Monday, March 26, 2012


Having A Good Argument


Have you ever had the wonderful experience and privilege of the Belittling, Rebellious Antichristian Troublemaking student in your classroom? As you are delivering your wonderfully prepared Scripture lesson discussing the permutations of supralapsarianism for teenagers, this teen blithely asks the disturbing question: “How do you know any of this is true? My dad reckons it’s all……….!”

You, the ever vigilant SRE teacher pounce on the objector with “Don’t ever ask a question without first raising your hand!” As you hope that by martialling student support against the corrupting influence of this vile child’s classroom rule breaking, you may have thwarted the insidious nature of his atheistic speculations.

So the teenager raises his hand and asks the same question. And he has more classroom support for his position than before the SRE teacher attempted a gag on the question.

“To the extent that we in the Christian community insist that young adults should just accept our ‘right’ answers, we perpetuate a needless schism between science and faith” (Dave Kinnaman You Lost Me.) We undermine our own position by our behaviour.

Paul reminds us of the ‘Postmodern’ influence of relativising truth and morals.

“ preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2Tim 4:2-5)

Indifference to the Gospel through the culture’s increasing preoccupation with personal self-fulfilment of passions and desires drugs and dominates the worldview of many students. The High school SRE teacher may find that students are not argumentative, rather they just don’t care about the things we want to talk about.

Paul reminds us to be sober-minded.

Whatever it takes, we are preparing students to stand before the Judge of the living and the dead. We are dealing with the God Who appeared to His people as their Saviour! We want students to enter into His Kingdom. There is good reason to be sober. And we must also use our minds. How shall we best penetrate the indifference of selfishness to point students to the Saviour? This may mean deconstructing the worldview of the students. Norman and David Geisler suggest the kind and gracious strategy of raising questions that undermine the presuppositions upon which a student’s worldview is raised.

Questions concerning the meaning and value of materialism arise from Solomon’s instruction in Ecclesiastes. Ultimate meaning and absolute morality may be found in Jesus Christ. Everything else lacks absolute meaning.

Questions concerning the validity of scientism may be raised through attention to the experiences of love, or the failures of previous scientific truisms.; “Do you think that a scientist like … has it all together?”

Merely deconstructing someone’s beliefs and worldview can make students increasingly defensive and hardened against the reconstructing gospel message. Our conversation must “be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col 4:6).

When deconstructing other worldviews, the student’s ability to think in abstract and principled ways must be taken into account. Piaget and Kohlberg both note that abstract and principled thinking are “higher order” activities requiring greater maturity in students than most SRE teachers will encounter.

How does an SRE teacher speak of these matters in a way suitable to the maturity level and thinking ability of the student before him?

Testimonies, storying and discussion of conversion stories may be a useful “concrete” tool in SRE classes.

Paul reminds us to do the work of an evangelist.

This may mean after deconstruction, reconstructing a student’s worldview around the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. There is true Truth, and that Truth is found In Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

As SRE teachers we need to present the message of the Gospel in a compelling and effective manner.

We need to have some apologetic tools at hand so that we can confront our hearers with Someone who demands absolute loyalty to His absolute truth.

SRE teachers and youth leaders will attempt to build a good foundation for their young people’s faith. This reconstruction process may mean admitting that we do not have the answer to every question, however we will have the answers to many questions and the tools to engage these questions constructively. This foundation should incorporate matters that confirm and establish faith rationally, experientially, morally, corporately in community, giving good and valid reasons for faith. It will primarily involve reading the self-authenticating scriptures that introduce students directly to the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I like the word “RAMP”; it has positive images of launching a response and reminds me of the good potent arguments for my faith:

The Resurrection of Jesus. Our SRE teachers and youth leaders should encourage young people to give attention to the historicity of the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as foundational for faith. Ross Clifford has written a great little easy to read book titled Leading Lawyers' Case for the Resurrection.

Archaeological evidences.  Yes the best scholarship continues to find in archaeological discoveries evidences for the historicity of many of the events recorded in Scripture. A few websites to visit include:

Miracles, both then and now.

