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This service was an opportunity for the church to publicly praise the Lord for the good things he has done.

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I hope your week is going well. I have had some terrific conversations lately. Its one of the joys of pastoring that you get to hear people’s great God stories. A couple of weeks ago I caught up with Guryel Ali, a presenter from 96.3 who has visited CBtB in the past to preach and lead worship (he sung at the carols last year as well).

We were sharing with each other about our lives and how we had become Christians. In that context he told me of the agony that he and his wife went through when their son died. He spoke of the dark valley of that time and the many times he spent on the floor weeping at Dingly Anglican, where Denis and Anne ministered. He said that it was through this time that his faith was refined and reforged.

We can probably all relate to times when everything goes wrong and we reach out for God. I think we have a default setting, where we all (regardless of whether we are Christians or not) would consider God when things are going really bad. But what about when things are good? What happens when we are in a time of blessing when things are going really well?

David says in psalm 138;6. “Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly, but he takes notice of the proud from afar.” The lowly, who are they? The bible says we’re all “lowly”, the problem is that sometimes we forget how dependent on God we are. When things are going well we can mistakenly start to think that we had something to do with it and pride creeps in. What is a antidote to pride? Sometimes it can be trial, but one that i know always works is Praise.

Praising God reminds us where all the good comes from, including our intellect, world, the energy to work hard, our gifting, material possessions and the people we love. James. Jesus’ little brother said, ” Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:16&17.

Forgetting where the good things comes from, says James, is Deception. When we talk about “deception” its usually in the contest of being “ripped off.” Pride, thinking “I can do it without God” will take you under some false pretense to the back of a dark alley. Then when its got you alone, relying on your own “Strength,” it’ll beat you until you are unconscious, rob you and leave you naked and bleeding. When you come to your senses and cry out to God he’ll meet you in that alley and help you out. But wouldn’t it be better to never get into the back alley with Deception in the first place?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the writer and Russian political activist spent 11 years in Russian concentration camps for his faith. He wrote, “While I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies…But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

60 Million people lost to the back alley bully that Deceivingly says we can do it without God. So what keeps us out of the alley and in a place where God can share more and more of his goodness with us? Praise. This Sunday we are going to have a time of praise. Where we acknowledge before God his goodness to us. “I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.” David wrote in Psalm 35:18.

This Sunday we’ll be having a time where we can get up and tell others of the goodness of God. Is there something you would like to share? Drop me a line, i’d love to hear about it. Praise him in the light, it keeps us out of the alley!

Have a great week.

Dave

One of our strong values as a part of our Western Democratic society is personal freedom. We have freedom to associate with who we agree with. This value flows through our political associations, sporting clubs, activism, volunteer groups and movements. Biblical community is not bound by cords of agreement but of love. For Church by the Bay and indeed any Christian community, Jesus said it was love that was going to contain the blessing he has in store for us. However all to often church community is fractured along the lines of agreement, not love. As a church we are stopping to consider the hurt we have caused by holding more strongly onto agreement than to Jesus higher call to Love.

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Last night we got together to pray for the upcoming reconciliation service. Before we began we got talking about Valentines day. One of the couples there shared how they’d gone out to dinner the night before.

While they were working through the six course meal, they couldn’t help but noticed the couple on the next table. A couple of courses into the meal the man nervously took out a necklace for his date. Suitable “oohs” and “arrhhs” proceeded from the table as he gave it to her. A couple of courses later they saw the same young man nervously fumble in his pocket (and you guessed it) get down on one knee and propose. The room went quiet, all eyes and attention was focused on his proposal and of course her reply. She said “Yes!” and the room erupted in applause and congratulations.

As we prayed for our church last night we reflected on what a great illustration of Love that story is. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” You can imagine the anxiety that man had about the proposal. “What if she says no? What if I muck it up? What will other people say?” but what propelled him to ignore that Fear was Love.

When it comes to your relationship with your heavenly Father, what are the places you are afraid?

