Let your light shine

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

Have you been to the country recently? Just recently, I headed down to Margaret River for a weekend away. We were driving, and there were no lights anywhere. We looked up and saw the stars. Having escaped the light pollution that cities normally give, we could see all these stars lighting up the sky. It was really amazing. Continue reading “Let your light shine”

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The most difficult decision I’ll never regret

From 1996 until 2009, I was an Anglican. A member of St Anselm’s, I had grown up there. I had gone from being in the Kid’s Club, to the youth group, to leading the youth group. I had gone from child to adult, and into a form of leadership in the congregation. In the last couple of years, I was really starting to come to grips with the deep meaning in the service, the meaning behind the words, why certain actions were done. Then, I made the most difficult decision of my life.

Continue reading “The most difficult decision I’ll never regret”

Sunday Set List – Feb 27, 2011

Had our youth meeting on Sunday. This was the first Youth Meeting since taking over leadership of the band. Haven’t had much time to work the band as I’d like to, but I’m hoping over the course of this year, I can start to implement some good changes into the youth band. The first service was based upon Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Started with Blessed be your name. A song that we know well, and has an awesome message: “Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise.”

Then One Way – a song that we love to pump out, but haven’t done for a while. I love this because I can get away with some grungier effects on my guitar.

Then this beautiful song by Nathan Rowe from the Australian Southern Territory – Let Justice Roll. Very powerful lyrics here

I’ve fallen in love with Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace (My Chains are gone) – start with a powerful song, add a powerful chorus, and it’s brilliant.

We love The Stand, and perform it often. I’ve heard it go into a Hallelujah before, but it’s not quite the right setting for that, so we just do the Stand.

And then we finished off with One Way again.

All up, it was a great service. I’m looking forward to our next service in March, and looking forward to start challenging the band musically with slightly more difficult songs, and get us really working together as a band, while still preserving the fun, passion and energy that we have when we praise the Lord.

This post was part of the Sunday Set List posed by The Worship Community.com

Transforming Soldiership

This is an idea that I’ve heard passed around in many different forms during my time in the Salvation Army, so the ideas presented below are in no way new. But a friend and I were chatting one night, and we ended up combining a couple of ideas and having a thought that this might actually work, and work well. So I’m putting it out there, for others to comment, pick flaws, tell me why it would or would not work, so that we can start working towards the final goal.
Continue reading “Transforming Soldiership”

Count Your Blessings

At the end of a Songsters rehearsal last night, I was asked from a musical perspective what I think of the Songsters. The Songsters is the Salvation Army choir, and it’s very different to any choir I’ve sung in before. However, there is a wealth of music there that fulfills me Musically, Lyrically and Spiritually. Continue reading “Count Your Blessings”

A Christian Gamer?

I’ll freely admit that I’m a bit of a nerd. Actually… a lot of a nerd. And what do nerds do to have fun with friends? Game. I’m what you would call a casual gamer – I don’t really play computer games all that often by myself, but will generally try to get to a LAN at least once a month with a few mates to have a gaming session. What we play at these nights are often an RTS – Real Time Simulator – such as Supreme Commander, Red Alert, or Warcraft 3 (if we’re feeling old school) and a FPS – first person shooter – such as Unreal Tournament 3, Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, etc. We’re all mature gamers – I’m the youngest at 23 – and I don’t think that any of us would be affected by the violence of such games.

However, I’ve been challenged in my thinking just recently. It was all sparked by the refusing of classification in Australia of Left 4 Dead 2. I was discussing this with my mum, arguing that I felt we needed an R18+ rating for games, especially considering that the average age of gamers in Australia is towards the mid-20’s and growing older all the time. I was saying that the people of are affected badly by violence in video games are in the minority, and generally have some underlying mental illness. My mum then used an argument on me that I had used to help me understand some new commitments in my faith. Continue reading “A Christian Gamer?”

Invite the Misfits

Biblical Truth

  Then he turned to the host. "The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people."  That triggered a response from one of the guests: "How fortunate the one who gets to eat dinner in God’s kingdom!"

  Jesus followed up. "Yes. For there was once a man who threw a great dinner party and invited many. When it was time for dinner, he sent out his servant to the invited guests, saying, ‘Come on in; the food’s on the table.’

