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Well it’s Thursday and tonight is New Years Eve. As per usual I can open the paper or turn on the radio and read or hear any number of discussions about the year that was, and the inevitable discussion about what resolutions we are going to make about the year ahead.

I am sure you will hear, like I have, that many new years’ resolutions don’t last. In fact one ABC radio presenter was so cynical about our breaking of New Year resolutions that she had people phone in the things they weren’t going to change. Why is it we can become so hope-less about positive change?

Next weekend I am swimming my first Pier to Pub. Some of you may know about it. I have quite intentionally told people I am doing it. This is not to boast but because it keeps me accountable. I have “put it out there” – you know about it and if I don’t do it you’re probably going to ask me why. This has been a good little motivator for me when I haven’t felt like training, when the sea is rough and I don’t want to swim.

Paul said to Timothy that “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8. When Paul singled out physical fitness I don’t think he was picking on sport. You could apply this verse to all sorts of (good) things. Rather, I think he was encouraging Timothy not to sacrifice growth of the eternal for the temporary.

The other day Joshua (my 7 year old) asked me where our soul was. I explained it to him this way. “Josh if you lost your leg would you be still you?” “Yes”, he replied. I then asked him if he would still be “You” if he lost all his arms and legs. His reply (after some thought) was “yes”. I went on to tell him our Soul, that eternal part of us (that is actually the majority of who we are) is not linked to our body.

We all know this and yet we spend so little of our time and effort growing our soul. When we do make resolutions (and the accountability with them to make them happen) it is for things that don’t last. Think about it; exams, sporting achievements, financial advisors, work performance reviews, pay packets, bathroom scales, tertiary degrees….. All of these are a form of accountability to things that are good but which ultimately won’t last. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but as Paul said to Timothy they don’t hold a promise for this life and the life to come. But godliness does.

I was thinking about the benefit of godly accountability when I thought of the promise Jesus gave in Matthew 18:20. “Where two or three people come together in my name, there I am with them.” Why did Jesus say he would turn up when there was two or three and not one? I think it’s because he knows we needed accountability – accountability to hear well, accountability to follow through on what we have heard, accountability to act together on what Jesus has said.

I hope that we all make new years resolutions this year. But instead of them just being to get fit, loose weight, save more, spend less, go to the gym or something else, how about your resolution being for something that will grow your Soul, your eternal, “You.”

If you do want to make a godliness resolution can I suggest reflecting on a couple of areas?

Character– What area of your life do you need more Grace? Jesus spoke about “Speaking to the mountains”. What areas in your character and thinking would you like to change in but need to speak Grace – the unmerited, unearned favour of heaven- to see it moved?

Competency– What has God placed in you? Leadership, mercy, giving, servanthood, knowledge administration, teaching, prophecy, prayer, social justice… how can you grow and use what has been placed in you, in 2010?

Call– What does God want you to do to build his Kingdom in 2010? Do you know God’s call of what to do and where to do it? Jesus said we will find him when we seek him, that the door is opened when we knock.

However…for these Soul Resolutions to be successful, be prepared to be mutually accountable to someone who is also seeking to grow their Soul (lots of us can have friendships with Christians that are friendly but which don’t grow us). Where can you go for this? Triplets or Small groups are a great place to start. If you are not in one and would like to be, have a chat to one of the Triplet coordinators (Alan Morgan-men, Belinda Quinlivan- ladies). Otherwise, have a chat to me.

Blessings and Happy New Year!

Dave.

We all need “flagpole people” in our lives to encourage us in our journey.

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This is Dave’s Christmas day message delivered at Clifton Springs Baptist Church.

It all started when some angels visited some shepherds watching over their flock….

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I loved yesterday’s worship service.

I loved seeing those younger in faith going about anointing and praying for those who want to be “O.K. oldies” at the end of the service. I was preaching through Luke 1&2 and all the confirmation Mary and Joseph received regarding who Jesus was and their role in parenting him.

We may be tempted to think that after angels, wise men and shepherd visits they knew exactly what was going on, but they didn’t. They needed the extra confirmation of Elizabeth and later Anna and Simeon on the day Jesus was dedicated to God. We probably have all experienced times when we thought God may have been leading us in a certain direction but we needed more than one confirmation to begin to walk in what God is calling us to.