Norman Geisler offers a good apologetic for miracles in  "Miracles & The Modern Mind" In Defense of Miracles Geivett & Habermas, Ed. Intervarsity Press, 1997
Further useful material may be found at

Personal stories reflective of God’s power and presence in the youth workers’ own life can give valuable encouragements to young people to “taste and see” for themselves “that the Lord is good”. Psalm 34:8,  1 Peter 2:3

Prophetic writings of scripture that remind us of the truthfulness of the Scriptures. The evidence of fulfilled prophecy offered a powerful argument for the gospel writers presenting Jesus Christ as the Messiah in the Jewish context.  Fulfilment of Prophecy also offers a powerful apologetic for the Bible as more than a humanly inspired book.

A concluding observation:

When my young student challenged me ““How do you know any of this is true? My dad reckons it’s all……….!” It left me wondering what exactly my student saying. Perhaps he was saying

“I trust my father’s opinion on religion more than I trust yours!”

Was he asking “Can you give me rational reasons to even consider your opinion?”

Was he upset because his father had recently died and he felt compelled to defend a memory of his dad?

How may we know which thought is in the student’s mind? We must learn to listen to the objections, consider the situation in life and maturity level context and answer these questions from the student’s presuppositions, not from our own.


High School SRE and The Lunchtime Group


I was talking with a young guy teaching High school scripture. He had a tremendous difficulty controlling the class. As I observed him it became obvious what the problem was: He wanted to be every body’s friend, and not the teacher of the class. He wasn’t willing to stop the young guys misbehaving, because he was fearful of losing their friendship. As a consequence every lesson left him frustrated and distressed. He brought in other youth workers to assist him with discipline, but they had the same problem. When we discussed the problem he told me. “I know I should have control in the classroom. The other teachers around me cannot afford to have my classroom noise disrupting their lessons. But I don’t want to make the kids hate me by being tough!”

This high school scripture teacher reflects the tension that we all feel. How may we retain classroom control without the young people disliking us?

84 % of children transitioning to young adults leave our churches in their teenage years. It is not that they are going somewhere else, they are just not going to any Christian church at all.  They have effectively turned their back on Christian things.

So many go out the back door of the church! Some don’t even get in the front door!

Thom Rainer in Essential Church addresses the question: Why do so many young adults (18 to 22) leave the church, and what will it take to bring them back? Rainer’s research of thousands of churches found four common characteristics of congregations that have effective assimilation.

Key #1: Membership high expectations. More is expected of members in high assimilation churches. Church discipline is more likely to be exercised in these churches as well. These churches typically have required entry point or membership classes. Becoming a part of these congregations is more than completing a card or walking an aisle. Members are expected to be involved and stay involved. Involved means more opportunity to wholeheartedly respond to the Good news of Jesus.

Key #2: Small group involvement. A concerted effort is made to get members and attendees involved in small groups. Relationships are the Velcro that keep people together and coming back. This allows folk a variety of places to hear and understand the gospel well.

Key #3: Ministry/Missons involvement. Rainer’s group found that high assimilation churches encourage people to be involved in ministry. Members who are involved in missions and ministry feel connected to the church. They get the idea of what the church is supposed to be about.

Key #4: Relational connections. Rainer writes, “In any organization, people stay connected more to other people than the organization itself. We are relational creatures. Local congregations are no exceptions. People are more likely to stay connected to the church if they have developed meaningful friendships and relationships with others in the church.”

What does this mean for the high School SRE teacher?

There is a time for everything under the sun, Solomon reminds us; .. “A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;”

There is a time for an SRE teacher to exercise classroom control so that the students may hear and respond to the message of the gospel in the weekly lesson. There is a time to be a teacher!

And there is also a time for building community.

There is a time to be a youth pastor. Perhaps the time to be a youth pastor may be at a lunch time group, where students can be invited from the SRE class to discover the ideal of community and encouragement in a pastoral context at a lunch time group.

This can be the small group where these young people can be assimilated into a loving, supportive Christian environment. This can be a place for discipleship. This can be a place for relationships. This can be a place for missions. This can be an authentic step towards the church for unchurched young people.

I grew up in a family that was very unsupportive of my Christian beliefs. Converted from a life of grime .. (I was a child of the 70’s) the first place I discovered authentic Christian living was the interaction with four girls who, at that time, were the only Christian’s in our High school. I knew them. I had sat behind them in classes for 4 years. It was so uncool to go to ISCF (Inter School Christian Fellowship). And it was so UNCOOL to meet with these girls! But who else was there to meet with? In spite of the uncoolness, this group became an oasis of encouragement in a life thirsty for encouragement. And I learnt to lead bible studies.

