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A Mother’s Day Message for Men.

Building Great families – May 2016great families

Violence has always been with us. Has there been more or less violence now than in the past? It’s impossible to tell, however from the earliest history we know that war took millions of lives and the same thing is taking place all over the world today. Violence is ugly, it’s repugnant, but we can’t get away from it as part of the nature of man. Here’s what God says about man in the days leading up to the flood of Noah. Gen 6:5-6 AMP  The Lord saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. 6 The Lord regretted that He had made mankind on the earth, and He was [deeply] grieved in His heart. Things haven’t changed much since then. We say we live a civilised society, yet we see even in this land of peace and safety, acts of terrorism, gang violence and family violence such that one woman is killed on average every week through current or former partner violence.

Some would say that God is pretty violent Himself because throughout the Old Testament, God instructs Israel to wipe out nations, killing millions of people including women and children. These commands were always to execute judgement. God is a righteous and just God and His sixth commandment is Ex 20:13 AMP  “You shall not commit murder (unjustified, deliberate homicide).”

However God is a capital punishment advocate who deals out the death penalty for a number of crimes including cursing your parents. In the events of the Old Testament God uses Israel to execute His justice upon the heathen nations of Canaan who were extremely violent themselves. Their own practice of sacrificing their children in the fire to their gods was specifically mentioned by God as one reason for this judgement. Deut 12:29-31 ESV “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” The Old Testament shows the judgement of God against sin to be unavoidable. However we see this, the clear message of the Old Testament is that God is a holy God who judges all manner of sin and His justice is without compromise. Even Israel received this judgement when they too also strayed into idolatry and evil practices.

War has continued throughout the centuries with World War I being the “war to end all wars” yet sadly it was not so. World War II and subsequent wars like the Vietnam War and the war of Desert Storm in Iraq have continued unabated. We have seen genocide committed over and over again in examples like Pol Pot’s regime where millions died in Cambodia; such as the genocide in Rwanda and the Congo where still today life is cheap. In a short digression often non-Christian critic will say that religious wars have killed more people than any other wars. But this is a complete myth.

In our Australian culture of egalitarianism and giving everyone a fair go, still we have a great deal of violence. The statistics for family violence have risen steadily for many years. This is due to increased reporting as well as increase in prevalence. Christian or not Christian, the community view has begun to change in the way that we see violence as being unacceptable especially in the home. Yet as much as we dislike it and protest about it, we see it continues relentlessly. Violence is perpetrated mostly by men. Men from every ethnic background and every socioeconomic background. So men need to be part of the answer.

There’s a job to do for all of us men here today. – Ensure the next generation does not make violence their choice in resolving conflict. We have a responsibility to raise our families without violence and to work for an end to violence in our community.

The culture that men carry either implicit or explicit is that women are somehow less than men. This ingrained cultural norm stems not just from the woman being the weaker sex physically, but from the traditional roles men play in terms of being driven by achievement and women by nurture.

The underlying foundation of violence against women is gender inequity.

Gender equity is a very important concept and is supported by the bible view that men and women are of equal value but have different roles. The White Ribbon Organisation in Australia is an organisation of men who believe that violence against women is wrong and they want to do something about it. I am a White Ribbon Ambassador which means that I am authorised to speak on behalf of White Ribbon and for the cause of ending violence against women. This local church has held four annual White Ribbon Dinners over the last four years and sought to bring awareness and resources to the community around us to work on the prevention aspect of this important initiative.  Also I serve on a non-church committee to organise the empowering of White Ribbon Ambassadors across the State. IMG_4331

Violence in this community.

This Whittlesea Local Government region each year has the worst or second worst statistics for family violence in the State of Victoria. My role as Police Chaplain has given me a deeper understanding of this issue as I seek to care for the Police members in this local area. It may surprise you to know that around 50% of our local police effort goes into addressing family violence. We want to be part of the answer and we want to impact our own local community so that over time we see a reduction in this type of crime. If we are going to make a difference, here’s how you and I can make a difference.

