Engage 09

On Friday evening I drove up to Katoomba with Josh and Ivan to Engage; a conference run for Christians with a particular focus on work. This year the speakers are Matt Chandler from The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas, USA and William Taylor from St Helens, Bishopsgate in London, UK. Their overall topic is A Faith that Works.

I won’t go into the talks in this post, each one of them require a post to run through the content and application.

The worship sessions were encouraging as we lifted our voices to God in song, there were a number of older songs with a new spin. We sang a hymn called O, Thy fount of every blessing written back in 1764 which contained some older language like interposed, fetter and Ebenezer. When we sang the word Ebenezer; I, along with the majority of the congregation I assume, was confused at the meaning. A google search led me to Apologetics Press which gives a great explanation that Ebenezer means stone of help, and originates in 1 Samuel 7. This was explained by one of the committee members on Sunday morning, after we’d sung the hymn several times over the weekend.
I was a little upset by the balance of instruments and vocals from up the front. The vocals weren’t pushed loud enough over the instruments, so there was times where I wasn’t able to follow the lead of the song leaders due to not being able to hear them. This is particularly difficult when a large proportion of the songs aren’t familiar.

Overall it was an enjoyable weekend of great and challenging bible teaching, fellowship with church family and reflection and reorientation to Gods agenda.


Titus 3

We looked at this chapter in bible study last night and what is contained within is pure gold for Christians.

1Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs l according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. 12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. 15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.Grace be with you all.

In these 15 verses Paul encourages Titus in the things that he is to tell the people of Crete (aka Cretans from chapter 1, them) with a fantastic, practical list. Paul then goes on to explain why in verse 3; highlighting the fact that both Titus and Paul were also wretched in their ways, as is everyone before they are saved. The good news is that he goes on to remind how, why and to what they, and we, were saved.

Paul then further lists things to avoid, things that are foolish and are not worth huge arguments over, and the way to deal with those that, on purpose, stir up trouble and not heed warnings.

Finally Paul does some housekeeping, but it’s more than that, it is all in the spirit of that which he has been writing about throughout the entire letter to Titus, these final few verses (12 – 15) are a practical opportunity for Titus to apply what he has learnt from the letter, and to spur on and encourage the Cretans to apply what Titus is to tell them.

Reading this as a Christian I see a great list of things that I am to strive for, a reminder of what I was, and still am, how and why I was saved, as well as what I was saved for. Now the harder thing to do is to actually apply these things….


Lots’ wife moment

Today at lunch I was wandering up George St towards Martin Place. As I waited to cross the street I noticed, as did ALL the guys walking that way, and in particular the opposite way, a buxom woman trotting in the same direction.

As I hurried past her I had the intention of glancing or looking over my shoulder to see her perceived beauty, but I resisted, no doubt with great assistance from the power of the Holy Spirit, and instead thought of Lots’ wife as Lot and his family hurried away from Sodom & Gomorrah. She turned back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

It is one of my hopes and prayers that I am able to do this more often; to be looking forward to the things of God and not back to the things that are of worth to this world.


Friday Fille

This morning on the late train I saw a couple of people I know: Josh Lear, who slept most of the journey on the seat next to me, and Brendon Worsley, who didn’t see me. There was a pretty young lass that particularly caught my eye as well. Well dressed in black with blonde hair and brown roots, eyes looked hazel and she had this kind of cheekish smile/grin for pretty much the entire journey….

I often wonder what people like this are thinking, it intrigues me…. How wonderful would it be if she was joyous of the love that Jesus Christ shows us, through his self-sacrifice on the cross. Is there really any greater joy??

I also had a good read of some bible: Ecclesiastes 2 and Nahum, which I’m not sure if I’ve previously read before… Quite an amazing book talking about the destruction of Ninevah, the city which Jonah went to tell them to turn back to the Lord or they would be destroyed and immediately did so…. By way of my ESV Study Bible, and access to the website of the same name we find this:

Purpose, Occasion, and Background

Nahum was God’s messenger to announce the fall of Nineveh and the complete overthrow of Assyria. This coming judgment from the Lord was certain and irrevocable, as was Obadiah’s message concerning Edom.