Thats when we need the encouragement of “O.K. oldies.” people older and wiser in faith and years that are marked my several attributes that Anna and Simeon displayed. Righteous in their godly living, devoted and set apart to God’s eternal priorities, O.K. oldies are INITIATORS rather than REACTORS. With all three of Mary and Joseph’s O.K. oldies, the bible shows they listened & were obedient to the Holy Spirit.

How wonderful it was to see so may people stand, asking for prayer to be O.K. oldies; righteous, set apart and Spirit led. Blessings to all those who received prayer and to those who prayed for them. I want to encourage you if you were prayed for yesterday to seek this week to look for God’s growth in you in one of the three areas that Simeon and Anna were set apart. Devotion, Righteousness and being Spirit initiated.

CHRISTMAS EVE & DAY.
This Thursday, Christmas eve there will be a BBQ dinner from 6:30pm (bring your own everything) followed by a one hour worship service at 9pm.
This Friday our Christmas service will be held with Clifton Springs Baptist. it will commence at 9am and go for one hour.
(Who could you invite to these times? Aussie will often come to church at this time. We just need to ask…)

TRIPLETS.
I have chatted and written about this a lot over the last few weeks. if you are either wanting to start one, would like to join one, or would like to find out more about them could you please see Alan Morgan if your a man and Belinda Quinlivan if you are a lady. Alan and Belinda are helping to co-ordinate Triplets. We want to make sure that triplets are supported and encouraged, Belinda and Alan are helping the eldership do this through being the co-ordinators.

Craig on Holidays.
Craig began some well deserved holidays yesterday. He’s not back on deck until the 17th of January. Craig will be here next Sunday for the Ella’s dedication- but not “on deck” as it were, so hold back on any administration type questions for him.

Meals for SUFM.
There are a couple of teams of people running the Scripture Union Family missions this year at the caravan park. Would you be able to help supply a meal for them? if you are able to cook a meal that would feed 12 people, then could you let Betty Duffield know (52592526, 0409410668) ASAP.

Have a blessed week,

Dave.

“Get the O.K. from an oldie. Be an O.K. oldie.”

“Joseph and Mary had a huge role. entrusted to be the parents of Jesus. We might look at the angel visitations and encounters with shepherds and elders as giving a really clear picture of what God was doing and what their part was, but like us they needed repeated reminders. Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin and Simeon and Anna, two people their at Jesus’ dedication became oldies in the faith that encouraged and confirmed God’s plan for Mary, Joseph and Jesus. We all need the encouragement of O.K. oldies but what does it mean to be an O.K. oldie?”

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This was Dave’s inaugural attendance at the carols which he MC’ed and gave the Christmas message.
Started off with something about other footy clubs than Geelong !! heresy!!

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Yesterday I caught up with my old Senior Pastor from Eltham Baptist Church. It was great to see him. He has been one of those people God has used to significantly shape my life. It reminded me of the power of those smaller places like triplets. I met with David in a triplet and another great christian guy several years ago. It had a significant impact on me.

Naturally he asked, “How are you going,” since we hadn’t spoken since I had begun with CBtB. I told him that I felt like, “A cow in a paddock with three foot high grass.” It’s a strange analogy come to think of it, I don’t actually know what a cow feels like but I guess you get my drift, David certainly did.

Jules and I really do feel very blessed to be a part of this church community. Its the 16th today and we are just into out third month with you. People have been very welcoming and we are enjoying getting to know the church. I have loved hearing the passions of people and appreciated hearing the heart beats and history that makes up CBtB.

If you were at church Sunday you may have noticed a big board that was placed near the kitchen door. It is entitled, “Passions and Energizers” and it is a cut down list of the feedback I have received from you as I have gotten around to people and asked, “What are you passionate about or what energizes you?” Over the next few weeks you will see three new boards, that will also summarize responses I have received from you about the Vision of CBtB, our history and what we need to be aware of and finally your expectations of me as the Pastor. I believe knowing the answers to these questions and other information will help us as we seek to discover what God’s vision is for our church in 2010.

In the meantime Julie and I would like to say thank you for our first couple of months with you. We feel so blessed to be among you. Thank you for the way you have loved us practically, welcomed and loved our boys, and made us feel at home so quickly. You are a special and unique group of people and we are honoured to be here with you.