  1. Review your past. How has violence characterised your behaviour? Did you grow up in a violent home? Were you a victim of violence? For some men who were victims of violence they learn from an early age that the way to deal with conflict is to hit out physically. This is how you get your own way. Violence is not only physical – it is verbal, sexual, economic, emotional, and more. Recognise what your past has taught you in terms of your values. Do you use any form of violence to get your own way? Do you hit, yell, withhold finances, denigrate, or in any way hurt your partner or children or anyone else? How does one change? Face yourself and your past. Ask forgiveness. Seek counsel and help from supportive people.
  2. Submit your life to Christ. It’s hard to change your habits especially if they are long standing from childhood. Yet in Christ we have a life changing power of handing our life over to God. The power of Christianity is not just forgiveness but power over sin because God gives a repentant sinner a new heart. Jesus was not violent, but He absorbed violence. Think about the cross, and how He endured violence against Himself. Jesus view of violence was simple: Matthew 26:52 (AMP) Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place; for all those who habitually draw the sword will die by the sword. Change in an individual’s life is extremely difficult unless God gives you a new heart, so make it your determined purpose to surrender your life to Christ and become a new man.
  3. Review your values. Do you see women as less in any way? From an early age we say to a little girl, “How beautiful she is.” And to a little boy, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” By this we build into women the value judgement of appearance and to men the value judgement of achievement. As children grow we must be so careful about our language. Do we use statements like, “crying like a girl, or hitting like a girl.” to chastise a boy and reinforce the stereotype that girls are weak or inferior?
  4. Raise your kids without violence. Children must see mother and father loving each other and resolving conflict without violence, because they will learn from watching. It is not acceptable for any woman or child to feel fear from an angry man. Smacking is an important subject and is promoted in the scriptures. Smacking is an important tool for a wise parent to bring about a small amount of pain to a child to avoid a life time of far greater pain. Smacking is effective in very young children who are not able to reason yet. Smacking must never be done in anger and must be balanced with loving and accepting touch when a child is sorry or behaves well. Video games in particular are often violent and program a child’s mind to see violence as a strategy to gain power or pleasure. Be careful about what your children watch on games, television and movies.
  5. Champion gender equity. Men and women are of equal value. They have different roles, women are not all the same. Men are not all the same. Some women are properly suited to career and leadership, others for nurture and motherhood. No one gender stereotype is of greater value than another. Men who choose homemaking roles are less numerous but not less important or valuable. Think about how women are treated in your home, your family group. Get rid of sexist jokes, put downs based on gender.
  6. In your associations speak up for gender equity and respect for women. In your church, your workplace, your sporting club, are women treated with respect? In a committee meeting do women get an equal share of the time when asked to speak? Remember that even in 2016 in Australia women are paid 18% less than men for the same jobs. This is an example of gender inequity.

Conclusions

As godly men in this local community we can make a difference. It’s important that we become aware of the issue and review our inner core belief systems about how we think about women. You may not be violent but do you promote the unhealthy stereotypes of thinking and behaviour that are so prevalent in Australia? Let’s speak up for respect and equity. Lets’ take the pledge at White Ribbon.

I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.

Go to http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/myoath-popup

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What family environment did you grow up in? was there violence?
  2. How did this affect you?
  3. What values do you want your kids to hold regarding violence?
  4. How will you influence them?
  5. How can you influence your workplace for gender equity?

 

 

Value 1 – Build honour into your family. (Sunday 1st May 2016 AM)great families

This month our theme is building great families. Your family is precious and valuable in this church. This month we will be ministering and praying for families so that each family is strengthened and blessed so that it lasts and provides a foundation for effective Christian lives and community building. Building a great atmosphere of love and joy and contentment in your family home is vital. Would you like me to share with you how to create that culture in your home?

This morning I want to draw your attention to a huge issue that is wrecking families and wrecking our Australian community. – No honour! The one thing I want you to know this morning is the power of honour.

There’s something wrong with how we do life here in Australia. No respect, no honour. In our schools, students give no respect or honour to teachers.  I would not like to be a teacher in the State system these days. Apart from the lack of respect, there is actually danger of physical violence for many teachers. Not just from students but from their parents also. Police are treated as the enemy. We see gang warfare growing in our streets of the kind we saw at Moomba. The culture of most Australians is to sling off at and vilify all politicians. The old fashioned values of respect and honour for those in authority are disappearing.

Honour is a value taught at home. If there is no honour in the home, then the family will be weakened. As husband and wife we must honour one another. If not children grow up disrespectful and prideful acting like brats right through into adulthood. We must teach our children to honour their mother and father. This value is pretty high up in God’s agenda as the fifth commandment and the first commandment with promise. Here’s a question for you, how well did you honour your parents? If your response is to tell me how bad they were, then you’ve missed the whole point of the commandment. Honour is about recognising the order of things that God has set in place. When we fail to honour we are standing against God.

I have watched my sons discipline their children. They are very strict about the way the children treat their mother. If a rude word is spoken, or if a request is disobeyed they take the youngster aside and talk straight to them and if there’s a repeat then a smack soon brings them back into line. Teaching children to honour their parents is something we must begin at an early age and if it’s not there by age 7, there will be a tough road ahead. Husbands, how you speak to your wife will show your children how to behave. There’s no room for disrespect. Wives, honour your husbands and speak well of them, show your kids how to honour with your words.

We are part of a Kingdom. Jesus our King is building His kingdom on earth, and we are living with Kingdom values. Jesus asked us to pray; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.(Matt 6:10 AMP) One of the values operating in the Kingdom is Honour. So what is Honour? Honour means to value, to give weight, to esteem, to count as precious, to give worth and recognition to. The Kingdom runs on Honour. Without honour there is a big blockage in the flow of life and blessings in the kingdom. The one thing I want you to know this morning is the power of honour!