The small group ideals modelled in that lunchtime group became my model for setting up lunch time Bible study groups at Wollongong Teachers’ College; groups that grew from an attendance of 3 to an attendance of 100 over three years.

Lunchtime groups can provide the glue that provides the connections that keep young people in the local churches. It can provide the relational opportunities that allow the SRE teacher to be not only the teacher, but also the pastor.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Mark 8 The Cost Of Being A Pastor


34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.
36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?


The October 8, 1990, issue of Christianity Today, p. 54, mentions an incident in writer Frederick Buechner's life. As a young man, he attended a very posh dinner party on Long Island where his hostess said to him, "I understand that you are planning to enter the ministry. Is this your own idea, or were you poorly advised?"

You and I would agree that the cross is first and foremost a means of redemption: there is no other way that salvation can be gained. It is through the cross alone that Jesus purchased our salvation. "He who knew no sin became sin for us in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." The cross marks the beginning of the Christian way. There is no journey without the cross, and no salvation apart from it. Jesus came to set us free. Nowhere do we more clearly see that on the cross on which He died. Billy Graham has said, “Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have”

The cross is not only the means but also the manner in must we must live our life. Not only is it the entry point of our lives in Christ, but it must be the essence of what the Christian life is all about. It is determinative as way of life for those of us who choose to be His disciples. We must also face suffering even though we will be tempted to take a different path.

1. The rigid requirements of true Christianity

34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

The Lord Jesus made a public declaration about a cross for every disciple. In his gospel, Matthew tells us that this was necessary because of Peter’s desire to protect Jesus from suffering (Matt. 16:22ff.). Keep in mind that Jesus is talking about discipleship and not sonship.We are not saved from our sins because we take up a cross and follow Jesus, but because we trust the Savior who died on the cross for our sins. After we become children of God, then we become disciples.

The closest contemporary word to “disciple” is probably “apprentice.” A disciple is more than a student who learns lessons by means of lectures and books. He is one who learns by living and working with his teacher in a daily “hands on” experience. Too many Christians are content to be listeners who gain a lot of knowledge but who have never put that knowledge into practice.

He presented to the disciples two approaches to life:

deny yourself or live for yourself

take up your cross or ignore the cross,

follow Christ or follow the world

lose your life for His sake or save your life for your own sake,

forsake the world or gain the world

keep your soul or lose your soul share His reward or lose His reward

"I don't mind being a servant of Jesus Christ, I just don't want to be treated like one." His words have come back to me many times as I have sought to live out my life as a follower of Jesus Christ. On occasion I find myself wanting to be a disciple of Christ but on my own terms. This setting of pre-conditions for discipleship was familiar to Jesus during his ministry. He said to one man, "Follow me," only to hear in response, "Permit me first to go and bury my father." Another man told Jesus, "I will follow you, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home" (Luke 9:57-62). True discipleship, however, has no pre-conditions. Having placed our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, as 1 Corinthians says, "our life is no longer our own; we have been bought with a price."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who gave up his life daily on behalf of the German people during the time of the Nazis, and finally died for his faith at the end of a rope in a Nazi prison, once said, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." These were not ivory tower academics for Bonhoeffer, who paid the personal cost of discipleship in execution at age 39 on April 9, 1945. He had bravely resisted Hitler and the Nazi State when most of Germany’s clergy supported the Third Reich. In 1943 he was part of a group that tried twice but failed to assassinate Hitler. The word “fuehrer” in German literally means “leader or guide.” Standing up as Christ’s disciple on a radio broadcast in Berlin he had bravely rebuked the German Church for having allied with the Nazi, “‘There can only be one Fuehrer for Christians, and it isn’t Adolf Hitler.’ The radio address was brought to an abrupt halt, a foreboding prologue to things to come”


This was not the kind of self-denial we see in pagan religions, where for a chosen length of time food or other worldly pleasures are laid aside for the purpose of meditation and introspection.

This was not the kind of self-denial we see in the monkish sects, where vows of silence are taken to cleanse the soul and give evidence of devotion.

This is the kind of self-denial which follows recognition that man’s only worth in existence is to worship and obey the Giver of life. It is the kind of denial that recognizes that because of our sin nature and our sinful tendency to usurp God’s authority over our lives, self must be denied and His will done, or our purpose for life itself will have been laid aside and wasted.

This is the mind that recognizes that a long life serving self and no other, is an utter sham...while the briefest of lives here, wholly serving the will of God, is the life most fulfilled and valuable.