  • Going down the front of church for prayer.”What will other people think of me?”
  • Fasting, “But I’ll get hungry!”
  • Running with a passion that God has given you and beginning or being involved in a ministry- “But what happens if I fail!”
  • Putting your hands up at church, on the beach in a park when you are worshipping God, “People might think I am strange.”
  • Giving of your time or finance in response to a prompting of the Holy Spirit. “But if I do I mightn’t have enough.”
  • Reaching out and encouraging or mentoring a younger Christian. “but I don’t know enough and there are to many years between us for me to relate to them.
  • Sharing your discovery and faith in Jesus with a work colleague. “But what would I say, what happens if I get it wrong! What happens if they mock me!”
  • Forgiving someone who hurt you and feeling like they are “getting away with it.” or “They’ll just do it again anyway so I am not forgiving them!”

I could go on an on, but I think you get it. Whenever we are afraid it is actually an opportunity to experience the perfect Love of God. As I write this I am desperate for us to move into this as a church. I am jealous for us to move more into the perfect Love of God. I am sick of seeing the World and the Devil rob us of the blessing that comes through God’s perfect Love.

Just before that verse in 1 John 4, verse 16b says, “God is Love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in them.” Whenever we choose love over fear (and the action that goes with it) God moves more deeply into us and we more deeply into him.

If you’re not sure what to pray as we Fast & Pray towards the reconciliation service this week can I suggest;
Father, I need more of your perfect Love our whole church does. Lord would you give us a hungry for your perfect Love that gives us courage to act in spite of Fear, so that we might move into the mountain of blessing you have for your people.

Have a great week,

Dave.

This sermon was not recorded – Sorry.

Gidday everyone,

I often think that the number one thing that causes pain, frustration and misunderstanding is communication; or a lack of it.

Have a think about something you are, or have struggled with in a relationship: marriage, between you and a friend, another Christian, at work. I’ll guarantee that communication (or misunderstanding) will be a significant part of the problem.

Years ago I remember coming across Hebrews 13:16.

Do not forget to do good to one another and to communicate for with such sacrifices the Lord is well pleased.

If you look up this verse your bible may have “share” or “give” instead of “communicate”.  The Greek word used by the writer of Hebrews is koinonia.  This is a very rich word; as a consequence different English versions use different words. It’s more than giving, it’s more than sharing, and it’s more than communication.  It is all of those things and more.  It means a giving of the whole self; a sacrificial giving.

When I first studied this verse I liked the use of “communication” for koinoinia. I can send off some money to a person in need, I can share a tool, a piece of equipment or a meal and it doesn’t really “cost” me, but to communicate, to really share my whole self, that costs.

Look at what the Hebrew writer observes about real koinonia communication.

1.  “Don’t forget.” How often do we forget to tell people we appreciate them, love them or to talk about an issue with a, “I’ll do it one day…”

2.    “With such sacrifices…” God sees real koinonia communication as sacrificial. To be vulnerable, to be an O.K. oldie and input into a person younger in faith, to trust another, to give a testimony to seek or give forgiveness; all of this is costly.

3.  “He is well pleased.” Our intentional, sacrificial koinonia communication brings God’s pleasure.  Why? Well for one reason it mirrors the sacrifice of Jesus in bringing us back to the Father.

We have a reconciliation service Sunday week. It really is a time of koinonia communication between us, God’s people and our heavenly Father.  Though that service will not be public in that people will be sharing publicly, it is very much is a public act.  It is our recognition that our community went through a difficult time a few years ago . To some of you this will be news, while to others you will be intimately aware of what occurred. Regardless of your personal identification I am asking the whole church to attend. Why?

Paul, speaking to the Corinthian church encouraged them to recognize that they were linked; a body and that issues good and bad affected them all (1 Cor.12:12-14&26). As a church we are looking to the future and asking what is God’s vision for our church.  At the moment I believe we will have trouble seeing and walking in that vision if we don’t acknowledge the issues of the past before God.

Jesus said those who really see him as their Lord do what he says (Luke 6:46).  He has told us to forgive (Luke 6:38) not to condemningly judge (Luke 6:37) or look at the issues in others without dealing with our own (Luke 6:42).

When we fail to forgive and be forgiven, its like placing a loaded weapon in the hands of a crazed killer and hope he’ll do nothing with it.  Satan loves us to stay in places of denial, where we minimalise or deny the past and are unwilling to go before our Father.  He knows that without our access to the koinonia forgiveness of Jesus, he has the wood on us. He’s got us in his sights and he will pull the trigger.

On Sunday I am going to encourage the church to fast as we enter this last week before the reconciliation service.  Why? Well that’s a whole other E-news but in short, Jesus said that true fasting places us in the Fathers presence (Matthew 5:18), and the Fathers Presence is where we receive mercy, forgiveness, healing and revelation.