To contrast to that, dishonour means to be familiar, to take for granted, to count as being worth less, to ignore and to be rude. In our Ausssie culture sometimes dishonour is an art form. “Hey Morrie, you’re late for the BBQ, where have ya been ya dirty bludger?” This is not kingdom stuff.

God calls us to give honour where honour is due (Rom 13:7 AMP) So where is honour due?

Honour is due to the godly appointed people who have purpose in the kingdom. We give honour to those in authority, to one another, and God honours us when we walk in humility and love. Sometimes it becomes very common for all of us to have attitude toward one another. We snipe and backbite and complain about each other. The reason is fear stress and anxiety. We are not coping with pressure and we neglect the virtues we know are important. When we lose respect, and choose dishonour we reduce the power of God to bless.

Firstly see how Jesus honours the Father; Jesus answered, I am not possessed by a demon. On the contrary, I honour and reverence My Father and you dishonour (despise, vilify, and scorn) Me.(John 8:49)

The Father Honours the Son; For when He was invested with honour and glory from God the Father and a voice was borne to Him by the [splendid] Majestic Glory [in the bright cloud that overshadowed Him, saying], This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased and delight, (2 Peter 1:17)

Holy Spirit Honours Jesus; He will honour and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you. (John 16:14)

Honour in the church and the home works up, down and sideways.

Honour your father and mother Ephesians 6:2 AMP Honour [esteem, value as precious] your father and your mother [and be respectful to them]—this is the first commandment with a promise—

Honour wife and husbandEphesians 5:33 AMP –  3 However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behaviour worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness], and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honouring him, and holding him dear].

We are to honour those over us in the Lord. Let the elders who perform the duties of their office well be considered doubly worthy of honour [and of adequate [a]financial support], especially those who labour faithfully in preaching and teaching.(1Tim 5:17)

We honour one another; Show respect for all men [treat them honourably]. Love the brotherhood (the Christian fraternity of which Christ is the Head). Reverence God. Honour the emperor.(1 Peter 2:17)

As leaders we honour those under us; I warn and counsel the elders among you (the pastors and spiritual guides of the church) as a fellow elder and as an eyewitness [called to testify] of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a sharer in the glory (the honour and splendour) that is to be revealed (disclosed, unfolded):

Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonourably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully;

Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation).

And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will win the [a]conqueror’s crown of glory.(1 Peter 5:1-4)

 

Be careful not to give dishonour to one another and to leaders; because when we do we shut down God’s flow of favour and blessings.

And coming to His own country [Nazareth], He taught in their synagogue so that they were amazed with bewildered wonder, and said, Where did this [u]Man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?

55 Is not this the carpenter’s Son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

56 And do not all His sisters live here among us? Where then did this Man get all this?

57 And they took offense at Him [they were repelled and hindered from acknowledging His authority, and caused to stumble]. But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honour except in his own country and in his own house.

58 And He did not do many works of power there, because of their unbelief (their lack of faith [v]in the divine mission of Jesus).(Matt 13:54-58)

Let’s take note here, no honour – no favour – no miracles.

Respect is earned but honour is given and is not about the person as an individual but is about who they represent.

Here’s the one thing I would love you to do following this message: Build a culture of honour in your home.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What kind of things do we sometimes say in the home to each other that are giving honour
  2. What kind of things do we sometimes say in the home to each other that are giving dishonour?
  3. How do you feel when someone honours you?
  4. How do you feel when someone dishonours you?
  5. How can you change the practice of honour in your home in a positive direction?

A CHANGED LIFE

jesus-on-the-cross

An encounter with Jesus will change your life.

Right now at this Easter time is the best time to encounter the Son of God.

Good Friday marks the day when Jesus died on the cross. He gave His life up willingly so that He could show His love for you. His death was planned for ages past by God the Father as judgement of sin. Jesus, who was completely innocent willingly gave up His life to accept the penalty of sins committed by you and I and all mankind.

Let’s look at three different people who encountered Jesus.

The cynical thief.

Luke 23:39 NLT

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

One of the thieves who was crucified beside Jesus encountered Jesus but was not changed. One can hardly imagine the agony of the cross and to think that anyone could bear to speak through their pain is amazing. This man has some knowledge of Jesus and the claim that He was the messiah. Obviously not a believer and yet being at the very point of death he decides that Jesus can offer him nothing and scoffs at His claim to be the messiah and save anyone even Himself.

The penitent thief

Luke 23:40-43 NLT

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

While on the cross Jesus prays for those who crucified Him, Forgive them Father.” Being in agony Jesus cried out for others. The criminals who were crucified one either side of Him were there by divine appointment. Both deserving of their death, yet the timing and the place of their death is a story set for you and I to read and see the two ways in which people respond to the death of Jesus. How do you respond to the death of Jesus Christ?

This man is impacted by an encounter with Jesus because he has heard about Jesus and he has heard the claims made about Him, that He was the Messiah and that He had healed people and performed miracles. He has seen no miracles and seen nothing supernatural but he believes in who Jesus is on the testimony of others.

