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St.Marys SA 5042

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    Servant Leadership

    Thursday, August 26, 2010


    I heard a rumour this week, and it may only be gossip, but apparently Australia has no government! Confusing times, as the battle for political supremacy continues and only God knows how things will work out. It is a reminder for us of just how important leadership is and how we need to pray for those who are willing to exercise leadership in whatever shape or form it may take. I guess it also reminds us that in life there is good leadership and bad leadership and everybody likes to be the judge of who is and who isn’t a good leader.

     

    Today’s leaders emphasize grandiose strategies and plans with carefully thought out costings, all presented with glamorised advertising intended to convince people that they are stable and responsible leaders who can get the job done most effectively and efficiently. Jesus had an interesting style of leadership that differed greatly from the kind of leadership we see today.

     

    He spoke of and demonstrated the importance of servanthood – the willingness to quietly and humbly serve others with no thought of recognition or reward. He had a strategy and a purpose, but it wasn’t widely promoted nor was it the centrepiece of his leadership, loving others was. Teaching and caring formed the foundation of what he did as he sought to connect with the depressed and the discouraged, the hurting and the humble. He had no inclination to connect with the top end of town; washing feet and feeding the poor was his priority and He taught His followers to do likewise.

     

    Society places little to no value on these priorities, and sadly even the church misses this point as we struggle and strain to create a plan that will impress everyone who hears it. Any pastor presenting a New Year vision to simply “tell others about Jesus and feed the poor” would be criticised for being shallow and unimpressive as a leader. We crave for something far grander in our flashy media driven world. In reality, Christianity at its core, is neither flashy nor grandiose, and therefore disappoints many who think that life’s values are found in the loudest, the brightest and the most expensive.

     

    Jesus revealed the opposite, teaching and demonstrating that death to self is life, the poor are the rich, and the humble are the greatest. If we applied these principles to our leaders and ourselves, I wonder how it would change our lives and the lives of those around us? It certainly would be a new kind of leadership and one that we could easily afford!

     

    Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."  Matthew 20:25-28





    God of Opportunity

    Thursday, August 19, 2010


    Over the last two years, three exploratory teams from EBC have visited the Philippines to investigate mission partnership on the island of Cebu. After much prayerful consideration and consultation, IMPACT CEBU was launched last Sunday! We communicated to the church the significant door of opportunity that God has opened for us in the Philippines; an opportunity that will allow us to potentially partner with a drug rehabilitation facility, an orphanage, community development program, pre-school children’s ministry, Sunday school outreach and a possible prison ministry. These opportunities will develop in partnership with two churches allowing us to bring the Word of God, and the love of Jesus, to a nation that is open and responsive to the gospel. 

     

    The first short term team to be sent will leave this December for a 12 day visit to be involved in ministry and to further evaluate the opportunities before us. Our plan, the Lord willing, is to send two teams each year, one in early December and the other in March/April (yet to be finalised). There is another team booked to visit Cebu this year in late December which consists of a few of our Filipino families whom, whilst visiting family and friends in Cebu, will also be involved in ministry amongst our partners. Following our launch on Sunday a significant number of people have responded and in the coming weeks they will be contacted to discuss their specific involvement. If you have an interest in being involved in IMPACT CEBU, or require further information we ask that you speak with Julio Alejo or Wayne Burgan. Thank you for your prayerful support of what God is doing in and through us as a church.

     

    As I write this, it is a very important time for our nation as we prepare for the Federal Election. As Christians our responsibility is to pray for our leaders and our nation. We are a land that is in desperate need of the blessings of God to rain down: the blessing of a spiritual awakening, the blessing of leaders and a people that acknowledge God, the blessing of wisdom to know how to function as a just and compassionate society, the blessing of a God fearing society who are repentant and embrace holy living, the blessing of a peaceful and prosperous society – that we might be a blessing to others – and the great blessing of strong, healthy and missional churches that are responsive to God and energised by the Holy Spirit. May God hear our prayers and answer us.

