• What is your attitude to the poor?

    In preparing a sermon about Social Justice and the gospel I found this convicting quote by the great  Scottish preacher Robert Murray McCheyne:

    “I fear there are some Christians among you to whom Christ cannot say ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.’ Your haughty dwelling arises in the midst of thousands who have scarce a fire to warm themselves at and have but little clothing to keep out the biting frost, and yet you never darkened their door. You heave a sigh perhaps at a distance, but you do not visit them. Ah my dear friends, I am concerned for the poor, but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you on the great day. You seem to be Christians, and yet you care not for his poor. Oh, what a change will pass upon you as you enter the gates of heaven! You will be saved, but that will be all. There will be no abundant entrance for you. ‘He that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly.’

    And I fear that there may be many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians, because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart. An old heart would rather part with its life-blood than its money. Oh my friends, enjoy your money. Make the most of it. Give none of it away. Enjoy it quickly, for I can tell you, you will be beggars throughout eternity.”

    Robert Murray McCheyne, Works (New York, 1847), II:482.

     

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  • Resolved is moving!

    After about 18 months at The Roxbury Hotel in Glebe, Resolved church is moving to Golden Grove, which is at 5 Forbes Street, Newtown. We are very excited to move but I’m sure some of you are asking, ‘Why the move?’ I mean, when you’re at a cool pub why not stay there? Here are the reasons for the move:

    1. Space. Right now at the Roxbury, if we hit our average for the year the room is feeling full. This is an issue because we want people to feel like there is always more room for new people and there are always seats for their friends that don’t know Jesus. Right now a semi full room is not allowing us to grow. Golden grove has an auditorium which can seat over 100 people. This will allow Resolved to enter into its next stage of growth.

    2. Crèche. Over the past little while there has been an influx of new life at Resolved and we therefore need a dedicated room for Creche. We did make do at the Roxbury but to move forward we need a room where kids can be taught about Jesus and play safely, and Golden Grove has ample rooms for this to happen.

    Other than room for growth and crèche, the Golden Grove site has many other things going for it. Here’s a sample:

    • Very close to public transport
    • Great parking
    • Beautiful grounds
    • Close to great food on King Street in Newtown,
    • Very close to Sydney University, which will help our outreach to the university.
    • Very close to government housing blocks, which we can seek to impact with the love of Jesus

    In short, I’m very excited about the move and I’m hoping that you are, too! Please pray that God would use to Resolved to impact the city of Sydney with the love of Jesus, for God’s glory!

    Click here if you want to come to the Resolved Prayer Night at Golden Grove.

    And here, if you want to come to our First Service at Golden Grove!

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  • The one word that will revolutionize your life.

    We are all looking for little things that make big differences in our lives. Whether that little thing is a new gadget, app or whatever we want to buy it and use it. But I have got a word, yes a word, that will revolutionize your life.

    That word is……

    (drum roll please)

    NO

    Yes, that’s right, the word “no” will revolutionize your life.

    One of the biggest issues I see in people today is their inability or unwillingness to say NO. We either take on too much and therefore we cant do the things we need to do with excellence or we take on things that aren’t going to get us to our goals in life.

    What would happen if you said no to everything you could not with excellence?

    What would happen if you said no to things that you don’t have to do that steal time away from your loved ones?

    What would happen if you only said yes to those things you could put in an awesome effort for?

    The great business writer Jim Collins says that all leaders need to have a stop doing list. This is a list of things that you are going to stop doing so you can focus on the things you should be doing.

    If you were going to write a stop doing list what would be on it?

    What good things do you need to say no to so that you can give your full energy to great things?

    We all need to use the word “no” more.

    If we do it will change our lives for the better.

     

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  • Why are you a Christian?

    Postmodern Christian and brilliant author Lauren Winner has a had a tough trot of late. She has gone through a divorce and a year where she didnt feel particularly great about being a Christian. She has written a piece for Relevant Magazine entitles “Why I am (still) a Christian.” Her ultimate answer to why she is still a christian may surprise you. It did me!