The gospel is preached everywhere all over the world today. It is a testimony of who Jesus is and what He has done. If you choose to believe in the gospel then you will have an encounter with Jesus just as this criminal did. It was a life changing encounter and ushered him into heaven despite a life of crime.

The Roman Soldier

Matt 45:54 NLT

45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

 47 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 48 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

 50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, 52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

 54 The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

This man was impacted by an encounter with Jesus because of the supernatural nature of the episode. As this soldier, a leader of 100 Roman soldiers, watched the death of Jesus he saw darkness fall across the land from noon until 3pm, an earthquake took place and rocks slit apart all around them. All that they saw at the time led them to make the conclusion that “This man truly was the Son of God.”

There are plenty of miracles taking place around here. People are receiving healings, prayers are answered and lives changed as people reach out to God. If you want to see the supernatural evidence of Jesus Christ, just come along to your local church and see the hand of God touching lives.

Whether you believe in Jesus because of the the gospel story or whether you believe because you have seen the power of God at work, either way let your choice be to encounter Jesus this Easter.  This is a life changing encounter. You will never be the same and you will be grateful throughout all of eternity for the day you decided to believe in Jesus Christ.

jesus on crossDEEPER THINGS – THE PREACHING OF THE CROSS

Sunday 20th March 2016 AM service.

Leading up to Easter the message of the cross is vital to every person both Christian and non-Christian alike. What is the cross all about? What is the message or the preaching of the cross telling me?

1 Corinthians 1:18 (AMP)

For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.

All over the world in almost every place the symbol of the cross is universal in its recognition as the symbol of Christianity. Many people have a cross around their necks, others tattooed on their bodies, and still others have a form of it on their walls or carved into woodwork.

The cross is an instrument of death. It is a cruel and grotesque example of torturous, grizzly and bloody scene of death that the Romans used extensively, but was invented by the Persians around 500 BC. The torturous death by crucifixion was such a despised form of cruelty that usually only slaves were crucified and not Roman citizens unless they had committed serious crimes against the state such as high treason.

The scene of the crucifixion of Jesus was a problem for the early church because it showed a picture of the central figure of the faith being the subject of the most humiliating and degrading death. Cicero for example, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.”  How could someone honour and revere Jesus after such a humiliating death? How can a Jew or Gentile, who both have cultural reasons for rejecting Jesus, accept that He is one to be followed, worshipped and adored after that kind of grizzly end?

We see Paul’s response to this objection shows in the verse above as he declares that the preaching of the cross has a double meaning. For those who are perishing through lack of revelation, it is foolishness, but to those who have been enlightened through revelation of the necessity of the cross, it is a message of life. He found it such a compelling subject that he wrote, “for I made the decision to know nothing [that is, to forego philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions while] among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified [and the meaning of His redemptive, substitutionary death and His resurrection]. I Cor 2:2 AMP

Even today the scene of the cross, so bloody and so cruel forces people to see Jesus as the victim of mindless cruelty; perhaps a case of a righteous man struggling against oppression. The Jesus that most people want to follow is the one that was kind to others, spoke of love and accepted the unacceptable. Yet the modern world equally has a difficulty with accepting the death of one so right and so good. Why was this necessary? Is it just another case of shooting the messenger? While the cross is a symbol of the Christian faith, little is understood of its true meaning as part of God’s plan in rescuing mankind and setting them free from the crushing effects of sin on the individual and on the society.

What is the cross to you?  Is it any more than the way Jesus died?

God our heavenly father planned for the crucifixion of Jesus long ago. The Old Testament reference in Deut 21:22 AMP refers to anyone that is hung upon a tree is cursed, is picked up by Paul in Galatians when he recalls that “Christ purchased our freedom and redeemed us from the curse of the Law and its condemnation by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs [crucified] on a tree (cross)Gal 3:13 AMP

From the beginning Jesus death was the plan of God. There had to be the shedding of blood, because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. This is so because God says the life is in the blood, be it animal or man. Jesus could not have been strangled, or met with any death other than by the loss of blood.

Jesus death was a substitutionary death because He was the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world.  This title of Jesus was clear to any Jew and now to any student of the bible that the lamb was a substitute in the exodus story. Either the lamb died and its blood was placed over the door of the home or the angel of death came and killed the first born. Then right through the Old Testament a lamb was an animal of sacrifice whose blood was shed to atone for the sins of the bearer of the lamb.

And so Jesus died and shed His blood, but not just any death, He died in a way that’s described as the worst of the worst. Is was so bad that good roman citizens wouldn’t discuss it because it was so barbaric. It was for the torture and annihilation of slaves and only the very worst of criminals.  It was a humiliating death because the subject is stripped naked and the death is long and extremely painful. Jesus was humiliated – He was brought low as Isaiah says “despised and rejected by men.” And took upon Himself the form of a servant. Jesus who was the king, the creator of the universe was humbled so totally and so completely at the cross because there was no limits to His love, His gift His giving of Himself. This level of suffering and humiliation corresponds to the depth of depravity of mankind in rebellion against God.(Galli 2016) It shows just how bad things really are with us. Can we behold the cross and not say, “He did it for me”?

