Father's Day 2018

Fathers Day is an annual opportunity to celebrate, thank, acknowledge and honour our Dad’s.

Whilst shopping for my own Dad this week, I was struck by how all the marketing and gift paraphernalia for Fathers Day only speaks to the positive side of Fatherhood. It’s all a bit fake really, and I’m sure that deep down we all know it. Personally, I think I’d prefer a coffee mug or T-Shirt that said ‘Doing his best Dad’ or simply ‘Good Dad’. This would still be an honourable and more truthful compliment. Dad’s, just like all people are fallible and broken and as Christians we know that there is only one ‘World’s Best Dad’ and it’s certainly not a regular family guy. 

Of course it’s great to be upbeat and positive, but what does one do when they’ve grown up with an absent, uninvolved, or worse yet, abusive Father? Sadly, this is a reality for many. 

To those who find Fathers Day hard either because your Dad is no longer around or wasn’t a good father, may you especially know the peace and presence of the Lord today.  

There are no perfect parents. Raising children is a journey marked with plenty of mistakes and regrets. It is ‘towel’ work from start to finish. Servitude is the name of the game. It is indeed an awesome privilege and those of us who get to experience it, regardless of the challenges ought to remind ourselves frequently how fortunate and blessed we are. Another reality about Fathers Day (along with Mothers Day) is the ache some feel for never having had the opportunity to be called ‘Dad’ or ‘Mum’.  If this is your story, God be with you. 

There is only one perfect parent, God himself, who so graciously reveals himself to us as Father.  He is available and present to all who call on his name. He desires only good for His children and offers constant love, grace, wisdom, direction, comfort, care, compassion, rest, acceptance and a home like no other. No matter where you land on the father spectrum, I pray that today you might know the compassionate and grace filled Father of Luke 15 who runs to his children when they turn toward him, throws his arms around them, kisses them, dresses them in fine garments and throws a party in their honour.  Truly, this is the ‘Worlds Best Dad’. May you experience deep within your heart his sacrificial, limitless love for you. 

Love from your Pastor, Joel

 

After God's Own Heart

Today we commence a new series as we follow keystone moments in the life of David, the shepherd boy who became the greatest King of Israel. Personally, I love the story of David and am really looking forward to studying in great detail and sharing with you what I learn. 

Why are we considering David’s life? 

Well, there are a few reasons. The most immediate and practical one is I like to do an Old Testament series in Term 3 each year. This is just part of a practice I have adopted as a preacher. I think it’s important we always aim for a steady diet of both the New and Old Testament.  

Secondly, David in so many ways foreshadows Christ.  Take for example today’s text (1 Samuel 16) where the son from Bethlehem is anointed as God’s chosen king and the Spirit descends powerfully upon him for the ministry that is ahead.  As we examine David’s life, we will be drawn towards, in the words of Matthew ‘Jesus the Messiah the son of David’ (Matt. 1:1).  Whenever Christ is foreshadowed, his glory and perfection is heightened.  So yes, while we will study David, the end goal is not to learn more about David, but indeed to learn more about Christ. 

Thirdly, given the scriptures place so much importance on one’s heart, I feel it would be helpful for us to really explore what it means to have a heart after God’s. After all, when God looks at us, that is what He concentrates on. Consider this: we are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart (Dt. 10:12), serve the Lord with all our heart (Jos. 22:5), trust in the Lord with all our heart (Pr. 3:5) and seek the Lord with all our heart (Jer. 29:13).

Solomon must have learnt a thing or two from his old man, Proverbs 4:23 proves it: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’

Whether we know it or not, we live life from the heart.  It drives who we are (character) and what we do (behaviour). Therefore, for the sake of God’s glory and kingdom, may He grant each of us in increasing measure a heart after His own. 

Your loving pastor,

Joel

 

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Throwing in the Towel

Jesus was a surprising person. The crowds expected a conquering King. But Jesus wasn’t what they expected. He surprised even his own disciples.