     

    Please pray for me next week as I have a 10 minute opportunity on Life FM on Thursday at 11am to share a little of my testimony and to speak about EBC. Please also pray for those that I had the opportunity to share the gospel with this week – that their hungry souls might respond to the love and invitation of Jesus to come to Him.

     

    Ours is a God of opportunity





    Making sacrificial choices

    Thursday, August 05, 2010


    For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ’ Luke 7:33-35

     

    Did you ever wonder why John the Baptist and Jesus had such different lifestyles? John lived a life of strict discipline, frugality and hardship, in contrast, Jesus’ lifestyle was far more ordinary and normal. Jesus lived how most people lived. The reason they chose the lifestyles they did would no doubt have been related to the kind of audience they were endeavouring to reach and relate to.

     

    While John was used of God to challenge the righteousness of the religious leaders, who lived a life of excess and ease at the expense of others. Jesus identified with the common people, the ones who had drifted far from social norms in Jewish society and more importantly far from God. Jesus loved them and related to them by choosing a lifestyle that would remove unnecessary barriers.

     

    Interestingly, both were criticised for their lifestyles, John was accused of being demon possessed, Jesus of being a drunk. The response of the religious leaders, who themselves were hypocrites, warn us that we cannot expect to be applauded for making intentional lifestyle choices to reach out to society. There will always be people who do not understand or approve of genuine attempts to share the gospel and the love of God.

     

    In response to the lives of John and Jesus and the lifestyle choices they made to reach people, let me ask you a question. What choices are you making to reach out to others? How are you living your life to be effective at sharing Jesus with those around you?

     

    When a person decides to be a missionary overseas they make some fairly radical lifestyle choices, and for the most part we applaud them for it, as they study a new culture, learn a new language, change their educational focus, quit their job and career, and leave family and friends behind. How many of us staying at home make anything like these kinds of radical decisions to reach out to people in our own community? Why don’t we? Is it really just those who go overseas who are missionaries called of God, called to make sacrifices in His service?

     

    I can’t imagine life was easy for John, wearing an itchy camel hair cloak, living on nothing but locusts and honey and sleeping among rocks in the wilderness. Jesus too would have struggled with the broken humanity and sinful lifestyle choices of those He was endeavouring to reach. This teaches us that to effectively share the gospel means making sacrificial choices that are never easy. We will need to mix with those who are different, annoying, disappointing, frustrating – sinful! Perhaps that’s why we don’t make radical lifestyle choices to reach others, it’s all too hard and we lack the patience and love needed to touch people’s lives.





    Warriors not wimps

    Thursday, July 29, 2010


    “If our definition of being a Christian is simply to enjoy the privileges of worship, be generous at no expense to ourselves, have a good, easy time surrounded by pleasant friends and by comfortable things, live respectably, and at the same time avoid the world’s great stress of sin and trouble – if this is our definition of Christianity, surely we are a long way from following the steps of Him who trod the way with tears of anguish for a lost humanity.” In His Steps by Charles Sheldon.

     

    This quote rocks my world, as it stirs me to want to step out of the comforts of spiritual mediocrity to embrace pure worship and fruitful ministry amidst the harsh realties of a fallen world. God calls us to a Christianity few seem to reflect - sacrificial, selflessness, where ego has died with Christ.

     

    Where are the men and women in our church community who want to rise above the level of mediocrity and cast off the enticing cloak of comfort? Who wants something more from life than a comfortable seat by a warm fire, with a bowl of chips and a good movie? Isn’t life with Christ meant to mean more than going through the superficial motions of church attendance once a week, surrounded by a close-knit group of friends?

     

    Where are the Spirit-filled men and women burdened for the lost, desperate for opportunities to share Jesus? Sometimes I hear complaints that in light of the gospel seem so hollow; the service was too long, the music too loud, the sermon too long, we stood for too long. Would someone please complain that we are not passionate enough for Christ, not providing enough opportunities for individuals to share the gospel, not seeing enough people converted to Christ, not sacrificing enough for Christ. Someone will dare say I’m being negative and not uplifting but I’m not sure how uplifting it is to say, “we are involved in a terrible war, so get your kit on and move up to the front line and get bloody for the gospel - instead of hiding back there and eating all the best biscuits!”