The cross is confronting. Can anyone of us dare say there’s nothing wrong with mankind? Can we dare say there’s only love and kindness in the world? Are we so proud and blinded to reality that we say like some prideful individuals, “There’s plenty of evil men in the world, but I am not one of them!”  Could any one of us open all our lives and our inner thoughts to the whole world for scrutiny and not be ashamed of some part of it? The bible is brief but kind when it says, “All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.”

When we behold the cross and see it for what it truly is. The sentence of death that we all deserve and by His great love, it is the death of Jesus as my substitute that means I can go free; fully pardoned because my sins have been punished and paid for in Jesus. If I believe in Jesus Christ and humble my heart in repentance, I can receive forgiveness and be saved from my sins.

When we see the cross, it moves us, and we long to sing as Isaac Watts wrote in 1707:

   When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

   Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

   See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

   Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

But the cross is so much more than atonement and forgiveness of sin as wonderful as that is. The cross is the power over sin. It is the victory God gave us to conquer sin. Not just a constant washing away of sins, but the doing away with the body of sin, the destruction of the inner nature of sin leaving us with a totally new nature. Becoming a new creation.

Let’s look carefully at Romans 6:6-13 AMP

6 We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. 7 For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin.

 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live [together] with Him, 9 because we know [the self-evident truth] that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin [ending its power and paying the sinner’s debt] once and for all; and the life that He lives, He lives to [glorify] God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. 11 Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin [and your relationship to it broken], but alive to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts and passions.

What does the cross mean to you? It means the forgiveness of sin and pardon from the just penalty due to me. It is also the instrument of the death of my old life, by which I leave behind my sinful ways and desires and so begin a new life. The cross gives me power over sin and it is the doorway to a new kind of life now living as a new creation becoming more like Jesus every day.

We pray that God gives us a revelation of the cross and all that it means. We pray that we understand our total lostness without Christ. We pray that we understand how broken and how far from God each and every person is without Christ. We pray that we all come to understand that the gift of love God gave us in sending His own Son to the cross is mind-blowing and so significant and shows us His amazing love. We pray that we all fully enter into that revelation that the old life we had before we met Jesus was rubbish and God crucified it in Jesus on the same cross so that we might die to sin and not live any longer in it.

In this week leading up to Easter, Read Romans 6, pray on it and ask for revelation; and tell others how great and how vast is the love God has for them and how they can have a new life in Jesus.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Why do you think the preaching of the cross is foolishness to people who are not believers?
  2. what are two important points you got from this message?
  3. Is you old life dead now or does it still try and rise from the dead to control you?
  4. How do we “reckon ourselves dead” as Romans 6:11 says?
  5. How would you pray about the cross when applying this truth of overcoming sin through the cross?

GALLI, M 2016, ‘WHY THE CROSS’, Christianity Today, 60, 2, pp. 34-39, Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost, viewed 19 March 2016.

Pastors, leaders, church members do you want to grow as a leader?BE FUN THEY SAID

Why be a leader? – Together Everyone Achieves More. – Love.

It’s challenging to be a leader. Being a pastor is one of the toughest jobs around.

 

1 Sam 30:1-6 AMP

Now it happened when David and his men came [home] to Ziklag on the third day, [they found] that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev (the South country) and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire; 2 and they had taken captive the women [and all] who were there, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off [to be used as slaves] and went on their way. 3 When David and his men came to the town, it was burned, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until [a]they were too exhausted to weep [any longer]. 5 Now David’s two wives had been captured, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 Further, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all of them were embittered, each man for his sons and daughters. But David felt strengthened and encouraged in the Lord his God.

What do we learn from this story?

  1. David is doing God’s will when calamity strikes.
  2. David is under the most intense pressure of his life. Stress
  3. In the leadership stretch it doesn’t seem fair.
  4. Although David’s men practically worshipped him, in this situation they turned against him.
  5. David suffered personal loss as well as a leadership crisis.
  6. This was David’s final test before Kingship
  7. God organised this situation.
  8. The stretch didn’t finish when David became King.

You are a LEADER!

If you want to be a better leader then what are you doing to grow your leadership skills and capacity?

Testimony

Eighteen months ago due to a financial crunch I had to ask my assistant pastor to leave staff and go back to the secular workforce. That obviously meant and increase in responsibilities falling on my plate. Then last year I made the decision to begin a masters degree in Ministry and Leadership. Things got busier. In October last year I had a big input into a church in Hobart after the pastors resigned and now this year in January I found myself taking on another church in Melbourne to lead as well as this one. It’s been a stretching time!

Leadership isn’t only for the few charismatic individuals who seem gifted to lead. Leadership is an identifiable set of skills and abilities that are available to everyone.

