miss it he enshrines it in a key teaching about discipleship “If anyone wants t...Read more »

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11.03.10 | Comments Off

The Lost Son

160 years is a very long time. Today we celebrate the fact that the Christian community of which we are a continuing part, began in Greensborough that long ago. That was a Wesleyan Methodist Church, but that Church has a direct line of decent to what we now call Living Faith Church. Before the beginning of the Uniting Church in Australia, that Methodist Church combined with the Presbyterian Chu...Read more »

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27.02.10 | Comments Off

Focus

In our reading from Luke 13 this week the Pharisees, of all people, come to warn Jesus about Herod's plot to kill him.  They are not Jesus' friends!  They are trying to scare him off!  Last week we talked about temptations, well here is another one.  If you don't stop doing what you are doing you're going to die.  Certainly Herod had form.  He had killed John the Baptist and it is reasonable...Read more »

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19.02.10 | 2 Comments »

Tempted Away from our Purpose

Temptation has been reduced in our society to being all about ice cream, breaking diets and sexual sin. But Jesus’ encounter with temptation is fought for high stakes. Temptation threatens not only his sense of identity but also the whole mission God has given him. The temptations happen at the start of his ministry because he needs to know that he is straight in his own mind about his purpos...Read more »

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13.02.10 | Comments Off

Chameleon Christians

In our reading from 1 Corinthians 9 this week, Paul says, ”I am a free man, nobody's slave; but I make myself everybody's slave in order to win as many people as possible.”  He goes on to tell us how he adapts to be able to communicate with different cultural groups in his time.  Like us, he lived in a multicultural society.  There were Jews and gentiles but they represented a wid...Read more »

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05.02.10 | Comments Off

Jesus calls…you

This is a great story - the one about where Jesus tells the fisherman to go fish after they caught nothing all night. We as ‘flies on the wall’ anticipate the moment when the Peter, Andrew, James and John are shown how to fish by the rabbi from Nazareth! What delight when the penny drops for Peter that the fish are actually obeying their maker (who is the only one who can command fish!) and...Read more »

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29.01.10 | Comments Off

Called by God for a Purpose

This week we are reading the call of Jeremiah to his prophetic ministry.  The difference between his time and ours is that God called specific individuals then, but since Jesus time God calls us all.  That is what the day of Pentecost is all about.  From that time on the Spirit of God would be poured out on all flesh. Not just on the few, but on the many.  God's purpose is for the his messa...Read more »

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21.01.10 | Comments Off

Jesus’ purpose to his ministry

Many people imagine Jesus wandering around aimlessly for 3 years. We all know that he intended to end up in Jerusalem at the cross, but most people think of him using the time before that to just ‘go on tour’ and see who he encountered on the way. Our passage today says differently. In Luke 4 Jesus begins his entire ministry by choosing a passage from Isaiah during a worship service and in ...Read more »

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20.01.10 | Comments Off

Signs of something?

Signs can be so helpful. When I first came to Living Faith Church I couldn’t find where the church was in Grimshaw Street. The church and the sign were too far back from the road. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before an excellent well lit sign was placed nearer the footpath and I could more easily find my way here. If you don’t know where you are then signs are worth their weight in gold! T...Read more »

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08.01.10 | Comments Off

The Boy Jesus In The Temple

Last week in my sermon I talked about the foundational beliefs that create the character, the DNA of the church.  I based this on the story of Jesus being presented in the Temple as a baby.  Today I want to reflect on the next time Jesus goes to the Temple in Luke's Gospel, when he is twelve years old.  He is preparing for adulthood and he stays in the Temple talking with the scholars about the...Read more »

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03.01.10 | Comments Off

Jesus Is Presented

A week after Jesus' birth, he is circumcised and named and later taken to the temple in Jerusalem to be presented there, to fulfil the requirements of their religious tradition. This fact is less important than what happened in the temple when he arrived. It is enough to know that Jesus' parents were obedient to their faith. Luke's concern is to show us through the telling of Jesus birth, God's pu...Read more »

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24.12.09 | Comments Off

Why Were The Wise Men Wise?

