Preparing for the Work

Have you ever competed in a race?
I have, and I can tell you, it’s hard work.  I first competed in the Melbourne City2Sea, a 14km fun run, back in 2012. I had taken up running that year, and it was my first real challenge –  having never run anything over 10km before.  In the lead up to the race, I followed a plan that slowly increased the distance that I was running, so that I was able to complete the race.

Ben and his session mates doing the 2013 City2Sea

Ben and his session mates doing the 2013 City2Sea

The following year, I did it again,  following a training plan and getting myself ready for the big day. Then last year, I convinced myself to get out in the rain and run it one more time, this time 15km.

Each year, in order to reach my goal, I needed to prepare. You can’t just wake up on a Sunday morning and go, “I’m going to run from the MCG to St Kilda today. No, you need to put in some preparations beforehand.  You need to put in the hard yards, run the kilometers, and get your body ready for the race.   Continue reading

There is nothing you can do that will stop God from loving you

I believe we all know that I am a bit of a geek… and a geek who loves Star Trek. So I hope you’ll forgive me when I say I’d like to show you a clip from Star Trek. Let me set the scene. Khan has set off the Genesis machine, after a battle with the Enterprise. The Enterprise is damaged, and can’t jump to warp speed to escape. Spock hears this, and heads into the radiation filled warp chamber, and fixes the warp drive, knowing that it will kill him. They escape, then Kirk is called down to the engine room.

wrath of khan“I have been, and always will be, your friend.” It’s possibly one of the most famous of Star Trek quotes. And it got me thinking – that quote kinda sums up how God feels towards us. He has been, and always will be, our friend. And as I was reading this passage, that’s really what I could see – that no matter what, God has been, is, and always will be our friend.

The thing is that we often don’t recognise that. We say that we can’t possibly have God’s love after the things that we’ve done. There are things that I’ve done in my life that I’m deeply ashamed of – surely God can’t love me knowing that I did that.

The passage we heard of today tells of the prophet Jonah taking God’s message to the city of Nineveh. That message was “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” But what do we know about Nineveh?

Well, we actually know a fair bit. Nineveh was founded by Nimrod, the first on earth to become a mighty warrior. It was condemned by Zephaniah for its arrogance and forcast for destruction. Zephaniah 2:13-15 tells us that Nineveh will be made into “a desolation, a dry waste like the desert,” where “Everyone who passes by it hisses and shakes the fist.” In the book of Nahum, which is all about the destruction of Nineveh, we read Nahum describe the city as the “city of bloodshed, utterly deceitful, full of booty – no end to the plunder!” By all accounts, Nineveh was evil incarnate, and deserved to be destroyed.

And from what we read as well, we can see that people weren’t willing to show God’s love to Nineveh, either. You can see Zephaniah prophesied against it, and Nahum is a whole book celebrating its destruction. When Jonah is told to go and bring a message to Nineveh, he runs away, he doesn’t want to go there. And we read his reason why in chapter 4, “Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.” Jonah didn’t want to go tell Nineveh about God’s message because he knew God wouldn’t destroy them.

You look at that and you can see that we do both things. We put ourselves in boxes, and say that we don’t have the right to deserve God’s love. The things we’ve done are so bad that God couldn’t possibly love us.

But we also do the same thing as Jonah. That person over there, you don’t want him God. Don’t you know what he’s done? He’s a liar, a cheat, he does this, he is that. Surely, you don’t want Him God.

Yet let’s look at how Nineveh, that city of bloodshed, that despised, hated city, who is evil incarnate, is described in the book of Jonah.

  • 1:2 “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city”
  • 3:2 “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city”
  • 4:11 “And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city”

And you know what – each description there? That’s God speaking to Jonah. God describes Nineveh as a great city. And despite of everything you’ve done, God describes you as a great person.

We can repent and turn back to God

But just because we can be assured that no matter what we do, God loves us, doesn’t mean that we can do anything we want. God still sent a message to Nineveh and that message had a threat of destruction in it. God gave them 40 days, and if nothing happened then Nineveh would be overthrown. So what does Nineveh do? Firstly, the people believed God. The message is shown to us and the first thing we must do is believe.

Secondly, they acted. They proclaimed a fast and everyone put on sackcloth – an act of repentance. When news reaches the King, even himself covered himself in sackcloth and ashes, and says “All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”

While we may have done bad things in the past, we are always able to stop, to repent, turn around and go in the direction that God is calling us.

