Category Archives: Spiritual Thoughts

By your correct statement of faith…..

The Apostles Creed is not scripture. However I believe it accurately articulates some important aspects of the Christian faith.

I think theology is important. There are some great theologians, and some that are perhaps less than great. However theology is important, it can inform our expectations of God and life.

Neither creeds nor theology are actually what is crucial to the Christian faith. Jesus Himself made this clear. Love God. Love others.

Love of God, knowing Jesus, having a relationship with Him with all that entails is crucial to our Christian faith. Hearing from Him, listening to Him, worshipping Him. This is essential.

Love of others. Caring about our neighbour, seeing justice on earth, caring for the poor, sharing our faith, helping people say yes to Jesus. This is essential.

Ben Cousins will have to deal with his choices

Despite him playing for the team I dislike the most, I could not but help admire the way Ben Cousins played. I remember one derby , which was an away derby, when I was sitting in the stands with a crowd of West Coast supporters. Cousins had worn himself ragged chasing all day and was vomiting on the sidelines. Despite his best efforts his team came up well short.

Now I read the latest in his long line of misdemeanours which has resulted in serious charges being laid. It also appears he is almost destitute with hardly a coin to his name. How he has fallen from those rock star days when he paraded around town as the darling boy of the Perth media.

There is no question his fall from fame, wealth and influence is a result of his own bad choices. A gracious and forgiving father, perhaps too gracious, a fawning media and sublime skills were not enough to ensure he lead a comfortable and privileged life.

But how do we react to this. Do we say its his own fault, his own choice and he deserves what he gets. All that is true. No question.

Yet in the midst of the consequences of his own bad choices I feel sorrow for him. For the plight he finds himself in. It could have been so different. We all make bad choices, everyone of us. And the consequences are natural and our own fault.

But I still feel sorry for him. Just as I feel sorry for myself when I bear the consequence of my own decisions. As a Christian I want to be like Jesus. In the midst of the whole human race making bad choices He did not say, well suffer you lot, you are getting what you deserve. He came down, He cared, and he took on himself the consequence of our decisions. I have to have the same attitude He took to those who are suffering, even suffering because they have made foolish and irresponsible choices.

The Church and Christians are often accused of being judgemental and hypocritical, with good reason. Cousins is just one example of someone who needs grace, not sneering looks.

Skinny jeans, tenure, perseverance, millennials and the future of the church

The blogosphere is reacting to a fairly interesting post on Senior Pastors age. It basically states that only 1 in 7 Senior Pastors Is under the age of 40. (Article) Stephen McAlpine has a typically theological response, decrying the direction of the church here. After a long discussion with a minister from another denomination today I have to say I think Stephen may have a point. The absence of ‘Jesus’ and ‘mission’ in the denomination of my friend (not Stephen) left me feeling depressed and my friend concerned for where his movement is going.

Where Jesus is being preached, the Holy Spirit relied upon, and the people being mobilised for sharing their faith, churches are growing. Where churches rely upon their own human wisdom and disregard Jesus and the Bible, the church is shrinking. Thats reality. (Just one source of many)

I did want to comment on succession and my hope for this coming generation. In my generation of Pastors I have seen so many go. So many fall to the perils of internal church conflict. The pain of expectations of growth and revival shattered. Ministry is not easy. Its like trying to maintain the strings on a guitar. If one of the strings is frayed or broken, the tune does not sound quite right. Having an effective church means understanding that at any point at least 20% of any aspect of your church is probably ineffective. Leading a church takes heavy doses of prayer and intimacy with God, but also takes Godly wisdom and discernment, and human skill.

Some who felt called to ministry are just not suited. They do not have the skills or stubbornness to continue. That is just reality. I do not want to sound arrogant, as though I have it all together. I feel like I am only just starting to grasp at what I need to do.

My hope for the next generation is that they will persevere and pray. That they won’t expect ministry, churches and even opportunities to be handed to them. My fear is that for some of this generation so much has been handed to them that resilience is not something they acquire. For many, knowledge is a click away, music is something to be consumed, and if something does not work it is thrown away. That is not their fault. It is the environment they have inherited.

