We are having our Garage Sale this Saturday April 8, 2017 at our church, starting at 7.00am until 1.00pm. This is our fourth garage sale in the last two years. They have all proven to be wonderful days. We have plants, bric-a-brac, furniture, and books as well as fun activities and stalls for the children. The Blue Wave Korean church will be cooking some lovely traditional Korean food as well our Aussie sausage sizzle. We also have a ‘real coffee van’ for those who need a coffee in the mornings!. Hope to see you here!
I have talked a lot about the impact of the tragic death of Phil Hughes on Australian society this week. A young country boy with a dream to represent his country…who knew about success, disappointments and hard work; but had a resilience of character and uncomplicated and humble approach to life that has resonated deeply with so many people all over the world. I
I was deeply touched to watch the telecast of the funeral and procession – that walked from my old school, along the road I walked to school each day and went right past my house – before finishing at the Pacific Highway. What started as funeral procession – became a throng of friends and mourners, walking Phil home for the last time. It was a journey of relationships.
If you don’t know Macksville – it is one of the last true bottle necks on the Highway – with its old bridge and traffic lights being the bane of many a traveller stuck in traffic in holiday time going north and south, especially around Christmas. But one of the last enduring images were the cars banked up on the bridge – stopped by Police – and I thought of the hundreds of people inconvenienced by what was going on. Their plans thwarted by the community closing down to celebrate one life. Why? Because a community values relationships above other things.
The highway, that was normally busy with cars rushing to their destination became a place for people to walk, to go slowly, to talk and reflect; to reconnect. As we edge closer to another Christmas… are also reminded that we stop to pause and reflect; to reconnect with the one life that changed eternity: Jesus the Messiah. His is the one life that gives us hope beyond this life – the one life whose sole purpose was to provide the platform for repentance and forgiveness of sins.
So often we get so self-focused – so concerned with what is important to us – that we forget what life is really about. John the Baptist purpose in life was to call people out – to challenge them about what was important – to point them to God. But he knew his place, he knew that ultimately Jesus was coming – and when he did come he said, “He must become greater and I must become less.” (John3:30) He knew that the only way to become the person that God has intended you to be was to give over control of the wheel to God…so that he could become greater and that you would become less. This can only come through relationship. Whose way are you going this Christmas? Is it going to be your way or God’s high way? It’s your choice.
Some people are really sensitive to words. Sticks and stones can break my bones but words…they can be devastating!
A number of years ago I came a book by Gary Chapman, a relationship counsellor from the US. In his books he outlines 5 ways that most of us give and receive love. These were gifts; acts of service; physical touch; quality time and words of affirmation.
Some people are more sensitive to words than others – they like to affirm others – and need affirmation, but if you use words to cut them down – the damage can take a long time to repair. Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue has power over life and death; James 3 talks about the importance of taming the tongue and Luke records Jesus as saying ‘a tree is recognised by it’s fruit’ and ‘out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Luke 6:43-45).
What we store up inside becomes the focus for our lives. Several years ago I came across the concept of ‘heliotropism’ – which states that plants bend towards the source of light. In the same way our lives bend towards the energy – as groups and as individuals. If we focus on the positive and the good, then that becomes the source of the overflow. But if we are always focussed on the negative or if our lives do not have a positive centre, then you cannot expect the fruit of our lives to be healthy and wholesome.
Jesus is described in John 1:14 as the word that became flesh (incarnate) and lived amongst us. Jesus said his ‘words’ endure forever. He’s consistent; reliable and a promise keeper. He promised his disciples that he would return…but in the mean time we must not get complacent, but live with the anticipation that it could be anytime. So for two thousand years the church has waited…living in the tension between the first coming of Christ and his return; planning long term, while living with the urgency that challenges us to share the good news with others daily.
This is what advent is all about. It’s a reminder of what Christ has already done – but it’s an anticipation of what he has promised he will do. We focus on the word who became flesh; on Jesus (saviour) our Emmanuel (God with us). We are reminded that Jesus is the light for all of creation across all of time and we celebrate the greatest gift of all.
