Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hello Fiona from Scotland...

I wrote some Lent Bible Studies a few years back. You can download them by Clicking HERE. They are just Bible Studies on Mark 10-16. A person I don't know called Fiona from Scotland sent me this email yesterday:
Dear Justin,

Just letting you know as requested that I downloaded your Bible Studies and Daily Readings for Lent on Mark from the internet. I really wanted to do a committed focus on Christ this year between Lent and Easter but much of the stuff I found on the web was quite Catholic in style (I love Catholics, though!) and I didn't understand the liturgies, etc. Your study is so good. I've only done one night so far with a friend but it really released the power of the Holy Spirit to us and we were hugely blessed. I have forwarded the material to a few other friends, too.

I live in Scotland with my husband and family.

We hope it will encourage you to know that you are blessing and helping the body of Christ to know more of Him worldwide! We send you every blessing in Christ Jesus for a precious and blessed Easter time.

Kindest regards,
Good to be of service!

Pic on Flickr by igd.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lent on York (A Series based in the Prodigal Son)

I'm not one for Church Calendars in particular. They've always seemed a little too religious and Church-y. And perhaps too Roman Catholic. And hollow. And in any case, I'm Gen-X.

But the more I think about it, the more I realise how evangelical and 'old school' (in the good sense) the calendar is. And perhaps even good for mission in a post-Christian age. We were freed from constraints (like the calendar) by the a baby-boomers. But maybe then, we where then left without roots and routines as a part of our lives.

The way I figure it, we celebrate Christmas which gives us a heightened opportunity to declare the wonder of the Incarnation. And we celebrate Easter, which gives us a heightened opportunity to declare Christ risen.

So why not remember Advent (before Christmas), which allows us to declare that Christ will come again? And why not Lent (before Easter), which gives us a sustained opportunity to rail against sin, and also reflect soberly on the ailments of the human heart. These are two things that evangelicals like me are big on: the second coming, and the reality of sin.

It just has to be real and authentic and from the Scriptures. That's all.

Lent is the season that is 40 Days from Ash Wednesday (last week). It concludes on Easter Sunday, where we declare that the answer to human sin is in the Resurrected Jesus.

With that in mind, I present here to you the LENT PREACHING SERIES at St Philips York St. I will preach a relevant sermon based in the Parable of the Prodigal Son on each of the following topics (Sundays at 8:30AM Holy Communion; and 10AM City Church), and we will interactively explore these issues at the Lunchtime Conferences we will host at 1:10PM on Thursdays. All at 3 York St.

It is a series about God, Honesty and Life, based on the Prodigal Son.
Sunday 1 March (Lent 1)
The Joy of the Father (Luke 15:1-12)
(With an exploration on Thursday 5 March at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 8 March (Lent 2)
The Lure of Distance (Luke 15:13-14)
(With an exploration on Thursday March 12 at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 15 March (Lent 3)
The Limits of Regret (Luke 15:14-17)
(With an exploration on Thursday March 19 at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 22 March (Lent 4) - Holy Communion at 10AM
The Power of a Moral Inventory (Luke 15:17-18)
(With an exploration on Thursday March 26 at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 29 March (Lent 5)
The Freedom in Confession (Luke 15:18-23)
(With an exploration on Thursday April 2 at 1:10PM.)

Sunday 5 April (Palm Sunday)
The Barriers to Joy (Luke 15:25-31)
(With an exploration on Thursday April 9 at 1:10PM.)

12 April Easter Sunday
The End of Decay (John 20:24-29)
(With an exploration on Thursday April 16 at 1:10PM.)
In case you were wondering, I haven't read Dr Tim Keller's The Prodigal God. But I am planning to buy it tomorrow. And if it is as good as I suspect it will be, then we will make it available for our people to buy, read, and give to their friends during Lent.

In the meantime, here is a sobering prayer to pray through Lent:
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Not bad, right?

Bring your friends if you live or work close the city. And I'll see if we can get the MP3s working properly.


Sermon Blogged at 'What's The Deal With Stuff'

CLICK HERE for a review of my sermon last Sunday. Mark B must be a good listener. Mark's Blog is a must have on your Blog roll. Go now and make it a part of your life.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Our First Task: A Space for Kids to learn.