  "Then they all began to beg off, one after another making excuses. The first said, ‘I bought a piece of property and need to look it over. Send my regrets.’

  "Another said, ‘I just bought five teams of oxen, and I really need to check them out. Send my regrets.’

  "And yet another said, ‘I just got married and need to get home to my wife.’

  "The servant went back and told the master what had happened. He was outraged and told the servant, ‘Quickly, get out into the city streets and alleys. Collect all who look like they need a square meal, all the misfits and homeless and wretched you can lay your hands on, and bring them here.’

  "The servant reported back, ‘Master, I did what you commanded— and there’s still room.’

  "The master said, ‘Then go to the country roads. Whoever you find, drag them in. I want my house full! Let me tell you, not one of those originally invited is going to get so much as a bite at my dinner party.’"

Luke 14:12-24, The Message

Musical Offering

Ben’s Offering

From a Salvation Army Media Release, dated 9 July, 2009.

The Challenge to Slash Homelessness by 2020

The Salvation Army welcomes the release of state and territory Counting The Homeless 2006 reports today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. These provide the benchmark data for the efforts required to address homelessness in Australia.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Counting the Homeless 2006 reports were co-authored by Associate Professor David Mackenzie from the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University and Associate Professor Chris Chamberlain from RMIT using 2006 Census data, data on users of SAAP services combined with data from a national census of homeless students. Australia is unique amongst Western countries in having good data on the homeless population and on service usage.

Homeless has remained at about 100,000 persons – men, women and children for a decade and in the past period little priority was given to addressing this issue. Some 30,000 units of public housing were lost and real funding for homelessness services steadily decreased. At a time when Government revenues were recording unprecedented surpluses and unemployment reached a fifteen-year low, homeless people were not able to benefit nor was public money invested in the issue.

The Rudd Government has given homelessness a high priority on its social policy agenda. The White Paper released in December, 2008 by Minister Tanya Plibersek was a landmark document with strong policy positions. However, the global financial crisis has caused huge dislocations in the international economic system and unemployment rates are beginning to rise. Reports are coming in of disadvantaged people being especially affected.

The number of rough sleepers in the inner-city areas of capitals throughout Australia has increased, with the exception of Melbourne, along with the number of children 12 years and under and elderly people 65 and older.

Young people (aged 12 to 25 years) are a significant group in the homeless population on census night – 32,444 individuals in total. The good news is that the number of homeless teenagers on their own has decreased by some 21% from 2001 to 2006 and this is attributed to the impact of early intervention. However, over the same period the number of homeless families increased by 17 per cent. There were 2714 homeless children under 12 in Victoria on census night 2006 – compared with 2618 in 2001 – an increase of 7 per cent. During 2006-2007, the AIHW report Homeless people in SAAP for Victoria reported that 20,500 children had accompanied a parent(s) who were clients of SAAP services.

The Salvation Army is committed to working with the Commonwealth and State Governments to develop effective responses to homelessness. We are particularly concerned about the growing numbers of homeless families. The Global Financial Crisis and the crisis in supply of affordable housing impact this group significantly. It is imperative that we develop early intervention strategies to prevent more families becoming homeless and that interim housing options are put in place for those who lose their homes.

The bold targets set in the Rudd Government’s Homelessness White Paper are achievable but can only be realised if community groups, local communities, corporate and government work collaboratively at the local level to prevent people becoming homeless and respond quickly and appropriately to those experiencing housing crisis. These Census figures assist us to confront these challenges.

The Challenge to Slash Homelessness by 2020, The Salvation Army Southern Territory, Australia.

Donate

Southern Territory Comissioner Jim Knaggs recently posted that The Salvation Army was voted by consumers the most trusted brand in Australia. And with good reason – the Salvos are very much into working with those who are overlooked. Their homelessness programs, their domestic violence refuges, their counselling and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs have enabled them to help a great number of people. That help can’t happen without financial support, so why not consider donating to the Salvos – you can do so from their website.

Teach me

Biblical Truth

  "Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

  "Don’t be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege.

  "Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

  "Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.  "Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

  "Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.

  "Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance— isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

  "These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

  "But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."

  When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

Matthew 7, The Message Continue reading “Teach me”