Bits and pieces.

My devotional communion message went well on Sunday. It was interesting how God set an Isaiah theme, where the scripture for the service that was chosen to be read by another person was Isaiah 55. I shared Isaiah 1-6 and 52 – 53 and our pastor shared on Isaiah 56:7 on God’s house being a house of prayer. We had a good time after the service as our fellowship continued over a fellowship over lunch, and a few guys planned a men’s BBQ breakfast for next weekend.  Then once again in the night, a group of dedicated people from church came together for our fortnightly church prayer meeting. There were a number of praise reports about a number of answered prayers of which we say, thank you Lord.

While I posted the gist of my communion message yesterday, I added the following personal story to the beginning of the message. I shared how nearly 20 years ago, a prophetic intercessory type of person said to me one night, “Craig, I know your called to a 5 fold ministry, but, I don’t know which one.” I said in my heart, “Who would want to be a pastor, how blinken boring. Lord, make me a prophet!” And for the next 8 months or so, I prayed, I fasted, and I begged God to make me a prophet.  Over that time, he slowly showed me that he hadn’t called me to be a prophet, and that I had no choice about the callings he had placed on my life. OOPS!!! And moved from there into my already shared talk.

There is power in sharing our own personal testimony; whether it be within the structure of a sermon, or telling someone the good news of what Christ has done for us. I’m a firm believer in apologetic’s. I am a firm believer in being able to explain the Scriptures and why we believe they are true, and the word of God. And indeed, there are very good reasons to believe in the historical accuracy of Christ.

But, I remember reading Tozer who said,  “that if you can argue a man into believing Christ, someone else can argue him out of believing in Christ.”  What is needed is that we introduce a person to Christ.. In 2002 I became involved in a discussion with someone on a building site where an discussion took place about the veracity of the Bible. One guy thought he had all the right answers and all the right questions which disproved the Scriptures. I was praying, “Lord, show me how to witness to this man?”The words came to mind, “Tell him, that you know Christ is real, that Christ is alive, because Christ, lives in you.” And I told him, I know Christ is the resurrected son of God, because, he changed my life, the day, he came and lived in me!”

Immediately the man dropped his hands to a surrendered position by his side. His words were profound and made a deep impact on me. He said, “How can I argue against that? I can’t argue against someone’s personal experience!” That opened the door to another dimension in the conversation, “Well, the NT, is full of people and their personal experience of God, through Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.” And I left it at that.

I am firmly convinced, that you cannot receive Christ and not know about it. There will be a heart change. There will be a mind shift. A God focus will replace the self-centredness. So by all means, continue to learn apologetic s, and continue to learn about the Scriptures – but, lets always remember, our relationship is with the God, whom the Bible tells us about. Our God relationship is never the Bible its self.

Posted in round and about | Leave a comment

A new form of technology -

This one is for all you techno nerds out there… I love the way they have taken off Apple in this product.

Posted in Humor | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Apostolic Message. – Sunday’s Communion Devotional.

In the first 5 chapters of Isaiah, we find the prophet being given a number of visions of judgement, which he proclaims over the nation of Israel and the nations around him. Reading between the lines, we discover a zealous prophet. A judgemental prophet. A harsh prophet. And perhaps he is a merciless prophet.

But then in the 6th chapter, we read about Isaiah having a deeply personal encounter with God. He sees him in all his splendour. A vision of his holiness trailing like a gown flowing over his throne, and flowing down the throne steps, and over the throne room floor.,. And the presence of God’s holiness fills the room.
Suddenly he is convicted. God’s holiness permeates through his hardness of heart. Now, he knows, he is included among the sinful, and Isaiah cries out not only do I live among a sinful people; I too have sinful lips. Who will deal with my sin? And in his vision, he sees a raven, taking a hot coal, and placing it on his lips. Which purifies him of his sin.

When we turn to Nehemiah we discover a prophet who has learnt Isaiah’s lesson, and prays a prayer of confession. Lord, I confess my sin, my household’s sins, and my nation’s sins. And with this prayer, we read on to discover that this man of God, was used to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Fast forward again, to a scene where some fishermen have been working hard all night. Though they toiled hard all night, they hadn’t caught a thing. Jesus comes to them, and says, hey, you lot, throw your nets on the other side. Peter and John said, we have been working hard all night, but, on your say so, we will do it. I believe there is a lot of sarcasm happening here. They are seasoned fishermen. They don’t know Jesus – but, it would be obvious he wasn’t a fisherman. Think about it, fish swim under a boat. They swim across the boat. It doesn’t really matter what side of the boat, you drop a net. But, out of desperation, they do, and low and behold, they catch a net full.
Peters response is, Get away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man. And Jesus responds to Peter, come, leave your nets, follow me for I will make you fishers of men. He is not frightened of sinful people. Instead of fear, he embraces them and says, come, follow me, you will become fishers of men.