I was privileged to attend the Port Primary year 6 awards night last night and as the pastor of CBtB give out an award for the best CRE participant and a “quiet achiever” award. Sitting there caused me to think of the Many quiet achievers in CBTB. Julie and I love the heart beat of this church. Its desire to reach out to the community; to practically met needs, to raise the finance required to assist people (here and overseas) and the heart of hospitality that is constantly evident to us.

We wish you God’s blessings this Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus. We are really looking forward to next year and the good things the the Father has for us together.

Blessings,

Dave, Jules, and the boys

Jesus says that being childlike is imperative for us to inherit the Kingdom of God. What does it mean for us to be childlike and yet a Kingdom grown up?

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I was at a party Sunday, Erin and Adrian’s engagement party. I really enjoyed the variety of conversations because of the “two worlds” of Adrian and Erin’s Christian and non-Christian friends and family being there. It would have been easy for Adrian and Erin to keep those worlds separate but I am really glad they didn’t. Congratulations guys for putting on such a positive event where those two worlds had a chance to mingle.

In one of the groups I was speaking to we chatted about our different sporting experiences. This group was honest about their competitive natures on the sporting field.
Many confessed something “happened” when they began to play with others and their level of competitiveness increased. It made me think about the competitiveness of Grace and that we should be egging each other on to experience the more God has for us.

I’d like to suggest that this same dynamic of increased competitiveness on the sporting field is similar to the dynamic that occurs when Jesus says, “when two or three come together in my name there I am with them (Matthew 18:20).” The Spirit of God can’t help but “show up” when two or three Christians come together to purse him. The problem is that we often aren’t competitive enough, encouraging each other to jump further into the Grace of God.

Sunday I spoke about submission as a pre-requisite for us to experience the unmerited, gift of Grace. Submission is a big deal in the bible. We are called as Christians to submit to God and to each other. My suggestion to you is that if you don’t have a place were you submit to other Christians then you won’t submit to God or if you do it will be the difference between those that train and play alone and those who train and play with others. To push the sporting analogy, its like competing against another team by yourself- your success is going to be very limited.

So what kind of “Success” do I mean? Its the “Success” of hearing God’s voice and then doing it. The other day I saw a little bit of a 20/20 match between Australia and a group of newly retired Australian cricketers. As they fieled, they were all microphoned and even though Shane Warne was the Captain you couldn’t help but notice the constant encouragement between them as the assessed the play and the positioning of each other on the field. They were all “spuring one another on” (Hebrews 10:24) towards the goal of winning.

The last few weeks I have written and spoken about Triplets. I want to encourage everyone to consider being in a Triplet. This is a place of competitive Grace, where you get together with two others, to encourage each other to be “successful”, hearing and obeying God’s voice. Jesus said that we “his sheep” listen to “his voice” (John 10:9&10). The N.T. also says that God prearranged the “good works” for each of us to do (Ephesians 2:10). How do we do these good works? When we hear and obey. When does Jesus say he shows up “in the middle of us?” when two or three gather together in his name to hear his voice. Triplets can be that place.

I have made available a Triplet booklet; many people picked them up Sunday. In fact we had to make some more. So if you didn’t get a copy let me know and we’ll send one out to you. It explains how to start a Triplet, how to join a Triplet, how a Triplet runs and other questions you might have about a Triplet.

For those of you already keen to start a Triplet great! Could you just let myself or one of the other elders know you are wanting to start a Triplet and if you have who is going to be in it. This is so we can encourage and pray for you.

Blessings,

Dave

PS- Don’t forget the Carols on the 16th. Who has Jesus has placed in your path that you can invite to this event as a way of exposing them to the things of God?
PPS- I also put up a several “Ministry descriptions” in the church foyer. Two related to Kids church and the other as the coordinator of prayer triplets for Women. If any of those ministries interest you and you would like to explore them please grab one of the descriptions and then contact myself.
PPPS- Denis and Anne Plant and myself would like to make ourselves for anyone who would like a place to pray and talk through what God might be calling you to in 2010. This is specifically a follow up to those who did SHAPE. Even if you didn’t do SHAPE but feel God is stirring you up about something we would love to make a time for you.

The bible says a lot about submission; but its a bit of a dirty word in modern western society. Without it however we don’t access Grace; God’s unmerited and gifted favour. So how do we access the grace God has for us?

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