Monday, March 30, 2009

The Life and Mission of Jesus, recorded in the Book of Matthew - Part 2

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So he sends the twelve disciples out to preach and heal (Mt 10:1,8). I want to skip all the way now to the last chapter in Matthew. Chapter 28, The Great Commission, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you'.

The mission of Jesus in the early chapters of Matthew was to preach about the Kingdom of God being near, and to heal the sick. Jesus then passed that mission on to his disciples, or rather empowered his disciples to now take part in that mission. THEN, right at the end of Matthew, Jesus commands his disciples to teach them to obey (that's us), everything I have commanded you. What did he command his disciples to do in Matthew 10? To preach the message that the Kingdom of heaven is near and to heal the sick. Cutting away the cultural expecations that Jesus had for his disciples in chapter 10, I believe the essence that he wanted his disciples to pass on, was to preach, and heal. Fullness of life. The complete restoration of humanity and creation under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Mission (Mt 9:35-36) -> Disciples Mission (Mt 10:1) -> Our Mission (Mt 28:19-20)

Well, there's some thoughts, which if you're somewhat of a thinker, you'll have your own opinions. Feel free to comment for the sake of the building up of the body!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Life and Mission of Jesus, recorded in the Book of Matthew - Part 1

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Leading up to Easter time it's good to look at the life and mission of Jesus. So here goes:
In the book of Matthew we first see the fact that Jesus was born of the line of King David. We then read about his miraculous Spirit-inspired birth and an account about his cousin, John the Baptist, who was a voice crying the wilderness, 'Repent!'

Mt 4:1-11 Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness and he is tempted by the devil - an interesting event considering he had just been baptised in the river Jordan.
Then the beginning of Jesus ministry as he calls the motley crew of fisherman and everyday blokes to become his disciples. He then goes up the mountain, and Chapters 5-7 record the great Sermon on the Mount, as we now know it. You know the one: Don't commit adultery, blessed are the poor in spirit, let your light shine.

Chapters 8-9, Matthew wants the reader to understand that Jesus is the Messiah! He's the Christ, the one who comes to heal and restore. Healing after healing, after deliverance, after healing is recorded in those chapters. In amongst the stories of healing, Jesus challenges the Tax Collector Matthew to come follow him. At the end of chapter 9, verses 35-36, Matthew brings the stories to a climax and writes, 'Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd...' This was the mission of Jesus: to bring the good news to people, and to restore humanity to fullness of life.

I love what happens next.

The mission that was Jesus' he then passes on to his disciples. Mt 10:1 - 'He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.'

Monday, March 23, 2009

Think Outlandish Thoughts

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"Think Outlandish Thoughts. From time to time, ask yourself and your team questions such as these:
* If money were no object, what would we do to solve this problem?
* If we were starting all over again, how would we handle this problem?
* If we didn't have to get anyone's approval, how would we proceed?
The provocative, even absurd question often serves as floss to remove the plaque with which time encrusts our ways of thinking." (Leadership Skills for Managers, Marlene Caroselli, p. 42)

The brainstorming seems to allow our minds to kind of escape normality and search for new answers, new solutions to old problems. Someone said to me recently, 'We are a supernatural people', because God lives in us. Surely we can look at the impossible and have a glimpse of hope that God could achieve it?

Maybe in your life right now, there is an issue or a problem that needs supernatural answers. You know the world won't solve it, and the best philosophical thought won't answer it. Ask Jesus to take on the issue, and believe that he will solve it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Story.

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Here's an excerpt from 'Booth's Drum' (Barbara Bolton) - 'Every year in Australia thousands of men, women and teenagers turn to the Army's prison chaplain or court officer and ask for help. They want a chance. They ask the officer to "speak for me in court"; they ask for contact to be kept with their families when they go to gaol; they ask for help in re-establishing themselves when they leave prison; they pour out stories of bitterness and loneliness and deprivation, of perversion and violence; or the bewildered story of events that had unintentionally lead to crime. They ask for practical aid, for sympathy, for understanding, for friendship, for help in believing that tomorrow will come and tomorrow will be better. The man or woman in the Army uniform is their link with hope.'

