Cup Day

It’s Cup Day, which means it’s a public holiday here in Victoria. As such, it was a quiet day, with no classes or anything. For us, we took it as an opportunity to do some shopping before our big move down to Tasmania. There’s some furniture that we need to take with us – a new bed for Annabelle, and a new change table, so we headed down to Ikea to get some new furniture. We also got a couple of things for now – a new chair for Annabelle to eat dinner at our little coffee table, and some Christmas decorations to liven up our place for the last month or so.

We also had a baby shower for one of the Cadets, which was a lot of fun. Continue reading “Cup Day”

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Do not doubt, but believe

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Do Not Doubt, but believe, was given at Rosebud Salvation Army on Sunday 7 April, 2013. The Bible reading was John 20:19-31.

This past week has been a bit of a shock to the system. We came down on Maundy Thursday, got straight into things with the Haagidah dinner, Good Friday, Dawn Service and Easter Sunday. Then that afternoon, we headed back up to Melbourne for lunch with Liesl’s family, then we stayed in Melbourne to do some study on Monday, before heading down that night to be back here for the 8am prayer meeting, and starting our ministry here with Janette and Geoff. And already, I must say, that they’ve been great, and have shown us a lot already in this short time, but I do have to say that my head doesn’t really know where it is right now.

In the Church’s calendar, today is the first Sunday after Easter, and while through Easter, we focus in on the Death and Resurrection, it is this period that the church can really look forward to. We are in the time of remembering Christ’s days on earth post resurrection, and everything that means to us. Christ may have risen last Sunday, but he lives on in the hearts and the lives of those who worship him in his church. There are, however, so many who live just for the Big holidays. “CoE Christians” they’re sometimes called – Christmas and Easter. The two biggest days in the Church’s calendar, where we also get the largest congregations. Now I’m new to the Salvos, but I’m sure the same principle applies. In the Anglican Church, the Sunday after Christmas and after Easter were always known as Low Sunday. After the massive high of Christmas and Easter, the Sunday after was traditionally when we would get our smallest attendances of the year. Christmas, I can understand that. But Easter – the story isn’t over yet. Jesus is Risen! But that’s not the end of it. Christ rose from the Grave, but he hadn’t finished here on earth, and even though he had to ascend into Heaven, he left behind the Holy Spirit to continue the work here on earth.

Today we’re looking at a reading that takes part firstly still on that Easter Sunday, then on the following week. Jesus has risen – but he still has work to do. But just like my week this week, the Disciples are not quite sure where their heads are at right at the moment.

Despite the knowledge, there’s still doubt

The disciples had a really crazy day. It started with their teacher, that they had devoted three years of their lives to, being dead. The one who had taught the revolutionary message of a new way, of a new kingdom, the one they believed to take this new kingdom to fruition, was dead. The seed of doubt had been planted. Then one of the women, Mary, had come saying the body had been stolen. Peter and the beloved disciple confirmed that the body was gone. The seed of doubt grew – had someone stolen the body? Had something miraculous happened? Even when Mary returned saying that she had seen Jesus, they still weren’t certain.

They met that night, ten of the apostles, and a number of disciples, to discuss the events, and to worship. They locked the door, because they were still fearful as to whether the Jewish leaders still had it in for them or not.  They knew Jesus’ teachings, they knew the events of that day so far, yet when Jesus appeared, he still deemed it necessary to show his wrists and his side to show where he had been pierced. They then realised what had happened and they celebrated.

Thomas had even more information than the disciples who were there that night. Thomas wasn’t at the meeting that night, and despite being told by the disciples that Jesus appeared in the room with them, he still couldn’t bring himself to believe. This was a big thing for Thomas. Earlier – on the way to see Lazarus’ dead body, Thomas had exclaimed “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” This was a statement of blind devotion to Jesus – he was willing to follow him even to death. Yet when doubt had crept in, unless he saw with his own eyes, he couldn’t be brought back to that faith.