    “Here’s a less-than-sexy, less-than-po-mo response: I am a Christian because of doctrine. Really, I mean this. In particular, I am a Christian because of the doctrine of sin—because the Christian story includes an account of everything I see when I look in the mirror and when I look out the window. It includes an account of the beauty and goodness I see—created and redeemed goodness—and also an account of the corroded, corrupt things I see. Indeed, it is Christian doctrine that not only explains those things but that allows me to see them in the first place. So, I am a Christian because of the ways the Christian story teaches me to see reality for what it is.

    I am a Christian because the self-hiding God of Isaiah 45 holds me even when I am in hiding, too.

    I am a Christian because Matthew 25 has been the only thing that has gotten me to interrupt my own career advancement, social life, housework and more and go to a prison—or in some other way do something other than advance my own interests. I know many a secular humanist is motivated by something other than Matthew 25 to do good things, to participate in the in-breaking of justice, but nothing else has ever actually gotten me up and out of my house. But Matthew 25 has.

    I am a Christian because when I sing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” the words always tell the truth.

    I could go on, but you get the point.”

    So, why are you a Christian?

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  • John Piper on Why Doctrine Matters

    “Gospel doctrine matters because the good news is so full and rich and wonderful that it must be opened like a treasure chest, and all its treasures brought out for the enjoyment of the world.  Doctrine is the description of these treasures. Doctrine describes their true value and why they are so valuable. Doctrine guards the diamonds of the gospel from being discarded as mere crystals. Doctrine protects the treasures of the gospel from pirates who don’t like the diamonds but who make their living trading them for others stones. Doctrine polishes old the gems buried at the bottom of the chest. It puts the jewels of gospel truth in order on the scarlet tapestry of history so each is seen in it’s most beautiful place. “

    John Piper, God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself, 22

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  • Character v.s Talent

    He was sitting across from me and I was frustrated. I had asked him to do very simple tasks that he didn’t do. In fact this was a constant theme in our relationship. I was frustrated he was angry at me for being frustrated. It was a lose lose situation.

    The problem was I was enamored with his talent. I was so enamored with his talent that I would consistently excuse his character flaws.

    It has been interesting following Joe Lacob, Mark Jackson, Jerry West and Bob Myers as they have sought to rebuild my favourite NBA team The Goldenstate Warriors.one of the things that they have been harping on us getting high character guys. The three guys they drafted were high character guys and any free agents they are going to pick up are going to be high character guys.

    The Warriors brass know that talent looks good in the short term whereas character will impact both the short and the long term.

     

    As a leader, what impresses you the most? Talent or character? For me talent is impressive in the short term because it is easily seen. It is character that takestime to be seen. Character is only seen over time because character is about consistency of action despite the circumstances. It is about doing what you say you will do no matter what it costs. It is about keeping your word always.

     

    As leaders we need talented eople but we need people with character more.

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  • Has God Changed?

    I remember it vividly. My Dad’s chest was rising and falling very weakly, he was about to take his last breaths.

    I was overcome with grief.

    My mind was flooded with questions:

    How could God have let this happen?

    Where is God in this mess?

    But one question kept coming into my head over and over. “Is God not good?”

    When circumstances change it is very easy to think that God has changed. When everything is going good it is so easy to think that God is good, but when life kicks you in the soul it is hard to think that he is still in control, let alone good. It is easy to think God has changed. The God who we once knew, who filled our lives with vibrancy and love has changed into a cruel and angry God.

    But hear what God says about himself:

    Psalm 102:25-27

    In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
        and the heavens are the work of your hands. 
    They will perish, but you remain;
        they will all wear out like a garment.
    Like clothing you will change them
        and they will be discarded.
     But you remain the same, 
        and your years will never end. 

    James 1:17

    Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

    Psalm 33:10-11

    The Lord foils the plans of the nations; 
        he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
    But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
        the purposes of his heart through all generations.