We can live in the love of God

And what is that direction? We read in a few different places what God requires of us. In Micah – the book after Jonah – we read “He has told you, O mortal, what is good: and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” In Matthew, we read Jesus tell a Lawyer what the greatest commandments are: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’”

That’s really what it all boils down to. When we repent, and accept God’s forgiveness, we then start living as Christ calls us to live. To love God humbly, with everything that we have. To love others, showing kindness to them and ensuring that we have justice for all. And to love ourselves – because how can we love others if we do not love ourselves?

Accept God’s love in your life, and offer it to others

So today, I invite you to accept the fact that God loves you. There’s nothing you can do to change that. Nothing you can do will change the fact that God loves you, and loves you so much that he sent his son to die for your sins. Just as Spock sacrificed himself, so that the rest of the ship could live, so Christ sacrificed himself so that all who believe in him will live. It’s Christ, there on the cross, saying “I have been, and always will be your friend.” So how will you respond to God’s love? Will you repent of your sins, and turn to follow Christ and how he’s calling you to live – loving God, loving others, and loving yourself? Will you offer that love to others, knowing that God’s love is available for all?

I invite you to come and respond to God’s love here today. While we do that, we have this song that says “Lord, I come, I confess” – we need to confess to God of our sins. “Without you I fall apart” – we can’t do anything unless we have Christ with us. “You’re the one that guides my heart” – when we’ve confessed, Christ guides our heart into right action.

While we sing, you’re invited to come and confess to God, to come and repent of your sins. Maybe you’re holding onto something that’s stopping you from fully accepting God’s love. Maybe things you’ve said have stopped others from coming to accept God’s love. Maybe you just want to come forward and pray. Someone will come pray with you, or you can bring someone with you if you prefer. But this is your time, to accept the love of God that’s always been there, and turn around and follow Christ.

Creation Stories

In the beginning… In the beginning, God… In the beginning, God created… it’s such an Iconic opening sentence, and it holds so much power and understanding for us. And depending on how you want to break it up the first few words can put a whole difference spin on the creation story. In the Beginning, tells us that this story starts at the very beginning – there is nothing more before this. In the Beginning, God, tells us that from that very beginning, there was God. And In the Beginning, God created, tells us about this God – that God is a creative God, one who isn’t content to be there alone, but wants others as well.

Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider

Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider

I watched an interesting video the other day that talked about creation stories of various superheros, and how they reflect who we are, and what we are fearful of, and what we aspire to. For example, he highlighted how in the early mythology of Spiderman, he got his powers from what? Continue reading

Happy New Year?

As I viewed the multitude of Happy New Year posts, and posts reflecting on our years, I noticed a bit of a trend. A lot of people were commenting on how this year was really tough. And you know what, I hear that. Liesl and I have had a really tough year, a trial by fire if you will into the world of officership. It certainly says something when both your Divisional Secretary and Divisional Commander both say that we’ve experienced more in our first year of officership than many experience in their career. But as I thought on it, I wondered whether I really had a tough year.

I think of those who have it a lot tougher than me, like the Families of the 30,000 children who die every day from starvation.

I think of the Asylum Seekers who have been locked up indefinitely with no idea of when things will change.

I think of Peter Greece and his colleagues, who has been locked up in Egypt, only for doing his job of reporting the news in a fair and balanced way.

I think of those in Australia whose benefits are being stripped away simply for the sake of improving an economy that is already the envy of many others in the world.

I think of the number of people who are forcibly displaced from their home every year (in 2013 it was over 50 million).

Within the posts on Facebook lamenting their tough year, they would always be looking forward to a great 2015, that things were going to change and this year would be a lot better. While I agree with the sentiment, my prayer, my hope is that 2015 might be the year that we treat all people with love and respect, and start changing some of the depressing and oppressive situations mentioned above.

Prince of Peace

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, The Prince of Peace, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 21 December, 2014, for our Christmas with the Salvos Carols service. The Reading was Isaiah 9:2-7

I chose the passage for today a few weeks ago. The theme for this Sunday was chosen a few weeks earlier than that. And as I sat down on Tuesday morning, in a coffee shop just down the road, only 24 hours after a siege in another coffee shop in Sydney had started, which ended up costing three people their lives, and changed the lives of countless more, I had to wonder how I could possibly preach on peace, when our peaceful existence has been so shockingly changed.