Nahum’s book is a sequel to, and a dramatic contrast with, the book of Jonah. Jonah’s mission to Nineveh was probably sometime in the first half of the eighth century b.c. He was to warn that large city of God’s impending judgment because of Nineveh’s wickedness. To Jonah’s dismay, the Ninevites heeded his message, repented, and were spared God’s judgment.

This repentance, however, did not last beyond 745 b.c., when Tiglath-pileser III (745–728/727) made his people the leading military power in the Near East. The vast Assyrian Empire was established by bloodshed and massacre, cruelty and torture, destruction, plundering, and exiling such as has seldom been seen in history. After several campaigns, Tiglath-pileser greatly enlarged the territory paying him homage with annexed land and vassal kingdoms, including the northern kingdom of Israel (reduced in size by the Assyrians) and the southern kingdom of Judah. Succeeding rulers maintained and expanded this empire. In 722 b.c. the Assyrians brought to an end the northern kingdom of Israel.

Sennacherib (reigned 704–681 b.c.) made Nineveh the capital of his kingdom (c. 700). His energetic building program included a splendid palace, water-supply and water-control projects, and a massive wall to surround the expanded city. Nineveh was destroyed in 612 b.c., never to be restored, marking the end of Assyria. A small remnant of Assyrians did escape the city, fleeing to Haran and making Ashur-uballit II “king of Assyria.” In 610 b.c., though, Haran fell to the Babylonians and their allies. Ashur-uballit retreated, but in 609 b.c., with Egyptian help, he tried to recapture Haran. That attempt failed, and Ashur-uballit and the Assyrians disappeared from history.

Some graphic images in here, most surprising for me was in Nahum 3: 4-7 which says:
4 And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute, graceful and of deadly charms,
who betrays nations with her whorings, and peoples with her charms.
5 Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame.
6 I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle.
7 And all who look at you will shrink from you and say, Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her? Where shall I seek comforters for you?


Three Ts and Jesus

Upcoming at 7fifteen this week James Warren will be preaching a sermon entitled Technology, Twitter, TiVo and iJesus. It shall be interesting to hear his take on this silicon age that we live in, where everything seems to be about social connection with a strange isolation spin…

We seem to be feeding on so much information from a vast variety of sources, not only is it delivered straight to us in the form of television, radio, email and rss, to name a few, but we can also go searching for it through search engines. People are eager to find out what’s happening in the world. Take the death of Michael Jackson on Friday. There were so many searches on Google that it thought it was being attacked by hackers.

As a Christian, I find it kind of hard to be in amongst it all. I mean it’s great to be able to go and look at different recipes when I want to cook something, or at a tutorial site if I want to learn something that I don’t know, BUT the huge catch is that, more often than not, it distracts me from the thing that really matters: Christ. I’ve found myself jumping on the computer, or flicking on the TV or PS3 instead of opening my Bible and seeing what God has to say.

Do you have any hints, tips or tricks on technology?? If you’re free on Sunday night, drop along about 7:10 to St Paul’s Carlingford at the corner of Vickery Avenue and Moseley Street, Carlingford.


New Name??

I got a new name last night at church whilst mucking around with some of the guys. I know that the new name that the Lord will gives will be even more exciting!!17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’Revelation 2:17


January Ministry Conference

It’s been a while since I’ve written much in this WORD category, which is a little disappointing…
So let’s start in the hope to continue on strong from here on in, but by all means, keep bugging me about doing so more often!!.

This week at St Pauls Carlingford we’re having a conference called January Ministry Conference. John Chapman will be speaking at 9:30am each morning from Isaiah and Simon Flinders will speak from Romans 12 each evening at 7:15pm.

Seeing as I’m at work during the day, I’ll only be heading along to the evening sessions. I’m hoping to get a summary of them down here, so keep checking back. Hoping to see you there!! and here!!

  • Monday Night
  • Simon opened with the first 3 verses of Romans 12:

    1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    Romans 12 is a turning point from the previous 11 chapters of Romans which detail what Christ has done beforehand. There were several key points that Simon spoke of that stuck with me:

  • God does not expect anything of us that he’s not already done for us.
  • Worship is giving God his worth. It is not in part, at a certain time(s) or in a certain place(s), but of our whole selves, everywhere and at all times. It is like breathing.
  • The renewing of minds means that Christians live differently because we think differently, however, it is not that we ask for it, but act on it by reading and studying God’s Word in order to continually transform our life so that we may treasure God’s will.