Jesus and his friends gathered for a meal. Since the roads were plain dirt, in dry weather they were deep in dust and in wet weather they could become liquid mud. The shoes most people wore were simple: a flat sole, held to the feet by a few straps. So, every step soiled the feet.

Like the crowds, the disciples’ minds were fixed on ideas of the Kingdom of God - dreams of thrones and power and glory and influence. In fact, the disciples were conflicted about which of them would be the greatest in this Kingdom – while they still had dirty feet. Rather than rebuke them, Jesus grabbed a towel and began washing their feet. Here is a King whose symbol of authority is a towel. Jesus demonstrated and taught three lessons about leadership in his use of the towel that night.

Lesson 1: Jesus’ use of a towel represented his whole life and leadership. Washing his disciples’ feet was no isolated event. On the contrary, what Jesus did that night in the upper room vividly portrays the whole journey he made from the Father into the world and back to the Father. Jesus laid aside his garments just as he had laid aside his glory in heaven and his privileges as the Son of God. He engaged in a menial act of service – just as he died a degrading death. And when Jesus had finished washing their feet, he took up his garments and returned to his place of honour, just as he was taken up from the grave and was seated again with the Father.

Lesson 2: Jesus’ use of the towel revealed his perspective on positional power. From a human perspective, washing feet is beneath the dignity of a King. Peter was shocked and responded, “You shall never wash my feet”. Peter wanted Jesus to fit into human ideas of royalty and privilege. However, Jesus dismantled this concept of position and pecking order. He dismantles our concepts also. We live with the notion that to be leader is to be exalted. Jesus acts out the giving of himself to serve humanity. Just before coming into Jerusalem that week, Jesus told His disciples, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45). He turned everything upside-down!

Lesson 3: Jesus’ use of the towel teaches us that we serve God by serving others. After washing their feet, Jesus said to his disciples, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:12). This way of relating to people reverses the order. It is subversive. It destabilizes. The King who led with a towel inaugurated a kingdom of foot-washers. He deleted the infatuation with leaders clamouring for power, people climbing over each other to get to the top.

As liberating as this is, this way of life doesn’t just happen. Like Paul, we may say, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing…Who will rescue me…?” (Romans 7:19-24).

At those times when it’s difficult to “take up the towel” (to serve), rather than “throw in the towel” (give up) it’s time to once again be washed by Jesus. Because to the degree I allow him to love and serve me, that’s the degree to which I am able to serve others in the liberty of the Kingdom of God.

Pastor Terry 

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Jesus the Game Changer

 Joining with many Churches right around the nation, we are soon to commence ‘Jesus the Game Changer’ series. Producer, Karl Faase writes: Jesus Christ has made an indelible mark on human history and he continues to do so through his followers. Yet many people do not realise that the values western democracies are built on originate in the life and teachings of Jesus -the equality of all, servant leadership, care for the poor and marginalised, to name just a few.

Jesus the Game Changer explores how the life and teaching of Jesus changed the world and why it matters.

To get the most out of this series, we invite you to join a growth group and attend our Sunday gatherings. Groups will commence the first study on Monday 19th February with the Sermon Series commencing on Sunday 25th.  The six topics covered on Sunday’s are as follows:

Sunday Feb 25th - The Historical Jesus (Pastor Joel)

Sunday March 4th - Equality (Pastor Terry)

Sunday March 11th - Women & Children (Sarah Alarcon)

Sunday March 18th - Care (Pastor Joel)

Sunday March 25th - Leadership (Pastor Joel)

Easter Sunday April 1 - Forgiveness (Pastor Joel)

The remaining four topics that groups will continue to study are: Democracy, Education & Health, Wealth, Reason & Science.

I warmly invite you to engage with this terrific series, consider who you might invite along, and pray for the work of the Spirit during this campaign that many people across our nation would be reached with the gospel.

Blessings, Pastor Joel