Discipleship is not part-time, volunteer work. God refuses to accept a minor role in one's life. He requires a controlling place. Jesus said that we must deny ourselves. One cannot live as a disciple as many people watch television: sitting in a lounge chair with the remote control ready to switch channels any time something unpleasant, or convicting, or demanding appears on the screen. I recently heard an actor remark on the success of his science fiction television show. He said that it "tapped into the 'search for spirituality of this age.' People are hungry for that tingle you get when you feel God." God is more than a tingle. True spirituality involves much more. It involves self-denial. It is not merely asceticism and the denial of something to the self. Rather, it is the denial of the self. It is a fundamental reorientation of a principle of life that God becomes the center of our world and not ourselves. Dietrich Bonhoeffer defines self-denial this way: "To deny one's self is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self." Is that not supremely wonderful? Self-denial takes different forms. For some it may mean leaving a job they like, as it did for the disciples. For the proud, it means renouncing the need of status and honour. For the greedy, it means renouncing an appetite for wealth. The complacent will have to renounce their love of ease. The faint-hearted will need to abandon the need for security. The violent will need to repudiate the desire for revenge. On and on it goes. Each individual knows that hinders him from giving everything to God? Jesus said, "If you would come after me, you must deny yourself."

How contrary this is to our self-centred nature?

“As I walked by myself, I said to myself, And myself said again unto me:

“Look to thyself, take care of thyself, “For nobody cares for thee.”

“Those who are bound for heaven must be willing to swim against the stream.” — Matthew Henry.


Several months back I asked a group of children ‘What is a church?’  Some of course gave fairly typical answers like:  ‘It’s the building with the spire’ but one answer stood out to me: ‘It’s where you go to die’ said one boy.

Thomas A. Kempis? “Jesus today has many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who carry His cross.....Plenty of people He finds to share His banquet, few to share His fast. Everyone desires to take part in His rejoicing, but few are willing to suffer anything for His sake.

Jesus does not ask for modest overhauls in our lives but major adjustments. He does not come to us offering self-fulfillment, He thrusts a cross before our disbelieving eyes. He does not invite us to try on the cross for to determine if we might like it. This cross is not a fashion accessory or a piece of jewelry, worn but seldom borne. This cross, this Roman gibbet, separates the disciples from admirers. There is much more involved than surveying the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died. The cross means that we must count our richest gain as loss and pour contempt on all my pride! The cross is not something one is naturally attracted to. Our Lord Himself shrank from it. He kneeled in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane under the shadow of Golgotha and prayed, "Lord, take this cross from me!"

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession. Like men to die in the arena, we have been made a spectacle to the whole universe .....We are fools for Christ...we are dishonored!.....we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, brutally treated and homeless. (I Cor. 4:9-11)

John Bunyan said “A Christian man is never long at ease; When one grief’s gone, another doth him seize.”


“I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.” This is a hard call! You are saying today as you said so many years ago, you are willing to die for Jesus. No an even harder requirement is that you are willing to deny yourself and live for Jesus!

This is a hard call!

We who are reformed tend to brush over the challenge and the cost of this call. We don’t want to be legalists. We don’t want to deny the wonderful mercy and grace of the gospel. And sometimes we shut our ears to this rigid requirement. It is not the requirement for salvation, for salvation is a free gift from God, but have no illusions, the Lord Jesus calls you to follow Him, and the way is not easy! In fact, it will cost you all you are and have.

Strangely we pastors are called to even more stringent costs than the congregations we challenge with this truth.

Do you not think that it will cost you all you are as a man to be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ?

Every decision in your life will be affected from one of two places . . . the World OR the Word of God, the Bible.

What will it be? Pleasure, Possessions, Prestige, Power or Position or Popularity.

Will you decide to stand against these powerful influences over your life?

“The world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back!”

Gal 6:14  But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.


2. The compelling causes  35-37

Your Personal devotion is called for examination For My Sake

To lose yourself is not an act of desperation; it is an act of devotion. “I have heard the voice of Jesus, Tell me not of aught; beside; I have seen the face of Jesus, All my soul is satisfied.” We love Him because He first loved us.

2 Corinthians 5: 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12  We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

"Love to God produces a desire to be with him; a desire to be like him, a longing to be with him eternally in heaven, and this breaks us away from worldliness; this keeps us from idolatry, and thus has a most blessedly sanctifying effect upon us, producing that elevated character which is now so rare, but which wherever it exists is powerful for the good of the church and for the glory of God." - SPURGEON

The Love of Christ compels us.

