We are excited about running Alpha at our church from October 2nd to December 4th. This is a safe place for people to explore Christianity for themselves where no question is off limits. Check out the video promo below.
Have you ever realised that your body is a temple? In Paul’s epistles he consistently points towards this fact. In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul on numerous occasions hints at this amazing truth. We read the following in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred – and you, remember, are the temple. – MSG
I love this passage for several reasons, but it has serious implications for us. For instance, if we call ourselves Jesus followers it means that WE ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD. The Holy Spirit which created the universe, parted the Red Sea, and was present in the incarnation now lives in us.
This means that we are worth something!!! We are so precious to God that they now dwell in us! How amazing is this truth, especially in a world where we are told our worth comes from our social status. God says you are ENOUGH… better yet God says YOU ARE VALUABLE BEYOND MEASURE TO US.
This is big because it means that all humanity is VALUABLE and when we dishonour or dehumanise the other…… we are dehumanising the very TEMPLE of GOD. Even if they are a not a Jesus Follower yet, they are a TEMPLE OF GOD in RESTORTATION.
In our world with so many differing opinions it is hard to show love and not dehumanise the other. As Jesus followers we are called to walk this hard & complicated path that continues to ask us to express the sacrificial love revealed to us in Jesus Christ.
Last week I spoke about Speaking the Truth in Love and explored Ephesians 4:15-16 in more depth.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
– Ephesians 4:15-16
Too often we have used this misquoted verse to excuse some of the most unloving actions in Church history. We cannot go back in time to change any of these actions but we can control how we live out the Gospel in the present.
Remembering the first time “in love” is used in this section of Ephesians which is aimed at maintaining Unity with Christ followers. At the beginning of this section, we read the following:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
-Ephesians 4:1-6 ESV
This means that Speaking the Truth in Love cannot be separated from humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and mainlining unity through the bond of peace. We also need to remember that TRUTH in the Bible often means to simply not lie, it has nothing to do with sharing our unrequested opinions to others. To ensure we Speak the Truth in Love let’s live out the Gospel of Christ with our actions and humbly share our convictions when requested.
How many harmful debates around God would end if we simply humbly shared our convictions upon request? Allowing our actions to preach the Gospel and only using words when required as Saint Francis of Assisi encouraged us to as Jesus followers.
To be honest this doesn’t take a major effort on our part and truthfully adding the simple phrase, “but I could be wrong,” at the end of our sharing of our conviction could have profound implications allowing many to experience the love of Christ. The Love of Christ has the power to change our world! We are simply asked to live it out and humbly share our convictions when requested.
This is Speaking the Truth in Love
The following is Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation from the Center for Action and Contemplation. We hear from Diana Butler Bass who speaks about Seeing Jesus Again.
|The question of how we see, and what the lenses are that allow us to understand our lives and the world more deeply is a question that I’ve cared about for a really long time. . . . How do we understand where and how the divine, where God, the Holy Spirit is operating in our lives, in our institutions, and the world around us? What gives us the capacity to even understand any of that? . . . In the latest book [Freeing Jesus], what I really wanted to do is settle down to the basic issue, or the basic central reality of Christianity. Because people started asking me about ten years ago, “Why do you stay Christian?” . . . And I’d have all sorts of fancy answers and then I’d just say, well, it’s because of Jesus. . . . That’s where I wanted to go, and think about: who is Jesus really? Who has Jesus been for me? And why has that been so central to my own life story? . . . And I think where Freeing Jesus has taken me is that somehow staying Christian is about staying in and with and through Jesus. Jesus has everything to do with it. And that really matters to me. Yet Jesus has not stayed the same for me through my whole life’s journey. And so, I’ve had to be open to understanding that, even though there’s one verse in Hebrews that says “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever” [Hebrews 13:8], I have not stayed the same yesterday, today, and forever. The church does not stay the same yesterday, today, and forever. And so, in a very real way, Jesus has changed for me. Jesus changes for the world. Jesus changes for the institutions of faith, for the church. . . . If you’re not doing that kind of work, of letting the end of one image emerge for you and a new image of Jesus be born for you, you’re probably in a pretty static place in your own faith. |
In Freeing Jesus, Bass describes our relationship with Jesus as a dynamic opportunity to see God and ourselves perpetually anew:
If we think that being with Jesus means getting the right answers from a creed or remembering points of doctrine from a sermon, we probably will not manage to truly know Jesus. We will only succeed in keeping the right responses scribbled on some back page of our memory. “Who are you, Lord?” [Acts 9:3–5] is the question of a lifetime, to be asked and experienced over and over again. That query frees Jesus to show up in our lives over and over again, and entails remembering where we first met, how we struggled with each other along the road, and what we learned in the process. [Diana Butler Bass, Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence (New York: HarperOne, 2021)]
The following is a poetic prayer of pain & grief to God after hearing about the Mass Shooting in Uvalde, Texas, USA at Robb Elementary School. My prayers, thoughts, condolences go to all the families hurt in this tragedy. Hopefully one day in the near future real change will happen so we never repeat the phrase ‘not again’.