In summary: Be surrendered to God, by the mercy of God. He knows your heart & He wants your heart. Live a life surrendered to Him, every moment of every day.

  • Tuesday Night
  • Continuing on Simon went on with a talk entitled The Life of Service from verses 4-8 of Romans 12:

    4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

    This section talks primarily of gifts, Simon went on to define what was meant by gifts in this section. In this day and age, gifts generally refer to an ability of some sort that people praise a person for having, however it misses the fundamental fact that gifts are given, not something that is generally deserved. Therefore the credit should actually be to the giver. In this passage, God is the giver, and he does so by grace. We are to think of gifts as an opportunity or responsibility. And we are to use them for the benefit of others as tools rather than trophies. So questions to ask when using gifts are

    • Where can I serve?
    • What are ____’s needs??

    Something that’s possibly surprising in the answer is that it may not necessarily play to your abilities or talents, but something that you’re mediocre or even poor at doing.

    How does this all work out in The Life of Service? Well as part of the surrendered life, we give ourselves to God by giving to his body, ie those that are Christians. We’re not to be consumerists or individualists as that is against what Paul is saying, rather we are to demonstrate reciprocal service. Failure of one affects the whole, so we are to be a member of a body, with a function, alongside others. As ALL serve, ALL are blessed.

  • Wednesday Night
  • A really enjoyable, encouraging and challenging talk from Simon. The title of the talk was The Life of Love from verses 9-13 of Romans 12:

    9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

    The main encouragement for this section of the text is verse 9. Simon mentioned that the word genuine here is more correctly translated as un-hypocritical, that makes sense; true love being genuine, wanting what is best for people, and not necessarily what they think is good for them. That linked in really well with the next part of the text; to be concerned with good and evil, loving what is good, but with a genuine love, the love of a married couple, and fleeing from that which is evil. This verse underpins verses 10 to 13, which is essentially Paul, and Gods, top ten in living the life surrendered; helping to clarify the exhortation in verse 9 and how that is lived out. We are to think, pray and immerse ourselves in these things as part of the surrendered life.

  • Thursday Night
  • The final talk in a fantastic series of four from Simon Flinders that have been eye-opening, damning, rebuking and encouraging. This final talk was entitled The Good Life and was looking at responding to evil from Romans 12: 14-21:

    14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    There is plenty to be unpacked here in these verses, the first vital point was that ALL will respond to evil; it will distinguish us from the world and allow us to influence and affect the world in a sense. Verse 14 puts out a very tough and challenging exhortation, further emphasizing that given in verse 9, yet extending it by application to those against us.
    Verses 15 & 16 are also hard to live by, and all impossible without the genuine love previously mentioned… Simon explained that this is more than just empathizing with people, but a genuine sharing of feelings. It is both relevant within the Church, which would result in an absolutely amazing community (something that we should plead God for), and to do for those outside of the Church; a HUGE challenge… It is something we need to carry out humbly.
    The last 4 verses of this chapter exhort the readers to live honorably and peacefully with all, emphasizing those that do evil to you. We are to be known for doing what’s honorable; rising above evil with stunning goodness. We are not to take action in avenging ourselves, but to let God do so as he is the only just one to do so, rather we are to do good to our enemies.

    Overall the week of JMC was enjoyable and challenging. For me it was a bit of a rebuke about how I go at work and respond to some of the injustices I face there. I’ve actively made some changes there, ask me how they’re going sometime.


    Weekend wrapup

    Monday morning; time for start-up meetings, long train ticket queues and general dismay around the office due to mondayitis…. Also a time for me to recount my experiences from the weekend that was; this week with 3 in particular.

    • Mighty Kites Training
    • The Mighty Kites are back on the court this Thursday for summer comp and we had out first ever training session, minus goliaths Geoff and Nima. Mostly a good session, however, I felt less of a team dynamic than desired.