When there is doubt, faith flourishes

It’s so easy for us to have doubts these days. There is so much pressure from the world to have us doubt our faith, or for us to have to prove it beyond doubt. Even last Sunday, Easter Sunday, I was watching on Sunrise a creationist who was willing to put up $10,000 for an evolutionist to disprove the bible in a court – even if this guy wasn’t the most convincing of creationists himself. People want us to prove, beyond all doubt, that Christ is saviour. The problem comes is that Jesus himself said that there would always be a need for some doubt, because where there is doubt – that is when faith can flourish.

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” We have not seen with our own eyes. We can read the stories, we can study the biblical accounts, we can know our own accounts of God in our lives, but there will always be people who try to explain away those experiences. This is where faith comes in. In Hebrews 11:1, Paul writes that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Though we did not see Christ crucified and risen, we have faith that this embodies our hope – that on the cross Christ paid for our sins, and in the resurrection God accepted that payment.

When we embrace this doubt, that is when our faith can grow. The doubts that we may have actually provide the space for our faith to grow, and when that happens Jesus provides us with a rich reward.

With faith and belief, comes life

At the end of this passage comes a little epilogue from the writer of the fourth gospel. Verse 30-31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” The signs that are written in the Gospel of John are written so that we may come to believe that Jesus IS the Messiah. When we have faith in that, when we come to believe, the result is that we are given life in Jesus’ name.

Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have a guarantee that tells us that we are free. We have a new life, where we can live in the hope that Christ has paid for our sins, and we no longer need to live in them. The guarantee that we have in Christ’s resurrection tells us that we are free – so let’s live that life! Let’s give up the sins that we hold on to, because we’re holding onto a bit of doubt. Jesus commissioned his disciples with the words “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” God sent Jesus to bring people into a relationship with him, to know him, and to know the life that he gives. As his disciples, we are commissioned with those same words – we are sent, and the Father sent Jesus. We are sent to spread his message, and to tell others about what Jesus has done in our lives, whether that’s through words, or through actions, or just through our lives.

Live the life that Jesus gave, and share your faith

Some of you may know that I have just recently come back from Manus Island, working in the Refugee Processing Centre there. In our role there, The Salvation Army is not allowed to proselytise, however despite this I had many opportunities to share my faith. This was just through living life with the community members, and when they asked why I did the things that I did, it all basically comes back to one answer – Because of Christ, who lives in me. As an Anglican, evangelism was a difficult thing for me – we weren’t very good at it, and I never saw myself as gifted in it. How surprising it was in my first college review for one of the staff to say that they saw in me a strong gift of evangelism. See for me, evangelism isn’t just telling people about Christ, and seeking converts. It is living the life that Christ has asked of us, and being open for the opportunities when they arise.

Isn’t that, after all, what Jesus did? He lived the life that God had sent him to. He engaged in the community, and lived according to God’s will. Because of the way he lived, people were attracted to him. That’s what he meant when he says “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” So start living the life that Jesus has called you to, and living out the faith in your everyday life. Jesus died that we may have new life. Let’s spread that new life to everyone that we meet.

Well, I better have a Well-Being Plan

The Salvation Army Training College, Melbourne

I’ve practically finished my first week of orientation at the Training College. We’ve had a lot of different orientations – to uniform, to education, to prayer and more. Yesterday, we had a session called “Coping with Change”. We have all had to go through a big change in order to come to the Training College. At a very basic level, the shift from Perth to Melbourne was a big change. We were discussing yesterday the differences in language that we share – from Milk Bars and Delis, to Stobie Poles and Power Poles and even the way we pronounce Lego.

