Marriage is for holiness 
NOT happiness!

Marriage has always been part of God’s good purpose for humanity: Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”… So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:18, 21-25

From the first pages of the Bible we learn that men and women are different and marriage is a central part of the way God designed humanity to relate. It is through marriage and families that we are able to obey God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth“ (1:28). Marriage is different from the other relationships we have. It is different from our relationship with parents, brothers, sisters, children, friends, workmates. It is a life-long commitment, it is an intimate partnership, it is about oneness and unity as well as being the relationship in which you are most accepted as you—a unique individual.

Marriage is a life-long union between a man and a woman which is for:

  • mutual companionship, help and comfort,
  • children,
  • holiness.

What most people are slow to realise is that marriage is for holiness not happiness. People have all sorts of expectations going into marriage, many of which are quickly shown to be unrealistic. One of the major problems we have in our time is the expectation that marriage is for happiness. Marriage can indeed bring great happiness, but that is not what it is for. And so today if people aren’t happy in their marriage, they forget whatever promises they have made and leave their spouse. But leaving is not an option. In God’s good design the purpose of marriage is not to make us happy. Great happiness may well be the result of marriage, but it is not the purpose.

The marriage relationship is given to us as the place in which two people can seek to present not only themselves holy before their Lord on the last day but also their marriage partner. One helpful way of thinking about marriage is that it is an environment in which we can learn to love. Or in other words, marriage is a school of love.

In Ephesians 5 we read that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ loved the church self-sacrificially and with the purpose that he might present the church to himself holy and without blemish. Husbands are called upon not just to echo the method by which Christ loved the church (self-sacrificially) but also the goal (holiness). In part this is about marriage as the right place to express our sexuality, but this is only the beginning. Marriage is the place where we can encourage and help one another grow in Christlikeness.

One important implication of this is that we need to examine our expectations of marriage. Marriage is primarily an opportunity to love and serve, not be served. It is primarily a chance to change yourself, not your spouse. It is an opportunity to be yourself, not find yourself. The comforts and joys of a good marriage come as the, sometimes unexpected, result of our efforts. Happiness cannot usually be directly grasped or sought, or it will provide elusive. More often it comes as the wonderful by-product of not seeking our own needs but serving others.

Simon Roberts


Are you growing?

Are you growing in your Christian life? Sometimes we may feel that we have stalled or plateaued in our Christian walk, but the Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:17-18 and Heb 4:11, that there are only two directions we can head. We are either growing in our faith or we are falling away. I have heard it likened to peddling up a hill, we either go forwards, or we go backwards.

So how does growth come about?

1) God brings about growth in an individual (Philippians 1:6). His goal for us is to be conformed into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).

2) As our passion and love for Christ grows The Ephesian church in Revelation 2:1-5 is warned as they have forgotten their first love of Christ and are caught up in works, even though they are doing lots of good things they are at risk of falling away as they are not serving for the right reasons. We often move from a faith that is based on love of Jesus to one that is defined by responsibilities (rosters), activities, books and conferences.

3) We have a role in our growth Phil 2:12-13 ‘we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling’.  We are saved by Jesus alone, but our sanctification (becoming holy) is something that we work towards.

4) We grow as the church grows. We are all parts of the one body of Christ and we grow together (2 Col 2:18-19). God uses others to grow us and us to grow others. Think about times where you might have been challenged by what someone said in church or Bible Study. If the church is not growing, then it is much harder for us to grow also.

What things help us to grow?

1) Prayer. In Luke 11 we are told of the persistent man who goes at midnight to ask his friend for a loaf of bread, afterwards Jesus says to ‘ask and it will be given to you’. We need to be making big requests of God and be persistent- He can and will answer our prayers.

2) Reading our bibles and meditating on what we read. 2 Tim 3:15-16. God’s word has the power to save and bring us to maturity.

3) Through suffering. Romans 5:1-5.

4) Through confession of sin. As we acknowledge our sins before God, we recognise our need for His mercy and the grace that He has shown us in Jesus (Luke 22:31-34)

5) Evangelism. As we tell others the gospel, we are reminded of what God has done for us in Christ

6) Sharing our lives with other Christians. When we are open about our struggles and joys and share the truth in love it points us to Christ and encourages us in our Christian lives.

What stops us from growing?