In the study that I have done in the last 12 months one of the biggest discoveries I have made in much reading and research is that leadership can be learned. There are skills and abilities you can learn to boost your leadership capabilities so that you can achieve more through others and see better results.

The question is: what will you do to learn more about leadership?

Leadership is relationship

How you handle people will determine your leadership level.

When it comes to decision making, you have resources, Pastors, you have the state chairman, the National Executive and your area chairman. People who will have fresh perspective and maybe direct experience of your situation. Leaders you have your pastors.

When you are working with people – it’s your people skills that you must apply to win the day and make some progress.

Three great values of a good leader: Here are the top three leadership skills you can learn.

Credibility, Confidence and Enthusiasm.

In research done with 100,000 people* on what they want from their leaders over many continents and across many decades the top four qualities that people say they would look for in a leader which would help them want to follow that person are on the screen, these are the Characteristics of admired leaders…..

These qualities do not vary across cultures, ethnicities, types of organisations, genders, levels of education or age groups.

Top four – Honesty, Forward looking, Competent, Inspiring.

These top four have remained constant over time and place.

These are the top four qualities people most want from their leaders.

In further study asking what qualities makes a person believable whether they are news reporters, sales people, doctors, pastors, business managers, politicians, or civic leaders, the measure to evaluate this is…

trustworthiness, expertise and dynamism.

People who rated more highly on these were considered more credible than others.

Notice the similarities in these three to the first four…

Honesty, forward looking, competent, inspiring.

Trustworthy, Expertise and dynamism.

Credibility

  • Credibility is the foundation of leadership, if people are going to follow you, whether you are a small group leader, men’s ministry leader, children’s ministry leader, or pastor – they will ask the question can I believe this leader?
  • Can I trust their word?, Do they have the knowledge and skills to lead? And are they passionate?
  • your behaviour earns respect DWYSYWD -Do what you say you will do!
  • Your actions are more important than your words
  • stay focused on the reality that what you say is important
  • You’re authentic when you lead according to the principles that matter most to you

Confidence

People follow confidence, Self confidence is very attractive. If you can’t believe in yourself then how will others believe in you? Self confidence is rooted in your inner core belief system. It’s how you perceive yourself to be.

The choice that you must make is: will you focus on your faults and failures or will you focus on the strengths gifts and abilities that you do have.

Where do you get confidence from?

Example of David at a young age coming against Goliath.

Where did he get his confidence from?

  1. From God – there was a strong sense of God with him and spirit led confidence
  2. He had some early wins – lions bears etc.
  3. He had time to dream. 1 Sam 17: 14-16 AMP David was the youngest. Now the three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem. 16 The Philistine [Goliath] came out morning and evening, and took his stand for forty days.

Later in life David had some failures. Failures can rob you of confidence. Or failures can propel you to learn and regroup – fail forward. You have to work on yourself.

Confidence is about focus.

Enthusiasm

  • Enthusiasm is a choice.
  • You don’t need skill to be enthusiastic. You need to make a decision and keep focus.
  • Enthusiasm isn’t only for loud people – for a phlegmatic or melancholy person enthusiasm is always being cup half full. It’s always seeing the possibilities, its believing that there is an answer, a way through.
  • Enthusiasm starts with a smile.
  • Enthusiasm is deciding you’re going to enjoy the journey.

*  The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner.

TELL YOUR STORY

GOING DEEPER SUNDAY 6TH MARCH 2016 AMThe Deeper Things-06

FAITH SHARING – THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND – TELL YOUR STORY

This month being the month in which we enjoy Easter, we will be preparing ourselves for the greatest opportunity of the year in terms of reaching out to the people we love with the greatest message of all – the gospel.

I remember the very first time I told my story, we used to call it the testimony, about how Jesus came into my life. I was twenty years of age, I had become a Christian about three months earlier and I was attending with Chris at a youth group activity one Saturday night. We were at a farm north of Brisbane and in a barn filled with hay bales everyone was sitting on a pile of hay and we had some musical items and a few of these testimonies. I got up as nervous as anything and told my story about my life and how Jesus had become my Lord and saviour.

What’s your Story? What’s your testimony? When you get to your UC group this month I want you to share your story with your group. So what makes up a God story or a testimony? That’s what this message is all about.

Let’s read this short passage: Matt 3:1-2 ESV

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament Prophets. He came preaching and preparing the way for Jesus to come. As he finished his course Jesus began His course. John the Baptist said “I must decrease and He must increase.”  Which, by the way, is how we yearn to live. At this dawn of a new era, the beginning of the New Testament, it was a time of fulfilment of all that God had planned since the beginning of time. A plan set in place before the foundations of the world and necessitated by the fall and calamity of Adam who chose to disobey God. It was the beginning of the revealing of the magnificent generous and abundant showing forth of the grace of God, His unmerited love and favour to all mankind.