E. Stanley Jones, the great missionary to India, told of a time when he looked at a platform where two preachers sat. They had approached ministry in different ways. One took the method of looking out for himself and saw that he received the proper place on committees, proper recognition and authority. He knew how to pull strings and to move situations in his own behalf. He arrived at a place high in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. After he got there, however, he was sitting upon an empty throne. Jones said, "When he preached to us, we couldn't hear anything he was saying for we would always recall those methods by which he arrived at that place. His history spoke so loud to us we couldn't hear anything he said." Beside him sat Sadhu Sundar Singh. He had asked for no place of authority and had given himself to the people for Christ. What happened in his life? He had an authority over people's spirits that was tremendous. If it was known that Sundar Singh was going to preach somewhere, the whole city rushed to hear him. He had lost himself and he found himself in a place of authority.

Your Practical Duty is called for examination “for My sake and the Gospel’s”

Never more God-like than when loving others.. sacrificing for others John 3:16… sacrificing for others that they might have eternal life.

Personal devotion should lead to practical duty, the sharing of the gospel with a lost world. “For my sake” could lead to selfish religious isolationism, so it must be balanced with “and the gospel’s.” Because we live for Him, we live for others.

Discipleship is a matter of profit and loss, a question of whether we will waste our lives or invest our lives. Note the severe warning Jesus gives us here: once we have spent our lives, we cannot buy them back! Remember, He was instructing His disciples, men who had already confessed Him as the Son of God. He was not telling them how to be saved and go to heaven, but how to save their lives and make the most of their opportunities on earth. “Losing your soul” is the equivalent of wasting your life, missing the great opportunities God gives you to make your life count. You may “gain the whole world” and be a success in the eyes of men, and yet have nothing to show for your life when you stand before God. If that happens, though you did own the whole world, it would not be a sufficient price to give to God to buy another chance at life.

Is there any reward for the person who is a true disciple? Yes, there is: he becomes more like Jesus Christ and one day shares in His glory. Satan promises you glory, but in the end, you receive suffering. God promises you suffering, but in the end, that suffering is transformed into glory. If we acknowledge Christ and live for Him, He will one day acknowledge us and share His glory with us.

Pastor you have already paid a high price. Your congregation may not recognise the interminable hours spent in ministry on their behalf… the lack of free time with your family; the continual responsibility for all the churches; 2 Cor 11: danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;
27  in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
29  Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

Merrill Tenney sets the scene: “Jesus withdrew to Caesarea Philippi to confer privately with his disciples. His situation had become critical, and he needed to give them further instruction and to elicit from them a commitment of loyalty. The impending event of the Cross made it necessary for them to declare their values. Would they, in the stress of the days before them, choose the safety and comfort of living for themselves? Or would they accept his values and adhere to him at all costs?” Who really is the Boss here?

It is here that Jesus asks the famous question, "Whom do men say I am?" And it is here that Peter gives his confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." The scene at Ceasarea Philippi should grip our minds. As the Lord Jesus calls His disciples to follow Him, the “where” of where they will follow Him was abundantly clear. Ceasarea Phillippi was the city Herod’s brother Philip built in honour of the Roman Emperor Caesar. Herod had built lavish palaces, a race track and a theatre beside the sea For Rome’s emperors should they ever want to run away for a summer holiday! Philip built one in the mountains just below Mount Hermon, where the beautiful crystal clear and cold waters of the Jirdan commenced flowing from snow clad Hermon, on the border to Syria. And to make Ceasar more comfortable there were temples to the Roman Pantheon of gods carved into the rock that is almost the border of Israel. The Lord Jesus was saying “Follow me into a pagan world with the message of One God, One Saviour, One salvation to this pluralistic multicultural world.” Jesus is seeking for more than a confession; he is seeking for commitment!

Pastor The Lord Jesus calls you to follow Him into this world with His Gospel to save the lost.

Dr. Watts says:

“Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize And sailed through bloody seas?”


3. The bountiful benefits

He that wills to serve God for nought, will find that he does not serve God for nought.

Our motive must be free from selfishness, but in the end the Lord will reward all the faithful. Satan asked, "Doth Job serve God for nought ?" But we might answer, "Dost thou think that God is such a Master that he would let a man serve him for nought ?"