One thing we did was to create a well-being plan that focussed on some goals in four areas – Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual. By setting goals in these four areas, we can help take control of certain areas of our life so that we can deal with the change better, but also be in a better mental state. Part of the exercise was to write down some names that we would share the plan with so that we can be accountable with it. So I’m going to share my goals with you, and post regularly on how I’m going. Continue reading “Well, I better have a Well-Being Plan”

Melbourne

Well, Liesl and I have arrived in Melbourne, and are slowly settling in, and realising that this is our home now. We’re staying at an Aunt’s place until Tuesday, so it still feels a bit like a holiday. However, we have done some things that make staying here very much a reality.
For example, one of the first things we did in Melbourne was to search for a new car. We sold our car in Perth, because we had a two door Hyundai Getz, and two door cars aren’t great when you’ve got a baby.

Continue reading “Melbourne”

A new year, a new challenge…

Well, it’s 2012. 2011 has ended, and with it a whole heap of changes have been brought about.

We’re in the midst of packing right now – we move to Melbourne in less than two weeks now. The usual routines that we have fallen into will change dramatically, with our new lives being governed by college timetables and expectations. Not only that, but we will be bringing a new child into the world in May – something that will also change our lives dramatically.

So for today, let’s look back on the year that was, and look forward to the year that will be…

Continue reading “A new year, a new challenge…”

Cleveland clubs heading my way

Today I went off to Marangaroo Golf Course to treat myself – to get fitted for a new set of golf clubs. Having properly fitted clubs will help my game a great deal. I met with Ross, who guided me through the process.

We started off with a discussion of the process, and how we would go about choosing the right clubs. They use a Mizuno fitting system, which is a special club that measures club head speed, as well as a few other statistics. I hit a few shots, then we went back to the shop. I have a club head speed that’s about average, however, my total swing routine is slow, which can increase torque in the club. That meant that the club at impact would be either a little open or closed, and the ball would not hit straight. The solution to that is to stick with a steel shaft for my irons. Graphite may have less flex, but it also has more torque, so while I would get more distance, I would lose accuracy.

From that, I was asked about my budget. I had a maximum of $1250 to spend, but was hoping to spend between $800-1000. Ross then took a look around the shop, looking for what sort of clubs would fit in my budget range, and be good for my swing. He narrowed it down to four irons and three drivers. There was a set of Wilson Fat Shaft clubs that was a complete set, a set of Cobra graphite irons, a set of Mizuno irons, and the new Cleveland CG16 irons. We had the matching Wilson, Mizuno and Cleveland drivers.

I hit a few shots with each of the irons. The Fat Shaft wasn’t really working for me. We had already thought that a lighter steel shaft was what I needed, but it was included because it was a complete set and at the bottom of my budget. The Mizuno clubs had nothing wrong with them, but for some reason, they weren’t coming off the face quite right. The King Cobra clubs felt really good, and came well off the face, as did the Cleveland CG16’s. I couldn’t really split the difference, so it was basically going to come down to cost on which ones would be best for me.

With the Wilson irons out of the picture, there was no need to try the Wilson driver. So it was just the Mizuno and Cleveland drivers. I took a few hits with both of them, and it started feeling like the Cleveland was the one that felt right in the hands. SO we headed back to the shop to price the two sets, the Cleveland driver and 3 wood, and either the King Cobra’s or the Cleveland clubs.

It turned out that because the King Cobras were already significantly reduced, so the entire set couldn’t be reduced, so the set of CG16 irons ended up being the cheapest options.

Because the CG16 was not sold as a set, but as the individual irons, I could actually get the lie angle and length adjusted especially for me. So we headed back down with a lie board, and saw where my clubs were hitting. We found out that I was actually hitting the ground quite near the heel, which also meant that my club head was rotating at impact sending my ball off in different directions. So with a club set up with the right lie angle, I’ll be hitting the ball with a square face (hopefully).

So with the lie angle all done, all that was left to do was order the clubs and pay for them. Because they’re being custom fitted, it will take a little while for them to arrive, but by the time I get back from Melbourne, I’ll have a full set of Cleveland golf clubs. I’m looking forward to my first round with them. The drivers don’t need to be adjusted, so I’ve got the driver and three wood for my round tomorrow.

So for anyone who’s looking to order a set of custom fitted clubs, I hope this sheds an insight into the process for you.