I scroll to discover another mass shooting in my home country.
19 kids under 11 killed for no reason…
2 adults trying to protect them…..
A President gives a far too familiar heart felt speech…
Promising change and a stand against the NRA.
Does this mean a rejection of all the pro-gun lobby groups?
Their money funded every political official’s campaign……
A misconstrued commandment made when there were no automatic or semi-automatic weapons……
Before a National Military was sworn to protect the land….
Commandments were never meant to be static….
They are a living organism….
19 kids under 11 killed for no reason….
2 adults trying to protect them…
A hurt traumatised young men pulled a trigger to easily accessible…
The debate will run its course again….
Advocating both sides while….
19 kids under 11 & 2 adults are buried….
Endless debates that too often led to zero change…
Leading me to say……
Not Again……far too soon.
God help us change so we never again have to say….
Have you ever felt stuck?
Where your body is unable to move,
The mind is unable to dream,
The heart is unable to hope.
Days seem to never end,
Your only escape from the Nightmare is sleep.
Then you hear a small voice saying,
“Get up and walk with me.”
Your body begins to move,
The mind starts to dream,
The heart can hope.
Then you hear the voice again saying,
“I am here with you.”
A warmth and peace spreads starting with
Your body as it moves again,
Then your mind as it dreams,
Followed by your heart as it hopes.
The voice of Christ whispers to you again saying,
“You are my friend, and I need your help with something.”
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation – May 11th, 2022
In his poem “Glosa á lo Divino,” John of the Cross reveals his deep trust in the mystery of “not knowing,” confident that it will lead him into greater intimacy with God. We share with you Mirabai Starr’s translation.
I would not sacrifice my soul
for all the beauty of this world.
There is only one thing
for which I would risk everything:
that lies hidden
in the heart of the Mystery.
The taste of finite pleasure
All it does is exhaust the appetite
and ravage the palate.
And so, I would not sacrifice my soul
for all the sweetness of this world.
But I would risk everything
for an I-don’t-know-what
that lies hidden
in the heart of the Mystery.
The generous heart
does not collapse into the easy things,
but rises up in adversity.
It settles for nothing.
Faith lifts it higher and higher.
Such a heart savors
found only in the heart of the Mystery.
The soul that God has touched
burns with love-longing.
Her tastes have been transfigured.
Ordinary pleasures sicken her.
She is like a person with a fever;
nothing tastes good anymore.
All she wants
is an I-don’t-know-what
locked in the heart of
the Mystery. . . .
I will never lose myself
for anything the senses can taste,
nor for anything the mind can grasp,
no matter how sublime,
I will not pause for beauty,
I will not linger over grace.
I am bound for
deep within the heart of the Mystery.
—John of the Cross, Glosa á lo Divino, trans. Mirabai Starr
In our final message we looked at the Domestication of the Cross and how the cross should launch us to action for those being persecuted and treated as outcasts today. Below you will find the Podcast of this message due to our Video Camera having issues.
In our upcoming series called Shining Star we are diving into the book of Esther. This is an incredible book where God is never mentioned but is constantly working. In this series we are going to explore four things from Esther.
First, we are going to look at Moral Ambiguity & God because this book is full of drinking, sex, and broken Torah commands. Which doesn’t allow us to stay and black & white thinking, with a God that is working throughout all these moments.
Next, we will look at how this story can help us find the Courage to Pivot the Narratives forced upon us by society. Esther finds the courage to pivot a narrative that was going to lead to the mass genocide of her people.