It effects your Eternal life

If you try to "save" your life, in the end you "lose" it. But if you dare to "lose" it for Jesus' sake, in the end you "save" it.

Many years ago, archaeologists discovered the tomb of Charlemagne, the great 8th- and 9th-century king and emperor of France. When the tomb was opened, after being closed for centuries, the men who entered it found something amazing. They found certain treasures of the kingdom, of course. But in the center of the large vault was a throne, and seated on the throne was the skeleton of Charlemagne, with an open Bible on his lap, and a bony finger pointing at the words, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" What a tremendous lesson from history to those of us who follow!

It effects your earthly labour

Brother “Why are you doing this?” Working for Christians stinks.

In 1992 a comedy movie called "Sister Act" was released. It starred Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier, a Reno lounge singer who witnesses her mobster boyfriend killing an employer. She was assigned through a witness protection program to live, of all places, in a convent. You can imagine that a lounge singer has a struggle fitting in as an imaginary nun with her new friends, Sisters Mary Patrick, Mary Lazarus and Mary Robert. After Mother Superior catches Deloris taking her new nun friends to a bar, she orders Deloris to join the convent choir.

Not only does Deloris join the choir, soon she is directing them and turns the choir into the swinging, singing sisters! They are a hit with the neighborhood and soon the church is filled with new ministries and folks from across the city coming to hear them sing. Only they aren't singing "Amazing Grace" and "Rock of Ages," they are singing secular songs with spiritual overtones. The movie climaxes with a rousing concert in the church's gothic sanctuary with the Pope present. The choir, directed by Deloris, who has been given a new name, Sister Mary Clarence, brings down the house in its grand finale, a teenybopper romance song from the 60s with these timely and meaningful words:

I will follow Him - Follow Him wherever He may go,

and near Him, I always will be,

For nothing can keep me away,

He is my destiny

I will follow Him, Ever since He touched my heart I knew,

There isn't an ocean too deep, A mountain so high it can keep,

Keep me away, away from His love.

I love Him, I love Him, I love Him, and where he goes,

I will follow, I will follow, I will follow.

He'll always be my true love, my true love, my true love,

From now until forever, forever, forever.



General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was asked the secret of his amazing Christian life. Booth answered, ‘I told the Lord that He could have all that there is of William Booth”



Have you told the Lord He can have all of you?

Will you tell Him this now?

Friday, March 16, 2012


Conducting formal meetings


In the course of ministry it is often necessary to record minutes in a formal and legally binding manner. This may occur when forming boards involving finances, handling decision making processes for large groups of people in a representative manner, or when continuing formal boards that support mission.

Sometimes formalising the meeting process may allow arrival at a final decision of a group to proceed quickly and easily with a minimum of discussion.

As Christians, doing things well and in an orderly manner is important. It must not be forgotten however that doing things in an orderly manner does not negate doing things in a godly manner.

Some terms:

Constitutions : Every organisation that legally exists in NSW must have a constitution (approved by the Department of Fair Trade NSW and the Australian Taxation office; granting them an ABR Australian Business registration and an ABN Australian Business Number). Simple constitutions (similar to Model constitutions provided by similar organisations or the Department of Fair Trade NSW) are better than complex ones that may not pass review by the ATO. Constitutions should include all things required by the ATO.

ByLaws: A ByLaw can refer to a law of local or limited application passed under the authority of a higher law specifying what things may be regulated by the by-law. It can also refer to the internal rules of a company or organization. Bylaws widely vary from organization to organization, but generally cover topics such as how directors are elected, how meetings of directors (and in the case of a business, shareholders) are conducted, and what officers the organization will have and a description of their duties. ByLaws include subjects such as; Name, Object, Members, Officers, Meetings, Executive board, Committees, Parliamentary authority, Amendment.

Minutes of a meeting: The meetings of a meeting are a legal document and can include procedural matters and other items not included in a constitution. Decisions of a meeting should not normally contravene a constitution of the given organisation, however with suitable voting procedures, may allow the constitution or buy laws to be altered or negated for a time during a meeting.

Positions: When formal meetings of a binding character are conducted, several positions need to be filled by agreement and appointment of the meeting. These roles may be for one meeting or for a longer term;


- To help facilitate the meeting.

- To keep order.

- Make rulings on points of order, points of information, or points of procedure.

- The chair generally remains neutral, but can vacate the chair if the chair wishes to weigh in on a particular side of an issue.