Church, mission and community does not just get handed to you. The spiritual battle is real. People are unreliable, contentious, have ungodly desire for power and they are sinful. It has always been that way. The expectation of ministry needs to be realistic but not shattering.

My experience of Church is that it has been bruising, wounding, exciting, thrilling, wonderful, terrible, exhilarating, scary and fulfilling all at the same time. I have felt like quitting on Monday more times than I can remember. I have also felt on top of the world on more Sunday nights than I can remember.

The Church has continued for 2000 years and my faith and belief in Jesus and His mandate and presence in this world means I think it will continue until He returns. Young leaders will do more with the next church than what I have ever done or could imagine. They have authenticity, passion and an innate ability to understand culture, peoples emotions and what works far better than the generation that came before. They are innovative and have a sense of what works. They have a strong sense of justice and care for the world and the people they are inheriting.

The best is yet to come.

Personal Goals

I had an amazing year in 2016. In terms of ministry, my best one by far.

Some highlights include our Baptismal Service, seeing people for various reasons make that decision was wonderful.

Travelling to Chicago for the Willow Creek Leadership Intensive was life changing. I feel like a very deep deposit has been placed on my heart and mind.

Our Church spent a whole year in our new building, dealt with some serious financial issues and consolidated and grew in various and life giving ways. It feels like we have grown up.

I could list all my goals but some of them are specific to the Church. Here though for my own personal accountability are my personal goals.

Personal Goals

To continue to eat healthy and exercise regularly

To further develop communication skills

To have regular devotional times with God

 

Manna is only good for that day

In Exodus 16 we have the story of the ‘Manna’ coming down from the sky as a miraculous provision from God. This wonderful bread like substance was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. The interesting aspect of this story is that Moses told the people “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

It did not matter how much the people gathered, they had enough. God provided enough sustenance for them for that day. If they did not use what had been given for the day, try to store it, it went bad. Except on the Sabbath where miraculously the substance was preserved.

There is a real application for me in the above story. As a general principle God provides enough spiritual nourishment for the day, for the season. He speaks, he works, he challenges, he inspires. With what we need for that season.

The problem comes when we try to store up spiritual provision and hold onto it for the next day. It was good then, so I want to keep that, stay with that. The problem is that God provided for that moment, in that moment. And now, that moment has passed. Gods provision in the past provides hope for the future that He will provide when we need it next. But our relationship and ministry is always in need of provision for that day, because yesterdays wont suffice, unless we are stuck in yesterday.

Creativity comes and flows out of challenge. Some of the most creative people I know are those who don’t have much. They need to be creative, so they make out of the little they have.

My application is this, what God provides is to be used in that season. I often sense and receive words and thoughts flowing from creativity and a desire to hear from God. The temptation for me is to store those gifts from God up, to keep them. Sometimes, I confess, because I don’t trust that the next ‘manna’ is going to come. It is only as I use that which God provides for this season that I make room for that which God is going to provide for the next season.

Spontaneous Baptism

On the Sunday just gone we had a Baptismal service at Inglewood Church.

Two months ago our pastoral team set a date for Baptism and said if we get one baptism, we will do it. One person came and said they wanted to be baptised so we started advertising the date. We had a further 4 people come and say they wanted to be baptised.

On the night before the Sunday I had someone ring me and we chatted and they too wanted to be baptised, so that made 6.

The service was amazing, a real sense of joy and God active in peoples hearts. After I had baptised the last person I felt really convicted to ask if there was anyone else who wished to be baptised. Two more people, on the spot said yes they wanted to be. I asked them to come forward and they shared their testimony. It was amazing.

I also said to people that we still have the baptismal (we hire a spa) and if anyone wanted to be baptised at our evening service, come and let me know. Two people did. Their stories were authentic and wonderful. So at our evening service I baptised them.

It was an incredible, spirit filled day. Probably one of the best in my 23 year Pastoral ministry at Inglewood Community Church.