Let’s hold that story there for now and return to Isaiah. Isaiah began his ministry as a prophet who prophesied judgement, without mercy – until he had a revelation of his own sin. But, once he had a vision of his own sin and that it was dealt with, Isaiah went on to prophecy Christ. And we find those famous passages about the coming Christ in Isaiah 52 and 53 , the messiah, born of a virgin, dying on the cross for us as a sacrifice for our sins.

Isaiah prophesied that Christ would come. Jesus proclaimed he was the one. Peter proclaimed that the messiah had come.

What we are about to do this morning, is exactly what Jesus taught his disciples to do in remembrance of him. They went on to teach the church, this exact same thing. And the Apostle Paul likewise taught the church, to do what Jesus taught us to do. And this is the unbroken historical teaching we have received.

1 Cor 11: 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, 24 gave thanks, broke it, and said,[f] “This is My body, which is[g] for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

25 In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

And so this morning, let us take this bread and the juice, and together in doing so, lets proclaim, that Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again and as these elements touch our lips, let’s celebrate like Isaiah did, that our sins have been taken away.

Posted in Communion message | Tagged | Leave a comment

Congratulations Jacob.

Jacob Cerone has passed his oral defense for his thesis, and a hearty congratulations is in order. He blessed me with a copy of his thesis a few weeks ago and I am 1/2 way through it. I admit upfront that his technical application and understanding of ancient languages in the way he engages with Jonah is way above my pay grade. I am however enjoying his thesis, for it compels me to engage and learn at greater depth. Technical aspects aside, his in-depth study is readily accessible, informative and easy to read. Jonah was one of my favorite Minor Prophets, and when I took that class it was a toss up between Jonah and Micah when time came to do my major assignment – Micah won that round.

P.S Jacob, rumor has it you once said you would not shave till you finished your thesis. Inquiring minds want to know if its still coming off? Or perhaps, you had another thesis in mind?

Posted in Jacob Cerone | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Taking the Gospel to the Highways, Byways and Back-blocks to every child, woman and man.

I was browsing the internet for “Urban Chaplaincy” and found a number of sites like this one, which promotes “Street Chaplaincy.”  I followed their training links and found this fantastic statement, which was penned by Reverend Carment Urquhart who started Perth Bible College in 1928. 

The shame of a world not yet evangelised should rouse us to vigorous activity. It is our business to publish the Gospel of Jesus Christ among all nations: it is God’s business to see that we are able to do it. …The regular ministry cannot supply this need. Where are the men and women whom God desires to be trained in our institute for “the greatest work in the world”; the preaching of the gospel both within and without our State?

Street Chaplaincy is a way of taking the Gospel into the outer parts of our world. The power within this missional statement is an eternal command, to go…get out…take the message with you… tell others about God’s eternal love for his creation.

Posted in pastoral care | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Worshipers called to worship.

There is a lot of talk going on around the blogosphere, articles being written in journals and sermons preached on what is ‘true’ worship. It’s rightly noted that ‘true’ worship involves how we live our day to day lives, 24 hours a day, engaging in the world we live in. It’s noted that worship is not ‘just’ the gathering together to sing songs to God, listen to a sermon, and in general think that is worship.

In my day to day travels, I see two extremes of this played out. The first is where the Sunday meeting (or any other meeting) is where it all happens. Everything else that we do and experience during the week is detached from our worship. The second extreme is where others discard the need to meet as a church, and discard the meeting: where songs are sung, prayers are prayed, and sermons preached – and discard the notion that that what goes on during the meeting is worship.

Dave Black in his latest post writes, (I’m not sure if this is his words reflecting on a lecture he attended, or is repeating what Daniel Block said) 

At the very least, we must acknowledge that we come to the gathering as worshippers and not simply to worship.

In the OT, the people of God worshiped God through their lifestyle, a lifestyle that was in accord to how God called them to live; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Within the context of life, there was the calling to gather together and worship together, God. This specific gathering among other things involved prayers, singing, sacrifice, proclamation and blessing. And it was acknowledged as worship. Worshipers of the one true God, gathering together to worship the one true God, so that they could go out and continue to worship the one true God throughout the week.

And so, we find a continuation of this theme in our Christian era.  Together, we are worshipers of the one true God, gathering together to worship the one true God, so that we can go out and continue to worship the one true God throughout the week.Our gifts, talents, abilities and ministries operate not only within the church meeting; they operate and are to be used throughout the week -24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in our work, home and leisure. It’s true that our meetings are to be participatory meetings – its also true that our whole life is to be one of participation – one where we connect God in all we do, say and think.

Worship is not about the Sunday meeting and what happens in it; but, its all about the Sunday meeting and what happens in it.  Worship is not about our day to day lifestyle; but, its all about our day to day lifestyle. Lets not pit the one against the other – rather as Scripture does, lets acknowledge its both!

Posted in church fellowship, worship | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The promises of God are tied into the one great promise.

It’s important to note that the promise of God in Scripture, is that God promises himself to us. That if we seek him with all our heart, strength and mind; we will receive the desire of our heart – which is God himself. Everything else flows out of that awesome promise.

Posted in prayer | Leave a comment