Easter is a great time to stop and think about life – where we are at and where we are going.
Thirty years ago at Easter I explored the true meaning of Easter. I went to church with some friends and heard about Christ.
Over the coming months I explored the claims of the Bible and learned what the Easter message was all about.
I learned that at Easter Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for my sin on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday He rose to life.
Jesus conquered sin and death and He offered me a new life in Him as a result. In July of 1989 I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Saviour.
I found true and lasting peace with God. That day changed my life forever.
If you would like to find peace with God, you can visit this page on my website – Peace with God.
Since moving from the city to the country 12 years ago I have noticed a big change in our churches. Many are moving from having a Pastor to Elders based church leadership. When we moved to the WA Wheatbelt most of the four larger churches in our region had Pastors. Over time this has gone from full time Pastors, to part-time Pastors, to no Pastor at all.
Some of this has been because of declining finances and ageing church population. At other times it has been because some Pastors do not want to work in country towns. On the surface not having a Pastor on staff can be seen as a bad thing. But I have seen having a group of mature Elders as the church leaders work really well.
Generally most of the churches in our region have people in the church who have had some Bible training, have attended church for a long time, have a deep relationship with the Lord and are considered by all to have good character. These people are great as Elders. They pray, seek and discern God’s will and lead the church well.
The church that I was Pastor for two years has gone back to an Elders based leadership team. Some preach, some lead service, and they all do pastoral care. It works well. The church I attend at the moment will not have a Pastor soon and they will have to decide which direction they go in. I am happy if they chose a new Pastor or lead with Elders.
If we think about Elders based church leadership for a moment, the first thing we see is it is Biblical. The Apostle Paul set Elders in place of the churches he planted. That way when he moved on to another area he has people in place to look after the church.
In my last church I looked at the role of Elders right throughout the Bible. Right throughout the Bible the Elders have led the people, made decisions for the direction of the group, sought God in prayer and overseen their flock. This is true in both the Old Testament and the New.
So from my perspective Elders based church leadership makes sense in our regional context. With declining finances and ageing populations and Pastors not wanting to work in smaller regional towns it might just be the way forward.
I read this quote today and thought I would share it…
When we pray, remember:
- The love of God that wants the best for us.
- The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.
- The power of God that can accomplish it.
William Barclay, Prodigals and Those Who Love.
Hebrews 13:16 NLT – And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God
I like how this verse says, “Don’t forget to do good and share with those in need” .
By saying “don’t forget” it implies we can forget. It is easy to get caught up in our own lives and lose sight of those around us.
Let us purpose in our hearts to not forget today!
Colossians 2:13-15 NLT – You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.  He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.  In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
In this passage there are seven truths about our relationship to God in Christ…
- We were dead in our sin
- We still had he sin nature we were born with
- We are now alive in Christ
- Jesus took our sins on the cross
- We are forgiven and set free
- We have no further charges for sin against us
- The spiritual rulers and authorities of this world have no power over us.
In the lead up to Easter, I am so thankful for what Jesus did for us on the cross. We are free from sin, set free and alive in Christ.
Vision Christian radio station shared this image yesterday on social media. It has a great point that it is important to reflect back on our prayers from the past.
I am able to do this because for many years I kept prayer journals. They were basically day to a page diaries. Every day I would record the things I prayed for and my Bible readings.
This enabled me every few months to go back through my entries and see what was on my heart. I was able to review them and tick many of them off. Sometimes I would write how the prayer was answered too.
This was very encouraging for me and it really built my faith and trust in God. I had answers to prayer about health issues, prayers for my family, work issues, finances, outreach and direction from God.
I can’t tell you how many times I saw God come through for me in a difficult situation. There were times when I could see no way forward and God sorted things out for us. In the big things and the small everyday things.
A prayer journal is a great tool to record and review your prayers. It is also a great tool to build your faith and trust in God. When you see God answer your prayers, it encourages you to trust Him for more as you grow.
Maybe a prayer journal would help you?
One key foundation for us as Disciples of Christ is to know who you are and what you have in Christ. I mentioned this is previous posts earlier in the week.
Back in 1989 when I came to Christ, I had a very low, almost non-existent, self-esteem. I really thought I was a waste of space and not worth much at all.
Over time this changed to seeing myself through the lens of Scripture. I am now more interested in who God says I am, rather than the world or those around me say.
Every year that goes by I find my mind is being renewed more and more in this area. As a result I did a sermon for my church titled, “10 things God says about you in the Bible”. The summary points and verses are below.
- You are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27)
- You were chosen before the world was made (Ephesians 1:4-5)
- You were created and equipped for good works (Ephesians 2:10)
- You are adopted into His family (John 1:12)
- You have the Holy Spirit living inside you (Romans 8:11)
- You are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1)
- You are seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-7)
- You were knit together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)
- You are truly loved by God (1 John 4:9-10)
- You are free in Christ (John 8:36)
To read the full message with text, audio and powerpoint you can find it here https://www.passionaustralia.org/whoyouare.html
Today I just want to remind you that God made you wonderful. You are amazing. You are special. You are loved. You are priceless in God’s eyes.
In my last post I said I would like everyone I know to do at least one year of Bible college. I had an email question asking me why I think this is so important.
I think doing one year of focused Bible college helps us to really take time out to focus on Christ, our salvation, who we are in Christ, our calling and growing in our faith.
My first year of college was done online through Tabor Adelaide. I had done previous units at Perth Bible College, but doing the year at Tabor was my first real focused effort at studying the Bible as my sole focus.
The units I did in this year were…
- Introduction to the Old Testament
- Introduction to the New Testament
- Introduction to Biblical Theology
- Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
- The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
- Christian Leadership
- Pastoral Care
- Pastoral Ethics
- Creative Living (knowing who you are in Christ)
At the time this course was called a Certificate IV in Christian Life and Ministry. These days it probably most closely aligns with the Diploma of Theology at Tabor.
I chose this course because I was already serving in my local church and I was involved with PASSIONAustralia.org. I found this gave me a good foundation for what I was doing and a good beginning to the extra studies I did after that.
For me this was a great foundation as it taught me the Bible basics and the basics of ministry. It also firmed up who I am in Christ and who I am created to be.
Romans 15:1-2 is one of my motivation passages that keep me wanting to help others grow in their faith.
The heart of these verses is that the stronger and more mature people in their faith should be helping those who are less mature in their faith to grow.
It doesn’t matter where we are along the spectrum. We might be a Christian with a basic knowledge of the Bible or a Bible college professor, or somewhere in between, we all have a part to play in helping people grow and mature in their faith.
This is a major reason why I trained to be a Pastor and I have my website PASSIONAustralia.org. My heart is for people to come to Christ and grow in their faith. I want people to become lifelong followers of Christ.
My hope is that everyone I know would do the following things…
- Come to know Jesus in a personal way and find peace with God.
- Do some basic discipleship training.
- Attend and serve in a their local church.
- Undertake at least a year of Bible college to mature in their faith.
When we do these four things we give ourselves the best chance to live the life God intended for us. To be in relationship with God, to be assured of our salvation, to know who we are in Christ, to be obedient to God’s commands and to serve Him all the days of our lives.
How about you? What passages motivate you to help people grow in their faith?
I recorded a sermon for podcast today. It was one I did several years ago for the church I was Pastor of. On the day we had a problem with our sound recording software. As a result I have been meaning to re-record it for my website.
The title is “Four lessons from Psalm 139”. If you are interested you can listen here, or read the full text here.