1) We don’t recognise that we need to be growing and the danger we are in if we aren’t. We can slip into a comfortable pattern of church and possibly Bible study attendance—we do our rostered duty on a Sunday and feel we have had our religious input for the week. We forget that God rightfully deserves more from us. He wants a relationship with us, not a once or twice a week appointment.

2) We get caught up in issues, maybe a relationship conflict with someone at church and that becomes our focus, rather than our relationship with God.

3) We are busy and God isn’t a priority. We forget the bigger, eternal picture, that this life is short compared to eternity and the fact that one day there will be a judgement day. Instead we are caught up with work, renovating our houses, running kids to activities or wasting time on the internet.

4) We want to look like we have it all together, so we don’t share when we are struggling in our Christian lives and instead stick to the superficial conversation topics of family, work or the weather or we avoid people altogether.

5) We aren’t sure what to say to people to ask them about their Christian lives and so it is easier not to ask

We won’t grow unless we want to, but remember if we aren’t moving forwards in our Christian lives, we are slowly and inevitably moving backwards.

So can I encourage you to be reading your Bible, pray for growth in yourself and others at church. Join a Bible study group if you aren’t already in one or meet with someone to read the Bible. Make conversations about Jesus and our relationship with Him a priority when we chat.

Decide on a spiritual goal for the next six months eg. invite my non-Christian neighbour over for coffee to build my relationship with them, read through a book of the bible, ask a friend at church how their quiet times are going etc.

Work towards achieving it and get someone to keep you accountable to it.

May we continue to grow in our love and knowledge of Jesus.

Alison Roberts. This article is a summary of the book ‘You can really grow’ by John Hindley.


4 Ways to Live

There are four authorities to which we can turn to establish the truth about God and how he wants us to live. They are the Bible; the church; experience; and, reason.

Of course, we cannot read the Bible apart from our experience and reason. And we are wise to listen to the voices of history and the church as we understand scripture. Often there is no conflict between the conclusions each of these ‘authorities’ lead us to, but when there is we must choose which ‘authority’ will win.

This is especially true when our culture is heading in a direction that takes us away from Biblical teaching. When it comes to issues such as the exclusivity of Christ as the way to relationship with God, the teaching role of women in church, marriage, family etc, there is a strong push to either reject the Bible’s teaching or to reinterpret it to fit what our culture is advocating.

In the end there are really only two authorities,

it’s God’s authority in the Bible against human authority in three forms (human experience, human institution and human reason). We are fighting one battle, on three fronts. It’s the assertion of God’s final and complete authority, against the desire of humanity to shrug off his rule and determine our own path.

So the Christian can’t (and doesn’t) blindly follow the Bible. We use all our abilities and knowledge and experience to come to the best understanding of the Bible we can. And we trust the Bible not despite facts but because of them and because of our experience of God’s salvation. But at the same time, having come to Christ in trust and obedience we do just that—we trust and obey his word. And when his word conflicts with the world we must choose. Will we listen to God and his Son the Lord Jesus Christ? Or will we listen to the world?

Simon  Roberts


1-2-1 Discipleship

Book Review: 1-2-1 Discipleship-helping one another grow spiritually by Christine Dillon.

Reviewed by Alison Roberts.

If you have ever thought about meeting one-to-one (1-2-1) with someone, but weren’t sure how to do it, this is the book for you. I first read this book when I was feeling a bit daunted about doing 1-2-1 and found it invaluable. Christine Dillon, an OMF missionary who has worked in Taiwan for the past twelve years, has written a great resource which clearly explains what is involved in discipling another person.

The book is divided into four sections: ‘Understanding Discipleship’, ‘The practicalities of Discipleship’, ‘Passing on Useful Skills’ and ‘When is Enough Enough?’

Dillon starts by reminding us that as Christians we are all Jesus’ disciples and we are all called ‘to make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). She defines a disciple as ’a follower of Jesus who is becoming increasingly like Him’.(p.13)

As a disciple of Jesus, we should be growing in our Christian maturity- developing our knowledge, character, attitude and skills and helping those around us to grow also.
One way to grow in our Christian lives and to disciple others is to be meeting 1-2-1 with someone. Meeting regularly with one other person has a number of advantages to discipling someone in a group setting. One-to-one is much more flexible, you can decide between the two of you what to study, how regularly to meet and when to meet. You can adapt it to suit your circumstances.