     

    God’s call is to death - death to self, death to the world. To be fruitful in the kingdom is to face the harsh realities of our calling and to be present at the front-line - it’s where the neediest souls are, and more importantly it’s where Jesus is! It’s not an easy place, even harder to remain for long - you’ll run the risk of being wounded, weariness a constant companion, the stench and grime of others fills your nostrils and you may even be called to lay down your life for someone else. Not too many rewards or applause, plenty of heckling by those comfortably seated a safe distance away, but the glory that goes to God is immeasurable and for no other reason its worth leaving that warm chair by the fire and casting off that heavy cloak of comfort.

     

    God wants warriors not wimps, which is why He has equipped us for war (Ephesians 6:10-20) and not with reclining theatre seats, with cup holders! Come with me and let’s sweat and cry and bleed and maybe die together for God’s glory and the salvation of precious souls.





    Something's going on here?

    Thursday, June 17, 2010


    “Something’s going on here?” That’s the feeling and thoughts I get in life when changes take place outside of my control and I can only stand back and watch. We all know the saying, “God works in mysterious ways,” which is a way of saying I don’t understand what’s happening or even why but I believe that God is at work and He will bring about an outcome that will glorify His Name and bless His people.

     

    Often we become nervous when things happen outside of our control, we all like to be in control and be firmly seated behind the driver’s wheel - that’s why some people hate being passengers. It’s also why I’m not really thrilled about sitting on an aeroplane when I can’t see what the pilot is doing. I feel the need to be able to at least see him so that I can keep an eye on him. Maybe I can offer some advice if he gets into a bit of rough weather or if one of the engines catches fire! As ridiculous as this sounds, I think many of us operate that way when it comes to our own lives and ministries. We don’t really want God alone in the driver’s seat - we’d rather be at the controls or at least advising Him on what He should do next. When things begin to head in a direction we never planned for, that’s when we tighten our seat belts and wish we were at the controls of life.

     

    God’s response is always the same – “Trust me, rest in me, focus on me and stop trying to wrestle the controls out of my hands. I know what is best and I know how to best achieve my purposes for your life.” Here’s an example of changing circumstances, recently Lifehouse had its principal sponsor withdraw his support; this isn’t unusual as it has been a regular occurrence over the last year as he helps us to become independent. Each time it has happened finances have all but disappeared including a time last year when we ran out of funds altogether and while some staff left, others remained and worked voluntarily to keep Lifehouse open.

     

    What is unusual this time is that while financial support from our principal sponsor has ceased, applications from women wanting to enter the house have risen dramatically over recent weeks. For the first time Lifehouse, in the coming weeks, will have a full house of women and for the first time we will have to turn women away! It seems as though God is putting us under a different kind of pressure, lack of funds is familiar to us but an overwhelming number of applicants is not.

     

    So while on the one hand we rejoice in the doors that God has opened in blessing Lifehouse with greater responsibility of more precious women to minister to, on the other hand we are thinking: “Lord, how will you provide funds to allow us to continue to minister?” It makes me think and feel, “something’s going on here!” I don’t quite know what it is, but God is certainly active, and is making abundant provision in one way while removing it another. All I can say is “God works in mysterious ways” to achieve His will and purposes. We can but watch and pray which probably isn’t a bad idea. I’d invite you to join me in watching and praying that God’s will is done and His Name is glorified.





    Asleep in the light

    Thursday, May 20, 2010


    The intensity of spiritual warfare is real and needs to be recognised by us as Christians which I reminded us about in my message last Sunday morning. Satan is not interested in opposing sleeping Christians and churches, why bother, they’re already asleep “in the light” as the singer Keith Green used to put it. Christianity is not for the faint-hearted or those who can’t trust in God and His power to protect and deliver. Jesus repeatedly warned His followers of the battle they were in and how they needed to trust Him through every circumstance they encountered. The disciples struggled with this again and again as they relied upon the flesh to get them through. While Jesus was seeking to save souls by presenting the message of life, they were battling with each other over who was greatest and the most important amongst them.