We know very little about the Wise Men who travelled to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus.  We know they came from the East, probably gentiles.  We know that they interpreted the stars.  They believed they were prophetic in some way.  They went across their world seeking the newborn King of the Jews.  It was Herod and the scholar in Jerusalem who interpreted their request as pointing to the pro...Read more »

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17.12.09 | Comments Off

Has Mary gone mad?

Mary was a young woman of extraordinary faith. She had to be. She came endorsed from the most reputable of referees: God himself! Even though she was a virgin, and having a baby while engaged would make her appear as upright as Tiger Woods in the eyes of the community, she simply trusted that God would take care of it. What faith! She went off to consult with her aged Aunty Elizabeth who als...Read more »

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11.12.09 | Comments Off

Prepare the way…

Prepare the way…. For a change of heart! John the Baptist and Jesus share a history and family connection. Right from the start of Luke’s gospel we hear about John’s miraculous birth to his aged mother Elizabeth, and then we hear about Jesus’ birth. There are a number of other parallels between the characters too if you look for them! The writer of Luke is trying to make an important po...Read more »

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03.12.09 | Comments Off

Prepare for Christ(mas)

God has waited a long time to be with you... The love story that is revealed in the scriptures shows how much preparation has gone into being reunited with you, his child, and billions of our fellow human beings. It begins with the calling of Abraham and his response of trust/faith. God builds a nation that learns through the Law that life is meant to be lived in love for God and neighbour, ...Read more »

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27.11.09 | Comments Off

Inclusion of All

Inclusion of All in Church Community: Mental Illness and Disability Our Youth and Young Adults were keen to discuss this issue and how it affects us in practical ways. Including people with mental health issues or mental disability is almost a “motherhood statement” in the church. Who could possibly say ‘no’?! But there is a world of difference between what we want to do and whether ...Read more »

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20.11.09 | Comments Off

Core Values: The Bible

This is the last in our current series on the core values of our church.  This one is about the Bible.  It says, ”As a Christian community we see the Bible as central to our life.”  From the very beginning of Christianity this has been a core value of the faithful. We were often referred to as the people of “The Book.”  The word 'bible' simply means 'book'.  It is a collection of writ...Read more »

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13.11.09 | Comments Off

Core Values: Taking Risks

One of the Core Values of our church says this, “We want to step out in faith and take risks in following Jesus.” I am impressed that we said, “We want...”.  This is the only Core Value that does that.  The others begin with “We welcome...” and “We seek...”.   The deliberate intention of the  phrase, “We want...”, makes this a real goal of our church life.  In other wo...Read more »

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06.11.09 | Comments Off

Core Values: Relevant Worship

LFC Core Values: Passionate, Relevant Authentic Worship Would it surprise you to know that there are almost no references in the New Testament about how to conduct a worship service? Almost nothing is said about how to run one, what to include in it, whether to sing or chant or be silent, whether to have a sermon or a Bible reading, or whether Communion is central or happens before or after, o...Read more »

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29.10.09 | Comments Off

Core Values: Sharing Faith

This week I want to reflect on the Core Value of our Church which says, “We seek to share our faith and to encourage relationships with Jesus.” This value is about birth and nurture.  Faith often has a long gestation period and when born always require lifelong nurture. Many Christians fear the word evangelism, because they think it requires them being able to “preach” to their frie...Read more »

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22.10.09 | Comments Off

Core Values: We welcome…

If Jesus could be said to have had an office then it would have to have been the humble kitchen table. It’s where he did a major part of the business of the Kingdom. He was never far from someone’s table. So much so that his detractors said of him “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners and tax collectors.” Mt 11:19 The table and the meal represent in most cultures the...Read more »

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16.10.09 | Comments Off

Core Values: Love & Compassion

We have now finished our “Deeper Gospel” series.  Our new series will be reflections on six of our Core Values.  When Living Faith Church began we held a retreat to develop a set of core values which would both describe who we are and set an agenda for who we wanted to be.  I want to begin with the core value that says, “We seek to reach out with love and compassion to those who are in...Read more »

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09.10.09 | Comments Off

Deeper Gospel 6: Kingdom Prayer

Jesus invites us to a very different sort of prayer. It’s been right under our noses all this time, hidden in plain sight. It’s found in the Lord’s prayer and recited by a billion people every week ... “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Mt 6:10 Most of the prayers we pray for others are a reaction to something that has gone wrong that we want made r...Read more »