    Did you hear what God says about himself? Psalm 102 says the earth will wear out like the T shirt I am wearing but God remains for ever and that he remains the same. Unlike a T shirt which will fade and stretch and get wrecked God doesn’t change. James says God doesn’t change, he is still the one who gives good gifts. Psalm 33 says that God’s plans can’t be thwarted. My plans can be. City-rail decides to cancel a train, someone rings at an inopportune moment, there is someone using the machine I wanted to use at the gym. Things like these ruin my plans everyday. My plans fail all the time but God’s don’t… ever!

    When life kicks us in the soul has God changed? No he hasn’t, he is still the good God that called you to know and love him even though your faith has seen better days. He is still the same God who called you and your spouse together even though your marriage is on rocky ground.  He is still your heavenly father who loves you even though your dad never got a chance to see his beautiful granddaughter.

    Circumstances change, life kicks you in the soul.

    But God doesn’t change.

    Faith is trusting in God even when it feels like he has changed.

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  • 10 things for leaders to do from Jim Collins

    I love reading Jim Collins’ books. If you have never read one of his books you need to sell your shirt and got and buy one if not all the books he has written and read them! Last week I listened to a great talk that Jim Collins gave at the Catalyst Conference. It was basically a summary of his awesome book Great by Choice. At the end of the talk he gave ten practical things for the people at the conference to do. Here they are:

    1.  Do the Good to Great diagnostic on jimcollins.com on yourself and get your staff team to do it on your church/ ministry/ organisation.

    2. Work out what your key leadership positions are and devise a plan on how to fill them with great people in the next year.

    3.  Build a personal board of directors/mentors. Mentoring is so crucial for upcoming leaders. We need to build a group of people who are taking time to mentor us.

    4. Get your personal hedgehog straight. A hedgehog is something you can be passionate about, be great at and make the most impact with.

    5. Set a 20 mile march and stick to it. A 2o mile march is a pattern of growth that is sustainable that you and your organization are going to stick to. For example you might want to grow your youth group by 20 percent each year every year. In the beginning this may not look like much but if the your youth group grew by 20 percent every year for ten years how many people would be at your youth group? You do the maths.

    6. Fire 6 new bullets before the end of the year. Firing bullets is Collins’ way of trying something new that is low risk high reward. So you want to write a blog. Write a blog post a week for 3 months and see what happens, if it takes off then put some real time into it  but if it doesn’t take off ditch it. Or another example, you want to start a training program for young people at your church. Start it with a few people and put a little bit of time in it and if it takes off now devote a lot of time to it. What we usually do is the opposite we have a great idea and we put all out weight behind it and even if we are 50 percent successful that means we fail 50 percent of the time.

    7. Turn off electronic gadgets for two days every two weeks. This means that we will be able to do work that doesn’t rely on our computer. E.g. Sermon prep and reading.

    8. Create a stop doing list. Every leader needs to stop dong some things to be effective at what they should be doing. What are you going to stop doing to be more effective at the things you should be doing?

    9.  Double your reach to people half my age. Think about how you are going to reach and mentor people half your age.

    10. Set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that makes you really useful. Don’t set a goal that is small and don’t set a goal that is self centered. set one that is huge and will impact others.

     

    Which one of these do you find the most inspiring?

    Which one of these do you find the most challenging?

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  • Ed Young Jr, Calvinists and truth

    The twittersphere has blown up because of a video of Ed Young Jr attacking Calvinists. If you havent seen the video you can view it  here about a quarter down the page.

    Pastor Young’s rant leaves me asking a lot of questions:

    Why does he think Calvinist are cool? I thought Pastor young’s church would be a ‘cool’ church and by saying this I mean no disrespect. I don’t care whether churches or not are cool but I thought Pastor Young’s church would be like Hillsong which is the ‘cool’ church in Sydney. I also think most Calvinist leaders (John Piper, Mark Dever, Matt Chandler, Albert Mohler) are not cool. This once again is no disrespect to them, I love these men and have been helped by their ministries but I wouldn’t call them cool.

    Why did he choose to rant on this issue? Has he lost a bunch of early college age kids to a Calvinistic church nearby?