I met with a woman when Rachel was a toddler. We would put the kids in front of ‘Playschool’ and do as much as we could before we were interrupted- we didn’t do much, but it was still encouraging!. When our girls were at school, I met with some mums at their place while their kids were sleeping. I have met people at our home and in cafes and chatted and prayed with people after a walk.
Meeting once a week or once a fortnight has worked well for me in the past. That regularity has been extremely helpful as it meant I got to know the other person really well (and vice versa) and as a result we were better able to encourage and challenge each other in our Christian walk.

Even once a month is better than not at all…. I ‘meet’ with a missionary friend every few months via the internet. We share what we have been reading in the bible and in Christian books, how we have been challenged and then pass on any prayer points that we have.

‘The Practicalities of Discipleship’ runs through the nitty-gritty of discipleship : how to choose who to disciple, working out their spiritual maturity and how to go about discipling them. It describes how to work out what to study together and different methods of studying the bible. It covers the way people learn and offers advice on how to deal with difficult situations.

‘Passing on Useful Skills’ covers how to train someone in different skills- personal bible study, evangelism and prayer and the final section discusses how to know when to finish meeting with someone and the importance of personal debriefing to address any issues. This section was helpful as I often see meeting with someone as a six month- one year commitment- It’s great if you can met with someone for that long, but it can feel like a big commitment, which may prevent people from having a go. Dillon suggests that you can just meet for six-eight weeks and then decide whether to continue or not.

Each chapter of the book ends with some reflection questions to help you think through or practise what has been taught in the chapter.

As the goal of discipleship is Christian maturity, no matter where we are on our spiritual journey we can all benefit from meeting 1-2-1 with someone. If you aren’t feeling super confident about it, start doing it with a friend. That’s what I did after I had had a break from it-we trialled different question options e.g. Swedish method to assess which ones we preferred. (see below for another example). We then went on to meet with other people.

If you aren’t currently meeting 1-2-1 with someone, can I encourage you to seriously consider it. Every time I meet with someone no matter how reluctant or tired I have been beforehand, I have always come away challenged and refreshed in my Christian faith. If you are interested, but are unsure of who to meet with, speak to someone on staff and they will be able to suggest someone.

Another example of questions to ask when reading a passage
The teaching method:
• What does this passage teach about

• God
• Jesus
• People
• Salvation
• The Christian Life

• What should we change in our thinking or behaviour?

• What should we pray about?


Marriage

Is same-sex marriage really such a big deal? Are conservatives and Christians opposing same-sex marriage for no good reason? Are there any good arguments against it?

Christians are certainly opposed to same-sex marriage because it is a significant departure from the way God made us to live.  As Jesus himself said, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?”

Notice what Jesus says. ‘For this reason.’ The very reason for marriage is the difference between men and women. Marriage is the coming together of one man and one woman into a life-long union (as the context about divorce in Matt 19 and Mark 10 makes clear).

So Jesus defined marriage as the joining of a man and woman into this one-flesh relationship. Moreover, homosexual sex is consistently condemned as sin in the Bible. These reasons alone are enough for Christians to oppose same-sex marriage.

But because in the beginning (heterosexual) marriage is the way God created us to live, it should not surprise us that there are far reaching implications for departing from God’s good pattern.

Here are just two examples.

Marriage is a place for life-long commitment, for proper sexual intimacy and for the procreation and nurture of children.  In that sense marriage is about real and deep love. But it is much more than a malleable social convention based around a loose definition of love. For all the failures of particular marriages to achieve these goals, it is the bedrock of a stable society that children are born with a father and mother who raise them in a stable and loving family environment.  There is very clear evidence to show that households that are not stable are not the ideal way to raise children.  Children raised by a mother and father who love them are clearly the most ‘advantaged’ on average. The media keep telling people that there is no difference between children raised by a father and a mother vs a same-sex couple, but there is not good evidence to substantiate this claim. The claim is more often driven by ideology than evidence.  As the Australian Government Australian Institute of Family Studies reports, “most studies in this area are methodically flawed being based on small and homogenous samples of highly educated and middle-class participants. Many of the comparative studies conducted to date on children or young adults raised in same-sex parented families are based on volunteer samples of participants rather than random samples.”