    • Godskitchen: Angels In White Party
    • I got along to this party down at Homebush in on of the warehouses next to ‘the dome’. Quite an unprecedented lineup with 4 international DJs taking the decks: Jon O’Bir, Menno De Jong, Sander van Doorn and John O’Callaghan. I hadn’t been to a big trance party for quite some time, perhaps 18 months to 2 years, having taken up the club and festival route, and losing my party crew to marriage, age and musical evolution. The night was long, I was there from about 11 and left at close, which was about 6am. The crowd was smaller than expected, but that just meant that I had more room to dance in and boy did I take up that opportunity. Plenty of comments on how amazing and unique my style was….

    • St Thomas’ 7pm
    • I skipped out on my regular St Paul’s Carlingford 7fifteen service to go and hear a mate Mark Earngey preach on Masculinity, he’s currently a student minister there. Mark certainly looked the part with one eye covered up, it wasn’t for dramatic effect though as he’d been hit by a cricket ball on Saturday. The sermon he gave was based on Genesis 2:4-25 & a definition given by John Piper in the book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

      At the Heart of Mature Masculinity is a sense of Benevolent Responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.

      His three main areas of focus were pattern, particulars and progress.
      Pattern ran through the passage and linked the Piper definition with parts of the passage – The order of creation; man then woman, the moral responsibility to set a moral pattern given to man and how man is primarily responsible.
      Particulars addressed how these things apply to particular situations – married, single, dating, Christian ministry and workplaces.
      Finally Progress enlightened the avid male listeners to take steps to ‘own’ their masculinity but humbling ourselves before God for our failures and taking up our responsibilities. One good point that Mark brought up was that men generally seem to have a fear of rejection and that we should take steps, small at first in overcoming that, and as an aside for the women, that they should look to nurture rather than ‘hurt’ when it comes to assuming the negative.

      For more Earngey wisdom, check out his blog: seeing in a mirror dimly. I was also impressed with the prayers at St Thomas’ and intrigued/surprised by the fact that they have a resident film reviewer who, this week, reviewed the movie WALL-E

    Apart from that there was a bit of PS3: NBA 2k9 on Friday night, Diablo 2 and movies on Saturday whilst checking the Blizzcon 2008 announcements every now (roundup of Diablo III and Starcraft II info to follow suit shortly) and then and recovery sleep on Sunday….


    Engage 08

    Over the weekend I drifted up to Katoomba with about 2,500 other workers for the second annual Engage Conference; aimed specifically at Christian workers. It’s a little different than other Katoomba Christian Convention (KCC) organised conventions, with a catch-phrase of ‘late starts and coffee carts’. This year a couple of drawcard speakers were on board: Mark Driscoll and Don Carson, resulting in tickets being sold out within minutes. The talks were to address the question of “So, is this it??“.

    Driscoll was first off the ranks as Carson was still airborne on the friday night when things kicked off. Throughout the weekend Driscoll would speak on the gospel of John. Mark gave us some background on John; being one of Jesus’ inner inner circle who shared in the most intimate moments of His life. He also mentioned that the gospel of John was the last one written, having 92% of it’s content unique and targeted at the Greek people. The Friday night session covered most of John 1:1-18 and then 3:1-8 which addressed who Jesus was; the Word and the son of God, and why he came; as a missionary so that we may be born again or regenerated, making the differentiation between being religious & regenerated. This regeneration doctrine says that when one is born again the Holy Spirit takes up residence in a persons heart and changes them, giving them

    • a new Lord
    • A new identity
    • A new mind
    • New desires
    • New power
    • New life

    Driscoll’s second talk was around John 4 which tells of Jesus encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. Mark continued to speak of regenerative doctrine and expanded into worship, this is a way that God has Glory. He mentioned that readers should put themselves in the position of the sinner that encounters Jesus. I guess I’ve never really thought to do this explicitly. Mark gave the ultimatum of whether we worship creator or creation. His final point was to ask some questions for people to ponder:

    • What do you long for most?
    • Where do you run to for comfort?
    • What makes you angry with God?
    • What do you make sacrifices for?
    • Who’s approval do you seek?
    • What makes you happiest?