John’s main message was the Kingdom is at hand! What is he saying? The kingdom, the rule or control of God is near, its close by, it is nigh. He meant it is near in time and near in proximity. His kingdom which means His ultimate benevolent rulership and control are about to invade our lives. This wasn’t a coup d’état against mankind to rule over Him against his will but it was an overthrow of satan’s power and his menacing kingdom to release the captives held prisoner since the days of the Garden of Eden. This was the emancipation proclamation for all mankind. This was the day of His power to set the captives free to give you and me the life liberty and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death –this is the Good News – this is the Gospel!

The “kingdom of Heaven is at hand” means the very best news for everyone who hears it. It means not that some unknown force is taking over your life, but it means you can be set free and prison doors are about to swing open. I told my story of how my life was going nowhere and was messed up by alcohol and wrong decisions, how I had no purpose; but then Jesus came into my life and He gave me life, hope and freedom; a message of His unending love came to my heart and I understood He died for me and gave His life so that my sins could be forgiven. Now I wanted to love Him and serve Him forever.

The “Kingdom is at hand” is evidenced in Jesus description of what that looks like later in Luke 4:18 ESV

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.

My story is how Jesus came into my life and brought good news and set me free, showed me I was no longer captive, blind or oppressed. When this Kingdom comes it is often evidenced by physical healing, it is shown through deliverance from the prison of fear or bitterness or anger. It is clear through the lifting of oppression of many kinds.

Your God story or testimony will be a version of the verse John 10:10 ESV

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. In other words your story is sharing the good news that the thief, the devil, messed up your life through your choices to sin and brought all kinds of described problems but Jesus came and set you free by believing in His gospel and surrendering your life to him that resulted in this abundant life you now have.

Heaven is real folks. Hell is real too. That’s what this book is all about. The very clear message of the magnificence of heaven and the totally overwhelming torment of hell for eternity can be such a motivator for us, but what Jesus asked us to share is the good news. The good news is the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are oppressed. This is the best news ever, tell your story of how life is different for you now. Tell how you got healed, tell how depression left you and how your bitter and withered heart was set free and renewed by the love of God. Tell the good news. We have the best news in the world, we have the most exciting life available. We have the joy of being set free from condemnation, set free from sin, and given abundant new life.

Let’s be really clear about this choice. Heaven is real, hell is real, and there is no other place people go when they die. There is no such thing as reincarnation.

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. There is no such thing as purgatory. This was invented by the Catholic Church and is not mentioned in scripture. It is a denial of the finished work of Christ on the cross completely atoning for our sins. There is no such thing as “soul sleep” where the souls of those who have died are in some kind of suspended animation, “asleep” until the coming of the Lord. The scriptures again are clear as Paul states 2 Corinthians 5:8 (ESV) Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Many Christians actually believe that people who die without Christ will be given some second chance after death. But no such second chance exists. Mark 16:16 (ESV) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. A still much wider held belief is that good people will go to heaven so there’s no need to preach to most people because they are good enough to get into heaven as they are. Every Christian needs to know the Roman Road. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. These two verses show that every single person has committed sin and the only result of that is judgement. So without Jesus – everyone is going to hell. So everyone needs to hear the gospel and everyone needs to repent and turn to Jesus.

What about other religions. Aren’t there many roads to heaven? NO. Listen to Jesus words, John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Also Acts 4:12 (ESV) And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Where we fail is we assume no one wants to hear the gospel. But what they don’t want is religion. What they don’t want is another yolk, another thing they have to do. People are looking for answers to their problems. The good news is Jesus is the answer.  Once you hear the good news the response is repent which simply means change your mind. You’ve been trying to work it all out for yourself all your life –how’s that working for you? Change your mind, let God in. Let Him take over, let His kingdom rule and reign in your life, breaking the power of sin and death and bringing to you abundant life and liberty. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Let me share my story with you – it’s a story of new life of liberty and joy in meeting Jesus. Tell everyone your story. Get good at it. Do it often, and make your testimony into short and long versions for elevator pitches and for long train rides.

Let’s prepare for Easter – you don’t need a special invitation you just need the address of the church and tell your story.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. How long is it since you shared your testimony with someone who isn’t a Christian yet?
  2. What are the main elements of your testimony?
  3. Can you share a short and along version of your testimony? – do a short one now.
  4. Do you know anyone who believes in purgatory or soul sleep, or good people go to heaven (without Jesus)?
  5. What’s the address of your church and the meeting times for Easter?

50 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink

Pastor Jaimie Morgan lists 50 reasons why she doesn't drink.
Pastor Jaimie Morgan lists 50 reasons why she doesn’t drink. (Reuters)

Join us on our podcast each weekday for an interesting story, well told, from Charisma News. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.


I am a Christian and I don’t drink. I am also a pastor and ex-alcoholic. I need to make that disclaimer right up front. Although it makes me biased, it also makes me an expert on this hotly debated issue.