But secondly, and in some ways of much greater concern is that same-sex marriage will obliterate any meaningful definition of ‘mother’ and ‘father’. As Andrew Errington argues, “The success of same-sex marriage will not only marginalise the principle that biological parenthood is normal and best. It will mean that the discussion of whether children need their biological mother and father is over for good, because such a claim will be regarded as discriminatory against the necessarily non-biological parent or parents in a same-sex marriage. To be as equally married as anyone else requires that we never again question the various ways children enter these marriages, and whether these means of having children are best for children.” It is an unfortunate reality that same-sex marriage means the end of ‘procreation’ of children and the beginning of ‘procurement’ of children.  This process does not have any necessary connection to a ‘father’ or ‘mother’ who have an ongoing obligation to the child.  That is not best for children or families.


Moral monoculturalism?

In recent years, there has been growing tension in Australia and elsewhere between Churches, other faith groups and ‘equality’ advocates concerning the reach of anti-discrimination laws.

Originally these laws ought to protect historically disadvantaged groups. They were concerned with fixed characteristics such as race, gender and disability. Over the years the scope of these laws has expanded quite dramatically to cover an ever increasing number of attributes which include not only fixed characteristics but also personal choices and histories. The law in Tasmania is an example. Among the 20 different grounds on which someone can now sue for discrimination in that State are lawful sexual activity, relationship status and personal histories such as medical history or having a criminal record.

That is, in Tasmania it would be illegal to not employ a youth worker at church based on a history of sexual activity outside of marriage. Consequently there are significant issues for faith groups who want to employ people in positions where they have a leadership or teaching role but the person does not accept or seek to live out those teachings.

NSW law still protects the right of faith based groups to select suitable candidates for paid or volunteer positions based on adherence to moral standards consistent with that faith, but for how long? The news this week that a same-sex marriage bill may well be considered by the parliament is the latest, but certainly not the last, in a series of potentially problematic laws for churches.

Advocates of these changes argue that religious organisations should not be exempt from these ‘equality’ laws—that they should not be allowed to hide behind their religious beliefs as a justification for ‘discrimination’.

However, in a multicultural society, there need to be laws that prohibit discrimination; but the law also needs to allow minority groups (and this includes religious groups) to maintain their culture and identity. That involves an acceptance that culturally or religiously specific organisations should be able to select staff who belong to that minority group or, in the case of religious groups, adhere to the beliefs and values of the faith. No harm comes to the rest of the community by so doing because typically allowing such groups to select in accordance with the mission fit of the organisation makes no appreciable difference to the rest of the population.

The language of ‘equality’ is increasingly being used as a blunt instrument to force people to fall into line with a socially and morally ‘progressive’ mindset. No divergence is allowed from that mindset and the law is used to enforce compliance.

This push for ‘equality’ creates conflict with recognise human rights. The right of freedom to educate one’s children in accordance with parents’ religious values is strongly supported in international human rights law (see e.g. Article 18(4) of the ICCPR). The UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief affirms the right to appoint religious personnel according to the beliefs of the religion.

And yet these right will increasingly be under threat as ‘progressive’ groups seek to impose their understanding of ‘equality’. Even the communist countries of the former Soviet bloc recognised the right of churches to organise themselves in accordance with their beliefs and traditions, subject to restrictions and monitoring by these atheist governments. And yet there are members of our parliament that would deny churches these freedoms.

One of the problems that needs to be addressed in crafting a law on discrimination which will command broad community acceptance is how to balance the rights and interests of people who hold different beliefs and values in a multicultural society. That includes respecting people‟s beliefs and acknowledging that on issues of sex and family life, there is a range of views in the community.

It is not good enough to see this issue entirely through the lens of non-discrimination, for that obscures from view the other human rights and freedoms involved. In a multicultural society, it is very important to avoid moral monoculturalism – the imposition of one set of moral values on the whole community in ways which allow no tolerance for different moral values and beliefs.

In a federation of cultures, the law needs generally to prohibit discrimination in the commons, but to protect the rights of freedom of religion and association outside of the areas of community life where any differentiation would be discriminatory. To have such a sensitive multicultural policy is to promote diversity and respect different cultures equally.

——————————————————————————-

This article draws heavily from a paper by Patrick Parkinson AM, Professor of Law, University of Sydney

EXCEPTIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Paper for Conference on the Scope and Limits of Religious Freedom, University of Sydney, March 2013


Bible Reading & Prayer

Most Christians would agree that for the sake of the health of our soul we should be reading God’s word and praying  regularly—if not every day. The frequent biblical image of the Word of God as our ‘food’ or ‘milk’ reminds us of the need to seek ‘nutrition’ from it regularly.