This is a book published in 1980. The same applies today. I have a friend who's a Prison Chaplain here in the NT. He knows people need support. They need our ears and our hearts. I think about this recently after a day where people received Welfare assistance from our 'Community Support' office. Sure, people need help with their phone bill, and in the NT, quite often it's the Power bill, but often there's a story behind the financial crisis, there's more to it than needing just a Coles Card or a loaf of bread. There's a story.
Check out Army Barmy for some challenging blogs on evangelism.
Fairtrade Fortnight. I was struck by the idea of having a Fairtrade Church service. There is so much God wants to say about Justice. Just check out Isaiah 58!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Red Tape - Holiness - Kingdom Growth

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“As a nation we’ve got a national economy that is under enormous pressure at the moment from the effects of the global recession. Productivity is the key to long-term sustainable growth. This makes the wider task of deregulation even more important now. Good regulation is also central to what I’d call social productivity.” - Lindsay Tanner, in relation to the Australian Government removing the red tape from non-profit organisations. I'm sure this helps out the Salvo PR Department!
Holiness is a choice. You choose to be holy. Will I do this, or will I not? Will I look at that, or will I not? Will I say that, or will I not? Will I join that ministry I feel God is leading me to, or will I not? Will I talk to that person, or will I not? Holiness is a choice. Choose to be holy.
God's Kingdom grows. That's what in essence it should do. The offshoot of this, is that our churches grow, our Salvation Army soldiership rolls increase, our Youth Ministries expand, our Mainly Music programs have people turning to Jesus, our senior ministries see growth.
Check it out: 'What shall we say the kingdom of God is like...? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants...' (Matthew 4:30-32).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wait a Second?!

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Ever got busy in your job? You sit there, fill out some forms, check a few emails and file some important documents. You then take a moment and reflect on the fact that you didn't sign up to become an administrator, but rather a change agent.

This may be my story at the moment, but I know I'm not the only one. I speak to people who are lumped with the day to day expectations of their position; phone calls, emails, phone calls, faxes, signatures, memos, answering machines...

One day you step back and say, 'Hey, wait a second, it's all about Jesus.' You then begin to find ways to connect people with the Saviour, to ignite a flame in another, to bless a friend, to encourage a work colleague. You find yourself praying for the salvation of your city, as you fulfill another mundane administrative expectation.

I understand some are gifted administrators, and I thank God for them, but I'm thinking of those who are stuck in a rut. Those who find themselves in a place of frustration, of indesiveness, of purposelessness, and angst. God calls you to rise above the circumstance, and endure, commit, stick it out. Some day soon God is going to use you in an amazing way, and you need to be in that place where God wants you. Smack bang in the middle of God's will. Stick it out. Outlast it. God will use you; trust Jesus to take your life and use every minute. Be ready for the Spirit of God to open an opportunity, a discussion, a breakthrough. It happens - you bump into a long lost friend, or someone who's walked away from faith, and the Spirit uses you. You email someone a thought, and the Spirit touches their life. You SMS a mate and tell her God's got plans for her.

Be ready. In the mundane, be ready. Every day holds opportunities for the Kingdom of God. Be ready to take hold of them and run with it. Fix your eyes on Jesus, not on the frivolous.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

God goes before us into Battle

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Was reading through some of Knagg's One Day and here is some of it:
'...that we would never have another day in our existence where someone was not brought to Christ'
'...that our soldiers' roll would only be an increasing reality as would our worship and discipleship meetings.'
'...that our officer training programs would be taxed by the unusual response of the called to serve as officers in The Salvation Army.'
Ezekiel 34:11-13 - 'For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations.'

We hear people say that God goes before us in battle. We hear others say, God is already at work in the world. It's true. Followers of Jesus need to be lead by the Spirit to partner with God with what God is doing, and be in tune with where the Spirit leads us.
Let your attitude be that of Christ Jesus. Not that of a rubbish dump. If Jesus was in the room, would you be saying what you're saying?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Social Inclusion - Social Policy - Transforming Mission

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I read a document from NTCOSS today (Northern Territory Council of Social Service) and here are some highlights:
* 'NTCOSS has identified three key areas for action [in the NT]: Indigineous disadvantage, housing shortage, and alcohol abuse.' We know that the housing shortage stems well beyond just the NT.
* 'Experience....suggests that developing local leadership is fundamental to achieving social inclusion outcomes at a local level.'
* 'Poor health is most likely to occur amongst people with low incomes, and those who feel that they have little stake in our society.'
* 'We must acknowledge the factors that are likely to see people end up in the criminal justice system, and address these through early intervention and prevention, thereby reducing the need for punitive measures in the long run.'