    Who does he talk to in the Calvinist community? In the very small dealings I have had with American Christianity it seems like there are cliques like the Gospel Coalition/ T4G Clique, the Willow Clique, The Emergent Clique etc. So it would seem odd that Pastor Young has had the kind of conversations with Calvinist leaders that he claims he has had.

    But questions aside we need to realise that there is is some truth in what he was saying.

    1. We Reformed guys are sometimes angry young and dudes who are super critical of everything. This negative, angry spirit is sin and we do need to work at being more loving and humble all the while holding onto the truth and lovingly pointing error out.
    2. Sometimes Reformed churches  are not evangelistic. The gospel should motivate us to tell people about Jesus especially when we believe God is sovereign over salvation.
    3. Some young Calvinists do emphasize election to the detriment of all other theology and therefore are Hyper-Calvinist and not truly Calvinist. On this point Red Iain Murray’s great book Spurgeon Vs Hyper-Calvinism. True reformed theology holds election and human responsibility in tension. Just like Jesus did. Some young Calvinists have just read one blog or chapter on election and then this becomes the piece of theology which dominates everything else.

    But there were some huge issues with Pastor Young’s rant.

    1. It was a rant. This is not how people should be rebuked.
    2. He said he and reformed guys are preaching a different gospels. If that is true what Gospel is he preaching?
    3. He seemed to equate Calvinists with those in the social gospel movement. This is baseless. Calvinists attack the social gospel movement as a derivation from the gospel. He probably should read What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert.
    4. It showed an insecurity which I found troubling. He mentioned a number of times young people going to reformed churches. I am assuming that people from his church are leaving and going to reformed churches. Young’s church would have to number in the tens of thousands and if this number is accurate why is he caring about a few people from his college ministries going down the road to the local Reformed church? Is it because he finds his identity in his church and when people leave it his identity comes into question?

    There will be a lot more responses to Pastor Young’s rant. But please let’s keep it gracious and loving.

     

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  • Are you a “breakout” leader?

    I have been reading Thom Rainer’s book Breakout Churches and it has been a great read. In the book Thom takes inspiration from Jim Collins‘ book Good to Great and tries to work out why some churches go from declining attendance and low to no baptisms to spikes in attendance and high numbers of baptisms.

    In Good to great, Collins found that all Good to Great companies had a Level 5 Leader Thom and his team found that the breakout churches had an Acts 6/7 leader. He also found that there were different levels of leadership present in the leaders of churches. He called each of these levels Acts and then a number because he found the levels of leadership in the book of Acts. Here is how Thom defines the different levels of leadership that he and his team found in pastors:

    Acts 1: The Acts 1 leaders has a particular call to ministry. They don’t see ministry as a job or a paycheck but they are called by God to ministry.

    Acts 2: The Acts 2 leader is the contributing leader. He is a leader who spends a great amount of his time in sermon preparation and prayer. The Breakout leaders spent 20 hours a week in sermon prep and prayer whereas other leaders spent as little as 5 hours per week on these tasks. The key to this kind of leadership is discipline.

    Acts 3: The Acts 3 leader is the outwardly focused leader. This leader makes sure his church is focused on reaching the community.

    Acts 4: Acts 4 is the passionate leader. These leaders have a passion for their job, the gospel and their people that is evident for all to see.

    Acts 5: The Acts 5 leaders is a bold leader. This leader will take steps to realize the vision that God has for the church he leads.

    Acts 6/7: The Acts 6/7 leader is a the leader that think beyond his life. He is looking to set up his church for the next generation and the one after that and the one after that.

    Rainer and his team saw that the breakout leaders were leaders who encompassed everything from Acts 1- Acts 6/7. But he found that only 1 percent of all the leaders that they surveyed showed all the traits.

    Rainer’s book shows that leadership is crucial for the growth of your church. The questions is what kind of leader are you?

    Are you a called, disciplined, outward focused, passionate, bold leader that is seeking for your church to cast it’s influence decades into the future?

     

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