After covering these two things we will have a special Sunday where the Kids & Youth take over our Church service. In this service they will help us discover more about looking out for God in action.
To conclude this series, we will explore how The Movement of God is Seen if we are willing to go on the journey of discovery. The author of Esther invites us on this journey by working tirelessly to avoid mentioning God by name or using religious language.
You Are Worthy
Let that sink in….
Too often we believe a lie.
A lie that traps us in fear.
Making us believe we are Unworthy.
This fear gains strength through misunderstanding of Scripture.
God has given each of us his divine spark.
The Breath of life was given to all humanity.
We all have a capacity for sinfulness,
While also having a divine image to shine.
God desires relationship with humanity because we are Worthy.
Our creator made us in a divine image,
And we each something special to bring to our world.
So, always remember YOU ARE WORTHY.
Have you noticed the ‘Us & Them’ rhetoric from all different angles lately? The rhetoric is not new, but we are becoming more polarizing each day. This extreme polarization is fueled by three main things: Social Media, Keyboards, & Fear. Let me unpack what I mean and how these things are like petrol being poured on a fire.
Social Media is set up to get a reaction and keep our eyes on the screen. A complex computer algorithm has figured out the thing that keeps humans glued to a screen. which is often our outrage. We spend time on our phone looking at things the algorithm knows will keep our attention. Social Media is even where many of us will get our news reports, which are fixed to meet the algorithm we created. This means we often don’t hear from opposing opinions unless it is a click bait item which will spark outrage. This has stopped us from seeing the perspective of the other, keeping us entangled in our algorithm where we feel it is ‘Us & Them’.
Keyboards enable the fire set by the social media algorithm to grow faster. We can show easily pick the other apart when they remain an object. This allows us to speak to people by typing things on a keyboard we would never say in person. We become disconnected from the other, unable to see them as a person. Since there is no social interaction which creates a lack of social cues, there is a constant state of misunderstanding. A voice is created in our head about how the person sounded, and the social cues they are giving which often is not accurate. We stay brave behind our keyboards saying things and creating social cues for the other while dehumanizing them.
Fear keeps us in this place where we stay trapped behind our keyboard and create friendship groups that are presented to us by our social algorithm. What else are we to do but see the world becoming increasingly divisive, which allows our fear takes hold of us, telling us to stay away from the other. A narrative is created in our head where the other (those who don’t agree with us) are out to get us and lack the level of humanity we possess. Making us conclude that the only we can do is fear them because they will hurt, attack, and potentially show us there is more to the narrative developed inside our heads.
Our society is facing an out-of-control forest fire where we are attempting to create a world where it is ‘Us & Them.’ Pushing rhetoric and narratives that enable us to dehumanize someone who thinks differently. I believe as followers of Christ it is time to do the work in putting out this forest fire because there is no ‘Us & Them‘, there is JUST US. We are all humans created with a divine spark, and Genesis 1:27 makes that clear,
“So God created man*Hebrew word here includes both men and women* in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – ESV
As Christians let’s show the world there is only JUST US by stepping out of comfort zones. Building relationships with the others who think differently to us and having face to face conversations while enjoying a meal, coffee, beer, or wine together. Hearing the heart of others without attempting to tell them how they are wrong. Creating an atmosphere where we can share our opinions without judgement and persecution because we are all humans doing the best we can on this planet. Always remembering that,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 ESV
by Pastor Matt George
Check out our Midweek Devotional Standing Up for What’s Right?
Have you ever wondered about what it means to build true community? The Early Church was known for building true community that found favor among all people regardless of religious difference. We read this in Acts 2:42-47
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
As Christians we should be known by the true communities we build. Communities that are inclusive, gracious, and supportive. Where people could disagree with our religious standpoint but be unable to fault our ability to build communities that holistically looks after individuals. Sadly, this is not what the Church and Christians are known for throughout our world.
We are doing a series diving into how we can build these kinds of communities like the Early Church. This would enable the church to become contagious again and help others connect with the love, grace, mercy, and peace of Christ that surpass all understanding. Our hearts as Christians should always be to remove any obstacle stopping others from connecting with the heart of God.
I read this blog post recently called Be Curious which has led to me being curious when it comes to helping my kids on their faith journey. Not only my kids but those who come to me seeking advice. Making me relook at the way I pastor the Church I have the privilege of leading. This curiosity has led to a wonderful time of reflection with God. That is why I am posting it here on our website to allow you to join me in being curious when it comes to supporting others in their faith journey. I pray you read this blog post and are blessed by it as you journey with God in your life.