Naturally, I've been swimming in new information. I'm full of desire to grow the ministry here in the city. And I've got many people to meet and listen to, and more wanting to bend my ear on certain issues and matters. All good.

But basically Task #1 was to create a clean and functioning space for our kids to be taught about Jesus. I've been told many times to prioritise your family in ministry.

However, there were no other regular kids in our church. Just our kids. So we are at First Base for the kid's ministry. We went to church on February 8th and The Little Man came into the North Porch, was a little taken aback, and said:
Where are the other kids?
My wife’s heart sank a little, but she responded wonderfully. She taught him to say:
We are work in progress.
Here is how I am looking at it: we have this special moment in their lives. They may never have this opportunity again. The opportunity to teach them to be welcoming, with no one their age to welcome them. It's square one with the kids.

So, we are saying to The Little Man and The Little Lady that as each new child comes, we’ve got to welcome them, and to love them and to share their space with them.

Just like us adults are supposed to be in church.

Last Saturday, Dr Laurel and I (mostly Laurel) cleaned the North Porch, to create a new and safe space for kids. So that others can bring their kids, or grandkids.

On February 15th, there were 4 kids. And last Sunday, there were 6 toddlers in the room. And we had a kid's spot in the 10AM service. So we are slowly moving.

Lots more to happen, of course. Keep us in your prayers.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Induction Reviews.

Thanks to all who came to the Induction Service last Thursday. If you want to download the order of service, you can do that HERE. And HERE is our website, in case you haven't seen it. It needs work, as everyone says, but it's a start.
  • And HERE is a review of the night by Michael Kellahan with five highlights of the evening.
  • And HERE is a a post from my new friend Dave Miers called: Moffatt now Ramblin' in Sydney Again.
  • And HERE. Its always good to get some Blog love from Craig Schwarze.
  • UPDATE: Shane writes a review too. HERE.
Of course, now the work begins...


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An invitation to Pray in the City (Thurs 1:10PM)

Laurel and I arrived into Sydney last week, into a country in the middle of a devastating firestorm: it is hard to imagine how it feels in rural Victoria right now.  I read today that there may be 300 dead.

I have the key to St Philip's Church Hill in the city. And I have time free tomorrow. Join me and others in prayer and quiet reflection at the church (3 York St, Sydney). If you work in the city, especially at the northern end of the city, then you are welcome to join us. This may also be something for your workmates, who struggle to understand. There will be ways to contribute to the victims at the service.

3 York St 

That evening at 7PM, I will be inducted as Rector (commissioned as Senior Minister) of St Philip's, Church Hill.  The Wardens are planning to take a collection for the victims (all money will be given to the Archbishop's Emergency Bushfire Appeal.)

If you are in the southern end of the city, you may prefer to pray at St Andrews at 1PM on Thursday lunchtime. Or 6PM tonight. The Cathedral's details are HERE.

Photo by Craig Abraham at the SMH.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Help my American Friends...

[UPDATE: We board a Qantas flight to Sydney tonight. We've just spent a few days in San Francisco en route. Dr Laurel was able to spend quality time with her good friend, Marlene. We also got to hang out with Christ Church NYC friends Liz and Jim Churm, also Nick and Stacey Bell and I drove Lunch and Cathy Payne to the airport. Good times. We fly out tonight and arrive in Sydney on Wednesday AM. Pray for us, cos it ain't easy with 2 toddlers and an infant.]

While in flight, I have two questions for you.

I'm asking because a couple I know from Chicago are going to spent 6 weeks in Australia and New Zealand. They want to know what to visit. I told them that I'd type out some ideas on the flight. But better still, you can help them, and save me the typing.

All you shy people and lurkers can now comment. How hard is it to answer these two questions while we are incommunicado?

1. What are the classic places for 2 Americans to visit?
(Like Sydney Opera House, Rotorua etc)

2. What is your personal favourite place?
(Like a restaurant, a garden somewhere etc)

i.e. Where do you take your visitors?

If you can provide a link, that's even better. But not required.

Go on, you shy people, just comment.

I'll pick up your comments on the other side...

Pic on FLickr by KyussQ.