We live in a world characterised by it’s non-peacefulness

The unfortunate reality is that we live in a world that is characterised by it’s non-peacefulness. Wikipedia currently lists 13 Wars and conflicts currently happening around the world. So far, in 2014, that has resulted in at least 113,804 deaths. Over 100,000 deaths in this year alone. That is almost as many as the average number of deaths per year during the Vietnam War. If you add in those classed as minor skirmishes and conflicts, you have 44 Wars, Conflicts and skirmishes, with pushes it up over 118 thousand deaths in this year alone. Some of this conflicts have been going on since 1948 – the cumulative fatalities caused by these active skirmishes tops 6.5 million. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reported that in 2013, we had 51.2 million forcibly discplaced people. This is the highest on record. During 2013, conflict and persecution forced an average of 32,200 individuals per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere – up from 23,400 in 2012 and 14,200 in 2011.

But it’s not just armed conflicts that we have to worry about. Life seems to get busier and busier. That business leads to stress, which means that we can’t perform at our best, and can lead to mental and physical health problems. Elsewhere in our society, people are dealing with poverty, drugs, violence, domestic violence and more. All of these things chip away at that ideal, peacefilled existence. Continue reading

Don’t get stuck in the room

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Don’t get stuck in the room, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 23 November, 2014, in our first Sunday back in our building following renovations. The Reading was John 20:19-23

Who knows what next Sunday is, in the Church’s calendar? That’s right, the first Sunday of Advent. Hands up, who puts their Christmas Decorations up on the first Sunday in Advent? And who puts them up on December 1? And who’s got them up already?

Here’s a trickier question – who knows what today is, in the Church Calendar? Today, in the Church Calendar, is what’s known as Christ the King Sunday. And it’s this day that confused me for a long time with the set readings for the day.
If you don’t know, many churches use what’s called a lectionary, which is usually a three year cycle of readings that they will use for their services. There’s a few different ones around, but for the most part – particularly for the high feast days, they will have the same, or similar readings. And this day is one of them, where they will usually have a story related to the crucifixion.
Now, I never really got that until recently. It seemed to make no chronological sense – we were right about to get into Advent, the period of time where we prepare for Christmas, and all of a sudden, we’re brought back to Easter.
I didn’t get it for a long time, until a realised that – through the lectionary – we were being reminded that the whole purpose of Christ’s birth, the whole reason we have Christmas, was so that he would eventually die on that cross, and rise again, and be able to invite us all into eternal life. Continue reading

Go All the Way

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Go All The Way, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 9 November, 2014. The Reading was Mark 10:17-31

Vince Lombardi (Source: Wikipedia)

Vincent T Lombardi was born in Brooklyn in 1913, to Italian immigrants. His father ran a butcher shop that allowed the family to prosper during the great depression. His family attended Mass every Sunday, which was always followed by dinner with friends, extended family and local clergy. Vincent graduated from the eighth grade in 1928, and then went to Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception in Brooklyn to become a catholic priest. After four years, he decided not to pursue the priesthood, and instead headed to St Francis Preparatory high school in 1932. He was offered a football scholarship in 1933 to Fordham University, where he was aggressive and spirited on the football field. After leaving university, he tried his hand at Semi-pro football, and as a debt collector, but failed rather quickly. He enrolled in Law, but withdrew after one semester. In 1939, He accepted an assistant coaching job with the St Cecilia High School in New Jersey. By 1942, he was head coach, and in 1943, St Cecilia’s was recognised as the top football team in the nation.

In 1947, he was coach of the Fordham University Freshman teams, and in 1948 an assistant coach of the varsity team.

In 1949, he started as an assistant at West Point, before eventually joining the New York Giants in 1954 to start his NFL Coaching career. He accepted a head coaching role with the Green Bay Packers in 1959, and was named Coach of the year. He turned the team around from its worst record in history in the 1958 season, to a completely sold out season in 1960, and the Packers have sold out every home game since. The Packers won the 1960 NFL Western Conference, and made it to the NFL Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles, in what would become his only ever championship game loss. He led the Packers to three consecutive NFL Championships in 65, 66 and 67, and win the first two Superbowls in 1966 and 1967, and would eventually have the Superbowl trophy named after him.

