Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Guide to Daily Quiet Time

Read my sermon on Daily Quiet Time here

Daily Quiet Time-some tips

· Quiet time is when you find a quiet place to be alone with God to pray, to read the Bible and to meditate. You should try to be regular and disciplined about this.
· This outline is offered to help you structure your daily quiet time. You do not have to stick to it slavishly. Use as little or as much as you need, and add to it as you wish. Start small and allow it to grow gradually.
· You may want to keep a hymn book or chorus book handy and make use of it during your devotions.
· Try to set aside 10-30 minutes a day for this.

Back to Basics: Daily Quiet Time

Every now and again we should revisit the basics, and that's just what we've been doing over the Summer. This week we look at Personal Devotion and the Daily Quiet Time.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Forgiven, Forgive.

Christianity is not fundamentally  about morality. It is not, finally, just a system of ethics. If Jesus were merely another guru telling us how to live better and more moral lives, with perhaps this or that original flourish, I’m not sure how compelling I’d find his message. Instead, I understand Christianity as a faith for those who can’t help but sin, one that assumes our inability to be moral. And this isn't because we all fail to uphold certain ideals on occasion, but because we are sinners, meaning that even our supposed good works are tinged with self- interest or self-regard. Nothing pure issues forth from human hands, nothing escapes from the fallibility and brokenness in which we are inevitably implicated. Jesus didn't just talk about our deeds, but our motives (we looked at that a few weeks ago)….What I find distinctive about Christianity is that, in the face of all this, it offers the promise of forgiveness…. And this forgiveness comes not as a reward for getting our acts together, but despite the fact we never quite get our acts together. Christianity says you are loved unconditionally, loved before you deserve it – which you never really will, anyway. To be a Christian means most of all to perceive, however falteringly, that God forgives and loves you in the midst of your brokenness, and to then live in light of that love. As John put it, “We love, because He first loved us.” The order really does matter. And we forgive, because He has forgiven us.

Hence my title for this Sunday:            The Forgiven, Forgive.

Anyone who is someone has said something on the topic of forgiveness: CS Lewis

He importantly latches on to the truth that a refusal to forgive leads to a build up of resentment deep within. Augustine said this in the context of forgiveness and resentment:
 Whenever I preach on the need to forgive others, I am aware that I am walking on holy ground....your holy ground....the holy ground, unique to each one of us, that you have walked as you've journeyed through your suffering, your pain, your hurt, your rejection at the hands of others....ground made holy because of the felt or unfelt presence of God in the midst of your suffering. Suffering, pain, hurt, rejection that has led you to ask:
This is holy ground, and it is on such holy ground, your holy ground, that Jesus speaks, when you and I, like Peter ask:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

Nelson Mandela probably best sums up the meaning of this parable with his words:
Our unforgiveness towards others.....imprisons us.

As you sit here, are you angry with someone?
Are you bitter about something?
Is there some resentment towards someone?
And there are degrees of these things – we might say “so and so is full of bitterness” or “every now and again one senses such a bitterness in so and so.”
Sometimes you might find yourself saying: “Shew, where did that come from?”
A volcanic eruption of anger – Mt Vesuvius boils over at a peaceful tea party.
There are a lot of nods/acknowledgements – you know what I’m talking about.
You see it in others; you might even see it in yourself.

I call them the terrible, troublesome triplets.  Anger, bitterness and resentment, and you’ve heard me talk about them before.  And in my experience as I read, as I study, and as I have the pleasure of ministering into your lives (and that is a pleasure and an honour that you give to me and to Chris when you invite us to share your lives) in all these things I have found that the terrible, troublesome triplets (anger, bitterness and resentment) are conceived in us when someone sins against us, hurts us; they come to term and are birthed in us when we harbour unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness is the womb from which anger, bitterness and resentment erupt.
(You might find the odd exception, but this is the general rule.)

An angry person is a tormented person.
A bitter person is a tormented person.
A person full of resentment is a tormented person.

So we use language like – what’s eating him up?
Sometimes we have a problem with mosquitoes – I remember a holiday at St Lucia quite a few years ago and we got attacked – Battle of Britain in our bedroom neow, clap neow, neow.  We didn’t sleep the whole night.  We probably fell asleep at about 5am when the mozzies were called back to base.
And at about 5:30am Candice and Stu came through – let’s go down to the beach......I don’t think I was very gracious – I’d been tormented all night and so I was unreasonable all day.
A lack of forgiveness torments us and makes us unreasonable.

In verse 34 of Matthew 18 – after the master who has forgiven the servant millions discovers that that forgiven servant has gone and demanded a few cents from another servant who owes him, when the master discovers this, the KJV says he delivered him to the tormenters, the NIV says he delivered him to the torturers. 

The Greek word means torturers.
That’s what the master did to the one who refused to forgive.
Jesus is saying here that if you and I don’t forgive (and sometimes this is incredibly difficult – but God knows that.  He knows what forgiveness costs.) Jesus is saying a lack of forgiveness in us, a refusal to forgive, results in us being tormented.

We might say: That’s so unfair......but it’s the Truth.  And Jesus said something beautiful about the Truth – He said: “The Truth will set you free.”
Maybe you’re in line for some freedom this morning.
Do you need to be set free from a jail of torment that has been erected around you because of a lack of forgiveness towards someone else?  I hope not, but another truth is that if I were to ask everyone who needs help in this area to stand, there would be few people left seated.  I asked you at the start – are you angry, bitter or resentful?
Now – do you need to forgive someone – might be someone else
                                                                – might be yourself
                                                                – might even be God who you blame for something

It’s not easy. 
  1. Perhaps all that will happen today is that the seed will grow in you – the idea that you must try and forgive.
  2. Perhaps you’re at a place where you’re ready to pray – Lord help me to forgive.
  3. Perhaps you’re ready to say I forgive so and so.

Set yourself free – forgive.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back to Basics: The Forgiven Forgive

Three weeks ago we started a series which will run for the Summer break which I've called Back to Basics. The first week we looked at the truth that God has a unique plan for each of our lives and He reveals that plan to us through Call. Last week we looked at the one thing Jesus spoke about more than any other, the Kingdom of God. This week … well, I’ll get to that in a moment. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back to Basics: The Kingdom is Like ...

Last week we started a series which will run for the Summer break which I've called Back to Basics. Last week we looked at the truth that God has a unique plan for each of our lives and He reveals that plan to us through Call. This week we look at the one thing Jesus spoke about more than any other:
The Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Back to Basics: The Call of God: Scary, Clear, Relevant

God has a plan for your life ... "Lord, what career should I pursue ... should I do an apprenticeship, go to college or uni ... where should I study ... should I marry or pursue a single lifestyle ... who should I marry ... what house should I buy ... when must I retire ... ??? God has a plan for your life. "I know the plans I have for you" says God in Jer 29:11. Can I expect God to tell me what His plans are for my life, or is that left for me to work out on my own. A God who has plans for my life but doesn't tell me what they are would be a devil.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Us and Them: NO!

In our series on "Partnership" we have covered a great deal of ground. We started off by looking at the Beginning and saw that God entered into partnership with the humans He created, commanding them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. He could have created the earth full of people, but He left that up to us. He could have subdued the earth He created, but instead, He asked us to subdue it, working with Him. Partners with God, here on earth. Not equal partners, but partners nonetheless.