Monday, January 31, 2011

Daily Journal for Tuesday 1st of February 2011

A Hearts Cry

S - "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
Matthew 23:37

O - Jesus addressed Jerusalem. Perhaps he was referring to the religious leaders, perhaps the nation as a whole. He refers to them as those "who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you." God had sent many prophets to them but their response was murder! Yet Jesus loves Jerusalem. He longs to gather their children tenderly, to protect and care for them, just like a mother hen does with her chicks. But...they were not willing. What a sad response to a loving God.

A - Even those who should know better, those who see themselves as religious and 'right' can reject the very God they say that they know and do violence to his purposes. A hard heart, a know-all approach does not move us closer but further away. Like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15), we can think that because of our good we are owed something by God, we deserve something from him, we are entitled to demand from him, and speak harshly to others on his behalf.

As a follower of Jesus and as a pastor, I must be careful to be constantly coming under Jesus's loving care. He is my all. He is the one who I want to be nurtured by and led by. I break his heart when I do violence to his advances.

P - Thank-you God for reaching out to me. You initiated our relationship! You softened my heart. I will do all that I can to keep a soft, responsive heart that is being shaped and cared for by you. Amen.

Daily Readings Genesis 35 -36 & Matthew 23

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Staff Meeting 2011

Here's a quick snap of our team at staff meeting last week.

We're looking forward to a great year ahead with Matthew Thorp (top left) and Mason Taylor (top right) joining the team this year. Also Mary and Wendy aren't in this photo. As you pray for our church pray for us! 

Daily Journal for Friday 28th of January 2011

If You Believe

S - 'If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.' Matthew 21:22

O - Jesus says to his disciples, to his followers that if they have faith they could tell a mountain to go jump in the lake and it would! Then he adds, 'If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.' He wasn't asking us to pray for real mountains like Huon Hill to get up and move. He was speaking figuratively. Huge problems, overwhelming circumstances, impossible situations, God can change completely if we pray.

We should expect prayer to make a difference, a huge difference, when we face difficult circumstances. Why? Because of who God is. He is able to do anything. He can't do for people what is impossible for them to do. Nothing is too hard for God!

Believing in the God who is able is the key to prayers that move mountains. It's not the size of the problem that counts but the size of the faith in God who is able. And just a mustard seed is enough. We can't manipulate, dictate or get God to do what is not in his will but we can receive is power through believing prayer.

A - What are the mountains in my life? I have challenges and difficulties before me that need God's power. For up-coming meetings with people, for preaching on Sunday, for the people of this city I need these mountains moved. How much am I praying in faith that God would do what only he can do? I know more miraculous, amazing things would happen if I prayed more with greater faith. And I know that i'd pray more if I believed more.

- Father, I do believe. Increase my faith. Help me grow in faith and love and prayer so that I can see mountains moved in my life, in your church and in this city. Amen.

Daily Reading: Psalm 7-8 & Matthew 21:1-22

Monday, January 17, 2011

Daily Journal for Tuesday 18th of January 2011

Obeying Whatever the Cost

S - "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your own son." Genesis 22:12

O - God knew that Abraham feared him because he was even willing to sacrifice his son Isaac in order to obey God. This was incredible because Isaac was the promised son. He was the one that Sarah laughed about. The thought of having a child at her age was a joke to her. Abraham had just sent off Hagar and Ishmael because God had said it was going to be okay because, "it is through Isaac that your offspirng will be reckoned" (Gen 21:12). So Abraham trusted God and let any back up plan he may've had for God to fulfill his promise of a nation go. The promise was all to do with Isaac now. Then God says, "Sacrifice him..." (Gen 22:2). This must have seemed crazy to Abraham. "But what about the promise?" (see Genesis 12:1-3). "How else will a nation be born through me?" "What other way is there that you can fulfill the promise?" "It's not fair!" "I can't be hearing right." "No."

But scriptures don't record Abraham making any of these responses. Rather God says, "You have not withheld from me your own Son." Rather than telling God that he knew better, Abraham obeyed.

A - Trusting God, whatever the circumstances can be difficult but Abraham did it. Obeying God, whatever the cost - even when it seems to be putting the promises of God out of reach is very difficult, yet Abraham did it.

In my life, I feel that God has called me to make as great an impact on people's lives for Jesus as possible. I would love people to say about me that I helped them see Jesus. I would love them to be able to point to all the people that they have helped come to know and follow Jesus too. If I pursue this purpose only how I think best, I can miss what God might be asking me to do. What might appear hard or out of the ordinary I might ignore. But I must not ignore God's leading. Trust and obedience no matter what the circumstances or the cost will show that I love and fear the Lord.

P - Father, I pray that you would know without a doubt that I love you and am in awe of you. May my obedience to you no matter what SHOUT it to you every day. Amen.

Daily Readings - Genesis 21-22 & Matthew 13:1-23

Monday, January 10, 2011

Books I've Read in 2010

This past year has been a year of goodbye's and searching for new members in our staff team at the Church. With our Associate Pastor leaving for Melbourne to study and pastor a church and with our Church Administrator retiring we have been saying good-bye and working hard to find new great staff. For the first time in my six years here at Wodonga I have not taken all of my holidays so my reading is less than the previous years. I missed a couple of good chunks of time on holidays when I love to read and secretly compete with my wife to see who can read the most. That said I feel like my regular reading in the throws of ministry has increased which is encouraging to me.

So here are the books I have read for 2010.

Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain (Meir & Henderson), The Imperfect Board Member (Brown), How to Apply the Bible (Veerman), Death By Meeting (Lencioni), The Vertical Self (Sayers), 7 Practices of Effective Ministry (Stanley, Joiner & Jones), The Tipping Point (Gladwell), The Suprising Work of God (Edwards), Everyone Communicates Few Connect (Maxwell), Helping the Depressed (Ross), Colour Your World with NCD (Schwartz), Hudson Taylor (Taylor), The Contemplative Pastor (Peterson) and Short History of the Baptists (Vedder).

My favourite book would have probably been "7 Practices" or "The Tipping Point." I have tried to read books that really interest me while also broadening my reading so that I just don't stick to the categories I naturally love.

The only book not in the photo is "The Contemplative Pastor" which I have on my computer software "Logos 4." I read it by printing off sections at a time. I can't quite get into reading from a screen yet but I know this will increase in the coming years.

I've read two books for 2011 already as my holidays have just finished. Andy Stanley's "Principle of the Path" and have finished my first complete audio book "Vintage Church" by Mark Driscoll. I'm just finishing "Drive" by Daniel Pink and have been enjoying it too.

I think that what Rick Warren has said, "Leaders are readers" is true. Not all readers are leaders but people who are leading others need to be growing and learning so that they can serve the needs of those they lead.

As this year begins my pile of books are waiting for me to read and I am looking forward to growing as I read. We have a terrific new Administrator, a new Associate starting next week and plans for the full quota of holidays ahead!

What are you reading? What would you recommend?