Pastor Matt George
One of the areas in parenting where fear fights curiosity the most is in regard to faith. I remember correcting six-year-old Sinclair for something she’d done wrong, but it felt all wobbly. It felt like I was trying to force a square peg into a round hole. As I explained to Sinclair that she needed to ask forgiveness from me for her wrong action, I also told her she needed to ask forgiveness from God. As someone who grew up evangelical, I had it drilled into me that no matter what “wrong” I’ve done, I must ask forgiveness from God. This logic never felt wonky to me until I looked into the face of my little girl. And even though it felt wonky, being the good Christian girl I was, I kept moving forward. Fear was yelling at me from the backseat, If you don’t get her to see her need for Jesus, she is screwed for eternity!
That’s when my husband, Scott stepped in, brave enough to interrupt me and say he didn’t think we were going about this well. He stepped forward in the thick of vulnerability and uncertainty. At the risk of making me upset, he spoke up. And he was right. Sinclair could barely comprehend how her offense was wrong toward another person, let alone toward a God she couldn’t see. So right then and there, we looked at fear and reminded it to sit quietly in the backseat. It’s scary to do something different from how you were taught and how everyone around you is doing it. But we were curious. We wondered, What difference would it make in our girls’ lives if they didn’t grow up fearing their actions, fearing that God was watching, feeling disappointed, and waiting for an apology?
So we made a choice about faith and our kids. We stopped pointing out their needs for a Savior—a remedy for their sinfulness. We focused more on loving yourself and loving your neighbor. In moments like I described before, we focused on just making it right with the other human that they hurt. We wanted to build a faith on love instead of a faith built on your need for a Savior.
Curiosity is all about asking questions. And so I started asking questions about other parts of my faith. Curiosity allowed me to ask those questions freely. But most importantly, it allowed me to give my girls space to ask their own faith questions. Most likely because of my personality, I didn’t grow up asking questions; I grew up just accepting what I was told. But I knew I wanted my girls to live curious lives instead of lives driven by fear, especially in regard to faith, and I knew I needed to model for them how to do this.
Scott and I had experienced enough as adults to know that life was far less clear and certain than we’d grown up believing. And after raising our girls for a while, we knew they both had a kid’s natural ability to see life from different perspectives. We didn’t want them to lose that.
We thought about how to help them build a faith of their own. To do that, we wanted them to become women who can ask questions and think critically to determine what and why they believe something. When they were little, we said things like, “God loves you,” and “God made you,” but we avoided certain Bible stories that could lead to fear or cause confusion about God’s love. Then, as they grew, we leaned into their natural curiosity—their developmental wiring to think like engineers and scientists. This may not be for everyone, but we stopped giving certain answers about faith to their curious questions. Instead, we replaced answers with questions like, “People believe a lot of different things. What do you think?” We want them to figure out for themselves what they believe so that they can develop a faith of their own—not just a neatly packaged faith that was handed to them.
We all know that there is nothing “neat” about life. Life is often messy and more gray than we imagined as children. We want our girls to hold space for the unknown. To ask questions. To be curious. To wonder.
We tend to think that the opposite of faith is doubt, but the opposite of faith is certainty. Faith in its essence requires an ability to sit in the unknown—in what we cannot see.
Raising my girls has highlighted the uncertainty of life. It has highlighted all the things I didn’t know, all the things I couldn’t understand, and all the things that didn’t have a clear answer. But instead of decreasing my faith, it increased my faith—my ability to believe in what I cannot see and embrace the uncertainty instead of fearing it.
That’s what I want for my girls. I don’t want the unknown and uncertainty of life to bump up against what they always believed was certain to the point that it wrecks their faith. Instead, I want them to build their faith piece by piece through curiosity and questions.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is an open-ended response. When we respond to their questions with curiosity instead of fear, our kids find freedom. They learn that curiosity is not the enemy. We have close friends who see it differently but still guide their kids toward curiosity. They still give certain answers and encourage them to ask questions. My point is that no matter how you choose to talk about faith with your kids, the goal is the same: for them to own their own faith. And curiosity is a wonderful guide.
Enjoyed this post from Sarah Bragg? Here’s where you can find out more!