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01.10.09 | Comments Off

A Deeper Gospel 5: Power

Largely the purpose of Salvation is to rescue us from ourselves. The Human animal that we are is constantly driven by inner needs and drives, fears and insecurities, into attitudes and behaviour that are effectively self and relationship destroying. Jesus changes the focus of lives from our drives, to what we believe, and then fills that space with positive beliefs, perfect example and a creativ...Read more »

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27.09.09 | Comments Off

Deeper Gospel 4: Jesus’ mission

Most people aren’t sure what to do with Jesus’ resurrection. For many it is merely the happy ending to a story of a wonderful ministry that climaxed in the self-sacrificing death on the cross. The cross saved us from our sins and opened the way to heaven for countless billions of people. The resurrection on the other hand …? In our series that goes deeper into the Gospel we’ve been disc...Read more »

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20.09.09 | Comments Off

A Deeper Gospel 3 The Church

If God's purpose is to bring Salvation to the world, then Jesus and the Church are his method. Jesus came to save people from their own messes. Because of our mistakes and irresponsibility, we are broken people, with broken relationships, who live in a broken world, even in a broken environment. I have heard many people say that you don't need to go to church to be a Christian. Maybe that's...Read more »

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06.09.09 | Comments Off

A Deeper Gospel 1. Saved From Sin?

On September 11 2001 groups of Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked 4 planes in the USA. Three planes were crashed into significant buildings but the fourth was different. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C. All the peop...Read more »

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28.08.09 | Comments Off

WARNING: Sexually Explicit Language

WOW!! Can you believe this language is in the Bible? I have been reading the Song of Songs in the Old Testament for this Sunday's Worship Service and the language is very sexually explicit. Some of the poetic metaphors sound quaint to our modern, western ears, but there is no doubt about what is being said. And I can't find one mention of God. What is this doing in the Bible? This is a question...Read more »

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21.08.09 | Comments Off

The Vine and The Branches

John’s Gospel is very different from the other three. It would have to be seeing the others were well known for over 20 years by the time John wrote his. So why write another Gospel? It was because John wanted to draw out another aspect of Jesus’ life and ministry that needed greater emphasis; that a personal relationship with Jesus is at the heart of this new abundant life. As my faded bumper...Read more »

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14.08.09 | Comments Off

A Bit Hard To Swallow

Today I am looking at John 6: 51-60 and clearly both ordinary listeners and even Jesus' disciples find what he is saying a bit hard to swallow. Jesus is continuing his theme, which he has been developing throughout the chapter, that he is the bread of life which comes down from heaven. He is clearly using a common metaphor which is familiar to his listeners and to the early church, who are listeni...Read more »

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07.08.09 | Comments Off

Healthy Bread

I am not very comfortable shopping at the supermarket. Even when I stand at the bread display there are so many loaves with packaging, making so many claims about how good they are for my health. Which one should I choose? My solution is to pull out my mobile phone and ring Maureen and ask her, and because she has done the research and compared the products, she easily tells me what to buy. In Joh...Read more »

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02.08.09 | Comments Off

The Problem With Light

I once had an office with a window in the end of the room which looked out on the unit next door. If I pulled up the blind I could see directly into Joy and Bert's laundry. It was decided for the sake of privacy that we should remove that window and put in a skylight above my head. Now I had another problem. Could I cope with such a bright light shining straight down where I work, reflecting off...Read more »

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01.08.09 | Comments Off

The Risk of Prayer

Recently I heard a Muslim questioning the sincerity of Christians because we seem to pray so little. It doesn't surprise me at all. Praying has become one of the most risky things a Christian can do. To pray means to put one's faith on the line. We ask for things to happen and if they do everything is OK, but if they don't we face a faith crisis. How are we to explain the fact that our pray w...Read more »

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01.08.09 | Comments Off

Living Simply

It was Friday morning and Joan was in the Church Office so I asked her, "What would you say about Living Simply as a practice of Christian faith. She said in her very concise and perceptive way, "Get your priorities in the right order." That's about right, isn't it? But what are the right priorities? That week an insurance company had released a report on well-being or happiness around Australi...Read more »

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