Some of the worst “shudder moments” of my life have been under the influence, and as a pastor, some of the worst “shudder moments” I have witnessed in the lives of others have been because of alcohol. You have come too late to tell me it’s God’s best for a Christian to drink.

We are living in a church age where drinking has become “hipster” for some. Christian young adults post pictures of their signature drink on Facebook. Middle-aged Christian women name drop their favorite brand of Pinot Grigio to impress their wine snob friends. Churches send direct-mail postcards that read, “Give our church a shot!” featuring an edgy shot glass graphic. Even some pastors drink. Not this one.

I stopped drinking when I became a Christian 26 years ago. No one told me to abstain. I just knew it would be contradictory and self-defeating to my relationship with Christ. I had given my life to follow Jesus and nothing was going to hinder my walk. For me, it was a no-brainer.

This article is not a theological defense on the topic of Christians and alcohol (another article for another time), but it is a heartfelt plea. I humbly ask you to table any knee jerk, pro-alcohol, fight-for-my-right-to-drink arguments that you have ever heard, or made, and prayerfully consider this list.

50 reasons why I don’t drink:

1. I can’t be sober-minded if I’m not sober.

2. Alcohol has an assignment: destruction.

3. Alcohol is a depressant. Anything that depresses should be avoided at all costs.

4. I don’t want to make my brother or sister stumble in the name of exercising my “Christian liberties.” My choice to drink could lead to someone’s demise.

5. Alcohol skews my judgment.

6. Alcohol leaves me worse, not better.

7. What I do in moderation, my children will do in excess.

8. Even the unsaved know I shouldn’t drink. Bible in one hand, beer in the other—any lost person could point this out as a confusing contradiction.

9. Alcohol doesn’t bring others closer to the Lord when they see me drinking, but further away.

10. Alcohol doesn’t bring me closer to the Lord when I drink, but further away.

11. I want to be fully awake and ready for the return of Christ, not drowsy, sluggish and fuzzy.

12. Show me a family for whom alcohol has made a positive difference in their lives. You won’t be able to.

13. I have never heard anyone say, “Wow, that gin and tonic made me feel so Christlike!”

14. I want to avoid all appearances of evil.

15. Alcohol makes it much harder for me to practice the fruit of self-control.

16. Alcohol causes me to lose my filter.

17. Alcohol is a legal mind-altering drug.

18. Alcohol is addictive.

19. Alcohol is a numbing agent for pain and sorrow only Jesus can heal.

20. Many regrets are associated with alcohol. (I can give you a whole bunch!)

21. No one has ever said, “If only I had taken a drink, things wouldn’t have gotten out of control.”

22. Alcohol causes me to act in ways I normally wouldn’t.

23. Alcohol kills brain cells.

24. Alcohol is a counterfeit and provides a false peace.

25. The Bible says that no drunkards will enter the kingdom of God. Being drunk starts with one drink. I don’t want to see how far outside the lines I can color when eternity is at stake.

26. Alcohol is a waster—money, gifts and talents, destinies and so on.

27. Alcohol leads to really bad behavior. It is a factor in 50 percent of violent crimes.

28. Alcohol distracts and derails you from living the victorious life for which Christ died.

29. Wisdom is the principle thing that I need to pursue at all cost; alcohol makes me stupid.

30. Alcohol has ruined many, many marriages.

31. The only influence I should be “under” is God’s.

32. The Bible tells me to be alert; alcohol delays my reaction time.

33. If I don’t start drinking, I’ll never have to stop.

34. Alcohol severely tarnishes my testimony.

35. Don’t want your teenagers to drink? Yep, same reasons apply to you.

36. God is holy; alcohol is not.

37. Alcohol and prayer don’t mix.

38. Alcohol and Bible study don’t mix.

39. Alcohol lowers my resolve to resist temptation.

40. Alcohol = Brokenness (broken lives, health, dreams and so on)

41. When the world sees us drinking, it sends the message that Jesus isn’t enough.

42. Moderate drinking? How about moderate pornography or moderate heroin use or moderate lying or moderate adultery?

43. Christians are called to live a life of total surrender and separation from the world.

44. Alcohol makes me forget. It can make me forget that I am married, that I am saved and so on.

45. “I don’t get drunk. I only have one or two drinks.” If they didn’t affect you, you would drink soda.

46. I should never look to the glass or bottle for joy, which can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

47. Alcohol fills my mind with impure thoughts.

48. If it could hinder my faith walk or love walk or dishonor the lordship of Jesus Christ, I need to forsake it.

49. Alcohol doesn’t help me run the race that Jesus has marked before me to finish with more accuracy. It does the polar opposite.

50. For any argument that tries to justify Christian drinking, there are at least 50 other reasons not to. The writing is on the wall. It’s not God’s best for Christians to drink.

Jamie Morgan is pastor of Life Church (Assemblies of God) and the Life House of Prayer (24/7 prayer). She graduated with her Master of Arts in Practical Theology from ORU and is pursuing her D.Min. at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.