Religion was always a constant part of his life. While at St Cecilia, he would attend mass every day, and when he was head coach, he lead his team to Mass before each home game. While coaching the Packers, he would stop at St Willebrord church every day. His faith, and his experiences when growing up, affected his coaching – seeking to break racial prejudice that was rampant in the league, in a time when the Civil Rights movement was only just getting started. He viewed every one of his players the same, saying he “viewed his players as neither black nor white, but Packer green”. He even went as far as telling all Green Bay businesses that if they didn’t accept his black players as well as his white players, then their business would be off limits to the entire team. Continue reading

What I love about conservative theology

I recently read an article that was basically saying that liberal theology was a blight upon The Salvation Army and that it must be driven out in all its forms. As a Salvation Army Officer who finds that the label of liberal theology is the label that closest fits my own personal theology, reading this hurts. It makes me wonder whether I am an accepted part of the Army. It makes me wonder whether I have a place. It makes me wonder about my own beliefs. See, the hatred of liberalism is a common argument often put up by conservatives, particularly in Christian circles. As such, when an argument such as this is put up, it can make me wonder if I have a place in this wonderful place called Christianity.

My faith is stronger than that of course, and as I reflected upon the article, thoughts turned to what I could do about it. The standard human responses are to fight or flight. Flight was certainly out – I feel so strongly convicted about my calling to officership within The Salvation Army, and so strongly convicted about what others may describe as a liberal theology, that leaving these things behind is by no means an option for me. So I considered fight. I considered writing an article about how conservative theology was a blight on The Salvation Army – basically a rebuttal of the original article. I considered defending liberal theology in the Army, saying that there are many examples where it is perhaps the best fit to Salvation Army theology. But it still didn’t feel right.

Eventually, as I reflected upon my own liberal theology, one that prioritises love and grace over all, one that highlights the holiness doctrine that The Salvation Army cherishes, where I try to be more and more like Jesus, I realised that there was only one thing that I could do – because I love my conservative colleagues.

Three things I love about Conservative Christians

See, the thing is that while the article may hurt, there is always something that can be learnt out of it. And there are many things that conservative Christians do really well, and it’s worth pointing them out. It’s probably worth taking on board, and developing into the liberal theology as well, because it would make us stronger. So here are my three things that I love about Conservative Christians (because three is a holy number, and makes for memorable reading).

A complete and utter urgency about Salvation

Conservative Christians are fantastic about placing the importance on Salvation. Us liberals probably talk more about the journey towards Salvation, but for a conservative Christian, everything points towards Salvation, and they want to get people there as quickly as possible. The journey can happen after that, but let’s get them saved. And it’s true, Salvation is a wonderful thing and something that should be promoted and pushed. We never know when the return of Christ will happen, so it could be in 500 years, or it could be tomorrow. Either way, there is an urgency to get people saved, and that is something that the conservatives have done really well.

A love for every word of the Bible

Now, don’t get me wrong on this one – liberals love and cherish the Bible as well, but the love that conservatives have is certainly to be admired. Their knowledge and memory of the bible is something that is to be admired. I may be wrong here, but I feel like most conservatives have a higher level of recall – that is, more often they can quote passages of scripture word for word, where as many liberals may know the general gist of the passage, they may have to read the passage to quote it word for word.

A strong conviction about right and wrong

While liberals and conservatives may not agree on all the finer points, the final thing I love about conservatives is that they hold a very strong conviction about what is right and wrong. While the liberals often deal in the grey areas of our faith, it means that we hold a lot more flexible opinions, so that even when we do feel strongly about something, we are never as strongly convicted about it as the conservatives are, who will study an area, work out where they stand, and stick to it. This is something that is to be admired, and I feel like liberals often need to have this same sense of conviction about the things that they believe.

So that’s it. Three things that I love about conservative Christians (not that I don’t love more things, three just makes for a good, short blog post). And for me, while I hold strongly to my liberal theology, I value the input that conservative theologians add to our rich tapestry of faith, and strongly believe that through all of us working together – both on the fringes of liberal and conservative, and in the comfortable middle ground as well – we will all save souls, change the world, and be good and faithful witnesses of Christ’s love for our world.

The Lost Sheep

This is a guest post by my wife, Liesl. It’s a sermon she preached on Sunday 14 September. The text was Luke 15:1-7.

I read something recently that made it very, very clear to me that to general society and the greater world, I am not really that important.

You may be wondering what I would read that would reveal such harsh truths to me, what I would read that would allow me to possibly even say to some of you that really, society doesn’t care about us all that much.

Well the always informative literature that brought me back down to earth was nothing other than… Celebrity Gossip site – Radar Online! You see I found a whole story focused on celebrities who step outside… Wait for it… Without make up on!!!!!   And while wearing tracksuits and jumpers!!!!!!! It was called Celebrity slobs!!!!…..   GASP!

