service

STANDING IN THE GAP

(October 17, 2017) Tim Edwards brings another timely challenge

Sometimes in church services we can end up creating an environment which can appear to be a little insincere if we are not careful.

‘How?’ you ask.

Because although it can be a moment in time where we see people with smiles on their faces and even singing happy up-tempo songs, many may not feeling that way at all in their hearts. Some may be truly feeling really flat, miserable or unloved and need encouragement!

Life’s reality
The reality of life is that we all walk through difficulties in our lives at various times – and we must recognise this, acknowledge it and be honest about it. But not give in to it.

Despite how we may feel on any given Sunday when we gather together we do so to worship, sing and celebrate God, pray, learn – and be encouraged.

But it is also a time for us to help each other to look to God! Our togetherness can, if we will allow it, be an opportunity to serve by reminding those we sense are troubled to keep their eyes fixed on him and not on the challenges.

Stay focused no matter what!
We see this focus as we read the prophet Jeremiah’s heart-breaking, sorrow-filled writings in his book of Lamentations.
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PENTECOSTAL PETER

(June 1, 2017) Brian Bell shares a meaningful meditation on the apostle Peter…

When you consider the experiences of Peter’s life from the day Jesus called Peter to follow him, then those experiences – which include presumptuous behaviour and speech rebuke by Jesus, and his denial of the Lord – they would not have pointed to him being the carrier of the powerful Acts 2 Day of Pentecost message for which he is best known.

Personally I draw great encouragement from Peter, for I know I am – at least – as imperfect as Peter, yet the Lord is prepared to use even me!

So, while it is true that aspects of Peter’s life before Pentecost may be less than impressive, it did not prevent the Lord from recommissioning and enabling Peter through the Holy Spirit – what an encouragement is that for every Christian!

Peter – an encouragement for every follower
Luke who penned the book of Acts makes specific reference to Peter’s ‘Pentecost’ message and writes of several of his ministry experiences that flowed on from that day. And while we don’t read of a repetition of the ‘Pentecost day’ experience, we can however see how the Lord clearly led Peter and he became an outstanding preacher, a leader with a pastoral heart in the early church. It is very clear that Peter was a changed follower of Jesus from that day! (more…)

Going About Doing Good – Or Just Going About?

Robert and Maureen McQuillan write:

Recently we were introduced to a young businessman whom the world would term as highly successful and has everything going for him. His company is doing well, he has everything he needs – home, wife, kids, cars, connections and a great future as he wisely uses his entrepreneurial skills.

But he has been acutely aware that something is missing and a good friend had been sharing his own experiences with the Holy Spirit. Now we too had the opportunity to share with him and something he said told us exactly where he’s at. He has faith in God but said, ‘If going around in this life before heaven is all there is to it, then what’s it all about? What are we here for?’
It was a delight to pray for the infilling of the Spirit to fill this seeker of truth and reality and to be led into a purposeful life for Christ.
Serving others
Every now and then, as we minister to churches or individuals, we’re led to quote the words of Toyohiko Kagawa
(1888 –1960) – the originator of the challenge encapsulated in our title above. Some years ago we discovered they symbolised the lifestyle of this visionary who revered Jesus and God’s word. 

This insightful Japanese avidly followed the teachings of Christ, believing that Christianity in action was the truth behind Christian doctrines. As a young man attending Kobe Theological Seminary, he was so troubled by seminarians’ concern for the technicalities of religious doctrine that he would repeatedly refer to the parable of the Good Samaritan. 

In reality this parable demonstrates real Christianity in action, the one who is able to help being available to meet needs, and not expecting or demanding anything in return. Rather being willing to go further than the initial contact, to provide follow-up. 

Later in life, Toyohiko Kagawa once boldly referred to scripture when he dared to say to his nation’s ‘godlike’ ruler: ‘Emperor Hirohito, “Whosoever will be great among you…shall be the servant of all.” A ruler’s sovereignty, Your Majesty, is in the hearts of the people. Only by service to others can a man, or nation, be godlike.’ 

 Toyohiko Kagawa (c 1920)

Real Christianity
That was Toyohiko Kagawa’s own lifestyle – serving others. He became a successful businessman entrepreneur who influenced many, not only in Japan but also abroad, including Fletcher Jones, ‘Australia’s clothing king.’

Concerned with people’s misery in life at home, he went around seeking how he could bless many and give them hope for a better future. 

A social reformer, peace activist, political prisoner, evangelist and author Kagawa is reported as saying: ‘I read in a book that a man called Christ went about doing good. It is very disconcerting to me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about.’ 

That should really hit it on the head as far as a lot of Christians, especially ministers, are concerned! So many of us are indeed content with the status quo and miss out on God’s greater picture for our lives, skills and abilities. And so many times churches expect people to come to their Sunday services before they will communicate the love and caring of God in a meaningful way. There is a wrong attitude of ‘Come first to my Sunday turf, then I’ll look at yours.’ 

Good Samaritan Christians/churches
The Good Samaritan parable is indeed an outstanding example of going out there beyond the church walls and it seems that quite a few churches have bought into it. This is good news for those without hope, without a personal relationship with Christ and feeling that they have no one to turn to for assistance. Especially those who for various reasons, perhaps sick family, a threatening spouse, or transport, just can’t get out on a Sunday.
 

Personally, we feel like Toyohiko Kagawa – not satisfied with just going about but desiring to go about doing good wherever and however we can with the Holy Spirit’s help. This means, at times, going out of our way, going beyond the famous second mile. 

And why? Because according to Jeremiah 29:11, God has a wonderful future organised for all who will seek his face, listen to his directions and go for it. 

Toyohiko Kagawa’s life story is an incredible one. It certainly inspires us, as does (even more so) the example of Jesus – We’re never satisfied with just ‘going about!’ We want to be involved in whatever God has ordained for us. We’ll always be open to whatever new challenges he has for us both in general life and ministry itself. In a nutshell, this means that we desire to achieve what will bless others and be meaningful to the kingdom. 

We trust that young businessman will very quickly find his purpose in life as he allows the Spirit to speak to his heart. His potential to bless humanity is stupendous! 

Being effective for Jesus
We deliberately call our ministry of encouragement and inspiration Life Focus. Regularly – in mentoring, casual conversation, preaching or seminars – we tell people, even non-Christians: ‘Life is a gift…focus on it and live it to the max! Don’t waste one day!’
 

Our own first-up daily prayer? ‘Lord, let this day be effective for you through Holy Spirit’s anointing and direction.’ Then we live the day as normal, not under any pressure, but being available for the Lord and, importantly, sensitive to his Holy Spirit. 

This doesn’t mean going around being super-spiritual before everyone and Bible-bashing them into a false salvation or forcing them to go to church. 

Rather we just take every opportunity the Holy Spirit organises for us to meet people and simply bless them. Blessing – to us this means speaking a God-word, a kind word into people’s lives and encouraging them through being sensitive to the Spirit who can tell us where they’re at and what they need to hear. 

  We encourage every Christian to activate a lifestyle like Toyohiko Kagawa did as he followed the example of Jesus: ‘It is very disconcerting to me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about.’ This leads to being meaningfully effective for Jesus.