Podcast: Surviving Sarah
Throughout our upcoming series called Stories From the Heart, we are going to be diving into stories in the Bible and discovering the heart of some of our most loved Bible Stories. This will allow us to dive deeper with God and discover more of God’s heart.
Too often we do not dive into the Bible and really wrestle with the stories presented in the holy scriptures. This series is aimed at diving into the stories to discover more about the heart of God.
As Christians we should always be seeking fresh revelations because the Bible is the living word of God meaning there is always more to discover. Sometimes the smallest verse or sentence can completely reshape our understanding of a passage. This happens once we are willing to truly dive into the scripture. Swimming in the deep waters with God is something that can totally reshape our walk with Christ.
The goal of this series is to help us learn more about the Heart of God and I would encourage you to attend one our services at 9am at 6 Highfields RD followed by Morning Tea. May God’s grace and peace be with you and may you always remember there is more to discover.
Please the messages planned below:
The Story Melchizedek
In this message we look at the story of Melchizedek found in the Bible and wideness of the Heart of God.
(Pastor Matt George)
Jesus and the Women Caught in Adultery
We will unpack a story of Jesus and a Women caught in adultery and how this reveals something beautiful about the Heart of God.
(Pastor Matt George)
The Financial Supporters of Jesus’s Ministry
In this message we will look at the individuals that financially supported Jesus’s ministry and what this shows us about the diversity embraced in the Heart of God.
(Pastor Matt George)
Joseph from Arimathea
We will look at the story of Joseph from Arimathea found in Luke 23: 50-56 and what this reveals about the Heart of God.
Check out our recent Midweek Devotional by clicking the link below.
Check out our recent Midweek Devotional where we hear the Communion Message from Mal Spooner (August 1st, 2021).
Check out our Midweek Devotional about our upcoming series for the month of August.
Check out our recent Midweek Devotional by watching the video below.
The following is Richard Rhor’s Daily Meditation from Centre for Action and Contemplation
| Popular religious scholar and friend Diana Butler Bass shares how Jesus’ teaching “on the mount” placed him in the lineage of Moses and other revered Jewish prophets. Jesus builds on his own Jewish tradition to call his hearers to transformative living. She writes: This section [Matthew 5–7] opens with Jesus going “up the mountain,” a deliberate choice that ancient Jewish Christians would have recognized as aligning Moses and Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount opens with blessings—on the poor, those who mourn, the meek, and those who hunger—in the same way that Moses pronounces blessings on the people of Israel as they prepare to enter the land of milk and honey in Deuteronomy 28. . .. |
Jesus’s first hearers would have understood what he was doing. Jesus was restating the written Torah, the passed-down law of Moses, in the words of his own “oral Torah,” a practice common in Judaism. In Matthew, Jesus places himself in the line of authoritative voices in the Hebrew tradition. Although this was done throughout the history of Israel by teachers, scribes, and prophets, including the most revered leaders, when Jesus claimed to join the ranks of these teachers, it was a pretty gutsy thing to do. . .. Near the end of the sermon, Jesus states the Golden Rule, the foundation of all the commandments: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and prophets” (7:12) . . . .
The crowds got it—Jesus the rabbi was at work renewing and reinterpreting the law and, in the process, claiming the divine authority to do so: a teacher and a prophet. . . . Jesus does not replace. Jesus reimagines and expands, inviting an alternative and often innovative reading of Jewish tradition. 
The German preacher and religious reformer Eberhard Arnold (1883–1935) believed that the people who heard Jesus’ message—both in his own time as well as ours—were obligated to act on the ancient call of God to live the Great Commandment, not simply listen to it.
It is incredible dishonesty in the human heart to pray daily that this kingdom should come, that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven, and at the same time to deny that Jesus wants this kingdom to be put into practice on earth. Whoever asks for the rulership of God to come down on earth must believe in it and be wholeheartedly resolved to carry it out. Those who emphasize that the Sermon on the Mount is impractical and weaken its moral obligations should remember the concluding words, “Not all who say ‘Lord’ to me shall reach the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven” [Matthew 7:21]. 
 Diana Butler Bass, Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence (HarperOne: 2021), 39, 40, 41.
 Eberhard Arnold, Salt and Light: Living the Sermon on the Mount, 4th ed. (Plough Publishing House: 1998), 135.