Deputy Prime Minister (Australia) Julia Gillard said this in Feb 2008, 'Our long term prosperity depends on securing the full participation - economic and social - of all Australians. We have to find new ways to support that participation. That is why social inclusion matters.'

A thought: In the church we talk about the transition from the old paradigm of 'Believe, Behave, Belong' to 'Belong, Believe, Behave'. We need to be inclusive of people, knowing at times the gospel of Jesus is still a challenge to a different lifestyle, a turning from self to God, a turning of sin to fullness of life. The Government is calling for this idea of 'social inclusion', maybe we should be calling for 'Church inclusion'? Lots to explore here. You can comment and unpack it there.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Salvation Australia

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I looked up Google adwords recently, and found this data which shows you how many times a certain word or group of words was used on Google.
I looked up 'salvation' and the average search volume for February looked like this:
* salvation army - 90,500
* salvation - 110,000
* salvation church - 5,400
* the salvation army - 9,900

Amongst many others, there's these interesting ones (check the spelling!)
* salvation arrmy - 110
* salvation amy - 390
* liquid salvation - 480 - what?!

Who's salvation amy? I want to meet her.

It's good to see people typing salvation into google and wanting to find out what salvation means, or find music related to salvation, etc.

I won't attempt to define salvation, but it's a wonderful thing to know that Jesus can set you free from the burden of sin, of purposelessness, of addiction, and bring you to wholeness in life - fullness of life. Jesus plan of salvation is that everyone would be saved - that everyone would have a revelation of who Jesus is.

Salvation Australia - every Australian saved, holy and serving the Lord. What an awesome dream.
Taco Trivia has been getting 60 hits a day recently. People using Google to find Trivia Questions. Nice. That's why I do a short devotional thought about God/Jesus on the end of most Trivia posts.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Famous Last Words

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Here are some Famous Last Words:

'I feel here that this time they have succeeded.' (Leon Trotsky, Russian revolutionary, pointing at his heart after being assissinated by an ice pick blow to the head in 1940).

'Es Lebe Die Freiheit! Long live freedom!' (Hans Scholl, anti-Hitler resistance leader, before his execution for high treason in 1943).

'I have a terrific headache' (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, US President, as he was dying of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1945).

'I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have' (Leonardo Da Vinci in 1519).

'Go away... I'm alright' (H.G. Wells).

'Friends applaud. The comedy is over' (Ludwig von Beethoven).

'Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough.' (Karl Marx).

'I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon.' (John Newton - Writer of Amazing Grace).

'Up until this time, I thought that there was no God neither Hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am delivered to perdition by the righteous judgment of the Almighty.' (Sir Thomas Scott).

A Chinese Communist, who delivered many Christians to their execution, came to a pastor and said: 'I’ve seen many of you die. The Christians die differently. What is their secret?'

Famous Last Words... Think on it - What would your 'Famous Last Words' be?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Expectant Hearts

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I've witnessed recently the God-impact people have when they possess an expectant heart. When people simply believe that God is the Amazing, Holy God that the Scriptures talk about, and they have a deep faith to believe that same God could impact their lives; connection happens.
When the church joins together to honour God, there's something powerful about people having the belief that God is going to touch their lives. There's something in the atmosphere. The Spirit begins to stir. People sense the presence of the Creator amongst them.
Lets fix our eyes on Jesus, and have expectant hearts. I mean, the Bible says, 'God is able to do immeasurably more than anything we ask or imagine...'

In your day-to-day lives, think on this:
* Be expectant that you will have 'God-moments' during the day
* Be expectant that if you're faithful with your finances, God will provide for your every need
* Be expectant that when you pray God is hearing it, and answering
* Be expectant to believe God will bring the healing to those loved ones who are sick
* Be expectant that God will restore that broken relationship
* Be expectant that God will one day honour all that hard, unseen work you're doing for the Kingdom!
* Be expectant that Jesus is coming back soon!!

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