No doubt the pace of modern life has affected our priorities in unhelpful ways, and we need to pause and recalibrate our lives and the way we allocate our time. But having done so, what practical steps can we take to start back on the path of regular Bible reading?

Reading the Bible on your own

As good as it can be to meet with others, there is a very important place for meeting just one-on-one with God. Many Christians have found great joy in reading the Bible regularly for themselves.

The best way to do it is to set aside a time each day when you free yourself from other distractions to read God’s word (about 20 minutes a day would be good). It’s often helpful to make this a set time of the day, or even to tie it to other things in life (e.g. read it over breakfast or last thing before you go to bed at night). This will help you to remember to keep reading the Bible regularly.

What do you do when you read it? Pray first and ask God to help you read it—after all he has given you his Spirit to teach you and work in you and change you. Read a manageable section (perhaps a chapter or so for the Old Testament, while a paragraph or two in the gospels and New Testament letters may give you plenty of food for thought). Then spend some time thinking about the section. There are a number of ways to go about this. One is to ask a few basic questions:

What does the passage teach me about God?

What does the passage teach me about myself and the world?

How should I respond to this passage?

Another way is to use prepared Bible reading notes, such as the St Mark’s Bible Reading and Prayer booklets you will find on each welcome table. These booklets contain 60 readings, each with some basic questions about the passage, something to ponder and some suggested prayer points from the passage and for our church and the world. The aim is to cover 5 readings per week for 12 weeks. They are a great way to provide some focus and direction for your reading and prayer. And if many of us are reading the same parts of Scripture then when we get together on Sunday or in our Growth Groups we may have extra opportunity to discuss passages we found interesting or raise questions we had from those readings.

Please take a copy of these reading notes today!

Reading the Bible one to one

As the famous proverb says, “two are better than one … for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow” (Eccl 4:9-12). Bible partnerships, where two Christians covenant to help each other and so meet regularly to read the Bible together and pray, are a very effective means of regularly encouraging each other. You can read more about this model of encouragement ministry in One-to-One Bible Reading: a simple guide for every Christian by David Helm (available from Matthias Media).

You might like to meet one to one with someone for a month or two, or for a whole year. You might meet once per week, or every few week. However often you meet, meeting with just one other person to read the Bible, chat and pray can be a wonderful way to grow in your walk with Christ.

Reading the Bible with a group—Growth Groups

Surprisingly, there are still many Christians who are yet to discover the benefits of being part of a Growth Group. Knowing you have a weekly meeting to study a part of God’s word can be a real spur to deeper study and reflection. The key is regular attendance and preparation. Being at the group each week is vital ingredient in getting to know other people well and deepening our relationships in Christ and as a church. Making sure that you prepare for the study by reading the passage in advance and thinking about the questions will mean you get the most out of the group time and that you are ready to contribute to the group discussion.  If you do that, it means that at least two out of seven days that week you will be reading God’s word. And that’s a good start!


Reading Isaiah

The Vision of Isaiah

This term we will be looking at Isaiah. To help you in your own reading of Isaiah and in preparation for Sundays talks here is some basic information about this book.

A Structure of the Book   

Chapters 1-12, ends speaking about salvation and the inhabitants of Zion singing praises to the Holy One of Israel.

Chapters13-27, end with the guilt of Israel being atoned for and a gathering of the people of God to worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.

Chapters 28-35, end with the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf being opened, the lame leaping for joy and a highway prepared for the the redeemed of the Lord to come to Zion with singing and joy and gladness.

Chapters 36-39 – the narrative hinge of the book.

Chapters 40:1-51:11, end with the ransomed of the Lord to come to Zion with singing and joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away because of the comfort of the Lord

Chapters 51:12-55:13 end with singing and joy because of the everlasting covenant the Lord will make with people because of his sure love for David

Chapters 56-66, the last verse of chapter 66 actually ends on a note of judgement, but mostly the section is about the new heavens and new earth, the new Jerusalem to which all flesh shall come to worship the Lord and find salvation and comfort in him.

The first and last three sections end with the praises of Yahweh (the Lord) being sung in or en route to Zion. The narrative in chapters 36-39 depicts the climax and the decisive resolution of the Assyrian threat which has largely dominated chapters 1-35. However it also introduces the Babylonian threat. Much of the message of the second half of the book anticipates a time beyond the judgement that will fall on Judah and Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. Each section of the book expands upon the themes of the previous sections and there is a general shift from the Assyrian threat to the Babylonian threat, from judgement to salvation and  from Jerusalem to the New Jerusalem.

