Come, Australians, learn something of yourself, your country, and the man who was E.G. Whitlam

In this stirring speech, Noel Pearson reminds us that you don’t have to agree with a man’s politics to recognise his outstanding contribution.

Pearson’s powerful oratory shows our current generation the importance of some of the changes enacted by Whitlam during his three years as Prime Minister. Many of the freedoms and rights we now take as a given find their genesis in Whitlam’s reforms.

No leader is perfect. Some, however, leave a larger legacy. I think Whitlam may be one such leader.

Watch and learn. Discover something about the country we know and love. And pray that some of these values, broader than one man or his government, may be held high as long as God gives us breath in this great nation.

clip courtesy the ABC Network’s YouTube channel

What is it about God, anyway?

Ever wonder why people believe in God? Or what it means to follow him?

Everybody seems to have a different opinion on this – so how do you answer the question? My suggestion is: listen to what God says about himself.

There’s a story in the book of Exodus about how God had a discussion with Moses. Or maybe it was Moses had an encounter with God. And Moses, who seemed to be able to put the point across when it suited him, is feeling narky because the Lord had called him to lead the people of Israel, and yet he had not shown Moses his glory. How Moses said this with a pillar of cloud guarding the camp, and having been led through the Red Sea on dry ground, I don’t know. I know it probably wouldn’t happen today, but maybe Moses just had a short memory when it came to God’s goodness.

Anyway, God decides to show Moses his glory. He does that by proclaiming his name. As with most ancient near east cultures, a name revealed one’s character.

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Exodus 33:19, NIV)

Lots of good things can be said about God, but what he says about himself tells us volumes. The core of God’s character is mercy and compassion. Deep seated care, grace and love for his people and for his world. That’s it, right there.

It’s no surprise, then, to see such mercy and compassion revealed in Jesus, who loved people who were his enemies and who befriended outcasts. He gave his life on the Cross to bring us back to this merciful and compassionate God.

And God’s plan is for his character, and the character of Jesus, to come to expression in his people. Christians, more than anyone, have the privilege to live mercifully, compassionately and humbly.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12–14, NIV)

Think of the people God has placed around you: who needs your compassion? Who needs your mercy? Who needs to see who God really is and what he is really like? Go. Do.

Seeing as though you’re looking at the screen, you better watch this…

This is a timely reminder that social media might be media, but often it’s not very social.

Is it a case of ‘smart phones and dumb people’? Check it out:

I know it’s ironic that I am posting this on a blog, but I couldn’t resist the wisdom and heart of this short clip.

Enjoy!

Grace and peace

Dave

Preacher, do your preparation. But remember: God may have other plans…

Originally posted on A Sermon & A Study:

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Sunday, 0800

We were ready to go. I had carefully and prayerfully prepared my next sermon in “The Relationship Challenge” series. The manuscript was on the iPad. The Powerpoint loaded into Dropbox. I headed out the door and drove to Gateway ready for our 0930 service. I was relaxed and ready to go – a good thing after the previous week had been filled with a few additional diversions. I had prepared well and was ready to deliver this sermon, but as events unfolded it was clear that God had other plans.

As always, we met together with the elders and musicians for prayer before the service. Before we joined in prayer, Elder Mark mentioned an email he had received that morning. A person from Switzerland, whose son is working with a mission in Iraq… The email told how ISIS has taken over their town. ISIS was moving from house…

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5 Steps To Creating A Culture of Evangelism In Your Church

By Brandon Hilgemann

It is a sad reality today that many churches are simply not reaching many people for Christ.

No, it’s not all about numbers. Yes, fellowship and discipleship are important. But if we are trying to follow the great commission, why are we not doing more to try to reach more people?

Put simply, I believe it is because we have not created a culture of evangelism in our churches. Somewhere along the way, many churches have lost their evangelistic fervour.
If we want to create a culture of evangelism in our churches, I believe there are at least 5 things that we must do.

1. Model Evangelism Yourself

You cannot expect your people to do something that you yourself are not doing. It is as simple as that.

You can only lead people as far as you have gone yourself. If you are not actively seeking evangelistic opportunities, your people won’t either.

This should be a given, but I know this is something I need to get better at myself.

It is easy to get so consumed in the busy work of being a pastor that we neglect our own obligation to reach out to people who are not part of our church.

2. Preach Evangelism

It surprises me how many churches desire to grow but never preach a sermon about how important it is for Christians to actually reach out to others.

Why don’t we hear more sermons on how important it is for Christians to invite friends, neighbours, family members, and co-workers to church?

If you want your church to be more evangelistic, tell them to be. Preach from the many passages of scripture where people introduce others to Jesus. Then, tell your people that life and death are literally in the balance for them to do the same!

If Heaven and Hell are real, we had better start acting like it. Why aren’t we doing more to rescue those headed for eternal separation from God?

