Category Archives: Spiritual Thoughts

Competition amongst Churches

I am a competitive guy. Come down on Thursdays when I play squash and you can see that for yourself. As I often say with a smile on my face, I am not here to make friends I am here to win.  Of course I play for a number of reasons including fitness, fun and friendship. But we keep score.

When Pastors gather together for social and networking reasons this competitive spirit is under the surface. Like farmers enquiring about how much land another farmer owns, Pastors want to know how many people the next guy has in their church. Its natural. At some level it goes to their significance and place in the room.  And like a farmer, its not something we normally ask, but we find out somehow.

Its also ridiculous.

This has been happening ever since Paul the Apostle wrote this in 1 Corinthians 3

“4 When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.”

There is a number of things here. Paul points out that when we ascribe loyalty to one particular leader, pitting them against each other in some sort of church contest, we are following worldly values, not Jesus values. Both those leaders are serving the same Jesus, the same Lord. They are both preaching the same gospel.

Furthermore those leaders are doing work which the Lord gave them. Like talents, some are given 2, some 5, some 10. The mission, target and focus did not originate with them but rather with the call of Jesus and perhaps their skills, gifting and placement.

When another pastor, leader or church sees significant growth, people coming to Jesus, Churches growing…it is a cause for celebration. We are all actually on the same side. And when we are at our best we are winning, and so is everyone else on our team, the Church of Jesus Christ.

Billy Graham and his musical legacy

A great evangelist has passed away. Billy Graham was an innovator. A clear speaking Gospel message interlaced with humour, emotion and story. So many people I know can trace their spiritual lineage to a Billy Graham Crusade.

He used modern music to the mission he was involved in. From Johnny Cash to the Gaither Music crew.

At his funeral of the songs he picked was written by Paul Baloche in 1999. Billy would have been 80 years old when he heard this song…at the earliest. Years later he had Michael W Smith perform it at his evangelism rallies.

It goes nicely with this little newspaper response that has been floating around for a while.

I most love what Billy says here… ‘Sometimes Im afraid, a hymn can become so familiar to us that we sing it without thinking about the words’. In my words, sentiment should never replace spirituality. Worship has never been about us, its about God. Its about us being challenged to deeper spirituality, deeper connection. Its not about what we are familiar with.

So often we go back to the songs and the music that were present in our own spiritual formation. But God has moved on. What He was doing then was good. What He is doing today is better. Billy knew this.

I am going to listen to something new today. I hope to be like Billy when I am 80 years old.

Lets not just shuffle people around

There has been a lot of movement in church planting in Perth recently.
It is quite exciting to see so many churches being planted. Statistics will tell you that on a percentage wise basis new churches will see more people become Christians than established churches.

Many of these churches are vibrant, young and relevant. They are being planted out of more established churches in new areas with energetic and passionate leaders. Its great to see.

One thought of caution though. I believe as Church leaders our primary focus should be on seeking and saving that which is lost. Finding ways to reach those who are far from Jesus and far from Church. That is difficult. Yet that is our mission.

My fathers son….

My dads funeral was a seminal moment for me.

I didn’t misunderstand my father. I didn’t understand him.

In one of those rare moments when I had his attention we attended a football game. It was his beloved Perth Demons getting touched up well and truly. I was about 7 or 8 years old. We left at half time.

I didn’t understand why we left early. Dad had taken me to the football. It was great. One of those rare moments where we had gone father and son together somewhere.

In later years I began to understand why he was as he was. Someone who wanted to communicate with his son, but was just unable to. He didn’t ever talk to me, not really. And I don’t think it was because he was a bad father. He wasn’t. He was a great father. But things had happened to him when he was a child, nothing abusive, just no emotional connection. He failed miserably at having one with me.

But at his funeral. There was over four hundred people there. Many of them dad had personally led to Jesus, or pastored or led in some way. The effect he had on the kingdom was profound. Out of the youth group he led, in a church which was in many ways dysfunctional, many teenagers grew up to be senior church leaders and pastors now leading all over the state and country. His effect for Jesus was profound.

People talk about him to me, and at my weakest moment a tinge of resentment rises up. Then its pride. And I’m a pastor. His son.

I wish I knew him like others did. But at the same time, I wish I was half the man he was.

Who wants to spend their lives eating muesli bars instead of sushi

How much are we drawn to comfort, to the stable, to what we know. To that which fails to challenge us or take away our breathe.

I read this article, I presume it is satirical, where a world renown sushi chef gives reasons why granola bars are better than sushi. He writes that sushi in unpredictable, hard to prepare and goes off. Granola bars are none of that. (here) This is why he argues granola bars are better.

Sushi is not boring. No two sushi are the same. Its very temporal nature is what makes it interesting.

So is life. It is temporal. It is inherently unreliable.

Lets not treat life like a muesli bar when in fact this life we have been given, for God only knows how long, is something to be treated as interesting, full of possibility, full of challenge, full of the opportunity for joy.

Moving in the Spirit and hearing Gods voice

I have studied and been interested in hearing Gods voice and understanding the gifts of the Spirit most of my Christian life. Having attended a conservative bible college and been quite stringent in my views I found myself at quite the crossroads during a stressful and enlightening time in my journey.

What I needed and was experiencing from God was taking my faith deeper and into places I previously though biblically untenable. What I discovered was that my lack of experience was no reliable test to disregard the stories of peoples encounters with God as outlined throughout the bible and in the book of Acts in particular.

In fact the Bible is full of people just like us encountering a gift giving God intent on making our journey with him real and full of spiritual life.

Recently Reverend Allan Demond from New Hope Baptist Church spoke at Inglewood Church on this very topic. It was the best treatment of the scripture on this area I have ever heard.

You can listen here