     

    Humanity doesn’t change and today we often find ourselves wrestling with all sorts of things except that which matters most: the salvation of souls. What does it matter who has the greatest influence, what one is called, how much one receives in wages, what office one has, where one lives or where we work or what vehicle we drive? All of these things are temporary and distract us from what is eternal, “so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

     

    The gospel is what is on God’s agenda! Telling people about Jesus and living exemplary lives before them, so as not to discredit the gospel, is what is of greatest importance. The New Testament overflows with Scriptures calling us to give attention to these things, to demonstrate love and acceptance to all. Remember Jesus went to the downcast, the rejected, those who society had no time for and it was to these ones that God’s love and message of hope was communicated. In short, God wants us to Impact Adelaide with ‘the message’ and ‘the kind of love’ that can only come from God. Satan doesn’t like it and will oppose us but God is our constant source of strength and inspiration.

     

    Put on the full armour of God and don’t forget your gospel shoes! (Eph 6:15) They are what allow us to go to others, to make the effort and get out there and connect with unbelievers in the world. We have nothing to fear in Christ as the victory is already ours through Him. Let us put our time, energy, and resources into seeing men, women and children come to faith in our wonderful Saviour. To know Him is true life!

     

    Please remember to pray for Dina Bellas whose husband (Arthur) of 49 years passed away last week. I would ask that you also pray for Enid Philbey and all her family: on the first anniversary of Harry’s passing last Monday Enid learned that her grandson had been killed in a truck accident. Pray for Marj Murdoch as well as she recovers from a fall and several serious injuries. May God extend grace and peace to those who have recently lost loved ones or are going through difficult times at the moment.

     

    Continuing the battle for the gospel





    Champions of Service

    Thursday, February 18, 2010


    The Winter Olympics are under way in Canada and it’s great to see the amazing, physical feats of the worlds best winter sports athletes. I can’t help but praise God for the way He has made us as human beings, as physical strength, agility, coordination and courage is demonstrated and applauded. I’m noticing though that all the athletes are ‘younger’ people, where are all the 50 year old grandfathers? I think I’ll write and complain to the IOC that there is not enough representation of older people – becoming a grumpy old man is starting to feel really comfortable! I just need a bit more free time to think about things I can complain about.

     

    Vancouver is not the only city sporting champions; we have some of our own right here at EBC but they are champions in a different field of endeavour. Recently Dave Vaughan received a prestigious award from CAMS, the Confederation of Australian Motorsport – the governing body of motorsport in Australia. Dave received the award, usually reserved for senior age people with a lifetime of service, for dedicated service to motor sport as a CAMS Accredited Official. Here is what they wrote about him at the recent ceremony. David has been a motor sport official in a number of capacities for over 30 years, but is best known for being the Chaplain for the Australian Rally Championship over the last 9 years. Whenever there is a serious motor sport incident, the services of David come to the fore as a counsellor where he provides comfort and support to anyone affected by such an incident.

    Through his demonstrated diligent service and high level of dedication to the sport over a long period of time, David is a highly respected member of the South Australian motor sport community and a very worthy recipient of the CAMS Service Award.

     

    Congratulations Dave and thanks for being an example to us in the church family. Congratulations to all our people who are champions of service to this church and the wider community. We mightn’t see you on TV and most will probably not be acknowledged in any public way or receive a gold medal and media interviews but you are champions in our sight and in the sight of Him who really counts.


    Celebrating champions of service





    Valentine's day

    Monday, February 08, 2010


    This Sunday Valentines Day and Chinese New Year will be celebrated so whichever day you recognize happy Valentines Day or Happy Chinese New Year! Valentines Day has rather obscure origins but it is said to have originated as recognition of a Christian martyr. Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned because he was caught marrying Christian couples as well as supporting Christians at a time when Christians were being actively persecuted by the Emperor Claudius Gothicus.

     

    Claudius actually took a liking to his prisoner until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor which led to his being condemned to death. His was a horrible end when he was beaten with clubs and stoned, but this didn’t kill him so they finally beheaded Valentinus in about 270 AD. Not much to celebrate really is it? The day itself was recognized as a holy day by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD but was later developed into a romantic holiday by Geoffrey Chaucer during the Middle Ages when “the tradition of courtly love flourished.”