3. Create Environments Where Non-Believers Are Welcomed And Expected

In your preaching, don’t just address Christians. Always assume that there are skeptics, non-believers, or people who don’t know what to believe in the room.
If you always talk in a way that assumes everyone is a Christian, then people who aren’t Christians will know this isn’t a place for them. However, if you regularly address those in the room who are not Christians or are on the fence, you accomplish two things:

1. You communicate that people who aren’t Christians (yet) are welcome at your church.

2. You create a place where people can feel comfortable inviting their non-christian neighbours because they know you will speak to them too.

When you preach about something that is confusing or “weird” in the Bible, address it. Don’t just assume that the average person accepts miracles in the Bible or other seemingly outrageous concepts such as animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.

When you are doing things in church that the average Christian takes for granted (communion, baptism, etc.), explain it to those who may not be familiar with it.

Here is the bottom line: People will not invite other people to your church if they don’t think it is a safe place for them.

If they are worried that their coworker will come to church for the first time and hear a sermon that has no application to their lives whatsoever, they simply won’t invite them.

However, if they know that you address people in their coworker’s situation every single week, there will be one less fear in the way of them to make the invite.

4. Create Good Excuses For People to Invite Others to Church

This one seems obvious to me, but again, many churches don’t do this.

Create a good excuse for people to invite people. Maybe it’s as simple as having a block party with free food after the services. Maybe you have an attraction like bounce houses for young families with kids. Maybe you have a fun event like a car show or carnival. Maybe you just take advantage of natural times to come to church like Christmas and Easter.

Whatever you do, circle a day on your calendar and promote it. Tell your people that you want them to invite people that day.

It sounds really simple, but again, many churches don’t do it. They have events, but the events are for members and fellowship. Clearly tell people that you want them to invite people to these events. Give them simple tools like invite cards to hand out. You will be surprised how much this works to introduce new people to your church.

5. Celebrate Evangelism

When someone comes to your church and gives their life to Christ, celebrate it! When people get baptised, celebrate it! When someone in your church invites someone, celebrate it! When you hear about spiritual conversations that your people are having with friends or co-workers, celebrate it! When attendance is up, celebrate it!

Whatever gets celebrated in your church will get repeated. Celebrating evangelism shows everyone that this is what your church values. If the angels in Heaven celebrate whenever a lost person is found, it might be a good idea if we did too.

Make a big deal about it, because it is a big deal!

Will You Do This?

Building an evangelistically focused church starts with you. If you model evangelism, preach evangelism, create evangelistic environments, promote evangelistic opportunities, and celebrate evangelism… your church will naturally become an evangelistic church.

Some of you are already creating a culture of evangelism in your church. Great job. Don’t give up. Keep pushing the kingdom of God forward.

Some of you are part of a church that has long forgotten its evangelical roots. It is not too late to begin turning things around. God still wants to use your church to advance His kingdom.

This is not about the size of your church. It’s about the size of our mission to make disciples of all nations for Jesus Christ.

Let’s do this together. Let’s build a culture of evangelism in our churches so that more people may find the hope, peace, love, forgiveness, and purpose that we have all found in Christ.

This post was originally published at Lifeway’s Pastor’s Today blog

(Used with permission)

Sex – The Relationship Challenge

How do we manage the sexualisation of our culture?

How can we help our kids develop healthy relationships when they see sexual imagery at every turn and mouse click?

This is the first of the new series The Relationship Challenge, and it’s all about sex. You can read it here
 
This is the first in the latest series, looking at various cultural dynamics impacting on relationship formation.
 
Feel free to comment on the blog.
 
Much love,
 
Dave

Relationships are not easy

Why are relationships so hard?

We have two people, a man and a woman, who have feelings for each other. While they are on cloud nine, life is good. For a while. The closer they get, the easier it is to misunderstand each other.

It’s probably true that no two people always see eye to eye. Open communication means times of laughter and joy, but also times of honesty and accountability. These are times of growth and challenge.

I’ve been thinking recently that our culture does not make it easy for relationships to thrive. Here are some reasons:

* we have a skewed view of sex

* we have this idea that the ideal partner will just present herself, and it will be love at first sight, and the green grass will grow all around

* we believe this lover of our dreams will finally make us happy and meet all our needs

* people preparing for marriage face the financial Everest of their wedding day. With typical celebrations running into tens of thousands of dollars

* good communication skills do not come hard wired in our DNA. More often than not, god communication is a learned skill. If healthy communication has not been a feature of our parents, we’re already starting behind the eight ball

This is why my next teaching series is focussing on the things in our culture which make doing relationship harder than it needs to be.

My first instalment focuses on how our culture’s view of sex does not lead to freedom, but generally to significant complications with how we do relationship. You have to wonder: if our kids modelled their relationships on Hollywood, what sort of families we will have.

So, we’re focussing on these things in an effort to uncover what Scripture teachers. We want to hear God’s word and live God’s life. The prayer is that we ourselves, and the coming generation, will have healthier relationships and be better equipped to bring Jesus’ new life to expression.

Following each Sunday, each sermon will be published at Sermon & Study