    The third Driscoll talk was to cover John 6 which tells of Jesus feeding of the five thousand, but he cut this very very short (3 minutes, if that??) to answer questions put forward by the audience by way of SMS to a mobile specifically setup to take them. Now whilst this hour of question time was useful, I would have preferred at least a half/half split due to the uniqueness of Johns’ gospel would have liked to hear how this part was different from the other books. Someone pointed out that all of the questions did seem to ask about themselves and what they should do, which were contrary to what Mark had been speaking about in the previous talks. He also seemed to use them as a springboard into things that he wanted to talk about that were slightly related.

    Carson was the speaker for Saturday evening after landing in Sydney sometime that afternoon. His talk was on Matthew 11, more specifically on Christian identity and how that is grounded in Jesus. Most of the content in the chapter is about John the Baptist: Jesus sending a message to him and then speaking to the people about him. The talk was broken down into a few sub-sections:

    • Portrait of a discouraged Baptist
    • John is discouraged because not only is he in prison, but he’s heard of the deeds of Christ, which he’s longed to see. He sends his disciples to ask of Jesus, who sends a rather cryptic reply in language very similar to that used in scripture: Isaiah 35: 5 & 6 and Isaiah 61. These two passages speak of the day of The Lord – when the messiah will come to restore things, however in the context of the scriptures there is also mention of massive judgement, which Jesus doesn’t address in his message, rather he hints at the blessings that are starting to be fulfilled in himself

    • Portrait of a defended Baptist
    • John is defended by Jesus!! Jesus questions the crowd asking what they came out to see. If it was a shaken reed, representing something that was weak & limp, or a man in soft clothing, signifying a rich man; someone who would give hand-outs, or a prophet, which is what John is. He is the one that Malachi prophesied about, not unlike Elijah. He is the greatest because he introduces Jesus: Gods visitation to Earth.

    • Portrait of an eclipsed Baptist
    • John is indeed greater than those born of women because he points to Jesus with greater clarity, yet the least in the kingdom, i.e.; those living after Jesus death & resurrection are greater still then John. Yet those against the kingdom of Heaven have been forcefully advancing, trying to take it by force and exploit it. Jesus then goes on to explain how this generation didn’t accept John & doesn’t accept Jesus in the roles they played, drawing from the scriptures again to show fulfillment of them and to illustrate how John & Jesus’ roles were different and both unaccepted.

    Sunday morning Carson spoke first, running through Psalm 40 which was excellent. I have a real appreciation for Carson on Psalms after hearing him speak on Psalm 1 about 5 years ago. One pearl of wisdom he gave was that it was common that older Christians tended to read, enjoy and understand the Psalms as they’d had enough diverse experiences to understand this diverse collection of work, however if you are to read and study them at a younger age, they will help you through through those situations in life.
    He went on to explain how Psalm 40 was the last in a triplet from 37; which talks about the Psalmist waiting on God, 38 & 39; the Psalmist going through a phase of self-examination, and then turning to joy in Psalm 40. The talk was particularly encouraging in how God looks after us in times of struggle, which were referred to as a miry bog. Carson said that were either removed from the bog or kept there as God heaps grace on us to help others in the same or similar situations.

    The final Driscoll talk was from John 10, which is about Jesus the shepherd and sheep.
    He spoke of how much of a sacrifice the shepherd makes for his flock in great detail, especially how horrible his crucifixion was, making quite a number of people around me cringe and weep, definitely putting things into perspective.

    So there is a wrap up of the speakers… The social aspects of the weekend mainly frustrated me as the group I went with was particularly cliquey, as I guess most Christian groups tend towards, so I didn’t have much of a chance to interact and converse with them. I did get a chance to catch a few friends from days gone by like Mark & Jess Bootes, Phil from ACC (Asian Church Carlingford) and Dave Irving. I also had an alright time on Saturday evening with the Guthries, Lawsons, Lovells, Russells, Tooses, Geoff, Tiff and Issac; watching the hopeless union match, drinking beer and discussing various aspects of Engage up to that point. I also found myself serving the cliquey group by cleaning the house and washing dishes by myself on the Sunday morning which seemed to fuel the weekends fire….

    Overall a great weekend for Christian teaching which has set my mind racing over changes going on in my life and how to approach things, but a less than mediocre time for relationships which has also set in motion some steps to help me in that respect and possibly be less accommodating and polite.

    I’ve also picked up a Mark Driscoll power pack of 7 books, so expect to be hearing about those sometime after I’ve waded through reading them.