Lastly in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti the elders have decided that our entire offering this Sunday will go to Haiti.  This will be given through Compassion Australia who have said they will give the entirety of any monies raised to Haiti without removing any administration costs.

Bless you as you follow the King.

Dave

Going back…Denis reminded us that sometimes God becomes silent to us. This may not be because we have done anything wrong, rather he may have withdrawn from us to see if we have grown in an area and can now “stand” without needing his manifest presence. The last week I was not getting any lightening bolts to share with the church. So I went back asking, “What have you said in the last little while Lord?” When God is quiet, go back to the last thing he has said and stand in that word.

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Bang! Has the year started like that for you?  For those of us with children (or who work in education)  perhaps this week was a “bang” week with everyone going back to school.
Meeting with Craig, we were both aware of the many things occurring at the moment.  I am very conscious of not wanting to overwhelm people but I also want everyone to know what is happening around the place. 
We all from time to time forget or neglect to communicate with each other. My tendency will be to try and er on the side of giving more rather than less detail.  Forgive me if you find it “to much,”  but I am jealous to preserve our unity as a Church. So her are all the things occurring over the next few weeks.

Feb 5th. Footprints and Storm. Primary and high school youth ministries begin this coming Friday at the church.  6:30pm for Footprints and 7:30pm for STORM.  For more information, contact Steve and Kitty for Footprints (52511905 & 0412417751) or Mass Richard for STORM (0422-232-359 or www.cbbyouth.com)

Feb 6th. Cancer Fundraiser. Geoff Hodgson, Belinda’s brother, has been diagnosed with cancer.  Belinda is putting on a garage sale to raise funds for Geoff to pay his living expenses while he receives treatment.  If you have anything to donate give Belinda a call (52531582) or if you would like to go along or take a friend in support head to 76 Mirrabooka Drive Clifton Springs; from 8am.

Feb 6th Executive & the Foyer.  This Saturday as part of the ongoing process to re-furbish the foyer of CBtB,  the executive will be meeting.  We will be looking at all the feedback given to Adam Thompson from ministry leaders and the church in general before exploring some options of what we could do.  Concept plans and costing guidelines will be brought back to the church in a few weeks.

Feb 7th. Announcement of Eldership nominees.  The current elders approached several people before Christmas 2009 to prayerfully consider the office of Eldership at CBtB.  We have two people that have accepted our nomination.  We’ll be announcing to the church this Sunday who they are and making their profiles available before we have a vote on their nomination on the 21st of Feb.

Feb 13th CFA fundraiser.   In the car park of SONSHINE  CBtB’s op shop we are having a car-park garage sale to support our local CFA.  The CFA will be present and running a BBQ.  This is a great way for us to continue to build a positive Presence in the community.  I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a part of a church that has such a positive community reputation.  This is part of our “letting your light shine,”  that wins us the opportunities to share Jesus. Block out sometime to drop in, or if you are able to help for a few hours give Jenny Trudgeon a call on 5251 2497.

Feb 13th. Women of Worth Breaky.  This is a great event to bring people you have been praying for to gently expose them further to the Gospel.  I am watching the ladies organize this event and it looks fabulous.  There are invitation in the church (that look brilliant) that you can pick up from the church Foyer.

Feb 21st Reconciliation Service 7:00pm.  This is a significant time for us as a church.  While it is an individual journey in considering the past, it very much impacts the whole church and both current and past members of CBtB.  Have you spoken to someone who didn’t get a letter of invitation that perhaps should have?  Please let me know.

R.E.  I have just signed up to teach R.E at Port primary.  We are looking for some teachers for other schools.  Positions are available for people to take classes on their own or to team teach with others. Let me know if you feel called to this vital ministry of proclaiming the Word in our world.

Triplets…are you in one, have you started one, would you like to be in one?  If you have a good story of what has happened for you, I’d love to hear it!  If you would like to find out more drop a line to Alan Morgan (men’s triplets) or Belinda Quinlivan (ladies Triplets)
Belinda 52531582 belindaq@bigpond.net.au 0448 821 704
Alan 5251 5001, 0413 255 081 amo14777@bigpond.net.au

Have a blessed week.

Dave.

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