- The chair cannot make a motion, but may prompt for one from the members if it is evident a motion is needed.

- To clarify and restate pending motions for which a vote is in order.

- Can vote on an issue if that vote would impact the outcome (provide a casting vote).

Vice Chair:

Takes the chair if the presiding chair wishes to vacate on an issue or if the presiding chair is absent.

- Can make motions and has full voting rights.


- To accurately record the facts of the meeting for future use.

- To note all motions and their results. The minutes should not contain discussions of motions.

- To present and post minutes of the meeting and keep past minutes filed for future reference.

- Is next in line to fill the chair in the absence of the presiding chair or vice chair.

Committee Members:

- To own the meeting.

- To make, discuss, amend and vote on motions germane to the agenda.

- To ensure the actions taken and motions passed represent the needs and requests of the membership at large.

- To uphold the bylaws and constitution of the organisation.


- Everyone can participate in the development of the agenda. Suggest topics or issues that you feel need to be covered.

- Whenever possible, the agenda should be sent out prior to the meeting.

- Agenda should be organized as:

(1) Call to order

(2) Read and approve minutes

(3) Reports of officers and standing committees

(4) Reports of special committees

(5) Special orders

(6) Unfinished business

(7) New business

(8) Adjourn


- Reports should be prepared ahead and copies brought. Or if possible, distributed to members prior to the meeting especially if they are of great length, or constitute a motion that will require a vote.

- Reports should be as clear and succinct as possible. Recommendations from standing or special committees should be made in the form of a motion. These motions do not require a second.

Effective Discussions and Organisational Decision-making

For a discussion to be effective there are some rules of decorum that should be followed.

(1) Speak when called on.

(2) Direct comments to the chair.

(3) Don't be disruptive.

(4) Make corrections politely if you know something is inaccurate.

(5) Allow the chair to interrupt you. However, to not interrupt others unless calling for one of the items listed above.

Motion: To introduce a new piece of business or propose a decision or action, a motion must be

made by a group member ("I move that......") A second motion must then also be made (raise your

hand and say, "I second it.") After limited discussion the group then votes on the motion. A

majority vote is required for the motion to pass (or quorum as specified in your bylaws.)

· A main motion must be moved, seconded, and stated by the chair before it can be discussed.

· If you approve the motion as is, vote for it.

· If you disapprove the motion, vote against it.

· If you approve the idea of the motion but want to change it, amend it or submit a substitute for it.

· If you think that too much time is being consumed by speakers, you can move a time limit on such speeches.


· The member who made the motion is entitled to speak first.

· Every member has the right to speak in debate.

· The Chair should alternate between those "for" the motion and those "against" the motion.

· The discussion should be related to the pending motion.

· Avoid using a person's name in debate.

· All questions should be directed to the Chair.

Amend: This is the process used to change a motion under consideration. Perhaps you like the idea proposed but not exactly as offered. Raise your hand and make the following motion: "I move to amend the motion on the floor." This also requires a second. After the motion to amend is seconded, a majority vote is needed to decide whether the amendment is accepted. Then a vote is taken on the amended motion.

Discussion Items that require a vote:

- Items that bring up a question of "what shall we do?" require a motion and a vote.

These items need to follow a process;

(1) Presentation of item

(2) Motion made and seconded

(3) Discussion

(4) Restatement of the motion

(5) Vote

(6) Move on to next item

- While a motion is on the floor may be amended. However, the amendment must be germane to the main motion presented.

During a discussion (or debate) members may also want to make one of the following motions. (These motions do not allow interruption of the speaker.)

(1) Lay on the table definitely. This puts the motion on the floor aside for the moment and sets a definite time to bring it back to the floor.

(2) Lay on the table indefinitely. This kills the motion.

(3) Refer to committee. This puts the motion aside and asks that a committee do some research and come back with a proposal.

Voting can be done in any number of ways:

Vote by voices, The Chair may say; “All in favour say “aye” (pause) against say “nay” or "Those in favour - Aye. Those opposed - No". This will be used when a majority vote is needed, and there may be opposition to the motion.

Vote by hands The Chair may say: “All in favour raise your right hand (pause) against raise your right hand.” This may be done with larger groups of people where scrutineers appointed by the chair or the chair may take the hand count.

Secret Ballot This is a helpful way to handle disagreements which involve personalities. Effective chairs will prepare ballot papers ahead of time. It is often helpful to have a simple ballot paper with two boxes that may be ticked;

clip_image001clip_image002“yes” “no”

Voting for positions in an organisation is often conducted by secret ballot.