Are you appalled?? That celebrities dare exit their houses without Hollywood style perfection??? How dare they do their shopping without a dress and heels, or a suit??

Perhaps you’re wondering how this brought me to the realization that the world was not deeply concerned or effected by me…

2014-09-13 23.06.17This.. This is how…

This is a pretty normal picture of me, this is how I would do my shopping, this is how I would happily exit the house… This is, to be honest my favourite outfit ever. I wear this in public and the only person who flinches is one of my aunties in Melbourne who hates clothing that isn’t in its prime. Even my mother gave up caring about 6 years ago that this jumper was my most worn outfit despite it being a holy, school jumper that she bought cheaply after I lost multiple expensive ones.

Nobody really cares… nobody took a picture to post online, nobody really made much comment or fuss.

I do not, in any way carry celebrity status.

As I’m growing up, my self-confidence takes a little less of a nose dive these days and my interest in fashion is even less than the little it ever was, but still it can be easy to feel insignificant in a big world.

Maybe it’s not your fashion choices you realize it, maybe its the realization that while certain people, politicians for example make stupid comments that get broadcast all over the news, sometimes we can’t even get our own children to hear us when we say things to them.

When someone famous dies, a whole world mourns, but daily average people are suffering and no one seems to notice.

Sometimes its challenging to find our place in this world – sometimes its easy to feel like our days just float on by without much meaning and purpose. That we are really just like a wave crashing on the ocean, moving on quickly.

It may feel that way, but if we live like that, as if we don’t matter and we have no real purpose or influence on the world then life becomes a meaningless and depressing state of being.

But if the world is quick to remind us that we don’t really matter, how then do we find our greater purpose and assurance of our importance and worth?

If I take my value and worth from things like trashy celebrity magazines and earthly values I will never match up and will never be able to find true worth, instead I need to find a better book to read.

Luckily – I have one!

You see when we look to the bible we realize that Jesus had this habit of challenging all kinds of social norms.  No wonder he came up against uncertainty and criticism by some people, he saw what was the standard way of life and the way they had warped what the scriptures were telling them and he called them on it, he did it differently and he challenged them all to live likewise.

More often than not he challenged those who were top Dog in society, he loved to have a go at the Pharisees, the religious teachers who prided themselves on being closer to God and having authority and knowledge. Jesus so often came along and pretty much I can imagine after a few times, wanted to just roll his eyes and go seriously guys, are you still not getting it? He so often tried to teach them that people were more important than the traditions and strict rules they were living by. When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, even though it was considered wrong, he showed how deeply he cared for those who suffered, above what society considered right. When he hung out with women, lepers and tax collectors he challenged the idea of who was important. If Jesus was here today I wonder what he would think of the way we idolize some people yet as a society stamp others down and out.

Today I want to focus on just one of the parables Jesus told, which was that of the lost sheep.

The reading begins by telling us that these Pharisees still haven’t got it,  A group of people are sitting around wanting to hear Jesus, they are the sinners and the tax collectors ,they were sitting around listening and instead of the Pharisees rejoicing in sinners listening to this great teacher, they muttered amongst themselves about how he welcomes the sinners! I don’t know about you, but if I had a room full of what society called the sinners listening t Jesus, as a religious leader I would be thrilled! These are people who are not getting jut how much God loves everyone, including the sinners!

Jesus goes on to tell the story of a shepherd with 100 sheep, he says if one of them go missing, does not the shepherd leave the 99 to find the 1.

It seems crazy to imagine, a shepherd trying to tend his sheep and noticing one missing and then leaving all the others because of the huge value he places on a missing sheep.

Now, it doesn’t say in the Bible, but I feel pretty safe in assuming this wasn’t a celebrity sheep. It was just a lost sheep. If the bible had celebrity sheep, I’m thinking at least one of the gospel writers would have thought to mention it, they didn’t, so I’m assuming it was just a regular run of the mill, on of a hundred sheep.

But we hear that the shepherd goes and searches out that 1, returns him and further than that celebrates in his return.

He goes on to say that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than  99 righteous people who do not need to.

Now, this isn’t saying when we become saved and have repented God no longer interests in us, this story is a challenge to the pharisees, those who believe themselves to be righteous and above the need to repent. It’s about those who view themselves to be perfect and beyond the need for saving by our God.

It takes me back to my opening thought, that you know sometimes in this world it is easy to feel unimportant, to feel not enough in a world with perfect people in it.

