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Gidday everyone,

You can’t have escaped the discussion that has occurred around this issue in the media in the last few weeks.  Earlier this month on the ABC’s “Q&A,” this issue was discussed with a variety of political leaders and social commentators.

As the discussion ranged back and forth the one thing that appeared common to me was the lack of objectivity.

This was illustrated most clearly by the comments of one of the invited panellists, Bill Shorten, the Assistant Treasurer.  As he discussed the Labour parties policy regarding the marriage act and the challenge to change it to include gay marriage he said,

“Where do I think this issue will end up?…I don’t know if it will be this year, next year or in 10 or 20 years time – I think a time will come where a whole lot of people will think, okay, what’s the drama about changing the Marriage Act? I don’t think the community is there yet to change the Marriage Act….What I’m interested in is that I think in 20 years time if someone plays a tape of this show and they see us debating whether or not gay people can be married, people will say, “What was the argument about?”’ (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3054259.htm)

Mr Shorten seemed to suggest that what many in the community now consider “wrong” will in time seen as “right”. That not only is the change in the marriage act inevitable but its inevitable because it is “right” for it to change. The basis for this change seems to be that if enough people say that something that was once unacceptable is now acceptable then this must be “right”.  This perspective causes me to ask what will our objective  reference points be when make decision regarding our ethics and morality?

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This chapter covered
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
The Rich Man and Lazarus

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Hi everyone, Some thing I’d like to share with you.

News.

Christmas Carols Trivia- This Saturday the 20th of November we are having a Trivia night to help raise some funds to put on our community carols service. Have a think if your small group or a group of friends could get together for some fun whilst also raising some funds to help us celebrate Jesus.

Its starts at 6pm. There is a $1 sausage sizzle, door prizes and a silent auction. You can bid on the silent auction before Saturday by emailing your bid to Belinda Quinlivan- Belinda Quinlivanbelindaq@bigpond.net.au Items that can be bid on are; pubs and restaurants –values either 25 or 50 dollars – hair cut ,blow wave –value 50 dollars – Tupperware mixture — ladies pack —surprise family pack –mens deodorant pack — port pool aerobics –pool entry value 100 dollars – golf book —   surprise family pack menu bid 25 dollar.

AGM and Vision. This is coming up on November the 28th. Can I really encourage you to be there.  It forms a crucial part of the Vision process we have been journeying through these last 12 months.  It also outlines the budget, a reflection our Faith Vision.  This means we are not just approving a budget to operate, but that our budget emerges from what we believe God is calling us to. This is very different to the way bugets are usually presented.  On Sunday you can pick up an AGM report  (if you haven’t yet) and also an A5 summary of our Vision and priorities- look out for them both.

Christmas Hampers for Uganda– As a Church we are seeking to supply funds that will allow Russell and Jenny from Operation Uganda to buy Christmas Hampers for struggling families in Uganda.  By sending monies to them it means we don’t waste money on postage, it also helps connect families to the local Christian community and it also means Russell and Jenny can support local businesses in Uganda, rather than us buying products here and sending them over. If you’re interested then place a donation in an envelope. Each Hamper is $30.  If you’d like a certificate to say you’ve purchased a Hamper, then place that in with the envelope.  You may like to give this as a present to someone.

YYAM team visit.

We have a YYAM team coming to help us with some ministry and training between December the 13th and the 20th. They are helping with RE breakups, High school programs, our carols service and some training with our young people.  There are nine coming in total.  8 girls and 1 young man that range in ages between 19 and the team leaders who are in their 30’s. We need places to billet them for this week.  We need those who might be able to have one or two stay with them, provide them breakfast and most dinners. Some people have earlier said they could perhaps help with this.  Could you please let me or Craig know if you are able to have someone stay with you that week.

Seeing God’s “True” riches.

Sometimes when I get in early to the church, when no one else is there, I go and sit on the chair at the back of the stage.  It helps me to picture all of you.  Scanning around the room I am reminded of where you sit and who you are.

Yesterday morning I was doing this.  As I did I was reminded at not only what a wonderful church we have but also of the incredible “riches” that you are.  I felt that God was giving me a glimpse of how he sees us as his “true riches.” Yet I also became very much aware that we just don’t see ourselves in the same way.

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In this chapter Jesus tells three stories. The reason is to confront the Pharisees and their wrong understanding of the Father. The most famous of these three is the prodigal son but instead of it being called the Prodigal son, this story should have perhaps been called the parable of two lots sons. Which son do you relate to? The one who has lost everything and then turns back in repentance, or the son that has stayed around good things, good people and a good environment and is in danger of becoming familiar with these things-treating the Fathers love as ordinary. The great thing to realise is regardless where we come from the Father walks out to us.

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Over the 22 years of being a Christian, I’ve heard many sermons of Jesus analogy that his followers were to be “Salt” of the world. Chapter 14 of Luke, set in the home of a prominent Jewish leader has him boldly challenge his hearers as to what it means to be ‘salty’.

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“Forgive our debt of sin as we forgive the debt of sin of those who have wronged us.”

Sin, we all do it.  We all get it wrong.  That means we need to be both forgiven and forgivers. Jesus says that before we look at the wrong we have given or received from others we need to realize the first place we need to make it right is with God. This might be common knowledge to us, but it’s the unique place that relationship with Jesus brings us to.

Buddhism says that evil and suffering exist because of our desires. “Enlightenment” comes when we are freed from all desires.  This is to be achieved through following the fivefold path. Islam recognizes our sin but sets out the five pillars of Islam as necessary for a Muslim to obey in the desire to be saved. For the Hindu, Karma is the rule, every birth is a re-birth to pay for the failures of past lives. Whist for the atheist or humanist, right and wrong are subjective; left to the whims of the individual.

All these faith systems ultimately rely on what “you” do.  Only in Christianity is redemption by Jesus required first before we “do” anything.  That’s why Jesus said that our forgiveness or standing before God comes before our standing with each other.

Bill Johnson says this: “Is there any unforgiveness in heaven? No! Heaven provides the model for our relationships here on earth.  ‘And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as dear children’ (Ephesians 4:32-5:1). These verses make it quite clear that our model is Jesus Christ…the one ascended to the right hand of the Father…the one whose Kingdom we seek. Once again prayer illustrates a practical way to pray for heaven’s reality to bring an effect on earth.”  Pg 61, When Heaven Invades Earth

The intangibility of Heaven breaking into our world begins with forgiveness.  It’s ultimately why Jesus came, to free us from our debt before God and each other. Ravi Zacharis speaks of how we all have to work through the inevitable “debts” of life.  “…one of three things will happen to your heart; it will grow hard, it will be broken, or it will be tender.  Nobody escapes. Your heart will become coarse and desensitized, crushed under the weight of disappointment, or made tender by that which make the heart of God tender…” It’s difficult to find more tenderness than Jesus saying to the women caught in adultery, “…neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin…” or the act of going to the house of someone who is despised and saying, “Come down Zaccheus, I must have lunch with you.” or the simple but powerful declaration, “I forgive you.” Yet all of these actions by Jesus came as he stood before his Father first, it’s no different for us.

Letting God’s forgiveness break into our world occurs when we allow it to flow through into the hurts caused by others, that otherwise might cause us to become desensitized and hard.  In seeking forgiveness we can be healed; in recognizing our need for forgiveness we are able to extend it to others. Where do you need to let the Kingdom come for forgiveness?  Perhaps there is someone else that you are able to give the intangible reality of forgiveness.

Dave.

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