Parliamentary Motions Guide The motions below are listed in order of precedence. Any motion can be introduced if it is higher on the chart than the pending motion. YOU WANT TO:







Close meeting

I move to adjourn






Take break

I move to recess for






Register complaint

I rise to a question of privilege






Make follow agenda

I call for the orders of the day






Lay aside temporarily

I move to lay the question on the table






Close debate

I move the previous question






Limit or extend debate

I move that debate be limited to ...






Postpone to a certain time

I move to postpone the motion to ...






Refer to committee

I move to refer the motion to …






Modify wording of motion

I move to amend the motion by ...






Kill main motion

I move that the motion be postponed indefinitely






Bring business before assembly (a main motion)

I move that [or "to"] ...






Enforce rules

Point of order






Submit matter to assembly

I appeal from the decision of the chair






Suspend rules

I move to suspend the rules which …






Avoid main motion altogether

I object to the consideration of the question






Divide motion

I move to divide the question






Demand rising vote

I call for a division






Parliamentary law question

Parliamentary inquiry

Yes (if urgent)





Request information

Request for information

Yes (if urgent)






Would You Be A Christian? Mark 8:34-36


Mark 8

34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.

36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?


1. The rigid requirements

"Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.




2. The compelling causes 

Losing your life to save it.


3. The bountiful benefits

It effects your Eternal life


It effects your earthly labour

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Proverbs 1 Philosophical Ethics?

That everybody has “values” is obvious. It is equally obvious that there is considerable
disagreement on what constitutes a valid value system.

The NSW Government has recently endorsed the teaching of Philosophical Ethics in NSW Government schools.  How do we as Christians respond to this? What do Christians understand about the development of Ethics?


I. Ethics—What Are They?

Ethics concerns our moral values.

“Personal beliefs that propel us to action, to a particular kind of behavior and life.”  (Hunter Lewis, A Question of Values, p.1)
Are Ethics a matter of:
Merely a matter of Interest. 
Merely a matter of Preference. 
Something we respect in others and wish others to respect in us? 
Or are they a matter for Commitment?

Is there any moral authority to our ethics and values?

II. Ethics—Where Do You Get It?

Are Moral values relative? If they are derived from our parents, our families, or  our society then our ethics are relative; that is, morals and values may differ and change from person to person, society to society, community to community. In our Australian pluralistic society we may be tempted to believe that all of our values and therefore our Ethics are relative; changing, ephemeral, without substance, alterable,votable and insubstantial in the long term.

The sources Values may be derived from;
1. Authority. 
2. Deductive logic.
3. Sense experience. 
4. Emotion.
5. Intuition and conscience.
6. Science.

“The Big Sez Who”   Which is it?
1. Self decides.
2. Society determines. 
3. Sovereign reigns.


III. Ethics  -What does Scripture say?

Proverbs 1

1  The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,
3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4 to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—
5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6 to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

A. Mental and moral skills must be attained. v. 2

B. Practical common sense must be acquired. v. 3

C. All need instruction vv. 4-5

D. Awe of God   (“The fear of the Lord”)  is where you start. v. 7


There can be no instruction in Ethics without an Awe for God;

He establishes Absolute Ethics.

He internalises an individual’s Absolute Ethics (conscience)

He encourages the teaching and administration of Absolute ethics

He endorses societies with Absolute ethics.


“The Wise Heart” Psalm 90

There are two inescapable realities—death and evil.

How can you handle the pressures of death and evil?

I. Re-affirm Your Basic Beliefs.

1. Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
A. The existence of the Lord.
B. The experience of the Lord.
A dwelling place—despite the wilderness.   For all generations
C. The eternal nature of the Lord.
He is the God of creation.
He is the God of the ages.

II. Reflect on the Basic Issues. vv. 3-11

Consider the brevity of life in the light of eternity.

3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.

Consider the reality of evil.

7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Consider the misery of humanity.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?

III. Recognise Your Basic Needs.

12  So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13  Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

Evaluate life correctly. 12a; See Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5
Employ Wisdom. v. 12b; See Proverbs 9:10
Enter Divine love. vv. 13-14a; See John 3:16
Enjoy the Lord. vv. 14b-15
Experience divine activity. v. 16
Establish God’s blessing v. 17; See Ephesians 2:10

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