Some key dates:

Year

King of Judah

Foreign King

Event

740 BC Uzziah Tiglath-Pileser III Uzziah (also known as Azzariah) dies, ending a 52 year reign.
734 BC Ahaz Tiglath-Pileser III Israel and Syria rebel against Assyria and try to force Judah to help them. Rezin and Pekah advance against Jerusalem. Ahaz appeals to Assyria (King Tiglath-Pileser III) for help and has to pay tribute (protection money) from that point onwards.
722 BC Ahaz Shalmaneser V Israel (the north) rebels against Assyria but was defeated. The capital, Samaria, was destroyed and the nation was made into an Assyrian province. The upper class was deported to Babylonia and Media.  A new upper class was brought in.
Note: Ephraim = Israel = the northern kingdom.
705 BC Hezekiah Sargon II and Sennacherib Sargon II of Assyria dies and Sennacherib takes over. Hezekiah rebelled against Assyria, probably spurred on by Egypt. Hezekiah thinks Egypt will come to help but they don’t.
701 BC Hezekiah Sennacherib Sennacherib marches on Jerusalem and surrounds it with the most powerful army in the world. It looks like the end for Judah just as it had been for Israel to the north. It would have been except for God’s intervention (Isaiah 37:33-38).
612 BC The  Babylonians take Ninevah, the capital of Assyria.
605 BC Nebuchadnezzar II  Nebuchadnezzar II besieges Jerusalem and takes some captives to Babylon.
598 BC Second Deportation of Jews to Babylon.
588 BC Jerusalem and Temple are completely destroyed.
539 BC Cyrus the Great Cyrus, the Persian King, orders the deported Jews to return home with instructions to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.

 

Reading Plan

Here is a plan to help you read through Isaiah during the course of our sermon series. It has 5 readings per week, so it’s very realistic and gives you a couple of days a week to ‘catch-up’ on missed readings. Of course, if you get ahead and read through Isaiah more quickly that’s even better. There is a little more to read in the first week, but less after that.

5 May 2014 Isa 1-2

6 May 2014 Isa 3-5

7 May 2014 Isa 6-8

8 May 2014 Isa 9–10

9 May 2014 Isa 11-13

 

12 May 2014 Isa 14–15

13 May 2014 Isa 16–17

14 May 2014 Isa 18–19

15 May 2014 Isa 20–21

16 May 2014 Isa 22

 

19 May 2014 Isa 23–24

20 May 2014 Isa 25–26

21 May 2014 Isa 27

22 May 2014 Isa 28

23 May 2014 Isa 29

 

26 May 2014 Isa 30

27 May 2014 Isa 31–32

28 May 2014 Isa 33

29 May 2014 Isa 34–35

30 May 2014 Isa 36

 

 

2 June 2014 Isa 37

3 June 2014 Isa 38–39

4 June 2014 Isa 40

5 June 2014 Isa 41

6 June 2014 Isa 42

 

9 June 2014 Isa 43

10 June 2014 Isa 44

11 June 2014 Isa 45–46

12 June 2014 Isa 47

13 June 2014 Isa 48

 

16 June 2014 Isa 49–50

17 June 2014 Isa 51

18 June 2014 Isa 52–53

19 June 2014 Isa 54–56

20 June 2014 Isa 57–58

 

23 June 2014 Isa 59

24 June 2014 Isa 60–61

25 June 2014 Isa 62–63

26 June 2014 Isa 64–65

27 June 2014 Isa 66

 


The Search

The Jesus brings initiative and campaign comprises a set of messages and resources we can use  to share the message about our Lord and Saviour, Jesus; to help us place Jesus before our community and contacts and the gospel word in their hands.

Around 150 churches in Sydney and the Illawarra will be using this theme and the resources being made available. Participating churches have been invited to mobilise around two ‘seasons’ in particular: Easter and August 2014.

Easter 2014
Amid the march towards secularisation and commercialism around Easter, there is still recognition in Australian society of the unique importance of the Christian Easter message and celebration. And although many people take the opportunity of a holiday break over Easter, many churches report a resurgence in numbers and visitors around the Easter season. Our desire is therefore to use Easter 2014 and the surrounding weeks for maximum gospel-effect.

Specifically, we will letterbox drop the parish in the lead up to Easter with an invitation to Good Friday and Easter Sunday services. At the same time we will distribute a church brochure with information about our other regular activities including Christianity Explored courses.