     

    Strange how things get twisted and turned to suit our circumstances and culture. Many now call it Hallmark Day because of all the Valentines Day cards that are sold, not to mention the florists. Thinking about Valentinus made me wonder about living as a Christian in an anti Christian society. I think many would agree that our society is growing increasingly pagan and as someone mentioned to me on Sunday, persecution of Christians can’t be far away. 

     

    I’m encouraged to think of Valentinus’ testimony as he supported Christians and even sort to convert the Emperor. How much more should we as Christians in a ‘pre-persecution era’ seek to encourage one another and share our faith at every opportunity? Times change and the door of freedom to so easily speak for Christ may eventually close. Let’s make the most of it while we can.

     

    “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

     

    This Sunday morning I will be speaking while Don is speaking in the evening. We have begun our journey through the gospels as we seek to identify Jesus methods of witness.

     

    Maranatha!





    Christmas Eve

    Thursday, December 24, 2009


    So this is Christmas - tinsel, presents, food, holidays but most of all, hopefully most of all, for Christians it’s about Jesus. God’s gift of a Saviour to a lost world. He is our hope, our forgiveness, our salvation. Imagine the world without Him, imagine your life without Him….

     

    Jesus gives life, meaning and purpose, He brings us into a right relationship with a holy God, whose just and righteous wrath against sin must be satisfied. God’s call to each of us is to have faith in Jesus, to believe in Him that His substitutionary death on Calvary’s cross might make us right in God’s sight.

     

    My prayer for you this Christmas season is that you might have personal experience of knowing God and be right with Him by believing in His Son, Jesus Christ. This, above all else, is the true meaning of life and God’s intended purpose at Christmas.

     

    To all those holidaying and travelling we pray you will have a safe and restful holiday. We look forward to all that 2010 has for us as a church.  In January we will have a sermon series that focuses on God’s desire for relationship with each of us as His creation. No matter who we are or what we’ve done, God wants to restore us to relationship with Himself.

     

    Our service times over the Christmas period are as follows:

     

    • Christmas Eve 7pm
    • Christmas Day 9am
    • Sunday 27th 10am (no evening service)
    • January 10am & 6pm

     

    May you enjoy God’s richest blessing at Christmas and may His plans for your life continue to be revealed throughout 2010.


    Brian.





    From the Pastors Desk

    Thursday, October 15, 2009



    There is no question it is a problem, an overwhelming one at that and it permeates the whole of our society. It is insidious and completely destructive, worse than any plaque, parasite, virus, earthquake, or typhoon; its powers to invade and corrupt are almost unstoppable. Yet surprisingly governments don’t care. It is never addressed by any educational curriculum; the media never mentions it, and you will never hear your neighbours speak about it. Yet the fact remains not a single human being can escape its devastating effects. What am I talking about? A single syllable, three letter word that has brought humanity to the brink of total annihilation on more than one occasion – SIN!

    Surprisingly even churches often only mention it in hushed tones. It doesn’t exactly inspire or encourage large attentive crowds wanting to hear of our miserable condition, and the truth of it is often hidden beneath layers of pretence and the veneer of respectability. Truth doesn’t always leave us feeling great about ourselves, but reality is what it is, and we must face it whether we want to or not if we are to be true to God and true to ourselves. The world is full of superficialities. God’s church must dare to be different, and come clean on what is really happening in our lives if we are to ever see the power of God break through - with a force and power equal to and beyond the destructive nature of sin.


    Your attendance is therefore invited to our 4th term series beginning this Sunday entitled, “How To Sin & Get Away With It.” Contrary to what the weather might be telling us, it is Spring - so it’s time for a little Spring cleaning! Where better to begin than with our own souls?


    This Sunday morning I will begin the series with an introduction that Kieran Johnson will continue in the evening. Although we may become a little battered and bruised listening to truth, ultimately we have good news about the problem of sin, and this perspective will permeate all of the messages throughout the series.


    Look forward to seeing you there,







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