So, this advent, let’s think about our words and actions (and what sort of fruit they show) and let us affirm again the good news, that is the essence of Christmas. Jesus, the word, became one of us so that he could give us the greatest gift ever, so that ‘all who receive him…who believe in his name…have the right to become children of God!’ (John 1:12).
Have you seen any James Bond movie…007…MI6 agent, who has gone through several transformations; not as many a Dr Who, but all the same, some of the actors who have played the role have enjoyed greater success than others.
You’ve guessed by now that I’m something of a movie buff…and the reality is that I have worked in ministry for the last 32 years and in that time I often had only one real day off a week and mostly it wasn’t weekends. So, you look for outlets that take you away from church work – you find little escapes where you can just switch off and find some relaxation.
I like the Sean Connery portray the most – although Daniel Craig’s three instalments have been action packed as well. Bond is a secret agent – and there are times when I wonder, whether as Christians, we act like secret agents too! Maybe not with all the fast cars, beautiful women or amazing gadgets; but in the sense that we are on a Mission from God – on His Majesty’s Service!
Last week I talked about using the resources (talents) God has given us for his purposes and if we don’t use the resources, (or at least try), we will lose them. Most of us have connections out in the wider community – some are intentionally and unashamedly ministry orientated, like Playgroup and Kids Hope Oz, Kid’s Fun Days, Op Shop and RE in Schools. But others are less public – are connections through relationships with family or friends; through clubs and organisations – but if you are there knowing that you are representing the King – then even the quiet things you do in Jesus name – bring glory to God and promote the kingdom
Many of us make choices with our time because we are motivated to follow the example of Jesus – to care for the needy and to bring good news to the people most open to hear. Yet, we live in a time poor society – and we are often so busy chasing after things that we often miss out on really being fulfilled.
So here’s the question; Do you feel really fulfilled and satisfied in all the things that you are doing at the moment? Or, are you stressed by the things you are trying to do in Jesus’ name? So today, let’s take a deep breath, pause for a moment and have a heart check. Let’s take time to reflect and refocus – because the gospel is built on relationships – not on working. We are not trying to earn God’s favour – we need to do what we do out of love for our King and in obedience to Him – not out of any sense of reward, but out of love and gratitude for what Jesus has already done.
In 2010, Time Magazine did a series on the most influential people of the previous millennium…you would have thought that Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Newton, Napoleon, Marx, Darwin, Churchill and a whole lot of others would have been up there for the number 1 prize. Yet, according to Time, the man of the millennium was….…… Thomas Edison.
Reading his story, it is astounding that a boy with behavioural issues…..who suffered from almost total deafness…could be so resilient and industrious, that he became world famous. Edison was a hard worker and once famously said that ‘genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’. He also said that he tried over 3,000 ways to make the light bulb commercially viable, but rather than be discouraged, he just kept going.
I wonder what life would have been like today if he had stopped at 3,000. Or worse still, if he had been too afraid to try? He used the gifts and talents that you have been given to amazing effect.
Today we focus on one of Jesus’ parables that (Matthew 25:14-29) follows similar lines. The master entrusts his servants with sums of money (talents), some more and some less, according to their ability and asked them to do something with it until he returns.
Now, the one with the most (5 talents) doubled his master’s money and was rewarded for his faithfulness and so did the second servant (2 talents), but the third one (one talent) was afraid to risk losing what he had been given, so rather than take a risk, he just buried it, until the day his master came and asked him to give account. The master was furious. Use it or lose it he says!! Is that the way things work in God’s economy?
God asks us to be faithful with the things he has given us; our relationships; our resources; our energies; our talents and abilities. Playing it safe isn’t faithful service according this parable, because faith requires some risks and is action orientated. The kind of faith that God is calling us today is to be obedient; prayerful; risk takers and committed.
God is giving us opportunities to use what we have to build up his church and to reach out in love to others – each of us has gifts, abilities and resources that are necessary for this to succeed. Some us are using what we have been given, while others have those treasures buried deep.
If you are called to give an account of what God has given you, what would the master be saying to you? My hope is that it would be, ‘Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share the master’s happiness.’ (v21)