In the lead up to Easter we will use some of the resources we have (see below) to speak with Playgroup, Kids Plus and School Scripture children about Jesus and the good things he brings to kids.

August 2014
In August there will be some larger scale mission opportunities across the Sydney and Illawarra region, as a way for churches like ours to again focus our own local mission activities and benefit from the excitement that larger events can bring. However, the focus will be on a number of more local opportunities to invite people to connect with church and explore the Christian message. Over the coming months we will plan specific events and let you know more about the activities that will take place in August.

The Jesus brings initiative and campaign doesn’t include broad-based TV or billboard advertising. However with so many churches in Sydney using the same theme there is a good chance it will register in the minds of the general public in a way not possible for one church alone.

Resources

There is a ‘pack’ of resources we have purchased as a church to help us during the course of the year.

The Search. The Search is a gospel of Luke with QR codes scattered throughout. That is, it combines the text of Luke’s gospel with evangelistic web-content accessed via smartphone device (e.g. using an app like Quick Scan). Inviting an enquiring approach, this resource is like a gospel and an evangelistic course rolled into one! Scanning the QR code built into the pages of the gospel will open videos that people can watch, either as individuals, or you could sit down with someone and watch them together. We have 900 copies of this version of Luke to give to people during the year.

The Search ‘language edition’.  This is a 4-Language version of ‘The Search’ (in the one publication) featuring: English, Chinese, Arabic and Korean. The video resources are only available in English but the word of God is not constrained by our explanation of it. We have 250 copies of this multi-language version of Luke to give away.

Jesus brings good things to kids DVD. This is a video produced by QuizWorx that explains to kids (targeted at primary school aged children) how Jesus brings friendship, forgiveness and foreverness. It features puppetry, drama, claymation and quick-draws to provide 50 minutes of learning for children. We have 400 copies of this DVD to give to children during the year.

Promotional items. In addition we have a range of items to promote the Jesus brings theme. These include banners, posters, promotional cards, even a few T-shirts and baseball caps. These will be used to raise awareness around the Jesus brings theme and events both within and outside our church.

More information about The Search gospel resource can be found here.

Pray!

Please pray for this initiative and campaign, for the 150 or so churches participating, and especially for opportunities in our local area and amongst our family, friends and colleagues. Pray:

  • for opportunities to speak about what Jesus brings,
  • that God’s Spirit would work in us to give us the courage to invite people to church and events,
  • that many would be saved in the series of Jesus brings talks in the lead up to Easter and through the evangelistic courses we will run through the year,
  • that people might be able to read the Bible with their friends, just one on one together.

Simon Roberts.

 


Jesus brings

A new mission campaign, called Jesus brings, is set to kick off in 2014.

The campaign is designed to encourage churches to conduct locally relevant mission, but have the support of centralised resourcing and branding, as well as flagship events.

The theme of the mission is Jesus brings. And the beauty of this theme is that it begs the question, ‘brings what?’ and invites people to complete the sentence.

For example Jesus brings:

Hope for the broken.

Light into darkness.

Forgiveness to the sinner.

Blessing to society.

Joy to marriage.

Wisdom to parents.

Purpose to life.

Justice to the oppressed.

Community to the lonely.

Salvation to the lost.

Good things.

The Jesus brings mission will have two main stages.

Firstly, in January to Easter next year our preaching program will run with the theme Jesus brings as we look at the early chapters of Mark’s gospel. Each and every week will be a great opportunity to bring along friends and family to hear the good news about Jesus Christ. Then at Easter we will make a special invitation to our local community to come and find out what Jesus brings and what we so desperately need in our lives.

Then, later in the year in August we will advertise further opportunities for people to find out what Jesus brings and some larger scale events are planned for our city involving gifted international and local speakers.

While there won’t be a wide scale public advertising campaign (for example there won’t be TV ads or bus posters etc), because many Anglican churches across the city will be using the same theme the mission should have a broad impact.

Preparation for mission always begins now and with prayer. Perhaps start praying individually and in pairs or triplets; praying specificallyindividuals and groups you hope to be impacted by Jesus brings; praying also for other churches across our city and region as they prepare.

More information about the Jesus brings mission and the specific resources we will have access to for this mission (DVD’s for the kids, brochures, posters etc) will be made available in the new year.

Our Jesus brings sermon series will commence on Sunday 26 January 2014.