Next to a celebrity I may not seem like a whole lot, next to people who literally have changed the world our small acts of service and dedication may not seem huge. I also know what it feels like to be a Christian who is struggling around a room full of seemingly perfect Christians. To wonder why they have it all figured out and I don’t.

But I tell you today, if you are around a perfectly saved Christian, with no faults and no need for salvation anymore, chances are you are around a Pharisee. Someone who has forgotten that life with Christ is not about building our selves up but humbling ourselves to serve others.

The story tells us that God isn’t interested in seeing Christians pretend to have it perfect. He isn’t interested in those who live good all the time and claim to be righteous people with no faults. He is interested in the one with the flaws, who admits the faults. He is interested in those who feel not enough. He is interested in hose who are real and bringing them back to the shepherd, back to God.

Because when we admit our short comings we can accept grace and wholeness in God. We do find completeness. But we don’t become like the 99 who feel complete and stop striving for more, we instead know that our wholeness and perfection is because of What God has done in us and we know that we will always need to keep coming back to that.

To be in relationship with God, we don’t need to be perfect, we don’t need to be the most important, the celebrity Christian.

We live in a broken world, we live in a place full of hurt and imperfection. God knows about our struggles, he sees our tears, he recognizes our depression, he sees our issues with self-worth, he sees our sin, he sees all the reasons we may feel like we are not enough. It would be understandable to see the faults and walk away deeming it too hard, deeming us too unworthy, ill stick with those who appear to have it figured out. But he doesn’t, that’s the exciting news. He seeks us out, he picks us up and he carries us home to a place where he can work in our lives and teach us what wholeness and love in Christ looks like.

To the world we may only be a person, who doesn’t have it all together and doesn’t seem like much, But to God – he searches for us. To God, we are his child who he loves and if you have ever seen a parent who can’t find their child, you can geta  glimpse of the pain of God when we are far from him.

So today is your opportunity to be found.

It’s not a day to focus on all the reasons we aren’t enough, or we aren’t good enough. It’s a day to let God bring you home.

Maybe you have used your weakness and struggles as an excuse, or you have let them define you. Maybe you don’t feel enough to have that deep close relationship with God, or to do the ministry he is calling you to or to just fully accept just how important you are to our God.

But today, Today God is calling you to him, he sees those things you carry and he offers rest and grace. They may still plague you, but they will not define you, because instead, you will be called a child of God:

One who is loved,
One who is sought after
One who was created

You are, exactly as he wants you, as long as you are willing and ready.

This morning  I invite you to be found, to come home. To let God take over all the reasons you may be pushing him away and to come home completely, every little part.

Theres a beautiful song by casting crowns that will play as we seek God,

It’s called Who am I? and it articulates what I have been wanting to share with you today. It asks the question, who am I? Who am I that the god who is the great creator of all would look on me with love? And it says, it’s not because of who I am but because of what you’ve done, not because of what I’ve done but because of who you are.

We can’t let our faults and mistakes keep us away, because even if we hadn’t done them, we still would not have done enough to earn what was given for us – Jesus life. It is because of his love and his death that we are welcome.

So as it plays I invite you to pray and let God speak truth into your life and be reminded of that truth: You are loved, just as you are he wants to call you child.

The Gift of Grace

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, The Gift of Grace, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 21 September, 2014. The Reading was Matthew 20:1-16

Have you ever received a gift, but it wasn’t what you were expecting? I’d like to tell you about a guy who was going to college in America. His father had told him that on his graduation, he would get the same present as his brothers – a new car. Now, this wasn’t just any car, but it was the top of the range, Porsche 911

A 2014 Porsche 911 GT3

A 2014 Porsche 911 GT3

, with all the trimmings. It was this that kept him going through college. He pushed through every class, he studied hard every night and passed his exams, and eventually came to graduation. He got up on stage, got his paper, and after the ceremony, his dad came over to him and handed him a present. He opened up the present, hoping to see the keys to his new car, but instead, what he found was a bible.

He was furious. He said to his dad, “I’ve spent four years working as hard as I can, to get the grades to let me pass, and all you give me at the end of it is this stupid book!” He marched off home, and threw the book in the corner of his room, never even opening it. He never talked to his father again.

Years later, one of his brothers called him to tell him that his father had died. He’d moved many times since, but he still had that bible. He opened it up, and found a letter, tucked inside. The letter said, “I am, and always will be, proud of you, my son. Your car is waiting for you at the dealership, all you need to do is pick it up.” Continue reading